Sunday, December 17, 2006

Still crazy

I am happy to report that even though Little Miss N says I "have something to live for now," I'm still crazy enough to paddle out when it's over six feet at my home break when all the good guys go out.

Adrenaline. My friend.

After I rested from the paddle out, I sat around for about half an hour wondering if I was going to lose my nerve as all the set waves came through looking like big moving walls. Finally, after joking some of my tension out of me with the guys, I took my first wave (which I'd planned on being my last wave). First wave I bunked, but I can't remember why. The good thing about it was that it showed me I could live through the wipe-out and hold my breath long enough without panicking.

Second wave, I didn't paddle enough so I ended up on my feet at the top and the board dropped out from under me. I landed on my tail... literally landed on the pointy tail and the skeg. I've got the marks to prove it. Lived through that one, too.

Third wave, easy pop-up down the face and an explosion of whitewater propelled me straight to shore.

I think there's a little bit of crazy in my blood, but it was fun. It was a good day.

(Only weapon in play from my mini-quiver -- 9'7" double-glassed Cooperfish. It was fine, but DAMN did I wish I have Doc.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Swell Bally-Hoo!

Okay, I haven't quite lost the stoke yet. I'm working 12-hour days and I still have time to wonder if and where I'm going to surf tomorrow during this much anticipated swell. I ran an errand around 3:30 today and the sky in Santa Monica was being overtaken by some ominous clouds signaling the arrival of some kind of energy.

If this swell actually does come in, I'm sort of limited by my psyching myself out for not surfing in so long, by my geography, and by my choice of board. Given that the only stick I have right now is a classic double volan 9'7" Cooperfish, I have to either go to a point break or have fun in some (supposedly) giant white-water at a beach break. If I go to a point break, I have to go in the darm in order to get any waves before the hordes. And if the last time I tried this on a bally-hooed swell is any indication, there will already be five people in the water and ten people on shore drinking coffee and checking out the waves.

Or I might just take the boy and his dog to dog beach and watch the show until the high tide drowns us.

Whatchoo gonna do?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Treading water - losing the stoke

Little Miss N and her friend from Encinitas stopped by before their flight out of LAX to El Salvador. (Surf trip or kidnapping?) We ended up at Guy Okazaki's place. He's going to shape her another board -- a whole two inches shorter than the slew of other Okazaki boards she has! I write this with some amount of sarcasm because, even though I know gigantic differences in performance are measured in fractions of inches on boards, for as long as I've known her, she's been riding an Okazaki alien shape that's 6'8", about 20" wide with a round pin tail. She has had at least three of these boards since I've known her. She's found her niche and she's not deviating.

Don't get me wrong. I love the alien shape. I have one myself. I also admire his performance longboards and am playing around with the idea of getting one to replace Doc. It's just... I wonder what's the purpose of having so many of such similar boards?

While chatting with Guy, we met a man whose name Guy says is part of the surfing lore of the Dogtown days and someone who made a name for himself surfing in Hawaii. "But he quit surfing a long time ago." I wondered why. "Just got bored one day and quit."

I'm intrigued by this. I'm intrigued because it feels like there has to be a good story behind it, and I'm intrigued because I can almost buy Guy's explanation. There's no way my name is anywhere near being remembered in the annals of surfing history, but I have lately been feeling a loss of the stoke and I wonder that it might be possible that I could "get bored one day and quit."

It's probably nothing. It's probably that I have other commitments in my life that are taking a more prominent place right now. It's probably that I'm tired of my safe, crappy beach break with all the fantastic friends. Since I'm pulled in other directions, I have less time to surf. So when I do surf, I don't explore and hunt down good surf, I go to see my friends in the water who I miss seeing every day. I socialize, I make jokes, I catch a wave or two.

I guess I'm just mulling these thoughts. Treading water right now. It's just strange to think how I've become more casual about surfing when I remember a time when I couldn't imagine living landlocked because I had to be in the water every day.

Monday, November 27, 2006

No Thanks

Struck with food poisoning from sushi on Friday. No more surfing to be had this weekend. First and hopefully last time I'll have food poisoning. Ugh.

Mental note: On a week where everybody's thinking turkey, do NOT eat raw fish that might have been hanging around lonely.

Friday, November 24, 2006


I had a crap-tacular Wednesday and I carried over my moody baggage into Thursday, a holiday, Thanksgiving. All I knew was I was going to surf my brains out to try to shake off the bad mood. Good mood starter #1: I was greeted by waves I could see from the parking lot. Good mood starter #2: There was actually some shape to play around in.

Since I've gone exclusively back to the Cooperfish because my other boards are dinged, the callous on the top of my head where I carry the board has reformed. Walking with the board is a piece of cake now. And turning the heavy monstrosity on waves has pretty much come back to me. Lots of good lefts, a few okay rights which closed out too quickly for my liking, and I had pretty much shaken off my bad mood.

Unfortunately, as soon as my bad mood left, my body decided to get tired. Since I'm not the obsessive surfer that I once was, my lungs have decided that just paddling out makes me winded. After two and a half hours, I was done. The mind is willing, but the flesh is weak.

I gave thanks, though, for some decent-sized waves.

Today, knee-to-waist mush. Any other time this year and I would have said "no thanks" but I was committed to surfing as much as I can this long holiday weekend before heading back to my bad mood on Monday. I was out early (because I had to pick up my parents from the airport at 10am) and the air was nippy. So nippy that the hat made its first appearance this season.

It could be like the groundhog spotting its shadow in February. If you spot the hat on my head, winter's coming three weeks early this year.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Just go!

I know, I know. I missed a couple of days of really good surf. Crazy barrels on Tuesday... yeah yeah yeah I heard. Stop telling me how amazing it was, okay?!

I just couldn't bring myself to wake up when then alarm rang in the dark this whole week. The job has me at work at 9am now, so it's dawn patrol or nothin' for me. And lately, I've lost the dawn patrol mojo.

So, this morning, it was just a triumph for me to get out of the house by 6:30am.

But I arrived at home break to find knee-high mush. One guy on a shortboard imitating a buoy. This wasn't very appealing and I was about to leave when Bob (the Bob formerly known as Sponge) gave me the hard sell: Corner there! Tide drops! Longboard!

Okay okay. And he was right. It wasn't even close to a stellar day, but the sky was blue and the water wasn't freezing and I got some fun little waves on my big blue Coop. It was small enough for me to confidently go leashless and subsequently lose the board almost every wave. I'm getting the turning thing down, but now I'm finding a different issue: I'm not sure what to do with the wave that lays out in front of me. My timing with this board is off. I see the wave. The shoulder even starts moving in slow motion for me, but I don't know whether to come down and lose speed or stay high and get pitched when the bottom falls out. This happened on almost every single left I took. I know, I know. It's just a matter of dialing into this board again. Practice practice practice.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Big Blue Coop

Oh, r-i-i-ght. THAT'S why I loved my Big Blue Cooperfish so much. Saturday, I kept thinking how much more fun I'd be having if I'd brought Weirdo (who's on the rack while I figure out what to do about the dings opening up and glass issues). I traded boards with Riab who looked miserable on my board, but her Chris Slick board was fun for me! Makes me remember why I like performance longboards. Back on my Cooperfish, I couldn't turn it and bunked some decent shoulders. I knew what I had to do... step back on the tail (way back), pivot, walk... I just couldn't get my body to do it.

Today, my body and Coop started remembering how to work together again. I started finding that sweet spot where I could turn the board without effort. I'm pretty sure I look like an idiot on take-off with my arms flailing and my hips jutting to catch up to the board, but it sure was FUN remembering how tenuous a thing balance can be when you stand on different parts of the board.

I came home and finally took the wax off the two halves of Doc. I have some idea about taking it to Aquatech and getting it fixed as a beater board for visitors, but I'm slightly afraid Ken et. al. are going to start laughing the second I take one half of it out of the car. As I rubbed the remaining film of wax off the board with citrus oil, I couldn't help but think that THIS was exactly the performance longboard I've been idly looking for since I broke it a few months ago. I love the big rocker. I love the shape of the nose (pulled in a little so it doesn't look like a giant gangplank). I love love LOVE the transition of the rails from the middle to the tail.

I don't know. After all the idle distractions and considerations of other boards over the past few months, I might be making a visit to Huntington to have Doc III made.

Friday, November 10, 2006


I just got around to getting some digital photos off the boy's camera.

For giggles, I thought I'd share my portrait at the anti-war rally this past spring:

I still think this would have been funnier if I'd found a Barbara Bush mask. She's much more recognizable than the current first lady.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Pretty things

Sensei J called me up asking, "How much money do you have?" Then he made me go over to Cooperfish's website. Looks like Gene has some custom jobs for sale:

"Round Labels"

Sensei J bought #110, and I probably shouldn't be advertising this because I kinda hope #104 remains available through December. Anybody want to buy me a present?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


This weekend, I started becoming quite fond of this board. (Pictures below were taken from Ebay where I bought the board two years ago.) I am growing a little concerned, however, that a 30-year-old board is more fragile than I think and I should not be surfing this thing. I'm starting to have dings open up. The glass underneath is kind of the consistency of the center of a Butterfinger bar. I might have to do some fixing before it goes out again. Any insight from the shapers and glassers out there?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Surfing as character development

Pet peeve warning:

I hate it when a television show has characters who are supposed to be surfers. I don't mind if they throw it in as dialogue or whatever, but when they actually set a scene in the water and the actors look like they've been air-lifted onto the board and balanced there, it's really distracting.

Last night, I was watching Veronica Mars (which is a really great show, don't laugh!) and the brooding bad-ass rich kid Logan seemed a lot less brooding and whole lot less bad-ass when he was chatting with his friend while floating in the water in a shiny new wetsuit on a cheap-looking longboard. They were both sitting in the middle of the board so it was flat on the water. They looked like they would tip over if they had to try to raise the nose of the board out of the water to turn around should it occur to them to paddle for a wave.

It's like when you watch people who don't know how to play guitar, play guitar in the movies... takes you right out of the scene.

Good surfing scene on TV? Simon Baker in the premiere of "Smith" (which is cancelled, but that setting was GREAT). Baker, tanned, in boardshorts, cutting up a wave on a shortboard. (It helps that he can actually surf.) He trots to shore smiling and full of aloha spirit. He greets a couple hard-edge locals who give him a hard time. He backs off, but then kills them with single shots to the head from his sniper rifle. Every surfer's fantasy for dealing with aggro meat-heads.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

What's that on the plate you're handing to me?

Oh! My ass! Why thank you!

Surf Sis and I met in the dark this morning to drive north for some shape. The first spot we checked was an unfamiliar break for both of us and between the fog, the unknown paddle-out, and the lack of surfers on the head-high waves breaking onto rocks, we quite rightly chickened out.

So we drove further north and checked out every goofy-foot's favorite point break. At first glance from above, all you could see was fog. You could kind of make out the white water as the wave broke, and sometimes you could see a little dark spidery thing cutting up and down the wave. It was easier to see when we paddled out, but there was still insufficient warning time for me when I was sitting inside hoping to pick off one of the more manageable and shapely waves. When I heard someone yell "outside," I looked out to see this wave looming toward me. I ducked one and I turtled another on the Weirdo board, but both times, I found myself doing cartwheels with my board as the push of water decided not to let me through. (I try not to let go of the board if I can help it. I always feel safer when I know my board is in my hands and not whipping around somewhere.)

By the time I came up for air, I was almost at shore, so I decided instead of trying to duck the next one, I would catch my breath on the beach then paddle out when the lull came. Bad choice. Resting on shore, I sufficiently psyched myself out enough not to go back out. It wasn't fear exactly. It was more a sense that I wouldn't catch anything with Weirdo (which I'm not quite used to yet) and an almost certain knowledge that to take the punishment of the paddle out wasn't going to be worth it. Instead, I decided to watch the show from shore.

It was definitely a tough day with the fog, the high tide, and the shore break. The same five guys were getting the majority of the waves. Every so often someone wouldn't kick out soon enough and the would completely go over the falls on the shore break. Ouch!

This is the first time I've psyched myself out in a couple of years. It ended up being a good thing really. I haven't sat down on the beach just to watch surfers since I started learning and it was nice to see some different styles out there.

Surf Sis, though, she rocked! She totally zoomed out to the line-up on the paddle-out and I could see her flipping her almost-locked hair when the fog lifted a little. She took off on a couple of waves, and they didn't really turn out like she wanted, but still... she took off!

In the meantime, Weirdo report: My pop-up's getting better on Weirdo, but not enough to make overhead close-outs today. Yesterday at the beach break was wally, but smaller so I had some waves to play on. Weirdo really holds when the wave gets a little hollow. Kinda fun. Me likey.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Nurse Surf

I've been out of the water for almost two weeks and I think I'm starting to grow tree trunks for legs. Between my paranoia about rain runoff last week and being on call for the boyfriend after his surgery this week, I've become a landlubber.

This week, though, looks promising. The last two times I went out (lo, those many aeons ago), I surfed my Weirdo board and had a blast. My pop-up is a fraction of a second slow because Weirdo's two-feet shorter than what I'm used to riding, but when I actually get that Weirdo single-fin winged diamond tail to lock in, I'm in heaven! Hopefully, I won't chicken out of some of the hollower surf that's here because of the Santa Anas. I just need to get my pop-up up to speed and I'll be fine.

Friday, September 29, 2006

San O

Two turns later, I fell off because my balance was all screwy and I couldn't hold on, but hey, with creative cropping, a person can dream...

Thanks to Birthday Boy for sending along the picture.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Hurts So Good

Do you know how far it is to paddle out to Old Man's at San O?
1,216 kilometers. No joke.
I got this measuring tape in Europe and it only gives the metric system.

Holy crap am I out of shape. Besides the long paddle-out, which wasn't so bad really, I was paddling with futile desperation for waves that wouldn't break. A combination of regularly surfing beach breaks and being on a board I haven't used much in a year completely psyched me out on San O's rolling waves. Surf Sister and I took a trek down for a friend's birthday session and found ourselves laughing at how many waves rolled under us as we paddled furiously. When we finally got into the groove, I looked up only to see an outside set wave coming in. Turtled. And another, and another... I must have turtled 15 waves in a row. By the time I made it outside again you could stick a fork in me. I was done.

Nice skies, beautiful waves. Good day. But I knew I was going to pay for it in the morning.

And if that wasn't enough to knock me on my ass this weekend, I saw these old fogies later on in the evening. Rock on, Whiffleboy! Seriously, I don't know how you can sustain that level of energy on stage. It was impressive and infectious. I look forward to the band's 20 year reunion.

Sunday morning came and I was in pain, but I was deluded into thinking that moving around would help dissipate the soreness. I probably should have taken it as a sign when I couldn't lift the heavy Cooperfish into the car, but instead, I opted for the weirdo board. Glad I did, because it was totally fun at my pitching beach break.

I learned, though, that moving through the pain really doesn't help.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Malibu - it was a dark and stormy night...

5:30am is DARK.

6:00am is still dark, but you can kind of see enough to understand why a couple people were driving up, looking, and pulling away.

Weird onshores were blowing out Malibu. Oh. Goodie. I'd only surfed Malibu once before -- a sunset session at second point when it was overhead. Last night, I'd decided that I wanted to surf SOMETHING of this south swell and since it was closing out my beach breaks and I'd already lost my performance longboard. If I wanted to surf, I'd either have to crack out the weirdo board (which I haven't surfed in a year) and go to Porto or lug out the Cooperfish and try to do some walking at a point.

Malibu was the choice. The junky conditions de-crowded the break, so I was only surfing with a dozen other people who were all quite nice. Mellow. It's a nice introduction for me because I have such psychological hang-ups when I get to a point break that I find myself choking because of all the mental pressure to prove that I can surf... and I should probably take the note that nobody REALLY cares how well you can surf.

Still, though, I don't understand the point break wave. I understand how the wave curls around the back of the board to hold you in when you're walking to the nose... It just doesn't happen to me. I'm just not very adept at getting the board in that trim position all the time. I feel like I need two solid hours with no one around to just mess up and be a goof and figure it out.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

And then there were three...

9'7" Cooperfish Hornet - heavy volan glass with fin patch (I am the second owner)

9'0" Surf Prescriptions aka "Doc II" - performance board with 2+1 fin set-up which I have converted to a thruster on big days, round pintail with a bump (First owner, custom made for me)

7'0" Small Faces aka "Weirdo" - 30-year-old beak nose single-wing diamond-tail singlefin (I don't know its history)

7'0" Guy Okazaki aka "Dragon" - alien shape thruster (I am the second owner)

Doc II
March, 2004 - September 19, 2006
Ocean Park, Santa Monica, California

Monday, September 18, 2006

REMINDER: next board

This is just a reminder for me:

When I feel like I've gotten to a good place with my Cooperfish and when I feel like I deserve a new art-piece type board, I'm going to get a real flat pointbreak board like this.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I smell like Paris Hilton

We just got a package from the CEO who distributes Paris Hilton's fragrances. And for all the sea-water and bacteria screwing with my olfactory system, I don't think it smells half bad. The women's scent on my left wrist is starting to smell like cotton candy -- which is starting to make me crave funnel cakes. I actually like the men's fragrance on my right wrist better.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


A triathalon in Venice denied any northbound ideas I had, so I ended up at Porto. Crowded. Mostly guys. Greeeeeaat. I had wanted to try to up my game at better breaks with more aggressive peers, so I guess there's no time like the present. Infrequent chest-shoulder-high set waves. Waist high tweeners during the lulls. Slow-going at first for me, but then I got into the rhythm and had my share of decent shoulders.

I finished most of my frontside waves today with kick-outs. The only one I bunked was a wave that closed out immediately. Still grabbing my rail out of the backsides, though.

I had a super kick-out on my last wave -- which I didn't think was going to be my last wave which is why I kicked out in the first place... Just as I directed the board up and over, I saw a bigger set wave breaking almost on top of me. Nothing quite like kicking out of a wave only to see your wave's big brother looming, ready to pummel you. I turtled that one only to see another. I quickly decided that I didn't have enough money left on the meter to make it worth suffering through battling out the set waves, so I took the whitewash in.

I've noticed that since I've started concentrating on kicking out frontside, I've magically begun to do frontside top turns. What a RUSH!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Happy Anniversary, Me!

Labor Day marks the four-year anniversary of me and surfing in California. I remember that first Labor Day after I'd scoured the Internets for How-tos and Rules and traveled up and down PCH looking for a used board. (Even then I knew what I wanted, although I didn't have the vocabulary to say what it was.) After going up to Malibu and hopping into stores and came back to be more gas efficient about finding a board by calling down the phone book listings looking for an 8-foot longboard in the $200 range, I decided to take a walk in my neighborhood to get some smokes (oh, those days). I decided to check out the mod-looking Board Gallery (which moved to Lincoln Blvd. this year).

I'd walked by the shop maybe a hundred times before, and after a day of unsuccessfully finding a board, 20 miles away, I found the perfect thing right across the street. They showed me the back room where stacks of used boards hung out. I didn't know it then, but I was looking at some classic boards that cost five times what I was looking to spend. He showed me an 8'6" longboard that had just come in on consignment for a little over $200... it had a neon orange nose and an art deco blue fade through the middle to a white round pintail and three fins. (A pintail with a slight bump at the rails with glassed-on thruster set-up, I was later to find out.) There was a big Rx logo and Ray told me the board was about 10 years old, signed at the stringer by the shaper... Jeff "Doc" Lausch.

Yup. That was my first Doc. I took him up to County Line (which I didn't know was called County Line) on Labor Day. I stayed out of the other surfers way like I'd read in the How Tos and Rules, and I died.

For the next month or so, I'd die on the weekends at Venice, walking my board to the beach, and again at County. Then I started dying on the weekdays, too. On one driving excursion, I rolled into what is now known as the "home break." I think what made me stay there is what makes a lot of people start there... the convenience. Parking and easy walk-out. Three days a week turned to every morning. Sometime, between paddling the distance of six lifeguard towers and back and just turtling through some hairy autumn close-outs, I stopped dying and started catching waves.

Lordy, I loved that board. RIP at overhead Topanga and Doc Lausch made me a 9'0" version with slightly down rails, hard at the tail with the bump and round pin. Lordy, I love this board! And I do believe I'm getting verklempt about how we had a great anniversary today with peaky shoulder-high stuff and all the family under the sun.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


To the anonymouses (anonymai?) who commented on my last post... yes, I always give waves up to people who have priority - no matter new or experienced. (In fact, one of the surfers this weekend commented how I was pretty good at giving up waves in crowded situations... and I've found that I get a good number of priority take-offs in return.) That's not my point. My point in the last post was actually about me overcoming my non-conflict nature and giving suggestions to people who can actually take off on waves, but don't understand how beautiful a skill controlling your board can be.

I cannot wax any more superlative on the subject of a kick-out. It's such a gorgeous way to finish a wave. There are a couple really great surfers at my home break who can surf shortboards and longboards, but it's when they kick-out on a board longer than 9 feet that I have palpitations. In the chaos of a beach break wave that's closing out, they always finesse that board up and over the wave in a perfectly timed and effortless kick-out. About half the time, I can kick-out frontside, most of these are little baby kick-outs and nothing like the powerful arcs of these other surfers. Once in a while, I'll actually kick-out like they do and that's when I feel like a giant. On the backside kick-out, I'm still useless. I rely too much on kneeling, grabbing the rail, and pulling into the wave, sometimes in a cover-up, but mostly to punch out the other side.

But at least I'm not letting my board go.

I know I'm not at any kind of advanced level of surfing, but I do know I'm at a transition point right now. I'm not sure surfing is a kind of sport that you actually "master" because there always seems to be something else you can work on. Right now, I'm obviously working on the physical skill of kicking out (a failed attempt on Sunday resulted in a floater I was really proud of!). But more than that, surfing has always had that mental and emotional metaphor for me. And after being rather fearless and reckless (with regards to my own body, never with regards to others around me) and reaching some level of confidence with myself, I'm looking for a new metaphor. And I think it's going to have to be with how I interact with others.

In life and in surfing, I've always considered the feelings of others before my own. I've always recognized a need to be more assertive (in surfing and in life), but my non-conflict nature makes me walk (or paddle) away instead of confronting an issue. I'm not saying I'm going to go out there and pick fights and be an asshole. That's not me. Anybody who surfs near me can tell you that I'm always whooping for other people's waves. What I'm saying is that I would like to be better able to have a dialogue when something irks me instead of letting it simmer and twist up inside of me.

After reflecting on my inner dialogue on Saturday's incident, I actually talked to the girl on Sunday. She brought it up, actually, and apologized again for running into me. I took the opportunity to ask her if I could give her a couple suggestions that were given to me a few years ago. My insides got less twisted up and I hope the shared knowledge will improve her surfing.

And I'd REALLY like for this practice of being more assertive in dialogue to transition to my "real" life, too.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Home Break

aka Crappy Santa Monica beach break
aka Surf Spot of the Decade

Where did they all come from, these surfers? A refrain from last weekend and this weekend I heard from my buddies in the water, "F**k, if you looked at all the surfers in the water, you'd think this was a surf spot!" Granted, today was kinda fun, but the ol' grump inside of me started rearing its head when a kid started taking off on a wave that I was already riding. Gave him some stink-eye and he backed off. The kid on the soft top was an okay surfer, but there's no excuse for not knowing etiquette. I missed the ol' police presence in the water today. You know the guys. Those slightly scary guys who can surf circles around you and will put people in their place for any breach of etiquette. One's got an injury, one told me he'd be at work today, and I'm not quite sure what the other two guys were doing loitering around the parking lot.

I'm also never sure what to do when some of the newer people who I'm friendly with don't know how to control their boards. I was inside and I watched a girl I know take off on a wave drawing a line directly for me. She was looking ahead of her board and not right at her feet, but she was only looking about 3 inches ahead of the nose of her board. If I had been in her place I would have A) considered not going on the wave because there were two many people inside, B) gone on the wave knowing that I should trim more tightly on the shoulder, C) been looking WAY beyond where my board ended and where the water began, and, in the unlikely case that I would have come too close to someone inside, D) fell on the board and held on to stop it instead of falling backwards and letting go.

But I wasn't in her place, so I kinda saw what was going to happen. I decided that the safest thing for me to do in this case was to reach out and hold on to the nose of her board that was coming towards me. No, that's not right. The safest thing for me to do was to duck under the water, but that was not the safest thing for my surfboard.

I don't know. I guess I should have offered her my thoughts in that situation, but instead, the low-conflict kind of gal I am, I just said I was okay and that I had reached out and blocked her board with my hand. No worries.

No worries?

I come from a long line of worriers all the time. My bone structure and my worrying I've genetically inherited from my father.

I just don't understand why people can't see how ugly it is when they just fall off a board without making some effort to keep it under control and close to them? I don't understand why people don't see the classic beauty in a kick-out. Surfing's not just about speeding down the biggest baddest wave you can get. It's about taking control in an inherently chaotic environment.

And I guess I have to do that with people.

All that aside, I did have a great day of surf.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I "misunderestimated"

I honestly thought this swell wasn't going to get here, but I was wrong. And I'll force myself to listen to Bush's weekly radio address as penance.

As the Decider, I shot straight out into those waves today and didn't look back. Cuz I'm the Decider. I was ready to attack and smoke out those shoulders. Cuz we got weapons to find surf: liberty and freedom. Those other waves, you know, those closing-out brown-lookin' waves, they hate us. They hate us because they hate our waves of freedom and democracy.

(Oh, the waves were swell today by the way.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Where Grace goes, no swell follows.

Almost every time I've gone down to visit Little Miss N in Del Mar, there has been no swell. Even if forecasts say there's going to be a little bump in size, my presence pretty much assures knee-to-waist.

Even so, I had fun on Sunday in San Diego County. I brought down my darling Cooperfish to treat him to some shapely waves. It amazes me how easy it is to surf nice waves when you call a crappy close-out beach break home. I took off on some decent set waves and had some time to walk back and forth. I still chicken out before I get to the nose, and I'm not sure how to get beyond that reaction.

Friday, August 11, 2006

School of Wipeout

I thought I did stupid stuff in the water... but Mark Healey does it in double-overhead and tow-in waves in this video on Surfline. I'm dedicating my next good wipeout to the master.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A break from surfing... for a rant

Mooooovies suck. The movie business sucks even more. I'm tired of listening to sucking up, desperation, middle men. I'm tired of projects being sold on charm and smarm and who's in the damn thing. I'm tired of deals done out of relationships rather than out of content. I'm tired of corporate America which is what the media business is. Three white men own every friggin' thing you see on TeeVee, mags, and the big screen. (And Clear Channel owns the radio waves.) You know this right? Rupert Murdoch, Disney (which isn't so much a man anymore than faceless monster of shareholders), and Sumner Redstone.

Here's a media ownership chart that's a few years old, but I'm sure with all the mergers of company, the spheres of influence are bigger and fewer.

Don't EVER EVER let anyone tell you that the media is liberal-biased. When you have a corporate media, the only thing that media answers to is the DOLLAR (or maybe soon, the YUEN). And corporations are in the business of conserving or increasing the value of shareholders' dollar... inherently CONSERVATIVE.

I'm tired of this stupid business. I shoulda done what my daddy tole me to. Shoulda gone to med school. Cuz THAT business isn't dogged with corporate control at all. (No pharmaceutical pressure to approve drugs and push them through doctors, nope nope nope.)

Ack. I need to go live in a tree somewhere.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Whitewash waves - who knew?!

When I started doing this surfing thing, I didn't start out in the white water. I started out paddling, turtling, and paddling back and forth along the shore the distance of 6 lifeguard huts. I'm a good Asian and I always did my scales and etudes before I started practicing the concerto. When I started "surfing" I started on the outside waves. I got pounded. I missed waves. I learned by wiping out. I never ever surfed the whitewash. It didn't even occur to me.

But today, I sat on the beach for ten minutes watching Sensei J and Sir Richard bobbing on the horizon. Each of them got an in-n-out with some pretty kick-outs, but mostly, they were just bobbing beyond the head-high close-out sets. I'd just had a GREAT day yesterday at County Line. Head high and peaky, and everybody was cordial and followed etiquette (unlike Sister's experience at RPB). I think I got tubed, but I don't think it counts unless I open my eyes. All in all yesterday was a great surf day.

So you can imagine my reluctance to take the beating of Santa Monica close-outs. Then Ms. Birds joined me on the beach sipping her coffee and happily said, "I'm thinking of just playing in the whitewash!" Well, hell, the sun was out and I'd just driven from the boyfriend's place forty miles away (he's geographically undesirable), so I decided to take a spin in the whitewash, too.

I had SO MUCH STUPID FUN! I think I caught a hundred waves and I felt sorry for the growing number of schmoes bobbing up and down in the line-up. Each whitewash wave came with a requisite amount of silly posturing on the board and each walk-out was a work-out. Not joking. The inside rip was so strong, we were fighting it and the chaos of unending activity on the inside. I know I'm going to feel it in the glutes tomorrow.

My favorite wave was one I decided to take on my belly. As I was speeding toward shore, I saw this backwash wave come racing up at me and I held on for dear life. I launched off it, caught air, and slammed back down to continue racing to shore. Stupid fun!

One thing I learned about the white water I never surfed before: It's really difficult to maintain balance on your board. Because the water is more chaotic and the waves have less power, any imbalance can send you digging a rail and tipping. I think whitewater can actually be a good conditioning exercise for longboarders! I took some steps back and forth trying to maintain balance and I made sure to cross-step intead of shuffle. Another close-out day (which I think this south swell will continue to give our beach breaks) might see me doing these whitewater exercises!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Crowdin' the line-up

So I took the boyfriend out in the water this weekend. I'm not doing this to make my life easier, because he'd just be waking up around the time I get out of the water anyway. Someone accused us single people of crowding the line-up when we started dating people, but I'm not overly invested in having the boyfriend catch the surfing bug. Instead, I'm doing this in the hopes of introducing him to some physical activity in the hopes of keeping him healthy and alive longer, so I don't have to worry about the difference in male and female lifespans. I know. Morbid, but sweet.

Heck, surfing's the only real physical activity I have besides doing a vigorous fine chop on garlic for the evening meal. If I didn't surf, I'd be 200 pounds with a life expectancy of 60 years.

So, the boyfriend had a great belly ride on a board through the whitewash and it was small enough this weekend that he paddled out to the line-up to practice sitting on the board. It always amazes me how awkward sitting up is for newbies. I have a theory that it's easier for women to adjust to the motion because they're used to having looser hips whereas men don't really shake their thang on a normal walking type basis. Anyway, he started getting the hang of it. Now, I'm very good at teaching people how to be safe in the water and how to safely wipe-out because I am a student of the Wipe-out School of Surfing.

I'm not, however, very expert at teaching people how to catch waves. I think this is partly because I'm a good Asian and believe you should do all the basics before you move on to the next level -- like Mr. Miyagi making Daniel-san wax on and wax off for days and days before they started sparring. Also, I learned how to surf by going out and taking every single friggin' wave that came my way. I learned by wiping out and missing waves. It started registering which waves were bad and which waves were good. I'm not very good at teaching instinct.

(I also don't believe that someone should teach a person they're dating how to surf if he or she wants to continue dating that person!)

So, he's getting a lesson with Frank this weekend. He's given me a billion great surfing tips over the years and he's a great presence to have in the water. Of all the teachers I've paddled near in the water, Frank is the one who I trust the most in terms of surfing safety, knowledge, and philosophy. Hell, I'm entrusting the care of my boyfriend to him!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Some of my best friends are Doodahs

I didn't Doodah, but some of my friends did. Vote for either "Tippi Hedren and the Birds" or "Marge Simpson" (or both!) at the Doodah site.

Friday, July 07, 2006

My brush with fame

I surfed at the pier this morning for the first time in a long time. Little Miss N is in town and she likes the spot, so we go there. Lo and behold I meet the famous Uncle Grant in the water and pointed out Santa Monica surf reporter Matt on the Pier. Matt took these shots and posted them on today's report:

Uncle Grant. Nice wave.

He had the wave of the day and came flying down the line past me as I pulled back from paddling.


I'm going to take this opportunity to wonder about my right hand. I've seen other pictures of myself and that friggin' hand just hangs there in the air, hovering around my ear. I'm not really sure what I'm doing with that hand. Sometimes I notice it when I'm actually surfing, but more often than not, I am only reminded when I see pictures.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon

September 17, North Beach in Del Mar

Register for the non-competitive surf-a-thon with proceeds benefitting the Helen Woodward Animal Center. My friend Little Miss N works there and I have a feeling this was her brilliant idea.

Bring your dogs for their own surf contest.

It sounds like fun and I might ask people to sign my pledge sheet -- donating per my wave count -- so if I wasn't already able to psyche myself out before, this certainly would do it! Oh, the pressure of knowing I'd have to go back to people and tell them how many waves I got in an hour!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

How lazy am I?

Since I seem to have backed off being a daily surfer to a weekend warrior this year, and I haven't backed off the bacon in a similar ratio, my belly has seen the brunt of this choice. This is most apparent when I try to surf shorter boards. I had the opportunity to try out Sensei J's 6'1" Con Fish shaped by Bruce Grant today and I have to say it's a very stable board. I know this because I popped up reeeeeeal slooooooow and the board was waiting for my feet to land. If there were any shape to the waves today, I would know if I had any chance of turning the twin fin.

My biggest problem, though, was my endurance. After two waves and three paddle-outs, I was exhausted and overheated in my 3/2 fullsuit. Ever since trying them on my Costa Rica trip, I'd been idly looking for either a fish or a 10-foot board to add to the collection. I missed out on a 10-foot Boss recently, so now I'm in possession of a fish for the next week. Mostly, I'm going to be assessing how lazy I really am.

I brag about being a lazy surfer. I prefer steep drops at a beach break to paddling like mad for easy rollers at Sunset. I often make it out into the line-up without getting the top of my head wet because I won't battle set waves even in my eagerness to get out. I love the waves I've gotten where I've just leaned in and popped up without a paddle.

I am a lazy surfer. Edit that. I'm an OUT OF SHAPE lazy surfer.

So how can I possibly imagine owning a shortboard? Even if it is a fish?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Bounce back

I've been concentrating so much on nice waves and good rides, that I forgot that there are other things I like about surfing. One of those things happens to be doing stupid things and getting away with it. I surfed on Sunday because I told myself as long as the sun was shining in the morning, I'd be in the water. As I walked toward the water, the walled out set came through and I grew grumpy. But I noticed long lulls as I dawdled and paddled out between sets. Most of everything was closed out, but after my first left where I pulled the nose out as it slammed into the flats, I knew I was a-gonna have some fun. A few more crazy fast waves, a couple of attempted drops which resulted in somersaults with my board, and I was whooping like a mad-woman.

Best wave of the day was a frontside right that found me almost immediately in trim with a fast, but sweet shoulder. I saw the thing jacking up, so I thought it'd be safer down the face. Then I saw the backwash racing at me and I screeched as I bounced. What amazed me was I LANDED on my feet after the bounce!

Hi, I'm Grace, and I'm an adrenaline junkie.

You know you've been worked during a session when you find sand in your ears long after you've showered.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


I don't know what is wrong with me. A year ago in conditions like this, I would have gone out. I went to OP at 6am and saw a few shoulders until the clean-up set-waves the length of a football field came through. I drove to Sunset just for the drive-by and looksie. I knew I wouldn't be surfing with a hundred of my closest friends. I ended up walking out to the Pier for the first time this year and seeing waves with make-able shoulders popping up between the close-outs. The sun was out, I was there early enough not to deal with the meter, but I couldn't bring myself to suit up. Instead watched a couple of newbies (from Uncle Grant's report today: a photo of what amused me) -- a father and son duo, I think. I had passed them in the parking lot when I trundled toward the pier. The kid was propping up a shiny new fiberglass Doyle with no wax and the nose scraped the concrete on the ground. I know it's just a Doyle, but I cringed nonetheless.

I stayed long enough to watch them fumble with their boards out to sea. They went out right next to each other in the white water. I wondered whose loose board would knock out which person in the head. It's like watching NASCAR just to see if there's a car crash. I know we were all newbies once, but there are some common-sensical things you'd think people would do.

In a way, I envy the newbies. If I'd been less jaded and spoiled by nice waves last weekend, I would have gone out. But for some reason, even with the sun in the sky and the water a glassy blue, I couldn't muster up the motivation.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Went down to surf with Little Miss N in Solana Beach. Coordinating schedules with the boy and the dog and the boy's friends with mine was a little hectic, but we did end up in the water. Chest to head high rollers and a lot of futile paddling for me, but the sun was out and I was warm. I ended up taking some good waves, but lately I've been noticing my bad habit flaring up again... dropping too low on the wave instead of staying high where the speed is. Because of Doc's big rocker, I always know when I've dropped too low because that board literally stops moving. I kept this in mind throughout the session and got better. My last wave was a backside left where TWICE I came to the top of the wave and turned back down to drop in again.

Yesterday I went out late and went out into the windblown chop because the sun was out and all the OP regulars were saying that it was a lot more fun than it looked. I only got two waves in my 50-minute session, but I was back on the Cooperfish and remembered why it's such a freakin' great board. Walking and turning from anywhere.

PS. Sunday whistling tune: "Stuck in the Middle with You"
Saturday whistling tune: "Que sera, sera"

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Do I dare to trunk it?

Blue skies and sun. I forgot what a difference that makes in motivating me to surf. If it had been gray out, I would have taken one look at those rolling mushburgers and left. But it was sunny, so I chose to focus on the nice size of the waves instead. So much paddling today: paddling out through the frequent windswell and paddling more for those rolling mushburgers I chose to ignore in my decision to get wet. So much paddling I was HOT. Black hair, black wetsuit, blazing sun. I actually dunked myself into the reportedly bacteria-ridden water to keep from overheating.

This brings me to one of those media-"duh" rants. There's been a lot of hubbub lately about the high levels of bacteria in the water and on beach sand. We know this, we've always known this. We know better than to surf after a rain (but we do it anyway). The media, however, seeing Memorial Day come up seem to be broadcasting dire warnings, "Is it safe to go to the beach this holiday weekend? Find out on the 11 o'clock news." I know fear sells. I know the Powers That Be use fear to keep the public in line. I know all this to the point of saying, "Duh, Grace." But it still rankles me.

A couple of years ago, I noticed an increase in dire beach warnings the week before every three-day holiday weekend during the summer. Only that year, it was sharks. It was the year sharks seemed to be hanging out in San O and a couple tiger sharks were hanging out at Sunset. Memorial Day: weeklong feature in the local media on the sharks. July 4: same. Labor Day: three in a row makes it not a coincidence.

This year, there don't seem to be shark sightings yet, but that's probably because the water is too polluted.

Friday, May 19, 2006

What I do instead of surfing

On my birthday, I looked for surf, didn't find anything I wanted for my birthday, and came home to construct this make-shift trellis for my snow pea plants.

This is my first year trying to grow things. It's been a really cathartic process so far. I have a bunch of dill near my windowsill that always lean toward the light. When I pass by them, I always give the pot a turn so they're leaning the wrong direction and they have to lean back the other way.

Screwing with the dill... soooo cathartic.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Birthday Surf

It's the eve of my birthday and I'm trying to figure out where to go surf tomorrow. Of course, since it's my birthday, the lunar gods have conspired to make the tide low on my normal dawn-ish patrol. I'm going to take the morning from work and find me some nice mid-morning waves. I need break suggestions for a peaky west windswell. Weirdly enough, I have a feeling my usual beach breaks at Venice and Santa Monica might actually work with this when the tide starts coming back up. Maybe a drive to Huntington?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Thank goodness for small waves

I was hoping it would be like yesterday with some shoulder-high stuff and nice shape. I surfed so much yesterday that I was stiff all day. I would sit in my chair and when I had to get up, my body would be stuck in an L-position and I could only straighten with an old-man-groan. This can't be good for the body... going from eating bacon and reading the paper every morning to running a marathon the next day.

I was hoping today it would be just as fun as yesterday, but it wasn't. And in the end, I was relieved. It was a nice chance for my body to recover from the past few days of marathon-running.

PS. Whisting tune, appropriately: "What a Difference a Day Makes"

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Wipeout School of Surfing

Since Mother Nature has offered up flat to small waves for a while, I've been out of practice and had a niggling fear that I wouldn't be able to surf once a swell came through. Same worries that others have been having about being out of shape. My worry went a little further. I used to take steep drops on shoulder-high close-out waves FOR FUN. But in anticipation of this weekend's swell, I found myself afraid that I'd lost my nerve.

("That's because you have something to live for now!" said Little Miss N, referring to the boy.)

With less than an hour to surf, I paddled through a set of chest-high waves on Saturday morning. After I had a heart attack from exertion, I sat on my board and looked toward shore to get my bearings. I'd drifted almost two hundred yards north while paddling. It was mainly close-outs, but the water was glassy I waited for something with a little shoulder. I was testing my nerve. A slightly make-able wave popped up toward me and I took it. Speedy rail grab down the face with the wave cresting in front of me, so I made the split second decision that I probably would enjoy turning back to shore instead of trying to punch through the wave. I was thrilled, though, to make the first fast wave that came my way. The second wave was similar, but I had time to punch through. The third wave was probably my favorite... yet another left (south swells. oy.) and I popped up to my feet, the wave spit me out and the front of my board slammed on the flats. I was amazed that I managed to pull the nose out of the water by stepping back on the tail and I rode the rest of the wave to shore!

Sunday, the wind was already on it, but the shape was better and I had a GREAT time. Some really nice rides. But the best wave of the day was one I shouldn't have taken. It wasn't huge -- maybe chest-shoulder high -- but it jacked up and I decided to keep paddling. I knew it was a bad decision immediately and I ended up in a glorious freefall with my board. I whooped after I came up for air and looked for my board. That ol' black magic, that adrenaline rush, was back, baby!

There's nothing quite like coming out unscathed from a good wipe-out to get your nerve back.

PS. Whistling tune: "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah"

Friday, May 05, 2006

'Nuff sed

Three waves. Whistling tune today: "If I Only Had a Brain" from The Wizard of Oz

Sunday, April 30, 2006

The ol' coffee klatch

I've often wondered at how important this group of people is to me even when I don't know some of their names, their last names, what they do when they're not in the water, etc. When I visited the Wall almost every day, even if there was nothing to surf, I'd hang around and listen and chat and I found out little things about their lives while clutching a cup of coffee. I knew who was in the water by what cars were in the parking lot and I'd be happy to see the red truck and Honda hatchback or the Trooper and Toyota two-door or the blue truck (now Element) and VW van.

This weekend, the ol' coffee klatch was back on the wall. Some were missing, but most were there, waiting for the tide to come up. The waves were less than spectacular, but because of the long drought, once one person made the reluctant move to the wetsuit, everybody else followed. We didn't charge in all at once in one coordinated water-show, but in singles and pairs. But it seemed that in one moment, the ocean went from being empty to being full. It was nice to be with this family of familiar strangers again.

PS. Whistling tune Saturday: "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" from Guys and Dolls.

No whistling tune on Sunday; we found out one of the girls used to be a wedding singer, so she entertained us with tunes from various nuptials as we waited through the lulls.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Rx: Surf before Work

Surfed *l **r*o (*s in homage to Whiff) this morning at the early morning harranguing of Mr. I'm Moving Back Maybe who took a long-cut from NorCal to Mammoth through L.A. I have to say, for all my grumbling, I really enjoyed my session. Nothing particularly stellar wave-wise, but it was nice to have surfed before work. I kinda forgot how good it feels to loll about in the ocean with some dolphins before trudging off to the factory.

I was referred to a great doctor recently and after five days on his regimen of anti-biotics, Prilosec, and nasal saline washes, I have been feeling much better. I don't have as many old man coughing jags in the middle of the day. I sleep through the entire night, and the congestion that came on when I was surfing disappeared onshore without the help of Sudafed. I actually have new hope that I might get back to my old "cavalier about my health" self.

PS. Whistling tune today: Second theme of Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer"

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Note to self...

Take wetsuit and booties *out* of the car if it looks like no surf for two weeks. Whew! What a smell! No point in keeping them in there "just in case" tomorrow looks better.

PS. Use detergent next time you rinse out the suit and booties.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Confluence of Lees

A near spontaneous gathering of family members happened on Saturday. My middle brother had planned on flying in this weekend from Houston this weekend for a wedding. My youngest brother informed me two weeks ago he'd be flying in from Boston for an interview at USC. Then this week my mother called from Phoenix to tell me my father had gone crazy. He'd missed out on purchasing a Buddha's Hand Citron Tree for his garden and he'd spent the week searching the web for a nursery that had one. He found one in San Diego, so they'd be driving down there and then spending the night with me before driving back to Phoenix this weekend. It was a Confluence of Lees.

After I drove my doctor brother to USC for his interview at 8am, I was able to get to the home break as a second shifter on Saturday. Saw Sister Surf and barely recognized her, it's been so long! My day started out slow in the water, because it seems I'm still chasing unicorns, but it was sunny and people were happy and chatty so I was fine for the first half hour. Then I started getting a little antsy with my inability to catch a higher percentage of the waves I was a paddling for, so I moved off a little from the pack and stewed in my own frustration... which was stewing in a sea of what looked like unstirred miso soup, by the way. The lull let me look around and I saw brown flurries of something floating in the water. (Mental note: bathe in peroxide when you get home.)

Eventually, the tide started dropping and I started getting a higher wave to paddle ratio. Wave after wave was totally fun, but I was too out of shape for the ocean to decide to get good during the second hour of my session. My best wave of the day was one where I went left for a while, was disappointed when I saw it start to close out ahead of me, but glanced back to see a a nice right shoulder behind me so I cranked Doc around and turned the left into a right!

PS. Whistling tune: "Promenade" theme from Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition"

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Chasing unicorns...

...Mythical beasts. Lots of paddling for waves that weren't there. It was mostly me, though, cuz Grizzly Adams (aka Sensei J) and Handlebars had some fine waves with Guitar John. I had a couple snappy lefts, but mostly I was chasing unicorns.

PS. Whistling tune: "Kyrie Eleison" (Mr. Mister, not the Gregorian chant)

Friday, March 31, 2006

Anti-Tudor style

I must have been inspired after finding that Joel Tudor photo because this morning I was walking as much as I could. Of course, my face and stance were not in that classically relaxed Tudor pose, my expression and carriage were what could probably only be described as "OH MY GOD!!!"

No, seriously, only the first wave was like that. Then I realized how fantastic Doc turns. Doesn't matter where I am on the board. Also, I'm really good at walking backward on the board in a hurried panic, so there's virtually no idiocy if I'm already on the wave. Most of my kooky moments came today at the end of the session, when I was tired and took off on steep waves without paddling enough.

PS. Humming tune today: "Mona Lisa"

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Monday morning wave... on Thursday

Jack English photo of Joel Tudor.

I was just cleaning up some of my folders and I found this image that I saved from my "Monday Morning Wave" email from Surfer's Path Magazine.

I could look at this photo forever.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Saturday, Sunday, Surprising!

Surprise! I surfed two days in the row for the first time in I don't know how long... 6 weeks?

Surprise! The waves were okay Saturday when the tide dropped a little during the second shift. But the vibe was great because the sun was out and it was nice to see faces I hadn't seen in forever. I think everybody felt the same way because we were all clumped together on the same two peaks even though it was breaking in the same weak way all over the beach.

Surprise! Sunday, we had mopey faces seeing the on-shores and the high tide at 8:30am, but once we dragged ourselves into the water it ended up being really fun! The waves died on the inside and you had to really work to stay in it, but it was good practice for me. I left early only because I had the boy and the dog waiting for me in the parking lot, otherwise, I might have stayed longer. I actually didn't notice how cold the water was because I was having so much fun!

This week the high tide remains at dawn patrol, so I don't think I'll be surfing before work until later in the week when the tide swings away.

PS. a propos of nothing...
Saturday's whistling song: "Yellow Submarine"

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Surfed, cold, tired

The sun was out and I saw some pals I hadn't seen in a long time.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Looked at it,

Drove home.

Yesterday, too.

Hopefully tomorrow is not "lather, rinse, repeat."

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Am I an Environmentalist or Egoist?

I was willing to take a chance on okay surf conditions tomorrow (hopefully no rain, some swell, and not much storm bump on the water), but then I read
this article about a former game show host who died this morning in a plane crash in the ocean just south of the Santa Monica Pier close to where I usually surf.

I immediately thought, "Great. More petroleum chemicals in the ocean to irritate my sinuses."

Then I thought what a bad person I was to have that be my very first thought.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Oh, yeah...

So that's why I surf. I'd almost forgotten; it's been so long.

I went to bed relatively early last night with the intention of getting in the water no matter what. If it was shorebreak, I'd paddle. If it was flat, I'd paddle. If it was windy... you get the idea. Lots of false starts with my alarm this morning. It was set for 6am and I woke up to all the disturbing in-depth news Amy Goodman could tell me on KPFK. I had a vague thought that there was plenty of light to already be in the water if the temperature was 65 degrees, so SNOOZE.

Nine minutes later, I assessed the light and my bladder. SNOOZE.

Nine minutes later, I actually sat up. Still waffling. And cold. I buried myself back under the down comforter and flannel sheets. SNOOZE.

Nine minutes later, my brain was actually awake enough to guilt me into getting up. Or maybe that was my bladder that did the trick.

At the beach, I did what I told myself I wouldn't do. I went to the end of the boardwalk and looked at it. Mushy, shifty. I'm goin' home. Frank's suiting up with a student in the parking lot. I reconsider and continue staring at the water. How cold is that water? I'm goin' home. Gloved Guy just got an okay inside wave. I reconsider. It's been almost a month since I last surfed, do I want this to be my comeback? I'm goin' home.

This inner dialogue goes on in my head for about ten minutes, even while I'm heading back to the car. For some reason, I suit up and head out. And I'm glad I did. Yeah it was cold, yeah there were lulls, yeah it was mushy. But every so often there'd be a nice peaky wave with lots of oomph and a surprising shoulder. My first wave opened up to a shoulder I couldn't believe. It flattened out in sections, but I actually remembered how to turn Doc and keep him in trim to find the nice fast pocket again. Oh yeah... I forgot how good that felt!

(It's like when you don't have sex for a while and you forget to miss it?)

My second wave was a weird one that spat me out a little just after my pop-up. I was surprised to literally drop. I think the thing bounced or hollowed a little, or both and my board lost some contact with the water. Luckily I kept my balance and was able to come back up a little, but my bad habit of dropping too far was remembered.

Then I took a series of close-outs that were just fun.

Through the lull, I watched a seal harass the boys. It tickled the feet of the Architect, but the seal REALLY liked Gloved Guy.

My time was close to up, so I paddled away from the crowd and closer toward the boardwalk, and the ocean threw up this NICE wave, all mine. Nice push and a shoulder I could see forever. I was so surprised, I had a bottleneck of thoughts go through my head: You should really do some top turns... This has got to close out somewhere... I can't believe I'm still going... You still haven't done anything with this wave... Shut up, I'm enjoying the ride... No don't kick out there, see it opens up again... You know you're going to want to paddle back out after this... Totally awesome! I want another one of these... Don't paddle back out... I still can't believe I'm on this wave... This is obviously the best wave you'll have, so don't paddle back out... Resist, resist... This wave is so long I'm actually aware of having this inner dialogue... Okay, you're almost at the beach and you'd better kick out now because that shorebreak looks awful.

Seriously, that was one of the best waves I'd had in a long time. And all that really was going through my head.

I didn't paddle back out.

PS. I whistle when I surf. I don't know why and I usually don't consciously choose the tune. The song in my head this morning? "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" by Nancy Sinatra.

Friday, March 03, 2006


I haven't surfed in so long (...going on three weeks? It was small, then I got sick, then there's rain...) that I've actually been looking for other crazy things I could theoretically hurt myself doing. I started researching Kitesurfing or Kiteboarding (but not enough to know which is the proper term).

I'm also keeping an eye out for a cheap (but not cheap-o) skateboard. (Thanks, Dave Rich!)

I realized I could probably fix the glass shatter on my Guy-O board this weekend. Or I could do my taxes.


Monday, February 27, 2006

Yoga - the new Iron Man training

I haven't been surfing and my muscles have grown soft and it was getting harder to climb three flights of stairs, so I told myself that every morning I had to do SOMETHING physical. I "ran" one morning last week and I decided that I would unfurl the yoga mat that has a permanent curl from a year of non-use. I didn't feel ready to go back into the studio because my back was semi-seized and I figured that doing some basic work at home would be challenging enough. So, Friday, after some basic warm-up poses, I started in on doing 2 sets of 10 vinyasas. By the twentieth vinyasa, my heartrate was up and I was sweating. It was a better workout than my "running."

Throughout the day, I found my arms weary and my legs like jello. I couldn't believe how much of a physical workout the yoga was... and how out of shape I was.

Saturday morning came with a BUNCH of pain as the lactic acid from the yoga workout had time to work its painful magic on my sedentary muscles overnight. Yi-yi-yi.

Sunday, I was able to move enough to resume vinyasa-ing, and I did so again this morning. I imagine with the weather this week, I'll continue this new Iron Man training. Already, my back feels stronger than it did when I was a big blob and I actually can't wait to get back in the water.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Stoke meme

Whiffleboy got me to thinking in this post which was inspired by Jason's post about "why we surf." How do you explain the stoke?

For a violin-playing, straight-A-getting, Chinese-American girl raised in Central Illinois, surfing was not actually on the envisioned trajectory. But for anybody who knows me, they will understand it when I say I surf because it's the one time in my day where I don't (and can't) think about anything else. My mind empties all its over-analyzing tendencies, dumps all worries about yesterday and tomorrow, and just concentrates on the oncoming wave.

What I write in this blog tends to be me, coming back to reality, over-analyzing with twenty-twenty hindsight.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Happy Trails

Since there was supposed to be a swell today and Mr. Me is away this weekend, I made plans to go to visit Little Miss N in Del Mar. I figured San Diego County handles big waves better than L.A. beach breaks and the surf spots are plentiful so people don't all crowd the points.

Miss N was fostering a trio of part-border collie pups for the weekend so Saturday night and Sunday morning was full of fun projectile diarrhea and waddling cuteness. Thank goodness I got out of there before I took this guy home.

This morning, we met up with a couple of other girls at Trail 3. It wasn't big, and came in at chest high on the sets, but I had a great time with some slopey shoulders to work with. I caught so many long rides that I was tired of paddling back out. I know I'm going to pay for all the fun tomorrow when I sit at my desk and my back locks into place so I am unable to fully straighten when I stand. Good times.

It was a good morning, and I barely had enough energy to make the haul back up the cliff. As I was about to go into cardiac arrest, I found out why there is a bench installed about two-thirds of the way up, right before the last steep climb at Trail 3.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Hat - no joke

Whiffleboy thought I was kidding about the hat. I was paddling back to my car and I heard my name called out from the glare of the sun. Nice to finally meetcha! Hope the waves picked up!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Hat

There's this look that surfers in the line-up give to a new surfer paddling into the line-up. It's that glance out of the corner of the eye over the shoulder. When the new surfer appears kooky, there's a discernible stiffening movement and maybe a wary snubbing. I especially love it when my friends in the line-up do it to me when I bring out the hat for the first time in the winter season. Then, when I get closer and they can hear my loud laugh, jaws drop and shoulders relax and then they make fun of my hat.

Yes, I have a neoprene hat that looks like this. But this is not the hat I wear. I wore this neoprene hat about three times last winter. I was looking for something that would help keep the water out of my ears because I felt like the cold winter water was starting to really damage my hearing. I wandered in and out of stores and browsed online for options but I was feeling a little vain. But then one of my favorite flirty guys at one of my least favorite surf shops said I looked "cute" in it, so I bought it. (Sound like a guy, don't I?)

In the water, I disliked how the neoprene earflaps created a weird echo-chamber against my head. And I looked like a dork. So I stopped wearing it.

Instead, this is the hat I wear. (Actually, this is not my hat, the hat looks a lot like this, but there's a poofy ball at the top.) I wear a knit wool cap with earflaps that tie under my chin. I found it at the back of a drawer full of clothes I moved over from the East coast. It keeps my head warm and keeps most of the impact of the water from shooting into my ears. I decided that if I was going to look like a dork in the water, I'd prefer looking like a TOTAL dork. The choice is purposeful and I feel if you intend extreme dorkiness, then you can cross the line into being hip. And that's what I'm all about. Being hip. Oh, yeah.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The good kind of sore

"Running" (more like a half-jog/walk) on the soft sand: exhausting, bad sore. No smiling, but there is a gritty realization that it's GOOD FOR ME. That's what I did yesterday.

I hate things that are GOOD FOR ME. That's why the hardest workout I've had in the last two weeks has been lifting the strip of bacon from the grease-soaked paper-towel lined plate to my mouth. Decidedly BAD FOR ME.

But then there's surfing, which I haven't done much of lately. It is a pretty equal mix of GOOD FOR ME and BAD FOR ME, but I've been avoiding it because of 1) laziness and 2) unappealing conditions.

I told myself this morning that I wouldn't even look at it, because the longer I look at it, the more think I should go "running." So this morning, I didn't look at it and pulled out my newly fixed Cooperfish. So pretty. So heavy. I forgot about that part.

At the car, pulling on stinkerrific booties, I had a debate with myself. Leash or no leash? I didn't hear crashing waves and the bigger waves I could see from the parking lot were just mushing over, so I thought to hell with it. No leash. If I have to swim it will be GOOD FOR ME.

Because of the deceptive waves that mushed out even though the tide is better now in the mornings, I did a lot of paddling for nothing which is GOOD FOR ME and I hate that. I had a good time though when I realized that surfing, even in the cold, is fun. I did forget how to surf a little. Foot placement on this board is a fluid thing and I was a little unsure after such a long absence from the Cooperfish. Also, the lack of leash was a bad decision on my part, because it played with my head and I didn't take bigger waves because I didn't want to swim.

In the end, I started taking the bigger waves just cuz and had to swim, not too far, once. THEN, paddling back out after a wave, I had to turtle and I KNEW I'd lose the board before the wave even washed over me. I've noticed the last couple of times I've been in the water and it's been so cold that I have a contact problem with my bare hands. My board feels more slippery underneath my bare skin and even when I rub my hands together they feel odd. I don't know why this is. Maybe there's a scientific explanation.

OR maybe my newly instituted night-time moisturizing regimen is taking helpful wrinkles off my skin.

I swam in and now I'm experiencing the good kind of sore in my shoulders and upper back. "Running" makes me grumpy and achy and want to die and surfing makes me tired and sore and feel alive.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Move over, Michelangelo

I spent Sunday morning experimenting with pigment and resin because I'm so vain about my Cooperfish. It's been hanging on the wall for a couple of months since getting finned in Ventura. I also decided to fix a couple more dings I'd inherited from the previous owner (who took this picture of the board).

I knew these were dings I could fix, I just didn't want white spots all over this beautiful board. So, I mixed some resin and breathed in some toxic fumes and then put in the blue, yellow, and white pigments I bought. I'm pretty short on common sense when it comes to skilled labor, so I realized too late that I didn't need quite so much pigment as I used. It wasn't like I was trying to paint the whole deck of the board. Also, duh, mix the pigment first, then drop it into the resin paste. So my second attempt was much better.

But I'm VERY EXCITED about the color match. If I ever buy a digital camera, I'll document how brilliant I was with the pigment.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Snowsuit cold

I remember those days in winter when I'd wake up at 7am just to listen to the radio. Mom couldn't even start getting me to grumble anything back from under the covers before 8am usually, but if it started to snow the night before, I'd set the alarm just so I could hear the radio. And I'd wait patiently through the alphabet until it got to "Gale Middle School" and I'd feel such a surge of joy at having a snowday that I'd fling off the covers and go downstairs to see my mother shaking her head at me for being awake at 7am when there wasn't school.

Later on, when the sun had warmed up the air to 32-degrees, my brothers and I would bundle into our snowsuits. There'd be the puffy snowpants/overalls worn over thermal underwear with the two pairs of knee-high socks (one tucked under and one pulled over the thermal underwear) and the snowboots pulled over the cuffs of the snowpants if you could zip the boots up. The overalls portion of the snowpants would hook together over a sweater or a sweatshirt layered over a longsleeved thermal underwear layered over a t-shirt. You'd put on your gloves so that its cuffs would be pulled tight by the sleeves of the puffy snowjacket that you'd zip up over the scarf that you'd wrap around your throat a couple of times. It would be wrapped in such a way that your nose and mouth would tuck in and once you got your hat and earmuffs on, the only sliver of skin that the air could touch was around the eyes. My brothers and I, bundled just so, would be ready to waddle out into the snow and PLAY!

After playing and freezing, but having so much fun we didn't realize we were freezing, we'd come in. We'd stomp off as much snow in the garage and peel out of the layers, leaving poor mom to deal with the thawing, dripping snowsuits which she would hang up in the laundry room over the sink. There was always hot chocolate waiting and as my hands would wrap around that welcome heat of the cup, I'd notice how my fingers would be too swollen with blood and cold to bend and flex.

And this is what I thought of this morning after I came out of the surf.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Cold. Windy. Small.

AND there was a group of Christian cultists in white and purple embroidered robes headed out to the beach from the parking lot. They were carrying banners with biblical symbols. I decided it was safer for my heathen chink ass to stay out of the baptismal waters this morning. But I kept thinking that if the Christians were going to go into the water, God should definitely let them into heaven because it's really cold at the beach.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Costa Rica - Day Seven

Friday, December 23
Last full day. The board said we were going to load into the boat and go to Marbella. It's a great little 45 minute trip by boat (instead of two hours by car). You get to see how the shoreline changes. Unfortunately, when we got there, there was nothing to surf. The south swell had all but gone by this day and a north had started filling in, which was why Tamarindo looked so much better and bigger. We decided to head back to Tamarindo. What I didn't understand was why we didn't stop at any of the breaks in between Tamarindo and Marbella. There were unsurfed rocky breaks outside that looked fun... maybe they were too gnarly to be surfed? Most of them came off submerged rocks and reefs.

Spent the morning surfing in Tamarindo which was fine. Then did more lounging which I'd, by now, started to get used to. Also, I started using up the roll of film.

Room #25 at Hotel El Milgro. The placed I called "casa." (Note the 7'0" Guy Okazaki board leaning against the wall. I dressed the set, but didn't plan the nifty light flares and bleeds the camera would take on.)

Oh, and one of these days in the afternoon, I forget which date, we went on a little estuary tour and hike. My pictures really didn't turn out, but my one purposefully taken shot of mangrove and reflection turned out pretty well:

Dinner that night was at Dragonfly - recommended by our host and by Captain America. It's down a dark street and the owner is an ex-pat American woman with two giant dogs - one being a German Shepard, tamed by begging for tasty Asian-fusion scraps from the dining table. The lady saw a need (the lack of good food for tourists with hoity tastes) and filled it. There's still room for more in Costa Rica and don't think I'm not thinking about it. I make a kick-ass jambalaya and fold wontons with the best.

Starter: shrimp tempura with a spicy remoulade $5 (and SO MANY SHRIMP - could have been a meal)

My entree: pan-roasted chicken with tamarind sauce over a bed of spinach $12

Miss N's entree: some kind of seafood fetuccini that was DELICIOSO

Dessert was going to be sopapilla, but they had issues so they comped us a hot fudge brownie with a side of vanilla ice cream (and ice cream is REAL in Costa Rica -- creamy, full of dairy and fat -- YUM)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Costa Rica - some pics

I used this camera to take pictures in and out of the water. I think it works best underwater. I took most of these pics at Witch's and Ollie's because the waves were small and I had to make my own fun.

Witch's - The Rock:

Flat day, waist-high. Note the beautiful untouched shoreline, though:

Proof that one of us was in the water with the Rock:

I told Miss N to get a picture with me and the Rock. What's missing?

When the waves are small and inconsistent, you do a lot of this:

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Costa Rica - Day Six

Thursday, December 22, 5:30am
Our dawn patrol at Langosta yesterday seemed to inspire the surf camp planners to send us off on a boat pre-dawn today. The boys (Tattoo Guy, Maryland Dad and Son) had gone to Marbella the morning of our Langosta dawn patrol and said it was great.

So, today, we were thrown on a boat with a tired-looking Flash and Chilo to take us the short ride to Playa Grande. I can't say we were the first in the water, but we were one of the few with waist-chest high waves coming inconsistently. Maryland Dad and Son went off toward the main peak, but Miss N, Tattoo Guy, and I drifted along at the second peak. Our guide Flash stayed, too, but I think that's because he had a little crush on Miss N.

I had some nice rides on the beach break as the sun started coming up. Tattoo Guy noticed I was on the 9'2" epoxy board instead of the 7'0". I told him I was on vacation and wanted a higher wave count for less effort! Flash told me my balance was good but I should start walking on the board more to keep speed going through the sections. Tattoo Guy suggested cross-stepping would be easier for me. I promised the next wave I'd try it. It started being a good day -- my wave count was high enough that I felt okay experimenting and flubbing perfectly good waves.

Then I did what I'm known for doing. I traded boards. Tattoo Guy and I were talking about various boards we owned back home and he told me of a classic longboard he had hanging on his wall. He hadn't surfed a longboard in a while. And that's my cue to offer to switch. He was on a 6'0" epoxy fish borrowed from the surf camp. I didn't really think I'd get any waves, but I'm always up for comedy.

Tattoo Guy took some long rides (after remembering how to turn a longboard again), while I fell in love with the 6'0" fish. I can't say that I did particularly well, but I loved taking off, turning, and trying to hit the lip. I'm not really keen on shortboards because I'm lazy and my pop-up is too slow, but for some reason, paddling into a wave and popping up on the fish felt like taking off on a longboard. Now I'm torn -- do I dream of buying a 10'0" board or a tiny fat fish?

We were scheduled to go to Playa Junquilla at 1pm, but Flash and everybody agreed that at low tide, it would not be worth travelling, so I spent the day lounging, reading, and shopping. But as the tide started filling in before sunset, we decided to get our boards and surf the beachbreak/rivermouth at Tamarindo. The waves were maybe waist-high, so I decided to try out the surf camp's 10'2" single-fin epoxy board.


Being on such a huge board amplifies the power of the wave, especially when you're five feet tall. Trying to turn a 10'2" board makes waist-high waves feel like they're head-high. Everything happens much slower and much earlier on a 10'2". I didn't get waves at first because 1) I couldn't turn the board toward shore and 2) the inertia of the board was so slow that once I got up enough paddling speed the wave was already past me. I had to sit much further back in order to be able to pivot the board around, and I had to start paddling much earlier than I would have on my other boards in order to get it moving. These are not lazy boards. I reckon I did more paddling that session than I did on any of my other boards that week.

I finally got some good waves and started realizing just how much I'd have to walk. To even get down the face of the small wave, I'd have to immediately start walking forward after I popped up. And of course I'd have to turn or pearl, so I'd have to immediately dart back to the tail so I could crank the thing around. Yowza. I loved it. Now I was really torn between fish and whale.

Dinner at La Caracola. Small outdoor restaurant on the circle. Eclectic decor. Live music -- which was a little too loud if you sat right in front of the stage as we mistakely did. Super fantastic dinner. Medium-rare steak served with a mushroom-wine reduction. We had passed many herds of cattle in our travels from break to break. I'm sure my steak was fresh.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Costa Rica - Day Five

First off, Little Miss N cannot hold her liquor. What a cheap date. My foodie self demanded some kind of tasty cuisine on Tuesday night so we took Tattoo Guy's suggestion and went to the gringo place Pasatiempo. While we were bouncing along in the van for an hour and a half (after bouncing along in the boat for an hour and 45 minutes) back from Ollie's and Witch's, Tattoo Guy described a brilliant macadamia nut encrusted tuna with mango salsa. I had to go. I was on vacation.

Funny thing happens in Costa Rica. Since dining is so comparatively cheap to dining in the U.S., your scale gets skewed. All of a sudden $12 for an entree seems outlandish and unseemly and you opt for the $5 entree place instead. But if you were to really think about it, the $12 I spent on macadamia nut encrusted tuna was a steal compared to what it would have cost me in the United States. It's like going to a garage sale when all of a sudden 25 cents makes or breaks a deal.

At Pasatiempo that evening, I taught a stray cat how to sit and lay down on command, and Miss N forgot how to walk at the end of the evening after her second mojito. This would go unremarked except that we had asked for a dawn patrol to Playa Langosta the next morning and Miss N woke up with her head still spinning.

Wednesday, December 21, 5:30am
It's still dark at 5:30am in December. I kinda felt bad for requesting such an early call time, making the poor driver Calin wake up with us crazy surfers, especially if there was nothing there and we'd make him turn around and take us back. But then, we pulled up at Playa Langosta in the pre-dawn light and trundled along the narrow path to the beach. We peered across the rivermouth to find shoulder-head high waves, and we couldn't get back to the van fast enough to unload our boards.

I'd decided the day before, after lots of paddling to get into waist-high waves, that I was on VACATION and that meant I shouldn't work so hard to get my waves. That meant I was borrowing boards from the surf camp for the remainder of the trip and today I was back on the 9'2" plastic board.

I cannot describe what a great morning I had. For the first 20 minutes, it was just Miss N and me out with the semi-consistent sets as the sun started to peak over the mountains. There was no wind, and the water was warm, so after my first three waves and paddling the long distance back to the peak, I was feverish in my short-sleeve rashguard and the sun wasn't even overhead yet!

Langosta is not a nose-walking wave and I'm not particularly good at that anyway, but I am pretty good at long carves on a longboard and this wave was perfect for that. Good power on the take-off that stayed evenly through the shoulder. I kicked out of nearly every wave until I decided I would hang on just a little longer on one wave. I realized I was right in listening to my instincts to kick-out all the previous waves because I was met on the inside with a good thumping... but that was fun, too!

We were joined by a newbie on a too-short funboard. I don't think he got a single ride. Then two cutie-pie twenty-year-old Canadians came out with their shortboards and they ripped up those waves and made some impressive attempts at catching air and doing 360s. For another 20 minutes or so, it was the four of us trading waves. Then an army of surfers started to paddle across the rivermouth. I knew I would be looking for my last wave soon, because I didn't want to ruin my stellar session with grumbling. Langosta at dawn was the highlight of my surfing.

I did nothing else that day except laze around on a hammock, shop, check my email (and saw the crazy waves of Big Wednesday in SoCal), drink beer... and I finished that Geisha book. There was a small bookcase for book exchanges at the surf camp, so I traded. Instead of going for the easy Danielle Steele novel, I thought I'd try Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. (Really great, poignant, and strangely hilarious book. I finished it by the end of the week, too, that's how much of a vacation I had. I can't remember the last time I finished reading something in a week let alone two novels.)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

(Present Day)

I thought I was being all brilliant by walking the dog at 5:00am and driving from Valencia to get to Sunset by 6:15am in order to avoid the crowds. Only, I'm not the only one who was brilliant. The parking spaces were nearly filled up along PCH with people waiting. The swell which is exploding the beach breaks has driven everybody to look for a point. When I paddled out in the semi-darkness, there were already 10 guys in. I got my waves and left by 7:30am before I started getting all tense about the five-billion people in the water. Welcome back to surfing in SoCal!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Costa Rica - Day Four

So, the way the Surf Tour works is at 7:00pm the night before, you're supposed to check the board and see what the next day's schedule is. Depending on tide and swell, they plan your destination and means of transportation. After seeing my perfect dawn patrol wave at Playa Langosta, I was ready to bunk the next day's plan for my own thing, but then I saw the board: "7:00am WITCH'S by Boat." My dawn patrol would have to wait for another sunrise.

Tuesday, December 20, 7:00am
I found myself being bumped along in the van with what would be my golden crew for the rest of the week: Little Miss N, Maryland Dad and Son, and Tattoo Guy. I like to think that we made a nice team. Everybody could surf and no one was annoying -- and if he was annoying, he would be annoying his dad so it was okay.

On the long boat ride to Witch's, after the long car ride from Tamarindo to Playa Coco, Maryland Dad said to his son who hated rice and beans: "You lookin' for the potato chips, they're in the pocket of the backpack."

Maryland Son to his dad: "WHICH POCKET?! GAHHH!"

God bless teenage boys when they start rebelling against their dads. Makes you laugh and makes you cry all at the same time.

Really, though, he was a good kid. Goofy foot.

Tattoo Guy was one of the mellowest, most personable people I'd ever met in my life. And Maryland Dad was a straight-up kinda guy with a wry sense of humor.

Tattoo Guy: "I heard the surf camp has a program where you can bring your whole family and they take your kids surfing so you can have some time with your wife."

Maryland Dad, wryly: "Now, WHY would I want to be away from my kids?"

Me. Laughing. Crying. Same time.


Witch's Rock. The surf camp is named after it because they used to have a house at Playa Coco -- which is the launching pad for all the boats going out to the break. Now, instead of spending the night at house in Coco and launching in the morning, we drive an hour and a half to Coco, get a quick breakfast, and then get on a boat for 40 minutes to Witch's Rock (high tide spot) and another 45 minutes to Ollie's Point (low tide spot). The sea turtles were out swimming as we zoomed by.

What swell there had been over the last few days had started to die and we had heard it was going to die even further over the next few days. I am enchanted with the boat ride to Witch's, I am not so enchanted with the waves. Mostly waist-high up and over with a two-second shoulder. A surfer climbing back into another boat anchored there yelled over to us, "Sets were coming in head high! But that was two hours ago. Then it just DIED."

Glad I brought the camera. I designated myself surf photog for the session and made my own fun. Most of the waves to be had were VERY reminiscent to the shoulderless LA County beachbreaks... but it was warm water. That was the difference. That, and there was a giant rock looming out of the water.

After a less than stellar session, we hauled back into the boat and bumped along to Ollie's Point. Now, this place I loved even with the lack of swell energy. It's a hidden cove with a small beach and thick trees sprouting straight up into a hill and a mountain which all work together so you feel like you're being wrapped up cozy-like in someone's arms. When the wave energy enters the cove and begin to break off the submerged rock point, it's like a whisper in your ear when you take off. It's just... peaceful.

Of course, that was on a waist-high day. I can see how it would be different on a big day.

I was stuck with the wrong board all day. The other boys at the camp had gone to Witch's on Saturday and the reports were overhead and hollow. It spooked me enough to make me know I didn't want to go in with the borrowed 9'2" epoxy that responded slower than my brother to a question when he was watching TV. So I brought my 7'0" along. This board is NOT a small wave board for a lazy bum like me. I woulda rocked Ollie's with the biggest board in our crew at 9'2". Oh well.

We were the only ones at Ollie's. The other two boatloads were finishing up their sessions when we got there, so we waited for the tide to go lower and for them to get their last waves. Nothing quite like having only five people in the water at a haunting point break.