I’ve been waiting to post this story for some time. It’s a new feature that I’m adding to Susan B. Photography – and that’s ‘Personal’, where you – my friends, family, clients and potential new clients get to read a little about me and get to know me more as I get to know you. So as the post says – I’m trying something new!

I’ll try not to write long winded posts, and run on sentences that go no where, or go off on tangents (Oh look! Dorittos!) because that’s not who I am… ok, it may be me a little bit.

What is the personal post about? 4-Wheeling. Wait! Don’t go! You have to read this! Yes, it does stamp a little more of a red-neck symbol on my head, but it’s fun and I can say that at times it lets you focus on the things that are in the moment… like are we going to get out of here ok. Then why have the jeep? I say why not have a jeep! So lets back this post up a bit…

Ever since I was a teen, I have wanted a big vehicle. The in-thing in my home town was the monster trucks, raised off the ground in feet, not inches with big tires. They made a lot of sound and were just the coolest things to own. Of course, they were mainly owned by boys but I wanted one so bad that I even dated a boy with a raised truck, and was more crazy about the truck then about him. (Don’t tell him that!) I eventually moved on and wanted a Jeep but my dad said it was not practical for me to have one (and he never told me why it wasn’t practical) and I have always been a good kid so I listened to dear dad and didn’t get one. I would start off with a Ford Fairmont that a little old lady had before me and it was an icky yellow with paneled sides. I-C-K-Y. My husband would buy a sporty Dodge Daytona when we first started dating and that satisfied my need for speed and coolness but shortly afterwards we had children and then the car wasn’t practical and we traded in for a family car. Over the years I still wanted the Jeep but knew the practical thing was to stay with family cars. We went through a Chevy Caviler, and upgraded slowly to a GMC Jimmy and then to a Chevy Tahoe. It was a few years ago that the Jeep itch started to scratch again and just when we would get serious about getting one, the practical person came out in me and said no, we have kids, gas mileage, it”s not practical, blah, blah, blah and we would go with the other vehicles listed above or just not do anything.

Earlier this year, my husband was in a car accident and his car was totaled. He was fine, but the car was done for. We talked about our options, it would be practical to get a different car that would have better gas mileage, last longer, seat the entire family, on and on and on and so I told my husband to do what he thinks is best for us and let it go. I love the Tahoe, it’s a monster beast of a vehicle, nice ride and I have to step up into the SUV. Ok, it’s not a raised 4×4 truck – but it’s close!

One night, my husband called me at home and asked me to meet him at the Jeep dealership to come and pick up my Jeep! Site unseen, I meet my new true love, a maroon colored 2002 Jeep with a removable hard top. From that moment in February I have been waiting to post pictures of “Camille”. Yes, I name most of my gadgets, electronics and my cars. Camille is a feminine name but make no mistake – she’s ready to get dirty and play in the water. Since getting her, I have refused to wash her so that she can get dirty as much as possible. Not an easy task when you drive to work every day and you are on paved roads all the time.

I knew she had to have a regal photo outdoors, in the area where she is meant to play (stop laughing about how I make her so human)… getting a schedule that worked for the husband, the kids and I to go out and have fun took almost 5 months! This 4th of July we all had some time off, but our son wasn’t up for some 4-wheeling, so our daughter went with us instead and with our trusty Colorado Trails Guidebook to Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails (the real Jeepers reading this are shaking their heads and whispering “newbie”) we found a trail off of Monument that seemed safe to try out for the day.

I’ll be honest – I have been a silent follower of some 4×4 websites – where they take pictures of the driver going over crazy rock obstacles and their off-road vehicle looks like it won’t make it over the rock, let alone get them home that night. Why is everyone standing around watching this crazy driver do this to their car? Who is this photographer? All those questions would be answered as soon as we left paved road and hit the dusty trail.

Once we found the road we were to be on, beautiful scenery would just surround us. The smell of pine from all the trees, hearing the snapping of the branches as we drove by (of course with the bikini top on) and going over all the rocks, ruts and humps (that we would eventually call moguls), I wanted to stop every 2 miles and get a photo of Camille in her moment.

We agreed the night before that with us being new to the off roading scene, that we would take trails that were suited for us. Trails are rated 1-10, 1 being the easiest trail (think of a back road that has no obstacles, even your grandmother’s Ford Fairmont can drive on it) to a 10 being the hardest (see those crazy drivers going over the rocks with their friends watching on) and we decided we could handle 2’s and 3’s for a first time out. Things to remember when you are off roading, you should go with friends who also have some type of off road vehicle. If you get stuck they can help you out and the other way around. We didn’t do this so I can tell you – the movie 127 Hours played in my head a lot on the trip, but we were smart – my son knew what we were doing, he just didn’t know where we were going, or have a drivers license to come get us if something went wrong.

* Note to self, leave daughter home next time as she does have her license…

The 2’s and 3’s rated trails were a blast. Lots of “Whee!” and “OH MY GOODNESS!” were cried out when we rounded bends, climbed hills and drove over rocks. We followed the guide book that gave us GPS instructions – but even at some point, the GPS really didn’t know where were, so if we thought we were lost, the GPS showed us we were lost. We did come to one trail that allowed us to have beautiful views of Pike’s Peak and occasionally we would see Colorado Springs below us and the US Air Force Academy. Many times we would come across a different trail that would warn us that the students from the base could be on maneuvers out in that particular area and to watch for them. It was like looking for wild life!

But it would Powerline Trail that would change the day for us. We came across it while trying all the side roads along the way. It was rated a 4 and my husband thought.. how bad could it be? I’m thinking “lets try something new” so we take Powerline Trail and set off. It starts off decent with bumpy roads and all that jazz. We laugh a little, mocking this trail that if this is a 4… what could a 5 possibly be? We spoke too soon. It was down hill on rough terrain and as we descended at one point what felt like a 90 degree angle down hill, we all started to realize… Powerline Trail is a dead end trail. What goes down… must go back up.

Little jokes to our daughter making sure we have cell phone coverage are tossed around (she’s texting through out the trip)… jokes about the tent we threw in the back of the jeep ‘just in case’ may be our new address for the night… that we decide that maybe it’s best we turn around now. And for a few brief up-hill moments, I didn’t think Camille would get us out of there – but she dug deep into the ground and spun her tires a few more times and we got back up the mountain.

After that – we all felt better for awhile if we would stick with the 2’s and 3’s. I eventually took over the driving and had some fun on what I would call a 3 myself (it wasn’t in the book and it really wasn’t a road). My husband even took some shots from over head when we went around a boulder.

The rest of our trip was smooth sailing… except for the occasional rut, mogul or rock to climb, I’m searching our Colorado Trail book for our next adventure and it will include water! (I did find out today after being rained on yesterday that I have a drain plug in the Jeep! Who knew!?)
I’m glad that we tossed out the practical this round and tried something new with a fun off roading vehicle. Having the wind blow my hair all over the place every day is a small reminder that we all live once and that we should have some fun in our lives – even on a rated 4 trail!

Here are more pictures from our day – click to view larger:
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Your Life Photographer
Susan B.
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That wasn’t long winded… only 1715 words!

Like the story? Have a similar story? Know a good trail for us to try out? Leave a comment and let me know or like on Facebook!