Let’s start at the very beginning. On Saturday, August 8th, we hit the road driving a rather large, very not green vehicle, headed to Glacier National Park (Glacier is in Montana for those of you who, like me, were not aware). To help some friends with a vehicle swap and get a Jeep Grand Cherokee converted from a daily use vehicle to a more seldom use vacation home vehicle, we drove said Jeep over two thousand miles. Two thousand VERY UNCOMFORTABLE miles. The deal was that, thanks to a certain government stimulus program, we would be driving our friends’ brand new, much more fuel efficient vehicle on our return trip.
The theme of the first day driving was “Guzzling,” as in, what the Jeep did to gas. If you ever see the word V-8 used to describe a vehicle, it is probably not referring to tomato juice, and you would be wise to get away quickly, lest your bank account be drained by its insatiable appetite for gasoline. In case the 15 MPG (at best) mileage were not painful enough, this particular Jeep had some other special features.
Fifteen minutes into our trip, we heard, “Beep beep beep. Beep beep beep,” and saw that the panel that normally displayed the date and time was flashing a message: “Rear liftgate open.” I immediately pictured the liftgate door flying open and scattering our belongings all over the interstate. Not a good way to start a trip. I exited at the next available opportunity, and Matthew jumped out, ran to the back, opened the [completely closed] liftgate door, and shut it again. False alarm. The vehicle repeated this little trick several more times throughout the day, and after checking it for a second time, we ignored the warning.
Fast forward to the second day. We did not even make it back onto the interstate before the beeping started. And instead of doing it a few times, the guzzler “Beep beep beeped. Beep beep beeped,” ALL DAY LONG. Stopping to reclose it did not help. We looked for wires to disconnect or some kind of switch to cover up. Finding neither, and becoming desperate as the minutes turned to hours, we started looking for a cliff off which we could drive. The flat terrain foiled Plan B, so we moved on to Plan C: put in ear plugs so that we can turn the music up loud enough to almost drown out the sound of the beeping. Almost, as in, nothing could completely cover up the sound.
We endured and made it to our campsite for the 2nd night, near Great Falls, Montana. It looked better than our previous night’s campsite, meaning we were not crammed in right between two other groups of tents, one with small children and adults who were loud until very late in the night. No sooner had we pitched our tent at this new site than we very nearly went into cardiac arrest due to the blaring whistle of a freight train going through the campground. Well, not exactly through the campground, but close enough that it may as well have. We gave each other an, “Are you serious?” look and braced for another sleepless night, but luckily there was only one other train.
Day three brought a short driving day, only four hours and then we were in Glacier! Matthew finally discovered a way to distract the Jeep so that it could not make the incessant beeping, so we drove those hours in peace and quiet. PTL!