By Tim “Lumpy” Tolleson


Easter weekend is the unofficial end to California’s dune season, as it gets too hot later in the year for Glamis and Dumont. Temperatures are better at Pismo Beach, but the Oceano Dunes are under assault by Pismo townsfolk and government officials (see “Sideways,” November 2020), more locking down dune season.

I’m sorry to say that, for the first time in decades, I didn’t go to Glamis or Dumont during the 2020-2021 season. California’s COVID lockdown forced Polaris to cancel Camp RZR Glamis over the Halloween weekend, and I had plans to go anyway for an American Sand Association shoot, but that was canceled, too. I had plans to go to Phoenix for Thanksgiving and then go to Glamis to hang out with Marc Burnett and the Monster Mav crew afterwards, but I came down with a cold or flu and had to self-quarantine at home. More factors locking down dune season.

Over Christmas, I went to Arizona, but a big storm was forecast for Los Angeles that weekend, so I rushed home. It snowed Sunday night and rained all day Monday, so I rode locally Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, then rested New Year’s Day before riding Saturday and Sunday. It was epic, but I missed camping at Glamis with buddies like the Shock Therapy crew. Reflecting on 2020, I could count the camping trips on one hand, and none were in the dunes.


So, I reflected on past dune camping trips all the way back to the ’80s. One of my first shoots at Glamis was with Team Honda’s Mark “Wax” Weixeldorfer, and I got some great fire-sky sunset shots of him on his TRX250R. There were some epic trips with Wally the Motorsports Maniac, CT Racing’s Allen Knowles, Brian “Animal” Fry, Marty Smith (Godspeed), Stickman, Ketchup and NHRA great Jim Eppler. Bonfires and fireworks were great, but the most fun was swapping stories around the campfire.

There were also many epic press events back in the day, especially Yamaha’s yearly “Special Edition ATVs in the Dunes” (aka “Goons in the Dunes”). Nights meant bonfires and watching Apache helicopters strafing the nearby bombing range with mini-gun tracer rounds. Can-Am introduced its 2015 Maverick 1000R Turbo at Glamis in the winter of 2014, and that was one of the last press events my dad attended before he died of cancer. We camped, and it was great to take him up Oldsmobile in the first production turbo UTV.

In fact, the first time I saw real dunes was in 1967, when we took a family camping trip to and through California. I had only seen small dunes at Texas’ Surfside Beach and Padre Island and was amazed when we wheeled the camper onto Pismo Beach. We promptly got stuck, and a local showed Dad how to “air down” for sand. We camped on the beach and walked into the big dunes the next day. Long before UTVs, we saw the wildest sand rails with V8 engines up front and others with VW or Porsche rear engines. By far, the wildest was two VWs welded together, like Dr. Seuss’ “Push Me Pull You.” The front engine, transmission and driveline had an idler gear somewhere, so it turned the axles backward. It had separate left and right brakes and steered like a tank. The guy stopped at the base of the steepest dune and climbed it easily. Then he backed halfway down, stopped and climbed it again. I wish I could find Dad’s photos of that!

Yes, lockdowns and work had prevented trips to Glamis and Dumont, but I did do a photo shoot at Olancha Dunes and attended the SxS Adventure Rally at Utah’s Sand Hollow State Park. It was fun to do some duning with the Can-Am, Kawasaki and HCR Racing guys, and I had a thrill ride with HCR founder Damon Cardone in an RZR Turbo S (nicknamed “Ese”). So, 2020 wasn’t all bad, dune-wise.

So, I resolve to do more UTV camping and duning during the next season, no matter how much I have to work. As one of the snowboarder/base jump guys said in the movie Cliffhanger, “Oh, man, I hate work, even if someone else is doing it!” See you there!

See UTV Action’s Sand Tire Buyer’s Guide here: https://utvactionmag.com/buyers-guide-sand-tires/

Find out more about Oceano Dunes here: https://www.experiencepismobeach.com/beach-and-outdoors/oceano-dunes/

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