by Brit Nora Gauthier
Tick-tick, tick-tick – thump-thump, thump-thump. My heart was pounding at the beat of the turn signal as I was waiting to turn left onto Rt. 50. A quick look in the rear view mirror to make sure my husband was right behind me in his truck – then eyes back on the light. Tick-tick, tick-tick – thump-thump, thump-thump. I wasn’t supposed to even be behind the wheel yet. But here I was, watching the light turn green before I pressed the accelerator and took off. ‘’I can’t believe I’m actually doing this!’’ I though to myself as I cranked up the radio and savored the almost forgotten feeling of the wind surrounding me as I was cruising down the road.
I have always had a passion for the outdoors and have enjoyed countless hiking, rock climbing, and camp-outs both during my youth and with my own kids. As an adult I had also became an avid motorcycle rider, a passion I shared with my husband. As a result, most weekends were spent enjoying the outdoors either camping or on the open road. My job on the other hand was nothing to rejoice about. But being able to get on my motorcycle at the end of the day and savor the ride home, made it all better, at least temporarily.
Several years rolled by and my kids were growing up. Yet I felt stuck in the same place. I had been passed over for promotions and new jobs time after time because I didn’t have a college degree and I had had enough. It was time to take matters into my own hands. So I bit the bullet enrolled in classes at the local Community College. Imagine that, becoming a college student at the ripe age of 37! My goal was simple enough; obtaining an associate degree by the time I turned 40. This may not seem like a huge challenge for most, but as a working mother of a preteen and a teenager, that was quite a leap for me.
It definitely was no walk in the park going to school, working and raising a family. With hard work and determination along with the support of my husband and kids, I knocked school out of the park! After two years at CC, while working full time mind you, I graduated with honors. This in turn led to be being offered a transfer scholarship for a four-year school. Even with the scholarship, this would be tricky financially, but I had always dreamed of getting a four-year degree. And here was that very opportunity staring me in the face. I had no choice but to keep going! We hit a couple tough spots along the way and ended up selling our house to lower our expenses. The day I had to sell my beloved motorcycle, I cried.
A year and a half later, only two months after turning 41, I graduated Summa Cum Laude with my bachelor’s degree. Four months after that I was offered a job in Washington DC and moved my family 700 miles to start our new life. Our new life in DC also led me to my new doctor. who very quickly was able to find the cause of the chronic pain I had been dealing with for years: Cervical degenerative discs. Two discs in my neck needed to be replaced. Without this surgery I would likely be in chronic pain for the rest of my life and the danger of permanent nerve damage and becoming paralyzed loomed. May 23rd, 2016, I went under the knife.
Only four days had passed since I had walked out of Reston Hospital after my spine surgery when I made that left turn onto Rt. 50 leaving the Jeep dealership. The drive home that evening was the beginning of my new story. When I purchased my jeep, I had no intentions of doing much to it except take the top and doors off so I could once again feel the wind surround me and I could get to that happy place I so missed from my motorcycle days. And perhaps the occasional drive on the beach. That didn’t last very long. My well-intentioned husband began buying Jeep magazines and signing me up for Jeep parts catalogs, not realizing this would be the beginning of my Jeep passion. And after attending Ocean City Jeep week the first time, I was totally hooked! Everywhere I looked there were Jeeps with all sorts of mods and I loved it and wanted to do all the same things to my jeep! Obviously, that’s not how it works, but it inspired me to build my Jeep my way.
I was even able to drive on the beach during Jeep week, something I had been dreaming of since I got my Jeep. Since then I have driven on seasonal roads, forest roads, sand dunes, rocks, and mud but sand and beach remain my favorite so I’m sure no one is surprised that I named my Jeep Sandee.
I have also joined several local and national Jeep groups and off-road clubs since I purchased my Sandee. The comradery is amazing, and I absolutely love being part of this fabulous community. The Jeep talk, the help from others, be it in the form of advice or wrenching help, and learning opportunities are fantastic. I couldn’t imagine my life without the off-road community at this point. And as I wrap this up, I realize that my off-road story is really just beginning... Jeep on
Posted by: Dulcy Rojas