Mason County News
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Direction in Life
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 • Posted August 31, 2011

When my wife, Jocelynn, and I decided to drive to Ogden, Utah recently to attend the annual conference of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, I did some checking to see what it would cost to fly there. And back. I called a few ticket agencies and it seemed I was being misunderstood. I tried to explain I didn’t want to buy their planes, I only wanted to ride on them temporarily, but I don’t think I got through to any of them. So we decided to drive instead.Since we would be going through Colorado, I suggested to Jocelynn that we should take my Jeep, which is a 1997 ragtop Wrangler. I told her it would be fun to camp along the way, and maybe drive a few of the four-wheel-drive roads in the mountains. She demurred. I tried to convince her, but even talking in that Jeep is almost impossible, and I gave up when it looked like she was going to demur me over the head.So we got hold of a new four-door Wrangler with a hard top for the trip, and I have to admit it was a lot more comfortable than my old Jeep would have been, driving over 3,000 miles in 100 plus degree heat. Plus it had a lot of extra stuff mine doesn’t, like carpet and a navigation system and brakes. Sissy stuff, but Jocelynn was OK with it.Since we were going to camp a couple of nights in Colorado, I got out a map and located the first camping spot we would come to at a high enough elevation to avoid sleeping in hundred degree heat. After the summer we’ve had here in Central Texas, I wanted to be cold at night. So I found Lathrop State Park, near Walsenburg, Colorado, and reserved a campsite.It was after dark when we got to Lathrop, and on the way to our campsite we disturbed a bear that was raiding a ‘bear-proof’ dumpster. He sort of ran off when our lights hit him, but he stopped and looked back before he got into the trees. I think my wife assumed he was making a mental note of our license plate number, so he would be able to find us again later, instead of having to go to the trouble of ripping open all the tents in the park.Setting up a tent in the dark is not that hard as long as you have someone to hold a light for you. But when that someone, and this would be your wife, is more interested in shining the light around looking for bears than shining it on the tent, you have a problem. I tried to tell her the bear was more afraid of us than we were of him, but she didn’t think that was possible.We meandered up through Colorado and camped the next night in a national forest near Frisco. We didn’t see any bears, but I was more worried about the lady in the GPS anyway. She seemed to get more and more upset with me the further we went. I think this was because she kept telling me which way to go, and I kept not going that way. Maybe if more single guys had navigation systems with female voices, they would wait longer to get married.We finally made it to Utah, despite my differences of opinion with the GPS lady. Ogden is a nice town in a beautiful part of the country, and if you ever get a chance to visit I highly recommend it. I was kind of hoping, as the home of John M. Browning and the birthplace of so many great American firearms, the Ogden people would pass out 1911 pistols to visitors, like party favors, but they didn’t.You would think, after driving over 3,000 miles in a week, you would be tired of your vehicle, no matter what it was, but that four-door Wrangler was fantastic. It was as smooth as our Grand Cherokee on the highway, as comfortable as any Cadillac I’ve been in, and it had plenty of room for all our camping stuff. If it weren’t for the nagging GPS lady in the dash, it would have been perfect.I even managed to convince Jocelynn that it would be morally wrong to drive a Jeep like that through Colorado without trying out the four-wheel-drive, and she consented to taking the Weston Pass Road, from Leadville over to Fairplay. The Jeep performed admirably, although it kind of felt like cheating, the suspension was so smooth. It’s hard to believe the versatility Jeep packed into that one vehicle.When we got home we considered sending our Cherokee back and keeping the Wrangler, but I don’t think the Jeep people would have gone for it. Besides, that GPS lady was a pain in the neck, especially when I didn’t do what she said, and got lost, and had to stop for directions.I wonder if they can remove the ‘I told you so’ part of that navigation system . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who doesn’t need to ask for directions. Ever. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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