by Tanya Ferguson
My love of off-roading started more as a way to get out of my grandpa’s hair while spending summers at the homestead along the Colorado River near Burns, CO. He had an old Willy’s named Buck Snort. Granddad would fill it with gas and send 3 young girls out into the world to explore and figure out how to drive a stick. We ground gears, tried to climb some rocks, drove on roads that we shouldn’t have been on, and giggled the whole way. As a 10 year old, that was the best part of the summer, driving the Jeep, being outside, and discovering the world. Not only did that make me fall in love with driving a Jeep, but also making memories with family, being outdoors, and exploring God’s country.
In the summer of 1994 a guy was hired as the new cook at the restaurant I worked, he showed up with a BAD ASS Black CJ7 with a 401 - it sounded sweet. We became friends and talked a lot about camping, fishing and off-roading. I loved listening to his stories about Moab and the red dirt, the places he and his friends would go, and thinking 'this guy is crazy'. He went on another trip to Moab, this time returning with a “splat man” t-shirt for me. That is when the greatest adventure began.
For the past 23 years off-roading has been a huge part of our family’s story. In December of 1996 we welcomed our first child, at 2 weeks old we bundled him up and took our first Jeep trip in the snow. Unfortunately we had to get rid of the CJ-7, for a pick up that was a little more family friendly. It still took us where we wanted to go, camping, fishing or just for a drive.
Then we found a 47 Willy’s that brought back so many memories of driving my grandpa’s jeep all those years ago. It was such a piece of junk! Sometimes it ran, sometimes it didn’t, and I could walk to town faster than it would drive. One summer we were able to take a trail ride with my Uncle Dave, he was driving Buck Snort and we were in our Willy’s; on the roads my sister, cousin and I drove as kids. My uncle now owns our Willy’s. He has rebuilt it for his daughter and her family to enjoy when they visit Colorado. We had a lot of fun trips in it, but my husband wanted something with more power and bigger tires to do the trails he did in the CJ-7.
We found a CJ-5, fun little Jeep. Hard to get two car seats and a dog in the back. This little Jeep got us where we needed to go, many more camping and fishing trips. Until one day we were elk hunting and topped a hill, it got really tippy and we were in a pickle. By ourselves, we hurried to make sure the kids were safely out of the Jeep and the recovery began, pushing, pulling, shoveling, and finally turning down hill and hoping for the best. This was when we decided we either needed to find friends with Jeeps or get another one.
The “Bumble” joined the family. We found a white YJ that would work as our second rig so we could go on some harder adventures. It needed some work but I was able to get behind the wheel, learning to drive instead of just taking pictures and spotting. This insured that we were not out by ourselves, able to recovery each other, try harder things, and go places most people can’t. We had a great adventure in Rangely, Colorado. While playing at the rock park the CJ-5’s carb decided to catch on fire. This was my first experience towing a rig off a trail and obstacles, not a great feeling. My husband soon started driving my YJ and thought we needed to down size our fleet. We sold the CJ-5, the neighbor kid really wanted it, and we said no, “you will drive it up a telephone pole.” He traced down the person that we sold it to and has been working on it for the last two years. It is nice to have it back in the wheeling family.
Our son found a CJ-7 when he was about 14. It was nothing more than a tub, axles, and tires. He worked on it, my husband helped him, and I bought parts I wasn’t really sure what they were for. He knows it like the back of his hand. Some quirky things about his Jeep that he is the only person that can drive it. He has been towed off many a trail, towed us off a many a trail, and surprises everyone with what his little Jeep can go up. I would follow his line and spotting any day - he is really good at it.
For Christmas of 2015 my husband got me the best gift ever, a Hyrda-blue JK that I love. Dory has 72000+ miles and I can say there is a smile that goes along with every mile. I love taking the top off, taking the dogs for rides, turning up the radio, and just driving it. I work at the local Boys and Girls Club that looks like a Jeep dealership some days. Almost everyone at work drives a Jeep, and mine is the coolest. That’s what the kids say anyway.
We have had so many 4X4 vehicles - Jeeps, Blazers, Jimmy, trucks, old and new; all have brought great joy to my family. Off-roading has brought many important people and memories into my life. Great memories of my grandpa, sister and cousins, my awesome husband and amazing kids, and more friends than I can mention. Off-roading is more than driving over rocks or plowing through snow, it is about helping each other, enjoying the campfire, and experiencing something new and different. Whether it is a historic trail looking at an old mine ghost towns, Indian art, or a 7 rated trail that takes all day; I couldn’t image anything better. The time spent with my kids in the back of which ever vehicle we had at the time; talking, singing songs, and screaming “no daddy no” on a scary obstacle just to say “do it again!” That is why I love off-roading.
Posted by: Dulcy Rojas