by Lisa Czapla
It was a Good Friday. No, seriously...it was Good Friday when I saw, fell (instantly) in love with, and purchased my beautiful Jeep Wrangler Sport. I had no idea when I bought my 4-door, black-on-black JKU just because I liked the looks of it, that it would literally change my LIFE!
Growing up, I was always a bit different from other girls. I was never into wearing fancy dresses and tons of makeup. I was a sporty girl that liked to have fun and wasn’t bothered by a little dirt or not having perfect hair all the time. While my girlfriends were picking out party dresses and matching lipsticks, I was into skinny jeans, Thule backpacks and Converse sneakers.
Fast forward a few years and I got married, we had a son and my vehicles reflected those changes as my life progressed. After high school, I went to college, so my first car was cheap and functional (ugh). Then with marriage and child came the dreaded but necessary (and OH so cliche) minivan (ewww). And with better jobs and as society dictates (boo!!!) my next vehicle was an economical SUV (keeping up with the Jones’s and such).
But my son grew up and my vehicle did too...rusty with high miles and I was bracing myself for the first big repair bill. So, I decided to ‘start’ looking at other vehicles. Little did I know what one little change in my life would set into motion.
Looking back, the last ten years had brought a lot of changes for our family. One of those major changes being that we had to move away from our friends and family and the city we both grew up in and loved because my husband (Mr. Breadwinner) got laid off. It was a bittersweet blessing. Because he quickly found an almost too-good-to-be-true job in Central New York and this is where we’ve called home ever since. Luckily, I was able to keep my job from where we used to live and I worked from home. Sounds great, right? Well, yeah...in theory. But what it actually means is you’re alone...day after day, not networking, not socializing and not making friends (insert very sad face emote here). And for an outgoing girl like me that’s almost a fate worse than death.
But, as all good, responsible, people (with debts) do...I kept working from home. But, one day I realized just how sad and lonely working from home was making me. I mean, I was thankful I had a job I loved, good income and working from home did have its advantages. We had a nice home, a wonderful son. Life was good, right??? Well, yeah but...I was missing my friends more and more and never felt so disconnected. I needed to change things. Yes, things were great but I wanted friends again and I wanted to feel like I -belonged- here in our new city.
Ok, so you might think this sounds silly, but my mother always told me that the universe is always listening - and if you really want something, you just have to ask for it. So I did. And that’s when I asked the universe...for friends. Believe it or not, that day I bought the Jeep Wrangler, I didn’t know a single thing about them other than I loved how it looked. I felt like it was made for ME! It was cute, sporty, tough looking and for the first time in my life...I was able to buy a vehicle that I WANTED. And I wanted that one! I quickly immersed myself into the Jeep World to educate myself and learn all I could about this amazing and powerful vehicle. I joined Jeep groups on Facebook and posted to them and read the informative comments from fellow Jeep owners that had SO much knowledge and expertise. I watched countless videos on YouTube on how to customize it, do simple repairs and was blown away by the extreme off-roading daredevils. I also researched local Jeep groups to have the chance to get face-time with other Jeep enthusiasts and possibly do some off-roading.
Within a week I was already customizing my beauty! I had installed my own gas cap cover and put on a short, rubber, stubby antenna. Baby steps...but I was so thrilled that I was making it more and more mine. By this time, I had also practiced putting the soft-top up and down numerous times by myself...and proudly wore my bruised and pinched fingers like little badges of honor. Within two weeks I attended my first local Jeep meeting for Women - Ladies Offroad Network! I had to drive over an hour to get there but when you drive what you love, EVERY mile is an adventure. By the third week, an amazing, friendly and free-spirited Jeep girl from LON invited me on my first off-road day trip and OH EM GEE I can’t remember when I last smiled so much! It was overcast and chilly that May Day but it didn’t matter. Driving my JKU through the emerald green dense forest on those twisting dirt paths and barreling through the muddy puddles...FED. MY. SOUL.
In the span of a MONTH, I had attended another local Jeep group and my face-to-face exposure with other Jeep enthusiasts continued to grow. Quickly I was gaining a wealth of Jeep knowledge and could now comfortably carry on conversations with other seasoned, experienced Jeep owners. Before that Good Friday, I had NO idea what “recovery” meant or “disconnecting” or to “air-down” and where cleavage, topless and going nude mean TOTALLY different things LOL! And since then, not a day goes by that I don’t get at least one Jeep-Wave (which still always makes me smile). I also keep a back-sack in my Jeep with sunscreen, bug spray, hand-wipes and bottled water (to clean off the windshield-not to drink lol).
Flash forward to now...where I am a full-fledged member of LON and proudly completing Challenge #2 of my first-ever Challenge series. I’m currently in the (much harder than I thought but totally rewarding) process of painting my own rims and blacking them out and saving my pennies for some nice meaty shoes (goodbye street tires!). I’m also looking forward to my next LON meeting in Ithaca and next month...wait for it...I will be hosting our LON June meeting at my house!!! And if you’re around the Syracuse, NY area I warmly welcome you to join us and see what it’s all about!
Looking back, I now realize that if that beautiful shiny black beauty parked in my driveway had not caught my eye at the dealership that day, I would have never joined the Ladies Offroad Network, I wouldn’t have discovered off-roading, or had made friends with other Jeep enthusiasts that share the same passion I do and feel the pride, excitement and camaraderie every time I hoist my 5’2 frame up into the driver’s seat of my powerful and strikingly handsome Jeep, Magellan - much like the famed explorer who ventured into uncharted territories and made new discoveries. His name came to me when I realized I was no longer lonely or lacking of friends nor was I lost anymore. I was venturing into uncharted territory, making new discoveries and realizing right here, right now - is right where I belong. And it all started when I found my Jeep, or as I like to think of it...as the day my Jeep...found me.
I -am- a Jeep Girl and what a Good Friday it was. 🙂
P.S. Hubby got bit by the Wrangler-Bug and bought his first Jeep Wrangler Sport last week, also on a Friday.
Posted by: Dulcy Rojas