To date, I don't think I have found a tunnel I was more compelled to see. When I found out about this tunnels construction, it was a no brainer to catch a flight out to Los Angeles and see it for myself. Recruiting people for the trip was no problem, and with the help of Pat, Foz, and Jules we soon had a nice trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco planned for the summer.
The main target for the trip would be this Elon Musk Test Tunnel, so we figured, why not go for it as soon as we land? After an hour at the airport, and another hour getting the rental car. The boys and I picked out some snacks and energy drinks to hold us over. Since we landed in the middle of the night, we were going to get right into it. The site that the tunnel was being built in was owned by Elon, and we parked right next door to a massive SpaceX warehouse as a result. On the walk over to our entry point we passed an open garage door that revealed people working on a massive space ship looking object, which it likely was. The only sign of life was a few security guards at the parking for SpaceX, so we walked around to the far side of the site, and hopped the fence out of their view. Other than the fence, the only other security we noticed was a guy walking around the second floor of the parking garage, occasionally peering down into the site we had just entered. Every time he looked back down into the site we would grab cover behind the nearest large object. After a few minutes of this, and one really close encounter with a giant spider, we made it to the front of the site. The booth that stood outside the tunnels entrance had lights on, but we saw no movement. Things were looking good.
One by one, we ran down a large sloping road down to the front of the tunnel. Here we were, just three hours after landing, walking right into our main goal!
Instead of shooting the entryway first, we decided to get a ways inside, just incase someone was in the site and had the urge to walk around to the entry.
I had previously seen a few photographs of the tunnel, but by the time we got to LA, it looked nothing like the photographs I'd seen.
Since I had seen photos ,The Boring Company had begun painting the tunnels pure white. As we walked into the tunnel and around a bend headed to our left, we were surprised that the flashy white paint stopped. They were only partly finished painting, so we had the unique opportunity to see the before and after of the tunnel. The section that had not yet been painted was a much warmer light brown shade, with orange lights. The contrast between the two sections made for some really unique photographs.
Another interesting part of the tunnel was that it wasn't quite finished. A few thousand feet into tunnel was the boring machine. Naturally, this was at the farthest end of the tunnel since it wasn't yet completed. Shooting the entire way, it took us around an hour to finally get to the boring machine. While it was quite small, I was still excited to finally see one of the machines that creates the tunnels I have so often found myself wandering.
As we shot the boring machine, one of us noticed a small camera pointing directly towards us. Luckily, we had been wearing masks, just in case this exact problem arose. We figured it wasn't being watched, but as we looked at our phones to check the time, we noticed it was getting close to the time we should be out of there anyway. Packing our tripods away, we snapped a few handheld shots on our way out, and quickly took some photographs of the entrance.
All in all, we got to see everything we had wanted. As we turned to leave, the noise of a tractor turning on startled us. We scrambled up the ramp, and were able to see where the noise was coming from. A worker sat in a large tractor, backing it up towards where the four of us stood. Without a word we all made a sprint for the fence. Luckily, the noise of the big tractor was enough to cover the sound of our feet hitting the ground. On the other side of the fence, we hustled back to the car without further encounters. A successful night... and that was just the start of the trip!
Since our visit, the tunnel was completed and tested. They actually drive Teslas through it at high speeds (check out the videos on youtube). When I was looking into the project, I found a lovely section of their website that claimed due to high demand they only offer tours of the Test Tunnel by invite. Guess I'll have to beg forgiveness for this one...