Dad, dirt bikes and ski patrols
*Editor’s note: This column originally appeared in the June 20, 2004, edition of The Davis Enterprise. It has been slightly tweaked.
Mother’s appreciate the small details. Dads are all about the big picture. And my dad has painted a pretty big picture for me.
My dad’s philosophy is pretty simple – in fact, philosophy may be too big a word. Through his actions, Dad taught me three things: Pray hard, work hard and play hard. (I don’t necessarily always follow that order.)
Putting in a full day’s work, growing in faith, grabbing fun by the horns and doing it all with a smile, that’s what life is all about for Dad.
Basically, down deep in his heart, Dad is still a kid.
Before I came along, the neighborhood children would knock on our door and ask Mom if Dad could come out and play. He was the only guy on the block with a skateboard.
Before I could walk, I was riding motorcycles with him. He’d plunk me down on the gas tank, I’d hold on to the handlebars and Mom would pray as we tore through the dirt. (I’ve never really outgrown that need for speed.)
In addition to a pack of bikes, Dad had a dune buggy. That thing could haul through the Southern California dunes. Flying up and over them at break-neck speeds, life seemed perfect on those days.
The only close encounter I remember was the one trip the wheels slipped over the top of a dune that was nearly straight down and ended at the freeway – not really where you want to be heading. Knowing there was no way to get the buggy back up and over on the “safe” side, Dad handed me up to my uncle at the top of the dune and then turned the buggy down and rode it out. At the time I wasn’t thinking about how he was looking out for me but how he was still having fun and I was stuck standing in the sand with my uncle.
It was one of several close encounters for the two of us. (You’d think I’d quit hanging around the man.)
At the other extreme, we lived in Colorado for five years. Moving from the high desert outside Los Angeles to the high altitude of the Rockies was not an easy transition. Thank goodness I already knew how to snow ski.
One night, Dad joined a huge group of skiers on the mailman run down Berthoud Pass into the Winter Park area. He had a great time, and I wanted to try. He didn’t think it would be good idea for an early teenager to make the run at night, so we planned a day run.
We were dropped off at the top of the pass and started down under a bright sun and baby-blue sky. Things started off well, until we realized the snow that fell a few days back masked the trail. Several hours later we emerged from the woods under a star-filled, black velvet sky.
Our ride informed us that she was worried and she sent the ski patrol to find us. Worried? Why was she worried? Dad had it under control, right? I didn’t even think we could be in trouble until we were out of it and she mentioned it.
Dad had done his job. He was living his philosophy all the way down the mountain: He was praying we’d be safe, he was working to get us down and he was making it fun for me.
Now we enjoy the Outdoor Channel together. It’s much safer, and no one has ever had to call the ski patrol.
– Kim Orendor is the former sports editor for The Davis Enterprise. She once again resides in Los Angeles, where she continues to seek out adventures. Follow her on Twitter at @KOrendor