Adventures in 4-Wheeling

Alternate title: You want me to drive where??

So over the holiday weekend, the fam and I went camping. It was the first camping trip for our now 4-month-old puppy, Brin.

She is in the tent pic. It’s a “when you see it” kind of thing.

I’m sharing this because the real story is in what it took to get to the campsite. It’s a journey that involves a personal triumph of sorts, had me wondering if I’d be leaving my car on its side on a mountain, and made me somehow hate and totally appreciate my husband simultaneously.

But before I get to why the trip was so harrowing, I need to show you the cars in question.

Behold, Yoda the truck

That’s my husband’s 1984 Land Cruiser. It has a lift and other custom doohickeys that he spent most of a year completing (and is the reason I started writing books). It has an engine that doesn’t make the truck go fast but does enable it to climb inclines that approach walls in their angles. He bought it for the sole purpose of 4-wheeling all over the mountains.

*I* was driving this.

That’s our 2004 Honda CR-V. You know, the model that came with a table for emergency backup table needs.

That table. This was maybe the third time we’ve had it out because it’s also part of the floor in the cargo area and we forget about it most of the time. Or maybe because our emergency-backup-table needs are minimal.

The Honda has no special lifts or doohickeys. The windshield is cracked and it was totaled in a hailstorm a few years ago. We used it to bring both of our kids home from the hospital after their births; the older of the two will inherit the vehicle when he gets his license later this year. It’s approaching “clunker” status but it still runs and rarely needs repairs, so it’s allowed to stay in the family.

The husband went to the campsite with the kids the day before I did, and that evening we spoke on the phone about the location they’d found. More specifically, we spoke about the road to the location.

Hubs: It was pretty tricky in spots. There was water to the base of the door at one point and I went under a waterfall! Fun rocks to climb too.

Me: Can the Honda make it through all that?



Him: Yeah, I think so.

He thinks so.

Okay then. I considered bailing but decided not to because I had the dog with me, and the kids were excited for both of us to join them. So I put on my optimistic hat and told myself that while I don’t have 4-wheeling experience, the hubs does, and he wouldn’t lead me to do something I couldn’t, right?


Fast forward to the next morning. I found the hubs with his truck at our meeting spot, from which he’d lead me on the 4-wheeling road to the campsite. Before we left, he announced that he’d found a route that’s a little easier than the one he took. He sounded uncertain, so I asked again: Can I do this?

Him, again: I think so. Just flash your brights or honk if we get to something you can’t handle.

Shockingly, this isn’t filling me with confidence.

Off we go. The first part of the journey was a sometimes-maintained dirt road with a lot of washboarding. Annoying but not a problem. After a few minutes, hubs turned onto a skinnier, obviously never-maintained dirt “road.”

It’s tough to discern percent grade from these pics, so trust me when I say it was a scary percent grade. And these weren’t even the scariest parts. I was too busy clenching my jaw, swearing, and trying not to die to remember to take pics after the worst spots.

If this were a cartoon, this is the part where a little angel would appear on one shoulder while a devil appears on the other. But instead of one prompting me to do the right thing and the other pushing me to do evil, I had two similar angels: an Encouraging Angel (EA) and a Sarcastic Angel (SA).

EA: You’re doing great! Remember, you’re doing this for the kids.

SA: Yeah, the kids will love seeing the Honda after it rolls.

EA: It won’t roll. The center of gravity is low.

SA: Which is why there’s a warning about higher risk of rolling behind the visor?

This went on for what felt like an hour, and when we stopped for a short break, hubs said we weren’t even close to the campsite, and the most technical parts were yet to come.

EA: Are you sure they wanted you to join them?

SA: Hey, that’s my line.

As you’ve likely figured, I managed to get the Honda to and from the campsite without rolling it. The hubs said I now have something to brag about. And if you’re wondering whether I’ll go on such a road again now that I’d conquered this one, well…

It turns out that scaring the life out of myself on a remote mountain isn’t something I was looking to add to my things-to-brag-about list. I guess I’m glad I did it once (or twice, if we’re counting the round trip). I’ll still go on 4-wheeling trips, but I’ll be planted in the passenger seat.

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