The Line Between Respect and Pity

I’ve been trying to get an image of how thick that line is for a couple of days; or even if this is the line I’m really concerned with. Maybe, probably, I’m a bit too sensitive to my own position, as I, um, mature… okay, we’ll just say ‘age,’ in the overall surfer lineup. Maybe? Definitely.  Actually, I always have been.

When I first started board surfing, I’d sneak into the pack at Tamarack as if I belonged there, a big, kook smile on my 13, almost 14 year old face. Soon I was paddling, head down and blind, into a wave at Swamis that, undoubtedly, had someone on it, with me as an impediment to a great ride. I did stay in the lagoon section at pre-jetty extension at Doheny, an eye on the surfers out on the reef. I was learning, frequently thrashed by waves, but always happy to be out there.

It wasn’t too long a time before I tried, hard, to be one of the better surfers out on any given day. Competitive.

This hasn’t changed in fifty-two years. Hasn’t changed yet. Yet, though I’ve always pushed them, I’ve always known my limitations. At least I knew there are limitations. When I was a kook, I knew it. If I didn’t, other surfers told me. I was told to go (by one guy in particular, but also by consensus) to the Carlsbad Slough to practice knee paddling when I pearled on an outside wave, causing four or five surfers to scramble. I didn’t go, but moved away from the main peak. I was sent to the south peak at Grandview when I lost my board in a failed kickout, putting a ding in John Amsterdam’s brand new Dewey Weber Performer. I did go, looking longingly back at the rights.

It’s not me, though I did once have a VW bus (and hair)

Another lost board incident, with a near miss with some stinkbug-stanced kook Marine swimming after his borrowed-or-rented board found him standing on my board in the shallows. “You like this board,” he asked, threatening to break it into “a million pieces if I ever tried to hit him with it again.” He had two friends to back him up; I had my second brother down, Philip. “Okay.” Still, I paddled back out, ten feet away from him and his friends, brave look on my face.

I persisted. With the nearest waves twenty miles from Fallbrook, I always went out. South wind, north wind, white-caps, big or small. There were setbacks, times I just couldn’t connect, couldn’t get into the rhythm; days where trying to get out for another closeout seemed like more work than it was worth; but I was improving.

Hey, this will have to be part one; I just have to go, and I don’t have the whole arc figured out. I’ll be sixty-six in August; I’m still as stoked (and as immature, emotionally) as ever; still want to be, during any given surf session, competitive.  I do admit to having more handicaps than I’d like.  I’ve adjusted. Bigger board, mostly.

I had two sessions this week; the first, at a mutant slab with a massive current. I was humbled.  While I was thrashed and sucked, others were thrashed and got some great rides. I would love to say I wasn’t embarrassed as much as disappointed in myself. That’s what I’d love to say; the truth is, again, I’m still working that out.   Possibly to make up for this, I went to a more user-friendly spot the next day. I didn’t suck.

just coming up. Photo by Jeffrey Vaughan.

Not really surprisingly, a couple of older surfers I’ve surfed with before showed up. When the waves went from almost flat to pretty darn good, one of them, as cool a surfer as one would meet, admitted that, when he sees great waves, “I just get giddy!”

This giddiness, something so profound that we can forget the posturing and coolness, is at the very heart of surfing. It’s something common to all real surfers. Maybe it takes a better wave to bring it out in some, but that bustable smile is there.  We’re all, occasionally, humbled.  The ocean always gets the last word.  Not actually ready to be humble, yet, I’m persisting.

 

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The World Surf League, “Hard Yards,” Sharing, Not Sharing

Without permission from the World Surf League (WSL), I’ve taken a photo from their site. If they disapprove, here are several things in my argument: 1. I love the WSL  and their live coverage (and the fact there is live coverage). I’ve gotten up early and/or stayed up late to watch contests from all over the world. 2. It’s not like I make any money on this site, even IF I mention the WSL. 3. I’ll see if I can get “express, written permission…” in a moment.

This is a drawing I did for a piece on the World Mind Surfing League

 

Here’s the shot I’ve borrowed. Decisive scores for a close heat between Kelly and Gabriel Medina were about to fall. Kaipo Guerrera had, boldly, aggressively, just grabbed both of them, all looking at the screen in anticipation. I do always root for the overdog, if it’s Kelly Slater, and felt he should have won the heat. In the same way, having watched Stephanie Gilmore lose a close one to Carissa Moore, a heat that, if Stephanie had been scored correctly on either of her two best waves… yeah, big Stephanie fan, also, not taking away anything from anyone else on the tour, each of whom surfs better than… Here’s the truth:The difference between any WSL surfer and a regular (or ‘real’) surfer is the same as the difference between us and the casual, once-in-a-while-on-vacation surfer. Massive.

I really wanted to talk about secret spots and the information we share about secret and/or fickle surf spots. If you knew that I took off right after this moment, then got back in time to watch Stephanie win the final at Snapper Rocks, and Owen (“O Dog” according to Martin Potter) Wilson, back from a year off after a concussion at Pipeline, win a close one against Wilko (okay, I’m just going to use nicknames for people I don’t actually know); if you did some calculations on time and distance, checked back on buoy readings, tide charts, you might know something, too much, possibly, about where I surfed (and that I surfed, if I did), secret, fickle, or great. Check it out, Sherlock.

So, here’s something Potts says all the time. “You have to put in the hard yards.” That’s the thing about sharing info. My friend Daryl Wood, pathfinder in surfing on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, said surfers would see his vehicle parked on someone’s private property (with permission), and, the next time he came there, other surfers would be there. Word had spread. It’s been a while since surfers had to call people to have anyone to surf with.  And we love to brag. Other surfers have gone down trails, followed streams, explored; keeping a mental record of when a spot worked, how well it worked. Hard yards. Anecdotal becomes, with enough of it, science.

We’ve all benefited from information on where to go and when; but most of us have spent some long hours studying, waiting; have traveled in search of waves. It can be irritating when someone who hasn’t just checks out a forecast; or gets a call from the beach, shows up. “My wave.”

But I love to talk; and, if I score… so guilty. Trying to quit, but I only have a small circle of surf friends. And they have friends. Basically, if you share too much information, expect the person to share waves with you, and some of his or her friends, next time.  That said, the waves weren’t awesome the time I’m writing about;  at least not where I went. A couple of other surfers did show up, weren’t impressed, didn’t want to have wet wetsuits for the next day when, they hoped, there was a chance for some waves. “Really?” I asked.

The truth is, we don’t need more information, we need more swell. Meanwhile, next WSL event, Margaret River. I think their dawn is, geez, I don’t know; probably prime time here. We’ll see. I’ll still be rooting for the overdogs… and O Dog. And a shout out to Strider.

Random Shots in the Parking Lot

You can win in the water and still lose the session in the parking lot. I was discussing this with Stephen Davis, still couch/spot surfing, with some kite surfing sessions thrown in, up from Baja to the Great Northwest. Surfers may spend as much or more time in parking lots and road pullouts and overlooks and on the beach than in the water. And, perhaps because surfing… no, I really don’t know why it gets so competitive, but we have to admit it does.

First, here’s a drawing:

Since it wasn’t clear it’s a wave from high above, not some random abstraction, I colored it. Since my scanner repeatedly failed to scan the cropped color image. Okay, still abstract… with explanation.

So, let’s see if Steve’s account of an incident at an unnamed Central California coast spot comes through. It’s exactly how I received it:

4people out at rincon
Stephen Davis

Yesterday, 10:33 PM

Oops. I accidentally hit send.

So then I bundle my shit up and I’m chilling in the van and this redneck with a huge beer gut pulls in and slowly drives by the front of my van mean mugging the shit out of me.
I’m thinking, “who the fuck is this guy?” Now.
Whatever, I was done kiting.
Jesse broke it down. I guess beer gut grew up surfing a heavy central coast reef and is a local there his whole life.
So decided to take his localism act into the kite scene.
He fucked with Jesse a bunch when he was learning and now talks to him i guess. He reputedly speared his kiteboard into a guy and broke his board tip off in the guys hip. That’s how “cool” he is.
I laugh because none of these assholes are Pomo or Lajolla Indian and even if they were they still wouldn’t own the sea or the air or even the beach in truth.
So we’re all sposed to suck up to this shithead?
No gracias.
Not this lifetime.
He kept staring at me and drinking beer and laughing with his “bro”.
The end
No big deal.
Nothing really happened other than I felt sorry for beer guts life path of bullying.
Sad.
Another alcoholic heading for death with no clue what love or kindness is.
Not my business.
S
Sent from my iPhone
 Stephen Davis

Yesterday, 4:59 PMYou

Hey Erwin.

Ya, so here is what happened.I was hanging at the beach with Jesse. Drinking coffee. We met Stacy and this other sup guy and talked about what the wind would do.

Stacy told us about cool sand bars that were working and where. He also told us about cool kite spots where there are fewer people. We were all chill.
So later, when the wind came up, I asked Jesse if I was going to bum everyone out by going out and being a kook. He said, “not at all, don’t worry about it.” We both thought it was chill.
I took my time and set up slow. Went out and had fun. No one seemed to mind me overall and it could have been worse. After a few waves my chicken loop came unhooked cause my donkey dick popped out. I cruised to the beach to rehook it and this dude starts yelling, “get down wind of me!”
Trying to control me as if I was somehow harming him instead of walking around me. In other words it was easier for him to boss me around.
So that was weird.
I said sorry and that my loop popped off. After that he was cool for some reason.
I was tripped out so I landed my kite with someone’s help but he set me down with my line on this chicks kite.
She got super bitchy and victimy like I had soiled her moment with my existence.
BACK TO ME. So, not being a kite surfer, I don’t know what a chicken loop or donkey dick might be. Rather, I don’t know what they actually are.  I probably will have more on the subject, but, wait, here’s a couple of shots of Adam “Wipeout” James at a secret spot, the important thing being that the place is throwing a lip.
adamwipeoutlipthrown
DURN: So, in almost keeping with the new rules of not revealing, Adam called me on his way home, after dark, photo taken by someone who doesn’t know all the rules. Still, one has to look. And that lip? Legit, just like Adam said, but probably not overhead. Okay, I’m saying Westport. Later Adam revealed he hit his head twice on his board during this session; but still claims he thinks he made this particular wave.
Meanwhile, and always, in the clique-ish/tribal, middle-school-mentality of the parking lot… if one can’t be super cool… no, I don’t have it figured out. I do try to not be ‘super bitchy and victimy,’ not wanting to soil my or anyone else’s moments. That’s in the parking lot. In the water…

Hydrosexual Stephen Davis Goes South: Part I

There is just too much tension and guilt on the fickle Strait of Juan de Fuca right now. TENSION caused by too many surfers showing up any time there’s a chance of actual waves actually breaking, GUILT from believing that talking about, and worse, writing about, and way worse, sending photos of anything bigger than a dribbler, sharing too much information with too many people.

SHARING; who’d have guessed it’d be a bad thing? We’re all taught to share from pre-school on… but Damn it, we don’t want to share. We’re surfers, ready to go it alone. That is, if we have to.

BUT, maybe we’re all POPULATION DENIERS. I’ve often said “Uphere (the Pacific Northwest) Now is like Downthere (Southern California) Then (the mid sixties, still post-Gidget, like it’s her fault).” And it still is, and it has been- a low surfer/spot ratio; call a few friends to have someone to go with; an opportunity, an adventure, sometimes finding a good and uncrowded spot to surf; and a chance to make new friends. But, it’s now more crowded, and likely to continue in that direction, but, with the coast being pretty harsh, and jobs mostly inland; the chances of… yeah, more crowds, it’s happening; and sorry, it’s not ALL my fault.

In an attempt to chill the fuck out,  I’ll never post a photo of a recognizable NW spot, or name even a well known spot, and, maybe you remember my heading photo, riding a seemingly-endless wave. GONE. Obviously too many kooks saw that shot, asked ‘where is that; I gots to go there,’ and, boom, 37 people in the water.

I did start this site to get my drawing out there, and to write about my former surfing experiences; never really thinking that I’d have such a vibrant current surfing life. And I’ve loved it, and do love it; but now the BLAME game is in full play, and I’m on more than one list. Gidget, people aren’t hip to Gidget; we now blame people who are just too damn chatty, too exuberant. Well, most of my surfing career has been on my own, surfing in crowds, none of the members of which could be classified as friends. GHETTO MENTALITY. I wasn’t loud in the water; I competed for the best waves. I’ve done it; and I can still do it.

It is fun surfing with friends. More fun, even; all bullshit aside; and there is that TRIBAL thing; most of us willing to admit we want to be part of that often-dysfunctional group. “Oh, you surf? Hmmmm.”

SO, I’ll be following my friend, Hydrosexual Stephen Davis, currently on a solo trip towards Mexico. I’ll be doing some drawings ala Griffin/Stoner (Who?), but right now, I’m posting a few shots he’s sending me. If it’s your local spot, or you think it’s a secret; I don’t care. It’s not like you and I are friends.

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fortpointdavisstevesntacruz

Don’t let the lack of crowds fool you, though Stephen said he surfed a really good point break with seven or eight others out, and everyone “Was pretty nice. Sharing.” Whoa; there’s that word again.

photos from fairly recent encounter

My sister, Melissa, took a few photos when we were both down at Chinook, visiting our Dad. I wrote and posted about the session earlier, and Melissa and I went over the photos she took of the session (one did include the guy who, when I moved just a little too far up the point, told me I needed to get myself over to the beach breaks). Hey, I was ready to get out anyway.

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Since then our 92 year old father has had, after many delays and a couple of stints in the hospital, an angioplasty procedure, successful, with a stent put in. He’s recovering; I’m going to go down to see him, and, if I see something breaking I can’t resist…

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…if you have a problem with me showing up, maybe you’ll have to talk to my father about it.  No, you can talk to me. I’d post more photos, but I asked Melissa to only send me ones where the waves were bigger and/or I was thinner. Big rocks, huh; at this semi-private, semi-secret spot?

Meanwhile, I’m way too busy right now to even get the additional pages for my coloring book set up… but I’m working on it.

 

TOP DOGS; Called-Out Twice in Eight Days

I’m not even saying I don’t deserve to take some grief for paddling out at a spot with a tight and critical takeoff zone on my big-ass SUP. I am saying I won’t be taking it out at this one particular spot again; already made that promise to one of the other surfers, one who didn’t say that, if he got injured because of an encounter with me and/or my big-ass board, “We’re going to have a problem.”

It’s not even like this was the only collision or near-collision yesterday. If there’s a takeoff zone of about fifteen feet, max, and five surfers angling and jostling and jockeying; well; there’s going to be some… issues.

The waves at this fickle spot break very close to big rocks, with a minimal amount of time between waves. So, imagine three guys in position, one takes off, the next guy misses the next wave, takes the next. That leaves two guys paddling out, and the takeoff is between them, or, maybe, right toward or over them paddling back out. If you wait for a turn, politely, as if there’s some sort of line in a lineup, you, might not get a wave. If you miss a wave, you’re in the impact zone. If you’re on a big-ass board and someone makes a last second decision to go, late drops… whoa! Bail and hope for the best.

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I should say five highly competitive and skilled surfers (and, yeah, I’m including myself), each of whom is capable of performing on the right wave, are just too many for the spot. Add in that the rideable waves only show up occasionally, and disappear quickly; and the competitive nature that only gets, let’s say, ‘enhanced’ by the competition, and someone’s going to get burned. And someone did. One surfer got frustrated and left; I persisted, and after the call-out by the surfer I’d have to say is the top dog in this neighborhood; and after he left, and another competitor got out; I remained until the tide shift shut it all down. It was two of us for a while; mellower vibe. Another guy, who had never surfed there before, came out; still not hostile/dangerous/hyper. Oh, maybe he thought it was an acceptable level of competitiveness.

Well; again, sorry for getting in the way. And, again, I did say I wouldn’t bring the big board out there again. [DISCLAIMER: Maybe if it’s just me.] I’ll finish glassing my stripped-down and thick 9’4,” now a thick-as-possible 8’6″ wavecatcher. That should work. Or, following the advice of another surfer out that day, “lose 50 or sixty pounds and go back to riding short boards.” Yeah, it was a hurtful comment, but I may have given him a pass when I said “I can’t do anything about getting older; I could get thinner.”

I suppose another option would be to quit.

No. Oh, I’ll be riding the SUP at the proper (determined on a case-by-case basis) spots, gliding between… Again, sorry, SBA; you do rip!

Don’t Challenge the Locals, unless…

…I was just about to leave, anyway; after my third trip onto the rocks (boulders, really); but I figured I’d paddle a little farther up the point, just to see… what?

That was my mistake. It’s clear now; but it wasn’t at the moment the white-haired guy started yelling at me. Yes, he had been silent when I was surfing the next peak down, though he had given me the stink eye when I sort of approached the main peak, a glare in response to my nod (and a nod, unreturned… ooh, that does say something).

But this time, I had paddled past him, farther up the point, taken the ‘inside’ position. This was, at any break, and particularly at a notoriously localized Oregon break, criminal. And I was on an SUP. True, bad knees, a bad ankle, and way too much weight (confirmed by photos my sister Melissa took) tends to keep me from standing on any but the longest waves) and these barrels all ended up on those boulders.  Stay too long over the boils, or get caught inside, it’s, well, difficult; but (this guy, probably my age, was on a short board- and I never really saw him make a wave- irrelevant, I know, but…) I was on a big board, pushing to the head of the pack (three other surfers, pack-wise), the point of the spear. It was like I, the non-local, was making a statement. He had to say something.

“Why don’t you… those things… one of our guys had to be airlifted outahere…geez… why don’t you go over to…” he nodded (unfriendly kind of directional nod), toward the miles of mushy and/or closeout beachbreak to our north… “those things don’t belong…”

“Yes, they can be dangerous,” I said, and paddled north, catching one more barrelling rock-roller, careful to pull out the back over the outside boils.

I had some time to think about the little confrontation, that, obviously, the local won, on the long paddle back, (catching another couple of mushburgers in the kook/non-local/SUP-allowed area. “One of our guys.” This wasn’t me. Only a little ironically, I had a discussion earlier with a guy in the parking lot on how locals “get all butt-hurt” when someone they don’t know makes the trek or paddle over to this semi-sacred spot.

Butt-hurt.

Another surfer, over at the showers, said a sponsored shortboarder he knows had to walk past the fire on the beach, in someone’s yard, where the locals sometimes hang, got heckled; then ripped it up enough that he was ‘nearly embraced’ on his way back past the same fire. The next guy in line for the shower (and I gave way) actually was the guy who was hit by some SUP A-hole’s board, suffered a concussion, and had to be airlifted out. Was that a lot ironic, or merely a lot coincidental?

He was nice, 68 years old, thin, formerly of the Sunset Cliffs area of Ocean Beach, San Diego. “Luscombs; that’s where I cut my teeth.” “Yeah, I’ve surfed it; mostly when I lived in PB.” He knows the guy who asked me to leave. “Yeah, well; give him my best,” I said.

I immediately went back to thinking about the confrontation. “I’ve never run over anyone,” I had said to the SUP victim, not forgetting (but not mentioning) that I had once run into Archie’s board. And I told him about my worst-ever, non-self-inflicted injury, a full-body hit by a guy on a regular longboard. Still, he had to mention how SUP’ers can catch more waves, overwhelm a lineup. No, that hadn’t been me. Not that day, anyway. I did wait my turn; I did sit ‘down-wave’ from the main peak.

Melissa told me that no one owns the ocean, and I shouldn’t help carry someone else’s garbage; and, when I didn’t, she said “just get over it.” I’ve had more time to think about it. Maybe a couple of those locals might show up to a beach I frequent some time. Thinking, still thinking. I’m back home on Surf Route 101 now, another spot on my list of places surfed (next to Luscombs, maybe); but I am going down to do some work on my Dad’s house soon.

Thinking, just thinking. Oh, and now I’m wondering if the victim, who hadn’t been out at the sacred spot on this day (though he said he reached his quota- 15) was hit over in the main break. I mean, wouldn’t that kind of suggest it wasn’t the board, it was the paddle-past?

 

Barrel-Dodging With Adam Wipeout

Evidently my paint sales people remember my surfing stories; or some of them; tales of two foot waves and rocks and ear infections and surfers who, on hearing how great the waves were on a Saturday, show up at dawn on a Sunday when the waves are half as big. Yeah, I’m talking about Adam “Wipeout” James, who said he couldn’t think even about surfing while he had so much work that just had to be done.

But there he was, actually getting out of the water when I rolled up. And then he was too tired to go back out. And then he did.

And then, in position for the ‘wave of the (this particular, would have been average the day before) day,’ Adam blows the takeoff (he did well otherwise, other than an ‘off the back’ that was supposed to be a cutback).

Sure, it can (and has, and will) happen to any of us. There’s a penalty (worse in Hawaii, I’ve heard) for this particular type of incident, no doubt mentioned by me, possibly reinforced by Keith Darrock, one of the other surfers out this day (and the day before, and pretty much any time the place breaks), and someone who hates to see a rideable wave go unridden. “Wave of the day, Adam.”

Adam, though remorseful, nevertheless struck back. “At least I’m not a barrel dodger,” he said, paddling for the next non-wave of the day, watching to see if I’d challenge him for it.

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“Barrel Dodger?” Pause. “Me?” Wait; let me think. Have I ever dropped low, under a falling section, rather than staying high, risking getting pitched into the rocks? Have I?

If I have, I won’t again. Thanks Adam.

The Lost Paddle- The Full and (not quite) Final Story

You may have to study this photo carefully. There are some clues.

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Clint, boat shop owner from Port Townsend (with cracker), is sitting in front of Tim Nolan’s car. Beyond Clint is the man I only know as Nick. Behind Nick is his son, Adam. Beyond Nick and Adam is my SUP and my car, thermos and cup on the top, the back open. Beyond that is an older model Suburban, owned by a guy named Raj. Beyond that is some surfer who got her too late, wondering where the hell the waves went; or if there had been waves at all. All will be explained.

If you look a bit closer, you may discern a paddle on top of the heavily-damaged, never-repaired (partly because I still insist I’m not a dam SUPer) SUP. That would be the paddle Nick just, and this was shockingly gracious, gave me. I carry it with me when I go surfing, ready to return it to him when we next meet up. Tim Nolan may not be in this photo because he was taking a picture with his telephoto of my paddle, stuck in the wire rope holding two of the three pilings that instantly identify this spot. The surfer who performed the act/prank of grabbing a paddle I would have bailed to recover had the wave not been so good was, at this time, unknown. I should say, at that time.

So, I’m actually going to write this epic mystery/saga on my zip drive (rather than here, live), so… so stay tuned.

CHAPTER ONE- SURFING WITH gOD (the upper/lower case is relevant)

I asked the other stand up paddleboarder what it was he liked about surfing. “When I’m on a wave,” he said, “I feel like God.” Okay. A few rides later I had to ask, “You mean like ‘a’ god; or, like ‘the’ God?” “If I’d said ‘a god’ it’d have a completely different meaning; now, wouldn’t it?”

It would (to be continued). Wait, here’s a photo of Clint taken on a different day at another (secret, or, I should say ‘secret’) spot. It was taken by Adam “Wipeout” James, sent to me to gloat, originally, and, more recently, as part of the ongoing discussion of what constitutes ‘head high.’ Adam will also be a character in the upcoming mystery. So, yeah; okay, it does seem to be head high.  [UH-OH, couldn’t use the shot- too much extra information]. You’ll have to take my word for it; It’s headhigh, Adam Wipeout Scale; I’d say five feet, three feet Hawaiian.

 

“So, like, it’s, um; where did, you know, these waves come from? You know?

The guy on the left,  Sheep-collar Beardman, says, “Hey, Robin Hoodie, look at Mr. ‘I-just-rolled-in-from-Houston’ Tourist with the camera-slash-smartphone; like he’s never been to a wave park before.” The  to-remain-unnamed guy in the van with his own camera-slash-smartphone says, to himself, “Whoa; Derisive Derrick just turned into Drop-in Derrick! He burned Shortboard Aaron sooooo bad! Badly. Third degree burning! And I have proof.”

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Robin Hoodie, without looking away from The Tourist, cleverly disguised in a “Surf Galveston” t-shirt (under the unbuttoned Costco shirt), asks Beardman, “Yeah, um, I know all about these here waves. It’s all because they don’t have a sewer system in Victoria.” “You’re wrong, man; the waves come from… but, uh, no; I mean, uh, what do you mean?” “It’s scientific, Doofburger; they have, like, collection tanks, and…” “So, it’s like a big ass toilet?” “Yeah…” laughing… “Really big ass. Like your mother’s.” “Hey, not fair, Dingledork.”

Meanwhile, out in the wavepark, Shortboard Aaron, riding, today only, a really big ass homemade board someone found in a barn over on Marrowstone Island, gets a flush-roller to himself as Drop-in, peering into the water, stands up on his standup paddleboard, the glasses he was so casually sporting, now somewhere among the rocks.

“Let me review my photos,” the still-unnamed-guy in the van says, temporarily distracted by the image in his sideview mirror.

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“Okay, there’s the shot,” VanMan says. “Oh, and here’s one with, I think it’s Longboard Aaron and… those must be the folks from the Mercedes. Tourists, wondering where the heck these waves came from.”

The guy at the computer (me, obviously) says, “I better blow that one up. I wonder what those people are saying.”

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“Sure,” the woman (on the left in photo) is obviously saying, “Romantic walk on the beach my ass. He’s  trying to look cool and all Port Townsend-y. I don’t care about surfboarding and how waves from Russian come down the Strait of Juan de Fuca.” Aaron, back in the soup, is saying, “Nice fade, Derrick. Next wave I’m burning you. Don’t care if it IS your birthday.” Drop-in is saying, “I’d be cooler if I hadn’t lost my cool shades.” The man with the hip beanie is saying, “Find!! And I think they’re the 100 percent UV-blocking kind.” “Uh huh,” his wife says, wondering if he’ll help her up to the parking lot. “Sorry we didn’t see any great whites,” he says, actually having meant to say Orcas or Killer Whales, but distracted by his new self image; “they have a great DVD back at the B & B.” The woman says something under her breath, as her husband, an unbagged and sand-covered piece of dog poop squishing from the heel of his sandals, ponders how wonderful it would be to live a beach comber’s life, then says, actually quite loudly, knowing Poopy Sandals isn’t listening, “and when you said great whites; silly me; I had a different thing in mind. Moby Dick my ass.”

Meanwhile, over in Victoria, someone pulls the handle and, Woosh.

Wait, wait; the forever-unnamed photographer and observer told me that, a bit later, the Tourist met up with Beard and Hoody, inquiring about legal weed. “Weed?” “Yeah, ya’ll; like, dope, mary jane; mari-jeuh-wanna. I hear it’s legal, and, well; figured you’d..” When he realized both were (this is a quote) “a bit drunk and a lot stupid; though that’s kinda like being stoned,” the Tourist, who, without being asked, admitted he wasn’t a Galveston local but (another quote) “I am perty much accepted as one,”  and noting the waves had disappeared, asked, “So, what time does the next tanker go by.” “Tanker?” Beard said, laughing. “Tanker,” Hood said, rubbing the start of his own beard.

The guy in the van, window rolled down, scanned the horizon, over toward Victoria.