“He loved being out here and riding; it was his life,” Johnson said. “In a way, being out here makes me feel like I’m closer to him. My mother doesn’t really like that I come out here, but she understands why I do it.”
Since her brother’s trailer accident, Johnson has spent every Thanksgiving here enjoying the sand and the company of friends.
“We like to come out here early and get a good spot because it fills up pretty quickly,” she said. “We’ll make it out here about five times a year, but Thanksgiving is by far the most crowded and most exciting.”
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Johnson said she spends a good two to three days preparing for the trip, which can last about two weeks.
“We’ve been out here since about the 10th or 11th,” she said. “I love it here. I think I’d live here if I could. It’s fun to go out riding or just watch other people ride.”
While some people like Johnson have been coming to the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area for years, other like Linda Smith are only beginning to enjoy the beauty of the sand and sun.
“It’s just always so packed and there is always a lot of accidents during this time,” said Smith, a Phoenix resident. “But I think I’ve started to get used to it.”
Smith’s husband, Greg, said he’s loved the area for more than 15 years, although it took some time for his wife to get used to it.
“Since 1996 I’ve been coming here,” Greg said. “This is the biggest weekend for the area and I just enjoy being here and seeing old friends.”
While dune laws have become stricter in recent years, Greg Smith said he still enjoys spending Thanksgiving in the desert.
“It’s a tradition,” he said. “And for the most part if you don’t do anything wrong, you’ll be left alone.”
For some families, while at times dangerous, the area is their favorite place to spend Thanksgiving.
“I’d say we’ve spent about the last five Thanksgivings here,” said Ashley Daniels, a 22-year-old Colton resident. “We’ll spend about four days here just riding and meeting new people. It might be dangerous, but it’s always fun.”
Staff Writer Karina Lopez can be reached at 760-337-3439 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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