Somewhere Suddenly

It'll arrive unexpectedly. Suddenly sometimes. Without warning. You're at the right place but the wrong time. Because you never really know where you'll find waves. Your guess is as good as mine. Swell size, angle, etc. Taking note of the tide, or what about the wind. I remember our earliest excursions, traveling from spot to spot, searching for that surprise. Something unexpected. We found it a few times, stumbled upon the swell, surfed for a few and then kept quiet. Other times we told; a few friends, my father. We learned our lesson, though. How to keep it Hush-Hush.

This weekend, however, we found the fickle. The right place at the right time. We could hear it from the front seat of Fargo, breaking over a shallow rock bottom. Small stones leading to a sandy shore, with tall trees flung this way and that. We watched it for awhile. It was us and an eagle. We'd been on the road and were eager for anything. Waist high? Maybe a bit bigger. Clean, but closing quickly. We surfed until sundown. Flying down the face, pulling in and out, trying not to stuff our sticks into the sand. How better to spend a Sunday than surfing somewhere, suddenly, with someone you love.

Gato Bask Journal



Robin Kegel and the curious cats at Gato Heroi surfing an assortment of sticks in the Basque Country.

The Joey Chair

Camp chairs come and go. Maybe you got one as a gift, or grabbed one at the General Store on your way outta town one weekend. Or perhaps someone forgot theirs at the beach and it ended up in the trunk of your car? Whatever way you come across one (or four), a comfortable chair is an essential for anyone that spends a lot of time surfing and camping on the coast. So when our friends at Travel Chair sent us their latest offering, a small, light, four-legged seat sack they're calling the Joey, I was stoked to see how much better - or worse - it would be than the Teddy chairs they sent us last summer.

Attending Church



The guys (and gals) from Nineplus, sliding some fun stuff at Church toward the end of September.

That Unexpected Offshore

As you may have noticed, Fall is my favorite. A season that can surprise, October offers unexpected offshore winds, sunny skies and cold evenings spent around a campfire. I really can't complain. We surfed for six hours on Saturday; waiting while the wind shifted from east to west and then back again. Oh, and did I mention that the waves were wonderful?! Waist high, with wind in your face and lots of long peeling lefts and slow running rights. That evening, Karissa cooked something simple (penne noodles, chicken sausage and red sauce) and we ate, and drank a bit of bourbon. I stayed up late talking to my friend Todd about Voodoo Acupuncture, while Karissa climbed into the van and fell asleep shortly after eight. Unfortunately, Sunday morning sorta sucked. A mess of white water and a shapeless swell had showed up. So with exhausted arms and an unwillingness to waste what little energy we had left on something shitty, we decided to eat a big breakfast and then hike into the woods to shoot a few photos. We stopped at some spots on our way outta town, but the waves weren't any better. So we decided to head inland in search of (better) surf. I'll save that story, though.

Hip Wigglers Invitational



Short bit of film highlighting this year's Hip Wigglers Invitational, held on the Bailiwick of Jersey.

Patagonia R3 Wetsuit Gloves

To be honest, I hate gloves. Cumbersome comes to mind. Disconnected. Uncomfortable. For years I refused. And when I did wear them, the only thing I wanted to do was shake my hands feverishly like some kind of inspired spirit fingers performance - trying desperately to free myself from them. Oh, and did I mention that getting them on was no easier than getting them off? A real pain those goddamn gloves were. But when you start surfing in the winter, or the fall for that matter, they become more important. Because unless you're some sort of Ice Man, like Arnold in that shitty Batman movie, your fingers are gonna freeze. So I caved and bought a pair, some 3mm gloves made by Matuse, or maybe they were made by O'neil. Anyhow. They kept my fingers from freezing. For awhile. Then everything went to shit. The seams split and I wore a hole right through the palm, and they eventually let so much water in that I may as well have not been wearing them.

Color Correct

Our friend Derek Sparks is an incredible artist. Different, no doubt, but his photographs are a form of art that few people are familiar with. He'll take what might otherwise be an ordinary image and expand upon it; exaggerating the color and condition, making the sea sparkle and the grey skies look good. It really is incredible. So anytime we see Derek standing on the shore, tripod set securely in the sand, his face buried into the back of his camera, we know something cool will come of it. With that being said, follow the link and take a look at some of the images Derek snapped last Saturday.

State Of The Art



What I've been listening to lately...

Peanut Butter Piggies

We spent the evening with Alex Swanson and his lovely fiancée, Erica Burtrum. A classic Southern California surfer, Alex's enthusiasm for the ocean is apparent, although his interests go well beyond what one might expect. Working as an EMT in the Costa Mesa area of California, Alex has seen both sides of the show. He surfs, but understands that life is short and you shouldn't spend all of your time on any one activity. A real down-to-earth kinda cat. And Erica is awesome. Stoked we were able to spend some time together in Seatown. Click here and take a look at Alex's blog, Ten Piggies Over.

V33Dster



Daveed Arganda letting it all hang out, somewhere in So-Cal. Brought to you by Bird Man Media.

The Surf Café Cookbook

The Surf Café Cookbook was developed by Jane and Myles Lamberth, proprietors of Shells Café, which is located in Strandhill on the west coast of Ireland. It was the internet that introduced me to both their cafe and cookbook. Or perhaps I saw it on another surf blog? Or as a related item on Amazon? However I came across it, I'm sure glad I did. Because the book "focuses on locally-produced food that’s unpretentious and tasty. It’s food for sharing with friends and family, around the kitchen table or on a beach blanket thrown on the sand." It features interesting how-to information, a brief history of the Irish surf culture, essential items for anyone eating and drinking along the west coast of their country, as well as an assortment of recipes that are easy to make and damn delicious. And while I'm not much of a cook (I can heat a mean can of beans!), I figure the wife would like what's inside. Click here to learn more about the book.

Foreign Affairs



Hoalen ambassador, Mathieu Maréchal, surfing a few fun ones at La Torche in Finistère, France.

We Don't Get Waves?!

With the surf report calling for long period groundswells and some strong wind outta the east, my friend Tom Hanny skipped work on Monday and headed south in search of surf. He expected to see something sizable. Some big waves wouldn't be bad. But I don't think anyone was expecting to see what actually rolled in that Monday morning. Honestly, I'd prefer to let Tom's photos do the talking, but I will say it's days like these that remind me that we do get waves. Real ones. Big ones. And that if you're willing to work for it, they can be better than anywhere else. So with that being said, follow the link and take a look at some of Tom's photos from that secret spot down south.

Je Suis Le Vent



What I've been listening to lately...

Between Black & White

Between black and white - the absence of color and its opposite - you get to see grey. A color we're accustom to. A color we've become comfortable with. Because we have to. Because between those two extremes, there's room for a lot of opportunity. Overcast afternoons spent surfing spots only you and a few friends have found. Achromatic evenings where the moon hides behind a wall of cumulus clouds. Differentiating between day and night can be difficult. Color is absent. The sun sets silently behind the hills, turning grey skies to black almost instantly. The morning comes quietly as well. The sea blending ever so softly into the sky. You stand on the sand, straining to see the swell, sipping a warm cup of coffee, unaffected by the overcast conditions or the absence of that green glow over your shoulder. Because there's waves. Good ones. And while that wonderful array of ocular amusement is all but gone - setting with the sun at the end of summer - you're still surfing. Still searching for meaning in that great, grey unknown. Perhaps you'll find it this year, though. Perhaps you'll notice something otherwise overlooked, something you may not have seen in the spring or summer, when color can confuse. Grey gives you clarity. An ability to look through the fog and the fall, to a time of year when waves become bigger and the summer surfers have gone home for good. So don't be so eager for those beautiful blue mornings and orange afternoons. Enjoy the time in between.

This was originally published as part of a cold water collaboration with Surf Right.

Autumn Logging



Ion Eizaguirre sliding a 9'6 Model-T in Zarautz, a small town in the Basque Country of northern Spain.

Winter Wants

Those cold winter months are just moments away. Soon I'll blow big clouds of condensation into clenched fists; waiting for the frost on Fargo's windshield to slowly dissipate so that I can see. There will be waves, but it'll be increasingly more arduous to enjoy them. Thick(er) suits and wool shirts and bottles of bourbon will make evening sessions an option. But the sun will set before six, and cooking over a campfire will become increasingly more difficult as wet wood and sideways rain are ever-present. I'll be damned if we don't make due, though. And in the end, when the sun starts to stay up a little longer and the sweater I've been wearing is clearly overkill, I'll eagerly await the winter. Because this time of year is unlike others, unlike elsewhere. It's difficult, no doubt, but rewarding in its own way. So to help me stay stoked through these next few months, here's what's on my winter #wishlist.

Feels Like We Only Go Backwards



What I've been listening to lately...

Critico



Dom Breen surfing a Gato Heroi 'Death Dagger' somewhere in Australia. Courtesy of Henry Cousins.

Out There On Our Own

Rare are the weekends spent surfing without anyone else. Camped out in the corner, alone, with nothing more than a small fire, a bottle of wine and a couple of camp chairs. It happens in October. When the kids are back in school and the conditions can be, well, uncertain at best. It's good, though, the days and nights we spend together, uninterrupted. It can be quiet. Picking a peak, maybe fifteen or twenty feet apart, and surfing the shoulder. We come in only to snack on something. Then we surf some more. The evenings are incredible. A quick shower followed by a beer. She'll sort out something else to eat - Karissa always cooks. We can see the sun set from where we sit, in front of a fire, with out feet up, chatting about waves and whatnot. We go to bed early. An opportunity to sleep more than we do during the work week. Coffee is followed by something simple to eat, as soon as the sun shows up on Sunday. And then we surf some more. Fargo is filled with the sound of Seahawks as we drive back from the beach. Football in the fall. Maybe we stop to watch the end of the game. Maybe we don't. Another cup of coffee before we board the boat. And then we park and unpack at our apartment, and spend the dwindling hours of daylight dreaming about the waves we had. Or the waves we'll have next weekend.

Joel Tudor's Ductumentary



"Joel Tudor's vision to preserve the future of surfing for generations to come." Brought to you by Vans.

Sunray Kelley

There's plenty of weird people in the Pacific Northwest. There's the wonderfully weird, the extremely strange and the 'it's kinda hard to tell' type. So when I stumbled across this Shwood Eyewear video highlighting Sunray Kelley, an architect and builder who draws his inspiration from the woods that surround him, I was not at all surprised. Honestly, a few of the homes he's built look a lot like the one my mother's friend Jeanne lives in. But if weird is the word, then fantastic is the feeling his buildings broadcast. Organic architecture built with wood bought at "God's Hardware Store," SunRay's stuff is really quite incredible. Follow the link to see the short film.

Dead Sled



Bret Caller from The Shop Next Door sliding a Chris Christenson 'Dead Sled' surfing board.

Cider Press Shenanigans

Cider is something I'm rather fond of. Hard as opposed to soft. But I'll drink both, because you can always add a bit of bourbon. So when Angel invited us to an annual cider press party last Sunday, we showed up in skirts. It was early afternoon when we pulled off the highway and down the first driveway. Having surfed for something like five hours earlier that morning, we were exhausted, to say the least. I really had no idea what to expect. Four or five friends and some kind of apple squishing apparatus? But as we rounded the corner of a rather long gravel driveway, there sat a beautiful little house surrounded by a trees turning all your favorite colors of fall. To its right was some kind of shed, under which sat two cider presses, hundreds of pounds of apples and two dozen people. There was also a pond, in which floated a small white rowboat, and a trail that took you to the backside of the property where fresh vegetables grew from the ground and rabbits awaiting their end. We participated in the apple squishing, ate smoked suckling pig and sipped on fresh cider spike with a bit of Basil Hayden's. It was an excellent evening. One that caused Karissa to throw a proper fit when the time came to leave.

Mystico



Carl Gonsalves surfing a 9'7 Gato Heroi 'Playboy' south of Sydney. Courtesy of Henry Cousins.

Offshore in October

They fade so fast, all the waves in a weekend. The good and the bad. Gone before you know it. You try so hard to save some of them, to put them in the back of your brain, so you can take a taste a little later - maybe Monday morning, or Wednesday after work. But when you close your eyes, all you see is the sun and sand. For some reason, the waves went away. Which is why we're here, on the internet, so I can see the size and the shape. So that maybe I'll remember. That long left, with offshore wind blowing white water into my face - a blind drop followed by a big bottom turn - tucked low toward the top, skimming my fingers across the face. Or maybe I'll remember one more. A reasonably sized right, held open long past its prime, taking steps to increase speed. It's as if they need some time to settle. The memories that is. To take their place amongst all the other waves that weekend, or weekends past. Because I can see clearly something I surfed six weeks ago. Maybe more. But the ones this weekend, well, I might as well have been blindfolded.


Jai, Zye & Josh



Jai Lee, Zye Norris and Josh Constable sliding some fun winter waves over there in Australia.

Stumptown



Jordan Hufnagel and his pal, James Crowe, are about to embark on a year long motorcycle journey from British Columbia to Patagonia. Prior to their departure, Jordan and James built themselves some badass adventure bikes (which we saw at The One Motorcycle Show), collaborated with Woolrich on a curated clothing line, and have been featured in the this short video highlighting a bunch of Danner's new Stumptown boots. An epic adventure awaits. Click here to learn more.



The Cloak of Stoke

Wetsuits suck. If you've ever surfed in board shorts or a bikini, you know this. I'm not saying they aren't important - that they won't keep you warm or let you surf when it's winter - I'm simply suggesting that they suck. In general. And honestly, it's the in-and-out process that makes surfing with a wetsuit a real pain in the ass. On the side of the road, in a muddy parking lot or sitting inside the van, getting one on (or off) takes time and often leaves you both cold and uncomfortable. Enter The Mancho, or what I've dubbed the Cloak of Stoke. This terry cloth robe like layer allows you to get in-and-out of your suit without showing your business bits to all the people in the parking lot. It also works wonderfully as an alternative to a towel, allowing you to shower and then saunter back to camp without freezing your ass off. Its hood is huge and works wonderfully on a wet head. The front pocket is a perfect place to keep your claws, and there's even a little loop on the back of the neck so you can hang it outside the shower. They're long enough to cover up all of your essentials and wide enough for you to slide into your suit without feeling claustrophobic or cramped. Now, I'm sure your mom could make one, or that you're just fine wrapping up your underbits in a beach towel, but they sell for $75 (including shipping) on Stoke Harvester, and as far as I'm concerned, that's a damn good deal.

French Revolution



A short segment from Sunshine Sea, shot at Biarritz in 1968 (via Encyclopedia of Surfing).

Iolo Edger

The internet can be incredible. Enabling the otherwise impossible, it can, and often will, bring people together who share similar interests and ideals. People who might otherwise feel outcast or alone. Someone that surfs as an example. Or an artist. And it was the internet that connected Iolo (Yol-Owe) Edger and I. Settled some four miles from the coast of Southern Wales, where "a castle sits by the river mouth, and the rock formations have been featured in various studies for being great at illustrating the formation of the planet," Iolo's art is influenced by his surroundings and his love of sound - with over exaggerated facial features and a color palette that is bright, but often brown. He draws and paints a lot of portraits, as well as landscapes that capture the color and architecture of his area. A surfer? I'm not sure. But he tells me "the waves aren't consistent but we've many a legend patrolling the waters."

Rain, Trees and Leaves

We all know the fall is fickle. Staring at surf reports, listening to weather band broadcasts or making a few phone calls to friends. Some of that shit can help. Most of it is a waste of time, though. But you roll the dice and drive out to take a look - fingers crossed all the way there. Sometimes you score, more often you don't. It's the inconsistency that makes surfing this season so special. Because when it's good, it can be real good. And so went our weekend. An early exit followed by a ferry ride. Dinner at Angel's and then coffee and some kind of cereal the next morning. We found it flat. So we drove back to town, went to the gym, snagged some socks at Moss and then (inadvertently) celebrated Oktoberfest at Toga's with Angel, Quinton, Steve Abandonato and his wife, Dana.

Sunday morning came too quickly. Maybe it was the White Russian(s). In search of surf, we found the road blocked by a rather tall tree. Parked Fargo, chatted with the kid stuck on the other side, and then decided to cut the fucker down and clear the road using a small handsaw we'd purchased last winter. Took about an hour. In the rain. Afterward, we ate a late breakfast at the Blackberry Cafe and then drove the long way round, avoiding what was now a closed road. Some surf showed up while we were away. It was small, but we found a few fun ones. Wearing our winter suits sure did suck, though. After a couple of hours, Karissa got cold and paddled back to the beach. I called it quits when the wind picked up. So was it worth all that effort? Sure. Better than sitting on our asses in Seattle.