Great truck, but stuck.
Great truck, but stuck.
The rule of attraction states, in a roundabout way, that if you go looking for it you will find it. Apparently, that applies to off-road campers too. With a veritable arsenal of off-road gear primed to power Sherpa through the most stubborn of ground surfaces, we headed to the famed Pismo Beach area, a parade of beach dunes littered with dreamers, van life aficionados, day trippers and petrol heads.
We named our truck Sherpa. Millie’s brother was called Sherpa; a chunky feline with impeccable manners. He was grey and white like our truck. Sherpas are also a Himalayan people renowned for their mountain skills and have become the vernacular for carrying other people’s heavy loads with ease. Big, grey and white, and load carrying. Sherpa it is.
For those who have not been, the beach is huge – not particularly wide but some 17 miles in length fronting several towns. The part that is a beacon for camper and off-road enthusiasts Oceano Dunes State Park. Where Pismo Beach the town, Pismo Beach the Beach, and Oceano start and finish is anyone’s guess but the cool thing is that you’re allowed to drive all over it. In fact, it’s positively encouraged.
We asked the Park Ranger at the gate whether ‘airing down’ was required. He said no. For the uninitiated, airing down is the process of dumping air from your tires to allow them to sag and provide a great surface area and therefore greater traction. We followed his lead, stayed at 75psi and as the light faded we locked hubs, threw the short stick into 4 Wheel Drive and headed out onto the sand.
Things not to do
The key part of that last paragraph was ‘as the light faded’. Inevitably the less light we had the more anxious we were to find a decent camp spot. We drove a few miles and spotted a nice big gap between other campers, pointing Sherpa uphill towards the dunes and straight into the softer sand. At this point, my list of ‘things I shouldn’t have done’ was limited to the following:
- driving off-road in the dark
- failing to air down in/on
- not understanding your recovery equipment
I clearly felt this list was not long enough, quickly adding ‘not maintaining momentum‘ to ensure the truck, once stopped, became somewhat bogged in the top few inches of sand. At this
The mantra of ‘stop and think’ was far from my mind as I proceeded to drag an ARB Deflator from brand new packaging, pull all the levers I had, and press all of the many buttons. Nothing worked. Mainly because I was being an ass and not thinking clearly. My parking brake was on, the deflator came with instructions that are hard to read in windy pitch black conditions, my compressor tank was empty as I had failed to start the compressor so my lockers failed to engage too. I was basically a newbie running around his truck like a lunatic, half doing everything wrong.
Stop and Think
Fortunately, at the point of being stuck, I had the presence of mind to not spin my wheels and dig myself deeper so, when some semblance of lucidity started to creep in, I switched on the compressor, engaged my lockers and aired down my tires. The truck wandered out of the sand as if it was on asphalt, whispering ‘dickhead’ at me under it’s chugging diesel breath. The thing is a monster, I’d embarrassed both myself and it. At that point I was quite happy it was dark, my predicament being missed by all but our closest
We set up camp and spent our first XPCamper night in the wild, waking to waves crashing and the sun pouring through the skylight. We were finally doing it.
During the planning of our trip, we have been fortunate to meet people who have shown a great deal of enthusiasm about the expedition and have supported us through products/services or gone out of their way to help in some way. They played a part in helping make This Big Road Trip a reality, are passionate about what they do and passionate about doing it well. If you're in the market for their product or services then we can highly recommend them.