Chapter VIII or so, Stephen Davis Saga

I’m suddenly really busy. Painting season is starting to come. Finally. Stephen got back to the Northwest about a week ago, he’s leaving today for Hawaii. He, and I don’t feel sorry for him, had to work while he was here, and missed possibly the only small window of opportunity. I caught the last of it, just for reference.

One of Stephen’s friends, old or new, he seems to constantly be adding to the group, whose name, because he never actually spelled it out for me, is always going to be BEAR; came through on his way to Canada. He passed through a town along the seaside last Sunday. Walking to the Point, not a secret spot, two different surfers told him it was “Locals only.” Oh, so, if one can’t surf, it is, evidently, fine to watch others surf (no photos, though, bro). So he did; and, when those locals, real or imagined, got out of the water, he went in.

When Stephen sent him out to check out the Strait, Bear got skunked. WELCOME. Then, just outside a convenience store in a port town; a store my kids, when they were young, and because it had an American and a Canadian flag by the gas pumps (long gone), called the “Canadian Store,” and one I’ve long referred to as the ‘half a rack store,’ based on seeing folks (like carpenters and our like) coming out in the mid afternoon with a custom sandwich and a box of beers (long sentence, you still there?); Steve and Bear ran into some locals who, perhaps, surf, but who Stephen knows mostly from the local skatepark, and mostly from ‘back in the day.”

So, evidently these guys had some issues with someone who spent three months in Baja. “Erwin, you know how I always say everyone hates me These guys…?” “Uh huh, Steve; but, really; I mean, I kind of hate you.” “Yeah; like that.” “What did you say?” “I said, ‘you’re allowed to your evaluation, but it was my choice, and I earned the money to do that.’ and then…” “But, this was kind of embarrassing; I mean, your friend…” “Yeah, he thinks it’s a very friendly place.”

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I took these from Facebook. I actually was thinking of the panorama shot when I drew… wait a second, this:cropped-image-178.jpgYeah, maybe it’s hard to see the connection. Anyway, Steve promises to send me some photos of big island slabs; and continues to promise to send me some stories of Baja pirates and passports and Federales. Meanwhile, and as always, looking for those briefly- opened windows.

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Going to Chinook, maybe Seaside, then Cleanwater. Classic… and, Damn, I’ll Running Late

I stole this photo of a typical Westport contest scene from Drew Kampion.  Knowing I was headed down to my Dad’s in Chinook, Washington; and maybe checking out some post/during/pre-storm surf at Seaside, Mr. Kampion, top-tier surf wordsmith, and someone who spent some time judging heats and doing various contest-related chores, sent this photo. I did reply, saying I’m stealing it. He was (and I can’t guarantee it’s actually his photo) encouraging me to give his love to the Surfrider folks who brave harsh conditions to help run the annual contest, or, whoa, even compete in it.

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Yeah, south wind, sideways swell, sixty yard impact zone, waves that look like the stuff you paddle through to get to the waves you want to ride, roll-throughs, closeouts; welcome to the Northwest Surf City.

I have some notion that I may be able to sell a few Realsurfers Coloring Books while I’m down there. It is a great time to hang at the surf circus that Westport can sometimes be; so, if you’re going; see you there.

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Here’s the second drawing I did (on commission) for Tom Burns, a northwest surfer for, for, forever; with all the stories to prove it. He sent me two photos, thirty (might have been forty) years apart, same classic spot on the Strait. I completed a first drawing, but Trish said he looked like he had a big ass. He’s thinner here. I expect a bonus. Tom will be judging heats at the Surfrider competition. I did judge last year, but, I don’t know; I’m kind of loud, fool around a bit, judge harshly, perhaps… still, kind of hoping they’ll ask me to fill in while one of the judges takes a bathroom break or has to be treated for hypothermia. We’ll see; and I’ll let you’ll know.

UPDATE ON ARCHIE: I’m thinking no news might be as good as we can get. Recovery is slow and probably lonely, half the world away. Still sending whatever good thoughts I have; and I’ll pass on anything I hear.

Thrashed, Trashed, Clipped, Rocked and Rolled at (naming names) Seaside

If you roll up to the parking area at Seaside Cove and notice the wind isn’t howling, the sun is out, full force, the waves are… well, it’s a little hard to judge because no one is out, and you… stop. No one is out; take that as a hint. It isn’t a secret spot, and, a couple of days after Labor Day, there still should be some long weekenders hitting it; and it was just about time for after-workers, locals, soft top renters, someone.

Rather than heading out from the sand-bottom of the Cove, I was going to save myself the paddle out through a hundred yards or so of waves, wavelets, chop from previous winds, a northwest swell mixed and comboed with the chop, sidechop bouncing off the rocks… yeah, the rocks; I would pass the confusion, slip down the dry rocks to the slippery ones and ease in, past the confusion, straight out to the lineup.

Such as there is a lineup. I would pick off a few lefts, maybe, close to the rocks, some of those rights that peak, offer a drop, and an exit; staying away from the lefts that drop you off in the impact zone. Yeah, and maybe I’d head up toward the Point; I mean, like, this time there weren’t any Locals out to be irritated, and, from the still-dry rocks, it did look like there might be a few zingers out there.

NOW, let me explain the rocks. Boulders, really, each one seemingly planted erect, like an obelisk, few lying sideways, as one would think they should; rather like a field of boulders, not dropping off quickly into deeper water, but more rocks farther out; and, with one foot wedged between this monument and another, my leash wrapped around another, somewhere behind me, I discover I’m nowhere near a place where the waves aren’t hitting.

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Fifteen minutes, or so, later, I had moved my van over across from the bathrooms/shower, changed to my shorter-but-stronger leash, one that probably wouldn’t rip loose from my ankle like the other one did, and was back out, through the wavelets and waves and cross-chop. Somewhere in the time I was regrouping, deciding whether to go back out or go back to my Dad’s house in Chinook, two other surfers had come out.

I caught a wave, nice peak, dropped in, didn’t make my decision on which way to go in time. Bloop. Regroup; paddle back out, just in time to be just inside of one of the two surfers to drop into a head high wall just in front of me. BLOOP! “Sorry, man.”

“No problem,” he said.  A few moments later he said, “I have to give you credit. I was watching, through the binocs; you took a thrashing; didn’t give up.” Self-identified as a 25 year local, Jason (this is after I explained I only surf Seaside when I’m visiting my Dad, and usually surf the way-more-in-control waves in the Strait) gave me a few tips on clearing the rocks, like, maybe, wait for a lull. “Lull, yeah. Thanks.” “You know,” he said, “all my friends have surfed in the Strait; I’ve never been.” “Well; maybe when you get, you know, older.”

Mostly I was grateful to get some kind of props for trying to recover from the worst thing on a real surfer’s worry list, looking awkward/gooney/kookish/out of control; way worse than wiping out, blowing a takeoff on the wave of the day (no, that’s worse, if only slightly). Adding witness to either of the above-mentioned terrors compounds the event.

So, I caught another left, with Jason inside to witness something less kook-like; dropped while driving, got into a great position on the wall, then got clipped, just barely, by the lip, and… BLOOP! Roll. Regroup. Blow more water out of my sinuses. A few more waves, a couple of closeouts, a right that hit deep water and vanished; and a long wave, made the drop, drove through a tube, hit the open face, slid into a turn, went for another… BLOOP!

Now I was caught inside, well into the miles of beachbreak between the Cove and the Columbia. It was enough. When I got back to my van, there were two people fooling around in the near-shore reforms, and, squinting toward the horizon, fields of rocks and Jason was nowhere to be seen.

ADDENDUM- When you have a tough session, all one wants to do is make up for it the next time. I was planning on going the next day, maybe somewhere else, but was actually in the area to paint my Dad’s addition; and I had to get back home. My friend, Hydrosexual Stephen Davis, and his son Emmett, came down during the night, checked out Seaside the next morning. Overhead, waves breaking on the horizon, northwest wind. “You aren’t missing anything,” Steve said on the phone. Later he and Emmett hiked down to one of the secluded coves, paddled out to some low tide closeouts. “Worth it, Steve?” “Yeah.” That’s when, in retrospect, one decides a couple of nearly-made tubes might be counted as a success. But, next time…

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?

 

Surfing Oregon Vicariously With Keith and Too Many Portland Hipsters

Port Townsend librarian Keith Darrock took a trip down south right after Labor Day. It was a family vacation/surfari, with his wife, Marley, and their daughter (I’ll add her name when Keith gets back to me- forgot it. Sorry. She was a baby the first time I met her father, checking for surf near PT on another ‘could have been but wasn’t’ day), though only Keith surfs.  He and I had discussed whether he should risk getting skunked on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. No, too risky, though Stephen Davis and I did hit the first feelers of a swell that lasted into the next day, followed by the usual flatness.

So, good choice overall. The photos are mostly from Oregon, and none of the spots are secret, and, truthfully, I’m a bit confused about which spot is which. What I did get from the texts and calls was that Oregon is becoming more like (Keith’s perception of) California, as in crowded; and though Keith is still well under forty, youngish by Strait standards, most of the folks on the beach were described as “Portland Hipsters.”

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That’s the Darrock family surf rig in the foreground. Keith sent photos of Short Sands (“13 Hipsters”) and some other spot, both protected by the prevailing northwest wind (but not the fog- it’s either one or the other). I told him the surf didn’t look too impressive. “No, it was fun.”

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Okay, he only had to share the spot on the left with a couple of Hipsters, unless this is the place where the surfers looked like real northwest surfers, which is to say, blue collar guys (usually carpenters up here, maybe a window washer or the odd painting contractor), unlike, and even Marley commented on this, people who stand around with new boards, in new boardbags, in new wetsuits, brand-central caps, maybe drinking a crafted micro-brew, discussing the upcoming season of “Portlandia” and how they, like, know, exactly, people who so precisely fit the various characters, and, “is it supposed to be, like, ironic, because… I don’t get that part,” posing rather than actually, like, getting wet; or at least longer than it might take to recycle some of that crafted, hand-filtered micro-brew.

Yeah, ‘recycle,’ as in the way they recycle pee in Victoria. Flush. They’ll wash out their wetsuits and their boards once they get back to the City; board back in the bag, wetsuit over the condo railing. And, yes, I know, “The City” once referred to (this was something I heard back when I was a hipster myself, from Steve Penn, who lived across a bridge, in San Raphael- so, maybe not a worldwide usage) San Francisco; I was using it ironically; not that I blame anyone for living where the work is.

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Quick caption, left to right: a little dog about to leave a little poo; a photo by Marley of her husband at Oceanside, Oregon; Keith with his longboard. At one of the hip Oregon beaches, getting out of the water, a woman about to enter the surf with her brand new Donald Takayama funboard, asked what asked Keith name brand board he was riding. He had to hold it out and read it. “Something with a W in it.”

I did once live in a city, San Diego, and, when I had just turned 27, and I’d just been given ‘Permanent’ status (I think the term is actually ‘made permanent,’ as in the Mafia’s ‘made man.’ Kind of similar, though I did eventually get out alive) as a civil service painter. Trish and I had already decided we didn’t want to raise children in the (I should say ‘that’ or ‘any’) city; we were already looking at other places I could now transfer to. Somewhere with surf, hopefully. I was sneaking out at lunchtime to do some surfing on a fine almost-fall day, having already determined that  I distinctly remember walking toward the pier in Ocean Beach, looking up at the hipsters hanging in the lot, others in groups at the bottom of the bluff, looked at the surfers bobbing in the not-too-impressive waves, and thought, maybe, I was too old for thisshit. Yeah, ‘thisshit,’ it’s a conjunction. Not a hip conjunction.

Keith did say he sent me at least one shot of Manzanita, where he found the best waves of the trip, but I never got it. So, that’s kind of like not revealing it. And maybe it was a lucky session.

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Caption, bottom right (from “Portlandia”- couldn’t resist)- “Hey, like, this surfing is so great. Nature, music, getting in touch with… um, did anyone remember to bring, you know, surfboards? Wetsuits? Wax? Oh, Portia/Clarina; you… no, not that kind of wax, but… hey, we can still do the wetless surf. Zen it.”

Otherwise, we’ve got cliffs, steep trails; just no hip places to hang out. And, just to finish this up; Trish asked me the other evening where the surf was happening. “Not around here. It’s all a bit too south, too small, too… why do you ask?” “On my way back from (a, not the) city, I saw a rig with boards headed up the Center Road.” Yeah, it was Keith and Marley and their daughter, name to be filled-in later. My daughter, Dru, when I told her about the Portlandia hipster thing, said, if Keith wanted to be Portland-hip, looking at his little trailer, “Maybe he should just put a bird on it.” No, I didn’t get it either.

I googled it. If the folks at “Portlandia” find this piece because I tagged “Portlandia surfers,” well… wait, the host of “Live Wire Radio,” from Portland, is actually hosted by Luke Burbank, and he recently moved to Port Townsend from Seattle, seems to brag about it (and PY’s hipness, real or imagined- but definitely promoted), and, maybe the “Portlandia” folks can contact him, he can turn them on to Keith Darrock at the PT Public Library, and voila, we can see an overlong skit that parodies hip Portland surfers. “No, of course we’ll spa on the way back; it’s all annotated on the itinerary, silly surfer you.”

NEWSFLASH- I’ll be in Westport next weekend to help judge the Surfrider Cleanwater Surf Contest. It’s always a scene down there, and I’m sure there’ll be some fun.

Yesterday (no, like 1/13/15) and Today on the Oregon Coast

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Here’s what we’re (most likely, and sadly) missing. Port Townsend’s surfing Librarian Keith Darrock returned to Oregon, where he was raised and learned to surf, took this photo of the Yachats rivermouth yesterday, the photo of the Ecola rivermouth near Cannon Beach today. He wasn’t expecting to find shirtsleeve weather in January, offshore winds, and enticing waves.  Tantalizing might be more like it. He didn’t bring his wetsuit or board. It seems like there might just be a few surf shops in the neighborhood. Stay tuned. Meanwhile… well, it’s all happening on the coast. Shhhhh!

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