The Road Less Traveled

Formula DRIFT Irwindale is upon us, and because it’s the last round of the season, we wanted to do something extra special. As you may already know, when we travel to FD Las Vegas we take the extra-long route through Yosemite’s Tioga Pass to celebrate where we birthed the idea for Life Blasters, so in similar fashion we decided to take the scenic route to Southern California. Our story begins shortly after dawn at Fort Point, near the southern landing of the Golden Gate Bridge. Our goal was to travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Highway 1 where we would enjoy breathtakingly beautiful scenery, famous landmarks like Hearst Castle, and some beachfront climbing spots. Off we go!

Our first stop was at a location across from the tiny village of Davenport that you will recognize if you’ve been following Life Blasters. A place we have dubbed The Grove of Fine Knocks.

A short drive south of the grove is Panther Beach, which features a hole in the rock that leads to an even more secluded beach duely named Hole in the Wall Beach

I think Hole in the Wall Beach should be renamed “Hold in the Wall Beach.” The amount of climbable rock there is fantastic! Bohan didn’t waste any time getting his climbing shoes on and giving it a try.

Here I am creating my very first original bouldering problem!

I call it Death in Tight Pants, and I would say it’s a V0+.

Bohan was absolutely killing it, so after I cleared Death in Tight Pants a few more times I went back to shooting. Just look at that beautiful rock!

Beer is an important part of rewarding yourself after a good climb, so we brought some down from the Davenport convinience store just in case. While Drew was climbing I snuck away to play with his 35mm F1.4 Canon L-lens.

After finishing on the wall, Bohan found me and asked why I was laying around on the beach taking photos of a bottle of beer. Unsatisfied with my answer, he took my beer and did the right thing: drank it.

While walking around I found this rock that the waves were consistently crashing onto, so before we left I just had to get Bohan to shoot me with a nice big wave in the background. I left with wet shoes, but it was well worth it for this amazing shot!

Before getting back on the road, we tried climbing a big boulder in the middle of Panther Beach, but it was nearly impossible. A lot of rock near the beach is very unstable and tends to crumble away when you least expect it.

Next we stopped by The Bagel Bakery in Carmel. Bohan had done research on good climbing spots along Highway 1, and apparently this place was a major hangout for climbers camping in Big Sur. We didn’t find any dirtbags there, but the bagels were tasty!

Note from Bohan: In the climbing world “dirtbag” is not an insult! It refers to climbers who are so dedicated that they go to places like Yosemite to camp for weeks and do nothing but climb. Ah, that would be the life.

Scenes like this, although breathtaking, were a dime a dozen all the way down Highway 1…

…If we took a photo of every single one, this post wouldn’t even exist yet because we would probably be on hour-32 of a 48 hour drive.

Not all of Highway 1 is right next to the beach, and the inland scenery is beautiful in itself. Lush fern-filled forests with redwoods and eucalyptus were a common sight.

Eager to climb some more, we pulled off near the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park Waterfall Trail. The cliffs are really tall at this location, and there was no apparent trail to get down to the beach. We could’ve gone off-trail and made our way down, but because there were so many people around, we decided to be timid law-abiders and play it safe. Just this once.

We pulled over at the next spot that looked like a promising climbing prospect, which ended up being a tiny secluded beach near the Mill Creek Campground. I soaked my shoes yet again accessing it, but it was worth it. So private! We didn’t mind the piles of nasty detritus on the beach, our interest was in the rock walls.

Look at what a tiny speck Bohan is in this photo! At this time, I was actually in the middle of yelling to him “you’re gonna kill yourself, you silly bastard!” Right as I said that, his seemingly solid footholds gave way and fell into the ocean below. Luckily Bohan’s good sense kicked in and he was able to remain on the wall easily. I was really worried for a moment though, not for the threat of Bohan plummeting to his certain death, but for the fact that I would have to find his carcass to retrieve the keys to the Blastfinder… a task I’m glad I didn’t have to complete.

The walls at this particular beach were especially rotten. Fortunately this particular handhold gave way before Bohan even got off the ground.

The time that this photo was being taken was another where I really wished I had the keys to our rig in my pocket. That’s a long way to fall. Sweet photo though!

Here’s a distant shot of the famous Hearst Castle. We really wanted to check it out further, but you can only access it via their tour. Taking guided tours is not Blaster-style, so Bohan shot it from 2.62839 miles away with his longest lens, and we hit the road again.

As the sun was starting to go down we got our first glimpse of Morro Bay. Look at the size of that rock! Morro Bay’s fiancé must have a good job! As we passed it we could see that the beach actually led directly up to it, and we wanted to go check it out, but we didn’t want to get stuck out there in the dark so we continued on. Bohan actually took this photo from the driver seat! When you see the Blastfinder coming down the road at you, you’d better proceed with caution. We swervin’!

We arrived at Pismo Beach just in time to catch an epic shot of the Blastfinder before the sun set completely.

Bye bye, sun. Time for dinner!

We ate at a joint called The Pierside that is well-known for its fantastic views of the beach. We were hoping to watch people surfing while we ate, but alas, nobody surfs at night anymore. Well, maybe they do, but we couldn’t see them.

A stiff Rum & Coke is a great accompanyment to a seafood dinner.

I have been craving clam chowder in a bread bowl for the last year, but somehow whenever I get around a seafood restaurant I have fried things on my mind. This time I broke down and got one, and I’m glad I did. It was delicious!

Just north of Ventura we found a nice spot on the side of the road to capture some long-exposure photos…

…I love the cloud movement in this shot.

While we were waiting for Bohan’s shutter to close, we walked out of his camera’s sight and played with a new gimmick we’ve been seeing from other photographers called Light Orbs. Pretty cool, right? This was made using nothing but a cellphone flashlight!

At around 1:00am we arrived in Santa Monica, thus succesfully completing our voyage down Highway 1. Whew! That’s one for the record books.

All I wanted to do was have some fun, and I had a feeling I wasn’t the only one… because Bohan wanted to have some fun too. Alas, it was already pretty late and with our busy schedule for the final round of the 2012 Formula DRIFT championship, we couldn’t stand to wait around for the sun to come up over Santa Monica Boulevard.


Photos by: Pitts & Bohan

7 thoughts on “The Road Less Traveled

  1. Hey Geoff those are some good shots, looks like you guys have a lot of fun on the road. If you’re ever in GV again maybe I can help you get some good cherries and berries shots!

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