On Thursday we hike down to Point Dume and explore the tide pools. On the drive back to the campsite, we pull off to check the surf at County Line. It’s ok and no one’s out, so we decide to go. Scott paddles out first and I take pictures. He gets plenty of waves to himself and some really nice nose rides, but once it’s my turn, a whole horde of dudes decide to join me. The most annoying of which is a seemingly intoxicated man who sings belligerently and with no tune while getting ready and then drops in on me standing on his bodyboard on my best wave. Although I’m impressed he’s able to stand up in fins, I’m still pissed! When I tell him “Hey!” from behind and then give him a disapproving look, he shouts at me “The wave came right to me!”
“Yeah, but I was on it”, I retort.
I catch one good left and another right just as the wind turns gale force and ride in to the beach to avoid being impaled by a kite surfer.
Back at camp, Scott and I research the cost of a hot shower. A dollar gets you four minutes. We insert four dollars and divide the 16 minute allotment evenly. I’m frozen after my surf session and try to find the best way to get the hot water on every inch of my skin. I decide this can be achieved by giving myself a bear-hug and standing directly underneath the faucet, spinning in a circle. I stoop to a new low when I use a bar of soap and some shampoo that have been left behind by someone else. At least I’m wearing shower shoes?
That evening we eat at Duke’s. We’re a complete cliché. We’ve just surfed in Malibu and now we’re eating at a restaurant with a surfer on the menu, but the food is good and we don’t have to do any of the dishes!
I normally never open my napkin and allow the silverware within it to spill onto the table. I typically place the utensils on my bread plate until the food arrives so they don’t touch the table I know has been wiped with a dirty dish towel, but tonight I could care less. Everything seems clean after four days of camping. We indulge in wontons, soup and an entreé each. They even bring a hula pie out for Scott and sing a joy-filled off-key “Happy Birthday”. We are put into a food coma almost immediately after.
In the morning, we wake to an alarm for the first time in six days. No one wants to get kicked out of their sleep by the unsettling sound of an alarm on vacation, but a south swell is in the water and we’re on the perfect coast for this swell angle so there’s no other choice. We’re up in a matter of minutes and in the car with our wet wetsuits and boards shortly after. We park at the top of the cliff just as the sun rises, albeit behind a bunch of clouds.
We pass a handful of lovely waves on our way down the coast, but it is this specific spot we are looking to surf because it only breaks on certain angled swells like this one. Scott elects to take pictures from the water with our water housing and I’ll be the subject.
I think I’ll call this spot treacherous, I decide, as I watch it break over the tide pools I was exploring the day before. It reminds me of some of the reef breaks I’ve surfed in Hawaii in terms of difficulty, only with freezing water, thick kelp and concealed rocks. I’m positive there are sharks around. Ok, maybe there aren’t (who’s to say), but it feels like there could be sharks around. The water is as grey as the sky which is cloaked in a marine layer from the horizon to heaven.
I’ve never surfed this spot before. In fact, I’d never seen it break until this morning. There’s a pack of 7 guys out, which is considerably low for a good swell, but the waves are inconsistent and this spot will only break for a few hours until it turns back into tide pools. At one point, I sit for 15 minutes without riding a wave (and try not to think about sharks).
When a set finally comes every guy outside of me misses it. I’m in “the hot seat”. I paddle over the thick, sketchy ledge and drop in right in front of Scott, not quite knowing what to expect. Even though I’m having my picture taken, I can’t help but look horrified (see below), like there actually is a shark down the line, but once I make the drop, I feel like I’m somewhere familiar again. That ocean always feels like a home to me once I find my feet. I catch a few more waves, miss one really good one and call it a day.
Scott gives me the water housing and body surfs for a while. I try not to think about how he looks like a seal and focus on how graceful he is riding the waves with his body. The way he flows across them makes me feel like I’m somewhere exceptional. It speaks right to my heart. It reminds me of a good poem.
The trip is over, but I don’t think it will ever leave me. I can just see us talking about it around a big dining table we (hopefully) own someday, over our kids incessant chatter. “Remember when we camped in the canyon and surfed with the sharks?” Our stories might grow a little taller as time goes by. It wasn’t somewhere exotic, we didn’t take a plane, but I think the outcome we were hoping for was the same. We came back with good stories of things we did together in places that made us feel something new.
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