#70: Camel Rock, in what passes for a typical session: 49 other people in the water and surroundings so beautiful as to make one slackjawed with wonder. Atypical sunshine continues to light up the redwoods and rocks, highlighting breaking waves so that the white foam glows and the sea itself glitters gold. Inside rights requiring precision surfing to slalom through the crowd. Set waves breaking head-and-a-half, wobbling off the rock as a clutch of surfers scramble into or over the face. One grumpy surfer yelling “Go home, beginners,” as he trudged into the water. “Go home! All of you!” Cormorants flitting on and off Camel Rock. Sun sliding below the horizon as the sky fades from blue to pink, orange, red. (Tequila Sunrises should be called Tequila Sunsets.)
#71: Speaking of sunrises… More localized action a couple mornings ago meant seeing the sun break through post-dawn over Humboldt Bay. So lucky to live here, so very lucky. Tiny birds dotting pilings rising out of glass water. A heron poised on the mudflats, pelicans gliding overhead toward the sea. Juxtaposed against the smoke billows of Fairhaven Electric and the exploded pulp mill, I have to root for nature. The grace of the world that exists outside of us meddling, overthinking humans humbles me. Again.
In the ocean, the water does its best to numb me — ocean temps currently running about 49 degrees F — but the gift of a new wetsuit keeps the freezing at bay. Up the beach, sets muscle in nearly double-over. A crew with grander aspirations than I makes the most of the mountainous rights, while the rest of the B-team and I hang out on the smaller peak. The waves lose height as they wrap around from the west, leaving us with more friendly head-high surf that improves as the tide comes in.
I’m riding a retro-style board, all wide in front and pintailed. It’s a fun, fun, fun board with so much float in the front, easy to drop into waves and fast once I’m on one — but the shape differs so much from my other boards, I need at least a few waves before dialing it in. Fortunately I get them. The first two, I’m self-conscious about landing too far back, can feel that my feet are not in the right spot, my weight stalling the board instead of sending it down the line. I wobble around and get my bearings best I can. With each wave, my sense of place improves. It’s fun — this concentration on the new.
I have one excellent wipeout, too. A set rolled in and the guys next to me snagged the first couple waves. Determined to catch one of my own, I took off a little too late and did that thing where I stand up too quickly out of fear I won’t make it — of course since I stand up too quickly, I don’t make it. Elevator-dropped off my board into the washing machine, tumbled, twisted and spun — the ocean has all the power in these scenarios. I grabbed for my leash, popped through the surface and caught a mouthful of foam. A couple deep breaths and back to the channel. Good practice, that.