Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Driving North -homeward-

SWR report
June 17, 2008

Kerouac talked about running down the mountain. How it set him free - how it was so much easier to go down than up. He let his arms span wide, balanced his body, and let his body free fall down the mountain.

We return - and it is much faster than I would like, less glorious, a dwindling of spirit. We are fed by our spirits on the way home - we have fed our spirits to the brim, and now, we eat off the reserve.

We leave from the south of San O'nofre: the power plant that holds steady in the cobblestone floor that reaches out in one wide point; we leave those ten foot waves cheering each new rider, we leave Chris with his new barbeque and 6' foam board that carved its name in those faces; we head up pass Mission Viejo and San Clemente, where I miss Cameron and Theresa; we leave Huntington, home of Sunset Cliffs and Bolsa Chica and Larry and Trish and the yellow room, we leave Tony and we leave Mothers' miso soup.

We pass all the highways going north that seem to carve their names indelibly on our souls until our return. Especially the south bay of LA - my youth framed in highway signs: Rosecrans Ave; Manhattan Ave; El Segundo Bld., Grand Avenue - where I first learned to surf with the green Vardeman surfboard; LAX; Washington Blvd., Venice - where Tahm takes his daily strolls to the water and surfs the small peaks of his home break - where Peter is left writing his projects in the sundrenched apartments of Santa Monica; we leave Ventura in all its picture perfect points - in fact we stop to look at the glass and the nose riders and the latest models of bikinis; and we pass the homes of Tim Coonan and Craig Montgomery and their kindness; and on to Santa Barbara.

But we can't keep going and visit Isla Vista and quickly change into wet suits for one last surf at a spot we hadn't touched yet: Campus Point. There we paddled north into the funnest little peak that had juice behind it enough to spit a small hollow curl out into an extended glassy shoulder. The sun was warm. the wave was welcoming, the water was turqoise (no kidding), the sand copper, the cliffs were tumbling green vegetation and flowers fell like cataracts down to the brown rocks.

We pass my favorite stretch of California, from Santa Barbara to Santa Maria - I swear I could live in these golden folds of oak forests and rolling foothills where the land looks dry yet fertile and rich and thick - where a river runs through it - where Steinbeck rested his head on a small outcrop in the sun, felt the intoxicating tradewind from nearby Goleta, and dreamt.

We finally fall into the valley just in from where 101 careens northeast about ten miles, into San Luis Obispo. There we sleep before we part and Joe heads north to home in Sebastopol from where we first began our journey. Here, I continue my journey.

It was sad to see Joe go. For two weeks we followed summer wedded and committed to waves, sun, disc golf, coffee shops, camping, telling stories, reading stories, guitars, surfboards, wax, wet suits, gas prices, meeting new people, mexican food, spelt scones, and all things travel on the road brings to it. Most of all, we shared the many waves, the water - always back to the water, the splash of blue on our faces as we paddled over and over and over, baptized each time with the hope of grace, the hope of dance, the hope of walking on water, the hope of dreams.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Nine Breaths

SWR report
June 13, 2008

"Wanna go for a climb?"

Daphne and I, up at dawn, walked the mile or two to the base of Bishop Peak. San Luis Obispo is built around a series of nine little mountains - actually, extinct volcanoes called "morros." Bishop peak has three outcrops of big granite rocks and boulders sitting atop the peak. The volcano stands at 1,559 feet. It is the highest of nine morros that erupt from this snug valley ranging from Morro bay to San Luis Obispo. They call the morros The Nine Sisters. Daphne and I hiked through the native grasses and oak filled hills to the base of the highest granite outcrop. I love granite - it feels so solid and its gray and white surface creates an assured strong grip to the sole of your shoe. It was 10 am and warm on the east facing side of the mountain - the trail wraps around the morro and so you feel the cool trade breezes coming in from the chilly waters of Morro and the Pacific. We labored up the granite peaks, crack climbing up to the top, pulling and reaching, like a surfer through thick glass to get to the outside.

Atop the peak and just one more ledge of granite to surmise, Daphne casually claims, "Don't look around, just focus on getting to the top first - and remember to breathe." Of course that made me look out instantly and it was like immediate vertigo. I held my breath, but it wasn't a bad thing - it was like, whoa, I am really high right now - it was like the 1600 foot drop swooped up into my head and gave me a giddy feeling - better focus - and so with one more final reach, I humped my body up the last slab of granite.

There I was standing 1600 feet above the town, watching an eagle sore below, above the ocean which lay asleep at its horizon in the west, where Joe and I had accompanied so many waves to shore. Being on top of a mountain peak offers the same feeling of being out in big surf - your insides quake at the thought of any mistep, but the rush of excitement from being in the center of something so totally greater than you, like having the love of nine sisters, or even six, holding you in their bosom, comforting you in their pure power, grace and love.

We do commune in life. And it gives breath to us. Kabir said pay attention to the breath within the breath. There is a pulse at the top of a mountain - the same beat pulsates at the crest of a wave, or at the edge of a river. Earth breathes. Nine times in San Luis Obispo. Listen closely.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Campus Point

SWR report
June 12, 2008

We wake up in San Luis Obispo fresh, but with sand in our hair and always a little more sunburnt than the day before. All night sleeping in the tent trailer I just think of the perfect waves we rode yesterday in Santa Barbara.

You park on the south side of campus and make sure you pay - you don't care about paying because below you, three flights of thick wooden stairs, swish the tides of an emerald green blue wave. They roll into the small bay with the help of a south swell. We hike down the stairs with our boards, determined to go leashless, and begin paddling the quarter mile to the break.

I can't express the beauty of being in the water, the cliffs to our side and paddling a quarter mile out to the break, the only ones out again, wearing our baseball caps, no leashes, and the farther we paddle the bigger the swell becomes, until we reach a very rocky point where the most darling wave of rush and power blue curls and spits until it mellows into a long line of water where you pump and walk and ride, breathing in your whole existence, the trip, the beautiful miracle you are so grateful for. Honor the moments - they come in our lives, like good swells.

More to come.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Going In

SWR report
June 11, 2008

You go in dry - with each quirky step across the cobblestone, sea urchin, seaweed slip - the water and salt slips in. With the water comes a holy spirit and when it is deep enough you throw yourself on the board, chest up and paddle at the lull. The rip helps you out a bit, your head, dry for a minute gets ready for the first small wall of white water - you dip the nose of your long board below the line of white and prop your prone body up so that the onslaught of water rushes between you and waxed board. the water feels warm, much warmer than home - you realize your suit is too heavy for this climate. You paddle a bit more vigorously. Here comes another line of white water and you time your entry and it pushes you back a little, and you paddle a bit harder, now knowing you are almost there and you try to beat the next wave before it turns - I got it, I know I have it, paddle, paddle, paddle - and it is always just perfect, you fly up the face at its peak and drop down the smooth backside as the wave falls beneath you, a sound of collapse - your face and hair is wet - you look around, see the horizon stretch for miles, see the sky blue breaking grey, the cliffs of ivy, the coral trees, the bamboo and spotted colors along the brown sand and back to the lineup - waiting, waiting, waiting

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Big Tuesday

SWR report
June 10, 2008

On a foggy Tuesday morning we packed our wet wetsuits and traveled south hoping that the swell we caught yesterday at Huntington Cliffs would be rolling in across the wide span of cobblestoned ocean floor of San O'nofre. We weren't disappointed. While waiting for Joe's friend Chris to show up, Joe and I pondered the overhead size swell that came tumbling in slowly and powerfully. There wasn't much of a crowd and once Chris showed up, with a new barbeque and turkey burgers, we jumped into the biggest waves of our trip so far.

It is always a little tricky to direct your route across a cobblestoned ocean floor, but that is what one must do for a good twenty-five yards until he can paddle towards the break without scraping his board. Once paddling, the surfer times the sets so that he can make it to the outside break without expending too much energy.

I'm just about out of charge here, so I will continue blog tomorrow.

Suffice to say, it was fun today, no matter how much we got beat up out there - and the turkey burgers -mmm, mmm, good!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Shooting the Pier

SWR report
June 9, 2008

Making our way south

SWR report
June 9, 2008

We left Craig's wonderful family in Ventura surfing perfectly shaped glassy waves of four to six feet and playing rounds of disc golf in the local parks. Check out the plaza scene in Ventura with their Morton Bay Fig trees and San Buenaventura mission. The Silverliner train that woke us in Refugio passes through this town. It passes parallel to the promenade that overlooks the point. The surf was incredible.

We traveled late into LA county. County line was going off - large 6 foot peaks of glass, looming glassy from the kelp beds (unusual for most L A beaches). Joe saw Malibu for the first time, where knee high perfectly shaped waves rolled one after another. the crowd was minimal. Sunset showed the pulse of the swell, but high tide flattened the waves. So on we went to visit Tahm.

Tahm and Sandra welcomed us wholeheartedly and we surfed Sunset, just below Malibu. Glassy 4 foot waves graced us all morning. We had fun with a camera out there, but Tahm and I messed up the controls and we didn't get much on film. Sandy got the wave of the day. I can't fully describe the stay at Tahm's house, because I'd be writing all night. Someday I will. His house is a living extension of himself. Tahm is one of the most creative and inspiring people I know and I felt a sadness leaving his eclectic abode. We'll get back to LA - it's a place worth writing about - check out Joan Didion - she captures the LA area in it's perfect state of both bliss and bewilderment.