...is a disgused dune buggy!
We had to give it a go, and at $10 for a pass that last two years it wasn't exactly expensive. We spent the afternoon playing in another recreation area specifically for ATV's and OHV's, in fact, the campsite we're staying at tonight is over-run with all sorts of buggy's and bikes designed to operate effectively in sand.
We arrive at the park and got some advice from a park ranger, to go in the dunes you need a flag that has to be 9ft high - Coooooooool :-) So we brought the most lary one we could and attached it to the back of Charlie. After airing down the tyres we were off! And we did remarkably well :-) We stuck to the main tracks and did avoid any uber-steep hills as we were concious we were relying on Charlie for somewhere to sleep tonight and we'd broken the first rule of off-roading - we were out on our own.
We followed the tracks for a good few miles admiring the dunes until we got to a deadend. It was then my go to drive and I jumped in the drivers seat all eager, turned around no problem, driving along no problem... bugger, we're sliding sideways and not going anywhere! I'd made a mistake and instead of following our tracks out the way we came I was following what I thought were our tracks. They weren't. And we were in some seriously soft sand with mud terrain tyres and a 3 ton vehicle! Not the best combination. I did well and paniced as there was a gully getting closer and closer as everytime I tried to go forwards or backwards, we just slid sideways down the slope.
I must be the only person in the world to get cross-axled in sand...
So we stopped. Looked. And got digging. 20 minutes work got us 10 meters further. We could have got the winch out as there was a cluster of trees that would probably have provided enough strength to get us out, but it was across a track that could well be used by some ATV's at any moment and besides, we decided a winch was cheating.
We finally came to a complete stop about 5 metres from the crest of the hill, the digging and branch placing wasn't getting us any further. Then Dan had a brain wave - I know, it was amazing ;-) We hadn't got any sandladders (thinking we wouldn't have the need to use them on a 'road trip') but we did have the leveling blocks we use for the rooftent - they worked a treat. We dug them down into the sand and I hung off the side of Charlie - those cookies must have worked as it provided enough weight for the rear wheel to get grip and propel us triumphant to the top of the hill - wahoo! 5 minutes and a bit of digging later we'd found the wheel chock things and were once again cruisin' the dunes.
Charlie Camel is indeed cool.. and I didn't get lost this time.
We spent the late afternoon driving down the Oregon Coast to find our campsite for the night as all the marked pitches in the dunes were booked (we forgot it was the weekend). The Oregon Coast has been the biggest suprise of the trip so far, it really is breathtakingly beautiful, hills, cliffs, woodland and rocks. We even saw a large number of Marine Seals basking in the sunlight. Still, a pictures worth a thousand words:
We're heading inland again tomorrow to visit Crater Lake... and ...er somewhere else before moving onto the Redwoods.
Hope 7S is going well! Missing you all!