Father’s Day Weekend, International Surfing Day…

…and, as always, I’m just glad to get some waves. Swell windows along the Strait of Juan de Fuca are small, tight, and reliant on so many variables.  And I wouldn’t have even been checking them out or considering surfing on a weekend if I hadn’t had such an exhausting work week; work completed on a frustrating and not-really-all-that-profitable project at about 8pm on Friday, painting stuff piled back into the van, check ATM-deposited.

EDIT; [Hey, wait; was International Surfing Day June 16, or is it June 22nd? Kind of confusing. Doesn’t really matter; I surfed on one of the possibilities, not sure about next weekend; or any weekend, but, since this weekend is gone and the reports are in, it seems like those who really wanted northwest waves got some. So, good.]

It was a Hobuck weekend for sure. It was the kind of Olympic Peninsula weekend Seattle-Siders dream of. White Reggie Longstroke had taken off on Thursday night to secure a prime spot. Temperatures were predicted to be in the 80 degree range, no big disturbing winds, moderate swell.

I definitely had no plans to go to the coast, and was trying to get all the parties together to start another job, miss the mob. I was hoping for a small swell window, like, checking, like today, right now. It’s a maybe, but… yeah, someone might be getting some waves.

Big Dave, who I’d run into on Wednesday or so, me on my way to a job, he standing by his Jefferson County dump truck, waiting, evidently, to fill in some pot holes on the Center Road, and who I really just wanted to clue in on a session I’d had (and he’d missed) with Clint and I pretty much the only surfers out; but he had to tell me the coast looked to be the bet for the weekend, and, man, I really missed the Memorial Day surf at La Push.

“Wait,” I said; I was checking out the camera, swear I caught an image of you bottom-turning on a wave.” “Probably. I was out there.”

I must add that I also got a clue, texted from an unnamed surf zealot down the canal, that there might be a little window that might not show on the forecast, even on the buoys.

“My board’s still on my car,” I texted; “What time r u thinking? 6? 5?”

No response to my “Going for it” text at 4:30. Knowing he had graduation parties to go to, probably from Shelton to Chimacum, I just knew he was already on it in the pre-dawn light.


Okay, this isn’t actually the lineup when I arrived at around 6;45. I did take some photos with my phone, but can’t figure out how to send them to my e-mail. It was similar, but cleaner; the tide already low and headed for the lowest low (I’m told) of the year; and the swell was dropping, had dropped overnight, one surfer was out, one was headed out, two more were suiting up, and, well, I had to get out there.

Adam Wipeout wasn’t already there, but, with all I didn’t know, he might have been somewhere, hitting waves bigger and better.

It was pretty much over two hours later when I slogged through the mid-cove quicksand. Window closed.  On the way home I did pass a lot of surfers, even more kayakers, as many rigs trailering boats.  Hopefully each of those folks found something to enjoy.  With a rising tide, there could have been another window. And there’s always the coast. Hobuck, La Push, various spots in between… maybe.

Geez, it’s already late; got to get to work.



The Last Time I Surfed Swamis…

…yeah, it’s been years. If I hadn’t surfed some amazing spots in the years since, Swamis would still be my favorite surf break. Because it played such an important part in my surf life, from kook (1965 – now) blindly paddling for a wave that, no doubt, had someone on it; to getting a ride with Phillip Harper’s mom, parking in one of the limited spaces adjacent to the outhouse, next to a vehicle with a WindanSea decal, and Phil’s mom saying, “Oh, those Wind-an-E’-Sa guys are so nice;” to riding in the far back (facing backward, sometimes with Phillip along) of the family station wagon with my six brothers and sisters, our Mom, and later, older sister Suellen driving, five or six boards of various ages on the Aloha racks; to powering over with various friends (among them, Ray, Mark, Phillip, Bill, Billy, Bill Birt, and later, Scott and/or Jeff) after Fallbrook High School let out, hoping to snag a few waves before dark; to sleeping on the beach up against the cliffs, hoping to catch a few before it got crowded (and not get rousted by the lifeguards or cops as Phillip and I had been when we tried to sleep in the back of his VW truck on the bluff where the lone house is now); to going with my girlfriend, Trish, she riding a mat in what we called Swamis Beachbreak (the go-to spot when Swamis just wasn’t quite big enough); to going alone while working in Oceanside and going to Palomar Junior (now community) College; surfing every day of the famous swell of December 1969; actually being an Encinitas Local for a couple of years in the mid 1970s (albeit on the east side of I-5); to hitting some uncrowded dawn conditions on January 1st on two consecutive years in the early 1990s (down in San Diego working for my Brother-in-law, Jim Scott when my painting business was struggling with northwest winter conditions); and, the last time, a very small afternoon, not too crowded, and, I can remember, paddling, sort of blindly, on the inside peak, lined-up on the palm tree, hoping I had enough speed and the wave enough power to lift me, carry me to that little inside inside section.

Yeah, one big run-on; one spot remembered fondly.


Secret Surf Spot, Strait-Skunked, and Scanned Silkscreens

I was talking art, and, in particular, t shirts, with Tyler Meeks over at the Disco Bay Outdoor Exchange on my way back from getting Strait-skunked (again). I had found way more wind than swell in my attempt to beat the big weekend (they’re all big weekends in the summer, summerish, summerush) rush to the Olympic Peninsula (and it’s still on, with the going-back-to-civilization slog still to come).

We’re working on some ideas for silkscreened wearable art. He’s more interested in the landscapes, my ‘still wild’ series; than surf illustrations. That’s fine. He said, “If you had some scanned…” “Wait, I do; and not on my always-crooked home version, but professionally.”

So, yeah; here are three from my most recent scanning of oversized, retro, 1980s attic-finds:


I guess I mentioned a secret spot. Well, maybe not secret, but certainly fickle (fickle-er than other fickle spots on the Strait). I did have the good fortune to get an hour or so in on very small peelers at a spot I’ve actually witnessed, once, but never surfed (by the time I talked myself into going out, it was gone- Poof!). But now I have, with cuts on both hands to prove it. NOTE TO SELF: Wear gloves on shallow reefs.

MEANWHILE: I’m already late headed across the Hood Canal Bridge to do some work in helping to gentrify Bremerton. I probably passed you yesterday as you headed west, and I’ll probably pass you this evening on my way back. Or tomorrow evening. You’ll be in the backup, quite possibly surf-sated from several days at…(fill in the spot).

Civilized? No, “STILL WILD.” Coming soon.


Erwin On Dylan and Another Retrieved 80s Silkscreen

I have two more silkscreens from the latest batch of works I had scanned and reduced at The Printery in Port Townsend. Yeah, more from the stash of 1980s works stored in my attic; but my home scanner refuses to fully cooperate. Oh, it’ll do the first one, but then… failure after failure; lots of red Xes. Start over.

So, here’s a drawing of Dylan I never turned into a silkscreen, and a reduced version of a silkscreen that, you might notice, could have been more tightly presented if the above-mentioned scanner would have just… yes, I am aware it’s not squared. The drawing is. Really.

Image (75)

CONFESSION: Part of the reason I never moved this drawing on to the silkscreen process, cutting background run images out of rubylith, is I was never quite totally pleased with it. So, this morning, on one of the 8 1/2 by 11 versions Liz provided me, I took out part of the top dark line. Bob needed to be freed-up to go beyond the borders.

I don’t seem to have the original of the second illustration. I did have a full-sized photo positive, but, unlike some of the others I had, a slight stain on part of it did not allow the image to be saved. But, I do have several of the original serigraphs, so… uncropped… it is:

Image (76)

More to come, plus, maybe a surf story, maybe about how surfing in a crowd (I just had to go to Tacoma and Seattle- haven’t recovered, George Takamoto, who I picked up at the airport, might never recover- “You drive like a maniac!” “Yes, but you knew that.”) is most similar to driving in city/freeway conditions; one false move and the merciless road/wave hogs will cut you off, pass you by, fade you back into the pit.  Yeah, overwrought; like this; like George got when I texted on Hwy 16, spilled his just-purchased groceries in the back of the van on Hwy 3. Sorry, George.

Okay, I was once introduced to someone riding to the beach with Tugboat Bill with the line, “Erwin is merciless in the water.” No, not really; but, put me in traffic where I’m not sure of the lineup and the exits, and… see what I mean?

DURN, checking out the camera at La Push, got a shot of, I swear, Big Dave, cranking a Big Dave bottom turn; but, when I tried to copy it, durn, too late. It’s probably him paddling back out here.  Go, Dave!

Secret Spots on Surf Route 101 and another find

Because my old illustrations and silk screened pieces were on paper, albeit to big for the regular copiers at Port Townsend’s Printery (shout out), the alternative method of having to photograph and scan them (at around $50 a pop) was, um, circumvented by using the scanner/printer usually used for blueprints.

When Liz revealed she could scan color, send the image to a computer, then, yes, print… Yea!

These are two from my most recent attack. I have more. Yes, they’re from the 1980s, and, yes, as was pointed out to me, the bathing suit bottom gives this away.

Sorry, too late to update. Maybe board shirts and a t-shirt? I’ll work on that.

Image (74)Image (73)

Okay, the lines outside the illustration are from my scanner. No time to re-scan.


Stephen Davis Pollo (poy-yo’) Posture Identified (if not explained)

“Yeah, but did you get that other picture I e-mailed you?” “Hey, I’m hanging on a 28 foot ladder, Steve; I haven’t seen any e-mails. What’s it of?” “Well… chuckle, chuckle (not the words, just the ‘hu, hu, huh’)… you’ll just have to see it.”

Yeah, Steve, was evidently not being chased by Big Island volcanic magma, and was, in fact, just out of the water after surfing (okay, I didn’t forget where, but my brain kind of went out, like the spotty cell phone connection, when he said the name); and, evidently,  had done some carpentry work, but was not painting Cap’s catamaran, which, apparently, the new buyer will purchase pretty much ‘as is’.

“Did I tell you someone found my stolen kiteboard, out on the Coyle?” “No. What?” “Yeah, someone, maybe; was breaking into this other guy’s house, and, maybe it dropped out of a pickup or something. Are you working out that way?” “No.” “Okay” “Hey, Steve; what about the…” “Hey, I’ll let you go (people always act like it’s not them who wants off the phone, but a favor to you, or, in this, and other cases, me), you’re kind of breaking up.” “No, I’m not; I can hear you…” Click. Fine.

So, here’s Stephen doing an El Pollo (again, pronounced el poy-yo’), not in the tube.


Here’s a wave, breaking, somewhere, but, evidently, not on the Strait of Juan de Fuca (pronounced, since I’m being a bit pedantic, ‘whan- day-Fuke-ahhhhh’). Adios (okay, ah-de’-ose).

Stephen Davis and the Eruption on the Big Island

Stephen Davis sent out this photo of him of him on “A gut bomb on Cap’s 10’0″.”


I think the message AND the photo are a bit tongue-in-cheek, hence my title for the piece.  Evidently Stephen is not in immediate danger from the volcanic eruptions. But, yeah; the water looks so warm, and I was, indeed, sucked-in by the comment.

It looks like Steve and “Cap” (maybe Stephen doesn’t actually know Cap’s real name- or isn’t allowed to share it- or maybe not with me) seem to be riding a few chunky waves; taking a break from painting Cap’s catamaran. Steve has been doing some crew work on the legendary vessel built by Woody Brown (also legendary), and the boat is, again, evidently, being sold.

Steve did offer me an opportunity to go over and participate in the painting, but, one, I’m too busy painting here, and two, I might not look really good in board shorts.

And, three; if I go to Hawaii, I might not want to work. Aloha.

Whining, Looking Wistfully to the West

“Oh, and you’re so grown up.”

Let me try to make my point here, before I get off track: Mothers are people who see our faults and our potential. They try to guide us toward being responsible grownups.

Or, they see past our faults.

You have, no doubt, noticed that even (people generally identified as) grownups act a bit like children around their parents. A bit bratty, perhaps. An expectation of acceptance and forgiveness is sort of built into parenting. It may, wait a minute, be the very description of parenting.

No, wait; the expectation of acceptance and forgiveness (by our parents) and love (conditional, we’re lead to believe) is the very description of being a child. Being forced/required/expected to be accepting and forgiving and (unconditionally) loving is the description of parenting.

Whoa; that almost requires being a grownup. Grown up.

Trish, 1969

I would like to, right here, get into a whole deal about how my Mother, once I started board surfing, would, on most Sundays, load her seven children into the station wagon, various well-used surfboards on the rack, perhaps Phillip Harper along for the ride, and head for Tamarack. Later, Pipes (before the park), Swamis, maybe Grandview would be the destination. On the way home, we’d inevitably (or usually) stop by the garage in Oceanside where my Dad worked his second job, pick up a few bucks for ice cream or something.

On one particular Sunday, my Mom said we couldn’t go. “What? But…”

“Well, Junior (no, I am named after my father), you have to learn that life is hard; we can’t always get what we want.”

So, I did what I still do, what I’m doing right now with a northwest swell and an over-booked work schedule; I whined. I moped; I kicked the tires on the car. I looked wistfully toward the west; glancing, occasionally, back toward the house to see if this dejected-ness was being noticed.

Soon, we were enroute. I don’t remember if it was good. Didn’t matter.


You must be glad I didn’t get into that; though I add that my mother actually (and thoroughly) enjoyed the Sunday surf trips and told others so. “The housekeeping will still be there,” she told another mother at the beach (before this was in any way cool), big smile on her face. When I started going with friends, or driving myself, my older sister went to college, because our siblings didn’t have the same surf addiction, the trips tapered off. My mother died when I was eighteen.


“Mother’s Day is very tricky.” Adam “Wipeout” James, who, typically, plans some surf activity on Sundays, but, with his wife, Andrea, the mother of their two sons (this is the same person), his mother and her mother all in the general vicinity… yeah, he’ll figure something out.


“Erwin doesn’t give me anything for Mother’s Day. Never has. He says I’m not his mother.” Trisha Scott Dence.


Okay, so, she’s right. I don’t. And, is it Mother’s Day, or Mothers’ Day? She is, of course, the mother of our three children; the one they turn to for wisdom and acceptance and understanding (I sort of think my love for them is understood).


I have to hurry; want to get to the transfer station, get to a job; so, look; I’ve known Trish for very close to fifty years. I went to her 16th birthday party (I was 17, so…not too pervy). Only now realizing how young we were, she and I have grown up together. If I say she’s more a grownup than I am would just be too obvious…

…and not totally true. Yes, I whined to her that the surf was going to happen and circumstances and obligations would not allow me to go. Unless?

I wasn’t looking for someone to give me permission; I’m enough of a grownup to realize overbooking is, in some way, a sign of success (hey, it’s painting season) and surfing or not was my decision. And besides, next time there’s a swell, mid-week; I’m going. For sure. All those weekenders can just… not go. Vent, vent, whine; looking wistfully toward the west.


With our parents gone, orphaned, as most of us become; Trish and I have each other to be our sounding boards, to vent to, complain to. I’m not sure how much we’ve matured in these years; but, if we occasionally act like something other than fully adult, it’s probably with each other. We can disagree, argue; and it’s over.

Wait, maybe that’s more mature than holding in resentments.


To have Trish in my life is a gift to me; along with the acceptance of my faults, a still-there hope I have some (highly advertised [by me], yet-unreached) potential; and her love. Yeah, the love.


Okay; that’s it. Tomorrow, on Mother’s’ Day, as sort of a gift; I’ll drive George Takamoto to Sea-Tac. Of course, it kind of fits into my plan of painting in Silverdale on the way back; but, if Trish thinks it’s a gift… great.


And I hope all you surfers are enjoying the swell. Looks like fog on the coast. Next time. Next….time. And, shit; spent too much time on this; I’ll do the dump run on Monday.

Sideslipping With Archie Endo and Big Dave

When we hang out with other surfers, we kind of brush up against their lives, their stories. We get a brief glimpse, a snapshot.


It’s not clear, and it’s nowhere near a complete picture of someone else’s life; and it’s not enough.

This piece is about a recent trip. Archie, still not recovered enough from the stroke he suffered over a year ago to surf, riding with me to check out one of his favorite surf spots. Finding actually ‘surfable’ (Archie’s term) on the Strait of Juan de Fuca was, as always, a gamble; and this run was scheduled less on surf forecast, and more on time left before Archie had to (today, in fact) return to his working life (middle man in the fishing industry) in Thailand.

That’s not enough information. Atsushi “Archie” Endo, duel citizen, learned to surf in Japan. Somewhat a radical, he was never interested in short boards. He surfed (and will again) with a throwback, 1960s glide; all about wave positioning edge control. I’ve never seen him even try to noseride.  He plays drums and (I’m going to say it) bitchin’ surf guitar, and has an incredible interest in music and language.

An expert in salmon (though now, I think, he’s mostly dealing in Tuna) Archie’s expertise has taken him to coastal locations all over the world.

2013 photos 407Archie is also known for his collection of retro vehicles. This photo was taken a few years ago. Note the lack of surf in the background.


(above) One of Archie’s cars.

On this trip, the only one at this not-secret-spot was Big Dave. While waiting around for the tide to get a bit better (or the waves to get bigger, or something), I probably learned more about Big Dave than I knew from the run-ins with him over the past dozen years.


It’s Big Dave on the left, currently sporting a beard. Now, here’s our connection: When I moved to the Pacific Beach area of San Diego, 20 years old, 1971, Dave was, along with Joe Roper, one of those Crystal “Pier Rats” (his term), 15 years old. It’s not like we hung out; but we were, no doubt, in the water together numerous times.

Archie, at some later date, lived in San Diego; and, he says, one of his favorite surf spots, anywhere, was the P.B. Point, Tourmaline Canyon area. “I lived right up the bluff,” I said. “My parents lived on Thomas Street,” Big Dave said. “In the neighborhood.”

Now; what I learned. While I came to the northwest up I-5 in a U-Haul, Dave sailed here from Hawaii. Dave has stories of sneaking into Ralph’s, having a friend’s boat hit the rocks at Dolphin Tanks, other stories that make the best of mine seem pretty punky.

So; that’s the past. Nowadays Dave is noted for extra long sessions. While I had heard he spent eight hours straight in the water on a recent swell, he said, “It was more like ten. It was a ‘one more wave’ kind of thing.”


Dave, again, on the left. It’s not just like he sits there. Big Dave catches a lot of waves.


So, on this day, with Archie watching from the stadium chair Trish insisted I bring, Big Dave and I were trading off waves. When I said, because the waves were sectioning-off, I had to go down the line a bit rather than stay in the pocket, he asked, “What part of Seattle are you from again?”

When I insisted I was staying high on the waves in order to make the inside section, with the option of pulling out or doing a floater (as opposed to dropping low and ‘barrel dodging,’ an Adam Wipeout phrase), Dave gave me a bit of a tutorial on sideslipping. On my next wave, approaching the inside section, with him paddling out, I reached (as per instruction) for the outside rail. “Hey, what about the paddle?”  Then I went high on the wave, sideslipped back under the lip and onto the face. As per instruction.

It’s not like I haven’t done this before. That’s my defense.

I did take a break after three hours or so, with the excuse that it was rude to leave Archie alone on the beach for so long. Archie insisted he was enjoying it. So, back out for another two hours.

I’m pretty sure Dave got out before Archie and I left.  He probably went back out for ‘one more wave.’ Or so.

We do run into some colorful characters in life. I can keep up with Archie on Hotmail. Big Dave drives a dump truck for Jefferson County; I see him occasionally on the road. Here’s how close we are: When I asked him for his cell phone number, he said he could give me one digit each time we meet. Adam James thought this was the funniest thing. “You could probably guess the first number is a three; huh?”