Friday, July 24, 2009

All rules apply...

- JEwing pic of a real poster Somewhere, USA-

So many sessions with compromises. So many mediocre swells. So many slalom runs through crowded shoulders. So many glares and stares because of backpaddling and lack of etiquette. Today, a day with definite swell, I needed a more satisfying experience. Where to go...

I headed to Opposite Viejo's. Here is a wave with fine form. A birthplace of innovation, a bastion of civility- sometimes maintained through incivility. Waves were sleek and running down the reef in beautiful syncopation. The low tide was helping to open some almond-eyed barrel sections. There were no leashes in the lineup even though the waves were head high and fast. If you didn't make the barrel or fell on a turn, you swam. Good surfers were taking turns in a semi-orderly fashion. I, an interloper by any measure, was graced with many fine waves. I shared a couple of mat waves with Pflex and Tmat. Fish and fin originators were enjoying their earned status in the lineup.

I am grateful that there are still a very few spots like this one- spots where a healthy dose of proud localism and common sense surf etiquette combine in ways that create order and opportunity in the lineup.

Tomorrow, a weekend with swell, I'm off to a less frequented locale, or perhaps just The Drive Through...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The spaces in between...

Another earnest snap via Grant Newby

Been traveling. Toasts made, hotels, and hospitality. In times of travel past, a geothermal angst bubbles up. When the salty sea? When a return to freedom and simple, joyful immersion? This time I choose a different path.

"Where's that trail to Del Sur Beachy? It's pretty easy, right?" A call comes from a friend, still at home, still on track for a little surf session. I am in landlocked Microsoft mini-city. My teeth grit. "Yeah, it's easy but keep your eyes peeled for snakes. I saw a few there a while ago. Have a nice session."

The trail is a beautiful piece of coastal scrub framed by a brittle bridge with blue beauty deep beyond. It can be a bit steep, with narrow lanes between barbed plants and the aforementioned underfoot serpents. I always walk it happily. And it's not even because it leads me to surf or offers a change from the concrete footbed of daily life. The reason why it is a special path is because a few hundred yards away a nice, manicured, completely denaturalized cement trail leads to the southern end of the same stretch of coast. I like the scrub trail partly because it is not the paved trail.

So it goes with my landlocked travels. I am on the scrub trail. I will enjoy the nuance and rigor of this trail and return to the coast a little more slowly, but with a perspective of patience and appreciation.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A stoke quartet...

Teach a man to fish... (photo via Grant Newby)

Eight hours up the coast to the refuge by the sea. The islands were blocking any swell from lighting up Barbara's Corner. Further up the coast a bit of bounce was showing. My family reunion could not have been held in a prettier picture. It is so blessedly enlightening to move from arid and vapid southern California to the forest- fronted reefs of Alta. My sweet son slept. I crept, down to the shore to slide some on my belly. A surf mat travels well in a car five full and packed to the gills with road trip fodder. The water is clear, alive. A slight chill in July? Thankfully, yes.

A day or two before my trip north I receive this email from down under:

"Mate ,

great piece of writing on your blog today. Thanks for that , you captured it all there. Here are some fish mongers for you."

He also sends a picture, found above, worthy of a screen background on any soul-sucking interweb wipeout machine.

A day or two before receiving Mr. Newby's noble email I chat with an artistan surfer of recent acclaim for a project-in-process. We chat about mystery isles in undisclosed oceans, African instruments, and the reasons for the omission of a striking DVD extra from the original film. He is obviously a surfer talking to another surfer, not a minor celebrity talking to a minor fan."Here's my number, give me a call when you can..."

A day or two before the chat my son is in sixty seven degree water. "Let's Boogie!" he shouts. I lay him on top of the shin high whitewater. He slides towards shore, hands gripping the boogie, face shining a new confidence. A few waves later he goes through the rinse cycle. He comes up gasping...."I liked that wipeout!"

Let's boogie!