Jul 25, 2016

These are 5 of the Best Places to Surf in Texas

This story was originally published in GrindTV.com which is associated with Yahoo.

When you think of Texas, thoughts of cowboys, horses, ranches, farms, tumbleweeds, oil, guns and BBQ probably creep into your head long before images of waves and surfing.

Yet, the second largest state in the U.S. is home to approximately 367 miles of coastline that runs adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico, and surprisingly more Californians move to Texas than any other state in the country.

There's a strong contingent of surfers in Texas that probably makes for more of a cult following than a mainstream gathering, but its presence is still there. South Padre Island has a legitimate surf shop, while Austin's trendiness easily allows anyone with the surf lifestyle to fit right in.

A Texas surfer on a nice Galveston day. Photo: Courtesy of Thomas Sperre
Texas surfer on a nice Galveston day. Photo: Courtesy of Thomas Sperre

You're not going to find world-class surf in Texas, but waves are there to be had. Based off my own personal experience as a part-time resident in Texas, coupled with extensive online research, here are the five best places to surf in the Lone Star State.

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Jul 5, 2016

A Surfer and His Dog Explore Baja California

This story was originally published in GrindTV.com which is associated with Yahoo.

Looking south from Coyote Cal's provides this beautiful view of the sun setting on Eréndira. Photo: Courtesy of Cyrus Saatsaz
The sun setting on Eréndira. Photo: Cyrus Saatsaz

When all's said and done, I've probably spent over a year of my life exploring Mexico. I absolutely love the country. And Mexico's crown jewel is its nearly 1,000 mile-long western peninsula known as Baja California and Baja California Sur.

It's a region that's relatively safe from banditos and drug cartels, especially when compared to the mainland. While driving at night remains highly unadvisable due mostly to unrestrained herds of roaming cattle, and various bad seeds that tend to wander the Mexican roads when the sun sets, Baja remains relatively free of cartels and the drug trade that has brought rampant corruption and violence to the mainland region of Mexico.

The last time I had visited Mexico was for a road trip from San Francisco to Los Cabos, located on the southern tip of Baja California Sur. Once you cross the border, it's a three day journey of over a 1,000 miles each way, in a world that is quite possibly the last vestige of the Wild West. It was certainly an adventure filled with many wild happenings. That road trip took up a rather large portion of my book Dogwild & Board: Stories, Interviews and Musings from a Surf Journalist and is featured in my personal travel blog.

I was excited to return to Baja. It's one of the appealing factors of living in the San Diego area, being so close to the adventure, excitement, affordability, debauchery and waves of Mexico. I didn’t have the time to drive all the way to the southern tip though. I wanted to go somewhere reasonably close, with some good surf and a cheap place to stay.

And unlike my previous adventure, this time I had my best friend Indiana (Indy for short) with me, a half-English Bulldog, half-Boxer bundle of fun and joy.

The drive from Tijuana to Ensenada is amazingly beautiful, with nearly the entire drive set right alongside the Pacific Ocean on a freeway that's in great condition, thanks in large part to the tolls that are affordable and highly recommendable. When you go beyond Ensenada, that's when the last remnants of the Wild West truly begin. Out here, and for the next 800 miles or so, with the exception of various small towns, it's desolate and barren.

Anyone who surfs knows the legends lore regarding the surf in Baja. And after searching various websites and surf travel books covering the region, I found a place that seemed natural to venture to: A small Mexican beach town named Eréndira.

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Apr 11, 2016

10 Subtle Differences Between Texas and California

Photo by Philip Capper via Creative Commons

Nearly four years ago I wrote a series of short stories called The Transplant Chronicles narrating the experience of moving from San Francisco, where I lived for 12 years, to a beach town near San Diego called Encinitas. At that point in my life I'd been a surfer for over 15 years and always had a strong desire to live, at least for a little while, in an area with warm waters and great waves (outside of Santa Cruz, which has some of the greatest waves in the world, Northern California doesn't exactly offer tranquil waves and the ocean is frigid year-round).

I had sold my business of two years, San Francisco Surf Company, due primarily to financial struggles from the Great Recession, and my relationship with my girlfriend of five years was simultaneously coming to an end. I was in a very dark place in life and had planned on a year-long respite of being a surf bum in the warm waters and sunny beaches of Southern California. Joining me was my longtime companion Dr. Indiana Jones (Indy for short), a half-English Bulldog, half-Boxer who I had rescued years earlier from the San Francisco SPCA.

This was an insane transitional period in my life. And I thought, for better or worse, it might be fun to chronicle making that 500 mile move and the quirky stories that come with it.

I was envisioning The Transplant Chronicles being a three-part story. I wrote two parts of it and never got around to writing the third part. Time just gets away from you. Next thing I knew, after I wrote the second part of the story, nearly four years had passed and yet again I moved, this time to my current home of Conroe, located near the Sam Houston National Forest north of Houston, in the great state of Texas.

In those three and a half years in Encinitas I did a lot of surfing, hosted a surf talk radio show that aired on ESPN radio in San Diego, and I was an instructor of journalism courses at San Diego State University while concurrently earning a Master's degree from SDSU.

That led to my new current position as a full-time professor at the University of Houston. And as crazy as the transition was moving from San Francisco to the San Diego area, that was nothing compared to moving from California to Texas.

I've only been here for eight months. It's enough time though to start noticing subtle differences between the two regions. There are the obvious differences that most people already know about, such as ideologies, politics, government regulation (or lack thereof), guns, religion, weather, and geography.

I want to focus more on the little variances between the two states that aren't discussed much. In many ways, this article perhaps offers a conclusion to my trilogy of short stories focusing on a surfer and his dog moving from San Francisco to the San Diego area, and then three and a half years later to Texas. And given the number one destination for Californians who leave the state is Texas, I figured it was apropos to publish the subtle differences between the two most populated states in America.

It's very important to note that Austin doesn't count in the comparison. Austin in many ways is California. It's certainly more California than Texas, that's for sure.

Here are 10 subtle differences between California and Texas.

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