• Suzanne Norquist

Permission to Backseat Drive

Updated: May 19

I rented an ATV for the first time this summer. Well, not exactly an ATV.

It was a UTV. An ATV is an All Terrain Vehicle which looks like a motorcycle with four wheels. A UTV is far less exciting. It stands for Utility Task Vehicle. Who wants to vacation in a Utility Task Vehicle?

It’s a side-by-side, like a cross between a toy car and an actual car.

It reminded me of Speed Buggy, the cartoon dune buggy from the 1970’s. “Speedy” talked and had a personality. I’m showing my age. Click on the picture below if you want to see what I am talking about.


For years, my husband and I have gone four-wheeling in the San Juan Mountains with the kids . . .the dogs . . . and anyone else who wanted to come.  We took our own vehicles. Sometimes a Jeep. Sometimes a Truck. I would close my eyes and grip the armrest as my husband navigated narrow, rocky roads with steep drop offs.

One year we took a brand new pick-up over Corkscrew Gulch to “see how it performed.” It didn’t even have fifty miles on it when we started the vacation. I fought the underlying concern that we needed the truck to get us home.  We needed it to commute to work and back.

This year we wanted to take some unfamiliar roads. So we rented the UTV.

It gave me permission to backseat drive. How cool is that? It came equipt with a passenger handhold and a warning label that said “Be sure riders pay attention.”

I could have used that for teaching teenagers to drive.

Not only that, they gave us an emergency beacon. One button would send the pit crew to fix flat tires and such.  The other button, the SOS button, would bring the whole fire department and 911 crew.

It would have been handy the year we got a flat tire in our own truck.

On the negative side, the UTV didn’t provide much (any) protection from afternoon thunderstorms. I bought some cheap rain ponchos and a couple of garbage bags.

It wasn’t enough. After a while, I realized the hail had made tiny rips in my poncho.

I longed for the fully enclosed cab of our pick-up.  How many times had we enjoyed lunch in the cab while the storm raged outside?

Thankfully, the storm broke long enough for a picnic lunch.

And we took in some incredible scenery.

Cold and wet at the end of the day, we raced down the mountain to return the muddy Utility Task Vehicle to the rental place before they closed.

The guys there hosed it down and lined it up for the next renters. Maybe they wouldn’t get rained and hailed on. Nah. It rains every summer day in the high mountains.

Give me a cozy pick-up any day.  If only I could equip it with a passenger handhold and an emergency beacon.

#thunderstorm #FourWheeling #SanJuanMountains #UTV #mountains #ColoradoTouristTowns #ModernLife #Colorado #ATV

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