When I was 12 years old, I wanted a Land Rover. It started when I saw Born Free on the Disney Channel. After wanting the “safari truck” and learning what it was, I became vociferous in my quest. I would rip the ads out of the issues of National Geographic that my grandmother had given me—the best ones were on the back cover. My favorite was a Discovery ad that read, “Because Darwin was right, Newton was right, and Murphy was right.” Elephants, safaris, travel, adventure… all tacked up in my flowery bedroom. I pictured myself on adventures, crossing the Kalahari, conversing with and learning from the locals. I couldn’t understand my father’s passion for Corvettes—why did you want a car that only went fast? I wanted a car that could do something.
As I grew older, I still posted the ads on my bedroom wall, later proudly displaying them in my college dorm rooms, dreaming of where a Land Rover could take me. But no one got it. No one understood. My Roverphilia remained starved and was soon buried under other interests, goals and expectations.
Fast forward to 2012…
It’s my second date with this guy who I met a few days ago. Sweaty palms, quickened pulse—I am nervous. I get even more nervous when I pull up to meet him and he’s driving a Land Rover. I am aghast. He. has. my. truck! That day at the beach went well and so did so many after that. Will became my boyfriend, my friend, my confidant.
When I found out a few months later that I was ill with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, two chronic and debilitating conditions, he went to doctor appointments, held me when I cried and kicked my butt when I needed it. He even instituted required Land Rover therapy—working on the 109” (aka The Battlewagon) to lighten my spirits and help keep my joints in good shape, as they are affected by my illness. He later bought me my “Unicorn”—a 1995 5-speed white Discovery—because I needed to make sure I was getting in my “prescribed therapy.” “Uni” (as she is now known) and I become fast friends.
During this difficult time, the wonderful members of the New Jersey Land Rover Club also became my newest friends and non-biological family members. These Land Rover owners are salt-of-the-earth with a no-nonsense mentality, who know that adaptation is a necessity, dealing with ambiguity is a definite and setbacks merely become adventures you share with friends over a couple pints. They’re also the wonderful crew who helped with an emergency engine swap in the 109” the week before our wedding, insisting that the truck was part of our relationship and simply had to be there.
As an educator, I’ve seen that Land Rovers don’t just crawl and climb and occasionally break down… They teach—patience, the ability to trust, problem-solving, and teamwork. A Land Rover teaches its owner those skills and behaviors. Granted, you often get the test before you get the lesson.
The Battlewagon and Uni have taught me patience—patience for the vehicle, patience for the person driving. They have also taught me that just when I think I can’t, I can—whether it is in the below-zero Maine winter or on a sticky, sweaty drive back from a weekend in the woods. A Land Rover doesn’t make anyone anything. It simply encourages you to be what you are.
So when I walked down that aisle on a sweltering, Kalahari-like day in August, surrounded by friends, family and a ton of Land Rovers, I knew exactly what I was walking into.
I simply had to tell you the story behind a lacy dress, the fancy tux, and our Land Rovers. I didn’t just marry the man of my dreams—I married a marque and all of those who love it.
By Katherine Skidmore