by Jaclyn Pauly
After a year of being sober, I finally bit the bullet and bought a vehicle I had always admired, a Jeep. I bought a 08’ JKU; she became known as Charlie. After purchasing Charlie and learning about the Jeep community, I started the search for local Jeepers to meet. It took me some time to find the group that was a perfect fit for my family of 4, however I finally felt at home with one in particular. Our first Jeep trip was a back roads trip, we went through the Sumter National Forest. The day was truly amazing - being with others who love their Jeeps and being outdoors. A lot of the trip was on gravel roads. The Jeep was topless and door-less for the ride - hence the next day I was introduced to the life of cleaning up the Jeep after an event. I was not aware of how much work so much fun can create.
My next trip was to a local off-road park, Gulches. My stock Jeep did great that day on the easy trails. While there, I was introduced to what a buggy was, and watched several run the hard trails. I was bitten by the bug after seeing those rigs run the trails. A day out in nature is so relaxing and good for the soul, why not be doing something enjoyable. I continued on with Charlie, however I decided not to do any modifications as I learned what I really wanted in a vehicle. When the time was right I started the search for my next Jeep. I finally found her, a '12 JK Rubicon. My new Jeep became known as Hera, but it took her some time to earn that name.
My first trip in Hera was to a small park that was known for mud. After that trip I realized I don't care for mud, the wear and tear mud causes is not worth the few minutes of fun. One of the next trips was to Windrock in Tennessee. I fell even more in love with my Hera. She remained stock for only a short while.
After we came home from Windrock, I started on my list of upgrades and modifications for her. One thing I decided was I wanted to do what work I can myself on this Jeep, so I started with learning how to do an oil change. The next thing was installing the 2.5” lift. It took all weekend but was worth being able to look at her and tell myself I did that. Now that she was lifted she got some new wheels and tires, which created a reason for me to modify the fender flares. My very patient and supportive husband gave me hints and sat back and watched as I used a sawzall for the first time in my life as I cut away at the stock flares.
Many more trips were taken. I was definitely bitten by the off-road bug, however I was lacking confidence. I had a mishap where I chose the wrong line and almost rolled my Jeep with my family on board. After that trip my family purchased me an off-roading 101 class. The class was an awesome time and so full of great information. I came away with a lot of knowledge, now I just need to practice what I learned. So I did just that!
Once my confidence had started to grow I set up a day for local ladies to come out to a Gulches and ride. I had a decent turnout of 9 ladies, with 5 of them never having been off-road. Thanks to one of the rangers of the park I was able to help introduce several new ladies to the fun and exciting world of being off-road - even though I had one who wasn’t so thrilled.
In the five or so years that I have been a part of the Jeep and off-road community I have been so amazed by all the kind people I have met. I have been part of things I never could have done in the past. For starters, I did my first ever Toy Run, since than I have done poker runs and been a part of food drives. I have traveled to Pennsylvania to be a part of a Ride for Breast Cancer Research, and even gained my first trail badge while in up there. Last summer I was a part of an epic event here in Columbia, SC. A fellow Jeeper reached out to people in my area to help get together a Convoy for a 9 Year old boy who had fought off a brain tumor and loves all Jeeps and off-road vehicles. I helped the fellow who reached out for assistance, as he resides 10 hours away and is unfamiliar with the area. We were able to get a convoy together for this boy, but the amazing thing is that when the word got out, the off-road community caught wind and helped us to set up a full on festival to raise funds for Curing Kids Cancer. Since the event last year, the family of the little boy has become a part of the local off road community, and there is a second annual event already being planned for this year.
I am not sure how I can top helping to set up the now annual event, but I plan on finding some way to do so. My dream is to build a vehicle that I can take out west for Easter Jeep. I would also like to drive the Rubicon trail. I love my off-road community and am proud to be a part of such a great family.
Posted by: Dulcy Rojas