Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Yellow Dragon - Part Three

Happy Labor Day! 
Our 1948 CJ2 jeep was the family vehicle. (Visit here  for part one and here for part two.) This picture was taken in 1958 or '59 when my father's mother Vivian (Nana) and her husband August (Pa) Braendlin visited from California. From the left, my sister Erva, me, Dad, Nana and Mom. Pa took the picture.

The Yellow Dragon could easily carry six people. Guests had the back seat while my sister and I rode on the flat tops of the fender-wells above the rear wheels. No seat belts, no roll bars. Neither of us ever fell out.

America Hill, with the roof fallen in and strangler fig roots dangling.

And believe me there were plenty of opportunities. We used to enjoy exploring the old trails that were barely roads. When we drove up America Hill we could still walk around inside the old Danish estate house at top. The roof and floors were solid  and there was even wallpaper on some of the walls. Now the stately home is a ruin slowly being broken apart by strangler figs. And the road we drove up is barely a trail.

We drove the Susannaberg trail regularly because it connected the North Shore Road with Centerline and came out right near the Gifft Hill Road. I don't know if it's driveable any more. The Catherineberg trail does the same thing but joins Centerline further up the road. It is still open as a road. Another one  that we bounced our way down was the King Hill trail from Centerline down to Carolina. It was a terribly steep and rocky "short cut" into Coral Bay. We drove down the L'Esperance trail too.

Some of the old roads were so steep and the switchbacks so sharp that you couldn't make the turn. What you had to do was drive forward into the turn as far as the jeep would go and then back up into the next turn then drive forward. I hope my crude illustration helps.

But the most exciting road was Hard Labor Hill between Callabash Boom and Johns Folly. (Don't you just love the names of these places?)

It was SO steep (how steep was it?) it was SO steep when you got to the crest, if you didn't navigate it in just the right way the jeep could get hung up and you could end up with the front AND rear wheels suspended in the air. Then you'd have to rock the jeep back and forth until a wheel or two found traction. 

Nowadays people go jeeping for fun. When I was growing up, it was a way of life. And The Yellow Dragon was our valiant, sure-footed steed. 

Next Monday, Part Four

Ever done any kind of jeeping or exploring hard to get to places?


  1. Your stories sound like such fun! Wish I had gone jeeping! I love the picture of you and your family when you were little. :) The road names are such fun and it is amazing to the think back before we all wore seatbelts. So glad you and your sister never fell out. What wonderful memories.

  2. Don't think I would've enjoyed those steep trail rides! Something about the fear of plunging to my death...

  3. I love that illustration! My heart starts to pound just thinking about the tight turns and steep drop-offs, but what a thrill.

  4. Those rides sound better than the amusement park any day! What wonderful memories, Bish.

  5. Glad I made it by today. I love the Yellow Dragon stories. The names of things in the islands bespeak a language all their own.

    Considering your picture and the year it was taken, I was surprised to note that we are probably about the same age.

  6. oh my gosh that sounds like so much fun!! A fun way of life :)

  7. Wow, Bish, your childhood stories are so amazing. Riding on the fender wells? And those steep roads? Dang! Yes, those are very cool names of the places.

  8. Hair pin bends give me the willies. We have our own set here, along with some really strange place names. Ever heard of Gimmie-Mi-Bit? lol.

  9. Wow, what a wonderfully evocative slice of your childhood. Sounds so exciting, but I couldn't handle driving those steep curves!

  10. This really is a facinating story. You have so many amazing memories. The only real adventure I had in a jeep was in Thailand where we got lost in the jungle. It wasn't very fun since we had two babies in the jeep with us and I felt like a horrible parent to get lost in the jungle with a baby. But all turned out fine in the end.


Your Random Thoughts are most welcome!