I have changed over the years. And this year is no exception, if not the biggest year for some growth and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Cleaning and reorganizing always feels good, but sometimes from the proverbial dust, you dig up certain memories that you completely forgot about and have lingered in your boxes and books, buried beneath a stack of magazine clippings, articles and other career-oriented memorabilia.
Recently, in my crazy cleaning (what else should I do right now besides surf, amIright?), I rediscovered a surf journal I kept where I documented the first few years of my surf journey. I stopped mid-clean and prepared myself for a funny and nostalgic afternoon.
I started surfing in January 2004 at good ole SanO with a surf class and a hilarious football coach, who always teased me about being from Austin (UT -hook ’em) since he was an OU fan, and from that class, I met a group of friends. Ah the days of yore! Where Myspace WAS the social media, cell phones with cameras baaaarely existed and GoPros flat out did not exist.
Throwback to ‘Jackie’s Session Notes’ on Wetsand.com, circa 2005.
With a 9’0 Stewart longboard barely tucked under my arm, I froze my tush off while innocuously learning about surf etiquette, paddling out, popping up and riding a wave…and not burning anyone in the process. Of course there is an entry in there where I got yelled at for my first time and was reduced to tears! Now I crack up thinking of how upset I was, even though it was my fault. But–in my defense, he was also a jerk. These days, I’d fire back at the jerk or just flip a bird and paddle away. :) Ah, lessons learned on a daily in the agua…that’s what I love about surfing: it is forever a journey.
Let me wax more nostalgia: 2005 was also the same year where I started writing for Wetsand.com. All the same, it was one of my first places I was published and wrote for consistently. And some of those adventures definitely stemmed from this journal and, on wetsand.com, would’ve been found in “Jackie’s Session Notes,” riiiight below the beginnings of “Liz Clark’s Swell Voyage” in the “Women Who” section.
My first few years of surfing were momentous on a daily basis and often heartfelt, although plenty of cracking up along the way.
Below are some excerpts I thought y’all might crack up about, too.
Here’s to a #ThrowbackThursday!
https://confessionsofasurfergirl.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/IMG_5690.jpg31684752confessionsofasurfergirlhttps://confessionsofasurfergirl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/confessions-logo2.pngconfessionsofasurfergirl2020-12-10 07:45:042020-12-09 17:55:23#TBT-My First Few Years of Surfing
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.
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:
Watch my video:
https://confessionsofasurfergirl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Ventura1-e1575324676234.jpg40323024confessionsofasurfergirlhttps://confessionsofasurfergirl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/confessions-logo2.pngconfessionsofasurfergirl2019-12-03 08:30:432019-12-09 16:55:43Ventura: A Change of Scene and Wave
October is one of my most favorite months to be a Californian. The weather starts to cool, kids go back to school, offshore winds pick up and swells from all directions linger around our coastline. However, much of this year’s October was spent rushing towards my cousin’s beautiful wedding at the end of the month. Most of my time and energy was spent booking flights, painting signs, decorating bottles, configuring a travel budget, packing, airports, driving…and planning time in between wedding madness to surf, of course.
Fortunate for me, my ingenious cousin picked a gorgeous venue in Nipomo, Calif.…a 15 minute drive to Pismo Beach. It also didn’t hurt that C Street in Ventura was an easy stop on the way up to Pismo, too.
After battling Los Angeles traffic for two hours, I felt it was time to take a pit stop in Ventura with my mom for a bite to eat and perhaps a look around. We stopped and shopped, I introduced my mom to Thai food and any store that read ‘antique’ on the sign, you can guarantee we were rummaging through milk glass, old cameras and horribly cheesy ‘gone surfing’ signs.
The afternoon northwest winds picked up and I decided C Street might still be worth a check. Even though the wind was up, there were still two-to-four-foot rights and lefts coming off the point. I paddled out and much to my surprise, the water temperature didn’t phase me and the people weren’t as grumpy as I thought they might be. Even though I was still technically in southern California, it didn’t feel like it at all.
C Street, inconsistent and uncrowded.
As we made our way through Santa Barbara and arrived at the hotel that was situated across from the Pismo Beach Pier, almost immediately I concluded there will be surfing, come hell or cold water, 60 pound suitcases or google maps constant epic failures. *NOTE: Download the Waze app for maps and whatnot…works way better than Google!*
I was going to do it all…and with a smile.
The next day, I took my time waking up and found myself blurry-eyed in my 3/2 Patagonia wetsuit with surfboard in tow walking across hotel properties towards the pier. Overcast skies met a dark blue/grey ocean and fine brown sand. It was different here…no noise, no traffic, train or obnoxious tourists…just the sound of crashing waves and the occasional family peeling sand dollars and razor clam shells from the sand.
I took this opportunity to breath deep and absorb the peaceful atmosphere…Huge boulder islands sat plainly on the sand and in the water outside of the hotel’s cliffs, boiling with each ebb and flow of the 2 foot swells…I bet that cove can fire on a big swell, I thought.
As I pressed onward to the pier, little two to three foot waves rolled through. There were a lot of longboards in the water…I hope they’re not too aggro, I though as my feet found the silty bottom. I pushed off and began the paddle in the frigid 55 degree water with only my 3/2 between the Pacific and me.
Pismo Pier looking pretty chilly.
As I sat just outside of the “crowd” of 6 people, I realized they were all college kids from Cal Poly discussing midterms, projects and megalodon theories. Ah please don’t talk about megalodon, I thought. Right before I paddled out, I spotted a large sea lion just inside and thought, that’s a good thing, right? I would be a toothpick for megladon compared to that fatty sea lion. Yep that’s what I will keep telling myself.
But being a toothpick for a toothy creature is not on my to-do list, so I paddled closer to the crowd. Waves came and went and I caught a couple and day-dreamed about scoring overhead Moro Bay tee-pees, crowd: non-existent.
Suddenly, a gal on a ginormous longboard paddled up and smiled “Hi! How’s it going?”
Non-local status revealed. Boy, that was fast.
The rest of her giggling girl clan paddled around me with one eye on the waves and one on me as I explained where I was from and why I was here.
Among these college girls were marine bio majors, business majors, accounting majors…we talked travel story, sharks (they seem to be a popular topic up here), diving, sand dollars, wipeouts… They couldn’t believe I didn’t have any booties on and told me to try Scuba booties. Scuba booties have a better grip on the bottom and just feel warmer. Noted, gals!
The wave of the day came through and all four ladies were on it together. As I hooted them into the wave, I knew it would break on top of them, but it was too late to warn. They didn’t care as they laughed their way over the falls and through the whitewash.
My hands took on deep purple hues and I knew the time had come to return to wedding madness. We all collected on the beach and they didn’t hesitate to give me a ride back to my hotel. I have a place to stay in Pismo! Yay!
What a good way to start a crazy day!
Although the next morning I stayed with the bridal party and opted not to surf, I heard it was firing. But, as my cousin’s Maid of Honor, I didn’t want to leave her side and the thought of surfing that morning felt unnecessary…besides, between 10 girls and 2 showers, I don’t think it would’ve been fair had I taken up the majority of the hot water to bring my purpled limbs back to life.
My cousin, Ashley, had a 1920’s theme for her wedding. Pictured are me, Ashley, Kristy and Kerri.
The wedding came and went in a wave of emotion and glory. Speeches were made, dances were danced, cake was cut and rose petals tossed. For a brief moment, I breathed a sign of relief as I watched my happy cousin and her husband drive off into the chilly foggy Nipomo evening.
Ohh fog…maybe the surf will be glassy tomorrow!
Hmm check out is at noon, maybe between breakfast and packing up decor and clothes into two cars….
I paddled out Sunday morning and didn’t see my gals. It was still small, still foggy and still cold, but I didn’t care. Something about surfing in a new place with a lot of swell potential and kind people really made me appreciate my sense of adventure.
Oftentimes, we sequester ourselves to one city, one break, one peak…it isn’t until we venture out of that comfort zone do we learn to appreciate what we have and learn about how we can grow. If there is an opportunity to learn about a new spot, take it!Multitasking is an interesting art who’s end goal is to satisfy all parties. It seems as I grow older, the opportunities to venture out for my own selfish need become less and less.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: When you’ve got the chance, go for it. It might not come again for a long while.
https://confessionsofasurfergirl.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/photo-9.jpg24483264Confessions of a Surfer Girlhttps://confessionsofasurfergirl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/confessions-logo2.pngConfessions of a Surfer Girl2013-10-29 19:33:412013-10-29 19:33:41The Art of Multitasking