Thursday, July 15, 2004

A Stroll Down Memory Trail

Today was just one of those rare days when HB felt like paradise.
The sun is out, it's hot (prolly 80+ degrees), the water is warming up (67 or so), the winds stayed light through the early afternoon, and we had a fun, peaky south swell rolling in.
Grabbed the 6'6" Chuck Dent for the first time in a few weeks and paddled out around noon. Crowded, of course, but with peaks popping up pretty much up and down the beach. The sets were shoulder high and super fun but really inconsistent, however the little insiders were so peaky it didn't even matter. I actually burned my feet a bit walking across the sand and that hardly ever happens here thanks to the wind.
Right now I'm sitting here at my desk enjoying that salty, just-surfed-in-your-trunks feeling. The bottom of my feet are a bit sore...reminds me a bit of all those summer days walking down to Black's in SD.
I remember once one of my buddies walked down the road to Black's and burned his feet so bad that some guy ended up CARRYING HIM ON HIS BACK all the way back up. Think about that for a minute. I mean, this guy ain't exactly Jim Hogan...he's 5'10" and probably 175. Apparently he tried laying his t-shirt down on the ground and sort of standing/hopping up the hill. I'm guessing that would have taken him about 4+ hours and fucked his feet even worse than they already were (big, fat, oozing blisters...ugh!). So some guys sees him and is just like, "Dude, get on my back" and just Vietnam style carries him up through the rice paddies to the chopper. 
A word to the wise (and to unintentionally continue this 'Nam metaphor) - when it's hot and sunny and you ain't got any shoes, take the Ho Chi Mihn Trail. It's sketchy and precarious and you might get a bee sting or ding your board, but it's much kinder on your feet than the road which, even when it's cool outside, is still tough on anything but Hobbit feet.
Since I'm on the Black's trail topic, here are my Top 5 most interesting trail moments at Black's Beach (a 30-45 minutes roundtrip process, regardless of which trail you take, unless of course you're one of those spoiled fuckers with a key).
Anyhow, here we go...
5. This was probably mid-1995 and I had my huge retro 70's Rob Machado afro sprouting out of my head (we were the only two surfers in SD County at the time sporting the real deal...oh yeah, except for my buddy Rich, he had one too). So I'm walking down the Ho Chi Mihn and we get to that scrub bushy part right before the crazy trenches in the sand stone, and there are tons of these super-sized bumblebees flying around. Anyhow, of course, one of the bees lands on my head, which had actually happened to me before, but with no problems. This time, however, it gets trapped in the fro. I panic and start trying to fish it out and only end up smooshing it into my scalp. It stings me and by the time I get tot the water I've got a golf ball sized bump on my noggin.
4. This was in the late 90's, probably the point in my life when I was doing the least amount of surfing. I was living in Norcal, being a dot-com workaholic,  and was visiting my in-laws in Newport. So I take my shitty, yellowed 1994 Sharp Eye which I kept in my mother-in-law's garage, and drove my rental car down to SD to surf Black's with my buddy (same guy who burned his feet). Anyhow, I also had this shitty Victory comp wetsuit that was falling apart..including the key pocket inside. So, of course, being a dumb ass, I put the rental car key in the key pocket. I'm one of those guys who also likes to shed the top half of his suit before I even get out of the water, so I pull the top down, rinse off in the shorebreak and, of course, look and see that the key has fallen out. FUCK. Bottom line is that my buddy, being the giant whipped pussy he is, decides he can't be late for his family BBQ and he fucking LEAVES me at the pay phone at the top of the hill, trying to call a locksmith, as well as the rental car company. I spend 3 HOURS in my shitty wetsuit with my shitty, yellowed Sharp Eye, waiting for a locksmith to break into my car and mold me a new key. This is especially relevent to Black's if you've ever tried to give someone directions to the trail head...especially someone from Chula Vista.
3. Really early 90's and I was going to SDSU and living in South Mission. My newly divorced Dad had come to visit with some of his bachelor buddies for a middle-aged boyz trip to SD. I thought it would be fun to take them to Black's for some body whomping, as well as for the thrill of hiking down the Ho Chi Mihn. So as we're piling out of the car, it occurs to me that we look pretty fruity - a young guy with three older gentlemen wearing Teva sandals and elastic waistband trunks. And, as luck would have it, two hardcore Mission Beach types drive by in their raised black truck and scream, "PIRATES!!!" Luckily my Dad and his buddies had no idea what that meant and laughed and started talking like pirates - "Arr, matey." I, on the other hand, was horrified and pretty much wanted to keep my distance for the rest of the day, lest anyone else think I was part of a marauding band of fruity butt pirates.
2. One of those classic summer afternoons. A bunch of us were living by SDSU, taking summer school, and we all piled in my Volkswagon bus after morning classes and rolled down for an afternoon paddle. Anyhow, on the way back up my bro, Josh - who, just for the record, is still totally insane and completely aggro - sees a small rattlesnake relaxing in the iceplant. Being, well, Josh, he picks it up with the tip of his surfboard and starts poking it at people. We scatter up the sides of the trail and, as he's trying to poke someone on higher ground, the snake starts to slide down the deck of his board. He yelps, drops his board, and both the stick and the snake go tumbling down the hill. Jackass...before there was Jackass.
1. Okay, this last one doesn't involve the trail, but more of a whole session at Black's. In my mind it's just one of those indelible surfing memories from my college days. It was probably April, and a really warm spell had just arrived out of the blue. It was hot and sunny and the water was probably 72 degrees. A whole crew of us from SDSU decided to get in a late afternoon session. About 7 or 8 guys piled into my bus with shortboards, longboards, the whole deal. Few other cars, too. Must have been 12 of us who paddled out, all just hooting and heckling and just stoked to not be on the sweltering hot SDSU campus. And as obnoxious as we all were, this one guy, Scott (I don't use last names, but if you're a local Mission or PB guy, trust me, you know him...he's one of a kind) was just out of control. He's a big guy, and had these big sideburns, and he's wearing these jean shorts and riding this big ol' log. And on every wave he's standing straight up, raising his fist up in the air, Hitler youth style, and screaming at the top of his lungs, "SCHNELL!!!" Look, I'm part Jewish, and I know...that's NOT funny. But, dude, seriously...if you had been there, you'd havebeen laughing as hard as we were. Every damn wave, standing straight up, hand in the air, screaming, "Schnell! SCHNEEEEELLLLLL!!!!!!"
As if you couldn't tell, I love summer. My summers in SD were fantastic. And on days like today, HB feels almost as good. Can't wait to get back in the water tomorrow...maybe even an evening session tonight.
The Colonel says, "Schnell" and "Watch out for snakes and bumblebees".
At ease.