by Robin Brooks
My Off-road journey started when my husband and I bought a Turtleback trailer for our camping adventures. We drove to Phoenix, Arizona to pick up our trailer and decided to attend the 2016 Overland Expo West. As we set up camp with our newly found family the Herd of Turtles, we met our neighbors an incredible couple by the names of Kevin and Sarah McCuiston. Later that evening Sarah asked me if I was going to Ladies night and my response was “what’s that?” Long story short I went to ladies’ night and my eyes where opened to a whole new off-roading world! I met some incredible women that night that completely changed my thoughts on off-roading. It wasn’t till I attended the 2017 Unlimited Off-road expo at the Texas Motor Speedway that I got my first taste of being behind the wheel. For those of you that are a part of Ladies Off-road Network you know who Frankie is! MY FIRST TIME BEHIND THE WHEEL WAS IN FRANKIE! However, at that time I had no idea I was driving a celebrity!
Shortly after returning home from the Expo I got a Facebook pop up of people you might know and Charlene Bower’s name popped up. I sent her a friend request and started getting notifications of the First Ladies Off-road Convention. As soon as I told my husband about it without hesitation he said GO! I have traveled around the country but it was never alone and never to a place where I didn’t know anyone. The convention was in Colorado Springs and I was a nervous wreck about making this trip. I put my big girl pants on and I was off on my 1st solo adventure! When I landed at the airport I found my shuttle to the hotel, I boarded the shuttle to find 4 women all there for the convention which was awesome because by the time we arrived to the hotel I had made 4 new friends! The convention was such an incredible experience! I walked away with so much amazing knowledge, but the friendships I walked away with was priceless! 4 days later I flew back home feeling so empowered and ready to get my own off-road vehicle.
My first install was the day I returned from the convention! My husband and I went to 4 Wheel Parts and bought a winch for his FJ Cruiser. He was so excited to stand back and just watch me in action. I picked out the winch and several different shackles. We got home and I went to work! I installed the winch and it worked!! I was so proud of myself! I couldn’t wait to get my own vehicle so I could start doing modification on it. Two weeks later I was driving my very own Toyota Tacoma! I also became a Ladies Off-road Network Member and I have never regretted that decision! Being a member I won an awesome Warn Winch and some great ditch lights which both are on my Tacoma!
2018 was my year! I took my first girls only road trip to Moab, UT for the Easter Jeep Safari with Jessy Greenland! That was such a great adventure driving 2 days from Oklahoma City to Moab! The old phrase “it’s the journey not the destination” is so true. But let me tell you the destination was just as incredible! To achieving some pretty gnarly technicals, climbing the baby’s lion back, to going to exclusive parties, and yes winning some great prizes! This was a trip I will never forget!
Next on the to do list was the 2018 Ladies Off-road Challenge! I was so nervous, but this year was all about continuing to get out of my comfort zone. Putting yourself out there and asking for help is a very difficult thing to do but it all paid off in the end when Charlene announced the top 10 and I made it!!!! So, there I was off on my 2nd journey of the year. Mesa, Arizona here I come! This was such a life changing event. I met so many interesting people including some amazing women in the off-road industry like Sarah ‘Bogi’ Lateiner and Corry Weller. We also got to do some incredible things like an insane hike, riding in razors, welding, touring SDHQ auto parts store, all kinds of info on auto maintenance and installations, swimming in an incredibly cold river, and the list goes on and on. I can’t forget to mention the ladies! I have made some incredible friendship that will last forever.
What’s next you ask? Well the 2018 Ladies Off-road Convention in Salt Lake City, UT of course. I was on a flight headed back to Utah. I was so excited to see my friends that I had made at the 2017 convention along with meeting so many new friends. I am truly amazed at how much stuff Charlene can cram into 4 days! So much education, theme dinners, we went to the Ford Performance Racing School, went to my first demolition derby and got to meet Amy Hunter a total badass behind the wheel, then the weekend ended with us teaching some local ladies how to maintain their vehicles.
You can never get too much training and it’s something you need to do often to so you don’t get rusty in your skills. I attended the Ladies Off-road Trail Training class after returning from the convention. And let me tell you the things you learn are priceless! Learning the difference in shackles, straps, and winch lines, to how to use a Hi-lift jack, benefits of a pull pal, and yes how to change a tire. If you get an opportunity to take this class do it!
For the remainder of 2018 my husband and I took a few trips to the Ozark mountains to get some off-road therapy. I am still working on two-foot driving and taking it slow and easy. I tend to have a fast foot sometimes. But taking these trips with my husband has brought us so much closer and is helping with our communication. I love being in our own rigs and talking on the CB radio, spotting each other, and motivating one another to get out of our comfort zone and take the more difficult lines. It’s such an incredible feeling not only within myself but when I see the look of pride in my husband’s eyes after I have achieved an obstacle. He is my #1 fan and without his support and encouragement I would have not experienced all these amazing events.
2019 I just returned from a BUCKET LIST TRIP! I got to go to Costa Rica with Women Overlanding the World Retreats! I can’t even begin to describe how amazing this trip was! I spent 9 days traveling through mountains, rainforest, and beaches with 16 other women. We got to drive Toyota Hilux pickups. Camped in RTTs for 3 nights, stayed in an amazing spa resort for 2 days, then camped in safari style tents for 2 nights. The wildlife was incredible; monkeys, sloths, snakes, crocodiles, lizards, crabs, bats, macaws, and toucans. Our adventures also took us across a crazy scary bridge, secluded waterfalls, kayaking through the mangroves, local breweries, swimming in the ocean, coffee shops, delicious food, covering our bodies in blue clay and rinsing in a freezing cold river, along with many other things. It was crazy I met 16 strangers in another country and left with 16 sisters. I recommend every woman out there to get out of your comfort zone and take a trip like this. This was another life changing event in my life.
Now that I am back to reality I have been focusing on this new challenge and trying to plan the remainder of the year. I will complete the 2019 Ladies Off-road Challenge. I hope to make the top 10 but if I don’t I am still proud that I took this on and complete it! I have high hopes to be attending the Ladies Off-road Convention for my 3rd year! I have been working on getting more involved in "The Goonies" a local 4X4 club. The members are truly amazing! To see a group of people come together and show so much support and love is so inspiring. They are determined to get me off road more often which is exactly what I need!
To wrap up this crazy story of mine, I have no idea what the future holds but I look forward to seeing where it takes me! I love to travel, trying new things, and meeting new people! So, I definitely plan on more trips but want to take them in my Tacoma The Wanderer! Stay tuned and we shall see where this journey of mine leads!
Posted by: Dulcy Rojas