by Jody French
I am sitting on a plane headed to DC to attend the kid’s graduation for her master’s degree being last minute Jody but knowing that this little bit of “me time” is allowing me to “Accept the Challenge” and give you some insight on why I like to off-road. I have always been a Tom Boy. As a kid we moved every 2 years basically, so we really never set “roots” anywhere. I am a “spud”, Boise Idaho born, not raised, but l believe that my love of everything out doors comes from being born among the Idaho mountains. A short two years later after I had a couple years of life experience, Mom put me in my risky car seat, and it was Eastern US bound… while my sister slept in the back window, those were the days! Michigan, Illinois, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Michigan again and then we finally stayed put in flat Florida when I turned 11.
My love for off-roading started with go-karts. I know, go-karts and off-roading – what? Age 8 I believe, Waterford MI. One of 3 girls in a group of boys but one of the most aggressive when it came to the “built” go karts and the home-made dirt track in the vacant lot. Intimidate - they tried but did not succeed! Go-karting was one of my favorite things to do as a kid and it also began my need for speed. First car was a 1981 straight 6 Camaro with a fantastic black primer body. Whoo hooo. 2nd car, 1971 Buick Skylark, Nissan Pulsar, Buick Regal, Grand Am, Ford Ranger (now we are getting somewhere), but my first taste of 4x4 life was with my sophomore year boyfriend. Yup, big tires, 4x4, camping, woods… you get the idea. This is when the obsession started. Age 14…still in flat Florida. It would be a few years, but my first truck was an F150 2x4 super cab. Once I realized I liked being off the ground that pretty much solidified the need. I have had some incredible cars with V8 twin turbo engines throughout my adult life in between the Ford, Dodge, Tundra, Jeep but NOTHING compares to the feeling of driving and riding in a lifted vehicle or a 4X4.. V8s twin turbos are great but burning though tires once a year is hard on the bank account.
One day the kid was home and I said, “Hey let’s take a ride. I want to check out Beach Buggys” and off we went. Couple hours later, I am texting the hubby “Hey, would you be pi**ed if I came home with a Jeep”, considering I still had the car – oops! That night would begin my “Jeep Life” “Jeep Addiction” “Jeep Modification” “Jeep, Jeep, Jeep, Jeep”. Happy wife, Happy life right! “Jeep: a small general-purpose motor vehicle with 80-inch wheelbase, ¹/₄-ton capacity, and four-wheel drive used by the U.S. Army in World War II.” and so much more.
Lots was learned in the first year of owning a Jeep. Through trial and error and a lot of unnecessary repairs for this newbie I learned more about lifted vehicles. The good that came out of this was that I started surfing the web on all things Jeep. It was then that I learned there is a whole Jeeping community out there! Forums of people working and trying to help each other. It’s where I would find and sign up for a membership with Ladies Off Road Network. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a “Ladies” network, but I was looking for a quality network and bam, there it was and what an exceptional group of ladies you all are! It’s where I found out that not all trails are flat. Yes, us Floridians get super excited about hills (It happens at about exit 301 on I-75 in North Florida and it’s awesome!) It’s where I got to add to my bucket list KOH, EJS and any other event that I can get on the schedule – LONCON2019!
With a little more surfing in my Jeep owner infancy, Jeep Beach 2017 was found! This was awesome! 4000+ of the best Jeepers out there and my initiation to the “mods”. It was also the year that I won a Warn winch off a $40 raffle! The following May (Go Topless Day), I would win a DV8 front bumper ($60 raffle) and the following October I would complete the set by buying a rear bumper, wheels, tire carrier and of course the Johnson Valley LON DemerBox that I won to complete the now “Jody’s Misfit”. She is customized just for me.
Because there is not a lot of steep, rocky or risky trails in my part of flat Florida with the exception of the sticky mud and deep waters, I feel like I haven’t really had the full Jeep experience but I have been trail riding and to 4x4 recreational parks and witnessed incredible landscapes and wildlife but I have not tested many of my current boundaries and look forward to doing that in the near future. My most challenging ride to date was when I went around a “Road Closed” sign and traversed to trails that they are now flooding for the Everglades restoration and navigated unreadable waters and made sure I didn’t slide off the side. It was one of my favorite “Jeep” moments. Gators, birds, snakes and all the Florida wildlife were out that day. My 4x4 experience has a lot to expand on and looking forward to every moment!
Here's to 2019 and 2020 and #BreakingTheBoundries #SteppingOutsideTheBox #JeepLife #LadiesOffRoadNetwork #Challenge2 #OMGItsMyStory #HopeIDidntBoreYou #KeepOnBeingYou #YouAreAwesome!
PS: Sssshhhh. I left LON Flyers in the Seatback #LONInANeighborHoodNearYou
Posted by: Dulcy Rojas