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Looking Back

DIY Jeep Clutch Extension

Desert Jeep

Driving a manual transmission Jeep – especially an older style – can be interesting when you have shorter legs. For my Jeep, the clutch has to be pushed all the way to the floor for it to engage which is rather difficult for this 5’2” person with shorter legs. It’s even difficult for Munchkin who has longer legs.

I could reach if I put a pillow behind my back, but even then, I had to use my tippy toe with a completely straight leg. I was also too close to the steering wheel for my comfort, and D certainly didn’t like it. While Munchkin didn’t need to pillow, she still had to do the crazy stretch which isn’t a good thing – especially for a younger, new driver.

I began to do some research into options for making the clutch work for shorter people. I quickly learned this wasn’t a unique problem, but there weren’t a lot of safe options out there. Yes, there are some pricey clutch extensions available that are geared towards serving disabled people, but I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of having to spend a lot of money on it. Plus, since D is also driving the Jeep, I wanted something that could be easily removed when he was driving.

We saw several “interesting” things that people put together, but they didn’t look all that safe. Using zip ties to secure a block of wood to the clutch just doesn’t seem like a great idea. We wanted safe, secure, and usable without it costing a chunk of change.

Jeep clutch extension

Ultimately, we decided that we’d try to come up with something on our own. It began with a block of wood to determine how much reach needed to be added to the clutch to make it work comfortably for Munchkin and me. Then, D started to look around the garage to see what scraps he had. Slowly, the ideas started to come together.

The rubber portion of the clutch pedal came off. D used some scrap steel to recreate the shape of the clutch pedal for the new clutch pedal extension. Scrap steel, steel tubing, nuts and bolts, and a large washer were cut, ground down, properly sized, and welded together. Several changes were made before the final product came together. Once it was finished, a coating of black paint was applied, and my new clutch extension was installed.

A closer look at the Jeep clutch extension

It’s now easy for me to push in the clutch. It’s very secure. I’m able to reach without needing to use a pillow, stretch, or sit too close to the wheel. I’m so thankful that D has the skills and creativity to put something like this together. It was all done with things that we had sitting around the garage, so basically, the only cost was the time that was put into it.

Easter 2016

Our girl all dressed up for Easter

Our baby girl is definitely growing up all too fast. I remember when she would wear a frilly, pink Easter dress with a matching straw hat for Easter. Times have changed, but not for the worst. It’s just different.

We’re grateful that even though Munchkin’s style in clothing has changed over the years that she’s always wanted to remain modest in her attire. I think she has a fun style all of her own which often means that finding clothing isn’t always easy. When you throw in her being super sensitive to how clothing feels (scratchy material and seams are a no-go), it can be a long process to find new clothing for the season.

Many of the old traditions have slipped away while we turn to new ways to spend time together as a family. Easter baskets and egg hunts have faded away. We do egg hunts now and again, but they’re usually not tied directly to Easter. Instead of filling up a basket on Easter morning, I tend to surprise her with a little something that she really wants/needs instead.

One thing that hasn’t changed is family pictures on Easter after morning church services.

Daddy and daughter goofy around

As is the norm around here, getting serious pictures of these two is rather difficult. They are always goofing around and pushing each other over. Lots of laughter takes place, and I may or may not get a good “normal” shot. lol!

I don’t mind as I love to see their special relationship in action. She loves her daddy, and her daddy adores her. It is important for a girl to know how much her daddy loves and cares for her. Munchkin knows what it is like to be treated with respect. She knows that her daddy values her opinions. He lifts her up. He knows how to balance being the serious father figure she needs while still having a blast with her. Yes, I’m very grateful that they have that special relationship.

It’s through her earthly father’s love that she gets to see a glimpse of her heavenly father’s love. When you’re a teenager faced with all kinds of decisions, it’s nice to have that real life example to hold on to when things get a little crazy.

Wordless Wednesday: Signs of Spring at Barker Dam

Blooming Joshua Tree

We haven’t had much rain, but the desert is starting to come to life. We saw some blooms on our hike at Barker Dam.

Blooming Yucca


Blooming Cactus

Desert Flowers

Lizard sunning himself on a rock

Hiking Barker Dam Trail

Getting reading to set off to see Barker Dam

It’s hard to believe that we haven’t been out hiking since June 2015. We love the great outdoors and exploring, but my ankle injury put everything on hold for months and months and months. I’m still working on getting back to 100%, but I’m now at the point where I felt that I could start doing some short hikes. The first day of spring seemed like the perfect time to give it a try.

Hiking the Barker Dam Trail

We headed over to Joshua Tree National Park to take the easy Barker Dam Trail hike. The parking area was packed, but the hike itself was nice. The good thing about hiking around Joshua Tree National Park is that there can be a lot of people without the area feeling super crowded. (The prime climbing areas can be a different story.)

Looking at Barker Dam

Other than the allergy issue, we had an enjoyable time being back out in nature. We took our time and explored different areas. We weren’t in a hurry which meant we could take side trails and just explore. My ankle, while still lacking normal flexibility, felt pretty good.

Checking out one of the climbing areas

Of course, D wanted to check out the different climbing/bouldering areas, and he dreamed of when he’d, once again, be able to climb. He really misses it. He still has quite a few months before he’ll be able to even begin to do the basics, but he’s confident that his shoulder will get strong enough to start climbing again. I’m probably more hesitant than he is about the whole thing because I don’t want to see him hurt again. He still has the other shoulder that’s injured in addition to the shoulder surgery recovery.

Barker Dam

The water at the dam was quite a bit lower than it was last time we were there. The desert is just starting to bloom. We need a really good rain to get things going strong.

Looking at the petroglyphs


Munchkin’s favorite part was the petroglyph cave.

Looking at the petroglyphs


She enjoyed looking at the various petroglyphs as well as looking at the different rock formations in the cave.

Exploring the petroglyph caveOf course, it’s always fun when you can go straight through the boulder and come out the other side. 😉

Barker Dam

The weather was perfect thanks to a nice breeze. It was an enjoyable day. I’m looking forward to gradually increasing the length and difficultly of our hikes as I have missed going out.

Part of the Jeep Family

New (to me) 1989 Jeep YJ

I faintly remember a trip from my childhood where we took our Jeep and another vehicle camping. (Clearly I was more fond of the Jeep because I have no clue about the other vehicle.) I’m not sure when that Jeep was sold, but it was only a part of my early years.

As I grew up and got ready to drive, I always thought it would be fun to have a Jeep. (In all fairness, I also wanted a classic Mustang. I never did get a Mustang, but I did have a sporty Camaro for a few years.) A Jeep wasn’t in the cards for a variety of reasons, but it was always in the back of my mind that I would like to have one some day.

When we moved to the desert, D and I started looking at Jeeps as they make great off-road vehicles, but the prices of Jeeps were just crazy. At that point in time, we didn’t really want an older Jeep as we needed a reliable vehicle. Older Jeeps tend to have gremlins. lol!

As Munchkin approached getting her driver’s license, I starting looking at Jeeps again. It brought back memories of my teenage years. Since her project truck had been put on the back burner for several reasons, I liked the idea of purchasing an older, working Jeep. (We didn’t want to take on another project vehicle.) Munchkin, like her mama, has always liked the look of Jeeps.

Since Jeep Wranglers tend to hold their value (especially in our area where a lot of people drive them), it took a lot of time and patience to find a daily-driver Jeep that was in good condition within our budget, but it was worth it. We know that we’ll have to learn the ins and outs of this Jeep as each Jeep seems to have it’s own quirks and personality, but I am pleased to finally be the proud owner of a Jeep.

While we were already part of the off-roading community, we are now also part of the Jeep family. You’re never too old to see a fun dream come true. 😉