by Jesusita Tafoya
Waking up to the warmth of the sleeping bag surrounding my body, the beanie on my head, a failed attempt to keep my head as warm as my body. Opening the tent and smelling the crisp morning air, the smell of coffee on an open campfire, the early morning dew on the grass blades. The sound of the wind dancing on the leaves of the Aspen trees. The stillness of the earth in contrast to the sounds of nature surrounding the campsite. The view of eleven-mile reservoir at any time of day is amazing. In the morning you can take in the mountains coming down into each other as if to hold the reservoir in its warm embrace.
In the evening while standing around the campfire listening to the popping and crackling of the campfire, smelling the smokiness of the wood that engulfs your senses, and taking deep breath; but not too deep. Then the sight of lanterns seen on the lake lighting it up in all its mysterious glory. The fishermen’s hope radiating off as they await their big catch stories; and oh, don’t forget the magnificent sight of the milky way in the nights sky. This it the calming joy that swallows me whole and forces me to let go of all the negativity built up inside me.
The love of camping always existed within me. On the same note, the love of off-roading was unknown to me. Today they are one in the same. A chance to do one means, the opportunity to do the other. The mountains are truly my happy place and they can turn any mood I’m in into pure joy. After I bought my 2007 Jeep Liberty, the joy was amplified, and I knew I needed a Wrangler. I fell in love with the idea that I could go anywhere and that my Jeep could get me through the winter without getting stranded. When we go exploring, I love the idea that my Jeep could take me up into the mountains, on the trails, and find wonderful gems hidden to the rest of the world.
While I was at university acquiring my BSN, I would drive past the Jeep dealership dreaming of the day I would be able to buy a Jeep Wrangler. I had it in my head that I would be buying a sunburst orange Jeep when I finished my degree. As the years went by, I would test drive Wranglers, but none ever felt right. One day on pure chance and luck, I drove by a dealership and fell in love. I knew it was meant to be. I stopped and test drove the green beast, it was love at first sight. I took him home that night and named him Emiliano Zapata after the Mexican revolutionary.
Once I had Zapata, I began to realize quickly that having him not only gave me a sense of pride but opened the doors to my off-road community. I didn’t expect the comaradery that came with owning a Jeep. The community really takes care of each other even if you don’t know them. I find when I meet someone that is a part of the community there is an instant bound. We can start talking about camping, off-roading, mechanical issues, and almost any subject. They always are so willing to help and give advice. In general, this has helped me tremendously in my life and in restoring my faith in humanity.
I’m new to this but am excited to learn and explore. One of my goals this summer is to earn a Jeep badge of honor. This, I believe will be a challenge as the trails I have gone on so far have been tame. I am looking forward to learning as much as I can from this wonderful group. Off-roading makes me happy and it allows my spirit the freedom to explore the world around me. I never really thought of off-roading as a sport I just love being out in nature and I get so much joy out of driving on a trail. As far as my family goes, I feel extremely supported in my choice to become an off-roader and to modify my Jeep. Although, I tend to get quite a few eye rolls out of my sisters; I think I annoy them with my Facebook post but that does not stop me.
When I get into the mountains, I tend to go into the San Isabel National Forest or our private family land in Park County. I have gone up mild trails that don’t require much except a high clearance. A few of my favorite places to go are O’Haver Lake and Northfork Lake. Off-roading has changed my life. It has given me a sense of belonging that I have never felt before. I have always been one to spend my money on others and not on myself. Now I allow myself to spend some of that on my sport. I budget for things I want. As I have mentioned before I am a novice and am at the beginning of my learning curve but I have confidence that I will learn so much and I hope to make life long connections along my journey.
Posted by: Dulcy Rojas