Saturday, August 30, 2014

Dear Marie

I paddled out to one of my local reefs on Thursday evening.  It's quite a paddle when it's low tide and a large amount of swell.  Choppy, some current,  but nothing serious, the waves were breaking on the semi outer reef, and I just paddle around the oncoming wash.  My shoulders were aching from all the surfing over the last week and a half (I know, boo hoo, self loathing...  guilty).  I slightly tweeked my neck, God knows how the day before but my lower back felt fine and my entire being just wanted to be in the middle of all that liquid thumping that was happening on the outside.  I paddled closer to the peak and saw this goofy footed fella catching a left.  He was looking straight ahead on what had to be a 8ft+ dredger.  It began to barrel over his head for a second or two.  The noise the wave created was loud.  The loudness it created was a deep, echoing sound.  The kind of sound that reverberates down your spine.  The fella didn't even know he was getting barreled in a crouching tube.  "Did I get tubed?" he asked me a few minutes later in the lineup.  "Sure looked like it."  I replied.  He smiled.  "Dear Marie," was his reply.

Joel Tudor on a quick exit.
Back to back hurricane swells.  Well, tropical storms to be exact.  But strong enough to offer the California coast with waves for days.  Sixty to Hundred miles north of San Diego, the swell was reaching the death defying heights of fifteen to twenty feet.  Some labeled last Wednesday, August 27th, "Big Wednesday".  But in San Diego, it was a good 6-8ft, with a couple sets reaching in the 9-10ft range.  It wasn't huge, and it stayed really manageable, lots of waves and the swell fell on a weekday, keeping the crowds, at least at the reefs where I surf, manageable.  In addition, Tropical Storm Lowell  sent a lot of swell our way the weekend before, which lead to a lot of surfers reaching their limit of how many days they could surf in a row. 

Marie for all of her hype, in my opinion, and at least in San Diego, wasn't as good as the Tropical Storm "Lowell" swell.  The water was super murky, the wind turned up earlier in the morning and lasted til sunset, and the waves were less consistent (even though it was pretty consistent, and that's saying something about Lowell), and the waves didn't have the power that Lowell blessed us with.  Lowell was like a mid period swell with the "umph" of a long period swell.  I didn't travel north during the peak of Marie (why travel when waves are going off in the backyard right?) but I saw pictures and video of NewPort Point, and that stuff looked major.  I guess the swell was so steep, that San Diego probably got the edge of that red blob while Newport got the full grunt.  It's not that I'm complaining, I had a lot of great waves, green room time and almost a near drowning by way of my rashgaurd being pulled over my head.  Marie lived up to the hype, but I still think Lowell was the better swell, at least in my "hood".

Exit this.
But to be honest, I'm pretty surfed out.  I'm just glad that my lower back made it out proper.  I haven't felt an ache (knock on wood) since I started focusing workouts on my core.  I'm taking a big break from surfing for the next five days or so.  We have our annual "crew" trip coming up next week, and I know we'll be surfing at least six hours a day.  Top that off with the usual craziness and unplanned adventures that come with a Kiwi Hippie Trip, rest is what the doctor ordered.  And there is a decent swell on tap, this time a long period 18 to 20 second thing.  But as with any long period swell, it's always a "wait and see".   The waves travel from so far away, you never know what dame or dude it'll hook up with on it's way to our coast.  But just in case it finds it's way to the loving arms of California's west coast, I know just the spot that will offer up 100 yard rights.  But thank you tropical storm, hurricane wave machines!!!  It was a long time coming.

One way to make the drop.

I sat on a bench on the hill for an hour and saw this guy make two saves on Thursday.

Tudor using his "Mr. San Diego" pass.

Thursday.  Again, Tudor finding another tube.

Marine Street looked fun.  Check that kid running into the surf just behind the skim boarder.  Pure stoke.
There were a lot of semi guns in the lineup.  I didn't think they were needed.
This guy had a lot of green room time. 
Full on, inside the womb time.
Sucks when your boss can out surf you.  At least on this wave.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

"Lowell" and Behold

I love long period South swells just as much as everybody else.  But when a significant storm builds in the tropics just south of us, and then gets a name, I can dig that too.  This swell was around 10 to 12 seconds rather than the standard 14 - 16 second south swell, swell period.  Rather then sitting around for a half hour waiting on sets like on most south swells, our south facing beach breaks and reefs (and the ones across the boarder) became instant wave machines.

Some random guy on a charismatic wave.
The waves weren't huge, and the the spots where the waves decided to break weren't as usual, but hey, when waves are in the head high range and sometimes well overhead and firing, who gives a damn, right?  Saturday had to be by far the best surfing day of the summer.  Wave after wave after wave just kept pushing through.  I surfed that day down in Baja at a spot that usually doesn't have much of a crowd, but on this day, the crowd was there and about.  But everybody was pretty much stoked because the sets came in sixes and sometimes nines.  How did I know this?  Because I broke my rule and paddled into the first one a couple of times.  I counted eight on my head as I paddled back out.

Me going left.
Over the flat spell, I've been working really hard in the gym.  The Bearded Bandito gave me some good advice a couple months ago.  "We work our arms and upper body all the time in the water.  We just gotta worry about our core and legs."  Since I received that great advice, I've been working my core and legs really hard, adding in a lot of push-ups and pull-ups, using my own body weight with higher reps.  And It really has helped.  Two moves that I really think have made a difference is double and single leg wall squats.  Adding 40 to 50 pounds to each consecutive set (6 sets, holding 45-60 seconds) have really helped me set my legs nice and square on my board, setting my bottom turn for cutbacks and snaps.  Before, my legs would shake if I held them in a power position, but now, no problem.  Since I have started this core and leg regime, my bottom turn, turns of the top and going backside where you really have to hold your center of gravity have become much more manageable. 

'Ol Knappy pigdogging it!

But anyways, the surf was awesome and looking at the forecast, we're in for more swell.  Unbelievable how things work out.  From flat to firing.  Glad I stayed in shape.  Here are more pictures that my wife and I took of the past swell.  Til next time.  Or until the arms fall off.

Alex on a hum dinger.

The Bearded Bandito heading into the hot sun.
This dude was on a couple juicy ones.  I should have sat next to him.
This one pretty much lined up for me.
This is that "dude" again, ripping another juicy one.
He knows he's on a good one.
The stronger and more in shape my legs are, the more I enjoy going left.
'Ol Knappy on his last wave.  It was pretty good one too.
I'm trying to finish what I started. 

Some of my wife's artistic shots that she wanted me to post..

Spot give away...

And my wife wanted me to post this one just to make sure that there is proof that I'm still a kook...

All of the shots from the shore are credited to my wife. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Home Sick

I was quite inspired tonight to pen a new entry.  After work, I sat down for dinner with take-out from Phil's (The Rib-less Dinner), salad and a couple Grapefruit Sculpins that I scored at Ballast's Little Italy tasting room.  Our Apple TV screen saver came up on our TV and pictures from our past life in The Bay appeared.  In those pictures, our top half was layered with a shirt topped by a hoodie topped by a medium insulated jacket with warm hats.  We were wearing jeans, shoes and what not.  We had pictures in The City, at A's games, BBQing Oysters at Tomales Bay, pictures of the Bay Bridge, hanging out arm in arm at windy Crissy Field watching the sun drop below the Golden Gate Bridge.  And pictures of us blowing cold smoke as we exhaled hot air into that slightly cold, brisk morning in early January.  I guess no matter where you go, if you live in one place for over twenty years, you'll always have a longing for it.  It's life.  It's sounds.  It's smells.  It's culture.

One from my archive.
But life has a current, and rather then trying to swim against it, we decided to see where the river went.  SoCal isn't a bad place to end up on the other end.  It's not NorCal.  That's for sure.  We traded our shoes for sandals, our jackets for T-shirts and our jeans for shorts.  Everyday is pretty much sunny.  Having a pair of really good sunglasses is not a necessity, but it helps.  San Diego.  One of the old guys I surf with described it as "Never Land".  It's a place where you can stay young and never grow up.  And people do look young here, whether cosmetically altered, genetically lucky or just by healthy living.  It's a place where people work to live.  Sometimes work to play.  The Bay, in some ways, became a place where that notion was the other way around, for me at least.  Plus, I was living far away from ol' Pacific.  I needed to be closer.  I needed to drown in it to breath.  But I have plenty of family still in The Bay, and I'm lucky enough to visit once every few months.  But it's not the same.  I miss crossing the Bay Bridge once or twice a week.  I miss Bart.  I miss Muni.  I miss AC Transit.  I miss the cynicism.  Hipsters.  Na, not the Hipsters.  When I go back, places and neighborhoods change, even within the short time since I've been gone.  Neighborhoods have lost it's color, and I'm not talking about the buildings.  Even the names of neighborhoods keep changing.  My brother lives in "Twitterloin" for God sakes.  What the fuck is that???  There are more people from Ohio and Boston then from The Mission or Oakland.  But at least a few of my really good friends planted roots and fight to keep the true spirit of The Bay alive and well.  They know who they are.  Yeah, you Jack.  Yeah, you Rassan.  Yeah, you Amber.  Yeah, you Todd.  Yeah, you.  And you.

One thing I don't miss is the drive to Santa Cruz.  Thinking back when I would wake up at 3:30a and be on the road by 4a and getting yelled at a local by 5a, all the while being cold and half asleep.  Out here in San Diego, I live half way between my favorite break in Baja and that one place they call "Trestles".  Both approximately 45 miles either way.  Within five minutes, I have two of the best beach breaks in the County (Scripp's and Black's) and two reefs that I will leave unnamed, that break on any decent south that comes through.  Yeah, those early morning, half sleep, listening to Led Zepplin while driving with the heater full blast days are done. Well, at least for now.  Because "you never know".   

One thing that I really love about San Diego is the sunset.  There hasn't been one bad sunset yet.  And the secret to a great sunset that I learned is clouds.  Clouds make epic sunsets.  There are probably better sunsets elsewhere.  But elsewhere isn't "California".  And California is by far the best place to live on the planet.  And I've been to a lot of places.  I grew up in a beautiful place.  And California still is the best, by miles.  Above is a recent swell the Bearded Bandito and I caught a week ago.  We went to our favorite spot 45 miles south of our home, with only five guys out, we scored endless head high rights.  Yeah, it lulled for a bit later in the afternoon, and the wind kind of got on it towards the end, but from a guy who learned how to surf at San Francisco's Ocean Beach, I'd take those endless fun rights any day, no matter what condition.  Funny story:  The inside and outside peaks were going off.  I looked over to The Bearded Bandito and asked "Inside and Outside are firing, where you gonna sit".  With a slight grin, he replied,  "Pick your poison."

What I miss the most about NorCal in general is Pine Trees.  Their smell.  Their brown bark.  Their endless green, prickly needles.  I grew up between living in Hawaii and coming back to NorCal here and there.  And when ever we ended up living in NorCal for a year or two, my family would go up to Yosemite for a week in the summer and we'd camp at either lower or upper pines.  And looking at pictures of Yosemite brings up those feelings of youth, family, laughter, joy and the utter awe every time we'd make it down to it's Valley.  But my wife and I have been doing some exploring, and one thing SoCal has is a lot of deserts.  And so does Baja.  And we've been finding ways to enjoy the deserts, either camping or just cruising...

A Dusty Drive from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

Joshua Tree for one is a pretty awesome spectacle.  To it's creepy yet beautiful Yucca brevifolia, Jack Rabbits, foxes and the occasional rattle snake make this National Park an enchanting section of California. We caught it during the recent super moon.  The way the moon light hit the boulders at midnight was a sight to be seen.  During one of the nights, I sat outside on a beach chair and watched all the constellations shift.  It's like you can see the entire universe and beyond down that way.  It seems like a good place to trip out at, if you know what I mean. 

I took my niece to Lego Land's water park the other day.  Out of all the slides they had there, she chose to get on a raft and float down the "Lazy River".  She got a lot of shit from her friends for it, making fun of her for not riding the "grown kid" slides with them and opting just to cruise with her favorite uncle down that man made, chlorine filled river.  I asked her after a while why she liked the Lazy River so much.  She replied "because you never know where it's going to take you."  "Yeah, you never know," I replied to her as we floated down that lazy river.