Off-roading is for boys.
At least that’s what we’ve been told. I mean we have to be ladylike, right? And being ladylike means being polite, genteel and keeping quiet. Let me tell you, that’s not going to happen when you take a 4-wheel drive vehicle off-road. There will be screaming, possibly some cursing and most likely a total disregard for proper decorum. So what do you say? Ready to go off-roading. Yea, me too.
It took me 55 years and a trip above the Arctic Circle to the Swedish Lapland to experience my first off-roading adventure. Admittedly I’ve done plenty of other non-ladylike things in my life, but this was the first time I was unladylike in a vehicle…oh wait. Never mind.
Experiencing the Ultimate Off-Road Adventure Above the Arctic Circle
So here’s how this all happened. I was visiting Stockholm for a blogger event and had the good fortune to be chosen for a road trip through the Swedish Lapland. My travel companions were writers from Belgium, Amsterdam and Berlin: Geert, Sarah and Anne.
If you aren’t familiar, the Swedish Lapland is a wondrous part of the planet where pristine rivers are teeming with salmon and whitefish. It’s a place that’s all about the light. In the winter, it’s all about the brilliant Northern Lights. And, during our visit in the summertime, it was also about the light: ever-changing from gloomy skies, to rainbows stretching across the rivers, to sunshine that filled the region with unending night. This is the land of the midnight sun.
The Big Adventure: First the Ride Along
Included in our adventurous itinerary was a visit to the Guesthouse Kangos in Kangosfors where our entertaining host, Johan, introduced us to his friend and business partner, Peter. In store for us, an off-roading experience on a Land Rover designed course. The setting couldn’t have been more perfect with deep blue lakes reflecting towering evergreen pines and reindeer grazing just out of sight.
Peter has Land Rovers from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000. He also has a Polaris UTV and a Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was the vehicle I drove for my experience. We began the adventure by riding along as Johan and Peter drove us up and over steep embankments and boulders large enough to derail a train. We rocked and rolled and bounced around letting out screams and gasps along the way.
And then it was my turn to drive
I slid behind the wheel of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, buckled up and hit the gas. It was a piece of cake at first, driving over the muddy trails and up and over small inclines. But then Peter pointed me toward an incline that I was convinced would flip the Jeep and send us spiraling to a watery death in the lake behind us (if we didn’t die from being squashed by the Jeep.) He told me to trust him, and although I typically don’t trust any man who says that, what choice did I have?
I positioned the Jeep in the center of the trail and hit the gas. The engine roared and we were up and over the incline in seconds. There was an abundance of non-ladylike screaming coming from me and my new friend, Sarah, who was my unfortunate passenger. On the other side of the incline we were greeted by what seemed to be a cemetery for massive boulders…the Rock Crawl. At times the Jeep practically paralleled the ground first on my side then on the passenger side. How we managed to get across this landmine without rolling I will never know: but we did.
But Nothing Could Have Prepared Me For This Little Bit of the Course
Just as I thought I had mastered the course, Peter directed me to a wooden platform assembled from logs. It was angled on an incline with nothing but air at its edge…well, air and the lake below. When I first spotted the platform, Peter described it as a lookout point. But I knew better, even my non-scientific mind knew that perching a vehicle on the top of that platform was not going to happen without something tipping over and that something was going to be us.
As I inched my way up the platform, Peter gave me specific instructions about when to hit the brakes. The only problem was the instructions came in centimeters and I don’t know the metric system. Just as I reached the top, the entire platform flipped dropping us on the trail below. It was a heart-stopping moment of sheer terror punctuated by a sense of confidence I’ve never experienced while driving.
And that’s the point: Off-roading requires you to trust the vehicle’s abilities, your instructor and yourself. It will force you to push your personal comfort limits and let go of those ladylike rules.
Land Rovers, Jeeps and Other Vehicles with Off-Road Capabilities are Begging to be Tested
OK, so maybe they aren’t actually begging, but out of those who own Land Rovers and other off-roading vehicles like Jeeps, it’s estimated that only around 20% of men actually take their vehicles off-road and only 10 to 15% of women.
It’s time we changed that, ladies.
If you have the opportunity to visit the Swedish Lapland, do it. A host of unforgettable experiences including off-roading await you in this beautiful land.
If traveling to Sweden isn’t in your foreseeable future, you can try off-roading closer to home. Land Rover offers Drive Experiences in 4 locations in North America: Quail Lodge in Carmel, California; Equinox Resort in Manchester Village, Vermont; Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina; and, Fairmont Le Château in Montebello, Quebec, Canada.
Go ahead ladies, drop that ladylike behavior and head off-road: scream, laugh and even curse if you need to. You can always cross your legs and drink tea with your pinky finger extended after you’re done.