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That Off-Road Life

How a Navy Vet and Single Mom Found Adventure and Freedom In the Texas Dirt

Article by Rey Lopez

Photography by Paula VM

Originally published in Boerne Lifestyle

Spend 15 seconds on her feed, and you'll already be captivated by Heather Joas’ adventurous spirit. You’ll see a life constantly searching for new experiences, wherever they may be found and wherever they may lead. While social media never tells a person’s whole story, little is left out. From the moment she first took the wheel of her uncle's Jeep, this Wisconsin-born Navy veteran felt destined to pursue a life of adventure. So now, Joas deploys her various businesses and spends almost all her time encouraging others to do the same. 

"When I was sixteen, my uncle had a Jeep," Joas recounts. "I was a country bumpkin. I grew up as a farm kid. But I got to take the Jeep to the beach, and I thought that was the coolest thing ever. That's where my love of the Jeep started. I also grew up camping and spending time outdoors. I guess I just grew up in it."

Joas worked as a personal trainer in her youth and maintained an active lifestyle. Her desire for adventure led her to join the Navy, but not because she longed to be at sea. "It was actually the branch that would let me leave the soonest," she replies with a chuckle. "I had my son, and his father was out of the Army by the time we were divorced. I told him I always wanted to do this. So, I just went to all of the recruiters and asked them who could get me out with not a terrible job."

That meant Joas enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as a Hull Tech on an aircraft carrier. Her team could repair anything on the enormous ship. But it wasn't long before one job changed her life forever.

"I responded to a toxic gas leak call. I went in and don't remember coming out. When I came to, I was getting my suit cut open. They med-flighted me from the middle of the ocean to Balboa Hospital in San Diego,” Joas remembers. "What I suffered from then—and even now—is my autonomic nervous system not responding the way that it should. There's a disconnect now from where my nervous system regulates, for example, my heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure."

As Joas recovered, she wrestled with the prospect of giving up the adventurous life she enjoyed. But as is often the case, her friends proved to be her salvation. "I wasn't able to do anything on my own at 25. It was soul-crushing,” Joas says. “But, when the hospital said I could sit up and go out for a couple of hours at a time, my friends got me out of the hospital and sat me up in the passenger seat of my Jeep. They took me off-roading, and I must tell you it was the most I had felt. I felt like I could be a bada** again; get out there and be tenacious."

Her next adventure was a long time coming. "I had always wanted to move to Texas,” Joas says. “I had some family living near Dallas and eventually ended up down here."

"Down here" is a strip of land near Bergheim. It's a perfect place for her 12-year-old Abel and 5-year-old Lorelei. It suits her love of the outdoors and hearkens back to her early years on a farm.

It didn’t take long for Joas to start sharing her love for life again, this time using social media to highlight her passion for off-roading and adventure. "I started posting off-road content, and it did really well, but I still didn't feel that's what I was supposed to do. I was missing that piece that wanted to share what off-roading did for me after I was injured."

This desire led Joas to focus on challenging people to discover who they are and what's important to them and find a way to build a fulfilling life. "Society as a whole lacks freedom because of their lifestyle. People may have core values, but they're not living by them,” she explains. “I'm not talking about everyone having the same values. You can have certain values, and someone else may have different values. You can disagree, still respect each other, and still live by your values. That's okay. We'd all be much happier people if we could do that."

Joas says knowing your core values is the beginning of true freedom. "My big push is to build freedom from living by your values, whether financially or by getting a different job that aligns with your values. You need to sit down with yourself and God, if you're a believer, and determine your values."

When considering where all her adventures have led her so far, Joas pauses and looks down. "I have a tattoo on my foot. It means to find gratitude in all things, even the worst things. I look back and am thankful because I have a story I can share to help others."

@dirtpourtherapy |

“They took me off-roading, and…it was the most I had felt. I felt like I could be a bada** again; get out there and be tenacious."

“You can disagree, still respect each other, and still live by your values. That's okay. We'd all be much happier people if we could do that.”