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Never Saw This Coming

by Elisa Burke

Elisa-Burke-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1Hello…. My name is Elisa Burke.  I’m a retired sixty years young gal who is hooked on Jeeps and Jeep adventures.  I live in beautiful Huntington Beach, California with my husband Steve and our cat Tiki.  Steve and I have been married for thirty-two years and we have a beautiful daughter who’s twenty-three.  Steve and I met at our local junior college where we both studied art and design and then went on to Long Beach State where I studied Illustration Design and Fine Art.

Elisa-Burke-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1I love SPORTS!  I played volleyball, basketball and softball in high school and was a student athlete at Orange Coast College playing volleyball.  After college my passion was racing Hawaiian style outrigger canoes for 30 years, competing in ocean races up and down the California coast as well as open ocean races from Molokai to Oahu and the world famous Queens race off the Kona Elisa-Burke-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1coast.  I also found time to compete in triathlons and was one of the early mountain bike racers competing around Southern California and twice did the Mammoth Mountain Kamikaze downhill.  When I turned 50 I challenged myself to try something totally different and joined an all women’s Masters Water Polo team where I played my first 50+ tournaments.  That was crazy hard!!

Elisa-Burke-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1When our daughter graduated high school she needed a car to go to college and that’s when I handed down my little, gently used, Honda Element and purchased a BRAND NEW 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited.  That same year I had some down time to recover from a lifetime of competition and a needed surgery on my neck.  I spent a lot of couch potato time searching the Internet and researching the Jeep world reading every off road magazine I could get my hands on.  I was getting hooked on the world of crawling.

Elisa-Burke-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1Now that I was the proud owner of a shiny new, totally stock Jeep, I couldn’t wait to hit the trails so I headed out to the infamous King of the Hammers.  I really had my eyes opened at that event.  Now I was in trouble!!  I couldn’t wait to start modifying my Jeep.  I wanted to do this Jeep thing.

Elisa-Burke-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1Growing up riding off road motorcycles and buggies I should have known this was going to happen.  When I was a kid our family would go out to the desert or off to Baja.  I was always better at slow, technical trail riding than going wide-open fast.  Crawling became my new adventure sport!  My Dad used to set up a motorcycle trials course for us kids whenever we went on a off road vacation.  The first one to finish the course without touching the ground would win big money….$5.   I always enjoyed competing in his trials courses.

Elisa-Burke-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1Jeeping came to me at an important time in my life.  Recovering from multiple injuries and unable to compete in an outrigger canoe, hiking or mountain biking, the Jeep helped get me through the healing process.  It was a way for me to still get out into the country, which I love, and also make new friends.  With my newly named “Lady Rebel” Jeep we took on a new challenge.  We were now taking on some awesome adventures.  Some of my most memorable Jeep adventures are Big Bear Forest Fest in California’s San Bernardino Mountains, Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, King of the Hammers in Johnson Valley, CA and the Jeep Jamboree USA’s Rubicon Trail in the High Sierras of California.   And of course, one of my best offroad experiences was with Charlene Bower’s Ladies Offroad Network and ten other awesome ladies during the “Wild Women’s Wheeling Weekend 2017” in Charlene’s backyard of Mesa, AZ.  That was a truly special event.  I met Charlene in 2017 at the Easter Jeep Safari Meet and Greet where she first introduced me to the Ladies Offroad Network and the LON Challenge.  And it was easy to see why I became a member of this great group.

Elisa-Burke-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1If I had to pick one favorite adventure out of all of these events it would have to be the Rubicon Trail – hands down!  The Rubicon Trail is located in the High Sierra Mountain Range west and south of Lake Tahoe.  The Jeep Jamboree event is three days of some of best and most technical driving you can find in one of the most beautiful wilderness in California.  Originally, the Rubicon Trail was a Native American path that connected the Sacramento Valley and South Lake Tahoe.  European explorers discovered the trail in the 1840’s and the first car into Rubicon Springs arrived in 1908 – and was driven by a woman from Lake Tahoe!

Elisa-Burke-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1This Rubicon Trail is twenty two miles of advanced driving, climbing and crawling that starts at Georgetown making its way east to South Lake Tahoe near Tahoma.  It’s a technical ride through beautiful National Forests and private lands.  One thing you can say about the Jeep Elisa-Burke-Ladies-Offroad-Challenge1Jamboree – the trail guides were awesome!  They got me through the famous Little Sluice, Big Sluice and the infamous Cadillac Hill with no problems.  On the first day it took us eight hours to navigate the eleven miles to Camp Rubicon Springs.  But it was worth it – “sooo beautiful”.  We camped right on the springs and enjoyed a fantastic evening of meeting new friends and sharing great stories.  Our second day was a day off from driving, time to relax.  Jeep Jamboree supplied the most fabulous outdoor cooked meals and entertainment and during the day we enjoyed a beach party swimming in the springs.  The third day, after another incredible breakfast, we broke camp and headed out.  We had another eleven miles and six hours of crawling ahead of us to get to the end of the trail.  I just couldn’t get over the beauty of those granite mountains, sweet smell of pine and the most beautiful blue skies.  Doing the Rubicon Trail adventure has been an awesome experience, challenging, fun and intense all wrapped into one experience.  That trail has given me so much confidence and trust in the performance of my Jeep, my driving skills and life in general.  I know I can take on big challenges and succeed.  Bring on the new challenges and adventures…. I’m ready!

Looking back when I was a couch potato reading those Jeep magazines, I have to say “I never saw this coming!”.

“If you don’t throw yourself into something, you’ll never know what you could have had.”
            Amy Winehouse

Posted by: Dulcy Rojas

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