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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Point Of No Return - Crossing The Rubicon ...or RUBYKON, as the case may be

The idiom "Crossing the Rubicon" means to pass a point of no return, and refers to Julius Caesar's army's crossing of the river in 49 BC, which was considered an act of insurrection. Because the course of the river has changed much since then, it is impossible to confirm exactly where the Rubicon flowed when Caesar and his legions crossed it. Since someone else already had taken the license plate, I spelled it RUBYKON. A nice plate for a red Rubykon.

Yeseree! That is a trail. The Bracken Fern was as tall as my Jeep.

Affectionately known as, "Ruby"
So I got to thinking. Always dangerous for someone with FTD. Ya never know where it might lead.

I figured I needed a vacation. I also figured I might not be able to take one next year, or the next. My future is very uncertain. So, somehow I got motivated. Actually someone else motivated me to get my butt in gear, and finally make a trip up North into Michigan.

So, my Jeep was coming off its lease. It is expensive, and has a huge carbon footprint. Yeah, but I love it. It is red. It is the most fun I have ever had driving. Well, due to some deceit by a formerly trusted friend, I was no longer able to get the financing approved to refinance my Jeep at the end of its lease. This was unfortunate because it had about $12,000 worth of equity in it. The dealership was more than happy to get it back, and there was no motivation for them to extend me any breaks. They were looking at a hefty profit when they resold it, and I would take the loss.

So, I figured I might as well take my Jeep up into Michigan, go off-roading, and beat the snot out of it before I had to give it back. Seemed like a good plan to me. And so it was. And so I did.

I planned the whole trip myself. I only got lost once - kinda - my GPS had me going in circles for a little while until I figured out that I should do what it was telling me to do, and not what I thought it was telling me to do. Yes, there is a difference between right and left. Round trip I ended up driving about 1500 miles, and only about 60 miles of that could be considered off-road. I got to see a lot of Michigan. I started around the lower end of Manistee National Forest near Fremont, spent a whole day exploring Manistee National Forest near Cadillac, and then headed on up to the Upper Peninsula to the Pictured Rocks area, and the Hiawatha National Forest.

The trip was a total success. I broke my Jeep, and had a great time. I ended up coming home early because the shifter for the 4WD became disconnected from the linkage to the transfer case. In short, my Jeep wasn't a Jeep anymore, so I packed it in. I was so far out in the boonies that the nearest dealership was 450 miles away, and it was about the same distance to get back home. So, that morning I got my feet wet in Lake Superior, that afternoon I was wading in Lake Michigan, and that evening I was floating around in my pool. Long day.

I got back, and figured I had to fix the Jeep. While I had it in to the service center, I decided to test-drive a few new cars. I tried a Compass, and a Liberty, and a couple others. That was enough fore me. They were ...ummmm ...how to put this nicely. Sub-standard? They were definitely NOT a Jeep Wrangler JK 4 door Rubicon!!! I am spoiled. So, I talked to the new car sales person, and she managed to get me financing. It cost me more than I would have liked, but it is the price I had to pay for someone else's actions. Lesson learned. I kept the Jeep. The repairs needed are minor. A bushing fell off the bottom of the shift lever, and a cable became disconnected so I could not shift into 4WD.

I do not know how much longer I will be able to drive. I have discussed this with my doctors. The best evaluation is from my Neurologist. When he saw what I was driving, and that it is a 6-speed manual transmission, his comment was, "You will have trouble driving it, before you can't drive." I think he is probably right. In any case, I am doing OK for now. I am very careful.

So, that is how I spent my Summer vacation. So far... and the best part is that except for gas one can visit the National Parks for free. Camping is allowed almost anywhere as long as you are 200 feet away from the roads. I hope my vacation pictures weren't too boring. I kept the top up on the Jeep because the flies were bad, and the temperature was around 96 degrees with a heat index in the hundreds. I have air conditioning. Sweet Jeep!

Mud! Mud! Gotta love the MUD!!!!

End of the trail. Literally! Had to turn around, but not before a good cigar and a mug of Stout.

Lake Superior. Minor's Castle is the name of the rock formation.

Minor's Falls. The only one that is is legal to hike down to, and get under. Yes I DID!

Lake Superior. I was here in the morning, and home that night.

Comments and questions are welcome.


  1. Kool beans!!
    So where are the REST of the pictures?

  2. Wonderful posting and pictures Lee! Ah, but I'm thinking of the UP more and more.

  3. Well done, my friend. What a wonderful adventure. Glad you're home and happy and still have Ruby.