2018 Rebelle Rally, Part Two

2018 Rebelle Rally, Part Two

Part Two of the Toyota teams from the 2018 Rebelle Rally is focused on the final four teams—Teams #171, #179, #182, and #184. Following all the Rebelle Toyota teams was an experience that I still sometimes have trouble describing. 

I know when I speak about it to others, a big smile forms on my face, from ear-to-ear, and thoughts about the desert, off roading, and watching these incredibly tough and adventurous women navigate their way through the American West brings me so much joy. So much so, that I have now formed my own team, Front Range Rebelles, with my teammate, Stacey May. We plan on competing in this year’s Rebelle Rally. After my trip last October, it convinced me that I needed to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure and that Stacey would be the perfect partner for it.Make sure to follow the next round of amazing competitors in the Rebelle Rally this October!

Team #171

Vehicle: 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser

Driver: Amy Evans, Utah (Rookie year)

Navigator: Erica Merino, Utah (Rookie year)

Rebelle Rally 2018

How are you feeling after the Rebelle?

AE: After the Rebelle came to a close, adrenaline and spirits were still high! It was such an inspiring event that I immediately started searching out new locations to venture to, while at the same time devising plans on how to participate again the following year. The Rebelle was challenging in ways I never could have prepared for. Emily Miller and her staff ta ke you to these magical locations and then each morning inspire you to make smart decisions, challenge yourselves, improve upon your skills from the prior day, all while remembering to take in the magnificent beauty around you. I am still perplexed on how each day they brought the skill level up and the “head game” more challenging. It was perfect! 

EM: I felt a lot cleaner and much more rested, but I still couldn’t believe that Amy and I did it. That we started AND actually finished the rally. I couldn’t stop dreaming about all things rally either. All I could see was maps and flags and road signs and car parts. I thought I might be going crazy. I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I spent a lot of time reflecting on what we did well, what we didn’t do well, conversations we had, people we met, the amazing scenery. It was complete brain overload for a bit, but what an amazing adventure. So amazing that it made my normal life seem kind of boring.  

What was your best moment during the rally?

AE: The best moment of the Rally for me is hard to pin down. The landscape was breathtaking, the driving and navigating was beyond enjoyable. But at the end of the day it was the time spent with Erica. Each evening after we had scarfed down dinner and settled in for the night, we had no distractions from electronics, internet or television. We would rest, talk and laugh until we could no longer breathe. It took me back to childhood days when you truly immersed yourself in the moment. You had no “to-do” lists, no deadlines to meet, just pure happiness. The Rebelle brought moments beyond what I had hoped for.

EM: The best moment for me was when Amy and I got to the last check point before the finish line. It had been a rough day, but I knew we had to end on a high note. Finding that last check point couldn’t have been more satisfying, because we were exhausted, wondering if we even knew what a compass was, and just over it. It completely changed our entire day and gave us a chance to acknowledge and relish in the success of finishing the rally together, as a team, as two girls who got ourselves into and out of so much crap together. 

What was your worst moment during the rally?

AE: The worst moment for me is easy to spot. It was the final day of scoring. We were in what turned out to be my favorite locations to drive, Glamis Sand Dunes. Erica and I had set out to find a flag, and I was convinced I knew exactly how to get there. Erica let me take the lead and I drove, and drove, and drove. I drove circles around trees, back and forth along the same railroad tracks. Ultimately, I took hours of our day and never successfully found the flag. I was devastated. After days of “refining” my navigating skills, I believed I had finally put it all together. I couldn’t hold back the tears as I realized I still had loads to learn. Erica, with focus and determination, quietly told me where to drive and within minutes she guided us up and next to the second to last flag of the event. We gathered our time, coordinates and moved on. Drove up to the last flag to see another team celebrating at their success. There I realized, once again, what the event was really about. 

EM: Oh wow, there was one night we were so lost. We had already missed our base camp deadline, and we were stressed that they would have to send someone out to get us if we didn’t figure our crap out quick. It was dark, it was cold, we were exhausted. We were about to run out of gas, and best of all, it was all being filmed. What made it so terrible is that I am not a quitter, and not only did I feel like we were going to have to give up, but I felt like I was letting Amy down.

What was your favorite section of the rally?

AE: My favorite section of the rally will most definitely be shared with others! Emily and her team took us to the lush hidden greenery tucked away within the Mojave Desert, The China Date Farm. It was truly a magical location. As you dropped down in altitude through a curvy, sandy dry canyon, the last thing you would expect for the landscape to open up into was an oasis of date palm trees. It was there where we “self-camped” for the night. The owners had kept their quaint shop open late that night and served us caramelized date shakes while being appreciative for us making their location our home for the night.

EM: This is such a cliché answer, but I can’t choose just one section. There were so many sections that just absolutely blew my mind. I loved the trip from Tahoe to Kingston, because I’m the most comfortable in the mountains, and I am a total hippie for wild mustangs and flocks of sheep. The Granite Mountains are amazing. It’s difficult to believe that they’re real. The date farm is this amazing little hidden treasure, and then, of course, the sand dunes. I mean, how did all of that sand, and it’s a lot of sand, get there?!

Words of encouragement/advice for future Rebelles?

AE: For future Rebelles, I’d tell them to listen to Emily. I would hear her advice, but undoubtably I would not “hear” her advice until the following day. She puts her heart and soul into this event, and it is her wish that each and every Rebelle has the most majestic, mind-blowing experience ever!

EM: Really think about the partner you are signing up with. How you and your partner interact will either make or break this experience. It is so much more than if someone is fun, or nice, or a good driver or a good navigator. Think about how you both handle stress, how you communicate and how you resolve conflict. I couldn’t have been luckier to have one of the most amazing human beings to ever exist tolerate me for so many days. She makes me a better person. So, yeah, find that person. 

Team #179

Free Range Dames

Vehicle: 2012 Toyota Tacoma

Driver: Mercedes Lilienthal, Oregon (Rookie year)

Navigator: Elise Bent, Montana (Rookie year)

Rebelle Rally 2018

How are you feeling after the Rebelle?  

ML: It’s a whole barrage of feelings. It’s still physically very tired. Once I’ve fallen asleep, I’m dead to the world and I’m not used to that. Trying to catch up on actual sleep is pretty important. I’m very happy. I’m excited. I’m elated at how we did. Elise and my goal was to finish and finish strong, no matter what that meant—even if we were last in line, as long as we hit the finish line together and in one piece. And, we blew that out of the water! But I’m sad—I miss the camaraderie. I miss seeing everybody. I miss being on the road. I can’t tell you how badly I want to be on the road still!

EB: I was happy to be home for two days, then I was like, ok, what next? “Empowered” is a word that speaks to me a lot. The whole experience, you know working so hard, and then having that immediate feedback of finding a checkpoint, was super, super cool and really helped me understand how much I could push myself and just how hard I could work at something and see results right away. Then I definitely miss the people, the adventure, and the scenery. 

What was your best moment during the rally?

ML: There were so many! One of the greatest moments for me, was getting in sync with Elise and getting in sync with the Tacoma, that the rhythm just was there and I could talk back to what Elise was saying so she knew I heard her, and the truck running really well. There were three separate times, especially with the vehicle, that I was so in sync with it and it was so cool to drive, and we were talking well, and she was telling me where to go and how much further we had to go, and it was just gelling. It happened at different times, there’s not just one, but all throughout the rally. It was just really cool.

EB: Every single checkpoint we got!

What was your worst moment during the rally?

ML: I don’t know if I would classify it as the “worst” but one of the most challenging was when we were trying to find an “in” to get into a green checkpoint and we had two others after that, and it was midway through the rally, and I just got on a berm and I had to kind of back myself around to go the other direction, and all of a sudden I started hearing this cyclical, rotational, clunking noise—and I thought that was our mechanical issue, and of course, that happened to be right when the photographers were there!

EB: (Speaking about the same day) We were having mechanical issues after realizing we were not in the right place at all. That was pretty exasperating, I thought. That was probably the worst. It was a bit frustrating and worrying.

What was your favorite section of the rally?

ML: Johnson Valley—the tail end of the day where it was rocky and we had these steep inclines and declines. They pushed me because they were pretty tight and I’m used to off-roading in much smaller vehicles, so having an access cab pickup truck was completely new to me! I had to realize my tail’s a lot longer in the Tacoma. 

EB: There were different things I liked about each part. Johnson Valley was something so new—the terrain was so incredible and it was so easy to do terrain association and you were still free  to do relatively straight lines on a heading. There was a little bit of some rocky, rock crawling in those mining areas. That was probably one of my favorite areas because it was still within our technical skill level to drive but it was challenging and it was fun. Lots of variety!

Words of encouragement/advice for future Rebelles?

ML: Don’t give up! Try hard, work hard and keep pushing! Don’t be afraid to ask others for help. We talked to a lot of different people. I didn’t think I was going to do this until I sent Elise a text in April saying, “Guess what, I’m really going to quit my career and I’m going to freelance.” We talked to a ton of people. I can’t even tell you, I didn’t even know what the hell I was doing—I hadn’t really off-roaded much before. I had just started.

EB: You know it’s interesting, a lot of the ones I have are basically things that Emily Miller says. Stuff like, “In order to learn how to win, you have to learn how to finish.” That resonated a lot with me because I don’t think we had too much trouble getting across the finish line but there was so much about the process that we learned. We had to learn to improve, so it wasn’t just really about crossing the finishing line, it was as a whole how everything worked, the whole experience. The experience of just getting to the start line too, that was a lot of work. You just have to commit and do it and figure it out as you go. You can count on other people to be super helpful and have their eye out for you.

Team #182

Locos Mocos Rebelles

Vehicle: 2004 Toyota Tacoma

Driver: Laura Hardesty, California (Rookie year)

Navigator: Caroline Seale-Cole, Louisiana (Rookie year)

Rebelle Rally 2018

How were you feeling after the Rebelle?

LB: When we first finished, there was just this huge high. I don’t know how else to put it. I was just on this major high of feeling great. We accomplished what we set out to accomplish, and I was pretty proud of the fact that we didn’t have any major problems. We didn’t ever have a major fallout between the two of us. Didn’t have any truck problems. I feel we were pretty good about communicating with each other. All the goals we set, we hit. We met all these really, really amazing people and then, all of a sudden, you’re super attached to all these people and it’s really sad when everyone has to go.

CC: I was really tired to be perfectly honest! It would make anybody tired. I, of course, felt accomplished. It’s good to know that you can go out and get yourself out of your own problems at the end of the day. That you can be dropped off in the middle of nowhere with some maps and a compass and figure your way out of the paper bag. It’s good to feel that you’re self-sufficient—that you and your teammate can get through all these things together and if you do have a problem, you can fix it. I felt really good about finishing—that was of course our goal. 

What was your best moment during the rally?

LB: There were times where you were driving these really amazing sections of off-road, or a wash, and we’re just having such a great time driving it, and then we would get to that checkpoint, I would always yell out, “Yahtzee!” Like, when we would finally see a flag, I would just yell out, “Yahtzee!” You’re having so much fun driving these off-road trails and washes and then you find what you’re looking for, you’re just so excited.

CC: I was always really happy if I could keep us on track! I had to trust myself so much when I was navigating. You would have to commit your time and your driver’s energy into what you believe to be the right thing. I just really just loved when I got a checkpoint right, there was always your teammate there to celebrate.   

What was your worst moment during the rally?

LB: We had a really bad day on Day 2 or Day 3, I don’t remember which day it was, and I was really unsure of where we were going to stand; we really thought we were going to lose all of our points for that day. We were still trying to figure everything out and it was like, “Oh my gosh, if we are falling on our faces this early on, what is the rest of this going to be like? Are we going to be able to pick ourselves up and keep going?” Everybody, Rachael (Ridenour) especially, was so supportive and helpful and made us feel like everything was going to be ok, and that those days happen to everybody. 

CC: For me, exhaustion was a lot of it—mental exhaustion on top of physical exhaustion on top of uncomfortable environments. I was exhausted in whole new ways during this, and on Day 2, we had kind of a rough day and we were still trying to figure out enduros, and I just had to initially deal with myself at the end of Day 2. Rachael (Ridenour) came up to me and said, “You know, you’re still here. Look up here at the stars. It’s great to be here. It’s ok to have a bad day. Character is forged in darkness, not in light.” And that just hit me in a million ways and that was exactly what I was going through that day and that’s what carried me through the rest of the competition.

What was your favorite section of the rally?

LB: For me, for sure, it was the desert (Johnson Valley)! I’ll just say that! Going up washes and stuff like that, my truck really excels and it’s like the kind of off-roading where I can go a little faster. It’s more fun for me. Although, I spent all of Johnson Valley broke out in hives! I was miserable in Johnson Valley because I had hives everywhere! And then, the second we left, it like, disappeared!

CC: We saw a lot of iconic places—places you recognized. Being from Louisiana, I haven’t seen these places in person. I’ve never seen Lake Tahoe up close! We went to see Diana’s Punchbowl (also known as Devil’s Cauldron). That was really cool. We went to the dunes. We saw where they shot Star Wars. For me, it was all of these recognizable and iconic places. The whole trip was just cool. She (Emily Miller) took us to some really great places to see.

Words of encouragement/advice for future Rebelles?

LB: Do it! Reach out—they (other Rebelles) really are actually that nice and actually want to help you. So, utilize them. The camaraderie is real. It’s absolutely a competition but everybody is more interested in their personal best but they are still looking out for each other. I wished we would’ve reached out more in hindsight, but I really did not buy that everybody was as linked together and supportive as they appeared to be.

CC: Reach out to people who have done it before—they want to help you! I think it’s a wonderful thing to get into, but I think you just need to be very aware of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and what you need to practice and what you need to know. The past Rebelles can tell you all about that. They don’t harbor information, they’re not like that. They literally want to help everybody. If you want to do the Rebelle, do it. Call Rebelles. Talk to Rebelles. Reach out on the internet. They want to help.

Team #184

Sass-quatch rebelles

Vehicle: 1991 Toyota Land Cruiser

Driver: Amy Hopkins, Washington (3x returning Rebelle)

Navigator: Kendra Miller, Washington (3x returning Rebelle)

Rebelle Rally 2018

How are you feeling after the Rebelle?  

AH: I actually have not used Facebook yet! I keep seeing all these messages coming through but I want to wait until I have time and I just haven’t had a moment to sit down and look at everything. Also, I fall asleep every night at five o’clock, so there’s that.

KM: Feeling good. Just trying to reintegrate into society and get used to technology!

What was your best moment during the rally?

AH: There are a few things that sort of jump out as moments. Getting done on Day 6, where we knew we did well, and we knew it was a big challenge for everyone else. When we went back to get our scores for that day and we got 95% on that day—it was a pretty awesome moment.

KM: It usually revolves around a black checkpoint I feel like.

What was your worst moment during the rally?

AH: “Ooops, I didn’t declinate that frickin’ compass ring.”

KM: (About the declination) I felt really stupid all day, every time we were out, wondering, “How are we still off?”, and just thinking it might be equipment failure or maybe we’re just rusty!

What was your favorite section of the rally?

AH: I really loved Johnson Valley and the dunes. I guess within Johnson Valley there were a few spots that presented us with an opportunity to drive straight up a big hill. Those were my favorite micro spots. There was this one hill in Johnson Valley, it might’ve been Nevada, I’m not even really sure now, they all had the sand dune in the front and I couldn’t climb the sand dune so we went around the back and climbed up it that way. I loved that spot—we were the only ones up there and it got your heart rate going.

KM: I liked Johnson Valley because it’s fun to navigate. The dunes are fun to drive around in. But I think the thing that makes the rally really special is the places that Emily takes us every year that are different. She finds these really cool, neat places to camp out in and have our self-camp night—diamond field gulch was a ghost town area that was really special and its places that I don’t think, even if I went exploring on my own, I don’t know if I would’ve found it or if I would’ve ever gone there. It just feels like a little treasure, I guess.

Words of encouragement/advice for future Rebelles?

AH: The decision to do it, that is a life-changing decision to do it and to commit to doing it because you will not regret it. You will not regret it.

KM: Other than... just do it? You can do it. Save your money. Do it! You can do it! I always love that Emily, she talks about it being your movie, and it’s like, yeah, you’ve only got one life to live, so you better make it the best one you can.

[Don’t forget to check out all the photos of the Toyota Rebelle teams online!

[flickr set=72157708838812193]

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