ben lee properties - annual thanksgiving hike

Thanksgiving is over and this year it was a great, big, crowded affair. My wife and I hosted a record 38 people at our house in Cheviot Hills. There were friends, family members, friends of family members… even one or two people we barely knew but wanted to share the holiday with us. In our house, more is always merrier and we included them all with open arms.

We didn’t make all the food- it was essentially a pot-luck with my wife taking on the lion’s share of the cooking but still accepting side dishes from a handful of the guests. I spent much of the day in the most helpful way possible: by getting the heck out of the way. It’s my annual tradition to take our three boys on a hike. Luckily, living in Southern California means that the weather in late November is generally fairly conducive to an outdoor hike and this is how we like to ‘earn the bird.’

Every year it gets a little bit easier because the boys are a year older. They complain less and seem to enjoy it more which in turn makes me enjoy it more, too. We throw some food and water in a bag and head up the Santa Monica Mountains to hike up to the Nike tower. We enjoy it for the amazing view and sense of accomplishment, however back in the late 1950s, this particular area had a rich military history.

It was one of sixteen Los Angeles area Nike-Ajax supersonic anti-aircraft missile launch sites. During the Cold War, these sites were located near important urban and industrial areas throughout the United States. There were underground radar and intricate computer systems created to detect and track enemy aircraft and then guide anti-aircraft missiles that would be launched from the Sepulveda Basin to their targets. The original radar tower still stands and today it really provides one of the most stunning views of our city on one side and the valley on the other. And to take an 11 year old, 9 year old and 6 year old to the very top is an achievement worthy of celebrating with a couple of Snapples and Gatorades. It also makes us all very hungry.

Making our way back down the mountain, much of our conversation centers around all the delicious Thanksgiving menu items waiting for us back home. Our mouths watering as we count the minutes with each downhill step until we can be home by the fireplace, enjoying the cranberry sauce, turkey, stuffing and sweet potatoes. And pumpkin pie. With whipped cream.

Maybe in a few years we’ll talk about other subjects like where the boys will be heading to college or maybe beyond that, who they’re thinking of marrying. Maybe we’ll continue this traditional hike even after these boys eventually have children of their own and nothing would make me happier. Because nothing tastes better than a meal enjoyed after a vigorous work out, especially one shared with people you love.

Whatever traditions you embrace year after year, I hope you all had as wonderful of a Thanksgiving holiday as I did.