I am always up for a good trail ride and love sharing my adventures with others. So when Brian LaVoie asked me to be the Vermont Trail guide 6 months ago, I had no idea this adventure would bring me so much satisfaction. Brian is the founder for Wheeling for The Lost and raises funds to help support the work of the National Center For Missing And Exploited Children. Brian uses his hobby of Off-roading to hold events that will promote Child Safety. Brian wanted to do a first of its kind, Jeep thru all 6 New England States in 6 days. Plus raise money and awareness along the way. This trip was to include 5 Jeeps, as the event neared 3 dropped out, which left Brian’s JK, and my YJ, JT Croteau from NH was able to join us with his TJ.
This amazing trip wouldn’t be complete without a navigator, so I asked my amazing friend Opal Justice to join us. Opal Justice is a singer/songwriter from Nashville, and her first CD which was released in 2010 which included Good Girls, & Dirty Jeeps. I knew with her amazing voice and experience we could include a benefit performance. She was on board right away with raising money and awareness for WFTL.
She arrived in Albany NY on Friday June 1st – that evening we went over to CJs a small local bar in Rutland VT. There she was introduced to The Space Monkees, Duane Carleton – Vocals & Guitar, Steve Audsley – Vocals & Bass Guitar, Gary Spaulding – Vocals & Drums, a local band, who just a couple hours before heard her CD. That night she performed Good Girls & Dirty Jeeps with the backing of The Space Monkees and together they rocked the house.
On June 2nd we began the trail ride here in Vermont. It had stormed the night before and was still sprinkling as we met up. We headed out with the 3 Jeeps and my husband in his CJ5, as we drove up the town road towards the class 4 trail, we were met by fallen trees that came down in the storm the night before. We cut the trees out of the town road, and further up we had a few more to cut out. Once on the trail, it was still wet and damp from the storm which made trail conditions a little more challenging. We wandered through the back woods of my beloved Vermont Green Mountains, I shared stories of previous adventures and discussed different lines along the trail. We arrived at a rock ledge that had a steep incline, one of my favorite spots to climb. The rock was damp from the weather and I proceeded up the face, with Opal Justice in the passenger seat. She had never been on a trail ride and this was her first, at one point because of the steep grade all that was visible was the sky. We climbed up in 2nd low gear and made it to the top. Brian in his JK decided to try it, he approached the ledge and wasn’t finding a grab, with wheels a spinning. He attempted a couple times and wanted to give up. I told him his Jeep was perfectly capable of this obstacle, and with a little less skinny pedal let the tires grab while staying steady on the gas. With that he crept up this ledge and was able to experience the upward climb. We finished the trail ride in about 2 ½ hours.
The rain had started again, and decided to skip the camping at the state park, and camped out on the floor of my living room. That evening was Opal’s performance at The Granville Forum in Granville NY. We all arrived in our Jeeps and there were already a few Jeeps in the parking lot. We set up the stage and table for the donations for the money we were raising for The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Friends from The Mettowee Extreme Off-road Park and Extreme Buggys were on hand. The Space Monkees arrived and played an awesome set. Opal Justice went on stage to perform an acoustic set as she sang a couple cover songs and songs off her first CD, Flaws and Raw, she included a few new songs she had just written. The Space Monkees took the stage again with Opal Justice and rocked the house with fan favorite Good Girls & Dirty Jeeps, and before ending she revealed her new song, Its Jeep Thing. The night ended with everyone wishing us well on our journey, thru the remainder of New England.
On June 3rd we woke to dry weather in Vermont, and loaded the Jeeps and headed for CT, while passing thru MA the rain began to fall, sometimes very heavy at times. We made it to CT where we set up the booth for Wheeling for The Lost, and handed out child safety and ID kits. When we were done we headed to a trail which began in CT, and ended in RI. It was different terrain than VT, slightly sandy and few rocks. Upon completing this trail into RI, the skies opened up and poured rain, thunder, and lightening. We continued plowing thru the deluge of rain, at times with my bikini top and half doors the rain was coming inside as bad as the outside. I had rain blowing in sideways covering my windshield, I would use my sweatshirt to try and wipe it, and needless to say it was very challenging keeping the windshield clear so I could see. We stopped in Plymouth MA and stayed the night, in hopes the rain would calm down.
June 4th We braved the rain that was still pouring down on us, and we visited the beach in Plymouth. I opened the door of my Jeep and the gust of wind caught it, I thought for sure it would pull off. The waves were crashing in over the bulkheads. We went to Plymouth Rock, and saw the Mayflower. Then we made our way north as we drove thru the tunnel that went under Boston on our way to Maine in hopes the rain would let up soon.
June 5th We had arrived in NH/Maine border where we were able to hit the trails. The rain was calming down now and only a spritz here and there. We drove on about 5 or 6 trails throughout NH and Maine. On one trail we had a rock ledge to climb up, Brian went first in his JK, I went second, and JT had turned the wheel of his TJ over to Opal Justice. JT spotted Opal over the rocks, and up the ledge as she climbed for the first time behind the wheel. I will never forget as she stepped out the Jeep, and said, “JEEP. I UNDERSTAND!” This was the point she realized what everyone in the Jeeping community had been talking about. She now was hooked on the freedom a Jeep offered.
We continued up the trail to a spot Brian referred to as Suicide Hill. He said he witnessed an XJ that had tried to climb the hill and failed. So of course on that note, I walked up the hill and surveyed that terrain, which at the base was loose flowing mud, then changing to steep dirt, and two thirds the way up changed to very large rock and washout, the top had a small spot to turn around. No one in our group wanted to attempt it. I had come too far not too, so I picked my line and began my ascent up this Suicide Hill. I was thinking the bottom slick stuff would slow me up, but my YJ climbed with grace and valor as she brought me to the top of the hill. I turned around up top and began my descent down, very proud of my Jeep.
We continued on thru creek beds that were flowing pretty well with all the rain fall. We went thru a logging header and headed out of the woods. This was a very awesome day.
June 6th We set up at The Scarborough Police Station, with the child ID kits. We were visited by a woman who was following our trip thru New England, on Facebook and was excited to meet us, as we were to meet her. She had asked about our journey, and looked over my Jeep as I explained all that I had done to build her. She is in the market to buy a Jeep, and I look forward to sharing the trails with her someday! It was time to clean up and everyone head home, we all knew the adventure was over, but didn’t want it to end. We had all became friends which began back in Vermont.
Opal and I began our trek back to Vermont, finally the weather was on our side. With blue sky and sun we wandered thru the little back towns of NH and VT. We arrived in VT around 6pm, and found out she had an invitation to come to open mic night at the Center Street Alley Bar, so off we went and waited for her turn to sing on stage. We listened to local talented artists sing and perform. Opal took the stage and sang a cover and 3 of her own songs, Good Girls & Dirty Jeeps, My Country, and Dumbass. This was great end to our journey.
I am so pleased Brian asked me to join him on the 6 days in 6 states event. I have endured the battering of torrential rain, wind, and hours of highway miles with my Jeep. Some even doubted that my Jeep would be able to make it thru all of New England. I am so proud my Jeep she has made me the person I am today, strong and confident. I am looking forward to our future adventures together.
If you were unable to make it out to any of the events and want to contribute to Wheeling for the Lost, please contact Brian LaVoie @ email@example.com
If you are interested a copy of Opal Justice’s CD please contact Opal @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Please continue to follow The Vermont Jeepgirl on Facebook and her Adventures, in wrenching, building, and trail riding.