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.
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?”
“Where do you surf there?”
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.
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.
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