Six Foot on the Strait and…

Happy honkin’ Thanksgiving. I will explain the honking part in a bit. I hope waves are hitting whatever beach you’re close to, or chose to go to, or are currently at; re-checking the buoys, wondering how a seventeen foot swell in the Pacific Ocean can’t seem to find it’s way to that beach. WAITING, waiting, wait… we all know there are no waves in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and yet…

Yet I spent too many hours over the last two days answering the siren surf call. “In an hour and twenty minutes, big boy, traffic permitting, you could be hurrying to put on your cold, damp, recently-frozen wetsuit (and you should know not to hang a wetsuit outside in these parts- frost is real), enjoying the multiple pleasures and temporary (and, yes, a bit frosty) bliss of plopping your bulky self into the smooth lines of a…” Have to stop; just a bit too (I could say honest) revealing.

That was TUESDAY. Traffic permitted, ocean did not oblige. Hang out, wait, take a nap… didn’t help. Others were still waiting, other surf hunters showing up or driving on. Fickle, these sirens.

Then, WEDNESDAY, calculating, drawing on experience, hoping; couldn’t help hear the siren call. “Forget about finishing that job; the winds and tides are just perfect; the possibility of taking off deep, tucking into a tube, climbing and dropping in an almost endless rhythm, pulling out at the last possible moment; (the possibility) of these things await…” Wait. Again, I should stop there.

BUT I went, waited around rather than going to my job up the hill, no more than six minutes (traffic) away. Then I left, couldn’t concentrate on work, but did some. An hour and a half later, at the far end of when my earlier and constantly readjusted calculations said the tide wndow would close, I returned.

WAS IT all the sirens promised, what my memories of near-perfect sessions constantly remind me is possible? NO, ‘course not. I did, HOWEVER, on both outings (one long one, two shorter) run into memorable folks on the beach.

I COULD write about some of those surfers, real and otherwise. I will. But here, today, let me say something about ADAM ‘WIPEOUT’ JAMES. He was at a beach, my second trip there, yesterday, with his two boys, Emmett and Calvin. It is definitely not helpful that I can no longer seem to figure out how to transfer photos from my phone to the computer (stuck in the cloud or something). The boys and their dad all have COVID haircuts, meaning no hair cuts. As old guys did back when I was a kid with, usually, a ‘high and tight’ cut (because my dad had been a Marine, but, because he had four sons, our hair was longer than average before our next visit to the barber), and because the boys were running around the beach with an girl, I, stupidly, asked, “Who are these girls?”

ADAM AND I DO TALK, fairly regularly, on the cellular devices; but we haven’t surfed together in quite a while (his favorite trick seems to be taking off in front of me); and I was pretty excited at the possibilities.

SO, I’M LEANING ON one of his many vehicles (he implied it’s rude to ask how many), chatting about how he put a mortal crease in the Mickey Munoz 12 foot soft top I once rode, and he’s putting dollops of sun-cure resin on dings on another board, both of us talking to KEITH, and Adam’s wife’s (Andrea’s) friend, father of the girl running around with Calvin and Emmett (not a surfer or in any way knowledgeable about surfing- asked if we wear wet or drysuits), and Adam says, “Hey, Dude; six feet.”

SIX FEET? I scan the horizon. NOPE, the usual lines that look like waves but are rip or wind lines. “OH? Yeah, six feet. Sorry.”

There are, of course, other stories. There are, as always, rumors about where waves DID HIT, where the SIRENS fulfilled their promises. NO, it never was a promise; it never has been. STILL, we listen.

OKAY, HERE’S ONE MORE: Tim Nolan, discussing something about how tides can affect wave size and, let’s say, punchiness, used the word ‘honking,’ as in, “When it really gets honkin’…” I had to ask him about it. Tim’s older, but, it seems, increasingly close to my age; and the word usage took me back to the sixties. For a moment. This was on my first attempt yesterday. Then, possibly because of my advanced age, I forgot the word. LUCKILY, on my second visit to the beach, Tim and a group of paddleboarders were just returning. I asked him; he remembered. HONKIN’!


My Surf-Friends Phone List

I am still compiling it, didn’t realize the list of surfers in my phone was quite as extensive as it is; and I had to leave before completing which of the various categories I place these surf-friends in. BUT, let me add a list here: Surfers I don’t have a phone number for, but would love to have that access; not that I would abuse it.

NUMBER ONE on that list is Big Dave. Not a really talkative guy, but we have several connections including that we both surfed Pacific Beach at the same time, me a newlywed, twenty years old, he a self-described “Pier Rat,” somewhere around fourteen or fifteen, attacking Crystal Pier with his contemporaries. I did ask Dave (and I do know his last name, probably shouldn’t include it here) for his cell number. He said he’d give me one digit at a time. “Okay, so… three.” “Yeah.” He’s never given me another digit.

I would guess… six.

ANYWAY, not to be mean. Far be it for me to ever even consider fat-shaming anyone, but, maybe it isn’t just me who has noticed that, since he lost the election in a landslide, since he stopped doing anything positive connected to being a working president, it just seems like the guy who, you know, lost the popular vote and the electoral college, it seems like he has kind of, I don’t know, let himself go.

GO being the operative word. As in, please go.

Oh, jeez; look at the time. I have to go. I’ll get back to you on the list of who I might call if I thought there might ever be waves out on the Strait. It won’t be Big Dave. He would already know.

Stay safe, avoid crowds. Staying home is an option.

The Size of Your Circle is…

…not necessarily proportionate to the size of your, um, surfing prowess.

It is related to your willingness to reach out to others. OKAY, what got me thinking about this is, well, several things. BUT FIRST, you should consider how many phone numbers of actual (could say real) surfers are in the ‘contact’ area of your phone? SECOND, ask yourself, ONE, how many of these contacts you would call from the beach if you knew it was firing and they didn’t? TWO, how many would you only call after your session to brag and/or gloat? THREE, how many would you call to see what they know about the possibility of rideable surf? FOUR, how many would you almost never call because there is an etiquette in place in which surfers don’t call other surfers and/or you would, out of respect, not just call them to chat? We can throw in FIVE, surfers you are quite willing to chat with, but have not surfed with in years, and may not surf with again.

For a sense of perspective, FOUR should be the longest list.

HERE’S MINE. Checking. SO, there’s RAY HICKS, friend since 6th grade, surfed with him extensively in our teens, major influence in my getting back in the water in our fifties. He’s in California, as is STEPHEN PENN. We surfed together when we were newlyweds in 1971 in San Diego. If that needs explaining, TRISH and I, yesterday, sort of celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary yesterday, so Steve and Drucilla (who our daughter is named after) are almost there, anniversary-wise.

SORRY, I will have to get back to this; I have to go, OH, BUT, what got me thinking about the whole social-ness thing is that I got a phone call from Darrell Wood, pathfinder of surfing in the Northwest, the other day. I had his number three or four dead phones ago, lost it. Now I have it again. AND, chatting all things surfing, including who is or is not a true wave hog, with my friend KEITH, he said he has a birthday, like, today, tomorrow, some time in here, and, of course, being, definitely, a self-described SOUL REBEL, he would like a present of waves.

THERE WILL BE MORE. REGGIE and his instagram-ing… more. Maybe tomorrow.

Words on the Water

Just to be clear, when I told a few friends that I had a near-collision with a guy who looked a lot like LibTech founder Mike Olson, I was unaware that the reason he looked like Mike Olson is that he is Mike Olson.

And it was, apparently, not a near-collision.

The incident is another reminder of the schizophrenic nature of life; and, just to complicate matters, the way things appear different from different perspectives.

SCHIZ- I was feeling really good about the whole afternoon session, other than the bailout I had to do to avoid hitting someone in the impact zone. Two days later, when I was told that my board had, indeed, come in contact with someone quite popular ’round these parts, someone I had allegedly burned two years earlier, and that I now had two strikes against me… WAIT! WHAT! Two strikes and then what?

Anyway, I was upset enough to try to reach out to Mr. Olson. After I discovered it’s really difficult to reach Mike in person, I sent an email to his company explaining the situation, how I didn’t think my board had hit him at the time, how I never intend to hurt anyone in surfing. I also contacted several people who might be able to pass on my side of the story, and two surfers who worked for LibTech in the past. One of them responded, the other still hasn’t. Okay. I understand. One must pick a side.

PERSP- From the beach, for the folks around the fire or leaning against their surf rigs, it, evidently appeared as if I was going across a wave, had plenty of room to surf past one person inshore of me, but, when I couldn’t get past the second, I bailed, fell on and grabbed my board.

This is also how the ride seemed from my angle, the wave probably bigger in my version. BUT NO; my board evidently popped up, spinning, high in the air, and came down and into contact with Mr. Olson. THEN we had words, WORDS ON THE WATER. My words were louder. AGAIN, this is true. I did say, loudly, something about paddling around, then I did apologize, mostly for getting angry. Then we both paddled back out and resumed surfing. SO, Yeah, from a certain angle, I am a villain; not that this substantially changes my reputation.

Or adds to it.

RESOLUtion- So one of the former LibTech employees did reach out to Mrs. Olson on social media, and, by chance, also surfed with her several days after the INCIDENT. She told Reggie it was sweet that I was concerned, and that her husband had received the email, and that he had been hit in the elbow and may never surf again.

NO, not really. It was one of those accidents that happen in surfing. I have been on both sides of the situation. I have bailed out, straightened out, pulled out to avoid contact. Scrapping at Swamis back in the late 60s, hoping someone will fall off on a wave I could catch, I have incurred the wrath of surfers because I affected their rides. Negatively. Or they believed I affected their rides.

I have been hit in the impact zone by other surfer’s boards in my extended surfing life. The most damaging of these incidents was at Pipes, early 70s. I was paddling out, casually. A guy who could have easily made the wave was losing it on the takeoff. I was going to go under the wave rather than try to make it over the shoulder. This is proper. Sure, I thought, he’ll have to straighten. I adjusted my paddle accordingly. NOPE, he regained his balance at the bottom of the wave, saw me at the last second, then bailed, me trying to turn turtle with a Marvel Comic perspective of a surfboard coming fully sideways and straight at me. FULL BODY CONTACT. Ow. Yeah, he and I had words. Words on the water, something like “Oh, did I hit you?” “Yeah.”

SO, when I was relating the story to a woman considering opening a card shop in Port Townsend, several days after the incident was apparently smoothed over (thanks Dina and Mike), feeling kind of, um, normal (that phase between elation/mania and depression), she, Helen, said, “Oh, ‘words on the water,’ that could be the name of your new cards.”

MAYBE. Meanwhile, paddle around when you can; bail when you have to.

If You Don’t Bring Your Mother to the Peninsula…

…or your nanny or your maid or whoever picks up after you ordinarily, and you’re here to enjoy the scenery, and to partake in the pleasure of the many activities offered by the mountains and the lakes and streams and the extended fingers of the Pacific Ocean; could you please consider the possibility of packing out the shit you bring in?

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Consider consideration.

MEANWHILE, I am still thinking about how to address a recent incident in the water in which I bailed on a wave because an impact with someone in the impact zone was imminent. From a different vantage point, on the beach rather than on the wave (mine), my board may have come in contact with the surfer in front of me. If so, I was totally unaware. That surfer and I, again from the beach angle had words. True. We did. I did say he should have paddled around. It’s a point/reef break, and paddling around is easily done. I have a loud voice, and no, I wasn’t thrilled. He did say something, and I did apologize. The apology was for being angry in the first place as, again, I was totally unaware of any contact. He seemed all right with that and we both paddled back out (and around).

Someone did tell me, a bit later the same day, that my board had hit someone. “No, no it didn’t.”

I’m still not sure. What is most important, or telling, to me, is that my impression of the day was very upbeat, very positive. This is the schizoid nature of life. When, two days later, I was told that my board may have, indeed, hit this other surfer, I was sick about it. And, of course, the other surfer is someone well known on the Strait. Of course.

I have tried to reach out to the individual, have contacted people who may have access, all pressing the point that I tried to avoid any potentially damaging contact with another surfer. Not worth it. In my years of surfing I have been hit by other people’s boards several times. I’ve also bailed or straightened out on waves I might have otherwise made.

BUT, hoping to put this behind me, I do pack out my own stuff. The last thing I left at the beach, or near it, was a wetsuit that I’d evidently left on top of my car when I took off.

PLEASE, access has already been cut off to numerous camping sites and surf spots; please consider bringing and using a trash bag. And, again, sorry, Mike.

Democracy Inaction… no, wait… In Action

It was actually Reggie who hepped me to Biden having been declared the winner of the marathon. “I heard something on the radio; it wasn’t coming in very well, but, maybe, it might be…”

I had a radio. Tuned it in.

Now maybe it’s different in your part of the woods, but out here on the frontier, we have folks who’ve been driving around in big-ass American trucks with big-ass flags. Trump flags, police support flags, and American flags. Within a few minutes of the announcement, Reggie started showing me memes on his phone, each one funnier than the last.

“I guess,” Reggie said, “all the Trump people will have to fly their flags at half mast.”

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This rig needed a repaint anyway. Nice wheels, you might notice

It turned out to be kind of a weird day, all in all. Reggie had helped me finish up an interior project, with the plan of heading for an exterior job. Oh, but, against the forecasts, it was raining; and it was still early. Magically, it seemed, I noticed rows of American flags along the main road in a place I had sort of assumed was a red pocket in a blue state.

Oh, maybe they were just getting the flags set up for Veterans’ Day, which was originally called Armistice Day, a holiday established at the end of World War II, celebrating the cessation of hostilities in what was, briefly, called the war to end all wars.

If only.

ANYWAY, since the day was shot for painting, a surfer might want to go surfing. YES, I know there’s no surf on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but I was persuaded to go by Trish, still kind of upset that I didn’t call her when I found out the news, and a little shove from Soul Rebel Keith, who convinced me probable waves today are a better choice than possible waves the next day. OKAY.

I’m glad I went. There may have been some waves; I did pass some of the same vehicles coming back toward civilization that I had passed when I was headed toward a job in the morning. This could be taken as good or bad. I just kept going.

A common thing one hears when asking about how someone else’s session or attempt at a session went is, “It was really pretty.” It might be a code. Yesterday, then, was beautiful. I did give Reggie credit for the half mast comment when I cruised up to a fire on the beach. It wasn’t the only story of disappointed Trump supporters.

We do own a few American flags; none really big ass sized. I think I’ll stick them out. Democracy, we have to agree, is fragile, and always in jeopardy. It is said that all it takes to lose it is for good people to do nothing. Good people did something. You don’t have to agree; I just don’t know how you can’t. Not that I want to argue

Peace. Armistice.

Oh, yeah; we do have an almost big-ass Seahawks flag. I’m flying it.

Is it Over Yet?

People want to know.

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While we’re waiting, why not medicate? Fake News. I meant meditate on all the good times…

MEANWHILE, it’s stormy out on the Olympic Peninsula and the buoys are down. The buoy analyzers are doing some sort of maintenance and they floating wave readers won’t be back in service for awhile. There are some raw data spreadsheet things, but for those of us who don’t know how to read these things, and don’t know which hour is hour one, for example… it’s hard to really know before you go.

So, probably the best thing for surfers to do to avoid being skunked is not going. Risky; and I’m not even including already-and-potentially-even-more pissed off folks one might encounter enroute, men and (some) women, all still flying big ass flags from their trucks (no, not like the Taliban in Toyotas, American made trucks), wanting more votes counted, less votes counted, whichever; folks who might be even more pissed off and red-faced in a blue state should the national results be suddenly announced.


Suggestion: I’ve found a peace sign is pretty much taken as a flip-off; have to recommend keeping your windows rolled up and hands inside.

I can’t help imagining the people picking up all those Culp signs spread around the Peninsula, vehement supporters asking each other if they’re contributing to the guy’s fund, seeing as (note the use of the vernacular, or, in the vernacular, talking all downhome-ish) the place where he was the Sheriff of and sole police dude in the town defunded the fucking police.

Yeah. Sad; but he can always go back to being a successful contractor, and, as a start, those signs that are actually made of plywood… probably worth twice as much as when they were originally made.

Hmmmm. Thinking. No, I’m going to work. I mean, the buoys aren’t giving us results, might as well.

Peace. Really. All it takes for peace is for each of to decide to not be a… thinking of a word; no, not a-hole or dickhead, that would be provocative. No, can’t really come up with one that describes a person who goes along with the will of the people in a democracy. I guess one could say, “Let’s just all be, yeah, democratic in our republic.” I added the ‘republic,’ not wanting to appear partisan, or, again, provocative.

Again, peace.

Since I’m really not into medication or meditation, and I do believe surfing is pretty good for stress relief, and the forecasts did call for… no, I’m going to go work. Really. I’m sure the buoys will be straightened out by Friday night, the election should be… wait, let me check… no, not yet; too early to call.

Oh, and thanks for voting.

Voting Day- Caught Inside

Or maybe, having voted, many of us are caught outside, hoping for a lull or a wave we can ride back to shore, to safety, to… no, I really don’t want to twist the metaphor any farther; it’s six-thirty am on November 3rd, the news choices available on my computer offer the usual chaotic mix of rhetoric and propaganda and conspiracy and probabilities and opinions from Civil War to a sudden outbreak of peace and goodwill, a vision of bonfires with s’mores and laughter and acoustic guitar music contrasted with images of heavily armed civilians with three flags on every pickup truck; screaming, yelling, chanting. a pirated version of “Highway to Hell” playing in the background.

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Made it over that wave. Oh, shit. Paddle!

Dystopia, utopia; too early to tell. Good luck to all of US.

BUT, WAIT, to pivot back to the hyper-stressed metaphor; if you’re paddling out on a day you dared yourself to surf, and you do get turned back by seven wave sets, taking each one on the head, and the rip has already moved you many yards down the beach, you do have the option of taking one in, riding the soup, maybe hitting a little reform on the inside.

AND THEN THERE’S the scenario where there’s a channel, and you do get out. Every surfer has had the experience where you scratch like crazy, just barely get over one wave, and then there’s another, bigger, farther out. And then another; and, eventually, you’re out there past the break, quite possibly alone, afraid to go for a smaller wave because more waves are hitting the horizon.

EVENTUALLY you will have to make a choice. TAKE A MOMENT, think about how you have handled the situation.

WAIT, I just, probably because I did take a moment, thought of another scenario: You’ve just been thrashed on a ride and you’re doing the ‘back on the horse’ thing, a revenge wave; just one. This means you didn’t take the thrashing, head for the beach; another choice.

ANOTHER CHOICE: You get to the beach, to the edge of the water, and you see that it’s something you just don’t want to participate in. Too big, too out of control, too dangerous. Do you do the walk of shame; back to the parking area completely dry, or do you go for a couple of those reforms, get wet?

I HAVE, in my lifetime of going into the ocean, made choices; I’ve gone for the outside outside bomb, I’ve given up on making it out and ridden the soup in, I’ve caught a revenge wave, I’ve been turned away by lifeguards from waves I was not prepared for physically or mentally (and I was grateful for their intervention); if I say I have a fear of waves, it’s because I’ve been held down, been wiped out, been dragged across rocks, been hit by my own or other people’s boards, inhaled water rather than air, been caught in riptides, had to swim in in rough conditions; I know what waves are capable of.


SO, TODAY, let us hope that all Americans have respect for democracy, for the institution of voting without fear or intimidation, of one vote for each of us, for every vote getting counted, because every vote counts.

If you didn’t vote, please enjoy your walk of shame, and please do not participate in any post-session discussion without acknowledging your failure to even step into the (metaphor beaten to an unrecognizable state) water.