Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The Jeep Code Disagreement - Mending Fences

Stuck between a rock and a hard place.

 No, not my Jeep, but me. 

I had to leave a Jeep on the Rubicon Trail.  

  The Jeep Code - Blog Post from June 

There are other Jeep Codes not mentioned in that post, like tread lightly, if you pack it in pack it out, stay on the trail, and never leave a Jeep -- or is it Jeeper -- behind. Well, that last one sits heavy in my heart. 

Sometimes it's not always an easy decision to make what to do when a Jeep breaks down on the trail. Yes, you can arm chair quarterback back at home, but in that actual moment so much is in play.

As you know, I just recently got back from wheeling the Rubicon trail. I took my 2015 Rubicon and Neil was in our 1969 CJ5 we call Bumblebee. My kids also flew into Denver to join us. 

My oldest son Michael was hesitant to make the trip as he is taking summer college classes. Even though they are online, he still had homework deadlines and tests. Neil convinced him to join us, which I am so thankful that I had that time with him. Michael agreed as long as we got him back to the airport on Sunday. I made him that promise - I would get him to the Airport on Sunday. 

I was looking forward to spending time with them, especially showing them the beauty of the West and tackling the Rubicon Trail. It was about 5 months since I had seen them. I picked them up at the airport, then the next day we headed for California.


Michael rode with Neil in the CJ5, and Ben and our dog Dixie rode with me. We took the backroads since we were driving the CJ5 as her max speed is 60 mph. Our pick up was having issues, so we couldn’t tow the Jeep. We have since sold that truck and now have the Jeep truck - J4000 which Neil is currently modding. 

The CJ5 has a smaller gas tank, which means limited mileage so we had two extra gas cans. At one point early in the trip, we needed to stop on the side of the road to add gas in the CJ5. It was nothing but issues from that point on. 

Previously we had wheeled this Jeep on several trails here in Colorado with NO issues. There were several times along the way to California we needed to stop for minor fixes.  Neil made repairs on the carburetor and fuel filter. The night before trail day Neil spent hours in the hotel parking lot working on the Jeep. 

The next morning, we stopped at the Auto parts store for extra parts. Then before we even got to the trailhead, we had to stop on Icehouse Road. Neil needed to rebuild the carburetor. My heart ached for him, as I could feel the frustration flowing off him. Those gas cans were metal, and now we believe they were contaminated.  

This trip we invited some of our fans to join us. They all had requested vacation to spend the week wheeling. They came from Arizona, Southern Cali, and Illinois. It was a first time on the trail for all, but one. Everyone was looking forward to wheeling this iconic trail. 

We finally entered the trail around 2pm Monday afternoon. We were all pumped and excited to be ON THE RUBICON TRAIL.

Day One Rubicon Trail 

The Road to the Rubicon Trail Video 

Day 1 Part One Rubicon Trail Video

Day 1 Part Two Rubicon Trail Video

Not to long into the trail the CJ5 had the Transmission mounts broke. Easy trail fix for Neil. It happened again a little tougher fix, but Neil fixed it. He is the master of trail fixes. 

Now understand our CJ5 was on 31’s with not a whole lot of mods. We had watched video after video of old school Jeeps tackling the trail with not a whole lot of issues. Neil is an amazing wheeler. He wheeled some of Kingman’s trails with no lockers in our YJ, He conquered obstacles no one thought he could. I had all the faith in his abilities. We knew there might be some winching, but that is to be expected. 

What we didn't expect were the fuel issues. By the second day the CJ5 was not doing good. We ended up with a broken U bolt which Neil trail fixed and the engine was having serious issues. We began to have to tow Bumblebee. 

By the third day just after Little Sluice we came across some California guys. They said we needed to turn around there was no way we could tow her out the rest of the way. This is where it gets hard. It was extremely hot and we were all frustrated with the slow go. I felt responsible for everyone’s trip. 

Some of us wanted to push forward. Some said they would go back. The Cali guys said if we got permission, we could leave it and come back for it or hire someone to tow it out. I felt at the time that was our best solution. I would pay someone to tow it out and come back after I dropped Michael at the airport. 

There were other discussions of what to do but we all weren’t apart of them. Eventually, Neil decided to leave the Jeep so everyone could finish the trail. That decision went against everything he fundamentally believed in. My plan was to pay to get Bumblebee off the trail and go back after I dropped my kids at the airport. 

We all made it off the trail late Thursday night except Bumblebee. Neil's amazing spotting skills got everyone through all those obstacles in one piece. I honestly don't think we would have made it in once piece without him. 

 The next day Neil posted on the Rubicon Gazette. Some Cali guys with Race buggies came to the rescue. They went in late Friday and got Bumblebee out. It was a 12 hour process with Ultra 4 racing vehicles. They even tried a couple of trail fixes but no luck. She was safe in California until we could go get her. 

Neil and I fundementally disagreed about going back in to rescue the Jeep. In my mind there just wasn't the time as I needed to get my son to the airport in Denver. I didn’t think it was a good idea to go back in by ourselves. The other Jeeps had issues and were not capable of making a recovery. My Jeep seemed good to go, but going in alone with 2 kids and a dog with no back seats didn’t seem like a good idea. I honestly had total faith in the Jeep community. Neil a very old school Jeeper says you take care of your own problems. 

The guilt sat heavy with me for leaving the Jeep. There was a lot of tension between us and it didn't look like it could be fixed so I left. I just couldn't deal with the hurt and guilt. The mom in me superseeded the Jeeper in me which was tough to come to terms with. 

My Mental Breakdown/Meltdown

We can all sit back and say we should of done this or should of done that. It’s too late for that now. Now we can only learn from our decisions and make better ones.

We did get back to California to get the Jeep. Weeks after I left Colorado, I needed to go back for financial purposes. My path crossed Neil's unintentionally. We talked and I wanted to make good on my promise to get Bumbleebee home. 

We hopped in my Jeep and made the trek back to the Sierra Nevada's. Spending hours upon hours together on a rode trip you do a lot of talking. And a lot of healing. We both agreed on many things we should of done and shouldn't of done. We both took responsibility for blame.

We did get Bumblebee off the mountain and back home to Colorado. The CJ5 needs some fixing and we will do that together.     

Monday, August 24, 2020

My Perfect Storm of Loss

I believe in the importance of sharing my story even though it is personal. If it helps at least one person going through what I am going through, it's worth it.  

Three months ago, Neil and I came across a couple on the side of the road with a broken down Jeep. We pulled over and helped get their Jeep and camper to the nearest town. While in town, Neil fixed their Jeep, and I sat in the camper with my new friend. She turned out to be a therapist and my story came pouring out. She told me this will be my long year of healing. 

About two months later, an old friend from high school and I were chatting. I shared I was going through a divorce. She told me it will get a lot worse before it gets better as she just went through one. She continued by sharing, I will be doing a lot of emotional healing. Oh how they both were so correct about my future. 

About a month ago, I had a mental breakdown. A simple disagreement brought me to my knees.  Normally, in a good state of mind, I could of worked through it, but I hadn't realized all the emotional baggage I was carrying. It all hit me at once, all those losses and grief. 

A loss doesn't have to be the death of a loved one. Grief comes with all kinds of losses. 

I hadn't realized how many losses I have experienced this past year. I am in the middle of the perfect storm of losses. A person grieves when they experience a loss. It seems I am at many different levels grief over all the different losses. So that's a lot of different emotions all at once. Some I haven't learned to let go of yet. 

Divorce is a loss. No matter how nasty or how cooperative a couple is during a divorce, it is an emotionally difficult journey. Regardless how the relationship ended, if a couple slowly grew apart or there was infidelity, it is difficult to deal with. 

My relationship of 22 years is the most obvious loss. A relationship I believed was our life long relationship of growing old together and being there for each other until death do you part. Those words "for better or worse" meant something to me. I was going to push through the worse. I don't easily give up and it is not in my genes to give up. I was raised that quitting isn't an option, so this was very hard for me. 

Before the divorce, I lost my job. Normally this wouldn't be so devastating, but I was working for friends. It was very hurtful how I was treated. 

The losses didn't stop there. The most overwhelming loss is the day to day, face to face interaction with my kids. This has been the hardest to overcome. The guilt sits deep with me. I know the decision to leave the East Coast and head West was the best possible decision I could make for all three of us. My kids and I made this decision together after an open and honest discussion. A decision made in the best interest for our family. It was hard for all of us, but we knew it was the best decision for the situation we were faced with. However, the guilt of leaving and not being the two parent family is so hard.   

The losses kept piling up. I lost my "mom community". A community I was apart of for many years. A lot of those mom's are still friends with my ex and commenting on his Facebook page, but not mine. Yeah... that's a little middle school, but it still hurts when you lose a community you have been deeply involved with for so many years.

Then there is the loss of friends. A friend of about 20 years unfriended me on Facebook and hasn't talked to me for several months. Her last words to me were "she didn't understand why I had to leave Maryland". Another friend posted a pretty devastating comment on one of my Facebook posts. She shared, she couldn't believe I would leave my kids and what kind of mother does that. She was disappointed in me.  

So when Neil and I had the disagreement about the CJ5 being left on the Rubicon Trail, I had a mental break down.  (The Jeep Code Story coming soon)  The flood of emotions was so overwhelming, I couldn't even make the basic decisions.

So, I headed to Texas to stay with my niece. She was so amazing taking care of me, cooking for me and helping heal my heart with salt, sweat and tears. 

We spent hours sitting on the beach soaking in the sun with the healing powers of the ocean (gulf). 

Sweating it out on long nature walks in the hot and muggy Texas heat. And nights of flowing tears and uncontrollable sobs.  

She was what I needed, a listening ear with no judgement or advice. I needed to be able to make my own choices to start getting my strength back, my inner voice back. There were days I didn't think I would ever be normal again. (Was I ever truly normal... Ha!)

She gave me the book the Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie. It took me about two weeks before I was able to pick up the book. Once I started reading it, I felt my strength coming back. It's a slow process I am still working through.

Now that I realize I am grieving so many things. I can begin to put all those emotions in the right compartment. All those emotions debilitated me and panicked me.  

I am now back on my feet taking it day by day becoming that strong woman again. I am dealing with all the emotions one at a time. How am I doing that? 

First, I silenced the voices. I need to find my inner voice again. There have been so many, many supportive well meaning people. They have also helped me get through all this, but at the same time those voices hindered me unintentionally. It is good to see life from different perspectives, but I need to learn to filter and realize what is best for me. How I want to live my life right now is unconventional, but it makes me happy. 

I am working on dealing with the guilt of leaving my kids. My oldest son is 20. He told me a while back that he loves me, but "no offense mom" he doesn't want to hang out with his mom or dad. I need to remember back when I was 20. 

My youngest son is reaching that same point in his life as he is a teenager. However, with virtual school and the lockdown on the East Coast, I worry for their mental well being. I need to remind myself, me being there physically isn't going to change the situation. 

Letting Go... Such vital words for me. Letting go of my anger for my former boss, my friends. Letting Go of the guilt of leaving my kids. Letting Go... So many things in the past I need to let go and put away for good so I can move forward in my life to have a happy healthy relationship with myself and others. 

I have joined an divorce online support system getting daily emails of support. 

This is all a process, and the silence of nature so I can hear myself has helped. I am back in Colorado, back to nature.    

I have a lot of healing left and more tears to shed. I am starting to let go of the past so I can move forward. I am taking care of myself again which I didn't realize I had stopped doing. I do that by setting daily, weekly and monthly goals for ME! 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Rubicon Trail Day One

Finally the Rubicon Trail! I made it!

We left Colorado with my two boys, our dog Dixie, and two Jeeps, my 2015 Rubicon and our 1969 CJ5. We knew it would be a long couple of days with the slow go of the CJ5. What we didn't know was the struggle this Jeep would have on the trail. 

Neil is an amazing wheeler and has the ability to get any Jeep through an obstacle. We saw that amazing ability in Kingman, Arizona with Ms. Daisy. I had every confidence we would get Bumblebee through the trail.

Monday morning was trail day. We woke with anticipation and excitement for finally getting to  wheel the Rubicon Trail. We made a parts store pit stop and filled up the Jeeps with gas. Then headed up Icehouse Road to the Loon Lake Trail head.

Before we made it to the trailhead Bumblebee needed a trail fix. Neil sat on the side of the road rebuilding the carberator. My heart ached for him. I knew he was extremely frustrated. 

Icehouse Road

He was so excited to wheel the Rubicon Trail. He had tried a couple of other times but never made it on to the trail. I knew how much this meant to him.

I was also frustrated because of the delay and could sense the frustration levels from the crew we were wheeling with. Since this was our event, I felt responsible for their trip too. That's just my nature. To worry about everyone else's happiness and good time. Something I am working on changing.

Then with my boys wheeling with us, I wanted it to be a good time for them as well. This was my first time with both of them in months. It was an extremely tense for me trying to make everyone else happy. 

A lesson I learned on this trip is not to use used metal gas cans. We got them from a friend and who knows what was in them during their lifetime. It is my belief this is what our problem was with the CJ5's engine. 

Finally with the carberator rebuilt it was on to the Rubicon Trail head at Loon Lake . We made it there around mid afternoon. Several hours off schedule. However, that was okay.

During my other adventures with Neil I learned the value of letting the adventure lead you. So I took a deep breath and vowed to enjoy the Rubicon Trail where ever it may lead.  

After a short stint from the trail head we arrived at the Gatekeeper. We all made it through with Bumblebee needing a small trail fix which Neil fixed easily.

After the Gatekeeper it was on to the Granite Bowl. What amazing views.

We didn't make it as far as we had planned but that was okay because we were on the Rubicon Trail. We set up camp that night and listened to the frogs in the near by lake.