Surfing Like a Teenager

Sorry, but, with my new computer now scheduled to be replaced (Dell support has given up on me- or it), this has to be something that has to be classified as a blog.  That is, I’ve thought about what I’ll write, then, rather than write it on Microsoft Word (not on my new laptop anyway- now must be rented), I write it on the site. No real read-backs, no real editing, no polishing.

Sure, I’d rather have ‘articles,’ or ‘pieces,’ thought-provoking insight on big issues, and stories from the past, near and far.

And I will, just not tonight. Today everyone who hit the trail (or highway, or side road) looking for rideable waves, at least in the corner of the country I live in, found something. This includes me; early-riser, third person out, catching as many little rights as I could, always watching the beach to see how many others would join me; just hoping to snag a few more before I had to jockey for position, before I had to… Share.

Yes, I’ve been thinking about why people surf, why so many people surf.  I’m happily out here on the frontier, no longer cruising 101 in North San Diego County, not searching for the peak-de-jour (of the hour) in Oceanside, not waiting until the onshores start in Pacific Beach (figuring the dawn patrol surfers are a bit more skilled/more competition than the surf-for-fun late-arrivers); but, whoa; it does seem there are a lot more of them/us lately.

Maybe it’s not odd that we each consider some surfers part of them, some part of us.

And, I do (again, and constantly) have to admit to being stingy with something that doesn’t belong to any of us; and resentful of those who show up, approach the water, stand at the edge for a bit, doing that standard last check. And there are often groups of them.

“Party wave!!!!” Rarely my idea of fun.  Okay, maybe once in a while.

So, why do ‘they’ surf? I ask. Sort of. I asked a guy this morning, a guy from Seattle who slept (poorly) in his car after riding a few on Sunday evening. He was from originally from Georgia, now one of the Seattle surfers, and learned to surf at a surf camp somewhere around 40 years of age. “Surf Camp?” Points off.

“I figured,” he said, “after I’d tried surfing and failed, that if I ever wanted to actually stand up and ride…” Oh, okay; hope there were good waves there in….? “Costa Rica.” Okay. I guess. Guilty with an explanation

Okay,  so I’m still thinking about the ghetto mentality I had in the city, the aggressive way I attack the waves when it starts getting crowded, whether, even, if I secretly enjoy that feeling of competitiveness.

Sure I do. And maybe that’s why I felt a twinge when Stephen Davis told me, this evening, that he and his son, Emmett (Emmett’s birthday surf trip), and Christian Coxen hit some ‘double overhead’ wedges farther out the Straits; and I felt another twinge when Keith Darrock reported some classic late afternoon tubes in Port Townsend.

It’s so childish of me to be jealous, even though I’d been informed of and invited to each of the events, even though I’d surfed enough ‘slow motion Malibu’ waves to need a nap (interrupted by a business-related call) partway home; even though a guy on the beach had said, as I passed him on the way to talk to fellow “Monday’s-the-day” surf searcher Tim Nolan, “You were surfing like a teenager.” Hmmm. Validation.

When I reported the comment to my wife, Trish, via cell phone as I arrived at the Sequim Costco, she said, “Oh. Good for you.” That was sort of sarcastic, though I had been very pleased when the comment was made, pleased enough, along with Tim Nolan vouching for the guy (almost my age) to give the obviously knowledgeable witness a ‘realsurfers’ decal.  “I think he meant not like an old guy.” “Uh huh.” Then I got out of the car. My knees were those of an old guy. Stop, make sure they’re working, proceed. Loosen up.

So, hopefully we (you, me, them) all get most of what we surf for out of each session. Still, if you see me, count me as one of ‘them.’ At least in the water.

UPDATE- I think, I write; I think about what I wrote; I edit. The above has been edited for punctuation, flow, stuff like that. What hit me somewhere overnight is just how full of crap I am. If I appreciated the validation; someone saying that I surfed well… well; obviously I don’t surf just for the benefits to my own soul. No, I want to perform. “Perform.”

There’s something in my to-the-bone desire to do well, and, it must be added, to appear to do well, that contradicts all of my blathering about who should be paddling out. Here’s something: Big Dave, a few years younger than me, was also out yesterday. Same board as mine, though he rides his as a regular prone board. On one wave, me juking up and down into the shorebreak, pulling a big kickout-to-paddle position, I turned to see Dave had been riding behind me. Behind! He was knee-boarding, so close to the curl.

Still, I was so proud, unlike my session on Easter Sunday, skittering over big rocks, that I had been in the stand up position on every ride. Yeah, probably a little out in front on most.  “Sorry, Dave.” “It’s fine; plenty of room.” We both had to laugh at the implications of that. “I’ll try harder next time.”

Surfing like a teenager, thinking like a child. May you get self-satisfaction from every session. Performance? That’s up to you. If I see you, I’ll give an assessment; maybe on a scale from 19 to 90 (years, 19 being the apex for most of us, slightly different scale for those who started late). Extra points for exuberance.


Praying for the Surf to Rise (again) on Easter- Pre-Dawn Patrol

First, I must say, the title is in no way meant to be disrespectful or in any way intended as blasphemy. My faith is at the core of my being, and I’m pretty sure my meaning is totally understood where it counts. One’s relationship with God (or non-god, or God renamed) is personal.

It was probably the local police force I was more concerned with as I sped toward the much-anticipated, news-mentioned, online-forecast, facebook-liked big swell. I had my excuse ready. “Can’t you see I have my board on top of two ladders; I’m a working man… Sir.”

Sure, I’d gotten up early (5 am) after I’d stayed up late watching the women’s competition from Bell’s Beach on my now-after three and a half hours on the phone with Dell support, sort-of working sweet, sweet laptop (the keyboard moves at a one stroke/second rate, max- they’re sending a new one, though I have my doubts- typing this on Trisha’s computer).

Perhaps because, after we’d discussed the incoming swell in relation to tides, crowds the day before, and the importance of Faith in this matter, and because Keith hadn’t returned my text (“Y’out?”) sent at 5:30, I was driving a bit faster, my mind a bit more addled and crazed (than usual).

Yeah, I was sure he’d gone out at 5:15, tucking in to wave after empty wave, all the other surf followers (disciples?) waking up, getting ready to cruise a few rollers. So, a few more curves, a bit of noisy speeding through the back street, and… the beach; the parking lot half full.

It turns out, at 6:10 on Easter Sunday, there was a gathering of Believers (not surfers) down the berm from me, singing sacred songs, watching the sun, hidden by clouds hanging on the distant Cascade Mountains. Me, I was looking west… almost nothing.

But I had faith, and soon, other searchers joined me.

Hey, I have to go. I promise to return to this, update on who and what, and fellowship in the parking lot, and on how Keith and Rico and I went out in barely-breaking, tide-dropping, rocks-exposing themselves, offshore wind blowing, waves. Maybe they rose a bit.

Surely somewhere the swell was hitting. As one member of the flock on the beach said, on leaving, and in the sort of tone that suggested we were hoping the mountain would come to us (reference from a different religion- not commenting again on the personal nature of religion), “You ought to go to Neah Bay. Eighteen feet.”

Yeah, well. Later, Stephen Davis, who had showed up in the parking lot, watched a while, then went to Easter breakfast, said, when I commented on how Keith had taken off behind me on several waves, said, with a laugh, “Behind you? How dare he?”

Hey, this isn’t, in my mind, a blog. Still, until I get it all worked out, sometimes it is.

Overhead on my sweet, sweet laptop

SO, I received my much-anticipated new, ‘sweet, sweet laptop’ (quote from my daughter, Dru) about a week after my hand-me-up (from son, Sean) PC got all virused-up due to my stupid (and getting stupider) opening of the wrong thing on Hotmail (It said it was from the USPS). Right now I’m on Trisha’s computer, waiting another fifteen minutes for the arranged (yesterday) phone call from Dell’s support team. It’s a Windows 8.1 driven laptop sitting on top of my disconnected printer/scanner in the adjacent office; plugged-in to the router and ready to be fixed. Again.

Evidently the last fix, an hour on the phone day before yesterday with a support guy who was about to lose it several times, and the eventual re-setting of the entire computer (supposedly) didn’t fix the problem.

I could stop writing at any moment to take the call.

Okay, eleven minutes more. The problem is this: The keyboard doesn’t work. But, the good news, if there is any, is that, before it decided I couldn’t surf the worldwide web by punching in new addresses or prompts, I did go to Bing, and typed in ASP. I got to watch semi-final heats from Margaret River before deciding it was just too damn late to watch the final. Besides, it couldn’t have been better than the Slater/Bourez heat.

That “ASP” on Bing is one of the tabs I can’t seem to close, or change, but I can scroll down and, if there’s something new, I can click on it, maybe get the first day video from Bell’s Beach. Okay, some time after 6am (6am-8am, supposed tech support call back), I did watch a video of the first round. Evidently Kelly beat Kalohe, the younger competitor using some Slater-esq moves, in the first round.

Okay, three minutes left. I could talk about the swell supposedly coming in tomorrow for Easter, or I could revisit the last surf session, roll-throughs at the usually user-friendly reef break, or, maybe how Stephen Davis, working in my stead while I surfed, responded when I called to tell him how great it was, his line the most negative he’s ever said (at least to me)

“Whatever, Dude; I know it was shitty.”

I could, but, whoa; now it’s 8 am, time’s up. I have to make a phone call.

Viruses crash over my computer

“And you weren’t even surfing porn,” my son, Sean, said when I told him how I opened something that looked all official, from the USPS (supposedly), on my hotmail.

Yeah. Rude of them, criminal even, stupid of me to ruin my third hand-me-up (from my children) computer, the one with all my business stuff, all my various writings, all my scanned drawings, all my connections to, say, my friend Ray (on my other, supposed-to-be for work mail site, almost exclusively used for bragging back and forth about awesome surf sessions), and my almost-never-logged-out connection to, officially and totally tied to wordpress.

The next day my daughter, Dru, calling on her way to work in Chicago, said she’d heard how stupid I was, and, oh yes, that her mother told her I was getting a “sweet, sweet laptop out of the deal.”

Yeah, got it delivered on Friday. Evidently you have to pay extra for the book of instructions for Windows 8, and besides, Word (of any year or numerical designation) does not come with it, but can be rented for about two hundred a year, or a mere $9.99 per month. 

Great. And, evidently, for those without the instructions, the start up page is tied to Microsoft’s Hotmail, and the password must be used, and, for some reason, most of the times I’ve tried, the thing is locked. Shut it off, turn it on; and, though, somehow, I was able to watch part of the Margaret River ASP contest, Kelly building up an insurmountable score only to be surmounted by… oh my god, I’ll have to look it up and… oh no!

No, I remembered, by Michel Bourez, who, though I couldn’t stay up long enough to watch it, won the final against Josh Kerr.

So, classic contest excitement, but, this morning, I tried, failed, shut it down, started it up, and it spent the rest of the time before I had to leave updating.

Now it’s Sunday night and it’s updating… again. I’m writing this on Trisha’s old school (Windows XP) computer. I don’t like it, but, right now, if I can post this, it seem “Sweet.” Sweet


As always, when talking (or writing) about surfing spots on the fickle Straits of Juan de Fuca, I must stress and repeat the ‘fickle’  part. You (or I) can study the forecasts, the buoy readings; use our past experience and some un-scientific (though, really, science is the collection and eventual analysis of kept data) rememberances (my spell check says this is not a word- using it anyway) or scrawlings (another non-word- darn) of skunk-to-score ratios on calendars or phones or laptops, and then make our best guess, head to the beach that corresponds with our estimate of where and when some swell will hit… and then…


…then we still might get skunked.  Or, like Keith Darrock, we can be the guy who knows because he’s local enough to jog from his home to his favorite (not to be named- here) break.


And, if you’re Keith, and you have the patience to wait for the waves to come to you, and (and Keith will stress this) the faith that waves will come, some times you get rewarded.


Meanwhile, on this same day, I took off early, headed west of Port Angeles to my favorite spot, got there at the perfect tide situation, knowing (or maybe, hoping) the center of the swell was moving northward and would be pointing down the throat of the Straits. It wasn’t when I paddled out, but, as I told the only other guy on the beach, I had faith the waves would come. And they did.


After I moved from the rights, fast but almost on top of the almost-exposed point of the reef, a cross-chop mixing with the backwash, rode a few lefts alone, someone else came out. Cars entered the parking area, moved on west. The swell built to… well, maybe thigh-high; and then Adam “Wipeout” James came out.


I had called Keith the day before, inviting him along. No, he said by cell phone, checking the surf early at (another spot, better at low tide) he saw “Definite lines” and had a feeling there would be waves later. “Okay. I’ll let you know how it goes.” I had invited Stephen Davis, temporarily home from working in Colorado, but, checking the buoys and winds, I couldn’t really push him into going out for small (if there at all) waves; and, besides, he had to go to Bremerton to play ice hockey later. I hadn’t called Adam.  He lives farther down Surf Route 101 than I do; but here he was,  saying, as he took off in front of me with a smile and a “Party Wave!” and a hoot, adding, “It looks like _____(Backup spot) might be the call today.” “Maybe, when the tide comes up enough.” “So, maybe?”


Having already ridden over thirty waves, trying to make up for sessions missed, or stock up a few to make up for future sessions to be missed, and because Adam was out, I stayed out for a while longer as the swell built a bit more and the tide came up, quickly. I must say that I did witness, from in front of Adam (he took off behind me- that’s my story), his version of a cheater five, front foot somewhere around the front third of his board, and, from my car as I was loading-up, Adam doing a back flip off the back as the wave closed out in the shorebreak.


So, then Adam, his family at a function near Port Townsend he was probably supposed to be attending, got out of the water when more people entered, drove, in his wetsuit, to the backup spot, found it flat, discussed that with another guy who actually lives in Port Townsend, and decided to go for the possibility of more surf. Adam took these photos, and more, went out for some of what Keith texted me as, “Not kidding, the best I’ve ever seen or ridden _._. Head high + incredible session.”  I got the message when I turned my phone back on after the weekly dinner-and-a-movie Trish and I have with our friend George Takamoto. I texted back to see if Adam made it. “Yeah; lots of hooting.”

I won’t describe the ride or the session. I wasn’t there.

Still, the next day, I either showed or forwarded another of Adam’s photos, Keith in a standup barrel at least head high (not kidding) of the afternoon delight to at least five people. “See,” I’d say; “some times there are real waves here.”

The reason there were a total of four people out (Keith, Darrick, the guy Adam ran into at the backup spot, and Adam) is that, if you went by any and all data available, you wouldn’t bet on there being waves at that place at that time. Local or lucky. Yeah; I’ll get it next time.

Still, for the waves I rode, I’m grateful and, yes, I feel lucky.