Friday, May 28, 2021

Top 5 Group Wheeling Musts

Neil and I hosted our first Colorado 4x4 class & trail ride. We had a group of eight off-road vehicles. Heading out on the trails, leading a group that big was a good reminder for me on "HOW TO" have a successful off-road trail ride. When you host a trail ride others look to you for guidance and leadership. Just because someone has a 4x4 vehicles doesn't necessarily mean they understand how a group trail ride needs to work to be successful and fun.

Top 5 Musts For a Successful Group Trail Ride

This is necessary anytime you wheel with new folks. Once you wheel with the same folks over and over, you most likely you won’t have to do this every time. But if you ever introduce someone new to your trail ride I suggest you go over these top 5 Must’s when group wheeling. 




First... A Trail Guide and Trail Gunner should be assigned. The Trail Guide should know the route and needs to always be the leader. The trail gunner is the last one in the group. Their responsible so no one gets left behind.  The folks in the middle have a group responsibility, as well. They must always make sure the Jeep or off road vehicle is behind them in the rear view mirror. 

Second... Trail meeting. Before you even hit the trail there should be a group meeting. This is a good time to go over some basic off road rules, like stay on the trail, don’t wander off by yourself, let them know the route, talk about how you will communicate on the trail whether with CB’s or horn honking, those kind of things.

Third... keep a decent distance between vehicles. Sometimes there is a lot of backing up and space may be needed on obstacles or going up an incline. There could be some wheel spin which means rocks could be flying. 

Fourth… If you are going up an incline or down one or going over a serious obstacle let the Jeep in front of you complete it before you begin your accent or decent. And 

Fifth… There are times on obstacles when after you have completed the obstacle you will need to stop and wait for the other vehicles to complete it. This is a good time to get out for videos and pictures plus, to see how someone else may wheel an obstacle. This is where you need to be very mindful of where you park. You will need to leave a lot of room for all the Jeeps to park after they have gone over the obstacle. Especially if on a hill. I have seen Jeepers not pull up far enough and some Jeepers can’t fully make it up or over the obstacle.  

After wheeling for seven years these simple but super important rules are second nature.  However, folks new to wheeling might not have a clue, so it’s good to educate them. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

No Regrets


 A friend asked me the other day if I regret my decision to leave Maryland last year. I can unequivocally say, no regrets at all. Has it been emotionally hard? Absolutely. I pretty much lost everything, and I am starting over. For about the first year, I cried every day, liked sobbed and sobbed. I missed my boys so much, still do. The pain of missing them was overwhelming. 

Up until this past month there was also so much anger inside of me. Some days when I was by myself, I would shout out my anger at the top of my lungs. I was angry at so many people for so many reasons. I lost my job. I lost my family. I lost my dog. I lost my home. I lost a lot of friends. Several friends made it clear I was a bad mom. There was even a friend of my son's who told me she didn't 100% agree with my decision. 

So many failed to find out about my decsion, instead just passed judgement and assumptions. For the longest time that was really hard for me. I needed to share my story and my side. Now, or at least for today, I don't care who knows my story or my side. The only thing that matters is me and my boys know.

The decision to leave Maryland and head West was the best decision, for me, I could have ever made. It was the toughest decsion. I could have made an easy decsion and stayed.  But, where would I be now? On the East Coast living in a rented room working at a minimum wage job, maybe. My son said, I would be dead from drinking too much. I was self medicating by drinking at least a bottle of wine most nights. The minute I came out to Colorado that all stopped, and the healing began. I don't drink that often anymore. I don't need to. I am where I need to be, doing what I love with people who love me. 

I most likely would have never wheeled the Rubicon Trail and shared the beauty of the West with my boys. A memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.  

This past year has been such a rollercoaster of emotions with guilt, anger and so much hurt.  My marriage of 21 years officially on paper ended a couple of months ago. What may shock some is it really ended about eight years ago. My plan was to hold on for another three years until my youngest graduated high school. (I honestly didn't think I would ever be out West again) Well, that didn't happen. When I returned from my month long adventure, I was told one of us had to leave. 

Without a job I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up with house payments let alone any other bills. I didn't want my boys to lose their house. It wasn't a decision I made lightly nor on my own. My kids and I had several discussions. It was a decision we made together. There was a lot of guilt that came with that decsion. It has been really hard to let it go of that guilt. Just the other day, I was able to do just that with my oldest plaiying a big part in helping me let it go.

I still have a lot of healing to do. There are still things that happen that trigger my anxiety and overwhelming saddness, but I remind myself to take it just one day at a time. 

Starting over after losing so much is mentally hard. There have been several breakdowns and anxiety attacks. It's a process. Several people have come into my life to help me through this process with words of wisdom. The Jeep community continues to lift me up daily. 

And then there is Neil. 

When our 2019 trip was over I didn't think I would ever see him again. Originally my plan was to head to Texas to where my neice was going to help me find a job bartending. Neil offered me a place to come and a new life direction. He said we can flip Jeeps together. He has played a big role in helping me heal and become a better person. It hasn't been easy, but he and my kids are helping me work through all the emotions. 

My Jeep Suspension Fails

Now that I have been working with Neil in the Garage, I am learning so much more about the inner workings of my Jeep. As my Jeep is getting older parts are starting to fail. One of the main reasons... my 3.5" lift and bigger tires. The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon's come stock with 33 inch tires. If you don't upgrade other components in your Jeep when going "bigger" eventually your other stock parts will begin to fail. 


My front driveshaft was the first to start failing My Shaft's a Woody Blog Post

Before I left on my adventure in 2019, I had to replace the ball joints. Then last year my driver's side front wheel bearing was replaced, and most recently my sterring knuckle. The hole where the tie rod end is inserted was wallowed out. This caused some really bad tread wear on my tires, and ended up having to replace my tires as well.  



During the replacement of my steering knuckle, Neil shared some great tips with me to diagnose all those wobbles, wiggles and noises. We posted a video on YouTube. This is a must to help catch problems before they become disasters. 

Top 5 Jeep Suspension Fails with Neil