by Corie Anderson
Basically. This is the single word that defines my offroading journey. Odd, if you think about the fact that nothing in offroading is “basic”. Yet, this is my journey, and this is how I Jeep. Let me explain.
I’ve wanted a Jeep since I was seven years old and saw my uncle restoring his red CJ-7. My first two initials being “CJ”, and my age, 7, solidified my desire. And of course, there was Daisy Duke and her white CJ-7. How could I not fall in love with Jeeps? In February 2017, while in the middle of my divorce, I purchased my first Jeep, a firecracker red JKU Sport-S. At the time, the salesman tried to explain to me the difference between a Rubicon, Sahara and Sport. “Basically,” he said, the Rubicon is for someone who wants to off-road; the Sahara is for someone who wants the top and fenders to match and all the options; and the Sport is for everyone else. Clearly, the Sport was for me, as this was just a daily driver and I was never going to go off-road. I made the purchase (the first vehicle I purchased on my own), and my younger son quickly dubbed it “Clifford”.
So, there I was. I finally had Clifford, my big red Jeep. He was perfect. Then, I went to a friend’s house and saw her modified JK Rubicon and my eyes about popped out of my head. Shortly thereafter, in June 2017, I found Ladies Rock Off-Road Club (LROC) on Facebook while searching for a Jeep club. They had posted an event to meet up for root beer floats at a small car show nearby. I was nervous to go, and convinced my friend to come with me. By then, I was newly divorced, and trying to figure out who I was after being in the same relationship since college. At that time, there were about 65 members on the LROC page which I thought was awesome (little did I know, the group would grow to be over 600!). I pulled up in my stock Jeep to see Jeeps stacked on each other, lifted Jeeps, and pink and purple-accented Jeeps. Basically, I knew then that I found my people.
Indeed, my journey has been life changing. Two years later, and I now have my own circle of friends - largely women offroaders, and the amazing men that support them. I have learned that Jeepers are a family. They are kind, loyal, supportive, helpful, patriotic, caring, and would stop everything to help a fellow Jeeper in need - no matter how out of the way it is, or time it takes from their own offroading fun. There are literally no words I can write to explain how much this group has changed my life.
My first off-road adventure was with LROC at Spider Lake, MN. I remember going on the trail, and thinking, there was no way I could do this - what was I thinking? I am going to flip, tip, roll and die! In fact, it was so bad, that the convoy had to stop for me as I could not figure how to get it into 4 wheel drive. No joke. Another lady Jeeper came up to my window with a walkie-talkie and asked what was up. I explained my “situation”, then I heard someone on the walkie-talkie ask what the issue is, and her response, “just need to get Clifford into 4 wheel drive”. There was no judgment, no joking, ribbing, or anything that made me feel more stupid than I already felt. Then, only a few minutes later, we came to the most steep hill I had ever seen (I laugh at this now) - the Jeeps in front of me all went up it, and I was convinced there was no way I could do that! I honked my horn as instructed at the drivers’ meeting if we needed help. Angela Hinkley (an LROC founder) came running down the hill and asked what was up. I said there was no way I could do that! She said, “yes, you can”, got in my Jeep, talked me through it, and gave me the confidence that I lacked.
Since Spider Lake, the offroading bug has hit me hard. I’ve attended multiple educational events and hit several different trails - starting with bypasses only, and working myself up to some obstacles. I know I have a lot left to learn - I am not the most daring by any stretch of the imagination, but the amazing thing about these women is that they allow me to do it at my speed, while pushing me just enough to give me the confidence to try new things. I’ve been stuck in mud, walked away from my Jeep to have another drive it out, and cried. And that was okay. No judgments were made (at least out loud to my face!). Clifford has also had a serious transformation. I’ve added a 2.5” lift, 35” tires, TNT skid plates, 10th anniversary hood, Poison Spyder bumpers, diff covers, and fenders, chromoly tie rod, Teraflex tire hitch, Warn winch, and other upgrades.
Silly salesman. This girl is an offroader.
As for what is next? My 17 year old son now has his own Jeep (2015 hydro blue JK Sahara) that has been built largely from donated (or discounted) parts from others, and is in the process of purchasing the various parts to lift it. He’s been so supportive of me it’s unreal. Maybe it’s just teenage confidence, but he’s always encouraging me to try things, and I’m always hesitant, but happy when I do. He’s a budding mechanic-in-training, and so he’s always tinkering on Clifford, which is awesome. I can’t speak his language, but I support him the best I know how. As for my 15 year old son, he also loves to offroad, and I hope will be joining us on the trails in his own Jeep next year!
Speaking of mechanics, I am not mechanically inclined. Not even close. Thus, while I like to understand my Jeep and the concept of certain upgrades, I cannot retain the information and get overwhelmed quickly. So, I just ask my friends, son, or mechanic, to "get to the basically”. They know this, and translate well now. Basically, this part will protect that part. Basically, this thing is not working because of that thing. Basically, if you don’t do this, that can happen.
Basically, the off-road community has taken me in and helped me to start to learn who I am as an independent woman. Basically, the women in this sport have changed the direction of my life and perhaps someday, I will be that woman for other women. Basically...this is how I Jeep.
Posted by: Dulcy Rojas