Ever wondered what it would look like if your street had an ATV block party? In a sense, that’s what Tom Nguyen has done in the tiny village of Anmore, B.C. Only instead of ripping up pavement on Sunnyside Road, locals pack up their quads and dig through the sand dunes of Moses Lake, Washington.
Nguyen is the founder of the Anmore Off Roaders, a riding group comprised of neighbourhood friends with similar interests. Anmore only has a couple thousand residents, but those who call Anmore home are a tight-knit bunch. For the past six years, Nguyen has been organizing riding/camping trips during the May long weekend to Moses Lake Mud Flats and Sand Dunes. Each year since its inception, the collection of riders continues to grow.
The Anmore Off Roaders travel to Moses Lake Mud Flats and Sand Dunes in Washington every May long weekend. — Photo courtesy Tom Nguyen
“We started this trip solely with family but as our social circle grew in Anmore, people started asking where we were going with a trailer full of quads,” Nguyen said. “A lot of the garages and driveways in Anmore have toys such as RVs, boats, hot rods, motorcycles and quads. We’ve had no problem convincing families to join us for this trip. Some of them are even buying new quads, campers and trailers just to join the trip. This year, we had 32 machines of both adults and kids. The group keeps getting bigger and the trip gets better every year.”
From the carport to the sandpit
Living in a village full of gearhead dads leads to a lot of kids with dirtbikes and ATVs. The most recent venture saw 16 children—most below the age of 11—make the trip to Moses Lake. Engaging and teaching the next generation of riders is something Nguyen and his neighbours take great pride in.
“It's like teaching your kid how to ride a bike,” said Nguyen. “I have been involved with teaching and supervising most of the kids as they progress their riding skills over the years. Whether it’s helping them start the machine or offering basic safety instructions, there is always something to teach them. Seeing a string of impressionable kids following you down the trail is amazing and very memorable. The joy is priceless.”
Lessons to last a lifetime
Besides the obvious pleasure that comes with learning to ride, there are a number of lasting benefits young’uns take with them from their time at Moses Lake.
“Starting a kid on an ATV at a young age will help them become a safer and more confident car driver in the long term,” Nguyen said. “Handling an ATV down a 100-foot (30-metre) sand dune while slipping and sliding and trying to keep weight evenly distributed will advance their ability to drive, stay calm and not panic in other situations that are not as severe. My 11-year-old daughter, Amalia, already has an incredible cognitive sense of starting, stopping, looking for dangers and making turns.
Kids have a great time at Moses Lake Mud Flats and Sand Dunes in Washington. — Photo courtesy Tom Nguyen
“The way I see it, if they fall in love with motorcycles or ATVs, then they will never have money for drugs or alcohol!”
Crossing the desert to find Moses
As for why Nguyen decided to make the annual trip to Moses Lake as opposed to any other location, it comes down to the right combo of safety, proximity and weather.
“Moses Lake is the ideal place for kids to learn how to ride ATVs,” he said. “The sand dunes are small and the sand isn’t too soft, so the kids can climb most of the hills. The dunes are safe for riding as there aren’t any massive razorbacks, cliffs, trees or even rocks to hit. A few of the kids had spills this year, but it’s much softer landing in the sand than hard dirt, gravel or rocks.
“Moses Lake is only five hours from the Lower Mainland so we can easily make this a Friday-to-Monday trip. In the past, our May long weekend trips camping in B.C. were always rainy and miserable due to the cold weather. The temperature has been 25 degrees C (77 F) every year for the past six years at Moses Lake. We ride our ATVs down to the lake and swim all afternoon—pretty nice for a May weekend. It’s awesome.”
Strutting down the boardwalk
Cruising the dunes is a blast no matter how you tackle the terrain. Of all the various ways to experience Moses Lake, Nguyen recommends the Boardwalk trail. Boardwalk is a two-to three-hour trek that borders the lake and snakes its way all the way around the dunes. The contrasting topography of beautiful sand dunes and a majestic lake creates a spectacular view. The trail is full of challenging climbs and sharp turns. Because the trail has been ridden by thousands of riders, berms are tall and wide and the sand is soft, making the trail akin to snowboarding through a race course.
Tom Nguyen with his wife, Anna, and their children Amalia, Antonio and Alizabeth. — Photo courtesy Tom Nguyen
The closeness and familiarity the Anmore Off Roaders have fostered in their community is remarkable. Even fellow ATVers met along the way are confounded that such a friendly dynamic could exist in any community.
“When we say we’re all neighbours, the looks we receive are priceless,” Nguyen said.
“Although ATV riding is the heart of the trip, it’s really about the friendships and memories made sitting by the campfire.”
Meet the rad rider family:
Tom Nguyen is a family man through and through. “This sport allows me to enjoy myself and be with my family at the same time,” he said. “Getting to ride with my family is the best and most rewarding experience.”
Here’s what he and his family ride on their outings together.
Tom Nguyen: Suzuki LTR450 for the sand dunes and a Can-Am Outlander for the trails
Anna Nguyen: Polaris RZR
11-year-old Amalia Nguyen: Yamaha Raptor 250
Nine-year-old Antonio Nguyen: Honda TRX250
Six-year-old Alizabeth Nguyen: Arctic Cat 90