On the way into work this morning (11/7) I heard a radio report of a high surf advisory for San Diego beaches, with 6-8 foot waves expected later in the day. My first thought was: "Stoked!; I haven't been out in the water in quite awhile and a good surf session could be just what the doctor ordered to hold off the inevitable depression that sets in upon realizing that soon it'll already be dark when I head home during the week :("
My second thought? "This is a perfect chance to test out the Sony GPS device that has been floating around the office."
Now, before I continue, I think it's only prudent to declare that I have evolved (devolved?) into a fair weather surfer over the years. I grew up in Hermosa Beach (just south of LA), and surfed religiously from the time I was a little kid through high school. I was (and still am in a way) very passionate about surfing (or at least the concept of surfing); there is nothing more mentally therapeutic than a three-hour session in the water (preferably alone or with only a few close friends), and nothing more physically enthralling as riding in the barrel of a wave.
When I left the then-eclectic (now frustratingly yuppie-fied) city of my youth for Tucson to attend The University of Arizona (Go Cats!), I feared wave withdrawal akin to what I imagine addicts endure upon entering rehab. The funny thing was, I didn't miss it all that much. Perhaps it was the abundance of other activities to keep me occupied (the Old Pueblo has amazing mountains for exploring, is sunny 98% of the time, and earns its reputation as one of America's best college towns (read: great place to party! ). Perhaps I was just less "into" surfing when I left for college than I had realized...
Fast forward seven years (I worked in Phoenix after graduation…I swear!) and I found myself back on the good 'ol California coast. One of the first things I did upon my return was purchase a custom board from a friend of mine that shapes surfboards, confident that I would immediately start getting the thing dinged and yellowed from countless hours in the salt water and sun.
For the first few (summer) months, I felt like a kid again, sometimes logging three sessions a day on the weekends and loving every second in the water. A rash of good waves didn't hurt. Soon, however, my rekindled love affair con el playa would face a tough test. You see, its one thing to enjoy surfing when the water temp is in the mid-70's and the sets are shoulder high. It's another to paddle out in ankle-to-waist-high, frigid surf. So what happened when forced to trade in my board shorts for a wetsuit if I wanted to keep up the frequency of my surfing? I played more pick-up basketball. Of course, waist-high (or even shoulder-high) surf is one thing…overhead sets are another. Which brings us to earlier today (in a rambling, roundabout kind of way)...
At "quittin' time" I powered up the GPS device with the push of a button, jumped in my car and hopped on the I-5 south to La Jolla Shores, a 10-minute drive that ensured I’d have enough sunlight to catch at least a few waves. The view upon pulling into the parking lot:
Notice how two of the three cars above have their brake lights are on as they overlook the surf, and that they’re not in actual parking spots? There could be two reasons for this: 1) they’re definitely surfing today, and are just deciding if this break provides the best bang for their buck, or 2) they’re like me, and they’re deciding not where to surf, but whether or not the waves are good enough to warrant surfing at all.
“Were the waves as big as predicted earlier today?” I wondered as I found a spot and hustled to a proper vantage point. The answer? A resounding “not even close!” The largest sets were maybe 2’, and if you’ve read this far, you know there was no chance I was pulling on my suit to sit in a crowded lineup for these kinds of conditions. Am I a wimp? A cherry-picker? Not a "real" surfer? A poseur? Perhaps. Am I ashamed of this? Not in the least.
“Well…what now?” I asked myself. “Oh that’s right…you live in a multi-million dollar mansion on the beach just down the block” With that, I went home, easily downloaded the GPS info and photos from my digital camera to my laptop, and let the software do the rest. Incredibly simple…and this from someone who has trouble with dual-sided belts.
Anywho, I’m looking forward to using the device again. Should really come in handy should I decide to scout for new digs… - I'm sick of my studio apartment