LATE ADDITION: I was working on a door on a second story deck when someone started yelling at me from the street. I ignored it for a moment, then turned, stood up. It was Shortboard Aaron, stopped on the street. So, of course, I yelled back. Shortly after he drove on, the client ran out and asked if I was all right. “Yes.” I told Stephen Davis about it a bit later. “O,” he said, “A drive by shouting.”
Adam “Wipeout” was heading to Legoland. Carlsbad, California. He was pretty frothed-up at the surf forecast for Southern California and San Diego’s North County when he called me a few days before he and his family were to board the big airliner. “It looks… si-iiii-ckkkkkk!” is pretty much an exact quote. Yeah, Adam is frequently frothing when discussing surfing. Yeah, so am I.
“Where do you think I should go?” Um. “Have you heard of Grandview?” Yeah, that was my spot. “I thought Swamis was your spot.” It was. They were all my spots.
I felt compelled to give Adam a list: TAMARACK was my spot, where I started board surfing; then GRANDVIEW because that’s where, when I was a freshman at Fallbrook High, the older surfers went; then OCEANSIDE (pier, harbor jetties, any peak that was working) because I worked in Oceanside; then PACIFIC BEACH (and the adjacent beaches- Mission Beach, Tourmaline, Windansea, Sunset Cliffs) because I lived in PB; then LA JOLLA SHORES (and adjacent beaches) because I lived in University City, just across I-5; then any spots in the ENCINITAS area because I lived in Encinitas (albeit east of I-5); but TRESTLES because I worked just up the hill from, and with a killer view of LOWERS for ten months, and was able (not actually authorized) to park on the beach; then OCEAN BEACH because we moved to Mission Hills, just up from Old Town San Diego and OB was the closest beach, and it was a pain in the ass to go anywhere farther.
I must add that I did a lot of surfing at SAN ONOFRE when I was in High School. Never after. The go-to spot, with my inland surfer friends, was probably the beach breaks between Swamis and Pipes, not capitalized because I don’t want to blow up the spot. I did surf, on return trips to San Diego, some Swamis, most notably two times on New Year’s day, dawn patrol, not too crowded, some Sunset Cliffs while working for the Navy on the other side of Point Loma, and a few sessions at Pipes and Grandview, with my old friend Ray Hicks. Oh, and one session at La Jolla Shores with my nephew, Trisha’s brother’s son, Dylan Scott.
All of that is past tense. Long past. For the last forty-plus years I’ve been way west of I-5, trekking to a variety of spots, most of them kind of known, all of them extremely fickle, and none of them spots I would like to see become more crowded.
There are some places I have surfed that I will almost certainly never visit again. Lupe’s Left Loopers in Mazatlan, a super rare inside-the-harbor spot down by where my father once lived (with Adam Wipeout on that one). I still might cruise down to Short Sands or Seaside, stay at my brother’s (once my father’s), piss off a few regulars.
Swamis? I would love to. SO, when Adam got down to San Diego and the waves were uncrowded and chopped up by the old south wind, and he asked me where he might surf…
Because everything that happens is part of some bigger story, because I try to capture bits of that story as they fly by, because, objectively, it is kind of an interesting if not unique tale, I did write about my work van breaking down in Gig Harbor. I will check out the version I wrote for the Quilcene Community Center Newsletter, then, more than likely, make some… changes.
Another Chapter in the Serial
I was driving my van home from the repair shop, and I was… anxious. Very anxious. There was a noise like a nearly worn-out fan coming from the front of the van. I had checked. It wasn’t, thankfully, the blades hitting the radiator. There was another sound, like sheet metal vibrating and clanging. And then there was the occasional clunk.
Clunk, like the engine was taking a breath, like the automatic transmission couldn’t decide which gear to go into. Clunk.
My hands were gripping the steering wheel. The rain was coming down at a just-under monsoon volume. The wipers were not quite keeping up. My breathing was overwhelming the defroster. The traffic was at the race-stop-slow-race-repeat phase of the afternoon retreat from the major cities, Tacoma in this case, that starts sometime before four pm and ends sometime before midnight… depending.
I called everyone I have on my contact/speed dial list on my supposed-to-be-stealth flip phone. None of my contacts, almost exclusively family and other surfers, picked up.
Trish, who had driven me to Gig Harbor, was ahead of me, somewhere, headed for our daughter Dru’s house in Port Gamble. Dru had picked me up a couple of weeks before, on another rainy night, when my van just stopped running. I would have turned on the radio for the distraction if I wasn’t so concerned, wasn’t listening so intently for some sounds that might suggest the van might make it the sixty-some miles from Gig Harbor to… home.
What I know about vehicles making that dead air hiccup is that one only gets so many clunks. I know this because my father, a mechanic, supplied me with a stream of almost-dead vehicles from the time I got my license; rigs that would break down for a variety of reasons: Overheating, lack of oil, abundance of speed; and after a variety of warning signs, the random clunk being one of the most dire. The direst. I learned to be the guy steering the car at the dumb end of the tow chain. First but not the only rule: Don’t hit the lead vehicle.
I continued the habit of buying cars and work rigs, each with a variety of the problems associated with high mileage and advanced age. Cheaper. I have been given several vehicles. Each was almost worth it. Few of my discount vehicles have survived me. In fact, more than a few people have told me I should write a book about my life as a serial vehicle killer.
There are many good stories if good means entertaining for someone other than me. Perhaps you read about my recent black ice experience. The damage was enough that repairing the rig with mega miles and many little quirks and dings, a vehicle I bought for four hundred dollars, (practically a gift) didn’t seem like a reasonable choice, money-wise. Tragic, nonetheless; I never got to take it on a surf trip.
I need a work rig. Replacing even an older vehicle has gotten expensive. When the van broke down with electrical problems that are inarguably associated with high mileage and a lack of a recent tune up, the repair costs didn’t seem too onerous. That is, when I finally found a garage that would work on a vehicle built in the last century (computer thing- diagnosis). When thieves stole the catalytic converter in the garage’s lot, caught on camera, and slammed into my van to evade the local Gig Harbor Police, also caught on camera, doing additional damage, and escaped; and the garage, which had total control of my van, informed me that their insurance wouldn’t cover it; and the Gig Harbor cop who called me (when the garage didn’t) to ask if I wanted to be a victim (“No”), and if I would press charges if the perpetrators were caught (“Hell, yes”), and I asked him if they even got, like, a license number or something from the red truck, with trailer, featured in the above-mentioned video (“It was probably stolen”); well, all that just adds to the intrigue, the excitement of the story. For just a bit of added color, or fun, with a one-hundred-dollar deductible, there was almost three hundred dollars the garage wanted, over what my insurance company would cover.
Oh, and the broken lights and front-end damage, from the thief crashing into my van to (successfully) evade the cop; that could be dealt with, my insurance provider said, on a separate claim. The assumption is that the crooks in the possibly stolen vehicle (with trailer) were most likely uninsured.
Makes sense, I guess.
When I did make it home. I immediately investigated as to whether a replacement catalytic converter needs a break in period. Yes. This, Google and YouTube agreed, is accomplished by getting the engine up to running temperature, then racing the engine at high rpms for about four minutes. This, quite obviously, had not been done. Worst thing, according to Google, is to just drive a vehicle home, ever so slowly.
The repair shop manager had not even told me there would be a needed procedure. He might have if I hadn’t said something sarcastic (a comparison with Les Schwab and vacuuming) when he said the mechanics had not replaced the “Doghouse” (in garage talk), the cover for the portion of the engine that extends into the cab of a van (in regular talk), because they hadn’t taken it off. True, that was Stephen Davis and me, hoping the fix was something simpler (it wasn’t).
I did get an automated text from the chain repair shop’s corporate level just as I was hitting another storm cell at the bottleneck at Gorst (which is right before the bottlenecks at Bremerton, Silverdale, Poulsbo, the Hood Canal Bridge). How would I rate the service I had received?
I’m still thinking about it.
“Vehicles I Have Killed. An Incomplete List.”
If you’re still with me… it’s like ALL the buoys are down. No, I don’t blame tweakers.
…wasting too much of my time. Shit, I’m not even that stoked on watching really good surfers; but, trying to watch some of the action from contests I missed because I just can’t stay up all night AND go to work, or, honestly, looking for a little surf porn, real surfers ripping on real waves, I have been tricked into watching some punk-ass kooks claiming and celebrating surf school quality rides. Yes, I’ve been severely You-tubed.
Yes, I am a consenting adult, but…
Yes, I should know better; but… really… I mean, if there’s, say, a video selection promising super good waves at a North County point break. “Oh, must be Swamis or Trestles.” Hit. No, it’s some kook cruising Encinitas on his one speed bike, some chatter about how cool he is to be living where he does and doing what he does. I have learned how to put my finger on the red line and fast-forward past some of the probably-sponsored hype. “I always get a pre-surf smoothie here.” Okay, surfing. Yeah, he’s in the inside-ist inside section, awkwardly soft-topping into ankle snappers like he came in number three at the surf school contest.
Scroll down and search. Oh, some other Metuber is rating San Diego County surf spots. Terramar, Tourmaline; must be up to the T’s. His commentary, disappointing. The surf action? Ummm.
Okay, I will watch Nathan Florence videos. He’s personable… and he rips. I might watch, finger on the red line, something by Jamie O’Brien. I did, this morning, watch the top 5 from Margaret River and the condensed version of the men’s and women’s finals.
But I also got partway through a video promising some Northwest surfing. Westport, as it turned out, kook riding the soup, making faces, sticking his tongue out, shooting gang signs (I assume). And then there’s the inevitable ‘subscribe’ dealie.
Then again, I don’t have to. The cloud gods know what I’ve been looking at. Next time I hit Youtube, I will, undoubtedly, get, along with some political stuff, some art stuff, more kooks with cameras stuff.
WAIT. YES, I do realize I might seem hypocritical. Yes, it would be great if I could make any kind of money writing about surfing. Yes, I do frequently ride small waves (not soup), and yes, I do pimp the shit out of realsurfers to anyone I talk with for more than two minutes. “Yes, I did find everything… all right. Thank you. Slide or tap? Tap. Okay. You know, speaking of tapping, I have this website and…”