17 April 2014

Of Rabbits and Skateboards

Yesterday I skated at the park in Ocean Beach on the way to my weekly Writers' Workshop, where I read my story "Mother of Rabbits". (Go! Read! If you like it, please click Recommend and I just might win the weekly contest.) It was only my second time back in several months, since I finished a four-pack of lessons with Andrew of SD SkateLife. (Highly recommend him if you're looking to learn/improve.) I'd cruised a couple of times around the neighborhood in the interim, but hadn't donned helmet/pads/guards and pushed myself until last week. That first time back, I had trouble with a basic frontside turn on the flats. Although I kept at it until I made it around, it was a really wide turn.

The second time, more of the skills came back and I pushed through my hesitancy, telling myself to Go! Toes-toes-toes! You can do it! My turns got tighter, until by the end, I was taking on the ramps again. Next time I think I'll get back into the pool and take it up a notch. After all, on my final lesson, I was carving up to a spot on the pool wall about shoulder high. Pretty proud of that, actually!

One reason I've been hitting the skatepark is that I've been struggling with surfing lately. I'm not sure why, but suspect it's mental (I've been surfing badly; therefore I will surf badly) as well as physical (I mostly dropped out of my fitness regime when the doctor re-injured my back last fall, and hadn't restored it). Skateboarding has a lot of parallels to surfing, especially using my Carver board, and will help me build confidence, consistency and strength.
I also decided to take Ashley's advice and go back to a longer board to, figuratively and literally, find my feet again. My "longboard" is only 6'2", but Rocket and I had some good times together before I moved down to the 5'4"s.
Spring flowers
I surfed Garbage this morning with Steve - just us and sometimes a seal on the north peak - and it was fun! I didn't get into any green waves, but two broken lefts on the inside reformed beautifully. It'd been too long since I enjoyed a green wall, and they gave me back some of the stoke that I've been sorely missing. Yay!
North Garbage
And now for some more inspiration:

11 April 2014

Baja in Pictures

Allison, Ashley and me (photo by Russell Carmona) 
Hang loose! (photo by Russell Carmona)
I'll write about it later. Maybe.

10 April 2014

Baja Bound

Tomorrow I'm making my first surf trip to Baja Mexico with a couple of San Diego Surf Ladies. I got my SENTRI pass last fall to allow for quick re-entry to the U.S. but have only used my Trusted Traveler status to breeze through airport security on our Hawaii trip. The other surfistas and I are all "trusted," as is Ashley's car, so we'll make the hour drive from San Diego, surf K-38 which is south of Rosarito, and head back by early afternoon.
It's been more than 20 years since I've driven across the southern border, and I've never surfed there. Gotta say I have a lot of pre-stoke going into this adventure!

09 April 2014


Although this guy said the water has warmed up again, I didn't believe it. I struggled into my split-toe booties, jamming my second toe into an awkward bend, and remembered why I hate wearing them. But I was glad my feet weren't bare when I touched the still-cold water with my naked hands.

Only Brian was out, getting decent rides on his longboard. The rip current next to the pier almost got me outside with a dry hood. Then a set broke in front of me, four waves in a row, sneering at my attempts to duck-dive my 3-inch-thick fish and sending me into the depths and tumbling back toward the beach. Thankfully a short lull followed that let me get out. I was still catching my breath when another set rolled through, unridden. Then it got flat for a while.
I'd drifted north, and paddled back toward the pier, where Brian was still getting into waves. He took one in, and I tried to take his place. Yet just like the guy in the video, I was stroking constantly and going almost nowhere. When I stopped paddling, the current took me quickly past one piling after another, pushing me out to sea. I don't know how Brian was holding position. A secret undersea anchor? An island in the current that I didn't stumble across? Magic? In any event, I'd had enough, and paddled north parallel to the beach to get away from the rip.

The lulls were long, punctuated by head-high closeout sets (2-3' my ass, Surfline!) with occasional fun-size waves that offered shoulders. I caught a few of those and had a pretty good ride on one of them. Stoked!

07 April 2014

Time for Booties

When I stopped my bike at the end of Felspar to check the surf from the pier northward, Brian had just left the water and was crossing the beach toward the stairs with a wide fish under his arm. He's one of the regular Crystal Pier dawn patrollers, and he surfs better than me (as they all do). I waited to ask for his report.
"How was it?" 
"Terrible!" He was grinning. "As bad as it could be." 
"Are you shittin' me? 'Cause, you know, you're smiling when you say that." 
Brian shook his head, still smiling. "Nah, really! It was all closed out. I tried every little corner I could find - the waves all closed out. And the water's really cold. Even colder than yesterday!" He gestured to the north. "You should check down there," he suggested.   
"Yeah. It looks like there might be some peaks down that way. Hope the rest of your day is better."
I rode to the end of the blufftop path and locked my bike to the construction fence at Palisades Park. I was pleased to manage a dry-hood paddle-out between Law Street and the pumphouse, at a break I think is called Green Pipes for the large ones running across a gully at the base of the cliff.  

The waves were mostly closed out there too. But there were dolphins! And some shoulders for the lucky. I did get lucky a couple of times, but blew the pop-ups. C'mon, seriously?! That most basic and fundamental of maneuvers, that I've done hundreds - perhaps thousands - of times before? Indeed. I've actually been having trouble landing my front foot in the right spot on the board for the last few sessions, and suspect it's due to the cold water. My ankles and feet are too chilled to move as quickly as they need to for a critical shortboard takeoff. Maybe if I was riding a big plank, taking my time and getting in early on the shoulder, it wouldn't be an issue. 

It's just time for booties. I've pulled my last remaining pair of 3mils from the depths of the closet. The upwelling wins.