Tonight, if the 50% storm chance holds off, will be the last baseball game I umpire until next March...unless I decide to head to Florida and do a tournament down there come January or February....just a little over 4 months ago, my back was the major concern when I started...it survived the season. Tonight will mark 81 games(exactly 1/2 the major league schedule)....now I will get ready for football, my first officiating gig will be a scrimmage on August 14th....the back will get another test, so far it's held out, but not without concerns, so we will see how things work out.
I have owned 2 Jeeps in my life, a Cherokee that Patricia and I bought new right after we were married...It was a charcoal grey 1977...despite being a station wagon with 4 wheel drive, the thing could go anywhere and through anything....the only drawback I felt it had...you had to "lock" the front wheels in the 4 wheel drive position....to do this, you had to exit the vehicle.
The second Jeep, is my current one, a 1998 Wrangler. This I bought for the RV delivery runs I would make after my retirement from Environmental Health work. The jet black Wrangler had 32,000 miles on it when I purchased it in Lima, Ohio, in November 2002....in the almost 6 years since, it now has 181,000 on the odometer....it you add up the miles towed behind the RVs getting to the destinations and dealers...my guess is, at least 250, 000 on the frame and wheels. It's now on it's second engine...strictly my fault as I left it in gear while taking off towing it from a motel in central Pennsylvania, and blew the original engine....that brain dead mistake also caused the rear axle to break and a rear tire to fall off and dropping off an exit ramp, down on I-81...but that's another story.
Come Memorial Day, I take the rag top off the Jeep, and drive without a top until the first of October or so....I just don't take it out in the rain. Now, you can fold these tops down, but if you have ever owned one, you know it's a major pain in the ass to do so....and the wear and tear on the top and connections is major.
I actually drove my first Jeep at Nha Trang AB, Republic of Vietnam....working day shift Law Enforcement, we rotated posts, and about every 2 or 3 days we got to work patrol duties...needless to say, the patrol, which usually was you alone in a jeep driving the entire base was great duty...unless it was raining, then if you had a "topless" model, you put on your blue helmet and poncho, and got soaked....didn't hurt the interior of the GI Jeeps, because there wasn't much...just 2 bucket seats and medal floors....loved those suckers.
My final tour stop in Vietnam was at the biggest Air Base, Tan Son Nhut, located outside Saigon...from March through late June 1970, I was assigned to "Blue Flight"...blue flight was a 8PM to 6AM shift that I worked 6 days a week(Tuesday's off). Resource protection was our job...basically to keep the local "workers" from robbing the Air Force blind...and any long fingered GIs as well. As a "Buck" Sargent my final job with Blue Flight was driving my open air Jeep around with coffee, apples, oranges, smokes, and C-Rations loaded in it....to keep the 30 or so guys that were guarding the various locations on base, awake. It was great duty(considering you were in a war zone)....I feel in love with the Jeeps in Vietnam....and driving those are some of my most vivid memories of that war time.
Photos-top..the Wrangler without top, as I photographed it this morning. Patricia sitting on the back tail of the 77 Cherokee in the summer of 1977 at Hocking Hills(Ohio) State Park. Me and the Wrangler the day I paid hard cold cash for it at AHL in Lima, Ohio. And finally me with a open air Jeep at Nha Trang in August 1969...and in October the same year with my buddy Harry Bevan with a Jeep with a top...you can check out Harry's blog in my favorite's list in the left hand panel.