A Comment on Archie Endo and Drawings for (Almost ready) Coloring Book

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:

One thought on “Running Over Archie Endo”

  1. A great deal of what I know about surfing was learned through an amalgamation of my own trying and failing, reading, conversations with Frank at nxnw, and watching Archie. It would go like this: I would see Archie surfing, try to emulate and fail, go do a ton of research about what I saw and how it worked and how I failed, then talk to Frank about what I was reading and get some well-needed trimming and redirection from him. Eventually, it got to a point where it all started coming together, and Archie and I were surfing together quite a bit; and it was so incredibly beneficial. What a smart, stylish man…simultaneously capable of wise, incisive critiques and nearly limitless patience delivered with a special economy of language derived from being an already reserved man operating in a second language.

    It’s not the coast, there isn’t going to be waves all the time. The straits are a place made for a surfer like Archie, a fickle, intricate, complex set of oceanography where the payoff is glassy, longboard gliders. I saw Archie ride 6″ waves all the way into the rivermouth crouched like a baseball catcher and, incredibly, 20 or 30 yards upstream into the river. It’s slow, foggy, winding, damp drives on mossy roads and cold water. I followed the Torino and the Ranchero rumbling along in my pickup at mellow speeds into town for dinner after cold sessions. It’s a skunker, a day wasting, soul crushing gas burner for those who cannot or will not put in the time and effort to figure it all out and arrive at just the right moment for the magic….it’s a natural club when you figure it out and start showing up to find the same people every time.

    When my work and living situation changed, and I was forced to leave my surfing gear and move to make a living; Archie made a tiny, perfectly-shaped longboard out of driftwood from the strait; and he sent it with a small note saying that now I would always have a board. Having this arrive while I was driving trucks in the plains was so incredibly meaningful. It was perhaps one of the most thoughtful gestures anyone has ever made toward me…setting in stone my resolve to work through hard times and return myself to the sea.

    Literally, today, I’m working through projects with my 79 Ford…which was bought because a surfer should have a stylish and functional rig, it was bought with memories of Archie’s Torino wagon rolling snow tires on cragers. Waves here are fickle and infrequent as well, not nearly as tricky to call but colder and more physically demanding. I carry a synthesis of Archie with me as I go, in my internal jury, carefully discerning what would be the most stylish, most efficient, most refined, most balanced way…regardless of my ability to achieve those levels, I carry the standard he set and it makes me a better person.

    I’m not sure if I’ve met (almost said ‘run into’) Jeremiah, but, hey, the best to you. Yes, it has been pointed out that Archie and I are an odd coupling, surf friends-wise.
    Maybe some of his manners have rubbed off on me. Yeah, let me think about that.
    2013 photos 407
    This is a drawing derived from an earlier sketch. I’m trying to leave a little more blank space for coloring, trying to keep the drawings simple; it just doesn’t work.
    Image (67)

Three Hours To Kickoff and…

…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.

seahawksspecial-001

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!?

Surf Dreams, Fevers, Surf Fever Dreams

Something had to be written down (typed-out, really) before the dream images all got too foggy, too distant, ceased to make even the smallest amount of sense. And then vanished as dreams do; perhaps to reappear in later dreams, perhaps as a memory of a real event that was never real. And I’m wasting clarity time even writing this.

It was a surf contest, and there weren’t, really, real waves; but someone had just slid down an artificial wave-like face (it was sort of transluscent, blue-green, though maybe this was added, since, supposedly, men dream in black and white), on a board, hit the bottom, a transition curve to the floor, all still blue-green. The surfer cranked a smooth backside turn, and, running out of wave face (there was a door visible to his left, our right), he turned the bottom turn into a flyaway kickout, the board clanking against a beam or an actual wall, the contestant stepping off, three steps and a sort of victory stance. He had nailed the dismount.

And there would be more. I felt like I was awake, that I knew it was a dream, had to be a dream; but I couldn’t leave it. Somehow I (and this has to be connected to my having served as a judge at the Surfrider Foundation’s Cleanwater surf contest in Westport last weekend) was not only a judge, I was in the finals; and I said, “Okay, but now, each surfer should have to ‘describe’ the ride.” The smiling-and-confident surfer now looked angry. Picture Andy Irons. Yeah; weird. “Oh, I know that would be a winning ride, but now…” Other things that make sense only in dream movies came into play; stolen cars, unfinished paint jobs, having to hire three guys (and grateful the fourth disappeared) to finish that previously-mentioned paint job; waves that appeared only to be obscured by highrise condominiums; roads that didn’t lead to the beach.

Partly to make sense of the ‘fever’ part of the title, I have to add that Trish has been sick for a few days, and on Friday, I had muscle aches, that sinus-y feeling, maybe a little feverish, and I really believed I would come down with the thing. I didn’t, but, maybe her fever transferred… okay, maybe I just wanted to reference some old surf movie I may or may not have actually seen.

I was having surf dreams; not like those from the night before, when I’d gone to sleep having just found a surprising (having missed the forecast midweek pulse) and a rising swell showing. Not only was there a slight increase registering on the buoys closer to shore, but up the line, out into the North Pacific, with winds pushing that swell toward… toward morning. I knew the tide would be too high early, that the swell window was tight. I woke up around three, blearily checked the computer. The possibility of surf was still there. A couple of hours more to sleep, and then…

I got totally carried away, kind of an illustration of a dream in color. Probably why men (according to women, mostly) dream in black and white.

I got totally carried away, kind of an illustration of a dream in color. Probably why men (according to women, mostly) dream in black and white. I didn’t save the black and white version, so I’m stuck with this, for now.

“You say when you dream, your mind can just unravel; well, I’m fast awake and mine’s testing the seams;
No sign posts tell how far you might have traveled, No one’s standing at the boundaries of your dreams;                     And those dreams, they’re filled with clouds you can’t explain;                                                                                                       It may as well rain, may as well rain, may as well rain.”
from original song, “May as Well Rain”

Okay, I got lucky; found a couple of hours worth of waves as the tide dropped and the swell only gradually died. Faded. I was hoping the swell stayed around long enough so my friend Archie, just home from nine months or so working in Thailand, and his friend Sandro, could catch some decent shoulders at a different spot on the afternoon high tide. I had heard, ten miles farther out the Strait of Juan de Fuca than ‘Archie’s Reef,’ that the place they (by now) would have surfed, was overhead (and no doubt closing-out) while I cruised on two footers as the waves died out, as waves do, less and smaller sets, then no sets. I heard from a guy on the beach, someone I swear I’d talked to before, that Hobuck was indeed closed-out by this same semi-phantom swell; and this was notable and a shame as there was a surf festival going on out there.

“Isn’t every weekend a surf festival at Hobuck?” “Sort of.” “Well, the good news is, the surf will drop off. See?” “Well; maybe on the incoming tide…” “Maybe. Gotta go (home, work, reality, those real and unfinished paint jobs). Good luck.”

“Seems like every dream of mine; explodes right in my face;
Can’t seem to find a better dream, to take each lost dream’s place;
You still dream of horses, though I’ve never seen you ride;
Still, the dream of mine, I hold most dear, is to keep you by my side.
You should sleep, perhaps to dream; I see no need to raise the shade;
The dreams at dawn, that seemed so clear, about this time, begin to fade.”
from original song, “Surf Route 101”

What I’ll (at least try to) take from yesterday’s session, to be placed among the scraps and notes and out-of-order manuscripts and image files of my memory, is the fields of diamonds, looking toward the sun, that climbed the wave faces as I tried to get more in line, in trim, to sync-up with the concentrated brilliance at the crest, everything moving, flowing… maybe there were two rides in the session where the reality and some once-and-future dream combined.

Still, someone watching from another vantage point might not notice the flow, the way I cocked a hip to pull the board into that tighter trim, unweighted to allow the board to fit just under the lip, then shifted just slightly to control the drift; and, pulling out onto a flattening shoulder, my left arm, swinging back, my right leg, rotating, precede my board shifting, swinging a hundred and eighty degrees. I cross-stepped, angling into the foam, twisting my front foot, rotating further. I then dropped to my knees to a position to paddle back out.

Or my board might just skitter across a blue-green floor. Five points for the ride, 6.5 for the description.

Erwin Would Go

Sure I would; but what if the waves get over two feet?

erwin

When I traded out five hundred dollars left on a painting job for an eleven foot SUP a few years ago, it was never my intention for this to be my go-to board for surfing on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Now dinged to shit and weighing five pounds more when I get out of the water than it did going in (I’d fix the dings but I keep thinking it’s not my go-to board), it is, indeed, the board that fits the conditions. That is to say, if I didn’t have it, I’d be walking out on the reef, looking to the heavens, watching perfect little peelers not quite clearing the rocks, and pray (closer to asking, really) for just another foot of wave height. It has happened. A lot. That is, the asking/praying; the increasing swell, not so often.

P1060888

The undervalued part of riding a standup paddleboard is, that, while it does enable a surfer to catch waves outside of the normal takeoff zone, and outside of other surfers, it also enables surfers to ride waves even a longboarder couldn’t get into. So, as happened just yesterday, when I pull up to an empty beach pullout, look at empty-but-barely rideable waves; and, though I’d hope for another foot of wave face, there was no doubt I’d be going out. “It’s practice” I tell myself, and others, “for when it gets, you know, bigger.” My motto is, after all, “I’m here to surf.” It’s the riding of waves that matters to me.

That's Keith Darrock tucking into the outside bomb. Keith described the waves this day as 'kind of weak,' but went out anyway. The question Keith and I ask each other when waves are borderline flat, is, "Would Rico go?" Unfortunately, Rico moved to Maine, probably going on a few thigh-to-knee rollers there.

That’s Keith tucking into the outside bomb as I contemplate a move to the right with a move toward the nose. Really. Keith described the waves this day as ‘kind of weak,’ but went out anyway. The question Keith and I ask each other when waves are borderline flat, is, “Would Rico go?”  Rico (Moore, I think) moved to Port Townsend, surfed even waves I wouldn’t make a try for. When he broke one of his fins on the rocks, he fashioned an embarrassingly crude one out of wood; then broke that one off (lots of big rocks, some popping up in the waves). Rico has since moved to Maine, probably  (hopefully) going on a few thigh-to-knee rollers there.

No, I’m not so stoked on posting these photos of me. I’ve put it off, but, since I’ve lost, like, three pounds since these were taken by Tim Nolan, who also would go on any size wave, here they are. Meanwhile, once my go-to board dries out again, maybe I’ll find some time to patch those dings. Oh, and I promise, no more shots of me unless it’s head high. Okay, chest high. And now I’m hoping and praying for overhead. However, if I can catch a wave, I’m going.

Archie Endo shot this one. It's, like, waist-high, right?

Archie Endo shot this one. It’s, like, waist-high, right?

In Case You Missed the Surf Culture Event

Here’s the piece I read, with minimal ad-libbing, at the recent Surf Culture On the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea Event. I plan on adding some more photos, but it’ll probably be in another post. A pretty successful event- no one drowned, though I did hear some coughing.

CONJURING UP SOME MAGIC

ONE- I knew the two young guys, one on a soft top, the other on a yellow-but-at-one-time-white board were from Gold Bar, a town somewhere between I-5 and the Cascade Mountains. Because I asked them. Nicely. But I always ask surfers I haven’t seen before. This time, we were at a spot that, legend has it, sometimes features rights, off the island. That’s a clue. I’ve only experienced this lowtide phenomenon once; closeouts across the small bay many times.

Archie and I had gotten skunked at the place we had wanted to surf. At this spot there was a sandbar, there was a makeable right. There were several other surfers out, including a guy on the longest longboard ever, paddling with way too much nose out of the water (sure sign of a beginner/kook), but waiting in the perfect spot, catching the best waves (as in, the ones I wanted), jumping up, clumsily riding, arms flailing, and, somehow, making waves.

“Hey,” I said, nicely, “you don’t need that much nose out of the water.” “Hey,” he said, kind of snottily, looking at me kneepaddling a stand up paddleboard; “aren’t you supposed to be standing up on that thing?” “Oh,” I said, “yeah, I think so.” Eventually, whether or not he appreciated it, the surfer from… I didn’t ask where he came from… he got a rare treat; really great waves. Archie and I enjoyed them for another forty-five minutes after Long Longboard Guy left. Then the waves left.

But, the Gold Bar Boys. On this day it was a very high tide and the waves were wrapping around what in normally beach rather than sandbar. The best waves ended up in the creek. Another clue. “Um, maybe, if you want to actually catch waves, you might move over here,” I offered. “Thank you, sir.”

So, several waves later; and this was a few years ago, and I was on a non-SUP… just so you know… I took off and did what old fat guys who have ripped or torn, or merely worn out, tendons and ligaments on each knee, do on very small-but-peeling waves; I rode them on my knees. That made the wave, like, chest high. One of the Goldies was on the shoulder, doing the head down paddle-like-you-mean-it, and… and I know every gremmie practices this, the jump up to spiderman move, on the carpet of his mom’s house, out in the schoolyard to impress inland girls, wherever, and, whether they’ve actually caught the wave or not, the beginner is likely to leap up.

This time Goldie did catch the wave, jumped up, arms pumping, and actually was trimming down the line, on the shoulder, totally unaware I was behind him. Kneeboarding. It’s a long wave, as I intimated, and, though my fin was almost dragging, I kept going, into the creek. The wave sort of died in the deeper water, I did a smooth pullout while he just sort of stepped off the side of his board. He didn’t appear shocked he had ridden a party wave with a guy who isn’t fond of party waves, turned to me and said,

“That was EPIC!”

“Um; yeah, it was.”

IMG_5341

TWO

Up until a certain point in my board surfing… career, life, experience… I truly believed, and frequently stated, that I could remember every wave I’d ever ridden. And, further, I believed that there was something magical about catching, riding, or even watching a wave from the first line on the horizon, to the last wash up the beach.

I still believe in the magic, and, though I have trouble remembering individual rides, even from my most recent session, my mental harddrive is crammed with images from 50 years of board surfing, with mat surfing, surfie surfing, body surfing before that, and, possibly, I like to believe, even some foggy recollection from my first three years of life, on the beach in Surf City, North Carolina, toddling down a bit of an incline, somewhat ahead of my mother, toward the waves.

Waves. The early morning light on the east coast is like evening on the west; the view from the water reverses the colors, dawn to dusk. In winter, on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the sun hugging the mountains, it’s dawn all day. And then it’s dark.

The images are all so clear; things I’ve seen- storm surf with sideways-ripped waves, lines of broken soup to the horizon, indicator sets in the kelp beds with the greenest color on the wall as each wave lifts, toward the peak angle on a surfer hard against the wall, a whale in the darker corner of a cove blowing a geyser, the view of waves between the houses and along the low sections of old Highway 101, Oceanside to La Jolla, nineteen fifty-something.

And more. I can conjure up the photo of Rincon from the hill, from a mid-sixties “Surfer” magazine, a guy on the hill at dawn, witnessing lines to the horizon, and… and maybe you know the photo.

So, my beginning hypothesis was: If we store a mental slideshow, and add to it over time, then, if a surfer wants to do some mind surfing, at any given time, those images can be brought forth, and that would be magic. And I want surfing to be magic.

The problem is, all our memories are fiction. There’s some Master Record of All Truth, and then there’s our version. “Overhead and glassy at an afternoon session at Cardiff Reef in 1967, the time Phillip Harper had to get rescued?” Maybe.

And that photo. I looked for it online. No, it was afternoon, the same lines at Rincon to the horizon, and published in “Surfer” in 1973. 1973? What? Can’t be. I wasn’t studying surfing magazines in 1973; maybe a glance at the grocery store.

If I’m wrong about that, what about the image of the competitor freesurfing before the Oceanside Invitational in 1965? My slideshow has the guy taking off, dropping with the wave, an attempt at a headdip turning into a vicious lip-to-the-head, pile-driving wipeout. Wrong. I was the kook, paddling out because I was too embarrassed by my sister, Suellen, running around the beach, collecting autographs from surfers like Mike Doyle, even chatting with Doyle’s mother, that kind of thing. The real truth might be that the surfer possibly could have made the wave if some gremmie hadn’t been directly in his way.

Still, I like my fiction better.

photo(11)

THREE

It was still an hour and a half before dawn when three Peter Pans met at Fat Smitty’s, quickly moving boards onto and gear into the vehicle owned by the oldest of the three Pans. Heading west/northwest, coffee and expectations bouncing around inside, there would be adventure and excitement on this, as with most expeditions. Stories would be created: The drunk/or/sleepy driver; traffic tickets; a ripped-loose leash and a lost board saved by Big Dave; waves cresting near the pilings; the guy with the Shamrock on his board shoving Brett’s board back as he attempted to even a score for undue set wave hogging, and the follow-up screaming match in the lineup.

But, each of the Peters ended up with his fictional(-ized, maybe just slightly) account to save; each of us caught enough waves, got enough good rides. Other things, like real life, could be discussed on the way back home.

A few days after the above session, Jeff, a guy I occasionally sought waves with before his wife, my daughter’s old school friend, Ruth, got into surfing and they became what I call a ‘surfing power couple’, and who I didn’t realize was on the beach on that day, sent me a video of me ripping three bottom turns and totally in position on three sections before making a smooth kickout.

So, I was right. I do rip.

stevebisselRincon

FOUR

So, here’s the go pro my daughter bought me. Thanks, Dru. GoPro selfies always, and it doesn’t matter if the surfer is on a small wave or huge, just look like someone doing calisthetics. But, a shot down the line… better.

If you could access your mental slideshow, bring up a just-glassed-off afternoon session. Now, a wave approaches. You paddle over to get near the peak. You wait, wait, then turn, throw your weight down, then use that rebound to start your paddle. One stroke, two; you’re dropping. You lean a bit more toward the peak, allowing the board’s dropping ease your leap to your feet, with, in the same motion, a smooth turn off the bottom. You spot a place high on the shoulder and down the line… When you hit it, you’re so close to the top, ribs of feathering wave in front of you. There’s a real question as to whether you can make the wave. You shift your weight forward, allowing the back inside edge of your board to release.

There’s one moment, the briefest of moments here for you to tuck, drive…

All right, so you made the wave. Great. Or you wiped out. That happens. No big deal, unless you had put yourself in that one moment; then it’s memorable. Click.

Now you’re looking up the barrel at me in a similar moment. I’m standing tall, allowing the lip to move my hand back and down as my board freefalls a bit. At that questionable moment of making it or not, I just can’t help but channel some ancient surfing magic, and lean back, arch, and I may be screaming some one-syllable non-word. “Owwwwww!” which really means, “hey, look at this.”

I want you to add this image to your harddrive, and, later, when you bring it back up, and bearing in mind you just got a great ride, you can only respond by saying, “That was EPIC!”

May all your sessions be epic. May all your magic be real. Thanks

A Look Back at the First ‘Surf Culture on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Salish Sea Event’

Somewhere before it was my turn to present my short story, “Locals,” I realized a twenty minute reading wouldn’t work with the somewhat fractured audience. By fractured, I really mean distracted. There was a lot going on in and around the Cotton Building, the former Port Townsend Police Station, and, for this evening, the site of the first ever Surf Culture on the Strait of Juan de Fuca Cultural Event.

The Kinetic Kar thingie was happening nearby, there was a dance about to happen at the American Legion Hall, and, hey, it was a High Season Saturday night on Water Street. Former “Surfer” magazine (and many others) editor and the man whose name must appear somewhere on any jacket for any authentic surf-related book, Drew Kampion, was just finishing a slide show. He’d been there (everywhere, with photos to prove it) during surfing’s post-Gidget, short board evolution. As a writer/journalist, Kampion was the Hunter S. Thompson, the Tom Wolfe for surfers. Yes, Wolfe wrote about surfing, but he wasn’t a surfer.

Somewhere after Drew’s casually-presented show-and-tell, with insider stories; with Archie Endo (he volunteered for this, and was very well received) playing surf tunes through a little amp; with people milling about near the tables and easels of art work by legitimate, professional artists Todd Fischer and Jesse Watson, checking out a painting by Stephen Davis that just (I mean just) sold to a surf shop in Malibu; with photographs by Christian Coxen; with some people taking to seats who clearly thought this was some other event; with people (some possibly bored tourists) wandering in off the street; I knew it would soon be my turn.

Gulp.

surfcultureeventsecond 001surfcultureeventthree 001Eventflyerwordless 001

This first event came together much like the actual local surf scene; word of mouth, which includes texting, e-mails, random meetings between surfers at Waste Not Want Not (used merely as an example). Keith Darrock, surfing Librarian, came up with the idea of doing a surf-centered event, possibly including me because we ran into each other while looking for surf at a sort-of secret occasional-breaking surf spot. But this is how it worked. Tim Nolan, boat designer, will be displaying his new paddleboard and the cad drawings for it at the upcoming event, partially because Keith ran into him at a surf spot past Joyce.

“Yeah, but, Keith,” I had said prior to the first event, “if it’s sponsored by the library, shouldn’t there be something, you know, like, literary?”

“You know anyone… literary?”

I recommended Mr. Kampion, who actually dedicated a poem to me in “Surfer” magazine in 1969 (possibly because I have a funny name and did have a poem, heavily edited, published in the magazine in late 1968, written when I was 17), and who now lives on Whidbey Island. Keith reached out to him, he agreed to come over, and, relief, now I was the opening act.

Except I wasn’t. I was scheduled last. I tried to appear calm, but actually was unable to see the audience through my reading (only) glasses. That was just as well. I had rehearsed, thrown in some choreography, timed my readings. I didn’t want to screw this up.

At a normal, conversational rate, it took about nineteen minutes to read through.

And so I began.

“Whoa,” someone said, (like, fifteen minutes) afterward; “I didn’t think someone speak so… clearly, while talking so… (pause for a breath)… fast.”

So, this time, for this event, with the Northwind Gallery involved, there may be a bit of a change in the demographic. I would say more sophisticated. Maybe. Maybe the Port Townsend literati. We’ll see. Most of the original artists will have works on display. Background music will be provided by Pete Raab, including a couple by Archie currently working and surfing in Thailand). Drew Kampion has agreed to come back. Author Justin Hocking will be the main act, and I’m not sure how Keith arranged this, but, wherever I am in the lineup, I’ll be reading something shorter. And slower.

But I can read it faster if I have to.

See you this Saturday, starting around 6pm, uptown Port Townsend, upstairs at the Carnegie Library.

Former Edmonds, Washington (really) Surfer Bill Thomas (and a mention of Archie Endo in Thailand)

I tried to insert a video of my friend, Archie Endo, surfing, quite Archie-like (stylish long and gliding ride on a longboard), in Thailand. He is (still) there, middleman for a fish company. As I said, tried. Wrong format, evidently, and I got a big old "X," and a scolding. So, here is a photo I could insert, another (obviously old) friend, Bill Thomas, kayaking below his house on the Hood Canal with his new friend.  I went surfing with Bill, who will proudly tell you he has surfed the Puget Sound on one of those storm days (like yesterday) where the entire fetch of the Sound (lots of miles) was headed north, and he was on some of those windswells. That was then, years ago, and when we went to Westport on a typical, chopped-up day, Bill in a thick wetsuit more suited to diving, and I didn't surf very well, but did make it out a couple of times, Bill was almost angry that his skills from thirty, forty years ago hadn't stayed with him. He took a couple of photos of another surfer, doing well, and drove back.  Despite Bill being a retired firefighter, he was not, evidently, the guy driving the rigs to urgent fires and aid calls. He was stridently unapologetic about that. "I just thought I'd do better," he said. "And frankly, I thought you'd do better."  I have seen Bill since, kayaking at (I'm just going to name the spot) Salt Creek. No, one up on the Straits. He did fine. No, I don't have a photo.

I tried to insert a video of my friend, Archie Endo, surfing, quite Archie-like (stylish long and gliding ride on a longboard), in Thailand. He is (still) there, middleman for a fish company.
As I said, tried. Wrong format, evidently, and I got a big old “X,” and a scolding.
So, here is a photo I could insert, another (obviously old) friend, Bill Thomas, kayaking below his house on the Hood Canal with his new friend.
I went surfing with Bill, who will proudly tell you he has surfed the Puget Sound on one of those storm days (like yesterday) where the entire fetch of the Sound (lots of miles) was headed north, and he was on some of those windswells.
That was then, years ago, and when we went to Westport on a typical, chopped-up day, Bill in a thick wetsuit more suited to diving, and I didn’t surf very well, but did make it out a couple of times, Bill was almost angry that his skills from thirty, forty years ago hadn’t stayed with him.
He took a couple of photos of another surfer, doing well, and drove back.
Despite Bill being a retired firefighter, he was not, evidently, the guy driving the rigs to urgent fires and aid calls. He was stridently unapologetic about that. “I just thought I’d do better,” he said. “And frankly, I thought you’d do better.”
I have seen Bill since, kayaking at (I’m just going to name the spot) Salt Creek. No, one up on the Straits. He did fine. No, I don’t have a photo.

ADRIFT, PART THREE- What I Thought I would Say

The point I thought I’d be making when I started writing about the sort of existential trip (though so much of what really happens is internal, despite a change of scenery) my friend Stephen Davis was taking was that, though he seemed adrift, taking off across the country with sketchy plans and even sketchier funding, was that, maybe, even probably, all of us are adrift.

Well.

Steve’s currently in Chicago, working for his friend, Cosmo, a landscape engineer who once was a (another) neighbor in Port Townsend. They’re busy reinstalling winter-removed pumps from rich people’s water features, among other things. Stephen is surfing, couch surfing.  His plan to take a train to Colorado, since that project is on extended hold/possibly dead, has been replaced with a ticket to take the train all the way to Seattle en route back home.

He’ll arrive at about the same time as our mutual friend Archie Endo returns from an extended (new) business trip to Asia. More on that in a moment.

I might as well include the remainder of “And So Am I,” a song I wrote more than ten years ago; possibly referencing the times I’ve traveled to make some money. Mostly, and happily, in my case, to San Diego, where I did some painting for Trisha’s brother, Jim Scott (and do some surfing- in the water variety). The lyrics seemed to go with Stephen’s trip.

“…Clouds are spread out like a blanket, to the sea; like a quilted, patchwork blanket to the sea. And it’s all downhill from here, I guess that’s my greatest fear; waves of clouds are breaking, crashing over me; and they’re spread out like a blanket to the sea.

“Rain keeps falling just like teardrops from the sky; tears keep falling just like raindrops from my eyes; with the windshield wipers on, I’ll drive on into the dawn; where the morning sun ignites the clouds on high; clouds are skidding down the highway, and so am I.”

So, I updated Stephen’s and Archie’s progress to another mutual friend, another surfer, Keith Darrock; adding that I was really having some basic problems in trying to establish some connection between those of us who hold desperately to any piece of something that looks like security and those who boldly take off across the country or around the world with some vague romantic notions of…

“Adrift,” Keith said; “we’d all like to think we could be that… adrift.”

And that’s true. Surfing magazines seem to praise surfers who turned their backs on Corporate, lit off for exotic destinations. Miki Dora is legendary for surfing/living off his wits, even if it was, as portrayed, often at the expense of someone who invested, unwisely, in his quest.

Adrift? We all are, really. Stephen has met up with friends established through just being the kind of guy who makes friends with an honest ease (enough so that my client on one of three projects Steve helped me on, calling to see if I’d ever get it done, asked about him and how it was all going. “He seemed to be having a rough time.”). Archie has  also (finally) taken advantage of relationships established through years of toiling all around the world as a roe (salmon eggs) expert. He is taking a job as (again, finally) a middleman, securing and buying and selling seafood from all over the world, and will still, mostly, be able to work from home on the Olympic Peninsula, seeking some ‘surf-able’ waves on the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

Image

Archie spent some time in Phuket, surfed two two hour sessions in some Andaman Sea shorebreak on a rented board, said it released some of the tension; as did, perhaps, the nightlife he described as (I’ll have to check this) something signifying crazy. “Next surf at home.”

Okay, here’s a surf story: It was one of the first times I surfed Cardiff Reef, racing over after (high) school, and we were probably surfing there because the waves were kind of big; my friend Phillip Harper lost his board. Cardiff has kind of an outside, a middle section, and an inside; all a little nebulous, and, at that size, it breaks farther out than the breaks we were more familiar with (Tamarack, Grandview, Swamis). Maybe Phillip was looking for me to help him. I wasn’t aware of his situation. We’d like to think we have to be responsible to get in when adrift. Sometimes friends help. In this case, it was a stranger who ferried Phillip through the middle section.

ADDED/EDITED: First, I told the above story because I couldn’t think of a story of being rescued in the surf other than when I was eight or so and went over the falls at Oceanside Pier on a styrofoam surfie (kind of like a kneeboard, about three and a half feet long) broke it on the bottom, the back end against my belly. Gary and Roger’s mother, Arthella, had to save me. Really, I was just kind of- yeah, I may have needed saving.  What I’ve realized since I wrote the original piece is, because I get almost all of my work through referrals, I have been rescued innumerable times, a phone call about a job coming along at just the right time.

Second, I did get a comment that, compared to the realities of war and famine and global warming, my subject matter was kind of, well, superficial, perhaps. This came from someone who had a site pushing something “Better than Botox.”

So, adrift? Yes. No. Sure; just in various degrees and at various times; not drowning, just swimming.

 

If You Look Closely

If You Look Closely

Here’s a peek into the very manic-depressive swell ‘window’ on the north shore of the contiguous United States. This is the last of a swell that missed most of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, somehow caught on the last possible corner.
If you look closely, you can see several people chatting, parking lot surfing. Some of the crowd that came and went in this particular parking lot had been out, couldn’t go out because of inconveniently-timed illness, or were just waiting to see. Meanwhile, chat about waves caught and waves missed. Others had come and gone, several surfing until the tide got too high, took naps in their cars, checked it again, drove away.
My friend, Archie “Atsushi” Endo took the photo, with me, mostly suited-up, beside him. Tim Nolan had just gotten out of the water, having been in it since the tide dropped enough to allow the waves to clear the rocky beach.
And now, the swell, reported by local surfer Keith Darrock (I’m going to say I called him- knowing he’d know) at half past dawn as “three to four feet. I’d give it an A minus.” “I should come up.”
Others did. What was unusual is that Dave, way-formerly of PB, had come here from PA. That wouldn’t normally be a sound bet. Tugboat Bill had turned right instead of going straight. New kids (there are always new surfers in PT; most move on eventually) had found the spot, hit it or missed it, or, for one reason or another, passed.
Well, no; I hadn’t gone up early. No. I put it off, had to, just had to finish some work. Archie and I had gone west on Friday evening, sure our favorite low tide right would be working. It was, at about one to one and a half; but, yeah, we went out.
And we caught a lot of waves, long, perfect, glassy, fin-draggers; in a pouring rain.
Meanwhile, on that same Friday, the corner was catching the long period, but kind of southish swell. All day.
Supposedly. And everyone I spoke with seemed to have hit it.
I checked this spot on Saturday. There’s something so alluring about an offshore wind holding up a three foot wave. See the last place in the photo, where the point hits the water? Now imagine a long line curling onto it, top blowing back. But the tide was high; too high, and, though I did some parking lot surfing with Jesse Joshua Watson, local artist, soon to have some work featured on this site (Yeah, I’m always pimping realsurfers), I couldn’t wait to see if the swell would hold as the tide dropped. The Seahawks were about to play.
In retrospect… it’s always in retrospect; I could have come here on Friday; I could have surfed first, worked later. I could have…
Well, I got five or six long lefts, had to bail once as a bigass rock unsubmerged in my path as the tide and the swell dropped in unison. Worth it.
Now, I’m totally considering deleting this post in a few days. I don’t want to further antagonize the PT locals; but, let me say this: This is the first swell that really caught here since late September.
Meanwhile, Archie is going to Japan to work for three months or so in the prime season, such as it is, for America’s bi-polar north shore. Good luck Atsushi; hope you do some surfing.

Frank Crippen and North by Northwest Surf Shop

Something About Surf Shop Owners

You already know that anyone who works in a surf shop is automatically a good surfer, one, and automatically cool, two. Too. What’s apparent to me is they’re sort of automatically, and sometimes cruelly, honest.

Really, is being honest cruel?

I’ve been going into Frank Crippen’s Port Angeles store, North by Northwest Surf Shop since I got back more fervently into surfing nine or ten years ago. Yes, he automatically thought I was a Kook. And he was right. My skills hadn’t instantly come back after years of neglect. My wave knowledge was still there, but muscle memory…

Of course, I did drop a few local PA names. “Hey, you know Darryl Wood?”

“Of course. He came in here this morning on his way to…”

“His way where?”

I think Frank actually rolled his eyes. He wasn’t going to tell me, fifty-something formerly (and only self-professed) real surfer.

Fine. “Cold water wax.”

“Only kind I carry. Sex?”

“What?”

Sexwax. Oh, yeah. Now, what I do appreciate about Frank is his website, nxnwsurf.com

I can access the available cameras (nothing on the Straits), get a forecast, get the actual buoy readings. I check it at least daily, sometimes multiple times.

By cruising through his shop occasionally through these years, my surfing progressing so very slowly, and by seeing him on several surf checks in the area, and by always giving him a report on where I surfed and how much better it could have been, and complaining about all those Seattle surfers who read the same forecasts… somewhere Frank has gotten a little friendlier.

Oh, not discernibly friendlier. I have, being honest myself in my assessments, said Frank lacks people skills.

This doesn’t mean he can’t make a sale. I witnessed him sell about three hundred bucks worth of wetsuit and gear, some for skiing in the nearby Olympics, in about one minute. The brother of the guy trying on the wetsuit broke out his card. Maybe it’s all because he seems difficult to impress.

“And a beanie?”

Image

 

So, okay, here’s the Frank Crippen Quote:

No, first, I have to say that I told Frank that Al Perlee, owner of The Surf Shop in Westport, when I told him I wanted a smaller (than my 9’4” piggie model) board, had told me, “No; you won’t be happy. You’re too old, too fat, and you don’t surf enough.”

Brutal.

Okay, now Frank’s Line: “It’s easier to get a bigger board than to get in shape.”

So, even you Seattle surfers: check out and support your local Straits surf shop. Maybe you can impress Frank; I’m still working on it.

Mostly I want him to link realsurfers.net to nxnwsurf

Archie took this photo after I bought some new gloves. Yeah, the ones in the photo. “They’re thinner, but they keep you warmer.” “How long do they last?” “No gloves last forever.” We were on our way back from surfing at… somewhere on the Straits. Ask Frank; let me know if he tells you. Let me know if he rolls his eyes.

Hey, I forgot to ‘tag’ Al Perlee. When you’re down in Westport, tell him I have mentioned him several times on realsurfers.net Now, Al is actually about my age; not sure how big a board he rides. And, he was right; I’ve gone bigger; it was either go big or go home.