Summer Passion: My Wrangler

There’s a sense of camaraderie among Wrangler drivers

The day I drove my shiny new car off the lot in Warwick, I decided to take the back way home. Instead of driving Route 1 all the way down to Narragansett, I hopped on 138 East and then got off on Scenic 1A. It was the perfect June day — 80 degrees without a cloud in the sky — and I just couldn’t resist rolling down the windows, cranking up the radio and cruising along the beautiful stretch of shoreline toward Narragansett Beach.

I had just passed the turnoff for Bonnet Shores and was making my way down toward the ocean when I glimpsed the driver of a car tossing me a casual wave as he passed. I hadn’t been living in ’Gansett for very long, so I simply assumed that the man had mistaken me for someone else.

Except then, not half a mile later, it happened again. A young woman driving a Jeep Wrangler lifted her fingers off the steering wheel in a salute, the way you would greet a neighbor or close friend that you passed on the road. Little did I know that with the purchase of my Jeep, I had entered a semi-secret club that comes alive during the summer in Rhode Island.

When I decided to buy my car, I had no clue that Wrangler drivers had an unspoken subculture. In fact, I simply thought the boxy trucks were cute and, like every twenty-something girl, I wanted a convertible. But soon after I bought my Wrangler, I realized that people who drive Jeeps — specifically that model — are a special kind of people. We’re the summer warriors. We live for muddy off-roading, quirky wheel covers and doorless drives down the coast. The day the weather hits 70 degrees, you can bet that the tops come down and we’ll be soaking up the sunshine, celebrating that summer is finally back.

There’s a sense of camaraderie among Wrangler drivers — the “Jeep wave” is just the beginning of it. Drivers exchange pleasantries in random parking lots without any hint of awkwardness, and you’re obligated to stop and help fellow Wranglers if you spot them on the side of the road. There are even Jeep groups that meet to swap adventure stories and take off-roading trips together.

I quickly fell in love with everything that Jeep culture had to offer. A salute from a passing driver never fails to make me smile, and the pure bliss of driving with the top down, doors off and my hair whipping is the antidote to even my crummiest of moods. By the end of the summer, I had become one of the many Wrangler drivers who soak up the last waning minutes of the season. Today I can’t imagine life without my Jeep.

I’ve since moved away from Narragansett, though I can’t say I don’t miss it. But even as I trek to work in Boston, I’m secretly counting the days until summer when I can unclip my fabric top, wrestle off the doors and cruise back down to Narragansett Beach. The best part is that I’ll be welcomed with waves and salutes from my fellow summer warriors, and I can guarantee it will feel like I never left at all.