Monday, July 30, 2007

Go Anywhere > Do Anything - is this really necessary?

Camp Jeep came to Nelson County - but also to downtown Charlottesville. The parking area between South First Street and Second Street SW was turned over (well, I presume some significant compensation was provided to whomever owns that parking lot) for the purpose of selling Jeep vehicles... and at the same time selling the idea of "Go Anywhere > Do Anything."
In these times of concern over global warming, protection of wilderness areas, preservation of streams, endangered species, and even just quiet areas and scenic and/or historic landscapes, I am disappointed that the idea of "Go Anywhere > Do Anything" is being promoted in Charlottesville, and that the city is at least in part participating in the event by closing South First Street so that Jeep marketeers can provide sales related material to the public.

The photo above was taken just after the close of the Downtown City Market (about 12:05 pm). This lot is (I believe) heavily used by market goers, but those who are buying local and in fact taking positive (and healthy) actions toward reducing environmental damage through long distance transport of food, and supporting our local farmers were not able to use that parking area so that Jeep could promote the Go Anywhere > Do Anything theme.

Having never driven a four-wheel drive vehicle, I took a ride. I selected a Super Wrangler or something like that, drove over a row of logs as though I was driving through a wilderness area, rocking uncomfortably from side to side; climbed the approximately 45 degree hill to roughly 30 feet in the air; descended to the pavement again and drove through the simulated river back to the starting point. I was impressed by the experience. But, unlike the impression Jeep is hoping for, I had my four-wheel drive experience, and clearly want no part of driving through sensitive wilderness areas ripping up stream beds, hillsides, or forested areas. I didn't see the fun in any of this.

I suppose other Jeep riders loved the experience and will soon be sending lots of cash to Jeep to buy an opportunity to Go Anywhere > Do Anything but I started listing the many places that I think should be off limits to these four-wheel drive machines. I think of the buffalo in Yellowstone, Caribou in the Alaska Wildlife Preserve, and the many other threatened species and landscapes being invaded by these vehicles in the summer and the go anywhere and do anything snowmobilers in the winter. Aren't there places we simply shouldn't be going? And if we do go there, do we have to drive vehicles like these into those fragile places. I think not. Fortunately, many people who buy these vehicles rarely go off-road and I suppose the money primarily buys the idea of freedom we don't realy need to exercise in the wild. I guess even the idea of freedom is worth the price to many.

Perhaps everyone needs to get the experience of driving a four-wheel vehicle once in their life. I lived 60 years (and Jeeps were around before I was born) until I had mine. Unless I am involved in some future life saving mission where only a four-wheel vehicle can do the job, I think I may have driven my last. I guess I can go where I need to go, and do what I need to do without a Jeep. How about you?

1 comment:

Doggy said...

Most people never get their off-road vehicles off the road unless they miss the driveway at 3am. Jeep drivers may be more of an exception to this generalization than, say, Denali drivers. (Denali is an anagram for denial, by the way).

How about a bike? Go anywhere, do anything. And as Einstein said, feel better.