Image via WikipediaYears ago I purchased a 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee. A very nice car for its time, the Jeep gave me the assurance of four-wheel drive in the unpredictable Midwest winters and a modicum of luxury and civility in what would normally be thought of as a strict utilitarian vehicle.
I drove this car across the United States from the Midwest to the the East Coast several times. From Kansas to Texas more times than I can count and a multitude of 250 mile weekend trips to visit family in Iowa. Finally, after accepting a position in the Panhandle of Texas, the old girl achieved the 100,000 mile mark and was growing a bit long in the tooth. Having access to a company car, I let the Jeep languish for a bit until I got the gumption to throw in a new set of spark plugs and spark plug wires. It was like a rebirth! The Jeep ran like new again.
Some time during all this, in the depth of a Winter storm, I discovered a deep growl coming from the transfer case and a weird sideways hopping motion when I tried to engage 4-wheel drive. Never one to depend upon the dealerships, which I refer to as "stealerships", for maintenance of my cars, I crawled under my stalwart carriage and quickly diagnosed the problem as being no fluid in the transfer case. Seeing the remains of leakage around the casing and its gasket, I determined I was now the proud owner of a rare, 2-wheel drive Jeep Grand Cherokee, as I was not about to spend the money to have the transfer case rebuilt. The loyal car served me for years to come with just the two rear wheels propelling us wherever we wanted to go, with some care taken to avoid really nasty situations.
Finally, after driving her for over 9 years, my friendly and capable friend reached nearly 280,000 miles. She developed some problems that I could no longer attend to under the shade tree and I reluctantly agreed it was time to, gasp, trade her in. Even though I knew the value at trade-in was negligible, I was still somewhat saddened when I mentioned the pristine condition of the spare tire, telling the dealer that, "It has never touched the road." He said, "That looks like the only thing that hasn't touched the road." Being of good nature, I accepted his comment as a kindly offered joke and we made a deal on value against a 10 year newer model on his lot. What could replace my lovely old girl who carried me and my family for over a quarter of a million miles? Why, another Jeep Grand Cherokee of course. Hopefully this car will give its all, just like my old girl did.