My earliest memories usually involve some form of dirt: digging holes, shoveling sand, or riding in the back of the Jeep, happily getting dust in every pore.
As I got older, even though I still enjoyed getting completely covered in dirt on the trail, catching marshmallows on fire around the campfire was pretty good too.
But the best part about growing up as a four-wheeler was Cal4Wheel. My parents joined in 1965, when I was very small. At that time, to me, the association just meant that we got to go to fun places, play in lots of dirt, and sometimes got to do kids games and get trophies.
We always went to club meetings (my favorite part was the cookies), where I vaguely remember talks about Wilderness, locked gates, and endangered Condors.
All I knew was that as time went on, we had fewer places to go than we did before the Wilderness word came to be. To get to our old trails, we had to help the Forest Service with projects so that they would let us in.
My parents made us kids help with clearing fire breaks, planting trees, rebuilding flooded campgrounds, and picking up trash everywhere we went. We did not like it at all, but now we make our own kids do the same thing.
Cal4Wheel made all of this possible. It provided my parents with a club to belong to, events to take us on, projects to volunteer for, and a new understanding of and appreciation for the need to stay involved with land use decision-making. From the association I learned to care about the environment, pitch in when someone needs help, and to try again if you can’t make it the first time.
Most of all, Cal4Wheel provides my family and I with opportunity: to make lifelong friends, to learn how to wheel, to volunteer as much or as little as we want, to get involved in land use, community projects to do, run leaders for unfamiliar trails, a chance to help others, giant campfires and even bigger raffles, a tow strap when forward momentum had ceased, and encouragement to overcome obstacles that we thought were insurmountable. A place to share, belong, and a place to grow up.
It’s been a long time since those early days of riding on any dune that we wanted to in Pismo; of Jeeps with no lockers or lifts, and skinny tires.
But one thing will never change: our four-wheeling spirit and our love for one another.
If you are already a Cal4Wheel member, take a minute to reflect on the opportunities that the association has provided for you and your family.
If you aren’t a member yet, consider this an opportunity to join a group that will take you places that you never thought you could go.
Who am I? The person who has been given the opportunity to serve as your In Gear editor for a really long time, along with being your webmaster. I'm all grown up now (at least on paper), but I still can't resist the opportunity to catch a marshmallow on fire occasionally.