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Los Angeles City Life & Off Road Adventures - Limited Articulation

Posted in Features on August 1, 2002
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Contributors: Jon Thompson

Just back from the 'wheeling paradise that is Moab, Utah, I'm again chained to my desk here in the palatial editorial suite high atop Four Wheeler World Headquarters in Los Angeles.

What? Los Angeles? Hardly the capitol of the four-wheeling world. What are we doing here? Good question, and one I asked myself as I once again entered Los Angeles' dismal environs after a week in the fresh air and open trails of Moab.

For reasons that relate solely to business, publishing-all kinds of publishing-mostly gets done in cities. Lord help us, for a long time New York was the center of the magazine-publishing universe. Only a few mavericks like Robert Petersen, who founded Hot Rod, Motor Trend, and Petersen Publishing a half century or so ago, were willing to kick free the traces of conformity to make their magazines in outposts like Los Angeles.

But now this former outpost feels in need of-well, an outpost. Don't get me wrong, living in a place where everything-whether it's parts for your Dana 44, tires for your new 17-inch wheels, or strings for your banjo-is instantly available is a real boon. But the mere fact of that instant availability means people, and people mean density, and density means that four-wheeling opportunities-especially quality four-wheeling opportunities-get pushed farther and farther away as density expands laterally, as it does here in California.

We mostly accept that, I suppose, until a visit to someplace like Moab works like a slap that brings us to our senses. Even during Moab's most dense Easter Jeep Safari traffic, getting through town requires no more than a few minutes. Here in Los Angeles, my 19-mile commute takes about 50 minutes each way. And here in Los Angeles we occasionally look at each other in amazement and exclaim, "Wow, look how clear it is today!" I'll wager that they don't do that too much in Moab. The air is clear there every day.

Moab's got water running through it. A little stream called the Colorado River, which is of sufficient size and power to have, in aeons past, carved out a little geographic feature called Grand Canyon. Los Angeles has a river too, of course. It's called the Los Angeles River, and if you fall into it, why, you just dust yourself off and crawl right back out. It might once have made a fun place to 'wheel, but years back it got completely paved. Honest, I wouldn't lie about that. Kind of a metaphor for everything Los Angeles, right?

One thing we don't have is a gigantic dump of tailings from uranium mines right on the outskirts of town, like Moab does, and that's a very good thing. That's not to say that we city-dwellers-all of us-don't have other poisons to contend with, because we most surely do. But the prospect of a dump from uranium mines-well, I'll pass on that, thanks very much. I'll bet you will too.

Uranium dump aside, those of us who yearn for open skies, clean air and great four-wheeling could all transplant our lives to Moab or places like it. But then those places would become like Los Angeles, or Chicago, or, heaven forbid, New York City, and that's no answer because transplanting ourselves to paradise ruins paradise. So I guess we at Four Wheeler will stay right where we are so that when the opportunity to do so presents itself, we can visit special places like Moab to celebrate being away from it all, and in low range, low gear. What we're going to have to do, though, is work hard on being away from it all, and in low range, more often. All of us. It's good for us.

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