Weekend Warrior: Family Tradition - Feature Review - Dirt Rider Magazine

Many families across these great United States share in their own special, unique form of family pastimes. For some, going to the ball game one Sunday a month is the jewel that holds the family together. For others it might be the park, or the bay. But for most, the greatest family pastimes include lots and lots of food and drinks! In fact, two of the biggest nationwide family gatherings are Thanksgiving and Christmas, and usually include everyone from Grandpa and Grandma, to Mom and Dad, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters, all the way to the cute, loveable great-grandchildren. For years, families have held these traditions close to their hearts, and for good reason!My family is no different. Every Thanksgiving we all pitch in and put together some extremely fattening dishes to share, and then we gather around the tables, grandparents, aunts, uncles, Mom, Dad, brother, sister, and about twenty close friends and their families, impatiently awaiting the word "go" over the bull horn, to start filling our plates and our mouths!Growing up that way, doing the same thing every Thanksgiving without exception, I just assumed everyone in the country did the same thing. Everyone at school always talked about getting together with their families and having these great feasts. For me, eating turkey and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy, with mom's pumpkin pie on deck, while talking to Aunt Shirley and kicking my brother under the table with my riding boots was normal. With all of our family, and twenty to thirty of our closest friends and their families, out in the middle of nowhere eating wonderful food, drinking wonderful drinks, using paper plates and plastic silverware. Didn't everyone eat Thanksgiving that way?But Thanksgiving isn't the only time our family gets together. Like I mentioned before there are many families that get together as often as once a month, either at the big game, or the local park, or just about anywhere! Like them, our family doesn't wait until Thanksgiving and/or Christmas to get together. In fact, from Halloween to Memorial Day, we get together once or twice a month.Back in the late sixties my dad, a Top Gun Naval Bad Ass, thought he'd be a cool guy and buy a dirt bike. So he and one of his buddies bought bikes and started spending the weekends riding around the local hills in San Diego County. After a couple of years, a couple of kids and couple of run-ins with Johnny-law, it was time for a change. That's when they started talking about the local desert—the one they had played cat and mouse over at mach-3 for years. Once they made the trek over the mountain and rode all day without seeing a soul, playing in the mud hills and racing across dry lakebeds, dirt bike riding as he knew it changed forever. Presto! A new family tradition was born. From that day on, no matter how much it cost or how uncomfortable it was, we as a family would spend at least one weekend a month out in the dry, wind-swept and unforgiving desert.Nowadays everyone has big fancy motor homes and trailers, with new bikes and brand new riding gear. That wasn't the case back in the day! We started out in the back of a van, with used 1970's XR's and gear that looked like something found in old football footage. If money was tight, Mom and Dad would spend three weekends a month collecting cans, doing side jobs, or selling some family heirlooms in order to pay for gas to get down there. Yeah, just the gas! We had to eat "canned surprise" since all the labels had long-since fallen off the "mystery cans" of dinner that we'd cook over the fire.As crazy as it sounds, more and more friends and family started to come with us and so too did their families. Soon thereafter, spending one weekend a month with all of our friends and new extended families was the norm—a tradition. Taking time out from riding endless circles around camp—stuck in first gear—to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner on folding tables and chairs, or hunting for Easter eggs was something I truly believed everyone did.I'm older now, and some of the elders are gone. Some have passed, while others have moved on, giving the retirement home lifestyle a try. Every now and then when we visit them, the conversation inevitably goes back to the "good old days" of camping in the desert, watching the kids (my brother, cousins, friends, and me) ride around for countless hours, then sitting by the fire at night with our eyes so heavy they felt like they were tied to hanging bricks, refusing to take off our riding gear let alone go to bed!The "good old days" aren't gone! Some of the family members have changed, but the numbers remain the same. Our families are growing, with new arrivals all the time! The next generation of kids in our group of friends and families are enjoying the very things that we did: riding all day, playing hide & seek all night, eating smores around the campfire, and enjoying the best Thanksgivings imaginable! As adults, we're also still enjoying a lot of the same things, and watching the kids now only heightens our pleasures as we remember back and see ourselves riding in circles around camp for hours pretending to be Bob Hannah. The only difference is now they're pretending to be Travis Pastrana. I love Thanksgiving!

Thanks for the tradition, and all of our wonderful memories, Pop!