06 August 2008

38th Ave, 6 August 2008

Dawn patrol, same place, different day. What can I say? If I had time to shop around, maybe I'd end up somewhere else, but as it is, I have to pick the (hopefully) best spot before I leave home. And in the case of dawn patrol, the destination is determined the night before.

Usually the caffeine buzz from my pre-dawn soy mocha wears off just about the time I get onto Highway 17. It's a curvy 4-lane road through wooded hills, with a concrete center barrier a foot from the yellow lane-line and a steep upslope next to the narrow shoulder. Sleepiness is not allowed as serious concentration is required when driving it, especially with few cars on the road and 172 hp under the hood of my MINI Cooper S. If I needed any reminder to stay alert, just over the crest of the mountain, flares blocked the right lane where a gray coupe had come to rest after smashing its corners into the barriers. It was at about the spot where a cop often waits for speeders, so the driver may have lucked out with quick assistance, although maybe he got a ticket in addition to a battered car.

Safely arrived at 38th, conditions looked smaller than the waist-chest forecast and inconsistent too. It seemed like a good opportunity to test just how small the waves could get before the fish couldn't catch them. And there were only 2 guys out. So I suited up. By the time I reached the lineup, there were 5. Then 9.. .11...13. Gotta drag my ass out of bed earlier, get there at dawn. Set the alarm for 4 am, 3:30? Ugh.

Almost immediately I caught a wave, around thigh-high, but blew the pop-up. Then there was a looong wait. On the next wave, I blew it again. Grrr. More waiting, and the crowd was filling in. I moved to the left end, inside of all the longboarders. When another set came, I paddled for the first couple, missed 'em, then found myself too far inside when their (slightly) bigger brothers showed up. Too impatient, bad positioning. So I got smarter. The next set came and I just sat there, watching the first party wave roll by. Wait. Then the second one. Wait for it. When the third wave came, the lineup near me had cleared out, and I was in the right place at the right time to get a nice ride. Woo hoo! I could feel the kelp grabbing at my fins and it slowed me down but didn't throw me. Then I turned around and did it again on the next set - yay! Nothing like a little kick of dopamine to get the day started right.

There were a scary lot of pelicans fishing nearby, enough to dissuade me from paddling under them to get closer to Pleasure Point. At a more deserted spot, I wouldn't have gone in the water (unless the waves were really really good). Supposedly when birds are fishing, the Man in the Grey Suit is out fishing too.

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