Life is so filled with blessings and magic if you take the time to appreciate your surroundings. I’ve had an amazing opportunity to spend time in the beautiful Bay area this fall season. It’s rare to take a step out of your regular school, work, or life routines to do something totally different with your time and energy. I’ve been gaining invaluable perspective on MSG and my life in general by spending six weeks in the city here. Yesterday was one of those days out on the ocean that I felt truly blessed to be alive, and to be a surfer.
Ocean Beach was thumping: pushing 10 feet with 16 second intervals and a crazy high tide of 6.3 feet! For those of you that aren’t familiar with the waves at Ocean Beach, it can be a treacherous paddle out and a powerful rip current to deal with. Especially on days like yesterday: major tide fluctuations and overhead waves. Thank god the winds were light! I was lucky to make it out to the line up in 20 minutes! That’s right, 20 minutes of paddling and 20 duck dives later, I made it to the peaceful glassy conditions on the outside. After 5 minutes of catching my wheezing’ breath and rubbin’ my tired shoulders through my 4 millimeter wetsuit, I was ready to charge one of those glassy bombs rolling in from the horizon.
But first I had to take it all in: the diverse scene stretched out before me, floating out there practically alone with the ocean (only 5 other surfers were scattered nearby). I scissor kicked my board in a circle and was blown away with what I was apart of: an ocean paradise amidst the hussle bussel of San Francisco city life!
Scratching for the horizon as a 10 foot set wave came barreling towards me, I noticed a pod of dolphins swim through the peaking wave literally 10 feet in front of me. When I duck dove I thought I might spear them with the nose of my board! Coming out of the back of the wave, I then noticed another pod of pilot whales duck diving just like I had. I could hear their exhales as they arched their grey smooth skin up and down through the ocean. The pelicans were also feeding nearby: doing Kamikaze dive bombs into the ocean with fish hanging out of their long beaks.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, a sea otter took off towards another big wave next to me and with the charging spirit of a surfer, it dipped it’s nose down the face of a cresting wave and disappeared. I was surrounded by a family of surfers that crossed the multi-species lines of marine mammals. I was just as connected to the ocean as they were out there. And this Northern California surfers paradise kept morphing into a scene out of Narnia or some fantasy tale…The waves were getting more and more big. The spray off the cresting waves turned into full circle rainbows that hovered over my head. I could see the red tops of the Golden Gate bridge behind the stretch of high-rise apartments lining the hills. Vibrant city life collided with vibrant ocean life. I was caught up in the middle of these two worlds and felt alive.
And as luck would have it, I caught a heaping handful of overhead waves. Scary steep drops that I held onto by my tippy toes (damn I need booties – my toes froze off during those two hours!). I had to pull out of some close out sections, and one in particular swallowed my board, dragging me by my leash over the falls and into a foamy soup of turbulent whitewater. I got a beating out there, but the ocean life on the outside kept giving me the strength to battle the whitewater and get back out for one more wave, one more communion with all that ocean life.
Nicole Sanchez, our lovely photographer, was not there to capture those images from yesterday unfortunately. So I tried to capture 1/16th of it from the beach with my new trusty iphone. Here’s a couple shots…and my smooth 1967 Mercedes convertible that’ve I’ve been blessed with occasionally… compliments of the Ashkenas family (alum camper Molly’s lovely family)!
ALOHA NUI LOA FROM THE BAY AREA!
Me & my San Francisco Surf Mobile 😉
Northern California Dreamin’…