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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)

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Brian: Tell us a bit about yourself

Tanya: I’m a native Texan and have lived in Houston the majority of my life. I work full-time in I.T. with a lovely 2 hour daily commute (okay, not lovely, but much more enjoyable in an FJ!). My husband and I have a blended family of 5 kids – mine are 17 & 18 and my youngest will be joining the army in less than a year. I’m counting on my hobbies to ward off empty nest syndrome! Over the last few years, as our kids have gotten older and started driving and doing their own things, I’ve been able to fit in more time to pursue my own interests, the most recent of which is off-roading. I was a tomboy in my early years and loved climbing trees. Now I just climb things in my FJ.




Brian: Is the FJ Cruiser your first off-road vehicle? If so, what led you to owning an FJC?

Tanya: Well, my FJ is not the first 4wd vehicle I’ve owned but it is the first vehicle I have purposefully used to go wheeling in for fun. I had a Honda Pilot before the FJ and had off-road tires on it because I used it as a tool for another hobby which involved driving off-road (rock-collecting field trips) before I even knew what “off-roading” was. Other than the tires, it wasn’t really an off-road vehicle. After I accidentally tore off some big plastic piece from underneath when coming off of a ranch road, I realized I would be better off with more ground clearance. So, after a red-light runner hit me and totaled my Pilot in the beginning of 2012, I decided to replace it with something that was more off-road capable.


Brian: What drew you to the FJC?

Tanya: What’s funny is that I didn’t start out being interested in an FJ. I had actually wanted a Jeep Cherokee since before I was old enough to drive. But, with this being such a big purchase, I put a lot of research and analysis into my selection process (yes, I’m somewhat of a geek and I ‘heart’ spreadsheets – LOL). After identifying all vehicles with qualifying off-road specs, I did a comparison based on the factors that were a priority to me – the top two being safety ratings and resale value. The Jeep models fell off the list very quickly because of the poor safety ratings. Out of the remaining vehicles, the FJ was the clear winner.




Brian: I know you refer to yourself as a bit of a “rock hound”. Can you tell us more about that and how you’ve used your FJC to help support that hobby?

Tanya: It was about 5 years ago when I ran across the term “rock hound” when looking for a hiking group on Meetup. When I read about it, it was nice to find out that there were other people out there who enjoyed looking for and/or collecting rocks…and that there was actually a name for what I liked to do. I’m not a typical collector though – I mostly enjoy the looking part, spending time outside & digging in the dirt. I do collect heart shaped rocks though and I have a special interest in fluorescent minerals. Anyway, one of the biggest benefits of taking my FJ on rockhounding field trips is that it allows me to get to more remote areas and saves me from having to lug heavy buckets or large specimens for long distances. Now, I can just drive down to the bottom of a quarry or to the far side of a collecting site. There’s a little bit of irony about my two hobbies though. Before I even took delivery of my FJ, I signed up to attend the Lone Star Toyota Jamboree so that I could learn how to work the 4wd and off-road bells & whistles. Little did I know that off-roading would become a new hobby. I’ve done so many off-roading trips in the two years I’ve owned my FJ that I haven’t had much time to spare for rockhounding trips!


 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Brian: What modifications have you done to your FJ Cruiser to date?

Tanya: 2” lift & bigger tires
ShrockWorks full skids & front bumper
All-Pro High Clearance tailpipe
A variety of armor: Boztech rear diff skid, MetalTech shock & LCA mount armor
FJNewb Scuba Mod
A variety of lights: Hella driving lights, PIAA fog lights, Rigid spots & floods




Brian: What modification would you do differently if you had to do it over again?

Tanya: Stick with all LED lighting

Brian: What future modifications do you have planned for your FJC?

Tanya: Well, there is the list of “planned” mods and the “wish list for if I win the lottery” mods ;). Currently, what is most likely next up is a new suspension. But, I’d also really like to get some suspension seats before Moab & Summit this summer. The washboard roads between Moab and Ouray really did a number on my spine! I’d also like to do the mod to put an inside release for the rear window for when I sleep in the back of the FJ. Other possible mods on the horizon include: snorkel, new roof rack, auxiliary fuel tank and dual battery set-up.




Brian: You have dived right into the community since getting your FJC a couple years ago. You have coordinated quite a few offroad runs in Texas. Please tell us a bit about the various wheeling trips you’ve put together.

Tanya: One thing that off-roading has in common with rockhounding is that it’s safer and more fun when you’re not alone. And, when I go through the effort to research and plan a day or weekend trip (or longer), it’s nice when other people can benefit from my efforts too. I might be forgetting some, but here are the trips I’ve put together that I can recall:
Multiple day trips to Sugar Hill Off-Road Park right outside of Houston: this was the closest place where we could go and lube our 4wd parts in between off-roading trips; it used to be a landfill, which was then converted to a golf course, which had closed down a long time ago. We had some good times there.
Upper Gulf Coast Beach Run from High Island to San Luis Pass: A group of us went to explore a section of the coast that used to be a highway before it was swallowed up by the ocean due to hurricanes/erosion. From there, we drove on the beach as far as we could prior to taking the ferry to Galveston Island. We got to San Luis Pass in time for the sunset and had a blast driving around on the sand. It was on this trip that I decided off-road lights needed to be me next mod! I had so much trouble finding the exit in the dark.
Down South Off-Road Park Day Trip: This park is in east Texas and has a variety of fun areas to explore, unless it has rained a lot – then, it’s just a mud fest.
Brazos Valley Off-Road Ranch Day Trip: This is a private ranch near College Station, TX that is open to the public on select dates, in conjunction with TX4WD club meetings. That was the only time I’ve been. It was a good wheeling day though.
Texas Big Bend Camping & Wheeling Dec-2013: This was my 4th trip to Big Bend for rock collecting and I decided to add off-roading so I announced the trip and we ended up with a great group and 4 days where I led group runs.

There were some other day & weekend runs that I didn’t plan but just shared info with others to spread the word.




Brian: Putting together all those trips you’ve met quite a few folks from the forum. Who all have you had the opportunity to go offroading with?

Tanya: Oh wow – that’s a lot of pressure! I could start naming people but I’m sure I’ll forget someone! It’s easier to just say that I’ve met a lot of really great people because of my FJ and through wheeling trips – almost all thanks to the FJ Cruiser Forums (most can at least be seen in my friends list on the forum). I seem to wheel most with the TTR (Toyota Trail Riders) DFW group but have also been on several wheeling trips with folks from the Texas Hill Country (Austin to San Antonio areas) and of course my Houston area wheeling friends . I also got to wheel with some new out of state friends (as well as some in-state friends) last year at the FJ Summit and the pre-Summit Moab trip. In addition, I’ve learned that the FJs/Toyotas can play nicely with other makes as long as the drivers are open to the concept ;).



 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Brian: Where all have you been with your FJC? What trail/park/location is your favorite?

Tanya:
Sugar Hill Off-Road Park - Bellaire, TX
Barnwell Mountain Recreation Area - Gilmer, TX
Brazos Valley Off-Road Ranch - Bryan/College Station, TX
Hidden Falls Adventure Park - Marble Falls, TX
Big Bend National Park - Old Ore Rd, Black Gap Rd, River Rd, etc.
Big Bend Ranch State Park – Road to Nowhere and others
Terlingua, TX - Christmas Mountains & county back roads
Down South Off-Road - Crosby, TX
Bridgeport OHV Park - Bridgeport, TX
Superlift OHV Park - Hot Springs, AR
PINS (Padre Island National Seashore) - Corpus Christi, TX
High Island/Upper Texas Gulf Coast Beaches
Moab, Utah - Shafer Trail, Hell’s Revenge, Long Canyon, Island in the Sky, Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point & La Sal Pass out of Moab
Ouray, Colorado - California Pass, Corkscrew Pass, Imogene Pass, Last Dollar Road, Black Bear Pass

My favorite local park is Barnwell Mountain. My favorite local area to visit is Big Bend.




Brian: What park/location that you have not been to yet would you like take your FJ too?

Tanya: I’d like to explore some more of the parks in Texas like Trees Ranch. For out of state wheeling, I think it would be amazing to be able to wheel somewhere in each state. But I’d really like to spend about a month exploring the trails in Colorado! I do foresee a future trip to the Northwest states at some point, eventually making my way to Alaska and Canada.




Brian: What has the FJCruiserForums done for you?

Tanya: The FJC Forums has been a very helpful resource, starting with my first search when researching the FJ before I bought one. It has helped me increase my knowledge but what I value most is the community and the avenue it provides for meeting so many great people that also enjoy this really fun hobby!



Brian: Has anyone on the forum inspired your build or been a go to resource for you?

Tanya: I’ve gotten help/advice from many people and I appreciate it all! I think Old Sarge deserves a special mention here though – we met through a mutual friend shortly after I got my FJ and he’s become a really good friend and has been very generous with his time and knowledge – always willing to help me out when I have a question or need help installing something. Old Cruiser has also done an install for me and swapped my tires out, letting me borrow his KM2s for a wheeling trip before I got a lift & bigger tires. And, I have to give special thanks to Wilson – he was so very patient with me when I was trying to figure out which armor to buy before my first wheeling trip! I’m sure I’m forgetting someone and I do apologize! But, the help, advice from everyone has all been greatly appreciated!!!




Brian: What has been the most memorable experience with your FJ Cruiser?

Tanya: One memory that stands out is from my second wheeling trip to Barnwell Mountain 2 years agoo. I had so much fun at Jambo I went back to Barnwell a couple months later. Tish and Bryan Tatem took me under their wings and helped me develop confidence in what my truck could do and what I could do. I didn’t even know how to put it into 4WD until Tish showed me! Anyway, they took me down one trail and when I got to the bottom and turned around and looked back up I was so shocked that I had made it down in my stock FJ. In fact, if they had shown me what it looked like beforehand, I probably wouldn’t have gone down it. So, after that trip, I kind of followed them around like a lost puppy dog for the next several trips because Bryan was my first spotter and the only one I trusted for a while. Now, I’m trying to pay it forward by helping other new wheelers.



Brian: What advice do you have for someone new to the FJC or the forum?

Tanya: If someone is new to the FJC and is interested in mods, I recommend going to a few get-togethers/trail-runs/events stock, checking out other rigs and learning about the mods that others have and why they chose them, how they’re working for them, etc. Being patient until you figure out what is best for you and your needs will pay off in the end. The two mods I wouldn’t put off though are a CB and blind-spot mirrors!

 

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Congrats Tanya and love those pictures. You have some really good action ones.....
 
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Tanya, congrats.....:clap::clap:
It was a pleasure getting to watch the bonfire with you @ Barnwell during the Jambo.:rocker: Looking forward to getting back to Gilmer so I can ride with you and the gang. Keep it going!!:cheers:
Jax':wave:
 
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Congrats! Great pics. Lots of rock hounding in around Moab for a dual purpose trip. There's a geode bed not far from SLC where you can dig up rocks, bust em open, and find a geode inside too...kinda like an Easter egg hunt for a rock hound :rocker: lots of wide open space to haul ass in the desert too :rocker:
 
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congrats Tanya ... rest pics ... sweet Radiant Red TT ... the only TT that I considered trading my truck in on ...
:cheers:
 
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Congrats Tanya!
What's funny is I keep comming across your adventures and live vicariously through them.
I was jealous of the High Island Run to San Luis, cuz I live in Galvetraz so long.
I sooo wanted to go to Big Bend, but I'd just got my FJ and was still learning/figuring the darn thing out.
Some day I'm sure we'll cross paths, but till then... Enjoy the spotlight, by this article you deserve it and then some!
-Willy
 
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