"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Two women and a Jeep equals adventure

By on May 28, 2019 in Outdoor Fun with 0 Comments
Tana White, left, and Judy Russell aren’t afraid of bouncy rides and clouds of dust in the upcoming Rebelle Rally, or anywhere else on the backroads, as they navigate Judy’s Jeep on their adventures.

By Jaana Hatton

Here’s my question, even if you are the daring kind, would you volunteer to drive over 1,000 miles in the desert without a GPS, a cellphone or any other device other than a map and a compass?

Tana White and Judy Russell cannot wait to do just that in Judy’s Jeep.

The two friends — team “Do It Anyway” — are getting ready to participate in the Rebelle Rally in Oct. 10-19. A rally is a race for motor vehicles, traveled over a long distance usually with timed checkpoints.

 Their team name comes from Judy’s attitude, a slight defiance she has had since childhood about restrictions as to what a girl can actually do.

The limits to her life were based on medical issues: Judy had heart surgery at the age of five. Since then, she’s heard the constant warnings from family and doctors about not doing this, not doing that in case she exerts herself too much. In her young mind she decided to do it anyway. Still does.

Tana will be going to the rally a second time. She completed it last year and loved it.

Tana is familiar with Jeep travels through her husband and a group of overland drivers. Considering that Tana works as an occupational therapist and is the mother of young twin boys, she becomes someone different when she enters the rally. A Rebelle, for sure, a “I’ve-got-this” kind of a gal.

What is the rally all about, then, what is the pull?

“It’s about bonding,” Tana said.

A drop-jaw moment for me. A bonding rally?

“It’s a race, but the teams do help each other,” she explained. “In the evenings, we share and get to know each other.”

An incident that took place last year during Tana’s participation illustrates the bonding aspect: Tana was the navigator, but the driver disagreed with the guidance and took a different route.

A bad thing happened — the Jeep got stuck atop a large rock, becoming a see-saw. The vehicle would not move forward or backward; it just simply swayed atop the obstacle.

Luckily another team came by and instead of waving Tana’s team good-bye, they stopped to help. Both teams were able to continue on and finish the day’s mileage.

What’s more, Tana didn’t get any more arguments from the driver for the rest of the rally.

Last year, Tana took turns between navigating and driving, but this year, she only wants to be the map reader.

“It’s hard to switch back and forth between the two positions,” she said. “I just want to focus on navigating.”

Now, let’s imagine for a while: she cannot use any technology to aid her in staying on course, just a printed map and an old-fashioned compass. And her brain.

As the driver deals with the gas pedal and the steering wheel, the navigator has to look at the surroundings and transfer that mental image onto the map, constantly making sure the team is headed in the right direction. It’s a bit like watching a movie in fast-forward and keeping up with the plot.

There are times when the navigator has nothing to focus on but sand dunes. No landmarks, no roads, just sand. That’s when the compass is the only friend the team has — and the brain, in calculating distances driven.

“We are going to start practicing together soon,” Judy said. Tana lives on the east side of the mountains, in Cashmere, while Judy is from the west side. However, Judy and her husband have a second residence near Cashmere, where they also spend time.

They are also going to participate in the training class, which the organizers of the Rebelle Rally offer before the actual race.

The Rebelle Rally webpage describes the race as “not a race of speed, but a unique and demanding event based on the elements of headings, hidden checkpoints, time and distance using maps, compass and road book.” It covers over 1,243 miles across the Nevada and California desert land.

There is something else that can happen during the intense week of competition: an internal transformation, a journey of the soul.

“My husband said I was different when I came back,” Tana said, referring to last year’s experience. “Different in a good way.”

She acted more confident. Her work skills improved. She gave birth to their twin boys and later, earned a promotion. Tana found her “I’ve-got-this” groove. After all, when you are responsible for finding the way along unknown, unpaved and even unmarked terrain, only relying on your skills with the compass and map, it must feel pretty good to end up at the intended spot every night, knowing you did it, and will do it again tomorrow.

For Judy, such mental transformation has been happening all along the way, even before the rally. First, due to her physical issues in childhood and later, having to prove that she can, indeed, handle a Jeep.

“I had wanted a Jeep for 30 years,” she said. “I was always the passenger — now I’m driving.”

That was milepost one. Then, she gained prestige in the ranks of overland drivers: milepost two.

“Last year, I was the sweeper, the last one in the line of vehicles.” The sweeper follows the rest of the group, making sure nothing and no-one is left behind. And probably, the position involves eating a lot of dust. “Now I’m leading,” Judy said with a smile and sitting a little taller.

Judy has to feel in charge and capable while caring for her four-year old grandson and 94-year old mother. Navigating daily life when two people rely on you has its demands.

The Rebelle Rally is one of Judy’s bucket list items. She has the enthusiasm, the know-how in driving on rough terrain and the team spirit. And of course the 2016 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Judy’s “go everywhere” vehicle.

The race is done safely and with strict rules: the rulebook is 25 pages long. Helmets are required and a long list of other items relating to safety. Every night, the teams end up at a camp where showers and food await. Everyone is accounted for and there is help in case of injuries and vehicle issues. It’s not about making things hard, but making things right.

Rebelle Rally is not free: the cost for a two-member team is $12,000. That is just the basic fee, not including getting there, gas and any other additional expenses. On the other hand, the rally provides the participants with three meals a day, water, shelter and facilities.

For more information, go to www.rebellerally.com.

Jaana Hatton is a Wenatchee resident of five years. She loves the outdoors better than the indoors and can be found roaming around on two feet or two wheels. Life is full of adventures, sometimes two miles from home, sometimes 2,000, and every day a possibility to embark on a new one.

About the Author

About the Author: .


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *