Rule of the Parking Lot

Here’s a rule many surfers go by: It can’t be good, there’s no one out. A subset of this mindset is this: It must be Sooooo good because it it soooo crowded; so, yeah; I should join in, paddle out, share in the good times. A further subset is: Whoa, the surf is soooo fantastic, I should call all my surfing buddies, some kooks, and…

good times, bad times, you know I’ve had a few; but the surfing’s really much more fun, when I bring along a crew… ew, ew, ew, come on down, now

There are rules of the parking lot. Okay, so here’s the story: I got skunked at one spot along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, a notoriously (and rightfully, objectively so) fickle stretch of almost-always flat conditions (if you don’t count big-ass winds coming from north, south, east, and west, three of which will, believe me, blow the hell out of any weak and lost swells that venture in from the distant Pacific Ocean), the only other person showing up to even check the conditions being one Reginald Rory Smart (so, for scorekeepers, Smart and Dence). “Hey,” Ripping Reggie said, “what about _______–______?” “Oh, um… maybe.”

SOOO, thinking the limited parking available at this spot might be overwhelmed by Karens and Tuckers and hipsters and rippers and semi-locals and vagabonds and hobos, I hauled ass in that direction, AND, and, and when I got to the last hairpin turn, got a glimpse of the parking lot…

Empty. No one there, no one waiting for someone to leave, no one. SO, I cruise in, get my choice of parking locations, consider hiking quite a distance to even get close enough to see if there is anything even close to a rideable wave. THEN Mr. Smart cruises in. He wants to do the hike, I choose, because there might still be ample parking available for a while, to drive to a place where I can see… flatness, utter flatness, and fog, and just the start of an oncoming wind. West.

THIS doesn’t necessarily mean waves might not just show up. SO, I go back. I decide to take a nap. Reggie, in his much more accommodating accommodations in one of the vans he upgrades for the van-vagabond crowd, also naps.

BECAUSE trying to nap sitting up in a seat that, due to rusting and age, will no longer recline, I wake up after about fifteen minutes. Lo and behold, there is another vehicle in the lot; a Sprinter van. “Hey, man,” I say, approaching the open driver’s side window, “don’t you know the rule of the parking lot?”

“I’m not from around here,” is the reply. “Never say you’re not a local, man.” “I kind of thought the California plates might give me away.” “Oh.”

“SO, the rules of the parking lot; what are they?”

“Well, first, if it’s a surf spot and there are no cars (rigs is an acceptable NW alternative), it probably isn’t breaking. If there are cars, but there are boards on or in them, it probably isn’t breaking. If there are cars that seem to belong to surfers and there are no boards, it might, just might be breaking.”


So we went and looked. Almost breaking, almost rideable, almost ready to get blown out, tide almost too low to surf without damaging one’s self or equipment. A short time later (by Beach Hanging time, faster than Working/School/Zoom Meeting/Church time, somewhat slower than in-the-water time), Adam Wipeout showed up, board under his arm. He, obviously, didn’t want to do the hike twice; but, after introductions and such, he said he would sacrifice this one for the cruel gods of the Strait and go.

Reggie left, my new friend, Joel, who said he was from Oceanside, but when I said I was raised in Fallbrook, admitted he was raised in Vista… another time on our connections… ANYWAY, we both went out. His fin hit a rock on his first attempt at a ride, I got several ten foot rides on ten inch waves, and, when I eventually gave up, what with rapidly outgoing tide, increasing west wind, and no increase in swell, and trudged back to the parking area…

Joel was on a Zoom call. I changed out, left. His van was the last rig in the parking lot.

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