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I Never Intended To

by Wanda Gomez

Wanda-Gomez-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1My story is this. After numerous cars, I decided I wanted something fun to drive, something that I enjoyed driving (the Civic definitely WASN'T). I simply loved the look of a Jeep Wrangler. Sure, I was impressed with its ability to "go anywhere," but that was just an added "benefit." In 2000, I bought my brand new red Wrangler Sport, promptly naming her "Dragon." (My son got his own later and he named his "Beast.")

Wanda-Gomez-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1I happily drove Dragon to and from work for the next 8 years. Then I started seeing all these very cool, lifted/big tire Jeeps, and knew that was what was next for me!!! (Not thinking about offroading at this time at all. In fact, over the years, my offroading consisted of steering off the side of the road through South Florida rain puddles while yelling, “Woo! Offroading!!”) I had a 3" body lift installed, because I was very conservative. That made me a little bit cool then. But I wanted more. Sorta' like heroin addiction, I think.

Wanda-Gomez-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1Since I was fitted with a "lift," we decided to tackle the only offroad trail that we knew about - Tellico in North Carolina. We packed up in Dragon and Beast (you'll remember, that was my son's Wrangler) and headed north. We got there, so excited to hit the first "moderate" trail. But Beast wouldn't go into 4WD, and that was pretty much that. We drove the stock trail, which was really just a dirt road.

Wanda-Gomez-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1But we didn't give up. We tried it again a couple of years later, with both 4WDs in working condition. We hit the moderate trail again, and came to the first obstacle - a huge rock. I knew then that I needed a bigger lift! (Although, actually in hindsight thanks to my extremely limited trail experience, that rock wasn't really that big.) But, we had never done it before, and didn't have the benefit of Jeep clubs or other offroad advice, so we chickened out and turned around ... and drove on the stock dirt road again.

Wanda-Gomez-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1Christmas bonus time came, and I was ready for the Full Monte! Took Dragon in for a lift and 35s!! So happy when I got her back a week later.  Drove her home, opened my garage door to pull in and .... with horror .... realized she wouldn't FIT into my garage!!! And, along with that realization was that if she didn't fit into my garage at home, she wouldn't fit into my garage at work!!!  So, sorrowfully, she became a weekend ride, because I had to get another car to drive to work.

Wanda-Gomez-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1I bought a very practical Toyota Tacoma pickup, which I was very happy driving to work. It also became very practical, being a pickup and all. I drove that for quite a few years, until it finally just died and I really didn't want to invest any more money into it. So I sold it and leased a Mini Cooper convertible. After my lease was up on my Mini (a fun little car to drive), I decided that it was stupid to continue to make car payments, since my Jeep was paid for. So I had the body lift removed, and voila! she now fit where I needed her to!

Wanda-Gomez-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1It was only then that I realized how much I missed driving Dragon, and I started thinking that I should try this offroading thing again. I mean, I had a Jeep. With a lift. And 35s. So why not??? But I was too nervous to try to do it alone, my son having gotten married and having children, AND having Beast stolen from the driveway of his house and never being recovered.  I joined several Jeep groups on Facebook to try and meet other offroaders so I could learn more and have other people that I could go along with. That started my actual offroading experience. (If you can really call it that, since I am still so very new.)

Wanda-Gomez-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1Since then I have been to three "experiences." I went to Sarasota to support a local Jeep club there (Jeepin Divas 941) in a fundraiser for a little boy who had lost his legs in an accident, and we went on a "salt sand" offroad trail (fairly easy, except for one part).  My next experiences were Jeeptoberfest in October 2018. Then Krawlin' for the Fallen in February 2019.  I had caught the bug by then, and seeing so many "personalized" Jeeps, I designed and installed Dragon's hood decal. And went for more mods and installs. And began more local adventures.

And that's it .... so far! But I have my entire life ahead of me, so, as my new tattoo says, "Adventure! (along with a strategically placed Jeep logo)," and that's one of my goals -- to get as many adventures in as I can before I can't anymore!

Posted by: Dulcy Rojas

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