Jeep Cherokee Adventures
Let’s admit it. We all yearn for adventure, sitting behind bright screens surrounded by a cubicle, don’t you wish you could be away for a while. Away from the concrete jungles. And most of the time an adventure is right there… within our grasp, just for the taking. Yet very few of us are courageous enough to live our dream. This series are dedicated to such individuals and is a first-hand account of their experiences. Enjoy. Be inspired.
The Jeep Chronicles
There are Christmas lights wrapped around the ceiling creating a wonderful ambient light above you as you rest, a French Press of freshly-ground Sumatra and Costa Rican blend is brewing to perfection just outside of where you are sitting while Django Reinhardt’s ‘Minor Swing’ plays softly through the Bluetooth stereo system. You look out the window and see the stars shining above the treetops, and then look down to see your cell phone and other various devices charging off the AC outlets next to you. While looking out the window you realise the only thing separating you from Mother Nature is the doors of a Jeep Cherokee. Now Jeeps aren’t associated with luxury. So you might be wondering what a French Press is doing in a Jeep Cherokee.
The inspiration came from the various “van life” accounts dotted across the internet; I have been modifying my 2001 Jeep Cherokee to be a cross between a comfortable and homely weekend adventure-mobile; and a rugged, purpose-built off roader. Sporting a 3.5” Rubicon Express lift kit, 33” BFGoodrich All Terrain Ko2 tyres, snorkel intake, a heavy duty front bumper from JCR Offroad, solid axles, and a plethora of recovery gear, this Jeep Cherokee boasts is ready for almost anything the trail throws at it. The Jeep sports a 6×8 foot roll-out awning from ARB, soon to have the capability of being turned into a 48 square foot enclosed room with cots for sleeping, gas hookups for cooking and heating, and large windows. The double burner stove, grill, and large cooler that hold several gallons of water and any food you may need makes cooking an absolute breeze wherever there’s a flat surface. There is an aluminium folding table that can be stowed away underneath the cooler. So far, my Jeep has used travelled all over New England, Vermont, Western Massachusetts, and even Long Island. Plans are in place to travel nearly 1000 miles of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine over the course of 4 days in May, and there is a very high chance the Jeep Cherokee will be moving to Florida for the next 4-7 years this summer, seeing plenty of new adventures in places like the Keys and the Everglades. It’s truly been an experience building this machine, and I can’t wait to see where I can take it, and where it can take me.
Sometimes, things don’t go according to plan, and adventure isn’t easy. I got to learn this the hard way on the Massachusetts/Vermont border. I was a few miles into the woods on an access road. It was late winter, the frost was melting and it was raining, so the roads were muddy but passable with careful driving. I came across a dirt parking lot for a waterfall that you can hike to, and I decided to stop and make the hike. There was a pretty big puddle across the entrance to the lot. Though it looked wide, I was thinking back to the fact that the rest of the road had been relatively easy so far. I decided to set up my phone on the other side thinking it would make for a neat action shot. Well, I was right I did get action.
Upon entering what looked like a shallow puddle, The Jeep dropped nearly 3 feet into muddy, frigid water. A bolt securing the air box had come lose, breaking the plastic and leaving a nice hole in the air box. The jeep immediately lost power and wouldn’t move. Since there was a chance it may not get out under its’ own power, I got out into knee-deep, frigid water and took a 3 mile jog in soaking wet pants and bare feet. Well, I didn’t want to continue my trip or whatever was left of it, in wet socks and boots. I did find a house. To my luck, the old gent there owned a truck. He was quite friendly and accompanied me to the site. The gent, it turned out, used to live in my hometown in the 80’s and had moved out into the woods after a divorce. He had been living by himself up there. His truck was as interesting as he was. Shifting gears was done by sticking a wrench into a hole in the floor. We reached my stranded Jeep and thankfully it started up. With a little help from his truck we were able to get the Jeep Cherokee out. I had no cash or anything to offer to him for his help, so I gave him a genuine hug. At that moment, I saw one of the happiest, most genuine smiles on a human being. I knew he never wanted anything in return and that he was simply happy to have gotten to hang out with and help someone in a long while. After letting the water burn out of the exhaust, the Jeep drove home nearly 3 hours with no issues and continues to run well to this day.
Max Ablicki is an 18-year-old Overlanding and adventure enthusiast who lives in Western Massachusetts. An interest in travel and off-roading came at an early age from his father, who used to take Max and his brother off-roading. The interests in travel and off-roading culminated into a love of adventure and overland travel when in the summer of 2013, Max bought a 2001 Jeep Cherokee, his first vehicle. Since then he has been building it and traveling all around New England, with many stories of the trail and the road. Max plans to attend Florida Gulf Coast University in the fall of 2016 and explore all the places Florida and its surrounding states have to offer in terms of adventure and overland travel. Here are some of his memorable drives.
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