Love on the Rocks

After years of four-by-four play, two off-roaders decide it's time to ride together.

"I said, 'Thank you for not saying anything about a single female buying a truck.' They said, 'We were thinking it.' I said, 'That's fine. You can think it, but don't say it.'"

The persistence was definitely worth it. There is nothing, Andi will say, like a full-sized Dodge truck. "I love the power," she explains. "I love the reliability. I just love the beefy good looks. With the four-wheel discs, it stops on a dime. The torque is incredible. It corners tightly. The solid front axle is great. I think that's the smartest thing Dodge ever did, the solid axle.

"You don't get the car ride. But," she adds, unnecessarily, "I didn't buy it to be a car."

KC and Andi in each other's clutches.
KC and Andi in each other's clutches.

While trucks on rocks were KC's hobby -- he's a computer instructor by day -- they became Andi's life. She began writing about the off-road world. She shot pictures for magazines that covered the sport. She helped organize the Skyjacker Rockcrawling Championships for Women and basically ran the ProRock National Rockcrawling Championship series -- six events a year, all over the country. She served honorably on the board of the Utah Four-Wheel Drive Association.

In the process, she became an excellent driver in her own right, to the confoundment of many. "People aren't necessarily surprised to see women on the trail," she says. "But they are surprised to see a capable woman. Men are always stopping and coming back to help me when I'm doing just fine. I'm like, 'Get out of my way.' I call 'em Bubbas. Fortunately, there aren't too many of them left out there."

"And she's an excellent mechanic," KC adds. "There are very few people who can drive and do their own mechanical work. She does everything. About the only thing she ever has trouble with is the heavy stuff.

"She's also a welder," he points out, proudly.

Relationships were hard.

KC was a serial dater -- a secretive man of romantic mystery who always seemed to be stringing two or three women along at a time. One girlfriend would appear at a volunteer-fire-department function, letting KC -- a former country-dance instructor -- whirl her around the floor. Later, another would be seen at his house for a few days, sunning herself on some bumper or other while he dropped an engine into the old baby-blue Ford sedan sitting in his driveway. Then, just as suddenly as she had arrived, she'd disappear.

Andi tried to find a soulmate. After her husband's death, she usually found herself dating other rock crawlers. Many, however, couldn't stand the idea of a girlfriend who was more competent behind the wheel than they were. Nothing lasted very long.

The non-four-wheelers were worse.

"It was very hard to date someone who wasn't into it," she recalls. "I felt too dominating. I mean, it's hard to have them as just a passenger, clinging for dear life to the Oh-God handle. We'd be going up a trail, and I'd say, 'How close are we to the edge?' And he'd say, 'Ooooh, we're gonna go off!' I'd get out of the truck and walk around and look and say, "Jeez, we got at least a foot."

"It was very defeating."

If it was a promising sign that KC and Andi met in Moab, it was destiny that it happened in an automotive repair shop.

"I had a blown tire, and I was at a tire shop getting it fixed," Andi says. "KC came in, and we started talking about Dodge trucks. There weren't that many on the road at the time, and definitely not many being used for off-road. I was getting a little flak from the mechanics for being a woman, and he offered to watch my daughter for me."

"I was in awe of her stunning looks," KC says. "She thought I was butt ugly. She didn't say as much, but it was implied."

After Andi's tire was fixed, the two took their matching Rams into the hills. "We went four-wheeling right away," Andi says. "There was a bunch of jeep drivers up there. They were saying, 'You can't take a full-sized truck up here.'

"And we said, 'Watch us.'"

But the two separated after that, and while they would run into each other at least once a year for the next half-dozen years -- usually on some trail or other in Utah, or at a four-wheel event -- they never exchanged phone numbers or e-mail addresses. KC would occasionally see Andi's work in magazines and on four-wheel-drive Web sites; she would see KC and his Dodge posing on some sandstone slope in a trade rag.

Still, Andi says, "Something kind of pulled us toward each other. Whenever we were together, I'd always get the giggles, and he would get particularly shy."

Professional admiration was a strong draw, too. "KC is a great four-wheeler," Andi says. "He picks very good lines to climb. There are good ways and bad ways to go. With the bad ways, you end up with body damage, or you get thrown into a hole and end up with a few broken parts. That's not to say a damaged rig is always a bad thing. But KC is very good at trail reading. He's good at keeping an eye on other people, too."

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