"Brandy grew up camping and being around quads and sandrails. In her late 30s she met a man who shared in her passion for off-roading and encouraged her to be her own driver. Brandy has driven her Toyota in the desert, rock-crawling, mud, sand and once over the snow during their annual trips throughout the year. Brandy is a partner in a consulting firm in the real estate category and has two dogs, a 1yr old Lab and a senior Pit."
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Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Southern California where all my family still resides. I am a partner in a consulting firm; our company is based in Florida, but I handle the West Coast. I conduct Property Condition and Phase assessments for real estate finance transactions, quality control review our report product, and manage nine people located throughout the U.S. in remote offices. Through work and my personal life I have the opportunity to travel throughout the U.S. (and international travel when I was younger). My boyfriend and I have four legged kids; a one-year-old Lab and a senior Pit. When I’m not working my hobbies include; off-roading, camping, reading and spending time with family and friends. We have annual off-roading/desert trips several times throughout the year, and I’m fortunate that part of my family, my dad and my sister, join us on those adventures.
As an adult, I have been actively off-roading for the past 5 years. As a kid, I camped and rode quads and sandrails with my parents. The college, a full-time job and life got in the way until about five years ago when I met my boyfriend Kevin while off-roading in the desert. I was his passenger in his Toyota rock-crawler for about a year and then he asked if I wanted to drive my own rig. I was hesitant at first, but I haven’t looked back since sitting in the driver's seat of my Toyota truck. I started as a complete novice because my truck is a manual transmission and I had only driven automatics. So, I learned how to drive stick, shift between 2W/4WD, and use my dual transfer case shifters - four shifters in all. I am not the best or most experienced diver, but I had fun trying.
My initial exposure to the off-roading life was through my dad, a retired San Bernardino City Firefighter. He taught my sister and myself not to be afraid and try anything. My dad always took us camping, boating, fishing, etc. and he also had us work with him in the garage. As an adult, I had gotten stuck in a life rut. But I started actively changing my life and decided to go to the desert one New Year’s weekend with my sister, brother-in-law, dad and stepmom. It was out on that Ocotillo Wells trip that I met Kevin (he was camping in our group and had known my brother-in-law for over 30 years). We hit it off on that trip and met up again at TDS in March! I was his passenger for nearly a year until I got my own rig about 4 years ago.
My rig is a ‘93 Toyota. When we bought her, she had already been modified with a 3.4L. SAS. front and rear e-lockers, hydraulic assist steering, and Marlin Crawler, twin-stick, dual transfer case. I continued to modify her cosmetically by removing the bed rack, bobbing the bed, replacing the front bumper with a lighter one, painting her bright green, putting chalkboard paint on the tailgate (I put a new saying on the tailgate every day), and by upgrading to 37” tires. This year, my goal is to get heavy duty springs ( i have de-arced my second set) and new shocks. SHe was called “Bust-A-Lime” because of the color, but once we got the bigger tires, everything just looked better and seemed to fit...she transformed into ‘She-Hulk.
It’s hard to pinpoint one off-road experience as my favorite, each trip or trail has been different, and I have learned something new about myself and my rig. Every off-roading experience is not just wheeling through the desert or over rocks, it’s hanging out with family and friends, sitting around a camping fire reminiscing about the day, and having a cold beer to celebrate a hill climb or not breaking down.
I know my limits when off-roading; however, I try to push up against those limits each trip so that I can become a better driver. There has been a progression to my offroading. I started off always driving in 4WL so that I wouldn’t stall -- now I try most hill climbs in 2W first t see if I can do it, then switch to 4W if needed. In preparing for this LOC, I have been looking through pictures of all my off-roading adventures - and I smile at every memory. I was excited when (during the day) I went up and down the hills and crevices at the Noches (or Truckhaven areas) When I made it up a steep, muddy hill at Cleghorn. I wasn’t going to try it at first, I was going to go around, but then I just went for it (with Kevin as my spotter) and was elated when I made it to the top (you can even hear my laugh in the video) - that was a rough and bumpy ride, but so exciting.
“I feel strong and empowered when I’m off-roading!. Like most of the other women in this challenge, I am a tomboy at heart and I have always been drawn to more male-dominated activities. Off-roading gives me a chance to show the world (or just my inner She-Hulk) that "I can do it too!"
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of offroading?
The most challenging aspect of off-roading is dealing with the different personalities in the group. We try to always off-road with at least two rigs, but there are usually more than two. More rigs, means more personalities, opinions and leaders. We’re all there to have fun, but we’re not always on the same page with how to get there.
Off-roading is my chance to decompress from the stresses of life and unplug! When I’m off-roading, I’m able to do what I love, usually surrounded by my friends who are also having fun! It’s fun to shift (especially when you hit that sweet spot between gears), it’s fun to slip and slide after a downpour and have you tires kick up chunks of mud, it’s fun to cheer each other on when making hill climbs, it’s fun when our whole group races down the wash (to the Salton Sea), and it’s fun going over obstacles (in low gear) like I was walking a baby!
What does prepping for an adventure look like in your world?
Prepping for an adventure is just that -- a lot of prep work! We camp in a motorhome and also dry-camp, so depending on the trip with determine the level of preparation involved. Typically Kevin handles checking over the igs (tires and oil) and packs all the tools (he made sure I always have a tow strap and basic tools in my truck). I prepare all the foods/meals, bedding, dog supplies, etc. We make a good team when prepping and share responsibilities.
Top of the list would be, Moab. It seems so breathtakingly beautiful! The Rubicon Trail ( not necessarily with the LOC) is also on the list. And I wasn't to drive up Chocolate Thunder in my own rig (not as a passenger).
Tell us about your typical offroading companions.
Kevin - my boyfriend, partner, best friend, coach, teacher, mechanic, and biggest supporter! (he encouraged me to apply for the LOC). We are fortunate to be able to set aside time for set trips: Thanksgiving, New Year’s and TDS at Ocotillo Wells and KOH in Johnson Valley (minimum trips each year). At the majority of these trips, my family joins us: my sister and her husband drive side-by-sides and my dad and stepmom drive side-by-sides or quads. Kevin and I also have a Toyota group that we wheel with (they usually join us for most of the set trips each year) and then other day/weekend trips to Cleghorn, Mojave Trail, Big Bear, etc. in that group are all male Toyota drivers (Gary, Dan and Steve). Some of the wives come along as passengers, but none of them drive.
Laughter is the best medicine is one of my life philosophies! And it has come in handy during my adventures. When a rock cut a 5-inch gash in my new 37-inch tire sidewall, all I could do was laugh. When my e-lockers got stuck in engaged mode and I couldn’t make a turn through some rocks without doing a 20-point turn, all I could do was laugh. When I stall, or hit a whoop too hard and my ass-end flies up, or I go the wrong way or go too slow compared to the rest of my group, I laugh it off!
Do you have anything else you would like to add?
I am so fortunate to have men in my life that have been teachers, supported and guides: my boyfriend Kevin, my dad Joe, my brother-in-law Darius, and our Toyota guys: Gary, Dan, and Steve. These men have encouraged me to take the hard trail, step out of my comfort zone and press against my limits. I’m also fortunate to have strong women at my back: my sister Bridgett, who cheers my on as we race each other down the wash; my stepmom Tina who trusts me enough to be my passenger; and my mom Joey, who raised me to be a strong and independent woman.
Click here to see all the 2017 Ladies Offroad Challenge Entries.