The Week We Had a Hotel
by: Brandon Russell
We had left Florida a few days early, because I wanted to get in as much surf time as possible before the event was to start. Sleeping in the Jeep for a few nights would be a resulting circumstance, but totally worth it. Even though the surf in the Malibu area was pretty dismal, solid northwesterly swell was filling in up the road. The same swell that had hit Jaws on Maui days before during the WSL's Big Wave Tour event there, was wrapping in and around the various points of Ventura County. I made the decision to drive us up the coast on PCH 45 minutes until we got up to C-Street. Overhead but windy lines swept across the top of the point, while inside the cove, shoulder to head high glassy peelers went for about 150 yards. Despite the number of people, the crowd wasn't too bad because the point is so big, there's plenty of room for everyone to have their space. The air was cold so Jess put on her thick [Isurus] wetsuit and decided on taking out the new Sunshine longboard.
We hopped across some rocks near the bottom of the point and paddled out. The surf was about chest high and really fun. It was one of those days where everything is cold and stiff and you feel like you can't move around or even turn your board properly. It was a bit startling, coming from Florida.
We had a nice surf, got spotted by someone who recognized Siren from Cocoa Beach, and then helped track down a dog that had ran away from a crackhead (long story).Surfed-out, soggy and stoked, we loaded up the Jeep, and made the short drive into Thousand Oaks where we had reservations for a week.
Upon arrival at the hotel, I've never been so stoked to check into a place. The smiling, friendly faces at the front desk gave us our room keys, and drink tickets. Drink tickets? Yep! Every night you stay at [Palm Garden Hotel], they give you a ticket for a free drink up to $8 at the bar down in Brendan's Irish Bar, located at the front of the hotel. Convenient.
After “moving in”, we quickly stripped and fought over first-dibs on the shower; hot shower. It had been awhile. Days, in fact. We got comfortable and eased into hotel life for the week. In all my years living in California, I had never been to Thousand Oaks. I really enjoyed its location, as its pretty central to go any direction and end up somewhere fun; whether it be waves or weirdos. With Malibu 20 minutes to the south, and C-Street 20 minutes to the north, our surf options were plentiful ands within reach of the hotel. After the NW swell started to fade, we went back to surfing Malibu everyday that there was a ridable southerly peeler. Small but fun first-point log waves gave us enough playful surf to prep for the contest. But as the event grew closer, the forecast for swell started to look bleak. Finally, after much debate, the event was postponed due to the lack of swell for the allotted competition days. A bit of a bummer, since that was the reason for our whole trip, yet undeterred, we made the most of the week. A couple more surf sessions at Malibu and also at Topanga were enough to keep our gills moist. On Halloween, there wasn't much swell, so we decided to go into Hollywood for the day and “tourist out”. We walked around a bit. Ate some food. Went to Amoeba Music; no big deal. That place is amazing if you're a music nerd like we are. Before we split town, we stopped to visit a friend of ours, who turned out to be friends with other friends of ours from Cocoa Beach. One thing led to another and the next thing I knew I was dressed up in an orange astronaut suit and we're up front at a show with a metal band, The Birth Defects, rocking out as AC/DC for Halloween. Epic. The next band was Wand, playing Neil Young tunes for the night. Good times with good friends. We made it back to the hotel around 1 am or so. I had an extra cup of coffee at breakfast the next morning. We hit up the complimentary breakfast at the [hotel] every morning. Not your average hotel slop. Healthy and hearty options for the picky eater or the eat-all. Pretty damn good orange juice too; and that's saying a lot coming from a Floridian. I honestly don't remember if we surfed that day. But, I do know for sure that we put a couple solid hours soaking in the hot tub.
The week went by way too fast. We were scheduled to leave for home after our [hotel] reservations were over. But, I wasn't ready to drive all the way back across the country without surfing some proper waves. Especially since I could see south swell arriving in just days. Malibu was forecast to be 4-6 feet and good conditions. We weren't going anywhere. We moved back into the Jeep.