Melody DENNARD | Jeep Wrangler | TX

My offroad journey began in the 1970s when my then-husband and I were living in California. We bought a Jeep CJ-5, joined an offroad club and spent many weekends exploring the mountains, beaches and deserts that California had to offer. My husband did about 90% of the driving on our offroad adventures. There was an event held near Barstow, CA, the Hi Desert Roundup, that offered an obstacle course, the “Wet Lap Race”, designed for the female drivers. The objective was to drive as quickly and carefully over the course while your passenger held a skillet of water. The driver with the best time & least amount of water spilled out of the skillet won the race. I’m proud to have claimed 2nd place in 1975, then winning 1st place in 1976.

The 80s brought many changes to my life, the end of my offroad adventures being one of them. I did have some offroad adventures during the early 2000s but I was always the passenger, never the driver.

In 2016-17 I was once again provided the opportunity to evaluate and decide the where/what/how I wanted to live my life. It was my son who posed the option of buying a Jeep and returning to a hobby that I had loved in the 70s. He had been born into offroad, literally, since we went on several offroad trips while I was pregnant and continuing into his baby & toddler years. And he stated, it would be a good family activity that I could join in with him and his family.

I balked at his suggestion as self doubts took over brain. First was fear. I didn’t have much experience actually driving offroad, maintaining an offroad vehicle, etc. The big doubt was my age. Should a single woman in her 60s really be owning an offroad vehicle?

One day I asked my son to accompany me to a Jeep dealership. By test driving a Jeep I would prove that I took his recommendations seriously and I could move on to actual solutions. Well, when I sat in the Jeep I fell in love. I ended up buying a used Jeep rather than one from a dealership. My son has helped me to overcome some of the maintenance/mechanics involved through his teaching and guidance.

As for the question of my age….it isn’t a disability or barrier. What a better time to be out doing things I love? I don’t have the time restrictions that I had during my younger years when career and child-raising was a priority.

For the Nomad Overland Rally my rig is my 2015 Jeep JK Wrangler. It is a 2 door, has a 3″ lift. I added quick disconnect sway bars, a skid plate, 35″ tires, JW Speaker EVO J3 headlights, and Poison Spyder rock sliders.

My primary teammate will be my 15 year old granddaughter, Emily. My son bought her a TJ and they have been working on it together to “make it her own”. My other 2 granddaughters may accompany me (Clarissa is 11 and Nicole is 8).

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