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Hey Dickie Betts, I Too, Am a Ramblin’ Man

“First I went over to Colorado Springs and clumb Pikes’ Peak.”
“Wait a minute, you done WHAT to Pikes Peak?”
“I clumb it!!!”
“No ya didn’t. Ya climbed it.”
“It’s the same thing!”
“No it ain’t. There ain’t no such word as ‘clumb.’ Ma spent a lot of money gettin’ you that education, why don’t ya use it?”

And that, Dear Reader, is a bit of dialog from the Sons of Katie Elder. Written by: William H. Wright (Screenplay), Allan Weiss (Screenplay), Harry Essex (Screenplay), Talbot Jennings (Story)

This came to mind recently, well, wait, let me start at the beginning…

As a fisherman, I am admittedly an embarrassment to my late grandfather when left to my own wiles and skillset. I’m pretty good when I go with someone who has a boat and all the gear, gets us to the right spot, and tells me to throw my bait into the water … right there.

I do try to go fishing with a guide in the Tampa Bay or Port Charlotte waters two or three times a year.

I usually take one or two friends or family with me and enjoy a day on the water with them. It’s a lot of fun for me to take someone who either hasn’t ever been saltwater fishing, or hasn’t been in a long time. The excitement they show is worth every bit of effort and cost to make the trip.

For various scheduling reasons, neither of my daughters has been able to go with me until this year.

In mid-July, we went down to Boca Grande for a day of flats fishing – I’ll leave the offshore work to those less inclined to seasickness. In about 1983 I was able to enjoy seeing the Gulf Stream up close one loooong day when I was hanging over the side of a 24′ foot boat crossing from the West End of Grand Bahama Island to West Palm Beach in eight-foot seas.


I have attached a picture of me with daughters Kaitlyn and Catherine, plus Kaitlyn’s 35″ snook (catch & release for snook, but we brought home a near limit of snapper and some trout). We had a great time – fathers and daughter times are the best times of life, aren’t they? (Please feel free to replace fathers with mothers and daughters with sons, or whatever may suit your life story, then enjoy a few minutes of happy memories. I will wait until you get back.)

The fishing trip unfolded like this.

I left work about Monday at noon/1 o’clock, took a 30-minute snooze, packed my bag and picked up Catherine (she lives nearby) and we drove to Boca Grande. We got there about five minutes after Kaitlyn who drove separately in my 2-door Jeep Wrangler (henceforth known as the “Green Jeep”).

jeep death wobbleKaitlyn had the Green Jeep, because her Jeep (the “Yellow Jeep”) was in the shop being repaired.

The shop was (and still is) in Boone, NC. The shop, Rubitrux, does customizing on Jeeps and other vehicles.

These guys are great people and I really enjoy being their customer. (Disclaimer: My wife, not so much. “You spend WHAT on a Jeep you already own?!?”)

Almost two years ago, Kaitlyn’s Jeep ‘needed’ a new engine. It was drinking oil and those motors have the reputation of not lasting much more than 100,000 miles. Kaitlyn had nearly doubled that since 2011. Since it was hers and not mine, I sent it to Rubitrux to replace the factory 3.6 Liter V-6 with a 5.7 V-8 Hemi. It came back and I loved it, but unfortunately, it belonged to Kaitlyn and it was my beta test, after all, so off she drove.

In December of 2021, I bought a 2-door 2013 Wrangler so we could have a ‘spare’ vehicle (Remember the Green Jeep? This is it.)

I drove it for about three months to make sure there weren’t any latent mechanical issues and then sent that one off to Rubitrux. This time I requested the 6.4 Liter V-8 Hemi. It generates about 500 HP and runs like a scalded ape. Boys and their toys, you understand.

So let’s get back to this year. In about January, the Yellow Jeep started displaying the “Death Wobble.”

I put it in the shop locally 247 times and spent 18 ba-jillion dollars to repair it. I could not get the problem corrected. Now we were faced with what to do with an automobile that I had sunk too much money into, that I couldn’t seem to get repaired, and the joy of buying new vehicles in 2022 had reached an all-time low.

(Note: we’ve talked about this before. Sunk costs don’t matter in the evaluation of how to go forward. What’s spent is spent, spilt milk and all. The only reason to belabor and obsessively review the costs is so we (me in this case) can feel doubly bad about the state of current affairs.)

jeep death wobbleSo, before I folded the tent on the Yellow Jeep (which Kaitlyn loves driving when she isn’t afraid for her life), I called my buddy Clint at Rubitrux, and he said, “Sure we can fix it. No problem.

I will call my shipping guy right now and we will come get it.”

So now you know why Kaitlyn drove the Green Jeep to Boca Grande. This is all good. We had a great day fishing, but I let things get away from me. From seven-thirty in the morning to about 1:30 in the afternoon is about all the sun, heat, and physical effort on the water I’m good for at this point in life. On “Father/Daughter Day” we were out until about 3. Just to be sure we pegged the fun meter, we drove around the Gulf side of the island so as to beat me to near death for half an hour.

Oh yeah, one other small detail. At seven o’clock the previous evening upon arriving at The Innlet for our one-night stay, Kaitlyn said, “Dad, the Green Jeep overheated just as I got here.” Oh, joy.

There’s nothing open on Boca Grande this time of night, so we will deal with it just as soon as we get off the water.”

As said, Dad let the day go on a bit too long and we were not off the water at three. As I fooled with radiators and coolant, three turned into five and before I knew it, we had three hot, sweaty people, my Ram 1500 all well and good, and one dead Green Jeep in the Publix Parking lot.

Discretion being the better part of valor, I decided to retreat in the face of superior forces.

I left the Green Jeep where it sat, drove Kaitlyn home to Saint Pete, dropped Catherine off at her house in Winter Haven (her first words to her husband: “Why are all three of my children awake and in the driveway at 9:30 in the evening?”, and arrived home at 10.

I was a tired puppy.

The next day I called around, and located a friend of Ralph Allen’s who grew up in Port Charlotte. (note: Ralph has friends EVERYWHERE). The friend (we will call him “Jeff” since that’s his name) connected me with a friend of his that has an auto shop. They were so very helpful. Great people. High Gear Automotive in Englewood.

They volunteered to coordinate with a wrecker service local to them and get the Green Jeep towed to their shop and do the repairs. Unfortunately, they are a 2 ½-hour drive from my home and they needed a key.

Fortunately, Kaitlyn had one of the two keys to Mr. Green Jeep and volunteered, yea even insisted, that she deliver the key.

All’s well that ends well, except it wasn’t ended. I still had to drive down there and get the Green Jeep. Fortunately, we had a family beach week in Venice scheduled for a week out and High Gear graciously told me it was no problem letting the Green Jeep sit until I got there about 10 days later.

But unfortunately, once again, this meant Kaitlyn had to rent a car for the better part of a week while Green Jeep was in the Boca Grande shop and Yellow Jeep was in Boone, NC shop.

You’re still with me, right?

To compound unfortunate issues Kaitlyn used her best judgment and stopped at a red light.

The guy behind her did not. It was just a minor fender bender, but Kaitlyn has rental coverage on her personal auto insurance and did not take the rental car agency’s coverage. Her personal insurance company wanted proof that the Yellow Jeep was in the repair shop while she was driving a rental. Why this is important is beyond my understanding, but such is the nature of insurance adjusters in my bitter, hate-filled experience. Note to self: take the rental insurance even though I think I’m being taken advantage of, so as to avoid greater hassles and being taken advantage of even more down the road (so to speak).

Two days before the beach trip began, I called Clint (remember my buddy at Rubitrux?), and he said great news: “The Yellow Jeep is going on the truck today and will be in Florida on the weekend.” Unfortunately (are we noticing a trend with the word “unfortunately” yet?) I had arranged to have the Jeep shipped to my wife’s plumbing shop (she and her siblings inherited it when their Dad, a Navy vet, passed from lung cancer when Christie was 16. That’s been almost 50 years now.) If you don’t know my wife’s plumbing business, they are the ones that are open 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, i.e., not on weekends. Somehow this new logistical snag turned into an argument wherein she wasn’t speaking to me. You can safely assume that no aspect of any alleged argument was my fault; you can safely do so unless you say it aloud in her presence. At that point, all bets are off, and you are on your own.

Okay, I’ll cut to the chase:

The Yellow Jeep arrived at the Plumbing shop over the weekend and the key was secured. I gave my brother-in-law my spare to move it on Monday.

I picked up Kaitlyn on the way to the beach on Saturday, we drove the half-hour to the auto shop and retrieved the Green Jeep. It is in good shape and still goes ninety-to-nuthin’.

Kaitlyn drove the Green Jeep from the Beach to my house after much family fun and frivolity.

Then she drove the Yellow Jeep to her house. No death wobble!

Clint prepared a letter for Kaitlyn to send to the insurance company showing the Yellow Jeep was in the shop at the time in question.

Christie is speaking to me but my ability to confuse “funny” with “irritating” is always a moment away.

In this long story (too long, I know), there was much stress and frustration. Upon gaining a little perspective, however, it is clear that my frustration and my stress came from the inconvenience of the various situations and issues. The stress of all involved came from not having a solution to their particular issue RIGHT NOW! With a little patience and effort, and a bit of time, most of these issues resolved themselves or were resolved without any great hardship.

So I ask you, when you are “clumbing” a mountain, and slip and fall three feet backward, is time to give up? Should you bemoan the three feet you’ve fallen or acknowledge the fifty feet you’ve come and continue the climb to the summit?

While you are contemplating those great thoughts, pull up this 10-year S&P chart and contemplate mountain peaks. Bonus: It’s in yellow.

There is one little tidbit relevant to this story that I have left out. Between the time I left the office on Monday noon and the end of the day Tuesday, I received five calls from investors panicked about the market.

I’m pretty sure that meant July statements had just reached local mailboxes as I was setting off on a little adventure. Like a dummy, I checked my messages while away! My stress level jumped through the roof! I hate it when my clients have questions or concerns and they have to wait to hear back from me. I met with each of them as soon as possible after I returned to my office. They were all good positive meetings with lots of Q&A and historical charts and perspectives. But if I were to summarize all those meetings, the upshot was this: Patience, time and a little effort. Those can work wonders for fishermen, auto repairs and investors.

They are probably good medicine for any issues in life, but we must remember not to skip over the patience part!

August 2022

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