Two weeks after buying my 1987 Jeep Wrangler YJ it’s time to paint it and head into the desert. I’m using a Burning Man Black Rock Ranger t-shirt given to me 16 years ago to determine the proper color she should be.

Calling automotive painting places near me, I discovered this is not an inexpensive thing. One place has just been defranchised by a nationwide chain and he’s happy to do the Jeep in a matte khaki for about a third the cost.

Taping everything off, painting, and baking it dry takes a couple of days. I’m thrilled with the results. Perhaps this paint job will last a few years, until I have a clue about what I’m doing.

A few days later – really – we are at the edge of the Black Rock Desert, in Gerlach, Nevada. The Jeep, now wearing permanent Ranger logos on the door and an expedition roof rack, is parked next to Ranger Crow’s FJ. This was my inspiration, since the first time I saw it in the mid 1990s. (That and the 1954 Land Rover Series I – Britain’s answer to the Jeep – in the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy.)

Working pre-event allows us to explore the desert environs. Here’s the Jeep in its first week in the desert, seen from my vantage point soaking in Frog Pond.

After we’re done doing excellent service to our fellow participants it’ll be time to take her home and get a better feeling for what condition she’s really in. I have the feeling she’s hanging together with duct tape and bailing wire, that can’t stand if she’s going to live a few decades and serve.

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