September 13, 2005, 10:57 AM:
I'm in Santa Cruz, having said goodbye to Stephen, me oldest mate, up in SF. A south swell is approaching; it's all the buzz in hushed conversations alongside pickups & vans all up & down highway 1. I'll meet it hopefully in Jalama, at Point Conception, just North of Santa Barbara, where all the beautiful people are.
I'm in an Albertsons / Rite Aid parking lot in San Luis Obispo. It's almost 11:00 PM. I found a wireless signal in front of the Thai restaurant I ate at (Royal Thai - I had the pad thai with chicken - I wouldn't recommend it), and decided to call it a night. It's quiet enough. My next stop will be Jalama, just North of Santa Barbara. I'll be camping through the end of the swell cycle or until I run out of food; whichever comes first.
Ruby's been such an incredible sport, putting up with me and all my predelictions. Sometimes I bother even myself. Can't take myself too seriously though. I'm as close to being a transient as I've ever been. Except when I was fishing. I may take another swing at that up in Alaska this coming spring. But for today, suffice to say Ruby is the bestest dog there ever was.
September 14, 2005, 09:09 PM:
So, I made it to Jalama, a beautiful place out in the middle of private ranch land up North of Santa Barbara. Perhaps your 13 year old niece has begged you to take her to Hollister's for school clothes shopping? Well, Hollister's is named after Hollister Ranch, a private ranch that holds some of the best surf on the Southern California coastline. The ranch itself consumes Point Conception, where the two Northern Hemispherical ocean currents collide. I came here for the first time about four years ago, and had such an incredible time I had to come back.
But get this... so, I'm sitting in the moonlight in my mondo camp rocker that I bought for the trip, finally taking some time to actually write, when I noticed a large animal about arms length away, I shit you not. In my shock, I sensed it was large, not small, and I think I started swearing (nervous habit). I flipped my headlight on and this 300-400 pound wild sow piggie-pig is looking right in my face, like less than two feet away from my face. I'm surprised a little pee didn't shoot out (just a little) from my fright. My camp neighbors were in front of my camp laughing and probably wondering what was going to happen next. I'm still a little freaked out. I mean, Ruby didn't start barking until the thing could have reached out and licked my face. I'm all freaky still...
The sow piggie-pig looked at me, oinked, then trotted away into the black.
September 18, 2005, 02:35 PM:
So, to catch up, I'm in San Diego, a stone's throw away from the border, and I'm scared of the future. I've got a lot of things to do before I cross into Mexico, and am finding multiple excuses not to do things I should be doing, like writing, playing music, camping, and eating all the fresh food in my cooler. The tap water here is the strangest, most chemically laden stuff I've ever experienced. I'm waiting for the GI cramps to kick in, either that or the metal solids floating in suspension will kill every beneficial bacteria living in my gut, and my belly'll become the Sargasso Sea. Or something like that. A lot of logistical things left to do, and that feeling of "things left to do" has left me with a feeling of anxiety, and a difficult time in enjoying the world around me...
I did get in the water at San Onofre, a classic beach / cobble break right next to a nuclear reactor that looks like two large spherical boobs, replete with flashing red lights and protruding mini antennae for the nipples. Got a couple decent waves but with the juice of the swell, cleanup sets would clear the lineup every twenty minutes or so. Definitely felt like Oregon coast big walls of water pushing through, the only difference being I was sweating in my wet suit, and when I peed, I didn't notice much of a temperature variant. But who's checking.
My energy is low, and I've been sleeping alot. Honestly, I've only gotten in the water twice since the start of the trip; I just haven't had the stoke, the fire in myself to get out there and compete with the California crowds. I keep telling myself that considering my circumstances, I could be doing a helluva lot worse. I'll be here for a time until I get everything done and feel ready to take the plunge into the badlands of Mexico.
One really cool thing is that I ran into a guy named Andy that I went to college with at a meeting. He plays bass in a very good way, and just finished his second bachelor's degree in voice performance (i.e., opera). He's moving to Brazil, plays in multiple bands, and leans toward the bossanova / brazillian syncopated type swing things.
He invited me to watch one of his shows; it was pretty cool. a couple poems came out, almost like a sudden onset of heretofore unnoticed bowel movements; they just showed up on the door step one evening. Here's the Poetry link again in case your browser's slow.
Today I will make it in the water...
September 21, 2005, 08:08 PM:
So, things have progressed. I surfed Scripps Pier, and had a good day. That was on Monday. Yesterday I tried Windansea, a reef break that is one of the more notorious area waves. And... skunked. Just a little too fast for me, at this point in my conditioning. I'll try it again in a few days . Today I snorkelled in La Jolla Cove, a beautiful place, and although it had rained a couple days ago, and the water clarity wasn't the best, I got a couple of pictures of what look like run away gihugic goldfish, if there even is such a thing. My fishing buddy Dan who grew up in San Diego said that they are Garibaldi's. The other night was a big thunder n' lightning storm that helped create an incredible sunset. People are still talking about the storm.
I always know what to say when I'm not talking, especially when it feels inconvenient to pick up the note recorder, journal, or grab a stick and write in the sand. Ruby's getting stinky, a signal for laundry day tomorrow and to give her a good scrubbing as well. I'm getting closer to the border crossing; it's looking like next week, Wednesday or Thursday at the latest. Turns out the $250.00 digital recording interface box thingy that I bought to record... things remotely without the need for power doesn't work with my machine. If only I had bought a mac I wouldn't be dealing with this last logistical conundrum. So I'm waiting on a shipment from my favorite music store Portland Music Company (http://www.portlandmusiccompany.com)of a compatible box thingy. I wish I weren't such a techno slut.
My writing is actually happening! I'll be posting a separate page of excerpts and / or short stories that will hopefully become the book that is maybe taking shape. The book doesn't seem to be about fishing. I'm gravitating toward writing about the trip itself and this period in my life. It has named itself... I, Narcissus.
September 24, 2005, 08:34 PM:
I bought a deal of a mini-gun 6'10" thruster today. Great price, and I had just enough time to hit Scripps Pier before it got too dark. I think I found a magic board. For such a big step down in length, it was very easy to catch & paddle for waves. I'm running out of excuses to stick around here. Just waiting on Portland Music box exchange, and I'm gone... I think.
The other day I surfed Tourmaline, a nice mellow beach break. It was very crowded, with everyone sitting around fighting for scraps when I saw the nose of a Grey Whale break the surface right in the middle of the lineup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. I remember seeing one just outside of the lineup up in Pacific City a couple years ago, but this thing wasn't more than ten feet away. It stuck around for about fifteen minutes, and then slowly worked it's way North, right through all the other surfers. Pretty crazy.
September 25, 2005, 05:41 PM:
Today I hiked down to Black's Beach and surfed for a couple of hours. And let me just say this: thank God there were at least a few naked attractive women. Sweet Jesus, with all the naked hairy beer bellied guys walking around with... hats, I felt like I was in some surreal and altogether uncomfortable Monty Python sketch. It was like they were all about to join hands, break out in song, celebrating their hairy-ness, or their flabby skin-ness, or their beer belly-ness. I mean, good God, where's the naked police when you need them? Reminded me of the naked woman at the Veneta, OR country fair, with the breasts that looked more like very large, droopy eyelids, with a third eye painted on her forehead, blowing a conch shell, with an almost maniacal yet silent, blissed-out smile of sheer acid-induced rapture. Have you no shame, conch blowing, saggy boobed, naked, forty-something woman?
But I digress.
So, I was down there, surfing, when I saw a porpoise... porpoising toward me. Before I knew it, I had what looked like 6 porpoise swimming directly beneath me - I could actually feel the slipstream of the displaced water on my toes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pretty cool, but a little freaky. The water was so clear, I could see them swimming right beneath me!!! So, to recap:
A big piggy sow pig piggy-pig, a grey whale, and a pod of porpoise. Not bad for the first three weeks of a big trip.
September 25, 2005, 02:05 AM:
I woke up to a police officer knocking on my car, evicting me from the parking lot that I had been car camping in for the last three nights. There were half a dozen RV's & truck campers there that he didn't evict as well, but I didn't question it. Today the surf is quite crappy, for the first time in awhile. I'm sitting in the Scripps pier parking lot watching all the locals making the trip around the parking lot... fifteen to thirty seconds to realize that it's blown out with no tide to speak of, and they're off down the road. Ruby's sleeping in the back, whimpering, dreaming of whatever dog's dream about.
Ruby is now barking at people once the sun goes down, a good thing. She's formidable looking in the dark, and her voice is all deep and throaty. Ruby the badass! If only they knew...
I'm learning to slow down. I've been moving since Super Bowl Sunday. Things to do, things to process. Today I'm starting to take care of myself, to slow down. I was writing to a friend today that I noticed a little spider in my driver's sideview mirror; a castaway no less. A true traveller of the winds. It's nice to take time to notice the small things. The things I chose to neglect while trying to fix the unfixable. Today I was back at the Ocean Beach / Dog Beach parking lot, and saw "Gnarly Charley," the local meth head / drug dealer, catch a chinese green beetle (a biggun') out of the back of this screaming girl's car. I couldn't see it up close, but I saw him walk away with it cupped in his hands. When he set it free, he told everyone in his tweeker yowl "I think they're good luck - gooooood luck to you and toooo meeeee." He sounds like the quasi-famous pro wrestler in the Slim Jim commercial (forgot his name. He was "Bonesaw" in the first Spiderman movie). I could see the beetle fly away, moving fast for a bug, darting left to right until I lost him in the details.
If people are reading this, give me an email message telling me what you'd like to see. I was planning on archiving everything once it reaches a certain size, kinda like breaking up everything into months, or weeks, as the shoe fits. That way, the page won't take so long to load once it gets bigger-er.
A beckoning for communication. A task at hand....
September 27, 2005, 09:27 PM:
So, today was a good day. I spent most of the day going through all my computer stuff, sitting at a coffee shop, in the shade, outside on the corner with Ruby. I tried getting into the Mexican Consulate, but they were only accepting people with appointments. My only question was if there was an auto insurance company that covered all of the Central and South American companies. And... there's not, which sounds like a royal pain in the ass, getting insurance at every border crossing. Jesus t_tty f___ing christ I hate logistics. And yet, I'm strangely drawn to them.
The surf has been mushy and lifeless, but at around 6:00 PM, as I was sitting watching the sun gradually fade, I saw a couple set waves come through that showed some promise, but still kinda small, so I consulted the quiver wizard, my ace in the hole,... dog Ruby. She suggested Rocking the 11'2" Supertanker (apparently the new name for the tandem; I couldn't argue with her - the shoe fit). Completely worth it. First off, the 'tanker excels at slow moving, smallish waves. I can be upwards of fifteen feet outside of all the shortboarders and catch a wave before it starts breaking. The tradeoff is that big boards are tougher to turn, and can break your ribs if you find yourself with the board between you & parallel to an oncoming wave.
But this is all secondary. The water was clear enough to see all the dark things on the bottom (freaky!), and, and, and, ... the dolphins. Doood, fer like, hours doood. Five of them came to within arms length looking right at me. They have eternal smiles, don't you know. Dolphins can not not smile. they are genetically predisposed to be happy. Even the ones that we caught in our fishing net up in Alaska back in the day, that shouldn't have been so far North, but El Nino coaxed them way up for the mating frenzy Hemingway wrote about in "The Old Man And The Sea," even while they screamed on deck and blew blood in my face through their blow holes making all of us cry except for skipper Al, they were still smiling.
So, the dolphins would pump through the waves, occassionally porpoising, corkscrewing, back flipping, working their way from break to break from what I could see about a 200 yard range. For about two hours. Every time I would see them I would drum on my board, which actually brought them closer to me to investigate the noise. I got a Stellar Sea Lion to come take a sniff. They're just big, fat dogs (the sea lion is the dog's closest relative, or something like that). Then the bait fish got snapped up by the dolphin and the sea lion, feeding time along the reef at sunset. What could be better than that?
Ruby was definitely jealous when I told her about all the excitement, though she said she could see it from the shore, no different than where I was. Well, I've already realized that there's no use arguing with her, much less to have an adult conversation with her, so I just let the old dog lie.
September 28, 2005, 92:00 PM:
The Meat Hammers of Pacific Beach San Diego proper
You could smell the fumes from all the way over at the other team's bench. Mostly beer, though the team could be seen taking periodic pulls off a magnum of cheap red wine. I'm guessing it was a city league tourney, though the honeykins next to me wasn't sure. They drew a local crowd of the area's beautiful people, mainly thirty-somethings, who all seemed to know, or at least look like each other. The Meat Hammers were cut from a different cloth of sorts. Some wore dresses. Most drank. They all yelled, heckling the other team, heckling each other. I could see spit sprayed at the fervor of the taunts. They resigned themselves to another loss, while being completely dominated by the no-names. The Hammers even had a banner: Happy Birthday Brian!, and Go Meat Hammers!, were neatly printed on a very respectable piece of stock paper. 93% of the spectators were behind the hammer's bench; drinking, talking, looking cool, or trying to. One Hammer pulled his dress up to show very hairy buttocks delineated by a black g-string. Giggles & hoots all around. The one in the white dress pulled his skirt off to present for the crowd to feast their eyes on... a cod piece of sorts, with which to lift & separate, as it were. This is all at the middle school I've been poach car camping at for the last few nights.
There've been other games, quieter games. But none have been as entertaining or nostalgic. It was like college again, as an official member of the Purple Helmeted Warriors (doesn't quite roll off the tongue as smoothly as Meat Hammers), and in a constant state of inebriated boy bliss, it definitely took me back to my dim & sparse memories of our mostly losing intramural softball team, back when I was a duck.
The trash talk was relentless. Vaginal references due to the dresses peppered the air like the taters & dingers the other team continued to split through the Hammer's feeble & moist (?) defense. Such an odd word, "moist,"
when you think about it - or not...
The "other" team had an ogre for a MVP. Had to have been 8'3" as I live & breathe. They called him sasquatch, accused him of being on steroids. At one point, I heard the "other" team talking that if the governing body were to be witness to the Meat Hammer's drinking, the whole tourney, or whatever, could get shut down, the games being played on the grounds of a public middle school & all. But the Hammer's indubitable answer to that naysayers critique del dia is ultimately academic: there is an utterance that will no doubt put to rest any fear of sanctions, rules, governing body whatnot. A chant, a cheer if you will. It begins with a mannish-boy with meat on his bone...s. Faux-hawk preferably, wearing a dress he probably stealthily (is it a word?) stole from his sister back in the seventies, sneaking secret sniffs from the nether areas until he finally found a woman nutty enough to bed him down on a regular basis. He incants -
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