SLO Town Adventures: Dune Buggying

I didn’t post yesterday because…guess what? I was in SLO town, in other words, San Louis Obispo!

(cricket, cricket)

San Louis Obispo is in California, which is in San Louis Obispo County, which is in the United States, which is on North America, which is on Earth, which is in the Milky Way, which is in the Universe…

One of my “dreams” was to go dune buggying; you know, getting into a little car and driving up and down hills of sand. I got to do that on Thursday. I leaped into my Mercedes, drove a little way down the road to Pismo Beach, and drove a little longer down one of the few beaches you can drive on to a trailer, where the buggies were. After a minor getting-stuck-in-the-sand adventure, I stumbled up and rented my buggy, jammed a helmet on my head, watched a video about safety and driving, and hopped into the buggy.

Wow. It was loud, pretty much like a motorcycle or a blender. It was also bumpy, and I had to 1) stay twenty feet away from the water, and 2), stay away from soft sand, where I could get stuck.

I drove down the beach without issue, until I came to the point that led to the “Sand Highway”, or the dunes. Thirsting for excitement, because there was none in the flat beach, simply riding up and down, I turned towards them. They were amazing: huge hills of rolling sand, with no life in them. With the wind at my back, I buzzed through the glistening mounds, narrowly avoiding small cliffs. At first, I rode back and forth, then turned inland slightly to go check out the dunes…

Suddenly, there was a cliff in front of me! I mashed the brake, and scraped to a halt about a foot in front of the cliff. It was only about, oh, a foot and a half or so high, but one of the rules was not to catch air. Another rule was not to jam the nose of the buggy into the sand, which is what would have happened if I had resumed driving and gone down the hill.

The buggy didn’t have reverse, so I climbed out and pushed the buggy backwards about three feet, then tried to drive away by turning. I came too close to the edge, not even near to parallel to the cliff. I pushed the buggy back again, and decided to just try gunning the engine to get to the bottom safely.

Well, I didn’t have enough space to gather speed, and the buggy’s front tires hung over the edge while the back tires ground sand. I had to call the man to rescue me, and he saved me without a sweat, simply digging the tires out and pushing the buggy forwards.

“Why don’t you follow me out to the smoother spots?” he asked me.

“Okay,” I said.

About five seconds went by. I lost sight of his buggy, and followed his little orange flag.  I saw it disappear over a hill, and as I came to the hill, realized that this was another cliff!

This time, I managed to stop only six inches or less from a drop perhaps ten, fifteen, or twenty feed down, nearly vertical. I was so scared, I could hardly move. Could you go down that? If you liked roller coasters, maybe, but I didn’t!

The guy helped me again. He helped me out, and drove the buggy straight down the hill. Without a pause. I thanked him, and told him that I was going to just ride up and down the beach for a while.

It was rigorous. Every time I came to a hill, on my way out  of the dunes, I was afraid that it was another steep hill.  Once I reached the water, I drove up and down the beach, and returned the buggy. Don’t you dare think that was the end, because when I tried to go to the exit, my car got stuck in the deep sand. I spent about ten minutes digging out the tires and trying with some nice people who pushed, but to no avail. I would’ve had to pay a towing fine to get rescued if one gracious young man offered to hook up my car to his truck, and tow me.

When I got back to the street, I saw a sign that said, “DANGER! Soft sand. Street vehicles not advised.”

Never go dune buggying unless you are a dare-devil. Next time, I’ll go kayaking.



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