Ventura: A Change of Scene and Wave

Despite torrential downpours, I decided to stick to my plans and head up the coast solo for Thanksgiving. Turkey be damned. I crossed a few lakes and rivers on the 5 freeway north, tamed the 101’s penchant for stop-go torture and sat in bumper-to-bumper while heavy drops pelted my car window…once again, and are we surprised? I was determined.

If you’ve learned anything about me in my almost 10 years of “confessing,” I do not give up so easy, especially when it comes to travel plans and escaping the holiday’s choking crowds.

A cold, chilly C-Street.

I’m jinglin’ my damn bells out of the O.C. and oh what fun it is to ride on…the 5 freeway?….said no one ever.

Would Ventura’s chillier breaks hold anything less crowded? That was the hope as I peered over my car’s dusty dashboard at the rain-soaked Thanksgiving morning. The last time I surfed Ventura was in 2013 before my cousin’s wedding. I was anxious to be going back.

After conquering the concrete jungle’s arterial jugulars, Oxnard and then Ventura came into view like a breath of fresh farm air. Instantly my heartbeat picked up, a huge grin spread across my mug and I let out a small squeal of excitement to myself.
First stop on my list? C-Street, of course. It’s easy enough to find.

The parking lot had open spots—hmm bad sign? All longboarders hoisting their airplane wings out from their trucks—another bad sign? Out front were some fun waist-to-chest high rollers combing through, but what’s this? I spied a semi-chunky wave north of C-Street equipped with a chunkier crowd. Ventura point and the locals, it must be.

The next morning, the tide was too high for C-Street, so I relocated to the point. The point was crossed up and peaky from more downpours and wind the night before, so I settled for a less crowded option just north of the point. The lineup crowd was, shall we say, the strong silent type? Definitely no need for conversations, but occasionally I heard a few encouraging hoots in my direction… I’m pretty sure I was the only gal in the water.

Asking the name of the break quickly gave away my non-local status and questions ensued:

“Where are you from?”
Orange County.
“Where do you surf there?”
Trestles.
A few locals let out some grumbles.

The water felt balmy compared to Ventura’s 40-degree air temp. It was the first time I busted out my wetsuit hood since Humboldt.

The rain-soaked Ventura Point

Easy takeoffs led to a nice shoulder every once in a while, if you waited for the bigger sets. The murky water and occasional kelp brushing against my legs had me on higher alert. I’m not a fan of not being able to see my own feet in the water. The inside definitely liked to thump ya, if you weren’t paying attention, which I’ll admit was hard to do since there were gorgeous snow-covered mountains within view. After eating shit a few times on the inside, I realized the water was only a few feet deep, so I stood to drool over the mountains. My heart soared—waves and mountains, how can it get better?

The morning wind, which had been a chilly northeast, had turned to an ugly west and white caps started to dot the horizon. Damn—it’s only 9:30? After deciding on one more wave, one local guy quietly let me know we were surfing “second point” and that Rincon was only a 10 minute drive north.

Found my afternoon plans.

After my last wave, my very neoprened-self left second point in search of a warm drink—a nice warm chai tea sounded like perfection. At this point, I’d welcome a warm chai shower as my numb fingers attempted to towel change in the now 48-degree air.

So necessary.

I don’t know how locals in Norcal …or Maine or Canada or Alaska… do it, I thought. I could feel my blood freezing as I attempted to change out of my wet bikini top, no free peep shows warranted. At least the water wasn’t cold comparatively. I’m waiting for the duck dive that makes my boogers freeze.

After touring downtown Ventura, I found my beloved chai and croissant, and feeling returned to my fingers and toes. I quickly left the tempting retail stores and jumped onto the 101 north towards Carpinteria. I had been this way many times before and have seen the Queen of the Coast both microscopic and gigantic. Judging by the conditions in Ventura, my expectations remained low, but hopeful.

Today, it was semi-microscopic, but occasionally, a decent set would roll through with a total of four people bobbing in the lineup. Done. Sold. I am finally surfing this place and quickly changed into my dry 3 mil, paddled out to a crowd of mostly longboarders and caught a few decent waves on my Russell retro quad. I can see how this place can make a surfer froth like a mad dog when WNW swells are off the charts.

A few rain clouds closed in and a cold wind blew. That was my cue.

In Terminator fashion, I thought: I’ll be back.
And next time, I’m hoping for bigger, better things, your highness.

Check out my Flickr album below:

Ventura, California

Watch my video:

Five Least Likely Surf Spots to Consider

If you are any kind of surfer, you understand that crowds have been and still are an increasing factor in your wave search. Some have quit surfing all together (NEVER!) while others play hookie in hopes to score two-foot mini-drainers. Those “sick days” no longer apply as more kiddos are now home-schooled and groomed to be the next Slater or Reynolds. Midday lunch session escape? Nah–you’re surfing with your boss and the marketing team on their Wavestorms and funboards at Creek, if you are so lucky.

“Hey, can you teach me how to surf?! I just got this 9-foot board and I don’t know how to duck dive it.” *bangs head against desk repeatedly*

Good luck, buddy ole pal!

Within the last decade, surfers have really pushed the limits to reach out to the corners of an otherwise round globe in search of their perfect ride with minimal crowds. If it has a body of water and some form of wind, there is wave potential, right? After my experience with the latest wavepark craze in Texas and coming out the other side mostly healthy, (albeit slightly worried–see ‘amoeba’ and ‘BSR Cable Park’),  I recognize that not everyone needs Trestles to feel satiated…well, except for me and 50 of my best friends on a Saturday morning.

I want to believe and know for a FACT there is a secret adventurer in all of us aqua wanderlusts…someone who’s been cooped up since the Endless Summer days and so desperately needs to get out of the park-pay-surf routine. If you’ve got the bengies, balls and/or brains, below is a list of options you might consider when scanning the discount travel interwebs.

Now, I wonder if Germany charges for board bags…

Antarctica

Is your surfing mission to solely avoid all people and/or crowds? While I might recommend an easier remote Baja trip, this blog is not about the typical and the easy, but more focused on the “WTF mate?!” reaction. If you’re hell-bent on being completely antisocial with a frigid ‘tude to boot, the approximately 11,000 miles of Antarctica’s icy coastline is your best…friend? Crowds will not be a problem here. If it ever becomes one, I quit. Even with my crappy screen shot here, you can see major point break potential. Chilean pro surfer Ramon Navarro was the first pro to brave the freezing waters of King George Island in 2014. If you’ve got the grapes (assuming you don’t mind frozen ones), I challenge you to surf the sub-zero temperature ranges while I venture to warmer parts unknown comparatively.

The Great Lakes

Not exactly balmy. Great Lakes for the win! Photo: secondwavemedia.com

Not exactly balmy. Great Lakes for the win! Photo: secondwavemedia.com

The Great Lakes are nothing to sneeze at–they hold 6 quadrillion gallons of water and are considered one-fifth of the world’s fresh water supply. First: have you ever even heard of anyone using ‘quadrillion’ outside of space travel? I haven’t. The lakes also offer more than 10,000 miles of shoreline, which, according to magicseaweed.com, is more than the U.S. West and East coast combined! Because of the Great Lake’s size, the fetch produces large, surfable waves–with the right conditions. Often requiring lots of neoprene and vasoline (protect that mug!) as well as patience and an interest in surfing in the snow, the Great Lakes can have good waves, but do you have the balls? Someone did and I wonder where he got them–The first Great Lakes surfer was a G.I. with a longboard, who was returning from Hawaii in 1945. According to the same site, the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and northeastern shore of Lake Erie saw more surfers combing their shores throughout the 60’s and it now exists today–remember that part in Dana Brown’s “Step into Liquid” movie back in 2003??

See also:

Vans’ “Weird Waves Season 1

Surf Shop’s “Unsalted: A Great Lakes Experience

Red Bull’s “Surfing in the Great Lakes

Eisbach River–Munich, Germany

In the most landlocked of European countries, it turns out surfing is a thing in Munich, Germany–namely ‘River Surfing.’ The mile-long man-made Eisbach (aka: “Ice brook”) river is a side arm of the Isar River. Although at this point crowds MAY be a factor since pros like Mick Fanning have given it a go, the wave is not exactly ‘friendly.’  Also known as “E1,” the wave was specifically

Germans mean business about not just beer. Photo: Riverbreak.com

Germans mean business about not just beer. Photo: Riverbreak.com

created to be ridden by experts. Folks literally sit in line and take turns (imagine that!) for waves, so dropping in on someone is completely unacceptable. Not gonna lie: I would absolutely LOVE to hear an errant tourist get bitched out by a German local.

According to this website, the concrete baffles that support the wave’s flow can break your neck and the fast-moving current combined with a rocky riverbed will gladly take out your board that probably you paid a hefty travel fee. Is there ding repair in Germany? The wave and the crowd may be tough, but getting to the lineup isn’t: Throw your board in front of you and use the river’s momentum. But, beginners be warned: according to the site, if you’re a beginner, “just forget it.” However, there is a spot named “E2” that is supposedly more approps–not sure how the Germans view the Wavestorm crowd or how they define “beginner” while they nonchalantly slug “Das Boots.”

Clarks Fork River–Missoula, Montana

Brennan's Wave in the Clark Fork River, Montana. Photo: Sean Jansen

Brennan’s Wave in the Clark Fork River, Montana.
Photo: Sean Jansen

My longtime friend Sean Jansen wasn’t planning on moving to Montana, or planning anything that does not involve being outside and in nature. The San Clemente local-turned Montana resident is no stranger to thinking outside the box or shall we say, wave? With the nearest wave being over 2,000 miles away, Jansen has taken up river surfing in the icy waters of Clarks Fork River. Just as in any kind of wave, there is a science and adventure to river surfing and Jansen is no stranger to either. See his river surf explanation below:

The same winter storms that hit Washington, Oregon, and California keep marching inland after they hit. Once in Montana, those storms land as snow, coupled with storms from Canada. Once spring hits and temperatures rise above freezing, snowmelt happens and floods the river, hence the brown water. And river surfing is born.

Brennan’s Wave is the name of the wave and it is an artificial wave created by concrete submerged.

Silver Dragon–Qiantang River, China

 

I hate to disappoint, but this is NOT Game of Thrones…or were you already disappointed by that anyway? :) However, maybe I will take my cool braided locks and my future …Lost board, which will have Drogo painted on it, to China to surf the elusive and rare Silver Dragon -Qiantang River Tidal Bore. A tidal bore happens during specific conditions–the spring or fall tide and full moons. There’s even a festival dedicated to this occurrence known as “The Tide-Watching Festival” held on the 18th day of the 8th month in the Chinese calendar. The festival brings 170,000 people and has been celebrated for hundreds of years. The break is named the Silver Dragon because it is first seen from a distance as a stroke of silver on the horizon along the Qiantang River located in East China. The river and Hangzhou Bay are known for the world’s largest tide bore. As you can see here, the wave is really nothing to snub. It’s got some juice.Reminds me of a certain man-made wave in kicker country. Photo: npr.com

 

Facing Fears Solo in Zion National Park

Timing is everything.

And it just so happened that minutes after I gushed to my boss about wanting to do a solo camping trip, my co-worker messaged the team saying that he had an extra camp site at Zion National Park. Instantly, I responded with “mine…please.”

Watchman Campgrounds picturesque peaks.

Watchman Campgrounds picturesque peaks.

It has been 10 years since I’ve camped by myself…Big Sur in 2009, right around the same time of year, was the first and last time I had pitched a tent, lit a fire and truly struck out into a space with zero cell phone reception. I toggled with the idea of bringing someone along, but my mind immediately screamed: NOPE. There were times where I’d view the estimated air temps for that week and it mostly read in the mid 50’s for the high and the upper 20’s for the low. Again: still going.

I got yelled at by both parents and most co-workers were in disbelief.

Still.
Going.

Of course I began to question myself: Could I still light my own camp fire? Build my own tent? Cook my own food? Protect myself from predators in and out of the park? YES.

The first time this tent has seen the light in five years. Sad, but true.

The first time this tent has seen the light in five years. Sad, but true.

After staying Thursday night at the disgusting Rio resort/hotel in Vegas, I powered through Sin City’s dust, desert and debauchery for a couple more hours to Zion and arrived (after many photo stops) Friday afternoon. I could not wait to escape that blasted hotel room that reeked of smoke. Despite it’s salacious  party-hardy reputation, Vegas has never been interesting to me. In fact, it makes me want to run far far away every time. Funny enough–I got more bug bites in the hotel room than I did camping.

When I arrived to my campsite, the beautiful landscape jutted towards puffy white clouds that swiftly blew past the peaks of the park’s beautiful precipices. I was in utter shock and awe having done zero research (naturally) before my solo adventure outside of consistently bugging my co-worker for info. I immediately began to set up my more than 10 year old tent–it’s previous adventure was five years ago in Baja with six wave-hungry boys and myself. The Baja dust and dried mud still sifted around the tent’s interior and, as I opened it up, I let out a big “AWWWWE” remembering that epic surf trip five years ago while, in the same breath, scoffing in shame as it was the last adventure this tent had seen.

After the tent was set up, my co-worker and his wife stopped by to say hello. I also got to know my fellow semi-solo female camper neighbor, who helped me pull up my tent. I later spied her chopping firewood with an ax, which made me feel oddly proud that I asked for her help. Shortly after the set-up, I hopped onto a free shuttle that takes people into the park. I decided to check out the Upper Emerald Pool Trail, a small half-mile trip to a water fall, stocked with crowds, kids and strollers. YAY. So after the brief stroll, I made my way down Sand Bench trail, which had no one. As the sun started to set, I turned around and headed towards camp, where I successfully lit a camp fire and cooked freeze-dried soup and paired it with a salad I picked up from the grocery store earlier.

The night came quickly and after my fire died, I huddled in my tent equipped with quilts, two sleeping bags, beanies, gloves and a solid book. But, I never sleep well when it comes to camping. I woke up at 3-ish a.m to the distant sound of coyotes barking. As I stirred in my sleeping bags, the frigid air felt numb against my face and proceeded to sneak through any available crevice.
In short: brrrr

The first portion of the Angel's Landing hike, right before you get to Refrigerator Canyon.

The first portion of the Angel’s Landing hike, right before you get to Refrigerator Canyon.

My 7 a.m. wake-up proved even more difficult than sleeping as getting out of the warmth of my sleeping bags was especially challenging.

Wellll, I’m up! Time for breakfast and the infamous Angel’s Landing hike. No big deal, I thought, as I scarfed my oatmeal and green tea. I will do as much as I can and there’s zero pressure, despite my dizzying fear of heights. But–I often push through because am also very stubborn and goal-oriented. I knew I had to do the hike that has a reputation for treachery. Six people have died attempting the last half-mile and the park makes sure people are aware of that and recommends anyone with heart or lung problems and anyone afraid of heights to not attempt. Of course, I had to at least SEE this beast of a climb.

This hike certainly ain’t no Angel…in fact, she’s a real bitch.

"The Spine" looking nice 'n spiney.

“The Spine” looking nice ‘n spiney.

The first 2 miles of the Angel’s Landing follow along a paved road of the West Rim Trail and I will mention, you really start to feel the 1,500 elevation gain towards the top of the longer switchbacks. Try not to get too dizzy because it might not be the highest point of the trail, but it’s still a long way down. After this portion, you come to the only shaded part of the trail known as “Refrigerator Canyon,” which has a small creek and hanging plants and trees. I recommend doing some calve stretching because shortly after this section, you arrive at “Walter’s Wiggles,” which are 21 switchbacks named after the park’s first superintendent. This, outside of the climb, is the most difficult part of the trail as it will wear you down.

If you make it through Walter’s Wiggles, you come to what looks like the top, but no. It is merely a resting/lunching place before you (or should you) take on the last half-mile of Angel’s Landing known as “The Spine”–duly noted for it’s narrow shape and sheer drop-offs. When I tackled this part, there was a hefty line of people (somehow) going both ways on the very narrow path that is, YES, mostly lined with chains for grip. I stood in line and the first third of the half mile climb (not really hike), was what I thought to be the peak, but no–my mouth agape as the rest of the “spine” came into view.

I thought, well I’ve come this far, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought, maybe I’ll just keep going. 

Thank you for being my model, fellow photog, because I really didn't want to take a selfie. No fear at the peak of Angel's Landing.

Thank you for being my model, fellow photog, because I really didn’t want to take a selfie. No fear at the peak of Angel’s Landing.

A small part of my stomach was doing loop-de-loops as I climbed up and down, over and out very VERY carefully. One step in the wrong direction, one trip over a jagged rock and you fall to certain death thousands of dizzying feet below. The people in front and behind me became my best friends as I climbed with an 15 extra pounds on my back. I think I would’ve felt a little safer without my 15-pound backpack, but I wouldn’t have been able to eat my delicious turkey avocado sandwich at 5,790 feet. No, I wasn’t having that.

So, I committed to the rest of The Spine and eventually made it to a very unobstructed 360-degree view of Zion National Park. As  I got to the peak, my heart bursted with excitement and fear all at once. I dare not test my balance coupled with my tired legs and quickly found a lunch spot. My turkey and avocado sandwich never tasted so good. I sat for a moment, took in the beauty that is Zion and then decided to go back down since it was, at this point, past noon. I felt the sun fry my cheeks as I carefully stood up to hike down. Despite the fact that I was still shaking in my hiking boots, I was so proud that I made it to this place and didn’t give up.

Not too close to the edge. Yay conquering fears!

Not too close to the edge. Yay, conquering fears!

The climb back down, however, felt scarier than climbing up. For you climbers/hikers: capitalize on SQUATS because you gonna need ’em. No matter how much my thighs trembled, I forced myself to keep moving despite my semi-lighter backpack falling around my shoulders with each steep descend. At the Spine’s final third portion, there were some rude people who decided to not wait for oncoming traffic on the narrow one-way ridge, and some other folks had to literally grab me and hold me so those rude people would not push me over the edge. I am very grateful for those who were keeping me and the two girls behind safe.

Once I got to the resting space, I felt a wave of relief wash over me as my thighs continued to tremble.

I did it, I thought. I fucking did that shit.

As cheesy as this might sound, a special feeling remained in me for the rest of the day. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I continued to hike more of the West Rim Trail, Weeping Rock and a small portion of the Narrows. I absolutely HAVE to come back here–no question in mind.

My only real question that remains is: will I attempt Angel’s Landing again? Maybe or maybe not, but, not gonna lie: hang gliding, sky diving, rock climbing…these activities have a little more potential for future fear conquering.

A Few Things to Expect When Surfing Hawaii’s Big Island

I’ve noticed the very utterance of the name “Hawaii” often sends surfers into either one of two reactions: pure froth or pure frustration.

Like that one who got away or that one you’ll never forget, Hawaii has a tendency to have these effects on surfers alike, although I’m no well Hawaiian-ized surfer gal. Yes, I have surfed Oahu’s Waikiki a few times, but never the famed and over-photographed North Shore. And more recently, I can now add the Big Island to my list of “have surfed there” spots, namely a not-so gentle break called Kahalu’u located in Kailua-Kona.
The Big Island is, so far, my favorite spot out of the three Hawaiian islands I’ve visited—Kauai, not included above because I did not surf there. As a pasty gal from the mainland innocuously asking random locals for a nug of info about surfing in Kailua-Kona, I was met with more discouragement than anything. At first, I wanted to blame it on the fact that they just didn’t want a mainlander to take their waves, but as I learned, the big island locals and I share similar sentiments about sharing waves and wave-hog tourists.
Here are some tips for fellow mainlanders and anyone else who thinks about surfing the Big Island.

1. It is reefy—not rocky, well, yes, razor sharp LAVA rocks make up the majority of the island’s beach landscape. However, once you paddle out, don’t forget to look into the water to double check for reef that is pretty much everywhere. Right up there with lava, reef can be ultra-sharp, so it is in your best interest not to eat it feet or head first on waves (see number “4”).

A Kona reef doing it's thing.

A Kona reef doing it’s thing.

2. Respect the locals
—as one local lady told me with some serious ‘tude to boot: “this ain’t Waikiki…the locals wait all year for their waves.” And, thanks to our LA-folks, out-of-town people have inherited a reputation for wave hoggery. Once again, LAliens, THANKS. This ain’t a competition…wait your turn on the shoulder or hang out in the channel and watch the locals put on a clinic. If you show some respect and not paddle straight to the peak, they will most likely let you catch a few, but don’t paddle out thinking you’re going to take every wave. When I checked Oahu’s surf report and compared it to the Big Island, I noticed Oahu gets far more (and bigger) waves, so these locals are HUNGRY. Let them gorge themselves before you start nibbling at the peak. Oh & avoid the “Billy Badass” attitude—pretty sure that gets you nowhere.
Show the locals some R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

3. Sit on the shoulder
—as I mentioned above, avoid the “Billy Badass” attitude. Billy Badass goes nowhere with Hawaiians. These are some of the hardest-charging surfers I’ve ever seen, so just because you’ve surfed double-overhead El Porto doesn’t mean you get to take everything that comes your way. The question is not whether you can surf, it’s whether you can take the time to respect the locals and the wave. During the winter months, Kailua-Kona is a little less exposed than it’s neighbors, like Oahu and Kauai, so the swell is little less consistent and, while it’s still pretty damn impressive, the size was not as significant as the neighboring islands. The locals need their waves and it would behoove you to let them gorge before they have to go to work or home. Nothing worse than a grumpy local, right? Take the back seat and let the locals have their waves first…and don’t be a jerk about it.

Cruisin' the shoulder.

Cruisin’ the shoulder. Photo: Kona Surf Photos

 

4. For the love of all that is holy: starfish

–to state the obvious, if you are surfing over reef, which is a living, breathing organism/ecosystem, be sure to “starfish” when you eat crap. Unless you want French fries for toesies, or want to find out what it feels like to have your skull pierced, make sure to flatten your body or aim that bootie towards the water, if you can help it. I was specifically told by the locals to not eat it feet or head first.

Although they told me that there is a slight buffer between the white wash and the reef (apparently you are more likely to roll over the reef rather than straight down to the bottom), it’s always good to exercise caution and give the seasoned local a good chuckle and flatten out as much as possible. Take a page from that epic T.V. show ‘Sponge Bob’ and absorb your best Patrick impersonation. In the interim, try not to belly-flop.

 

 

5. If you really want to surf, don’t give up

—Mini-story time! Despite the fact that I ran into a lot of

I played nice and the locals played nice back. Reaping the rewards. Photo: Kona Surf Photos

I played nice and the locals played nice back. Reaping the rewards.
Photo: Kona Surf Photos

discouragement from some locals, surfing was going to happen, come hell or double over-head high water. Kahalu’u had piqued my interest after I tried to paddle into the wave during a building swell and a dropping tide. At the wave’s peak during the low tide, the wave turned into a mutant exposing dry reef and the drop-ins looked damn near impossible. So, I sat on the shoulder, told myself I was being polite for the locals while my heart pounded in my chest and waited patiently for a small-ish shoulder to come through in between thumping well-overhead sets.

Over the next couple of days, the swell climbed to double-overhead and all along Ali’I drive in Kona, the reefs were seen straightaway from the road firing on all cylinders while lifeguards posted red flag warnings.

I really wanted to surf one more time, even tho I was scared shitless of the wave. I just wanted to give it another go. I found another place to rent a board right in front of Kahalu’u, but “because the conditions were red flag,” the shop refused to rent me a board because they didn’t want to be held liable. In the meantime, I watched them rent a SUP to a 10-year old—an excellent way to make my blood boil.

Kona Boys rented me this pintail beaut for my last day to surf Kahalu'u. Very stoked surfer girl. Photo: Dave DuPre

Kona Boys rented me this pintail beaut for my last day to surf Kahalu’u. Very stoked surfer girl.
Photo: Dave DuPre

I was so put off …I felt sized up…angry…discouraged…I tried to look beyond their blatant rejection and obvious “see you coming” attitude, but only saw red.

After some encouragement from my boyfriend, I picked up the pieces of my shattered ego and rented a stunning board from Kona Boys Surf Shop—polar opposite experience. In the end, I scored some great waves and the locals, who had come to refer to me as “Trestles,” were hooting me into sets. I left the water with the biggest smile I’ve had in years for surfing. Don’t give up.

 

P.S.
After a surf, I highly recommend trying out Da Poke Shack off Ali’I drive. It will ruin any inkling of “fresh fish” you’ve ever had, even if you live by a coastline…on a boat…or in the sand. I watched them slice and dice the fish, which (sorry vegans!), was a beautiful array of hues ranging from deep blood to bright red. On our first attempt to find the place, we arrived just in time for them to sell out–it was noon.

Surfing Deep in the Heart of Texas at NLand Surf Park

Just outside of Austin, Texas, sits a giant pool, as large as approximately nine football fields, that is literally a perfect wave machine. Not to be confused with our jargon-ish “inlander” term—NLand Surf Park is the closest any central Texan will get to learning how to surf without paying lofty vacation package prices.

Make an expensive-ass reservation, drive to the boonies, park, sign your life away (waiver), watch the do’s and don’ts video, strap on a ton of wristbands, and pick your stick–if you’re renting.
Pretty sure I wasn’t going to Schlitterbahn…

...Schlitterbahn??

…Schlitterbahn??

Visitors have three different wave options, depending on experience level:
1. The Bay
2. The Inside
3. The Reef

If you are learning how to surf, The Bay and a soft top board are your best bets.

If you’re feeling a little more confident and want a step up from the whitewash, The Inside and a soft top board or a longer standard board are good choices for you.

If you are confident in your surfing skills, know how to pop up, drop in and cruise (and want those thighs to burn), The Reef (& the rest of the NLand quiver) are your digs.

Between the serious Texas heat, humidity and thunderstorms popping up on the flat horizon, the water temperature is a balmy 85 degrees and incredibly murky and brown. Think Nicaragua or Costa Rica.

So, absolutely no wetsuit, spring suit or even rashie required.

And to state the obvious: no need to worry about sharks or crocs, this water is fresh, which makes it a bit denser than our beloved ocean water.

Although the park offers a pretty decent quiver, which includes Channel Islands, Russell, Timmy Patterson, etc… if you are very insistent on bringing your own board, bring your floatiest and fattest. In fact, you know that one epoxy board that you got because it was trendy at the time and it’s now collecting dust in the back of your garage because it floats you too much at your local spot?
This is its time to shine.
Dust that puppy off and tote it to kicker country, if your heart so desires.

Channel Islands/Al Merrick's 5'8" epoxy flyer.

My ride: Channel Islands 5’8″ epoxy flyer.

But, it will cost ya a chunk of change and it’s probably not worth the board bag fee since, well, this is one of the ONLY worthwhile “breaks” around for hundreds of miles, unless you plan to skip off to Central America, OR you have solely dedicated a “surf” trip to Austin–said no one ever.

I was a little nervous to leave my surf fate up to the park’s quiver, but I found their 5’8” epoxy Channel Islands Flyer worked perfectly.

Now for the wave—it’s interesting.
The wave is based on a blade-shaped technology called the wavefoil, which hurtles at a specific speed from one end of the lagoon to the other underneath a “pier” lined by a chain link fence to create a wave that adjusts to the pool bottom’s customized bathymetry, or the water’s depth. When I asked for specific wave heights, the park staff said “8 feet” for the reef, buuut–I think it was more like 6 feet.

Before I even entered the water, the very kind staff reiterated multiple rules, which made smoke come out of my ears.

 

Can’t I just paddle out and figure it out?

Nope. They said if anything, remember this:
“Paddle out” right by the chain link fence, drop in at a 45 degree angle and make sure you drop in as close to the fence as possible.

Okaaaaay. So, no duck diving?

Nope.

K.

I’m not sure if it was my unusual two cups of coffee or all the rules that were unloaded into my brain, but suddenly, I was nervous. This ain’t the ocean, I’m not paddling out to Trestles. I’m going to ride a man-made wave, how the hell am I more nervous about a man-made wave?! Surely, any break in California would greatly disagree with my odd jitters.
I mean, the reef breaks bigger than what I usually prefer, but, as my grandma always said, que sera sera.

No duck diving required, no sharks or crocs spotted.

No duck diving required, no sharks or crocs spotted.

After paddling out, I sat by the marker on the far end of the “pier” for the left-breaking “west reef” wave. Man, why’d I choose backside?!
Suddenly a small roar sounded about 50 feet behind me and the wave appeared out of nowhere. I paddled a few strokes and popped up. Rode it a little bit before I lost the face and succumbed to the whitewash.
Okay cool. I guess I can do this, I thought. I got a few tips from the helpful lifeguards and paddled next to the chain link fence towards the right.
Once the wave jumped into view, I took off and trimmed immediately to the right, where I successfully stayed on the face and rode the wave all the way to the “inside,” kicking out with a boost of air and a canon ball, thighs shaking from the ride.

Yelling out “yew” seemed odd, and so did “yeehaw,” so I settled for “owww!” And paddled back out for another…

Conclusions:

A man-made surf experience helped me appreciate the small things about ocean surfing. Unlike the ‘au naturale,’ wave parks are scheduled/predictable, there’s no aquatic wildlife to observe, the water is, well, warm but ugly, every wave breaks perfectly, and I’m sure if you would consider anyone as a “local…” Maybe the lifeguards?? I certainly didn’t see any 10-gallon hats bobbing around the oddly shaped ‘lineup.’

Even tho this wasn’t ocean surfing, I definitely felt like I was in a better mood once I was done. But that better mood cost me about $200 for two hours.

After leaving high school and Austin for college in California, I once told my friends that if Austin ever builds a wave pool, I will move back. While I’m not exactly eating crow, I did consider it for a New York minute as I do have a soft spot for Texas. But! Living and “surfing” in Austin would be incredibly unsustainable for the amount of time I would need per week. At minimum-with NLand’s pricing, I would require at least two hours for two days on the weekends, which would come to $400 per week, that’s $1,600 a month to surf…hmmm that smells like California rent prices.

Who can complain about consistent thigh burners? Just bring down the price tag and perhaps I'll return to being an 'Austinite.'

Who can complain about consistent thigh burners? Just bring down the price tag and perhaps I’ll return to being an ‘Austinite.’

Not to mention I would sorely miss the ocean in general and become incredibly bored with the predictability of the same wave day after day, session after expensive-ass session.

Although it’s fun to feel my thighs burn (baby!) and encourage beginner folks to go for the ‘Reef’ wave, I know that for the same $400 or less, I could pop over to Baja and find something similar–cold water temp and possibly sharky, but similar.

Sorry Austinites, breathe a sigh of relief because this California transplant is staying on the west coast.

A Journey on the Pacific Crest Trail with Sean Jansen

Sean Jansen is a rare human being who delights in the most amazing and intimidating of experiences. From driving solo to the further outreaches of desolate Baja coastlines to braving Northern California’s frigid large surf, to taking off for years on end to travel the world, he’s always got an adventure up his sleeve–which is why I didn’t flinch when he told me about trekking the ENTIRE  Pacific Crest Trail.

Born and raised in San Clemente, California, Jansen grew up surfing San Clemente’s wide variety of waves and absorbing the beach culture lifestyle. He currently enjoys chilly surf breaks, incredible nature preserves and a solid Eel River IPA about 950 miles north of his hometown in Humboldt county. Since a Lower Trestles session in 2010, he’s been a good friend of mine and has continually motivated me to surf harder, go outside of the proverbial orange bubble and enjoy nature.

According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association, this infamous PCT stretches 2,650.10 miles from Mexico to Canada. PCT spans across mountain ranges, valleys, deeps forests and deserts–a photog’s dream for pictures a-la National Geographic.

To no surprise, Jansen hiked 131.06 miles beyond the calculated amount: 2,781.16 miles.

I recently caught up with Jansen about his hiking journey of epic proportions:

1.) What made you want to hike the entire PCT?

It was kind of like a culmination of a bunch of things.

I was living with my parents in Montana and was working construction saving every single penny. Within three months, I had saved several thousand dollars saved and had the option to go travel again, but I was kind of bored of traveling, as weird as that sounds. I wanted to do something different. A friend posted on Facebook that he was going to hike the PCT and that kind of re-invigorated my desire to want to hike.

I think it was just going to be an awesome thing that would further push my career to a higher level as a photographer and journalist. I can only imagine the images I would be able to capture if I were to be in nature every single day while experiencing the beauty the Lord has blessed us with on this planet. I think that’s the number one reason—just to get away from everything and go experience nature out there beyond highways, beyond jet planes–beauty that your own two feet can show you.

It’s your own will power to see the beauty that I’ve seen and that’s probably the number one reason.

 

2.) How did you mentally and physically prepare for this journey?

Mental preparation was really bad, I didn’t mentally prepare at all. My cousin decided to give us a ride to the southern terminus, which was only a 2 hour drive from San Clemente. My friend was getting all giddy in the car saying “Can you believe we’re about to do this?” and I’m just like “No, not really.”

It’s not that I wasn’t excited, I just wasn’t overwhelmed by the emotions of 90 percent of the people. It wasn’t until I woke up one morning on the trail and was like “Holy crap, this is actually happening.” And after I hiked the first 10-100 miles, that’s when it was really setting in. I  was realizing that I’m really out there and really doing this to see what I can really do.

The whole purpose of the trail was for me to learn every ounce I could learn about myself and the trail.  The mental and physical preparation was all a giant learning process. I would never change it to this day.

 

3.) What were some challenges you faced? Biggest challenge?

Every day was a challenge, mentally and physically. The trail was a challenge, because it changes every single day. You go from the desert, to the mountains, back to the desert, through snow, rain and wind.

You have to face challenges with other hikers–whether you accidentally fall in love with someone within the first week and you broke up with them and you have to keep seeing them. There were challenges dealing with friends that you got to know really well, but they decided they wanted to hike faster and took off and you never saw them again.

In every way you can think, there was a challenge. I kept saying the number one word of the trail was “change.” Everything about the trail and you changes with every step you take. You change personally, physically and the trail changes–so I can’t really pinpoint a challenge.

As photographer, I had to take off my backpack, pull out my camera (which weighed a couple of extra pounds), and put the camera back in the bag while everyone walks on. The photography aspect was my biggest challenge because:

1.) You’re carrying more weight and     2.) You have to get really creative. ……It’s exhausting, but it was worth it.

 

4.) Any close encounters with wildlife?
Yes absolutely—but I was never nervous or uncomfortable. You would hear stories about people who would have terrible encounters with wildlife—where they got charged at by a bear, for example.

In Oregon, well past dark, we always sleep with food inside of our tent. I literally had a bear scratching at my tent where my friend would’ve been. The next morning, there was fresh bear scat around my entire tent.

In Oregon and Washington, we would always hear Elk bugles ferociously close. That was probably the scariest of what we came across on the whole trail because once we got to Oregon and Washington, it was during their mating season and they’re notoriously territorial and aggressive.

 

5.) What supplies were you carrying along the way?

Beyond the fact that I’m a photographer and a fly-fisherman—I had a 65 liter backpack, which was overkill. It was way too big, which was a little surprising for what people think. One of my biggest concerns, before I started the trail, was where I was going to get water every day. So what you find out on the trail, was at least once a week, sometimes a little longer, you would get a re-supply of food because you would come across a highway or town.

In a typical backpack, you would carry food, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, clothing, a lighter, cooking gear among other stuff.  The average pack weighed without food or water was about 20 pounds. Some of us even carried solar panels on our backpacks to charge our gear. I had my camera gear and two batteries, one lens, a couple of filters and a tripod, which was an additional 7 pounds.

At my heaviest point, which was in the desert section where I carried 8 liters of water, my pack weight about 70 pounds. But as I drank water and ate food, my pack became lighter each day. Everyone else was in the 45-50 pound range.

 

6.) Any special secret spots you can talk about?

In the big bear area, there was this section of trail called the Deep Creek and a lot of us liked this because there was a hot spring. I followed a day hiker to a cliff jump spot, which was 200 yards off trail and I just ended up spending a day and a half there doing nothing but cliff jumping in 90 degree heat.

There was also lake with a waterfall along the John Muir trail section of the PCT that looked it was in either Tahiti or New Zealand—like it didn’t belong in California.

 

7.) What was your most memorable moment?

Of course, when you walk towards that northern terminus, seeing the border of Canada after hiking for 180 days straight—that is something I will never ever forget along with the people I did it with. I will never forget that.

It’s really just the small moments that create a giant memory. It changes your life, I get emotional thinking about it. There are so many small memories that create this giant pandemonium moment.

 

 

 

8.) How did your feet feel at the end of the journey?

As far as feet goes, the beginning section was rough because of the blisters and the new stage your feet are going to get into, then towards the latter section of the trail is where injuries occurred. I probably took a week off total.

The first month, every single day, I was popping blisters and covering them up with some sort of bandage. Towards the middle stage of the trail, I was fine, but towards the latter session of the trail, I started getting plantar fasciitis in Oregon—where the muscles in your feet just don’t want to work and you can’t bend your toes. It was very painful, but with a couple of days rest, ice and Ibuprofen, I was fine…and whiskey helps.

 

 

 

9.) Any epic life lessons you want to share?

Photo Courtesy: Sean Jansen

In retrospect, it’s really funny. I’m a total weirdo and I connected with every single human on that trail and all of us were weirdos, which worked out. We just didn’t care what people thought of us or about how bad we smelled in public. It was a huge life-changing opportunity, especially being from San Clemente, where in high school, image was everything. The whole trail was a life lesson, appreciation of everything—nature, yourself, other people around you.

10.) Do you foresee more long-distance hiking in the near future?

A lot more. In 2017, I’m going to do the Appalachian trail, which goes from Georgia to Maine.

In 2018 I’m hoping to hike the Continental Divide trail, which goes from Mexico to Canada. There’s a trail in Europe that goes from France to the Czech Republic. There’s definitely one in New Zealand that goes the entire span of the country.

Hiking is 100% part of my life now. Slow and steady is the best way to see the Earth.

Photo Courtesy: Sean Jansen

Check out more of Jansen’s PCT photos as well as tons of amazing surf, nature and travel pictures.

Springtime Stroll

In an effort to not waste a beautiful day, I took a Saturday stroll through beach-side neighborhoods in search of spring blooms and other interesting views.

6 Things to Remember when Hiking to Havasupai

There are times when a suburban surfer needs a change of scenery from the drive-park-pay-surf routine….or even just the general surf routine. Waves are an amazing and hypnotizing force of nature, but sometimes there is a reason to strike outside of the aqua bubble world and explore parts of nature that offer other forms of incredible beauty.

I CONFESS: I’m not only a wave junkie, but also a nature-loving, granola-eating, outdoor FREAK.

Havasupai–not to be confused with the infamous Lake Havasu–is a Native American reservation located on the north rim of Arizona’s iconic Grand Canyon. The Supai tribe is comprised of over 600 members who have lived in this beautiful canyon area for more than 800 years. The tribe’s name, Havasupai, literally translates to “people of the blue green water.” The opaque blue-green rushing streams along with several picturesque waterfalls attract thousands of visitors each year where the water remains a temperate 70 degrees Fahrenheit and weather conditions, at times, fickle. Take one photo of this place and you will feel like a regular National Geographic photog.

A ten mile hike from the hilltop known as “Hualapai” will get you into some of the most breathtaking scenery and peaceful campgrounds.

Here are some tips to consider:

1.) BRING WATER!

And plenty of it. It may be hot and muggy or cool and crisp, but no matter the atmosphere’s conditions, your body will need some consistent consumption of good old fashioned H2O. One liter of water weighs approximately 2 pounds and you will need at least 2 liters for the 8 mile hike into town. We also carried an extra 16 ounce water bottle each and dedicated it to electrolyte dissolving tablets. This was an immense help, especially on the hike back to the hilltop…and it wasn’t even hot.

Unless you are hiring a mule or have the extra Benjamins for the helicopter ride, you will be carrying everything. With all of my gear (clothes/food/water/toiletries etc.), my pack weighed about 20 pounds. This will drain you, especially if you’re not used to the added weight. The terrain varies from soft sandy riverbed to boulders, which will give your calves an added workout.

Case in point: make sure your body is well hydrated–drink, fool.

2.) BUG REPELLENT and MOSQUITO NETTING!!

I couldn’t emphasize these items more! Unless you are wary of the extreme chemicals in bug sprays or you enjoy being eaten alive in small portions,  invest in some heavy duty bug repellent. Mosquitoes are a-plenty due to the lush vegetation and water supply among many other factors (Google ‘perfumed lotions’ + bugs). They will hunt you down.  If you are camping or sleeping in your car, triple check your mosquito netting application and don’t doubt that these guys will do what it takes to make you their midnight snack.

I discovered sand dollar-sized bumps on my forehead, arms and legs in the middle of the night…eventually, I attempted my best mummy impersonation at 3 a.m. with the mosquito netting.

The only real success? –> Dave smashing the crap out of them against his brand new car ceiling (sorry, sweetie). We lured them towards the dome light while his ninja-like reflexes obliterated their existence.

Teamwork, folks.

3.) CAMERA:

Well, this is a no-brainer! Any will do because no matter what you bring, you’re going to score stare-worthy pictures no matter where you point and shoot. I recommend a camera that is durable, lightweight and possibly water-proof.

There were times where I was a little worried about slipping on the rocks and sacrificing my expensive lens to the river gods, but alas–my surfing skills paid off. ;) If your feet aren’t scratched to oblivion or resemble truck tire tread (thank you, Uppers!), water shoes are a wise investment for this trip. Save your rock dance moves for low tide at Trestles or when you aren’t toting an expensive piece of equipment. (Note to self: invest in water housing…)

If you are a photog snob and simply can’t live without custom settings and controllable shutter speed, your DSLR’s extra weight on the hike will be justified with frame-able photos in the end. There’s a reason why so many photogs are skinny!

Busting out the smart phone? Invest in a water/dust/shock-proof case for your pocketbook and mental sanity. Just know you will have to save the insta, eff book and tweet posts for later.

4.) HIKING SHOES WITH A GOOD GRIP

There are several different types of terrain once you begin your initial hike. Your shoes not only need to be comfortable, but-more importantly-they need to have a good grip. As I mentioned, the ground varies from soft riverbed sand and ankle-deep pebbles to dirt, boulders and, at times, mud. Conversation among your compadres might become quieter as your focus will shift to the ground–literally. The ground conditions can become slippery, especially when you are hiking down into the canyon. Make sure you maintain a focus–nothing sucks more than a twisted ankle–believe me.

If you have the grapes to hike down the semi-treacherous route to Mooney Falls, not only is your shoe’s grip essential, but you also need think “spiderman” with your hands. One false move could result in a serious injury. Be careful–but know the climb (not hike) to this spot is completely worth the sweat.

Oh, and if your feet are on fire by the time you get to town, I highly recommend soaking those doggies in the rushing creek. It provided me with an uncanny cartoon-like relief.

5.) KEEP SPARE CLOTHES IN THE CAR

Before your hiking adventure commences, remember to leave behind a extra set of clothing inside your car for when you return. After trekking the canyon through heat-or possibly rain!- in addition to working up a considerable sweat while hiking the 2,000 foot elevation climb on those killer switchbacks, everything will be soaking in your own broth. In addition to dust and mud stains, the heat might bake this concoction into your clothes. Wonder why you don’t have to pee as much? The proof is all over your clothes! :)

There are no public showers at the hilltop, so avoid this smelly recipe for perma-car stench. Unless you want your car to smell “eau de you,” have spare clothing on hand for the trip home.

At the very least–> clean chonies!

This is a life-saver, especially if you have a long drive ahead of you.

 

6.) HAVE FUN!

Havasupai is considered sacred land to the Supai people as they share a close connection to the beautiful water that flows through their village. It is important to always show respect as well as enjoy the natural surround. There are tons of opportunity to not only challenge your body physically, but also kick back and mentally unplug. As in all things in life, work-life balance is very necessary. Take the time to relax, unwind and UNPLUG. There’s no phone signal, internet cafe or wifi for miles, so just accept it and go with the flow. Take photos, make friends, smile at the locals, try some fry bread and contemplate what life was like without the almighty Google!

Cool fact: Supai is one of the only towns that receives mail via horseback.

True story, just ask Charlie Chamberlain!

Confessions of an Angeleno

The iconic Malibu-second point during a recent swell.

The iconic Malibu-second point during a recent swell.

Words and Photos By: David “Crappy” Campbell 

The City of Trashy Angels…The Big Smoke that can’t hide it’s big city lights or the fake tits bolted on to even more fake plastic people who’s inflated egos hide smashed dreams. Los Angeles is a one-of-a-kind gem.  Not for everyone, to say the least. You have to possess a certain mindset in this city to deal with some of the bull.

The sometimes amazing surf helps, tho.

The Los Angeles surf scene is very different from Ventura County to it’s north and Orange County to it’s south. It’s rich surf history only rivals Hawaii and Australia’s Gold Coast expelling much of the early surf stardom icons that brought forth a rash of Gidget and Moondoggie wannabe’s.

Love it, hate it, either way,  surely you have some kind of opinion to share, whether asked or not–regardless of your local surf scene knowledge.  You probably have something to say about it. This city isn’t exactly known for being hush-hush.

I CONFESS: I’ve been around a few parts of our small circuit of surf towns across the globe–I’m not gloating, but feel it necessary to lay out a statement: L.A. is actually a nice place for a surfer to live.

If you defend your town, which happens to be Los Angeles, you better be prepared to have your credentials looked over. A dark cloud hovers over the Los Angeles County surf scene when viewed from the eyes’ of strangers. Sure, everyone knows about the famous spots, but it feels like whenever other Californians talk about Los Angeles, they always have some kind of ignorant look on their face. All they know is that it can get good, but it’s crowded as hell and it’s not that consistent.

If you had to use one word that separates L.A. from neighboring Orange County and Ventura, it would be “diversity.”  From the Palos Verdes cliffs and north to County Line–wait, is that a Beach Boys line? It almost is, actually– you can find your hollow A-frame beach breaks, mushy longboard waves, even some select slabs and a very secretive big wave spot. The Big Smoke has something for everyone.

Glassy, clean and not empty.

Glassy, clean and not empty at Manhattan Beach.

That’s right: As in everyone and their red-headed step-cousin from Oklahoma.

Diversity brings some pretty kooky shit to the lineup and it might have something to do with that giant white sign that use to say “Hollywoodland.”  This particular surf culture crosses paths with the affluent Hollywood scene and sometimes that path gets blurred, which has propelled this sport into the mainstream media–some say for better, others say for worse.

Stories of Daniel Tosh regulating line ups…the local crew smashing paparazzi’s cameras while they attempt to troll for Matthew McConaughey…apparently, Rob Lowe sharing his gear from his fully stocked shed.

The L.A. surf scene is more than often a ZOO, especially in the summer. A giant zoo fuckfest, actually.  But you gotta do your homework here, put in your time, have the right mindset, right amount of free time and a good set of wheels.  Doesn’t hurt to have  some friends, the right friends. Not A-list or D-list friends, but the kind  that follow sand and are willing to share their personal surf reports with you as opposed to five thousand of their closest friends on Instagram.

You like right points and boardshorts? Summer time in North L.A. has that for you.  You like big hollow kegs? Look up some YouTube videos of Alex Gray surfing the South Bay last fall.  The obvious variables (weather, tide, swell angle) offer all types of waves which is the key to this abundant and vibrant surf scene.

Ever hung around L.A. on Christmas Day? Looks like the set of a zombie apocalypse film minus our flesh-craving buddies. Empty parking lots, no one around, no traffic…it’s fantastically amazing! A ghost town of grand proportions!

Traffic is the real big mother of L.A. and can be the deciding factor for your sunset session. Everyone knows traffic is the work of the devil and represents everything that is soulless. Everyone loves to complain about it, too. My advice? Get over it, shut up and figure it out. Get your routes down.  Plan accordingly. You wanna go east on the ten after 7 a.m.–Are you out of your freakin’ mind? Even when I get caught up in gridlock, I always like to take Dillion Perrilo’s advice on traffic, as said in a recent interview:

“Just realize that you are the traffic.”

Whoa, pretty deep there Dillion, but spot on.

So minus the traffic shit show, you got swells from both directions at different times of the year.

During the winter, head towards South Bay and find your sandbar, or go north. Oxnard and Ventura are easy drives and you can find empty peaks, if you know where to look. In the Summertime, you have the sweet points of Malibu and 27 miles of coastline options. The obvious ones are Topanga, the ‘Bu and County Line, (not gonna offer anything more than that).  With well-known spots comes a fun crowd, which is why Angelenos hold their cards so closely to their chest. And the crowds here can get real interesting.

A great spot called 'None of your business.'

A great spot called ‘None of your business.’

Seen some heavy shit here. Someone got the barrel of a lifetime and was about to make a clean exit into glory, but upon a lovely exit, someone else thought that wave was actually THEIR wave of the day. The drop-in game was strong with this barney as homeboy deep in tube gets crushed by said barney directly on top of the head. It was disgusting enough for everyone to wanna exit the water in shame.  Or how about the stories of people getting cut off at Topanga? When they raise their voice against this injustice, instead of getting an apology, they get a good slapping. As your surfing ability progresses, crowd navigation becomes a major part of your routine.  L.A. kicks it up a notch by constantly testing your patience.

If you don’t follow @kook_of_the_day on Instagram, stop reading this right now and make that follow.  Most of those posts come from somewhere in Los Angeles as well as Main Street in Huntington Beach. Kooky people are plentiful and L.A. county has about 10 million options among it’s dudes and dudettes hanging around. It seems they all wanna surf right where you wanna surf, or at least get in your way while you surf.

The surf world is expanding and crowds are just another factor you have to deal with. Do your homework, follow swell directions, follow the sand and you can score L.A.’s fun waves with minimal folk.  It’s not as simple as parking your car and walking out to T-street. Surfing and city life is a hassle at times and you will get frustrated. But nothing worthwhile in life comes easy, just ask any intern on a Hollywood film set.

Crappy Campbell confesses...

Crappy Campbell confesses…

David Campbell lives in Los Angeles, is a surfer, world traveler and an old pal. Also known as “Crappy Campbell,” he is regular contributor for  Australia’s Surfing Life Magazine.

The ‘Oh Shit’ Files-Vol. 2: Hurricane Norbert

Storm patterns have turned my weekends into glorious photo bliss coupled with daily surfaris up the coast. A few weeks ago, Hurricane Norbert graced our coastline with waves aplenty and warm water temps that I will surely be dreaming about six months from now. The category 3 hurricane veered up the baja coast and onto the inland southwestern region of the U.S. and delivered a much-needed dose of rain …now if only he swung a little more west, California’s serious drought problem might have been temporarily staved.

Save that water people!!

Until then, my journey plopped me in front of Newport’s finest carnage-inducing break: Wedge. Whether you surf, sponge or skin it at Orange County’s premier balls-to-the-wall sandbar slab, Wedge will do more than ‘kick your ass.’ It will turn you inside out, grind you in sand and spit whats left of you out onto the shoreline.

It might be wise to seek some sage advice from a seasoned pro or local before setting a toe in the water. I wonder who would be considered Wedge’s ‘Turtle’….brah….or would that be ‘bro’…?

Either way at Wedge,“…you’re gonna get drilled.”