California (Part 2)
by: Brandon Russell
As soon as we came down the mountain, the familiarity of the whizzing traffic and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants lane changes brought back a feeling of 'home away from home', for me. I love driving the freeways here. Get on and go, or get the hell out of the way.
We drove a ways north. I toured jess through and around Encinitas and showed her the places I used to live and work when I was 18 and 19 years old, and the old Channin factory (now Bing) up on the hill got a quick drive by. We stopped and got out at J Street to have a look at boneyards and swamis.
We drove further north and visited with my old roommate, "The Professor" AKA Travis Macks, in Oceanside for a while and had a beer and a puff and caught up.
We decided to sleep in the car again so we figured the O'side Walmart would be fine. There were about 20 cars pulled in there with people sleeping so we pulled in next to them and passed out. At around 12:30 we heard a knock on the window and were told to move. When we looked around, we were the only car left. I guess we were just last in line to be told to split.
We booked it down to the Encinitas Walmart parking lot for the rest of the night.
We spent the next day at the O'side harbor, hanging in the north jetty parking lot. I spotted a 'Jeff Hackman'-like style in the lineup and knew it could only be one guy: The infamous T. Maus. Before I could paddle out he was already in. I intercepted him on his walk to his car with a "braaap", to which he stopped and smiled. It also called in long time friend Taylor Jensen. We're weird, I know, brap.
After catching up with tommy, and having a quick surf, Jess and I headed over to Taylor and Nava's house to catch up and shoot the shit over some coffee and tea.
Nava's parents were staying at their place while in town and it was great to get to visit with them too. It's not everyday you get to sit down and talk to not one, but two surfing world champions. I had never really met Nat before and it was truly an honor to sit next to him and bullshit about surfing and skinning alligators, amongst other things. Nat was in town to present Gerry Lopez with an award at the California Surf Museum's 10th Annual Fundraiser Gala.
I hadn't seen Taylor and Nava in 7 years and they're still as amazing as ever, and have an addition to the family now as well. It was really good to catch up with them.
We slept in the Jeep again that night in the back of the O'side harbor. The surf was not great the next morning and it was a Sunday so the line-up was a bit crowded, so we decided to make our way north. Jess wanted to see all of the beachside towns on the way up the coast, so we drove the Pacific Coast Highway to our final destination in Malibu.
We had an evening surf at Topanga Point. Waist to stomach high glassy peelers were enough to satisfy the surf-starved appetite one acquires while living in Florida. My board feels weird and heavier than normal out here. It's a weird phenomenon that has to do with water densities and temperatures and that's all I'm saying.
We slept in the Jeep again; this time on the side of PCH in Topanga. There were about 30 RV's and people parked on one strip right across from the ocean, so we pulled in there and found a spot near the rear. I enjoyed a delicious IPA and some California herb before we set up "the bed" and passed out. At 4am, Jess woke up to a food truck parked right behind us and multiple Latino men standing around the car. I guess I'm used to the smell of food truck tamales and Spanglish in the early morning because it didn't wake me up until at least 5:30.
We spent the morning sitting around in the car at Malibu. Jess laid in the back and watched the waves from the window. The surf was only 1 foot and semi glassy, but we were looking for something a bit bigger, and knowing that we had a week just over the mountain from Malibu, we took the time to relax.
A whittle birdie told me where the waves had been best the day before, so I checked the spot online and it looked like a go. I drove us up to Ventura to a super secret, locals only, shark infested point break that I really shouldn't name, and did laps around the parking lot until someone pulled out. It was worth it.
We found shoulder high, early season point break peelers that weren't too cold yet either. The crowd was minimal, as everyone was surfed out from all the warm waves they've had here for the three weeks straight before we arrived. Shoulda. Been here. Yesterday. None the less, this Floridiot was frothing and stoked for some chest high, inside the cove, glassy noseride sections. After multiple 100 yard+ waves, I caught one right to the stairs and called it a session, then proceeded to wait an hour for jess to finish surfing.
Next stop: Palm Garden Hotel in Thousand Oaks, CA.
Photos: Siren Williams
Words: Brandon Russell