by Dana Anderson
My love for anything with wheels started when I was very young. My dad was a master mechanic, he would bring home all kinds of cool cars and trucks. I would sit in them for hours “driving” and shifting, and never leaving the garage. I grew up in a very rural area with lots of room to ride my horse, bikes, go-karts, and mini bikes. I have 4 older brothers and I did my best to keep up with them. We had a creek that ran through the property, my brothers thought it would be a good idea to jump the creek. I started with bikes and then we tried to jump it with mini bikes. That didn’t go so well. When my dad came home with a 6 wheel banana split mobile, we were going to get that thing across the creek. We got the 6-wheeler stuck in the creek! Fun times!
When I was 15 years old, my dad bought a military Jeep with a V8 up under the hood. I knew I had to drive this Jeep, with or without permission; I would deal with the consequences later. I drove the Jeep down the road to Cow Hill which had lots of trails that we wheeled on. I put that big V8 to the test once I figured out how to get it in 4-wheel drive. I had no clue what I was doing, I was so young and dumb! No roll cage, just a lap belt. I drove all over Cow Hill. Somehow I didn’t get caught! I needed to drive that Jeep again!
It was a beautiful day. I really wanted to take that Jeep to the beach, but what if I got caught? There was no top on the big V8 Jeep. I felt so cool driving that thing to the beach. This time I knew how to put it in 4-wheel drive. Yahoo! Awesome day! I was so happy. Best day ever right up until I got home - this time I got caught. My dad didn’t think I was cool. He grounded me. My punishment was to go to his shop and learn how to change the oil, spark plugs, and tires. This was the best! Punishment and learning! Ok, I just knew he was going to give me this Jeep. Especially since I was learning how to work on it. Nope! No Jeep for you! “You are more trouble than your four brothers put together.” He would say, "if you were born first you would have been born last." I was a Daddy’s girl. He bought me a VW Bug. This was no stock bug, it had dual port heads holley carburetor, 16 hundred bore to 18 hundred. It hauled ass, and I loved it! It took me everywhere. I went to Tahoe, Yosemite, and the beach. I thought I was a great driver. Well, I was a great driver right up until I rolled that VW Bug. The best part was I landed on all 4 wheels and a few fixes later, I was good to go.
A year later, I took a trip to Tahoe in my VW bug. One week after Tahoe I was moving all my stuff; I just loved it in Tahoe. There are so many things to do! Skiing in the winter. In the summer there was biking, hiking, windsurfing, kayaking, and water skiing. Skiing was a big part of my life and was about to become even a bigger part. This very cute guy that I worked with asked me out. I first needed to see how he skis. I saw him on the ski hill and oh my God, he was an amazing skier! Next on my list before I would go out with him was what kind of car or truck did he drive? OMG! Again! A big Ford F150 with a big lift. Score! Hell yeah, I will go out with you! One of our first dates was to go 4-wheeling. We got stuck in the mud. We had so much fun getting out of this together. We did many camping and offroading trips. In May of 1987 we went to the Toyota dealership and got a brand new Toyota truck. Our first purchase as a couple. We took many more camping and offroading adventures in this new truck.
Then in 1989 we were thrilled to discover I was pregnant with our son, Justin. We needed a new truck, specifically a 4-Runner. I got my first generation 4-Runner in red. Oh yeah, I loved that rig so much! As our son got bigger we needed a 4 door 4-Runner. I had both 2 door and my new 4 door, and I wanted to keep them both so badly. At the time we couldn’t afford to have two 4-Runners so the 2 door was sold. I know it sounds silly but I like to find good homes for the cars I sell. Although it went to a good home, I was still sad to sell it.
Now this is where the fun really begins. My, at the time, 9 year old son Justin was very much into trucks. My dad would take him in the shop and show him all kinds of things. My dad built a 31 Chevy Woody Wagon from the frame up and Justin would be in the shop for hours with him. My dad would play a big part in my son’s life. My husband and our son took a trip to Pismo and Disneyland. I got pictures of my son driving my 4-Runner at age 9 by himself! He rode up and down the beach! Oh boy! This was the beginning of Justin’s love for offroading. Justin grew up offroading on the Rubicon and Fordice trails that are not far from where we live. He got so into offroading that it reignited my passion to go out on the trails.
One day my husband and I were driving past an extremely clean 4-Runner. I asked him to stop so I could write a note. I wrote so long that my husband asked me if I was writing a book. I had to have that car! I let the owner of the 4-Runner know that I would give his car a great home. The 4-Runner was not for sale. That night I got a phone call. It was the owner of the 4-Runner. OMG! Stay calm...My heart was beating so fast. The owner told me that they get at least 2 notes a week asking if the car was for sale. But my note was special the owner told me. We talked like old friends on the phone and made plans to meet the next day. Rich and I showed up with the cash in hand. My husband looked it over really well, as did I. Yahoo! She is all mine! I sent my son pictures as I bought the truck. I am not sure who was more excited, me or Justin. I brought her home and my son informed me that he would like to build her up for me. Wow, really?! I will buy the parts and you will build it up. Winner! For my birthday, Christmas, and anniversary, I asked my husband for parts as my gifts. I received a winch, bumper, lights, and seat covers! I am so very proud of my son and my husband for their support.
King of the Hammers was a trip my son had been taking every year. He would talk about how amazing it was. He invited us to go to KOH with him. Are you kidding me? When your kid asks you to go spend time with him you jump at the chance. We are arrived at KOH. OMG! This is so big and awesome! I was walking around checking out all the rigs and vendors. There was a woman by a sign, Ladies Off Road Network. She introduced herself as Charlene Bower. She asked if I would like to learn how to use a winch or a high lift jack, tomorrow we weld. Hell yes! KOH is now a family trip every year.
This is where we named my rig Betty White. I am so proud of my son and I am so thankful for my husband’s support. Thank you to both my husband Rich and my son Justin for reigniting
my passion for offroading. Thank you for Betty White!
Posted by: Dulcy Rojas