Trestles- In Progress



This photo was taken by Grant Ellis for SURFER MAGAZINE in 2011. It’s pretty much the view I had from the maintenance shed for the San Onofre Housing Area on Camp Pendleton. I worked there from the spring on 1975 to the early summer of 1976, painting interiors when marines and their families were transferred elsewhere. The actual view was from higher and a bit to the left. I could easily crop out the freeway as I was checking out the surf, almost an equally spectacular view from most of the housing area. You might as well delete most of the crowd. Okay. Now focus for a moment on that visible patch of beach. That was about where I’d park, extending my official half hour lunch to an hour and a half, depending (you know what it was depending on). I could have easily been busted by the Military Police or my Civil Service co-workers. Luckily, they were more interested in other activities.

MY ORIGINAL INTENT was to add to the TRESTLES STORY, Trestles from my particular vantage point, and, rather than have Part II, Part III, out of sequence, move the added-to piece up to the first spot with each additional update; but now that I have the photo… we’ll see.

“YOU CAN JUST GET GOING SO FAST…” I told my surfing buddy on the phone. Surely I was as excited in describing my latest surf story as I am when I do so now. Definitely. By this time, 1976, my friend Phil had just become, or was about to become, Doctor Phillip Colby Harper. Back in the conversation, with the tendency, still-with-me, to talk over others, I continued “…going so fast that you go up the wave, then freefall back to the bottom, like… um, it’s like dropping, sideways, with the lip… like, even, inside the lip; then back up again; over and… and… yeah, Trestles. Every day. Extended lunch. Yeah!”

THE FIRST TIME Phillip and I saw Trestles was in 1967. I guess, really, it was Church; we were riding with Bucky Davis, a few years older than us, way ahead of us in surfing, and the boyfriend of Phillip’s sister, Trish. He turned right instead of left past the creek, away from our destination of San Onofre, and up along the beach. He stopped the VW bus when we saw a Marine Corps Military Police jeep on the beach, perpendicular to the water, waiting patiently for the two or three surfers in the water to come in.

“Some day, maybe,” Bucky said. “Not today.” Phillip and I, following Bucky’s lead, flipped off the M.P.s (not so they would notice); the van made a three point turn and we headed around the cove.

THERE WAS a local TV show about that time, on channel 9, possibly titled “Surf’s Up.” It may have come from Santa Barbara rather than Los Angeles. From Fallbrook, North San Diego County, we got that city’s three stations, 6, 8, and 10, and a couple from LA, but the TV Guide listed this surfing program, and, the one time I enlisted my brothers to move the antenna on the roof, I got a blurred, fuzzy image of a segment that happened to feature the magical and forbidden waves of Trestles. “They just roll on and on,” the commentator said, “spinning, like a washing machine.”

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