Sunday, July 18, 2004

Skimming Down to Laguna

I never noticed when skimboards stopped appearing at the beach. Did you?
I mean, one day skimboarding was marginally cool...just sort of a common mid-80's beach accessory. Whether you were down at 26th St. in Santa Cruz, or Mission Beach in San Diego, skimboards were just AROUND. Every once in a while you'd even see a little local news bit on this "fast growing sport" and they'd show you funny footage from some cove in Laguna Beach of guys slamming into the shorebreak and doing these head-over-heels flips into the air.
To be honest, I do actually remember making my own skimboard once. My buddies and I all had our Dads buy us pieces of plywood, which we cut into crooked egg shapes and then sanded for 4 days straight. We stuck on a few Quiksilver stickers and then painted on layer after layer of Verethane, which never really dried completely. I recall waxing it up anyway, dragging it down to the beach, spending an hour trying to snap my wrists, and then finally dragging it home and abondoning it behind the work shed in our backyard, where it sat for years accumulating leaves and twigs which adhered to it's permanently tacky finish.
That's it. That's all I remember. One day skimboards were around, the next they weren't. I don't think I've seen a skimboard in ten years. And even then it was probably just some kid from Michigan visiting his grandparents by the beach, who happened to find the abondoned skimboard in THEIR backyard.
So this weekend my wife and I left the little man with my Dad, and stayed at a nice little B&B in Laguna Beach. The beaches in Laguna are a LOT nicer than the beaches in Huntington, so we decided to do the full beach weekend - get up early, pack a bag, pick a nice little cove, and spend the entire day laying around, reading trash novels, and maybe doing a little body whomping.
(Quick FYI, for those of you without kids, you need to understand that the aforementioned scenario is impossible with a toddler. A trip to the beach with a toddler is rather short and violent. You get to the beach, pin the kid down WWF style, attempt to cover him in sunblock, let him up, and then spend the next 45 minutes chasing him in and out of the water. When he finally starts shivering, you dry him off, attempt to brush some of the sand from his face, check his diaper for poo - which is amazing when mixed with sand - and then spend another 45 minutes chasing him from stranger to stranger, as he runs from towel to towel, comandeering anything that isn't nailed down or, God forbid, actually belongs to him. When you finally give in to exhaustion or just don't have the will to pry yet another gunky, sand-encrusted Cheetos wrapper out of his hand, you drag him home and thus ends your trip to the beach.)
Anyhow, there we were are at this amazing little cove in Laguna. It doesn't even matter which one - they're ALL amazing. Maybe I've just spent too much time in Huntington staring at the smoke stacks and oil rigs. I don't know. All I do know is that every beach in Laguna looks like Carmel Beach, only warmer and with hotter chicks. And while there's only one Carmel Beach in Carmel, there are like a hundred of them in Laguna.
So here I am, getting out of the perfect blue-green trasluscent water after a really fun half hour body whomp (in HB the water ranges from red to gray to dark green), and as I start trudging up the sand back to our little beach basecamp, two bodies go whizzing past me, one from the left, one from the right. "How funny, " I think. "Skimboarders...haven't seen those in a while."
Then I look up, and there, along the high tide ridge, are like 15 skimboarders...all lined up and spaced apart like some kind of Civil War skirmish line, each one waiting their turn.
Then I look up and down the beach. They're EVERYWHERE. The entire beach is covered with little dudes, big dudes, old dudes, young dudes with Volcom mesh trucker hats...all carrying skimboards.
Even my wife noticed. "Hey," she said. "I didn't know people still skimboarded. Is it coming back?"
"I don't think so, " I said. "It must just be a...a Laguna thing...I guess."
And there it was. Part time warp, part Island of Misfit Surfers. In Laguna, skimboarding is still HUGE.
But guess what? That's not all. Skimboards aren't the only toys still alive and well. The next day we went to a different cove. Just as beautiful, just as perfect for body whomping, and just as packed with skimboarders. Only this time, the skimboarders had brought friends...boogie boarders, body surfers with little hand things, and SURFERS riding FOAM BZ BOARDS.
"So what," you might ask. "I see 50 million kooks at my beach renting BZ foam boards every goddamn weekend and dragging them across PCH by the leash, and then paddling out and getting in everyone's way and just stinking up the place and annoying the shit out of everyone. "
Difference here is that these guy KILL IT.
Huh? What?
You heard right. There's this whole scene in Laguna of guys surfing semi-closed-out shorebreak on BZ foam boards. And they all surf great. They pull into pits breaking in two feet of sand, grab their rails, get shacked out of their gourds, slam onto the beach, and then paddle out and do it again.
And why the fuck not? Those knuckleheads who surf Waimea shorbreak or the Wedge on their shiny new shaped boards, are just asking to either kill some poor bodysurfer, themselves, or at the bare minimum, snap a $400 surfboard into about 7 pieces.
These guys in Laguna got it going on. By 2 PM the water is packed with people, and so is the water's edge. And everyone is riding waves, in some form or another. And there isn't a traditional surfboard to be seen anywhere.
That's it. I don't really have a clever way to tie this all into something more meaningful. Laguna Beach is just this trippy, beautiful, cool little town that clearly has its own thing going on. In contrast to Hardcore Huntington, or any other surf town with a polarized view of riding waves, it was especially cool to see.
So if any of you feel like retrieving that old skimboard that's been decaying behind your work shed for 10 years, give me a shout. We'll head down to Laguna, grab a lobster burrito at Taco Loco, and go play in the ocean.
Leave your surfboard at home.