June 11, 2022

On our way to Zena’s obedience training yesterday we passed a group of eight jeep wranglers traveling together.  It is not uncommon to see wranglers on the road, and I admit I do notice them more now that I own one.  Usually there may be one or two that just happen to be traveling along the same road when I come upon them.  I have even seen several small groups of two or three that appear to be traveling together.  When I approached the first of this group, I thought it was interesting.  As I passed, I noticed the two vehicles in front of this were also wranglers.  Then I noticed they all had Oklahoma license plates.  They were all traveling just below speed limit and were all 2-3 car lengths apart.  This kept the group close and discouraged others from breaking into their formation.  I realized we had us a convoy.

When I looked online, I found Convoy is a 1978 American road action-comedy film directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw, and Ernest Borgnine.  The film is based on the 1975 country and western novelty song “Convoy” by C. W. McCall.  The film was made when the CB radio/trucking craze was at its peak in the US and followed the similarly themed films White Line Fever (1975) and Smokey and the Bandit (1977).  The plot centers around a group of truckers who have a confrontation with the police.  The truckers prevail, and the Rubber Duck (Kristofferson’s handle) handcuffs Wallace (police chief – Borgnine) to a bar stool.  The truckers dismantle the police cars and head for the state line to avoid prosecution.  The truckers drive across Arizona and New Mexico, with Wallace in pursuit.  Additional independent truckers join them to form a mile-long convoy in support of Rubber Duck’s vendetta against the abusive Wallace.  The truckers communicate with each other via CB radio, and CB jargon is sprinkled throughout the film.  As the rebellious truckers try to evade the police, Rubber Duck becomes a reluctant hero.  Although the film received mixed reviews from critics, it was the most commercially successful film of Peckinpah’s career.

I also found 74 Meetups Jeep Clubs representing 54 cities and a total of 19,600 members when I was online.  While these clubs have shows and friendly competitions, the real draw is off roading together.  As one site proclaimed, “You Won’t See Any Bathroom Remodeling Or Candle Vendors At Our Show.  We Are Jeep People And This Event Is Dedicated To Nothing But Jeeps!”  I spent a lot of time around Moab when I lived in Utah.  This southeastern portion of the state is known for its slickrock trails and its jeep tours.  The Red Rock 4 Wheelers are based in Moab and was formed as a family club to have fun and promote responsible 4-wheeling.  In addition to the Easter Jeep Safari, the club sponsors the Labor Day Camp Out, trails of the month, do cleanup and mark trails, and participate in other club outings.  Much of the area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) so any jeep convoy requires registration, insurance, and permits.

THOUGHTS:  While I never participated with the Red Rock club, I was able to follow some memorable trails, including an old oil and gas road down into Barrier Canyon.  I thought better of it when I turned the corner onto the slickrock, but the grade was so steep I could not back up even in 4-wheel low.  We camped several nights at the bottom before attempting to climb back out.  While we got out with no problem, I had visions of leaving my jeep in the wilderness.  The deserts of the American southwest are rugged, beautiful, and fragile.  The tours and clubs travel in a convoy on existing trails and off trail travel is prohibited by the BLM.  It is said a single wagon (jeep) track is still visible from the air over 100 years later.  Our natural resources can provide amazing thrills and views, but careless use will cause lasting damage that spoils the beauty for others.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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