Nov 8, 2007

One California Week

This story was originally published on the now-defunct Fuel.TV, when they were the official website for an action sports cable channel that turned into a MMA network and now, who knows what's going on there).

A surf flick called One California Day, directed by Jason Baffa and Mark Jeremias, takes you on a journey up the California coast, highlighting some of the better breaks the coastline has to offer and some great footage of each spot's local surf heroes. Joel Tudor highlights San Deeaaahhhgo, Jimmy Gamboa shares laughs while owning the longboard scene at Malibu, the Malloy brothers, who reside near Ventura, take a trip down to Baja (which is unofficially part of California), Tom Curren goes tube riding at Rincon, and the movie is capped with the journey to the top of the state, Crescent City, where legend Greg Noll resides.

I decided to follow the lead of One California Day and make my own surf adventure, this time stretching it out to a week. And because cold, bitter weather was hitting San Francisco, my journey would head the opposite direction. I would head south, to the warm weather, beautiful beaches, hot chicas, and clear waters of San Deeaaahhhgo. Along the way I would check out a few other spots, and enjoy one of the many perks California has to offer: Amazing surf.

Thus begins my one week journey down the coast of California.

Day One

My journey begins just south of San Francisco in one of the surf capitals of the world: Santa Cruz. Meeting up with a couple of my compadres, pro surfers Omar Etcheverry, Homer Henard, and their good friend, pro surfer Zach Keenan (who introduced me to a life of no butane with a product called Bee Line, crazy stuff), I got an extensive tour of the west side and got a chance to check out what Homer called “The last local spot in Santa Cruz.” Located north of Steamer's Lane, this secret spot sprouted nugget after nugget of amazing waves. Hardcore locals lurk nearby, ready to lay a beatdown to anyone attempting to paddle out who hasn't been surfing this spot since they were 12.

Goofing around with, from L-R, Zachary Keenan, myself, Homer Henard
Santa Cruz's secret spot, located just west of Steamer's Lane along the north-facing cliff edges.  Beware the locals.
The rest of the Santa Cruz surf that day was sadly poor. There was a nasty red tide that slithered over much of the region's amazing breaks, and the remaining spots not covered with the slime were flat. So, unfortunately, no surf on day one.

To salvage that day, I decided to take a drive down the coast on one of the most amazing roads in the world: Highway 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Despite being born and raised in NorCal, I had never driven down Highway 1 south of Carmel. For those of you unfamiliar with this region, one of the most surreal places in existence, Big Sur, is about 25 miles south of Carmel. And I finally got to experience this gem of a spot. It's an amazingly beautiful place. I highly recommend camping here for a getaway from the chaos.

The two-plus hour drive from Big Sur down the Highway 1 to the next bastion of civilization, San Simeon, is an unreal ride full of amazing views, a pure connection with nature and a touch of fear from the vertical drop down to the ocean. Between historic high-rising bridges covering massive caverns, to a windy coast side road that edges on steep cliffs rising hundreds of feet in the air, this drive was hands-down the craziest stretch of road I've even been on.

The conclusion of this portion of the drive led me to one of my former homes, and one of the birthplaces of my surfing passion: San Luis Obispo (SLO). Before reaching SLO, I stopped at the old Cayucos Pier (where it was completely flat) and Morry Bay, rekindling old college memories. SLO was not to be my destination for the night. No. I would have to stop at a location where I could get up and get waves. Thanks to a suggestion by Omar, I continued south, passing through Santa Barbara and called it a night in one of surfing's more historic cities, Ventura.