Today’s features Female Jeeper is Sue Miller Norton. Enjoy as you read about her life of Jeeping! Thanks for sharing Sue! I have to tell you it was hard deciding just which pictures to share of Sue’s on here.. lol! However.. without further ado.. here is Sue!
Hello, my name is Sue Miller-Norton, I’m 46 yrs old and I’m known as vtjeepgirl, living in Vermont. Originally from New Jersey. I am a multiple Jeep owner, “you cant just own one!” Jeeping is my passion! Mother of 4 sons, and 1 stepson. I met my awesome Jeep guy husband Keith because of our Jeeps. I had a question about the shift lever in my 89 Islander, and he had the answer. I have always enjoyed wrenching my own rigs and never afraid to have grease under my nails! We had a Jeep themed wedding and the next day we all went Jeeping. Every year on our anniversary we have a Jeep run. As far as work I am a carpenter & crane operator for our two businesses. Tree work & Painting Renovations.
I am running on the trail and my DD a 93 YJ, 4 banger, on a 4″ Rough Country Lift, Boomerang Shackles, 1″ Body lift, 34 x 10.5 Super Swampers. Also own 89′ YJ stock Laredo, 89′ YJ stock blue Islander, 86′ XJ stock Cherokee Chief, and a project Jeep hubby & I purchased 45′ MB.
I have many favorite spots to offroad. Here in Vermont we have class 4 roads, basically unmaintained public roads. Which are literally in my own back yard. They provide a little of everything, mud, rock, washouts, water crossing, and some awesome views. Every spring they get more challenging and you never know what to expect. Some private land not much, as you know many trails are being cut off to us, so keeping the trails clean and land owners happy is a priority.
We have done quite a few modifications since I have had this Jeep 6 years. Oh where to start….maybe it would be easier to list the parts we haven’t changed – body tub, windshield frame, hood, seats, dash, half doors, rear axle housing, shafts, & the front axle housing. The original frame was welded and patched back together so many times, we decided after the body tub started to bend in the middle it was time to swap the frame, found a frame someone had started to restore, was clean and the right price. Having a crane really made the swap an easy task for lifting off the body tub, which also doubles as an engine hoist! Last winter we replaced the 4:10 stock gears, with 4:88’s and an Aussie Locker in the rear Dana 35, and a Power-lok in the front Dana 30, eliminated the CAD system, and installed a solid axle from a Cherokee. Also replaced the internal slave cylinder with an external slave (which I wish I done years ago!)
One of my all time favorites modifications is the Smittybilt XRC8 winch I installed on my front bumper. This has proven the best recovery system I have ever owned. Before it was a come a long, high lift, and a good friend with a strap. The Smittybilt XRC8 was the BEST dollar spent!
If I had to choose another modification, I would replace my axles with Waggy 44’s, on board air, and body armor.
I have been offroading for over 25 yrs, which began in NJ Pine Barrons. I wheeled a Full size Bronco, 78 Land Cruiser, 94 Ford Ranger over the years. By far my favorite rig is my 93′ YJ! Once I drove my first Jeep I knew there would never be another vehicle for me. “I wanna be buried in my Jeep, cause I have never found a hole it can’t get me out of!”
My oldest son who is 26 lives in NJ and his fiancé came to our Jeep themed wedding, and was hooked they bought a 94 YJ which she also wheels! We travel to NJ to visit them and always take a couple days to go Jeeping.
Being a Jeep owner and hard core off-roading girl you need to know the basics and should be ready for anything. How to use a winch & snatch blocks, change a tire. Last year a friend of mine Lisa Mallinson rode shotgun all summer, so at the end of the summer, I let her drive my Jeep…and she was hooked!! Last fall we found a 90′ YJ with 33’s and a small lift for her. She now Jeeps with us every run and has learned a lot thru my husband and me. Including how to drop the driveshaft and change u-joints, drop the skid plate and the transfer case & tranny. Which me & her did last winter in the snow, cause she broke her bell housing.
Some of my favorite quotes, “Not all women are passengers!” “Give her more cowbell!”, and “don’t worry that will buff out!”
I enjoy Jeeping because it takes me away from the real world. If I’m having a bad day I just take the back roads home and soon everything is better! Jeeping is my therapy!!! I love when we Jeep with others and they can’t believe the things I can do with my Jeep. Its an awesome feeling to feel the tires dig in and climb a hill, crawl on a rocky ledge, and one of my favorites crawl thru a muddy hole, with mud flying everywhere! One time I had so much mud in my hair, I had to literally shovel it out of the tub! LOL! I meet people all the time who say your the “Jeep lady” and know exactly where I live. It might be because we have about 6 Jeeps in the yard at any given time, and last winter I made a Jeep grill covered in led lights on the roof. My windshield reads, “Filthy, Dirty, Jeep Girl” and my rear roll bar reads, “Jeepgirls like it topless & dirty” so the only time you can read that one is when its topless. I love the looks I get from people when they read my stickers, especially the old ladies! I had a women with a walker crossing the road while I was waiting for her to hobble across, she stopped and stood in front of Jeep reading the windshield, the old man she was with couldn’t figure out what she doing. Then she starting laughing and giving me the thumbs up! Yelling I love it!! As she smiled the rest of the way across the road. I had an old farmer in town ask me what was mounted on my hood? I said my high lift jack, and I explained what it was for (as if he didn’t know) then he started shaking his head back & forth saying why in the world would a women know that…GEESH! I love the reactions that I get from people when I am in my Jeep….I consider my Jeep a family member…and LOVE IT!!!
On our 1st wedding anniversary run we went up this trail that led to a tower, and was very challenging, in spots very steep drop off. I was ahead of hubby in my 93′ YJ and he was following in his 83′ CJ5. One section of the climb was rock and ledge, it had been washed out more than usual, I climbed up ahead and stopped, waiting for him to make it. When I looked down the trail all I saw was his undercarriage as he went end over end, and rested upon his passenger side. When he was trying to climb the washout ledge the Jeep went up, and the new braided brake lines he had just installed, broke causing him to go end over end. He was fine no injuries, even with all the extra parts flying around inside the cab. The Jeep sustained a broken windshield, bent the Orville (Meyers) hard top, broke the rear center bolt and lost two leaves. With my Smittybilt XRC8 I was able to winch his CJ5 over, and with no brakes now, became his anchor off the mountain. It took us 8 hours that night to get the Jeep home.
We use to belong to North Country Off Roaders, that was based out of upstate NY. No one was showing up any more and everyone was too busy. We have a group of great people we off-road with on a regular basis here in Vermont, and currently don’t belong to any off-road clubs. We have met awesome Jeepers on facebook and are invited to go wheeling all over the country. Which we hope to do someday. Last fall my husband had to teach a Line Clearance class in St. Croix, Virgin Islands. While we were there, we went Jeeping with Tan Tan Tours and were able to see parts of the island we never would have been able too with the rental car.