Been There, Dune That! | Surf N Turf 2010

Been There, Dune That! | Surf N Turf 2010


Surf N Turf 2010 - Toyota FJ CruiserThe thought of California beaches conjures up a myriad of images. Bikinis,surfing, beach volleyball and…Toyotas?

It was a soggy weekend in early November 2002 when 25 Land Cruisers, including a group of Canadian “cruiserheads” (who joined Rolland Gueffroy on his Pan American journey in his 1984 BJ45) rolled onto the wet sand of Oceano Dunes along California’s central coast. Among the drivers was, Jim Brantley, now more commonly known as Pismo Jim.

Jim’s inspiration to organize an event came from the great experiences he had while being attending other regional Land Cruiser events. “I really appreciated the effort put forth by the locals at these events and how they shared their favorite trails with outsiders. I wanted to return the favor to my new cruiser friends,” stated Brantley. As a result, Brantley organized a weekend of camping and wheeling at the Oceano Dunes (the surf) along with a couple trail runs located further inland (the turf). And Surf N Turf was born.

Of The Community
Since its inception, Surf N Turf has grown exponentially with the recent introduction of the FJ Cruiser line further fueling its growth. Now in its ninth year, Surf N Turf attracts over 400 cruiserheads from all over the country and has since moved to a full three-day format. “Thursday is the new Friday,” is a saying that is commonly overheard these days as organizers have accelerated the setup schedule and begin as early as Thursday morning.

“I’m not surprised,” stated Brantley when asked about Surf N Turf’s explosive growth, which can be attributed to word of mouth within the online and offline communities as well as the growing number of Surf N Turf-related videos, including Mike “FunJunkie” Kirsch’s video album from 2007 and Vince “Cypilk” Wong’s throttle-inspiring flick that has persuaded many a driver to make the trek to the sand. In fact, the event has grown so much that even the organizers like Brantley have begun to blend in with the crowd. “My favorite part is when someone invites me to Surf N Turf. Yes, it happens.”

The family-friendly event has developed a series of mini-events, including a Sand Chef competition, a fun run/walk on the beach, the ever-popular tradition of the Poker Run and the unofficial jump contest, to appeal to its expanding attendee demographic. Needless to say, there is never a dull moment when you get hundreds of cruisers together for fun on the beach and they usually manage to find ways to entertain themselves without event-intervention.

Over the years, the SnT has attracted more than just Land Cruisers. Recently, many Tacomas, 4Runners and even Tundras have joined in on the mobile beach community with the largest group of non-Land Cruisers being FJ Cruisers.

“It was like a small city of Toyotas that all came together for the love of wheeling!” stated Surf N Turf first-timer, Daniel May. “I truly enjoyed sitting around the campfire sharing different stories and walking around meeting new people.” May was among 80+ FJ Cruiser drivers, including a small contingency from Las Vegas, who had congregated at the AllCal Republic camp along the southern edge of base camp.

“Last year our club made the trip to SnT and came back with such great stories about how awesome the group of people was and how much fun they all had,” stated Trent Byrd, member of the Sin City Wicked FJs. “I told myself I would not miss it again this year.” Byrd was among 10 Las Vegas-based FJ Cruisers that made an 800-mile round trip pilgrimage to the dunes this year. And if there was ever a home away from home, they found it on the south end.

The AllCal Camp, a virtual mini-village, featured a number of amenities including a camp kitchen, family camping area, multiple group campfire pits, and one of the main attractions this year – the hog-roasting spit hosted by BozTec. “I’m not even sure how, but hog roasting came up [at the annual High Sierra Run a few months prior to Surf N Turf],” said, Jake Goaziou, master hog roaster and FJ Cruiser enthusiast. “Next thing we all knew…we were doing a hog roast at Surf and Turf 2010!”

Raised on a hog farm in rural Ohio, Goaziou learned the art of hog roasting from his father, Jim (aka the Bear). Goaziou invited Jim, who now lives in Indiana, and other family members to help prepare the highly-anticipated hog roast on Saturday evening. After some 12 hours on the spit, the hog was served to a long line of hungry campers and was all gone before you could say, “th-th-that’s all folks!”

The Surf N Turf family and community mentality was further exemplified by the participation of long-time, cruiser-supporting vendors. Among them was Metal Tech. David Duskin, who also happens to be the founder of a group of FJ Cruiser owners in central California called, StepCal FJs, represented Metal Tech at the event and was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic reception they received during the Sand Chef Competition on Friday Night. “The crowd at the Metal Tech booth was great!” said a grinning, Duskin. “I enjoyed talking with everyone.”

All Good Things…
One of the traditions at Surf N Turf is picking up pre-ordered goods, such as t-shirts, hoodies and dash plaques, at the main tent. This year’s logo appealed to the masses and quite a number of goods were being picked up. However, one thing many attendees noticed was the fairly obvious “penultimate” moniker emblazoned on the official Surf N Turf 2010 logo. Word quickly spread around camp and the unfathomable reality set in – next year will be the last official Surf N Turf event.

“Yes, it's true,” said Brantley. “The tide comes in and the tide goes out, nothing stays the same. It's time to celebrate what we have accomplished. The purpose of Surf N Turf has been to share the unique wheeling opportunities on the Central Coast with our cruiser friends. It's fair to say, we've succeeded by introducing hundreds of people to driving on the beach, sand dunes and inland trails.

I wanted to give something back to my cruiser friends and the Land Cruiser community.  Surf N Turf has provided a great venue to strengthen the community and tease everyone with the endless possibilities available all of us.”

Although the Pismo Jim-hosted Surf N Turf will undoubtedly end next year, there is some hope that the event will carry on in some capacity in the future. Some rumors say that the Toyota Land Cruiser Association (TLCA) will adopt SnT and make it a fully-sanctioned TLCA event. Other rumors say the droves of people will continue to gather the same way as first November weekends past by having a number of small groups such as StepCal FJs stepping up to assist in the organization. However, as optimistic as those predictions may be, external factors may ultimately prevent future generations from experiencing Pismo Jim’s brainchild. There are many special interest groups and individuals who are dedicated to the closure of Oceano Dunes SVRA to vehicular traffic.

Brantley had a few simple suggestions to keep the beach open for all to enjoy and for events like Surf N Turf to thrive for generations to come. “Responsible use is a good place to start, but everyone needs to invest money and/or time too. The best way is to support the Friends of the Oceano Dunes. These volunteers work hard to protect our interests and deserve our support. Their objective is to unite the many people who enjoy the Oceano Dunes in a cohesive organization that can promote and reinforce responsible recreation.”

Surf N Turf 2011 is bound to be an epic event, or as Brantley put it, “the ‘Ultimate’ Surf N Turf.” Be sure to schedule the time off and pay a visit to Oceano Dunes one last time to witness Pismo Jim ride off into the sunset…in his Land Cruiser.

Surf N Turf 2011 takes place on November 4 – 6, 2011 at Oceano Dunes SVRA on California’s central coast. For more information on Surf N Turf and related event media, please access these links:

•    Surf N Turf Official Website
•    Surf N Turf video page
•    Oceano Dunes SVRA
•    Friends of the Oceano Dunes
•    Cypilk’s, SnT 2008 video
•    Goaziou Hog Roaster Interview

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