17 November 2008

A lifetime in Californa and I don't pick up a surfboard till I get to Washington, what gives?

You heard that right. Considering all my life I have been a CA girl, including the snowboarding and living on the beach for almost 10 years, and I NEVER picked up a surfboard.

Until Saturday. Friends who know about my upcoming trip to Central America decided to give me one more activity to do when I get there (like I'm gonna get bored or something?) So LegalGirrl and her man and I piled into the rig and headed to the Peninsula. Turns out LegalGrrl's man is major surf guy and he's got her so into it she has a spare wetsuit and board for me.

Yes. Wetsuit. Complete with booties and a hood. Which keeps one from the clutches of hypothermia but also makes one look suspiciously like a seal. I couldn't help hoping as we walked out into the waves that there were no hungry sharks cruising the area. Or Orcas. (Although I was relieved reading recently that the local pods are have quite refined palettes: they prefer salmon to seal.)

but, I digress...

Surfboards on the roof isn't exactly subtle. In line for the ferry we met a couple deciding between Neah Bay and La Push. At the gas station LegalBoy struck up a conversation with a fellow surfer. By the time we arrived at the campsite (after stopping for gas and groceries) we had met half the people there somewhere along the way.

What I didn't expect about the surfing scene was the community. And it certainly wasn't the OC crowd. Each one of the characters I met was unique and interesting, running the gamut from weekend warrior professional and his family to one guy who spent six months surfing his way up and down the Pacific Ocean (we had a nice chat about some Central American surf spots). What really struck me was the genuine passion that brought them out on a rainy fall weekend, wetsuits and all. What and the heck was everybody so damn excited about?

Then I had my turn. But first: getting into the wetsuit. Now I know why seals are BORN with that skin, cause getting in and out of the thing is nearly impossible without major assistance. And by assistance I mean Legal Girl pulling as I lean all my weight the opposite direction. It probably didn't help that she's about two inches shorter and 20 lbs lighter than I am. Needless to say, I'm going to have to go up a size when I get my own suit.

There was something terrifying and exciting about walking into the surf the first time. The shock of cold water, combined with the force of waves pushing against my knees, then my hips, and finally my chest, until I was gripping the board and leaping up to clear them and finally belly down and paddling. We spent the first hour or so inside the breaks, with LegalBoy just pushing me into waves as I practiced hoping up into standing position.

Once I actually managed to stay up I discovered the sensation wasn't that much different than snowboarding. The exchange of balance in motion felt quite similar. After I was up a few times we headed out past the breaks. It was much harder to get up - okay so I didn't get up once on my own - but LegalBoy's strategy gave just enough of a taste of that smooth, floating sensation to keep trying. I grew to love the attempt, as much as the actual riding. Just as wonderful was sitting out on the past the waves with the beach and the distance between new and old friends. There's nothing like being balanced on the board and watching rain begin to fall on the water while waiting for that perfect wave.

I only lasted about an hour before one attempt landed me in a bit of a beatdown under my board and the wave, letting me know I was done for the day. Fingers and toes frozen, I still couldn't wipe the grin off my face. The great part of being so cold was that even the tepid shower water felt fantastic as I peeled off the suit and rinsed the salt from my skin. And after the day out there was a campfire and a nice meal, before I crawled into my tent for the best night of sleep I can remember.

Alright Legalkids, you win! I am totally hooked. Only I think I'm going to save my next outing to sunny and warm central America. I could really learn to love that.


Mitch said...

Welcome to my world as a lover of the surf...

There's no feeling like it in the world...

1 day of surfing = 1 week of vacation time for me!!!


Rosie said...

I'm so hooked! It's been all I can do to keep from running out and buying a wetsuit this week :-)