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An Unusual College Drop-Off

Plenty of parents drop their kids off at college in August. Few do it Marty Lawrence style—cross country and over the course of the entire summer.

In 2010, Marty bought a Subaru Outback. It fulfilled its purpose as an everyday vehicle, sometimes fitting in the occasional long-distance drive. Marty was an avid outdoorswoman. She loved hiking, cycling, sailing, climbing, whitewater kayaking and saw leaving the road as a way to get further off the grid.

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For her 60th birthday, Marty bought herself a gift that would get her out of her comfort zone: a three-day private Overland Experts (OEX) course complete with off-road driving lessons. “What a blast! I got bit by the off-road bug. My OEX instructor commented several times on the off-road capabilities of Subarus, and that was all it took. Rather than buy an off-road specific 4x4, I made a list of modifications I wanted and started the project of upgrading Ivy, my Outback, to be off-road worthy,” recalls Marty.

As for mods, Marty didn’t hold back: the Outback was lifted and upgraded with full skid plates, a differential breather, an upgraded electrical system, BFGoodrich® All-Terrain T/A KO2s on customized rims, a transmission cooler, rally lights on a light bar mounted in front of the bumper and a robust roof rack.

Now it was time for the cross-country trek to college. Marty and her daughter, Julia, left their Athens, Georgia home in May and drove to Maine via several national parks, stopping briefly in New York to visit family. They stayed in Maine for six weeks, taking the scenic route to Bennington, Vermont. From there, they drove into Canada by way of the beautiful Adirondack Mountains.

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The plan for driving across Canada was avoiding major city traffic to spend as much time on the north shore of Lake Superior as possible and exploring the Canadian Rockies. After plenty of adventures—like a tornado in Alberta, spotting all kinds of wildlife and navigating some tough roads—the two eventually made it to the west coast where Marty dropped Julia at school in Portland.

Now, the real fun began.

Lawrence signed up for the 2017 Rebelle Rally: a ten-day, women-only off-road competition for 4x4s or crossovers starting in Lake Tahoe and ending at the Imperial Sand Dunes in Southern California. The Rebelle Rally is a rally raid, meaning it’s navigation-based, emphasizing precise route finding with a map and compass—no electronic or outside assistance allowed.

Through a challenging course of off-road trails, dry lakes, mountains and sand dunes, Marty ended up with a third-place finish in the crossover class. “Not bad for the smallest vehicle in the Rally, and the coolest dang thing in the desert, if you ask me,” says Marty.

With a freshman year drop-off this remarkable, we can only imagine what’s in store for their senior send off.

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