Trina Packard Takes (a few) Waves

Somewhere, probably six or seven years ago, still rather early in my surf comeback, still trying to get to a reasonable level of ability and style (and I’m still working on that), I encountered Trina Packard on the inside at my most-frequented spot on the Straits. It was an above-average day (the real, every-day-counted average probably somewhere close to flat), with quite a few rigs in the parking area, and it was a session in which I noted, and, no doubt wrote to my old surf buddy, Ray Hicks, I caught eight waves before I ever actually made it to the outside lineup.

I was pretty proud I had improved enough to go to my old approach; taking a few on the head, dodging a few surfers on waves, dropping into a few.

Paddling along the rim of the lefts, both Trina and I were picking off waves surfers couldn’t quite catch, or couldn’t make the section. “If no one else wants this one,” Trina said, possibly a veiled message of ‘back off, old guy’ inherit in the phrasing (and the determined ‘going-for-it’ look), “I’ll take it.” And, of course, she did. Several times.

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A year or so later, in the same parking lot, Tim Nolan (still older than i am) and I discussing why the waves could have been here, should have been here, but weren’t, after I’d recited Trina’s quote back to her and Tim, and, because we must all apologize, sort of, for sessions in which we’re a bit more aggressive than average, Trina explained that she’d just returned from Australia and was pumped up. At this time she had been working in graphics and web design in the Port Angeles area, but said she might have to move to the Seattle area (area).

“Oh, too bad,” Tim and I, no doubt said, thinking of all the surfers we run into, most of whom disappear to somewhere, possibly even worse than the big city across the Sound. “I’ll still be surfing,” she said. “Of course,” we said.

I ran into Trina two different times at the Surfrider Cleanwater Surf Contest in Westport (with a year in between in which I didn’t volunteer to ‘help’ and assist the judges- great fun for me). This is really like me running to the bathroom, her ready to go into a heat. “Good luck,” or “How’d you do?”

So, it wasn’t really too surprising, a few weeks ago, on a day when the coast was out of control and the Straits over-crowded; while I, already surfed-out, was taking the ever-longer walk out to check out what the dam removal had done to the surfing spot at the Elwha River, I passed Trina and a friend headed back to the parking lot. She has moved to Westport, she said. She did well at this year’s Cleanwater (second, as I recall, in Women’s Longboard). There had, evidently, been some discussion that some volunteers had hogged the judging assistant spots, and I missed this year’s contest. Maybe next year.

So (again with the ‘so’), here’s why I care: I also have a background in art. I appreciate anyone who can be good enough, persistent enough, gutsy enough to make a living at it. It’s hard. Like another surfer-turned-actually-professional artist, Todd Fischer, who I first met when he was a plumbing contractor working on some of the same projects I was doing the painting on, Trina seems to have figured some way to make a living from art AND live close to the beach

And, again; good luck.

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Secret Surfer Saves the World

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Maybe I had to draw this because I watched “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” the other evening. I have long been aware of the James Thurber short story with the perpetually daydreaming character; actually having been called out and compared to Walter (and even this was years ago) for having an imaginary life that far exceeded the accomplishments I’d achieved in my real life. Maybe it’s because we all have a running narrative that deletes the mundane and monotonous; maybe surfers imagine our surfing life as something more than the net (subtracting flubs and falls from awesome tubes and turns) of our actual wave statistics; maybe it’s because we think being a real surfer means something more, that we have a relationship outside of any others; secret, even magical.

Though I don’t like all of my drawings, I did, even before it was finished (if any ever are), like this one. Trish said, “It’s okay. He looks kind of dweebie.” Oh, yeah; that’s right. He does. That doesn’t explain that secret bit of self confidence that allows him to chop-hop over the mundane and monotonous, a surf tune playing in his head. Fourteen second intervals.

“Hey, So… WHAT’S YOUR DEAL?” Called Out In the Parking Lot

Yeah, running around from side to side of my car, unhooking straps, grabbing wetsuit pieces, turning to comment (positively) on the glassy waves, and on the six surfers already out on the lefts (mostly negatively), I was called out by the young Port Angeles (I asked, he told me) in the driver’s seat of the little (as in not full or over-sized) white pickup that just pulled in beside me; called out for being over-enthusiastic, over-amped, over-coffee-ed, grumpy, and (I’m trying to imagine what I looked like), but, somewhere after I said I didn’t want to be one of those guys who gets all aggro over small waves… “but these waves are… (I may have hooted at this point)… I’m going to go after some rights, before…”

“Hey,” he said, with the emphasis, somehow, on each of the three words, “What’s YOUR Deal?” So, maybe the emphasis was mostly on the ‘your.’¬† My response was something like, “I’m old, I’m excited, I’m…” I guess he didn’t want to listen, or maybe the waves weren’t good enough, maybe he was heading to one of those fabled (or even, ‘secret’) Straits of Juan de Fuca spots farther west, and maybe six surfers already out this early on the lefts and me on the rights just didn’t seem too enticing; he backed out with me still ranting and running around the car, and pointing, and hooting, and…

“I’m old, and I’m… I’m just excited… just…”

Yes, it was what I was thinking about while (mostly clumsily) surfing the rights, the tide already a bit high, alone. Oh, I do long to be mellow, but I had wanted, somewhat desperately, to go the day before. Rumors of waves two feet bigger, glassy, maybe without that ‘wonk’ from overnight winds; phone calls of surfers hitting it three days in a row; the forecast showing a dropping swell on this day, the buoys showing a swell in that ‘iffy’ range, angle-wise, the ‘race’ (in my mind) with the SUV with two boards on top through Port Angeles, me in front, then “nooooo….” he was ahead¬† of me on Surf Route 101, then behind him all the way out on 112, until… “Oh!” He had to pull off, “Probably to whizz.” Ha! “Oh!” Yeah, now I had to pee. Desperately.

I barely made it, the SUV pulling in a few moments later. I had wanted to ask the driver why he had a “PB” decal on his back bumper, but now knew it was Dave, “Big Dave,” a grom in Pacific Beach when I moved there in 1971. Big Dave who rides an SUP as a regular board. And he was going to the lefts. I knew, when the tide got higher, the rights would go away and I’d be moving over to join the group on the lefts.

Knowing I, my promise to myself that I would surf until I was exhausted (or the waves were) and I would possibly add to the frustration of surfers who were not catching enough waves, I did paddle over after twenty or so unshared waves. I was actually kind of surprised when, paddling for my second wave (first being an insider everyone else missed), a long line outsider, no one challenged me, starting paddling for in down the line.

Later, when I mentioned this to Dave, he said he had overheard surfers grumbling that it had been mellow, but was getting ‘aggro.’ “You mean when I came over?” “Pretty much.” “Hmmm. Do I just look so intense?” “Yeah; guess so.” So, I apologized to several surfers as I passed them, looking for (yet) another set wave. And, on the beach, I told Rajah (hope the spelling’s right) that, “it’s exhausting being a dick.” He seemed to agree.

There’s more to this story, but you’re probably backing away, ready to move on, still not sure what my deal is. “Yeah, I’m just excited.”

Former Edmonds, Washington (really) Surfer Bill Thomas (and a mention of Archie Endo in Thailand)

I tried to insert a video of my friend, Archie Endo, surfing, quite Archie-like (stylish long and gliding ride on a longboard), in Thailand. He is (still) there, middleman for a fish company. As I said, tried. Wrong format, evidently, and I got a big old "X," and a scolding. So, here is a photo I could insert, another (obviously old) friend, Bill Thomas, kayaking below his house on the Hood Canal with his new friend.  I went surfing with Bill, who will proudly tell you he has surfed the Puget Sound on one of those storm days (like yesterday) where the entire fetch of the Sound (lots of miles) was headed north, and he was on some of those windswells. That was then, years ago, and when we went to Westport on a typical, chopped-up day, Bill in a thick wetsuit more suited to diving, and I didn't surf very well, but did make it out a couple of times, Bill was almost angry that his skills from thirty, forty years ago hadn't stayed with him. He took a couple of photos of another surfer, doing well, and drove back.  Despite Bill being a retired firefighter, he was not, evidently, the guy driving the rigs to urgent fires and aid calls. He was stridently unapologetic about that. "I just thought I'd do better," he said. "And frankly, I thought you'd do better."  I have seen Bill since, kayaking at (I'm just going to name the spot) Salt Creek. No, one up on the Straits. He did fine. No, I don't have a photo.

I tried to insert a video of my friend, Archie Endo, surfing, quite Archie-like (stylish long and gliding ride on a longboard), in Thailand. He is (still) there, middleman for a fish company.
As I said, tried. Wrong format, evidently, and I got a big old “X,” and a scolding.
So, here is a photo I could insert, another (obviously old) friend, Bill Thomas, kayaking below his house on the Hood Canal with his new friend.
I went surfing with Bill, who will proudly tell you he has surfed the Puget Sound on one of those storm days (like yesterday) where the entire fetch of the Sound (lots of miles) was headed north, and he was on some of those windswells.
That was then, years ago, and when we went to Westport on a typical, chopped-up day, Bill in a thick wetsuit more suited to diving, and I didn’t surf very well, but did make it out a couple of times, Bill was almost angry that his skills from thirty, forty years ago hadn’t stayed with him.
He took a couple of photos of another surfer, doing well, and drove back.
Despite Bill being a retired firefighter, he was not, evidently, the guy driving the rigs to urgent fires and aid calls. He was stridently unapologetic about that. “I just thought I’d do better,” he said. “And frankly, I thought you’d do better.”
I have seen Bill since, kayaking at (I’m just going to name the spot) Salt Creek. No, one up on the Straits. He did fine. No, I don’t have a photo.

The First (Highly Forecast, Hyped, Anticipated) Swell of Fall, and…

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…and all that entails. This is a photo sent to me by my friend, wandering Hydrosexual (explained in an earlier post), Stephen Davis. It’s a point in Northern California, and the image may belay the size (and hide many of the rocks in the lineup).

My most recent conversation with Stephen, the day after I shared the road to and from the Straits of Juan de Fuca, and the parking area, over the weekend, with pretty much every surfer in Washington State who has a computer with the capability of picking up Surfline, Magic Seaweed, or any other surf forecasting site, or, maybe, heard about a ‘high surf warning’ on the TV weather, or maybe a friend who used to surf a lot gave people a call, and/or…

Okay, I’m not going to whine (any more than I already have) about surfers trying to surf. When I found out Saturday, with waves out of control on the coast, the swell didn’t really move far enough north to penetrate and wash the points and coves with four-to-six foot peelers, I thought, if I got up early enough, I could get a few of Sunday’s bigger, cleaner… second ‘Okay,’ I did get waves to myself while many of the surfers camping in their vehicles were still sleeping or making breakfast on grills that, magically, were pulled out of the back of SUVs, and others were watching the four longboarders floating around on the ‘I’d-be-exaggerating-if-I-said-kneehigh’ lefts. I got a lot of waves, actually, little rights, with at least one ride to add to my memory bank, one of those where the chances of making the first, then the second, then the third section were less than assured; swoop and lean harder into the wall… and make it.

So, I did fine. I’m not sure everyone did. I hung out on the beach a while, chatting with surfing power couples, a guy who remembered me from an earlier session, who said he was trying to contain himself, with visions of overhead waves, on the way to… okay (number 3) some of the waves were a bit over knee-high, and there was always the hope the swell, 16 second intervals, would move just a hair farther north, the incoming tide would bring that fabled ‘push,’ or, maybe, at some other cove or point, maybe not with the easy access, there were those (again) fabled Straits peelers.

I checked one of those spots on my way back home, still, if I didn’t doddle, in time to watch some of the much-anticipated Seahawks/Cowboys football game. There were as many surfers making the trek out to the lineup as there were in the glassy waves, and as many tired surfers making the return trip to their vehicles. And then there were the surfers, as I was, dressed in their on-land clothes, hiking out to check out a spot a friend of mine asked me not to mention, as if it is a secret.

I will return there; the waves were definitely worth it; on one of those non-weekend days when the forecast is a little bit ‘iffy,’ the hype a bit… probably no hype at all. Hopefully everyone driving up and down Surf Route 101, out on Highway 112, on the sideroads heading north from their, on the paths and beaches, hopefully everyone caught at least one memorable wave; drop, lean, rise, swoop, blown out the end, clean.

And I have to go, but I’ll get back to the Stephen Davis story… always more, always something coming. As for the Seahawks, next weekend, man.