Tuesday, June 25, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 16

Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on September 24th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 29 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 29

Doom at the dunes


Just so we are perfectly clear on this subject: I don’t want to die. That may seem like a pretty obvious statement to make, however, I was recently enjoying some slightly perilous motor sport hobbies, which made me question how much I valued my life. I was looking at balancing my continuing existence with my urge for the taste of adrenaline. 

Yes, I do like adrenaline, but it’s something that requires a certain level of danger. And danger starts with the letter “D,” just like the word death. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Danger and death have been second cousins since the beginning of time. Personally, I’m not super crazy in love with the idea of death. It just seems so permanent.

I began to think about this danger and death thing more and more during a recent trip to the Oceano Dunes. My son and I wanted to rent some quads to thrash around in the sand. My initial plans for the trip were very simple and didn’t include much danger, in my opinion. 

Step 1: Rent a quad. 

Step 2: Go fast in a quad. 

Step 3: Jump a quad as high as I could. 

Step 4: Have my son use his cell phone to film me jumping a quad as high as I could. 

Step 5: Beer. 

Everything was going according to design all the way until Step 1: renting the quad. In order to rent one, I had to sign my life away on lengthy forms completed in triplicate. Oddly, all of the forms were based out of Oregon, even though Oceano is clearly on the Pacific Ocean in California. The whole thing seemed a bit shady. Every other line of the form gave this warning: “You COULD DIE!” I had to put my initials next to each “You COULD DIE!”,You COULD DIE!”,You COULD DIE!” on the page. The repeated and ominous warnings were beginning to settle into my unconscious.

After the paperwork, we had to watch a video with some riding tips, some rules about reckless driving and other information about how I COULD DIE! I was starting to question my choice of bringing my son out to the dunes with me. If he was to get hurt, and I had to explain to my wife, whom I love, that I put him in harm’s way, chances were I COULD DIE! at her hands. 

After the legal forms and the scare tactics video, they asked us what riding gear we wanted. In other words: How much clothing (already sweated in by someone else) did we want to wear for our protection? The choices were a helmet, gloves, a breastplate, kneepads, and elbow pads, which are all sorts of things to wear in order to avoid injury because clearly I COULD DIE! I chose a previously worn (and damp) helmet to put on my head. I made my son wear the works; I didn’t want his mom to kill me. In his riding gear he looked like a Halo soldier about to do battle.

Then, after all of the forms, videos, and safety gear fittings, we went to our orientation. This was a speech given to us by a seasoned dunes rider, who explained that he had eight pins in his shoulder from riding in the dunes, going too fast, and falling over a cliff. He explained that riding the dunes was dangerous and, yes, you guessed it: We COULD DIE!

After being scared to death and drowning in 45 minutes of civil liability bureaucracy, it was finally time to ride the quads. It was time to ride that fine line between adrenaline and death because we definitely got the message that we COULD DIE! 

It didn’t take me long to find the death line. Revving the rented quad’s engine to redline, I peaked a tall dune only to find there was no dune behind it. I jumped on the brakes trying to stop as fast as possible and avoid falling into the 100-foot bowl and finding myself in a situation where I COULD DIE! I saw my life flash before my eyes. I felt like Ralphie from A Christmas Story. Everyone told him he would shoot his eye out with that BB gun and sure enough, he shot his eye out. Everyone told me I COULD DIE! on the quad, and I hadn’t been riding the thing for 100 yards when I was suddenly teetering over the edge of a cliff.

I didn’t die, obviously, but I did scare myself to the point where I told my son we should slow down and heed the warnings. Slowing down just made it so we got stuck a lot. It turns out quad riding equals digging ditches. With all of the warnings about how we COULD DIE! they neglected to tell us the real story, which was you COULD GET STUCK! We got stuck over and over again. I spent most of the day digging my quad out of a 3-foot hole. I had sand in every orifice of my body.

We paid to use the quads for two hours but after 30 minutes I was already tired of riding (which means digging). We spent more time being told we COULD DIE! than we did actually riding the quads. We were both tired and talked about heading in but we had yet to make the Guinness Book of World Records quad jump.

Ignoring all of the warning signs, speeches, videos, paperwork, etc., I told my son to pull out his cell phone and get ready to film a future YouTube viral video for the greatest jump ever on a quad. I rode the quad back for a nice run at a steep sand jump. I maxed out the throttle, shifted through the gears, and then, about 2 feet before I was about to hit the jump and make Internet history, I wussed out and backed out of the throttle. I hit the jump at crawling speed and didn’t get the front wheels off the ground even an inch. My son filmed the entire non-eventful lame attempt. 

What can I say? I got scared. You know, 



Apparently Rob is maturing. Too bad. The story would have  been better if he had jumped and wrote this from a hospital bed. If you like Rob’s storytelling check out his first novel Cadet Blues on Amazon.com.

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