Dear Jack: Papa’s “New” Jeep in Big Canoe, GA

10 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

Last week our family went back to Big Canoe, Georgia. Back in March, it was for your Spring Break.

But this time, it was for Mommy and me celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary and 4th of July weekend. And this time, Nonna and Papa were there to celebrate with us as well.

I had been telling Papa that just a mile or so away from our cabin, there would be a customized Jeep trail; which only 4×4 vehicles could traverse.

Just in time, Papa bought a 1999 Jeep Wrangler, to go along with my 2010 Jeep Wrangler: “Goldilocks” and “Black Beauty”.

Aside from the swimming pool, I’d say your other favorite memory was getting to ride in the back of Papa’s Jeep.

Compared to my Jeep, both you and Mommy said the seats are more comfortable.

Maybe it’s because his is the fancier version- the Sahara.

Also, I think it’s cool how Papa’s Jeep is from the year Mommy and I graduated high school: 1999.

And mine is from the year you were born: 2010!

 

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: I Taught You How to Drive Your Pink Jeep Wrangler This Week

4 years, 11 months.

Dear Holly,

Though you received your pink Jeep as a Christmas gift, the weather’s just now getting nice enough to drive it!

Up until now, your brother has always driven it with you as the passenger.

But this week, you asked me if you could drive it for the first time by yourself. You were ready.

You were hesitant backing it out of the garage. I assured you it was okay, as I instructed you to steer while I pressed the gas pedal with my hand.

By the time you drove out of the garage, you didn’t need any more lessons from me!

You were gone.

To enhance your driving training, your brother chased you on your pink Big Wheels.

You are proud to drive a Jeep like Daddy!

Love,

Daddy

My New T-Shirt: 6 Speed Manual Transmission Symbol

It is true that I am of a dying breed. Not only am I of the minority of drivers who can drive a manual transmission, but I am of the shrinking group of people who actually still owns a stick shift vehicle and drives it it as my main vehicle everyday.

In 2020, only 1 out of 8 new vehicles on the car lot even have the option to be sold with a manual transmission. Not only are vehicles with automatic transmissions more efficient on fuel, but they are also less expensive. It used to be the other way around!

It only makes sense that for the few of us who can still drive a manual, and who still do so daily, we are a unique group of people. We actually like the fact it’s not easy, even if it’s all muscle memory to us at this point.

I drive a 2010 Jeep Wrangler, which I have now owned for a year. One of the reasons I was able to snatch it up was because I didn’t flinch when I saw that it had a manual transmission.

Granted, I had never owned a vehicle with a stick shift before, but I had driven my dad’s old 1988 Ford Ranger during college a bit; while making money mowing lawns- as well as driving it when my own car was having issues.

A year into driving a manual transmission every day, it feels wrong when I do drive my wife’s car, with its automatic transmission. I always instinctively press my left foot down on the floor when I start the car.

So it only makes sense that with my $150 Amazon shopping spree for my recent 39th birthday, I chose this 6 Speed Manual Transmission T-shirt.

If you would like to order one like it, just click this link.

I also ordered the same thing for the spare tire cover on my Jeep. I will do another blog post and video on that once it arrives!

Dear Jack: Our Family Quarantine Jeep Ride Through Laurel Hill Wildlife Management Area

9 years, 4 months.

For the 3rd weekend in a row now, our family has designated an entire Sunday afternoon to taking the Jeep out to some new random town we’ve never been to, in an hour radius from where we live.

This time, I decided to search “Wildlife Management Area near me”. Having grown up right next to one in Alabama, and having really put the Jeep to the test on that one last summer, I figured that any wildlife management area near us in Tennessee would be worth the drive.

I was right.

Once we arrived at the 15,000 acre park, we immediately saw another black Jeep like mine. I approached the driver and passenger to ask them where the best place to start was.

Billy and Angie offered to show us around, so we just followed them.

Your favorite part was when we drove on top of the dam. You also enjoyed playing on a pile of rocks with your sister.

I’m pretty sure we just discovered a new Jeep-friendly playground!

Love,

Daddy

Hiking Gilliam Loop Trail and Pogo Ridge (9 Miles) in DeSoto State Park During Christmas 2019

Christmas 2019 was extra special in that my nephew Matt (who is in the Air Force, stationed on Mississippi) and my niece Sara (who is a school teacher in California) were able to spend the holidays with my family in Alabama.

With all the Christmas cargo we had to take down from where we actually live in Tennessee and then bring back from Alabama, my wife and I decided to take both her Hyundai Elantra and my Jeep Wrangler for the nearly 3 hour drive there.

For me, it was just an excuse to be able to serve as a Jeep tour guide during Christmas vacation. I started out by taking Matt and Sara (and their mother Jeanene) on a 23 mile drive along Little River Canyon on Christmas Eve.

And for the day after Christmas, I announced I would be heading up a 9 mile hike in a “hidden gem” of a trail in DeSoto State Park, called Gilliam Loop (which begins at Cabin 21)- or at least, my version of it.

Matt and Sara agreed to join me, with zero hesitation.

Gilliam Loop is actually a mountain biking trail, but if you know where to veer off the path, you can connect to Pogo Ridge.

Back in 1934, the Civilian Conversation Corps (known as CCC) built culverts along the trail, which runs parallel to Little River.

So it is really cool to see these 86 year-old structures still in place.

Pogo Ridge leads a crossing point of Little River itself. However, we opted not to cross through the river, which would have meant we would have had to hike the rest of the day in wet clothes.

Therefore, we took Exit 4 of the trail back to the Road 12.

When it was all said and done, we had hiked 9.25 miles in 3 hours.

Before heading back to the house, I took them by Howard’s Chapel; the church built into a giant rock, where the founding pastor’s ashes are contained.

Oh, and I failed to mention:

Christmas Week 2019 contained perfect Fall Weather, which allowed us to have this much fun!

I had the top off the Jeep the entire time, as the temperate remained in the 60s for most of the time.

It will be a Christmas I never forget!