I’ve always wanted to design stuff for t shirts. I’ve had a couple done (by others, I just supplied the art) for local musical events. Being basically cheap, and having some experience at silkscreening (mostly on flat paper and such, my attempts at t shirt printing did not go well), I figured one color stuff would save a few bucks. So…
Port Townsend librarian Keith Darrock took a trip down south right after Labor Day. It was a family vacation/surfari, with his wife, Marley, and their daughter (I’ll add her name when Keith gets back to me- forgot it. Sorry. She was a baby the first time I met her father, checking for surf near PT on another ‘could have been but wasn’t’ day), though only Keith surfs. He and I had discussed whether he should risk getting skunked on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. No, too risky, though Stephen Davis and I did hit the first feelers of a swell that lasted into the next day, followed by the usual flatness.
So, good choice overall. The photos are mostly from Oregon, and none of the spots are secret, and, truthfully, I’m a bit confused about which spot is which. What I did get from the texts and calls was that Oregon is becoming more like (Keith’s perception of) California, as in crowded; and though Keith is still well under forty, youngish by Strait standards, most of the folks on the beach were described as “Portland Hipsters.”
That’s the Darrock family surf rig in the foreground. Keith sent photos of Short Sands (“13 Hipsters”) and some other spot, both protected by the prevailing northwest wind (but not the fog- it’s either one or the other). I told him the surf didn’t look too impressive. “No, it was fun.”
Okay, he only had to share the spot on the left with a couple of Hipsters, unless this is the place where the surfers looked like real northwest surfers, which is to say, blue collar guys (usually carpenters up here, maybe a window washer or the odd painting contractor), unlike, and even Marley commented on this, people who stand around with new boards, in new boardbags, in new wetsuits, brand-central caps, maybe drinking a crafted micro-brew, discussing the upcoming season of “Portlandia” and how they, like, know, exactly, people who so precisely fit the various characters, and, “is it supposed to be, like, ironic, because… I don’t get that part,” posing rather than actually, like, getting wet; or at least longer than it might take to recycle some of that crafted, hand-filtered micro-brew.
Yeah, ‘recycle,’ as in the way they recycle pee in Victoria. Flush. They’ll wash out their wetsuits and their boards once they get back to the City; board back in the bag, wetsuit over the condo railing. And, yes, I know, “The City” once referred to (this was something I heard back when I was a hipster myself, from Steve Penn, who lived across a bridge, in San Raphael- so, maybe not a worldwide usage) San Francisco; I was using it ironically; not that I blame anyone for living where the work is.
Quick caption, left to right: a little dog about to leave a little poo; a photo by Marley of her husband at Oceanside, Oregon; Keith with his longboard. At one of the hip Oregon beaches, getting out of the water, a woman about to enter the surf with her brand new Donald Takayama funboard, asked what asked Keith name brand board he was riding. He had to hold it out and read it. “Something with a W in it.”
I did once live in a city, San Diego, and, when I had just turned 27, and I’d just been given ‘Permanent’ status (I think the term is actually ‘made permanent,’ as in the Mafia’s ‘made man.’ Kind of similar, though I did eventually get out alive) as a civil service painter. Trish and I had already decided we didn’t want to raise children in the (I should say ‘that’ or ‘any’) city; we were already looking at other places I could now transfer to. Somewhere with surf, hopefully. I was sneaking out at lunchtime to do some surfing on a fine almost-fall day, having already determined that I distinctly remember walking toward the pier in Ocean Beach, looking up at the hipsters hanging in the lot, others in groups at the bottom of the bluff, looked at the surfers bobbing in the not-too-impressive waves, and thought, maybe, I was too old for thisshit. Yeah, ‘thisshit,’ it’s a conjunction. Not a hip conjunction.
Keith did say he sent me at least one shot of Manzanita, where he found the best waves of the trip, but I never got it. So, that’s kind of like not revealing it. And maybe it was a lucky session.
Caption, bottom right (from “Portlandia”- couldn’t resist)- “Hey, like, this surfing is so great. Nature, music, getting in touch with… um, did anyone remember to bring, you know, surfboards? Wetsuits? Wax? Oh, Portia/Clarina; you… no, not that kind of wax, but… hey, we can still do the wetless surf. Zen it.”
Otherwise, we’ve got cliffs, steep trails; just no hip places to hang out. And, just to finish this up; Trish asked me the other evening where the surf was happening. “Not around here. It’s all a bit too south, too small, too… why do you ask?” “On my way back from (a, not the) city, I saw a rig with boards headed up the Center Road.” Yeah, it was Keith and Marley and their daughter, name to be filled-in later. My daughter, Dru, when I told her about the Portlandia hipster thing, said, if Keith wanted to be Portland-hip, looking at his little trailer, “Maybe he should just put a bird on it.” No, I didn’t get it either.
I googled it. If the folks at “Portlandia” find this piece because I tagged “Portlandia surfers,” well… wait, the host of “Live Wire Radio,” from Portland, is actually hosted by Luke Burbank, and he recently moved to Port Townsend from Seattle, seems to brag about it (and PY’s hipness, real or imagined- but definitely promoted), and, maybe the “Portlandia” folks can contact him, he can turn them on to Keith Darrock at the PT Public Library, and voila, we can see an overlong skit that parodies hip Portland surfers. “No, of course we’ll spa on the way back; it’s all annotated on the itinerary, silly surfer you.”
NEWSFLASH- I’ll be in Westport next weekend to help judge the Surfrider Cleanwater Surf Contest. It’s always a scene down there, and I’m sure there’ll be some fun.
The usual thing to expect when the unusual thing (an actual swell) happens (so rare, so very rare) is that any waves you luck into on the Strait of Juan de Fuca won’t last long; hence the expression, “If you see waves, surf them.” However, sometimes you’re there just a little early, a bit ahead of the briefly-opening window. Maybe you’ll notice I’m being all non-inviting here; just don’t want you to waste your valuable time when Westport is always breaking.
So, a few months ago, on a day I wrote about in “The First Book of Nick,” the waves actually got better. I stayed where I was, but a lot of surfers headed farther west or went back towards Port Angeles. So, while I was headed for some painting job, Stephen Davis and Jeffrey Vaughan (not together) hit up a secret (that is, I’m not revealing it) fast and gravelly right, while Tom Burns hit a classic, just off the rocks left that, it will soon be obvious, hasn’t changed too much in forty years.
Tom sent me a couple of long emails of early surfing experiences all over Washington’s coast and the Strait, with these photos:
And, from forty years earlier, to the day, same guy, two more at the same spot.
Maybe you’ll notice, even recognize, the rocks in the foreground. Hard to imagine any kind of long ride this close to the beach.
Uh huh; keep imagining. I’ll have more from Tom, but, after he sent me all kinds of info on exploring and sometimes finding great waves, with retro photos and names of early northwest path(and wave)finders, he ended with some comment/threat on how he just knows I won’t get all too revealing.
In a side note on the “Don’t get all excited and think the Strait is often great” category- while I was hanging out as a volunteer with all the judges, huddled under a tarp against the south wind, at the Surfrider Foundation’s Westport Cleanwater Surfing Contest a couple of years ago, Tom, one of the judges I was spotting for, revealed he’s kept a log of all his surf ventures, and discovered he’s been skunked on the Strait more often (way more often) than he’s scored.
So, continue to be tantalized. I still am. Thanks, Tom.
BLOG-LIKE UPDATE- Stephen Davis and I made an afternoon speed run (not, like, speeding, Officer, but like curtailing other daytime activities and heading wnw, hoping/gambling the swell that hadn’t shown up yet would). We found some rideable lefts, surfed there alone for almost two hours, with the swell actually building, before two other rigs materialized in the partially-visible parking area. Interesting how the dynamic shifts, and competitive personalities clash. No, no, I think I won the exchange with the guy wearing the blue prescription glasses/goggles, who said the thing that led him to believe there might be waves was, “The buoys.” Sure, but if had a little faith… we could’ve hassled for set waves earlier.
Ten days after my SUP paddle ended up stuck in the wire rope that holds the three pilings together (making it, technically, a dolphin), I was surprised to find it still there, still looking like an antenna.
Unlike the session where I lost the paddle, this time Stephen and I were the only ones out. Jeffrey Vaughn, a longshoreman (who also identified the pilings as a dolphin, probably used back when the area was a source for extracting and shipping clay), parked in front of the rights, took a lot of photos, but was changing into his suit when Stephen borrowed my SUP (he was riding a classic Phil Edwards model Hobie), and paddled over to the dolphin.
Having tried unsuccessfully myself to scale the ancient poles on the day of what I’m now calling ‘a prank of opportunity,’ I didn’t have much hope that Stephen (to refresh, I call him hydrosexual because he loves all water sports; ice hockey, skiing, kite surfing, classic paddleboard racing, sailing, etc.) could actually free the monument to my (yeah, we’re talking about the husky old guy with the gorilla hands) unappreciated lineup dominance.
Having already shed my booties, seeing Steve ‘chimney-climb’ between the pilings and then climb onto the dolphin, I ran down the rocky beach. Jeffrey would miss the shot. Two Natives, a father and son I’d seen here before, were pulling their crabpots, loading their boat onto the trailer. “Yeah, I saw the paddle. I think it had a flag on it for a while. It’s been there since that one day when there were lots of surfers here.” “Yeah, it’s my paddle.” The son thought this was quite amusing. “But you got it back.” “Yeah.”
I asked Jeffrey to try to make me look skinnier. Maybe he did and this is the result. I’m going to hang onto the paddle Nick so kindly gave me (loaned, I’m saying), ready to return it the next time I see him.