The Wheeling Checklist
Low range? Check. Hubs locked? Check. Manzierre? Check. After a recent incident while four-wheeling, I’ve come up with a handy checklist so I’m never unprepared off-road. Raise your hand if you’ve ever forgotten to lock in your hubs. Oh yeah, that can be embarrassing. Ironically, the more witnesses you have, the more likely you are to overlook this important step.
So how did the manzierre make it onto the checklist? I’ll get to that in a minute, but first the backstory. Recently, my wife and I discovered a new 4WD trail. Her folks live only about 30 miles away, but that’s as the crow flies. For us earthbound beings, it’s an hour away, via a slow two-lane road that winds through the foothills. Hemmed in by tall, dense trees most of the way, this route doesn’t offer much of a view, except for one brief straightaway. Almost like sights on a rifle, the view taunted us with a mountain peak in the distance. The summit had radio towers on it, meaning we wouldn’t have to go into granola mode and hike to the top. With any luck, there would be a 4WD trail. But alas, the only time I’d remember this place was when we were on our way to compulsory family fun, and then we’d get distracted and promptly forget it when returning home.
Forgetfulness gets a bum rap, in my opinion. I’m perfectly fine letting some memories fade away. It’s good to remember the aforementioned locking hubs. As I’m often admonished, it’s good when I remember my meds. On the flip side, there are plenty of other things better forgotten—teenage hairstyle and wardrobe choices, for example. If I were king, pictures would be outlawed from high school yearbooks. Trust me, your future selves would thank me.
Speaking of forgetfulness, where was I? After taunting my dear readers by somehow combining tales of support garments for men and the discovery of a new Jeep trail, I was off in the weeds again. It’s just that with so much going on lately, it helps to let my mind wander off on its own sometimes. We’ve been making that trip to the in-laws quite often of late. Cancer reared its ugly head and handed my father-in-law the short end of the stick, and he hasn’t got much time left.
"I was the butt of the joke"
I should be upfront and let you know he is an ornery SOB and stubborn as a mule. He’s opinionated and not afraid to share. Actually, I take back that last part because it’s not really accurate. Rather, he’s convinced the lives of everybody within earshot would be enriched once exposed to his rigid, unyielding viewpoints. So yeah, you guessed it, we are two peas in a pod.
When I asked him for his daughter’s hand in marriage, he didn’t hesitate to tell me no. He rather enjoyed watching me squirm until he finally lost his composure and broke out laughing. Even though it wasn’t funny in this particular instance, seeing as I was the butt of the joke, I can’t wait until it’s my turn to be on the other end.
Thinking of him reminded me of that new trail. It was easy enough to locate by finding the road on a map and drawing a straight line. The mapmakers for the U.S. Forest Service have a remarkable sense of humor, however. The same symbol is used for graded gravel roads, suitable for practically any vehicle, and this route, which technically had more in common with a mountain goat trail. Great fun and all, don’t get me wrong, but a bit on the bumpy side. As our trusty CJ-2A leapt from rock to rock, my beloved wife said, “I wish I had worn my sports bra today.” To which I responded, “I wish I’d worn one, too.”
Please understand my wife has had me on a diet. There are all kinds of diets out there. You’ve got your Atkins diet. There are low-carb and paleo diets. She has been cooking for me on the Happy Man diet, consisting of generous portions of my favorite foods. It’s a wondrous regiment in all regards except it has made my Jeep’s steering wheel move closer to my belly. I haven’t seen my six-pack abs for a while either, since they’ve apparently been replaced by a keg.
With that said, a manzierre would have sure come in handy while bouncing around in our old Jeep. The service manual makes mention of something called “springs” located between the axles and frame of our Jeep, but judging by the ride, I’m not buying it.
However, no guy will wear a manzierre unless there’s a public campaign to raise awareness of the benefits. I’d be a poor choice, as I’m barely known beyond the confines of my column, curiously hidden way in back of the magazine. A public spokesman is needed, with a face well known at Jeep jamborees and other famous events. Furthermore, we need somebody already accustomed to a lifetime of ridicule.
That’s why I’m calling on Christian Hazel, Jp’s esteemed editor, to carry the manzierre torch. It could be his legacy. His predecessor, John Cappa, the man who gave me this column, will go down in history for his questionable hiring choices. But what of poor Mr. Hazel? How will he be immortalized? He could be known as Mr. Manzierre. So if you see him at the Rubicon or Moab, be sure to shake his hand and thank him. Just try not to stare.