The article below was a submission to the Ladies Offroad Network 2019 Challenge in response to a prompt “Write a fun article to share about your offroading journey”. This story was the inspiration for the Sorry Dad T-Shirt.

My dad is the father of five girls–a huge blessing considering the alternative. Being the oldest, I do set the example for the rest, but I have always been a daddy’s girl. I have been put to mow the lawn, do yardwork, trim the thorny bougainvillea trees on our fence, pressure wash the driveway and the roof, and the list goes on.

My dad always had me helping him with the outdoor work. He instilled in me from an early age that the outdoors was the place to be. From taking us camping to telling us his cross country road trip stories, I always wanted to live that life of adventure and exploration. It was no surprise that I immediately fell in love with the Jeep JK when it made its debut. I was only twelve years old, but I know I would someday be a Jeep girl.

High school came and went, and my parents bought me a sensible sedan to commute to and from school. I occasionally went ATV riding with my friends in central FL or even in Alabama. My love for camping never slowed, and I would even assist with arranging camping field trips at my high school.

Strangely, my dad never approved. I guess raising a confident young woman to love the outdoors was starting to catch up to him. I mean, what dad doesn’t worry about the safety of his kids when he knows what crazy things he did in his own childhood?

I joined the military directly after high school, but as soon as I was out, I bought my very own Jeep Wrangler. When I first spotted my Jeep at the dealership, I never knew that this one purchase of a lifetime would lead to a lifetime of adventures (and aftermarket purchases). 

My dad did everything he could to convince me out of buying this completely impractical vehicle. Did I mention it only had two doors?

My fiscal conscience never allowed me to buy any aftermarket parts for my Jeep until it was fully paid off, and so I kept paying double and triple payments until I fully owned my own Wrangler. In those two stock years, I still fully immersed myself into the South Florida Jeep community, and fell in love with the friends I made.

There is a small area in Miami that is undeveloped and has a few hills that Jeepers would go play around in, and it was there that I met my best friend Danielle four years ago. Danielle and I instantly clicked, even though our Jeeps were both stock. She and I have since been close in the modification race, doing almost everything together and wheeling together every chance we get.

The friends I have met through the offroad community have become some of the greatest friends I have ever had. They are lifetime friends; even some who have taken a step back from Jeeps, still remain my friends without the common hobby. I’ve made lifetime friends who are always ready to ditch the city for a weekend and enjoy the outdoors with me–whether it be the Florida natural springs, or the mountains of Tennessee. In fact, I have even met my incredible boyfriend through the Jeep community, and I could never have asked for a better person to share adventures with.

When I first drove my brand new Jeep off the lot, I had never anticipated that my Jeep addiction would grow as viciously as it did. But, the time came when I was ready to take the plunge into the offroad lifestyle. I bought wheels, tires, and a 2.5 inch lift. Ready to accept the consequences, I came home with the Jeep lifted, and said “Sorry dad, but I just couldn’t keep it stock.” I was borderline prepared to be kicked out of the house!

Modifying my Jeep despite my dad’s warnings was the best thing I’ve ever done. Since then, I’ve been able to explore areas of the country that I would never have otherwise seen. In fact, if it wasn’t for the Jeep adventure that was awaiting, I would have never even been motivated to go on some of these trips. But when you have spent so much money, building a vehicle and making it capable enough to wheel the toughest trails, there is no hesitation.

I’ve conquered the swampy state of Florida’s offroad parks, national forests, wildlife management areas, and Jeep events in my little Jeep. The thrill of making the steep climbs at Hard Rock is addictive, and leaves you wanting more.

I have been able to witness the marriage of a fellow Jeep couple in Moab, Utah, and share the first week of their honeymoon on an incredible trip through the trails of the dry, dusty desert. It’s hard to forget the Moab heat and the incessant dust.

I’ve been able to climb some of the most beautiful mountains in cold, pine scented air of Colorado, see the ruins of old mining cities, take photos in front of Bridle Veil Falls, and cross the scary switch backs of Black Bear Pass. 

I’ve been able to ascend the tallest mountain top of Windrock Park in Tennessee, to overlook the most incredibly green and dense views that you’ll never get in a touristy Gatlinburg cabin.

The moist red clay of Georgia has challenged my driving skills to the best of my ability, to the point where I’ve incurred body damage on the Jeep where I’ve been to anxious to drill in body mounted armor.

I would never change a single thing about any of these experiences. Exploring Utah, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee with my Jeep has given me some of the greatest memories I’ll ever have, with some of the best friends I’ll ever make. I never expected a Florida girl like me, who didn’t know the first thing there was to know about Jeeps, to go around touring the country four years later looking for the most challenging obstacles.

At this point, I have a daily driver, and am currently going through the parts and work needed to stretch my two door JK eight inches. After many lessons learned in Moab and Georgia, I have come to know I truly love this sport of wheeling and I am ready to take my Jeep to the next level. I will soon be ready to go back to Pritchett Canyon and complete every obstacle without a winch (a girl can dream, right?). And the dreams get bigger, because I will also hope to one day wheel the Rubicon trail in California.

Dad, thanks for raising me to be the most adventurous kid you’ll ever have. I can only hope that my stories will one day inspire my kids to chase life’s experiences down through the craziest money-pitting paths.

It’s hard to pinpoint what the best aspect of owning a Jeep is. I can, however, tell you the worst: I definitely don’t like being broke ALL THE TIME for my bad spending habits on parts. But hey, you can’t take it with you when you go.

As for the best, it’s hard to tell. All I can say is you’ll have to immerse yourself in this world, then your own friends and experiences will speak for themselves.

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