I received this comment on a piece I wrote on running into and dinging the board of my (and, evidently our mutual) friend, Archie Endo. Since the odds are against you finding the original piece, and, partially because I do miss Archie, working most of the year now in Thailand (he went surfing twice when he was here last, one quickly blown out session with me, and one great session without me), I’m posting Jeremiah’s piece here:
…what? Oh, yeah; can’t talk about it. Ever. With anyone. Maybe if I redact anything that reveals anything about when or where waves might (rarely) break on the Strait of Juan de [redacted].
So, after confirming, pre-dawn, that it wasn’t really all time at XXXXH XXXXX, I met up with XXXXX XXXXXXX at Fat XXXXXX’X. We loaded up his stuff, headed XXXX on Surf Route XXX. Originally, we were going to meet up with XXXX XXXXXXX enroute, but he had changed his mind, opting for a later start.
Meanwhile, XXXXX had told (texted, most likely) XXXXX that, despite the forecast and the readings on the appropriate XXXXs, and, quite possibly because of the expected heavy XXXTOR XSX winds, and, more likely, because of a need to work, he wouldn’t be venturing out for this, as always, small SXXX window.
Now, it must be added that I had borrowed a shorter, and, more importantly, lighter XXP from XXXX XXXXXXX, specifically because it would be easier to pack into and lug out of one of several, not-secret, but not-to-be-advertised spots, or, really, even spoken of; particularly to anyone who has to drive farther than you do to get there.
This bit of localism/tribalism/selectivism goes along with the widespread but more-fantasy-than-fact notion that there are still secret spots that might provide really great waves when the better-known spots are not breaking or are exhibiting only the standard Strait weak-ass, mostly-missed-by-the-swell conditions we all have built-in excuses for. Or we surf what’s there and embellish when we talk about it.
And, packing-in on some muddy goat trail also feeds the Northwest Surfer image; if you make the effort, you will surely be rewarded with clean, empty barrels.
If only. Because I am slow in donning my wetsuit, XXXXX got into the lineup well ahead of me. Fine. Normal. When I eased into the icy (bone-chilling, deadly, really) water, discover the BXXXX will actually float me, miss a couple of waves, catch one or two, then paddle out to where another surfer is waiting, and give a friendly greeting, I’m rewarded with no answer and a look you might recognize. Imagine Jack Nicholson in “The Shining.”
What? When I ask XXXXX , about the snub/shunning, he says, “Your reputation has preceded you.” “Oh.” Allright; I’m there to surf. So I do, though I tried to stay clear of Mr. Pleasant (I’d redact, but I don’t know his real name). But, as happens, because I was going for one particular wave, I had to do a sort of cautionary “Yo” so that Mr. Pleasant wouldn’t accidentally take off in front of a particular “Old guy who puts stuff on the internet.” I mean, it might be dangerous (not on purpose, just, like, because I’m old and all).
Yeah, and I thought it might have been my rep for shoulder-hopping and wave-hogging. No; and, evidently, Mr. Pleasant’s concise critique of my website is that it’s “gay.” I don’t think he means in a homosexual way; maybe just silly and/or juvenile. NOTE: I told the story to my daughter, XXX. She translated ‘gay’ as ‘lame.’
Juvenile. I actually didn’t hear about the ‘gay’ part until XXXXX and I, after I struggled to get across a hundred yards of big, slippery river rocks and what seemed like a mile longer (and many degrees steeper) trail (and I did carry my borrowed board the whole distance); and after we, because XXXXX had a little more time than originally thought, checked out XXXX XXXXXS, the parking area filled with surf rigs and the water empty; almost back to Surf Route XXX, we passed XXXX XXXXXXX and XXXXX on State Route XXX. They apparently had already given up on several other spots.
No, I did not reveal where XXXXX and I had surfed; but it may have been apparent to those who had been hanging out for hours, that I had surfed somewhere with waves (and it’s actually not that long a list of alternate spots). I was more than happy to have the mixed crew in the parking area believe it was CXXXXXXX, also known as SXXX XXXXX. I heard the place was getting swell, but know, from experience, it was probably CXXXXD XXT.
It’s interesting that XXXXX was all right with telling me I’m not universally popular (and, yeah, I took off in front of one guy, didn’t see him, gave him plenty of room, kicked-out, apologized), and there’s no way I could be convicted of wave-hogging), and XXXXX did say, “At least this means surfers are going to your site,” but he held back, possibly to spare some of my self image, on revealing the ‘gay’ comment. And there I was so proud I hadn’t kooked it up, but had, indeed, gotten several rides I was pretty pleased with.
Incidently, XXXXX ripped. surfing way better than Mr. Pleasant. Sorry Mr. Pleasant. It’s true. Still, the ‘gay website’ comment… it’s like saying one is not smooth, lacks style, isn’t cool. Or is it?
I don’t know. To be called-out, or shunned, or ridiculed; that does put a damper on things. Truthfully, I’m paying heavily, physically, today for the hiking yesterday. Though it was worth it, and another spot has been added to my (pretty short, actually) mental list of places I’ve surfed in the northwest, the negativity does sort of wear on me.
Or, maybe, what I really want to do is hit a couple of other legendary, not-actually secret spots I’ve heard of; even if only once each, spots that are always reported as “All time, classic, epic, etc. etc. etc”) I’m thinking XXX WXXXX, aka XXX WXXX, XXX XXXP, XXXXXXX XXXXR, XXXO XXXXXX, XXXX XXXXT, and, of course, XXXX B.
I’ll be the old guy who puts stuff on the internet. Watch out!
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.
“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.
…it, most likely, means the waves weren’t happening. It was very pretty yesterday.
I’ve long decided to include the trip there and back into any session report; and, in the Pacific Northwest, with the snow level moving up and down with the same systems that bring swell to some spots and not to others; well, the view of the Olympics, even from the Safeway gas station in Port Angeles, is ultra pretty.
We all try to be scientific, using all the information available, plus past experience (ie; at this angle, this tide, this size, this spot was working); but we always have to factor in the skunk factor (on a similar tide and swell angle, the same spot was not working), and the “Random Theory,” that being that sometimes, even when the factors all seem slightly off, random acts of surf magic can happen.
EDIT- And sometimes everyone gets skunked.
Throw in wishing and hoping and praying, and that it’s a weekend between a constant barrage of wet frontal systems, and you get way too many desperate surfers combing the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
My original plan was to either hit West Riverdale at dawn, before the tide got too high, with the Wrench as a backup. Or, I could go to The Outfall a bit later, when the tide got high enough. I had things to do in Sequim, and, really, I planned on going to work on a painting project later. The problem, pre-dawn, was, the angle just wasn’t there. Oh, the swell, which had been stubbornly southwesterly, was supposed to go more northerly during the day, coinciding with a drop in swell size.
So, I made what I thought was the best decision. Nope. Lots of people at West Riverdale, all on the beach, cars piled high with boards; one guy, Tim Nolan, in the water, and the tide already too high. BUT PRETTY. Vehicles were coming, heading out farther; the coast always an option for those with enough time. Some surfers were, evidently, deciding to wait out the tide. I went out anyway. Tim paddled past me, pointed to the horizon, said something about where the swell was actually going, and got out of the water. I snagged a few shorewashers and surrendered to reality, wetsuit-driving away.
Over at the Wrench, the parking lot was packed with multi-board vehicles and warriors suiting up or suiting down. I squeezed into the back row, asked the guy in the rig next to mine if he could get out. “Hi, Erwin,” he said. It turns out it was Darrin, who provided me a ride on his board when mine was caught in the rip on a big day in December. I was also caught in the rip, my daughter on the beach, on the phone to her mother.
“Thanks, Darrin,” I said, shaking his hand a second time. I had been unable to really thank him properly when I got back out (after Keith Darrock rescued my board, and because one must go back out after a thrashing); and all this gratitude didn’t stop me from (accidentally, I swear) taking off in front of him on my first ride at the Wrench.
Thinking I was doing allright among those surfing, many of them beginners, kneeboarding weak little waves into the creek; one of several guys on standup paddleboards, evidently trying to be civil, asked me if I was new to riding an SUP. “First time, today,” I answered; not like he was so good. “Oh, you’re doing great, then,” he said, “you really seem to have the physics down.” “Thanks.” This was kind of depressing, and the waves were dying anyway.
Deciding I’d switch to only riding erect, I took off on a solid eighteen incher when another SUP hero took off in front of me. When he saw me, he bailed. “No problem,” he said, as if it was my fault, after my board went under his. “I didn’t know you were going to go straight,” I said. Next weak wave, I paddled, standing up, all the way to the parking lot. High tide. Two sessions. I was done.
More surfers, some quite excited, some not even checking the waves, going by the ‘if surfers are out, it must be good,’ were headed for the wild surf as I got dressed and headed toward Costco, then home.
I got a call from Keith while waiting for my order at the Jack in the Box. It’s perfectly acceptable to talk about great waves ‘after’ you get out of the water. I’d made the wrong decision. “You would have loved them.” Yeah. If I hadn’t had stuff that needed refrigeration, if I hadn’t just ordered a milkshake for Trish, if I didn’t know for a fact (or pretty sure near-fact) that the waves Keith and a few others (others in on this super fickle secret spot) had gorged on would be gone before I could get there…
I left my board on the car, just in case. I’ve checked the buoys since 5:30. Nope; might as well go work on the project I didn’t get to yesterday (I did do the drawing, above). Still, hoping and wishing, I’ll leave it on the car, just in case. Okay, it’s 7:13; I’ll post this and check the buoys.
Oh, and Tim Nolan did get in on the waves that had missed West (and East) Riverdale.
It’s fiction. I wrote the piece first. I added the illustrations to the short story (next post down), and because I just can’t not edit, change, clarify, hopefully improve whatever I write (or draw, but can’t once the drawings have been scanned), I made a few changes.
Partway through the drawing I decided to add the coffee. I totally lost control after that.
…I have to take our friend George Takamoto to SeaTac, then, because I have a job over near Manchester, and there’s a ferry that goes there, I get to listen to the game instead of watching. Not that I wouldn’t trade watching for surfing, but the big blob of red, almost-purple, did not, as I hoped, move to a better angle to cause the Strait to work.
Not that others weren’t checking the buoys; or even driving, walking, looking; each surf fanatic hoping; all using their mind-power, singular and collective, to achieve victory. Yeah; my friend Archie was out surfing on sub-one footers, reported there were a lot of people looking. I checked-out the spot I thought had the best chance of receiving an off-angle swell. Nope.
VICTORY! Oh, maybe, with the swell angle still around 220, I’m now switching my mind power to the Seahawks. I actually googled “Seahawks real surfers” to get this drawing, rather than searching for it, realizing it’s probably saved on some unsaved computer, somewhere in a drawer or on a shelf.
Now I’ve got to go. I tweaked and beat on and finally got the radio in my Toyota to 97.3. We never seem to like the commentators on the network coverage, but we always love Steve Raible and Warren Moon’s announcing. Totally biased. As are we.
So, if all the Seahawks fanatics pool our collective will… concentrate, don’t give up… with a little extra mind-help for Marshawn…
How do we spell VIC-TOR-EEEEEEEEEE!?
More than one, actually. John the Calendar Guy took some photos of a rare northwest break. Hey, I have to go. I’ll get back to this. There is a story. Yeah, always a story. Here’s 1,000 words…
Okay, so Stephen, whose wave riding posture is more typically a casual stand-and-almost-slouch (hope you’re imagining a confident, defiant, hips-forward, wave-challenging stance), but, on these little bombettes, was just tucking-in from the takeoff. Some he made, and on some the wave won; not that getting rolled while inside a tube isn’t the very best way to not make a wave. If being absolutely parallel to the wave would give you a score of 100, I’m giving Stephen 105. Hey, do your own scoring.
So, on the right, on the same day, in one of several photos taken by John the Calendar Guy, Librarian/surfer (totally alternate egos) Keith Darrock in his typical posture, tucked-and-driving. I’m saying 95, but, if you’re on the shoulder, hoping to take off, and don’t think Keith will make the section, think again.
And, thinking again, on the left, some unnamed spot on the Far Northwest Coast, with whiplash offshores; and because I like to give people nicknames, and a nickname just won’t stick if it doesn’t ring true, and “Stay at Home Nate” obviously didn’t, and I don’t actually know Nate’s last name; I would like to offer “Seventy-five percent Nate” as an alternative. Oh, yes; “75% thinks he’s barreled.” If I get called on this, I’ll probably cave. “Eight-two percent Nate;” no, doesn’t sound right. “Big Bic Nate?”
No, that’s right; Adam Wipeout told me it’s not a Bic.
There are things we all have to do today; traditions; people to visit; maybe a movie, maybe dinner out. Or in. Maybe you get to watch the expressions; anticipation, excitement, possibly unguarded joy; of your children, of those you love, unwrapping gifts. Maybe someone you love is watching your expressions. Maybe you’re sleeping in as a gift to yourself. I have things to do; some place far away to be later that means doing this is as close to surfing as I’ll get today; oh, maybe check out the waves near my Dad’s house in Ilwaco if I get there in time.
I did, as always, check the buoy reports. Errrrrhhh. Someone is getting a present; a few slides while the rest of us… well, if it happens to be you, great. Anticipation, excitement, possibility unguarded joy. May the waves wrap around you, and, then, unwrap at just the perfect moment.
But, now, tomorrow; that’s a different story. Whoa; just discovered the colors got way too bold; at least on this computer.
The first surfer I met in the Great Pacific Northwest was Darryl Wood. That was in February of 1979, just after half of the Hood Canal Floating Bridge, the link from the Olympic Peninsula to the rest of the world, had been ripped from its moorings in a very localized storm that included hurricane-force winds, along with a powerful tidal surge, that shift made stronger by the almost record low pressure, and waves pushed higher on the sixty mile fetch of the ancient fjord, all focused on the center of the bridge, opened to allow the pressure through, pushed open like a gate, and gone.
A week later, Washington State had brought in a passenger-only tour boat from Seattle, set up some connections with a bus company on the Kitsap County side, and I met Darryl, and many other commuters I might never had met if the bridge wasn’t gone. It was the first boat of the morning, both of us headed for work at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton. Darryl and another guy from Port Angeles, whose name, and I apologize for this, I have long forgotten, were car-pooling, now only as far as the Southpoint ferry dock. A Civil Service painter, I had just transferred here from San Diego. Darryl and the other guy were Union guys, working on a new facility connected with the dry-docked nuclear-powered vessels. I do remember that Darryl down-played his role as a carpenter, but said his friend was a ‘superstar among the laborers.’
A week later I, a person who had thought I was through with surfing, was surfing, in a diving wetsuit I had just purchased and would later give to a Gary Gregerson, a friend and fellow signpainter at the shipyard, who planned to use it for walking around in creeks. Sure.
I should say I was attempting to surf at a spot you could then access, after first navigating some winding roads, by driving straight toward the Strait, past the guy who would step onto his back porch, six feet from your vehicle’s window, then pulling to the right on top of firmly in-place riprap. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, 38 degrees, there were three other surfers out, each of whom asked where I came from; and the water was freeeeeeeeezing. My sister Melissa’s board, the only one I hadn’t sold before leaving Mission Hills, longer than the one I had been riding, didn’t float as well with the cumbersome extra rubber, my hoodless head felt like each wave I pushed through was filled with ice cubes, my feet almost instantly went numb, the wax seemed to be as effective as rubbing the board with suntan lotion, and the waves were fast and steep. I caught several waves, couldn’t help but get barreled, and never got to my feet.
“The more things change,” huh?
“You still, um, riding most waves on your knees, Erwin?” “Well, no, I, uh… yeah, pretty much. Get a longer ride and, maybe… how are you doing?” As older guys do, and Darryl is a bit older than I am, we both talk about knees without internal padding. He added shoulders damaged from years of swinging hammers and lifting beams and such.
Still, Darryl remains the surfer I most admire and respect from my tenure in the northwest. He has held, tenaciously, to his Christian values, maintained his sense of surf etiquette, and, although he considers himself quite conservative, he is able to look past the posturing and pettiness of a succession of amped-up surfers. Including me.
I asked what Darryl what he thinks of the increasing number of surfers hitting the Strait, so changed from the days when he personally knew most of the surfers in the area, and knew the landowners who had gates blocking access to secret spots. He shrugged. “If it’s breaking on a weekend,” he said, “there might be fifty, sixty surfers.” This wasn’t a weekend.
On this same day I ran into the guy who owns this access, just checking on the storm damage. I had heard that the lot could be closed if surfers abuse the place (or when this guy passes on), and kissed-up pretty much to the limit of my ability to do so. “It’s not for overnight camping,” he said, expressing his displeasure at having, in the past, before “Darryl Wood and those Surfrider people” put the sani-can in, suddenly finding things he didn’t want to find while weed-whacking.
“See you in another ten years or so,” I said as Darryl and his crew moved on to survey some other properties the Surfrider Foundation oversees. We both turned to watch my friend Keith Darrock make it most of the way across another slightly-chopped-up line.
“He’s good,” Darryl said. “Yeah; always does the tuck.” “Always a pleasure,” Darryl said, taking another glance out, at the indicator, the one outside the lefts. It was breaking. He gave a nod toward the water. Always a pleasure.
NOW that I’ve written it, gotten it out, I’m over it. I hold no ill will toward Raja, and hope we can hang out in the future. He does seem to have the same appreciation for the thrills, absurdities, posturing, and generally high-schoolish behavior involved in surfing anywhere. I’m calling us even. Hopefully Raja will also. PEACE, and I don’t mean that sarcastically.
This is Raja, his given name. I asked. He was born and raised and still lives in Edmonds, a city on the Seattle side of Puget Sound. I’ve seen Raja numerous times over the past several years while surfing on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. His beard keeps growing; hipsterrific. A few months ago, in an act Raja still claims was not malicious, he found my paddle, which had been ripped from my hands while negotiating the last sixty yards of an inside tube. Now, as I have previously written, I would have bailed on the wave had it not been for the just-mentioned tube. And, hey, the paddle floats, right?
Oh, those are my fingers. Just can’t seem to get them out of the shots. Now, you can make your own decisions on whether Raja is a hero for causing an (allegedly) intimidating and (by definition) notorious wave hog to have a few moments of, well, humiliation; or a punk-ass bitch who has never actually said he was in any way sorry for the non-malicious act. The ‘punk-ass bitch’ is not malicious, Raja (and friends of Raja), and was recommended as the appropriate description by someone who had heard [my version] of the story, and preferred punk-ass bitch over [my choice] hipster dick. Yes, I know you, Raja, and all hipsters, deny your hipster-ness, and, if ‘hipster’ is in any way a pejorative term, this is also not malicious in intent.
There’s intent and there’s actual consequences. Um, yeah; sure.
I’ll get back to this. I’m working on the complete story. I am over it. I think Raja is counting on the wave of prestige for showing up, kind of, a 64 (no, I was only 63 at the time) guy without having to do it on actual waves.
Check back another time.