Thanksgiving in Dixie Valley - Part 1 of 2

Posted by Ryan Jerz on Sunday November 29, 2009.

This is the first part of a two-part series in which I tell you about my Thanksgiving in Dixie Valley, CA. Part 1 is the background and a good little story about Dixie Valley while part 2 will describe the holiday itself.

My family has traditionally done the traditional thing for the Thanksgiving holiday. In fact, it’s generally the biggest holiday for my pretty big family. My mom has ten brothers and sisters, and all of them have a few kids apiece, and we all have been close my entire life, so when the opportunity arises to see about 20 of my cousins, we don’t pass it up. The meeting place is usually Carson City, which has sort of become the new center of our family. We’re originally from Los Angeles, but a few of the families have migrated to the north and now Carson City is that central meeting place. So each year we all get together at my mom’s house or one of my aunts’ or uncles’ houses and hang out for a few days.

The Sun Couldn't Break ThroughThe Sun Couldn’t Break Through: Looking straight up along the trunk of a tree at our family’s cabin in Dixie Valley, California. Photo by Ryan Jerz.My mom and her husband have a little piece of property north of Reno in a place called Dixie Valley. To get there, you drive to Chilcoot, CA, turn right to head toward Frenchman’s Lake, then turn left and drive on a dirt road for about 12 miles or so until you hit the right turnoff to get onto the property. It’s somewhere in the middle of Lake Davis and Frenchman’s. There, they have two small cabins, a travel trailer, an aluminum shed that’s not small in any way (it’s where the trailer goes in the Winter), a driving range, a couple of four-wheelers, some fire pits, what’s more or less a Christmas tree lot, and plenty of opportunities to play some games or just hang around. It’s one of our favorite places to go throughout the Summer.

This past summer Christy and I had a pretty funny story happen there. It’s funny now, but she might even argue with that. For the first time, we decided to go riding on the four-wheelers. There’s a road right next to the property that takes you through a place called Ross Canyon. You can ride up that for several miles and pretty much just enjoy the scenery. Besides, if you’ve ever ridden on one of those four-wheelers, you know how much fun they can be. So we took off and went up the canyon. You come to one spot where you’re climbing slowly on some rocky terrain and the side of the hill is just off the road. For a first-timer like Christy, it can be a little scary. We took it slow but decided to stop and turn around. It was a tight spot, so I turned my own ride around and then went to do the same for Christy.

I got back on, and started down the hill, but she didn’t follow. I got about 50 yards away and looked back to see her still there. I stopped and walked back toward her only to find that she had stalled out. So I tried starting it again which she had also done, and it wouldn’t fire up. After a few minutes trying to figure out what had happened, I decided the best course of action would be to take this one myself and have her ride the one I had been on. I would basically coast it down the hill for as long as I could go and try to start it up again. It was almost entirely downhill from where we were back to the property, so at the very least we’d be closer if we had to leave it and come back.

I went ahead and told her to follow. I let it rip and was soon screaming down the hill, not wanting to hit the brakes because any lost momentum could mean stopping prematurely, so I just kept flying. I was taking turn like a crazy person and hitting over 35 mph in parts, which is much faster than I would have ridden had I been under normal circumstances. I slowed a few times but eventually caught another stretch of downhill and continued on. I eventually came to a stop and waited. I waited a long time and heard nothing from Christy. I should have heard her four-wheeler coming but never did.

On a whim, I decided to try to start the four-wheeler. It fired right up and I quickly turned it around and sped back up the hill to find Christy. About 500 yards after starting, the four-wheeler died again. I tried a few times to start it, but couldn’t. Still no sign of Christy. I got off and started to jog up the hill to try to find her. I was positive she had tried to keep ip and lost control of her vehicle. She was rding for the first time and the one she was now on was pretty hefty. She also wasn’t 100% quite yet from knee surgery so that could have played a role. After about 10 minutes of walking to be able to hear and jogging to move as quickly as possible, she came riding down, just fine. She had thought I got too far ahead, then she didn’t see dust so she assumed I had flown off the road and was dead in a ditch somewhere. Because of that, she had turned around and ridden all the way to where we had started and slowly ridden down to try to find me. Basically, we both thought the other was dead.

We got on her four-wheeler and rode back to mine. It wasn’t nearly as far as it felt as I had been making my way up the hill. I tried starting it again, but had no luck. From there, we rode back to the property and caught up with my mom’s husband. Everyone saw us on the one four-wheeler and figured we had wrecked or something. In the process of everything, I had checked the gas and saw a little sloshing around in the tank, but we brought gas back anyway. That’s what it turned out to be. The only way I can figure is that going uphill made the gas tilt back away from the intake and when I had coasted downhill for a while the intake filled back up and was able to get me going for a little bit before stalling back out. We filled it up and got it back to the property. No one was dead, but our dogs did get a good scare as they saw Christy and I riding on the four-wheeler down the road. They were over there exploring and tried to run from us but we caught up and they were freaked by people on a loud vehicle with helmets.

I have a pretty good feeling we’ll be laughing about that for a few years. Every time the four-wheelers come out it’ll probably come up. That’s fine, though. I mean, what good are places like this if you can’t make memories there—even kind of embarrassing ones, right?

Be sure to check back tomorrow with the story of this year’s Thanksgiving holiday.

Ryan JerzRyan Jerz is an all-around good guy who wants people to eventually refer to him as "that dude who climbs mountains."

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