Golden spike The Adventure Portal Jackson
Golden spike The Adventure Portal Jackson


I got my Rubicon in December 2013 after my beloved 1999 Toyota 4runner died (RIP Ethel).  My experience with off-roading until then had been as a passenger in my husband’s Tacoma.  I loved getting away from it all and exploring off-road trails that took us to amazingly beautiful places.  As the trail got more advanced however, my enjoyment as a passenger began to decline. It was still beautiful, away from the crowds, exciting because the trails were more difficult….but….BUMPY!  Passenger’s side…”I’m not doing anything but getting knocked around here!!” ….Boring… I wanted to drive.  I really, really wanted to drive.  So, when Ethel died, I got Rubi.  We put a two inch lift on her, soon to be swapped out for a four inch lift, skid plates, a winch and a fuel caddy for long journeys to desolate locations. [The full build is listed on Rig of the Month TAP 2-Jeep Wrangler]

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Calcite Mine Trail
Rubi up the Calcite Mine Trail

So, I had this amazing, fully capable, off-roading vehicle that I loved enough to name Rubi.  I had the desire to do some challenging off-roading with my partner in adventure, Andy.  I  was also well aware of how much money this rig cost and how the last thing I wanted to do was damage it, my passengers…or me.  I’ve seen  jeeps rolling and bouncing down trails on YouTube. No thank you.  I decided to take a class that would teach me how to maneuver my vehicle safely on the challenging terrain. I ended up taking three different classes: one for beginner 4WD driving techniques at  Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation area  put on by Tom Severin of Badlands Off Road Adventures , one for sand dune/desert driving again put on by Tom at Badlands and one with Chris Wood and Kent Klein from AEV at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.  I was the only woman attending each of the trainings as the primary vehicle driver.  Everyone had a blast at each venue and they welcomed me like one of the “boys”.  I came out of each class with an increased sense of competence and security in my ability to do what I wanted to do…drive over challenging terrain safely and have a BLAST with my husband.  CB radios on and we are a TACO-RUBI kick ass team!

[A TAP note:  Reader, if you think that taking  off-roading classes geared toward safety for yourself, your passengers, your car and the environment is wimpy, then stop reading.  I grew up at the beach and practically lived in some of southern California’s roughest/best surf breaks.  I didn’t body surf, I whomped. I was/am a very strong swimmer with a great respect for the power of the ocean to give me adrenaline packed fun or break my neck. Respect for nature and safety first-is the credo I apply to off-roading and urge you to as well.]

Oh yes, one last thing…..a word to the ladies….come on out and PLAY!!!  If you like roller-coasters, if you like adrenaline, adventure and good fun with your spouse/boyfriend/partner in off-roading DO IT.  There are day classes out there that will teach you how to drive smart and safe. Gentlemen, give your lady some time behind the wheel.  She may end up sharing your passion for overlanding and she may end up giving you a thumbs up for a 4 inch lift, new skid plates, snorkel and all the other gear you “need”!

Happy Trails

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Anza Borrego State Park


  1. Glad to see you searched out trainers certified by the International 4-Wheel Drive Trainers’ Association.

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