Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Jeep Off-Road Lessons Can Be Expensive But I Got Lucky

Each time I have gone out on the trails with my Jeep I am amazed at the things I learn. I have only been out four times but I'm sure this is true for veteran and experienced off-roaders as well. Just like with all the possible Jeep modification options, the experiences on the trails are endless. My guess would be  -- that is one of the attractions to Jeeping off-road. 



Well, besides the pure, natural adrenaline rush you get or the extreme power you have behind the wheel. Or maybe it's just the appeal of being outside and one with nature. 

Not only am I learning so much about my Jeep's capabilities -- I'm learning mechanical things I never would have imagined or would have been interested in years ago -- like differentials, gears, tires, suspension, coils -- oh -- the list goes on. By no means am I an expert, but I'm enjoying the lessons and the great interactions with fellow Jeep lovers.





Along with all the technical education, I am learning so much about myself. Deep down inside I knew these things but I took it all for granted and lost my confidence.

Growing up in the Midwest I learned to drive in the harshest of winters. It wasn't uncommon for the streets to be snow covered for weeks. I remember roads becoming snow compacted making for very icy conditions. I'm not sure if it's that experience I gained or it's a natural instinct to know what to do when we get our vehicles stuck in the mud or snow on the city streets or the mountain trails. 

I tend to think it's just a natural ability some of us are born with. I've seen many drivers who have lived in the north their whole lives and still don't know how to drive in the rain or snow. 

On Sunday on the trails I think I had a moment of complete "blondness" that's what I like to call it. I was so disappointed in myself for my panic moment. I had just come down a pretty intense decline. (Click here for video)   With my Jeep sitting so low I scraped the whole way down. I had that white knuckle grip on the steering wheel. I was on high alert down that hill.  Once down on the bottom I relaxed and made the right hand turn up a small muddy hill. 







This is where I slightly high centered myself. So, instead of taking a deep breath and clearing my head to remember the confidence in myself and Jeep -- I panicked and called Kyle on the radio. Once he was done guiding the others down the hill he came over and accessed my situation. He told me to turn my wheel slightly to the driver's side and go. Well, DUH! I was so upset with myself for not thinking clearly or even having the confidence in myself to get out of it. If I would have just stopped and counted to ten and really thought about my situation I would have gotten up and down that hill with ease even after getting a little stuck.   

Lesson learned: Don't panic and take my time. Think about each and every situation. Be confident in myself and my Jeep. My Jeep, even though it's stock, is very capable. I am very capable. I'm a good, experienced driver. Now, I'll admit I would probably have some troubles on the bigger rocks -- notice I said some. But certainly I can make it through the blues and greens with ease.
  
Once again calm, supportive Kyle came through and said your not stuck until you have to be pulled out. If he is going to have the confidence in my Jeep and me then I should too. Right?

Okay recap -- Don't panic, think and remember I'm a great, experienced driver. My Jeep is boss -- by the way that means extremely cool or the best.


So, now on to the next lesson I learned. And this could have been a very expensive lesson but I got lucky. Don't let your guard down on the trails.  After Kyle guided me through some larger rocks (Click here for VIDEO) I headed over with the other Jeeps to wait for the rest to finish. I relaxed a little which is a big mistake. Never ever let your guard down. I should have been scanning the trail continually. Well, I went over a rock and there was a large noise that even concerned the other drivers. I drove my step rail, yes those plastic stock step rails, right over a large rock. The rock pushed the drivers side rail up slightly into the fender and popped out the fender.









Luckily, Kyle knew exactly what to do. He got up on the step rail and jumped on it to push it back into place. Then with his hands he popped the fender back into place.



Okay recap -- Don't let your guard down on the trails always be scanning the trails for obstacles.


But it's all a learning experience.  Like my close call to the minor side rail and fender damage to the slight high centered situation. Each and every experience makes me a better driver. Out on the trail I tend to get down on myself if I don't drive it perfect. But hey, no one is perfect and with all the mistakes I make I am learning from these experiences which will make me a better driver. 


Plus, the main goal is to have fun and that I am. I am counting the days to my next trip to Rausch Creek Off-road Park. I can only hope my new Jeep BFF will be able to join me!

       -- Simple Living! -- Enjoying Life! --                     -The Jeep Momma Way --