The Wrangler is the modern adaptation of the original Jeep.  Coming in two models, this off-roading vehicle can handle just about anything, and go just about anywhere.
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The most versatile aspects of this car aren't just in what it is capable of, but how it can be easily modified. 

There are two available tops for the Wrangler: the aptly named hardtop and softtop.  Both are interchangeable provided it is on the two or four door model.  The softtop easily folds down so the Jeep can be ridden in the style of a convertible.  In the four door models, the front panel can be folded back on the softtop or removed separately on the hardtop - giving the four door Jeep a sunroof.  The doors are also removable on the Wrangler, keeping with its sporty style. 

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The Wrangler was designed as one of the first off-roading vehicles.  The mechanics of the Jeep allow it to perform differently from any other vehicle.  It uses two fixed axles with some of the most flexible suspension capabilities available allowing it to traverse any type of terrain. 

While this suspension is made to do anything, it does not offer a very smooth ride.  The vehicle allows the rider to feel the terrain much better than many other options.  This connection to the road, rock, sand, snow, or any other surface, is what makes Jeep lovers drive these vehicles.  They give the driver and passengers something different to try, a completely new - possibly open-air - experience that no other vehicle has ever been able to offer.

 
 
This week's Friday Fives are going to be the top five vacation destinations that I would like to visit someday, but have not yet been to.

Greece:
Everything I hear about Greece is wonderful.  From ancient ruins to diving in the Mediterranean, there is definitely plenty to see.  There is also seeing the white landscape built into the hills around the coastline.  After seeing so many pictures, I really want to see it for myself!  Not to mention other things: romantic islands, lagoons, shopping... there is definitely a lot of reason to go there.

Ireland:
This one is so much more than promising my grandma that I would get there.  The rolling hills, relaxed atmosphere, and agreeable weather (since overcast with a chance of rain is my personal favorite) all seem so perfect for me.  Plus, there is always the chance of seeing basking sharks.

Thailand:
If I had to choose one place in Asia to visit, it would always be Thailand.  The biggest hitch will always be airfare, but there are a lot of places there that make it completely worth it.  A lot of the hotels are structured as villas in the hills overlooking the ocean.  They offer things like elephant rides, fantastic diving, and such an expansive culture.

Palau:
There is only one reason I want to go to Palau: scuba diving.  It offers some of the best in the world, with several different kinds of sharks, healthy corals, and tons of fish!

Australia:
I'm completely intrigued by this destination.  I would love to go here for the great barrier reef, the outback, the food... the list goes on forever.  But I would love to see some of their native animals: kangaroos, koala bears, dingos. 
 
 
While the Dodge Nitro doesn't fit the typical bill for the muscle car styling of most vehicles under the brand, the Nitro offers something a little different to a new style of buyer, while still providing the sporty look of a Dodge.
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The 2011 Nitro is one of nine new Dodge models, and easily the most overlooked.  With a body style similar to the 2011 Jeep Liberty, the Nitro offers styling more like the box cars that have been arriving under brands for years - including the Nissan Cube and Honda Element.

The safety features available on the Nitro's unique line - trim levels include: Heat, Heat 4.0, Detonator, and Shock - all are equipped with several standard safety features.  No matter which model is the right model under a Chrysler brand, they have made it clear that safety is priority #1.  One of the most unique safety features for the Nitro is an Electronic Roll Mitigation (ERM) system.  With a vehicle that is likely to have a lot of body roll and a high rollover rating, the ERM system utilizes brake functions to stabilize the vehicle and prevent rollover accidents in emergency situations.  By utilizing the Occupant Classification System, this helps to protect any occupants in case of airbag deployment.  It automatically disengages the airbag when there is no font passenger, and it uses sensors in the seat to detect the amount of pressure needed and the rate of deployment in multi-stage airbags to better protect occupants from injury.

In comparison to other models, this vehicle takes the cake with performance.  With its sporty, boxy styling it sports a V6 engine which provides enough power to muscle through a hard winter.  Combined with 4-wheel-drive, this vehicle can handle just about any terrain, and conquer almost any weather.

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With an easily compartmentalized cabin, performance to tread through rough terrain, and narrow handling, the Nitro is becoming the choice crossover for security teams across the country including Mall of America security in Bloomington, MN.  With its easily accessible size, it is easy for any passenger or personnel to get in and out of the vehicle, as well as providing enough space for all security needs.

Since safety is always the biggest concern with security personnel, it makes sense that the Dodge Nitro would be the perfect choice.  It has the spacious cabin needed for officers and occupants, an easily compartmentalized cabin for storage, and even enough space for the occasional bomb squad equipment.  This small crossover truly does have it all: sedan handling with SUV output.  It can meet anyone's needs, and fits perfectly with the new box car styling.

 
 
Since there isn't a whole lot of information about me on here, I figured I would have this week's five give you some of the basics.

Full name: Catherine Swanson, but I definitely prefer "Katie".  I'm not kidding either!  I spell Catherine with a C and Katie with a K.  I was named after the College of St. Catherine (where my mom, my sister and I graduated college), so that was how it turned out.

Dream College: I got my Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University, I suppose), and if I had a "dream college" it would be to go back and get my Masters of Arts in Organizational Leadership at St. Kate's.  It's a great program!

Health: I would like to say that I am a pretty healthy person.  I'm not obsessed with making all the perfect choices, but I do try to stay healthy.  I've done long distance running up to a half marathon, triathlons, and I love to roller blade with my dog!

Pets: I already mentioned my dog: he is a half Springer Spaniel/half Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.  His name is Cody, and he is very sweet!  I have a very affectionate cat, named Apollo, who is currently snoozing on my feet.  And I have my little tank-mate, Noodle - a Common Musk Turtle.  At his biggest he'll be about the size of my palm, so he's the perfect size for me.

Spouse: I am married to a wonderful man, Tony Swanson.  He currently works for Apple as a Senior Product Specialist.  I have learned more about computer technology in the past year than I ever knew existed!  He's even inspired me to save for an iPad.
 
 
I know I'm a day late on the "Car of the Week," but with the 4th of July comes vacation.  And with vacation comes a detachment from the internet.  So, for this week, we have a very special car: the Bantam BRC 40.  This is the original Jeep from 70 years ago. 

Let's all celebrate two things: the 4th of July and the 70th anniversary of the Jeep!
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The Jeep got its start in 1941 as a response to a government call to automakers for a vehicle that would be useful during WWII.  Only two companies responded: a widely successful Willys-Overland, and American Bantam Car Company.  Each company was given 49 days to develop a prototype.

American Bantam contracted Karl Probst for the design, and he came up with the plans in two days.  Willys needed more time.  On September 21, 1940, Bantam presented the first Jeep.  While the 4x4 was able to climb the steps of the capital with its astounding off-road capability and light weight design, the engine was unable to provide enough torque to meet the Army's requirements. 

The Bantam Jeep plans were then sold to Willys-Overland for production plans and for torque improvements.  Willys-Overland reduced the overall weight of the vehicle to add a more powerful engine.  Since production needs were so high, Willys allowed the US government a non-exclusive license to bring in another manufacturer on the project.  Ford was then brought in to production, and between the two companies 640,000 Jeeps were produced for military use during WWII.  Jeeps were used by every division of the U.S. military and an average of 145 were supplied to every infantry regiment.

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The road from Willys-Overland to Chrysler starts with the first civilian Jeep production in 1945.  Willys was sold to Kaiser Motors in 1953, which became Kaiser-Jeep in 1963.

American Motor Corporation (AMC) purchased Kaiser's Jeep operation in 1970.  The utility vehicles complemented AMC's passenger car business by sharing components, achieving volume efficiencies, as well as capitalizing on Jeep's international and government markets. 

French automaker Renault began investing in AMC's production in 1979, but became unprofitable throughtout the late 1980's.  In 1987, Chrysler bought AMC's Jeep brand with other assets after the Jeep CJ-7 was replaced with the Jeep Wrangler.

Chrysler now holds trademark status on the name "Jeep" and the distinctive 7-slot front grille design. The original 9-slot grille associated with all World War II jeeps was designed by Ford for their GPW, and because it weighed less than the original "Slat Grille" of Willys (an arrangement of flat bars), was incorporated into the "standardized jeep" design.

 
 
SUN OR SHADE?:
Shade.  There is nothing better than relaxing under a big tree with a light summer breeze.  Add a hammock, and it's perfect.

THE COLOR OF SUMMER 2010:
Blues: They remind me of the beach, being at least 30 feet underwater with my scuba gear, and all the wonderful places I've been: scuba diving in Honduras and Curacao, surfing in South Africa, and fishing at the cabin.

ALL TIME FAVORITE VACATION LOCATION:
The cabin.  Hop in the car and head up north for some relaxation, fishing, and maybe some scuba diving, and you have perfection.

ESSENTIAL SUMMER SONG FOR PARTY PLAYLIST:
“Stir It Up" Bob Marley - not too fast, not too slow.  It's the perfect combination for a summer evening.

BEST BOOK IN THE BEACHBAG:
Jimmy Buffet’s A Salty Piece of Land.   Because adventure needs to be added somewhere in a laid back summer.