My father sent me the above picture this morning, and it brought with it a bunch of memories. It's a picture of our old Jeep Cherokee, with my darling wife, Teresa, in the passenger seat, and my brother in the back. I think it was taken around 2002.
We bought the Jeep in 2000 after Teresa fell in love with a Cherokee we rented for a trip earlier that winter. Once she got behind the wheel, she knew she wanted one. We bought this one used, and it proceeded to be our road trip vehicle, taking us all around the country.
A few months after we got it, we took our first major cross-country trip, taking us through 21 states and more than 5000 miles. It was memorable for so many reasons, but spending that many miles with my wonderful wife was tops, seeing and sharing so many sites. I ended up taking my daughter on a similar trip in 2016.
One of the coolest experiences was in South Dakota. Teresa and I had just exited Custer State Park, and we were headed south to Wind Cave National Park. We came around a bend in the road, and saw a huge herd of bison coming at us, running right down the middle of the road. I hit the brakes, and the herd parted like Moses parting the Red Sea, passing by on either side of our Jeep. If only we had thought to get out the camera. We just kind of looked at each other and laughed. It was so incredible.
We took the Cherokee on many more trips, including our first visit to Great Smoky National Park, a tour of New England (and Canada! We went to Campobello Island, FDR's family summer home), and a trip to Florida. All told, we put well over 100,000 miles on the Jeep.
After Teresa passed away in 2004, I sold it. I replaced it with a brand new Jeep Liberty, which I never loved like I loved the Cherokee. I kept the Liberty for 10 years, but it only had 60,000 miles on it in that time. The Cherokee gave me a love and appreciation for Jeeps, and I was thrilled to get a Wrangler four years ago. It's our new road trip vehicle.
That picture was a blast from the past, though, and it provided some really nice memories. It will always remind me of our incredible road trips, and, most of all, it will always remind me of my wonderful wife. That was her Jeep. And she loved it.
Have a great evening, everyone.