Post Thanksgiving Tradition

Thanksgiving is a fantastic time for friends, family, football and of course good food. While I’m not that much of a sports guy myself, more than half of my family seems to be unable to resist the back-to-back football games. Even if sports aren’t your scene, it’s a pretty fun time with the constant stream of appetizers flowing from the kitchen as well as the main attraction: the Thanksgiving turkey.

I usually take Thanksgiving to do some silent reflection and counting of my blessings as I help out in the kitchen. Thanksgiving has been hosted at my parents’ house for as long as I can remember. From sides like Aunt K’s cranberry sauce and Grandma May’s apple tart, (see the Thanksgiving recipe article in this issue) to the pièce de résistance of the turkey and stuffing, it’s always equal parts frantic and fun to help prepare the Thanksgiving feast.

Yet the feasts and splendor of the night pale in comparison to the monumental feats that are on display as sandwiches the day after. The day after Thanksgiving, the whole family will go to the store and select their bread—nay, thrones—on which their toppings shall sit. My personal favorite is sourdough, and my dad’s and uncle’s is pumpernickel and of course, wheat bread is thrown into the mix. Then, armed with the humble beginnings of the mighty beasts, we will create sandwiches for the coming hike. We bring out all of the food from the night before: casseroles, turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce—all lined up, the perfect ingredients. With the grace of an artist possessed by a madman, these concoctions are created, capable of bringing delirium to any sane man or woman. And when completed, these sandwiches—works of art—are packed away in Ziploc bags and thrown in packs. After that, the true fun for the day starts.

You see, while most families will spend the day after Thanksgiving shopping Black Friday deals, we drive down to Red Rock and try to work off last night’s gluttony. The beauty of nature, peaceful and clear air all around. It truly is the perfect family tradition. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area lies in Nevada’s Mojave Desert and is located 17 miles west of the Las Vegas strip on Charleston Boulevard/State Route 159. The area is 195,819 acres of great scenic views and natural beauty. It’s known for geological features such as towering red sandstone peaks and the Keystone Thrust Fault, as well as Native American petroglyphs. Panoramic viewing spots dot the 13-mile scenic drive. Red Rock Canyon has more than 30 miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, road biking, picnic areas, nature observing and visitor center with exhibit rooms and a bookstore. The sheltered Ice Box Canyon, one of my personal favorites, has seasonal waterfalls.

After walking the trail for a while, we stop and eat the sandwiches we made that morning. Our whole family loves the outdoors, so going Red Rock Canyon and spending the majority of the day there is truly a treat. While our tradition remains the same, our trail does not. Some years we venture out and follow the Willow Springs Loop. Other years, we brave Ice Box Canyon, Fossil Ridge Loop or the easy Lost Creek and Children’s Discovery Loop trail. Whatever the trail, even at times other than Thanksgiving, it helps us be thankful for our family and each other’s presence. So whatever your family traditions are, take time to be thankful this holiday season. And have a Happy Thanksgiving!