Monday, August 29, 2005

Back in Session

As I've said before, I used to dread Fall.

That first yellow leaf. The warm air with that slight crisp edge to it. The "Back to School" ads. I fucking hated it - all of it. The very thought of my summer ending and having to drag myself to school for another 9 months was torturous.

But things have changed. I haven't stepped into a classroom in 9 years. And as the school nightmares fade away a bit more every year, I begin to love Fall more and more with each passing summer.

This year, my excitement reached an all-time fervor. Thanks, in large part, to 3+ months of jellyfish, onshore wind, gray skies, tea-colored red tides, tourists, kids, and more flat spells than anyone can remember.

But today was the day. Today was the day we're putting all that behind us. Today, regardless of what the calendar says - or what the handful of grommets who have yet to start school say - today, is the first day of Fall.

Today the sun came up without a cloud in the sky. The air was warm and still. The water was, um...less brown. There were no jellyfish anywhere. The tourists were back on the job site in Riverside. The kids were back in school. And there was a solid swell to kick things off, in the form of crossed-up, head-high peaks.

I surfed for 2 solid hours. I paddled out a sluggish blob on a shortboard and paddled in a finely tuned athlete on a shredstick.

It was re-birth. It was baptismal. It was the end of the longest summer in history and the beginning of Fall. Glorious, wonderful, sweet heavenly Fall.

The Colonel says, "Halle-fucking-luja."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

And Surfline Sez...

Well, guess I'm not the only one exasperated by the horrendous conditions this summer.

The front page of Surfline.com today has a picture of a guy standing in chest deep water - brick reddish nasty tea colored - wearing a fullsuit, holding his board up in the air, and basically just looking at the camera, as whitecaps blow around him, his expression saying, "What the FUCK???"

The headline was, "Why Has This Summer Been So Bad In Socal?", and the accompanying article is pretty good:

http://www.surfline.com/community/whoknows/08_08_redtide.cfm

It tries to explain the red tides, the jellyfish, the lack of waves, the wind, the freezing cold water, and everything else that has made this summer suck. A few questions remained unanswered, but it's a worthwhile read anyway.

Anyhow, it sounds like we're all in the same boat.

The Colonel says, "Sinus infections blow."

Monday, August 08, 2005

Summertime Blues

Is it time to throw in the towel? Call it a Summer and start waiting for Fall?

From a surfing perspective, that's kind of where I'm at right now. I mean, this has gotten pretty silly don't you think?

Months of wind and gray skies followed by weeks of red tide, cold water, and now this jellyfish situation...and they won't go away. All this on top of no waves.

Worst summer ever?

I'm not fully ready to eject yet, but my finger's on the button for sure.

And since we're on the topic, does anyone know anything concrete about red tides and allergies? The first major red tide we had about 2-3 months ago, which lasted weeks and weeks, didn't keep me out of the water. I'd read that, aside from HABs (Harmful Algae Blooms), which can cause a food poisoning of sorts when swallowed, red tides were harmless.

But not long after a few surfs in that nasty shit, I started wheezing and coughing. Like anything else, it cleared up. And after another week of horfing up nasty loogs, I felt better. And I didn't think anything of it - figured it was a coincidence.

So a week or two ago we get this second round of red tides along with some ice cold water (all the way down to 59 degrees). Figuring the cold water, if nothing else, would get rid of the jellyfish, I surfed. Big whoop.

But then, a few days later, I'm wheezing and coughing and have a sore throat again. Pretty amazing coincidence.

So I start poking around on the Web, which tends to be a terrible thing to do, especially with health matters, because suddenly the possible cause of every symptom known to man is scrolling across your screen and you become instantly paranoid that you and everyone you know is dying of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and some kind of rare African anteater disease that ultimately causes blindness, deafness, muteness, and puts you in a mechanized wheelchair where life can roll on in your own private hell.

But anyhow, I start coming across all these message boards where people are claiming that red tides are causing these allergic type reactions, most commonly with symptoms identical to mine - coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, sore throat, lung butter, etc.

So now there's either some kind of complete unawareness as to the potential harm of red tides, or we're all just a bunch of paranoid conspiracy freaks, with no medical evidence to back us up, convinced that our silicone breast implants are slowly killing us.

Any input on this would be greatly appreciated.

Now what else is going on?

The US Open, as part of the Bank of the West games, clogged the beaches in HB for yet another 9 days. The waves were so shitty that the chick who won the women's event beat a chick who DID NOT CATCH A SINGLE WAVE during the final.

Andy Irons and Rob Machado probably caught 6 waves between them during the men's final, and of those, probably 1 or 2 were even a carve above the average Brad Gerlach sidewinder lip bash during the 1986 Stubbies Pro, held in 6-inch Oceanside.

But, as always, wherever the announcers were, it was 6 foot glassy and perfect.

"OKAYYYY...we've got an EPIC FINAL for you guys...it's the WORLD CHAMP, ANDY I-RONS, taking on ROB MA-CHADOOOO. There's a SLIGHT BUMP on the water out there, but it's definitely NOT blown out, so expect an EPIC SHOWDOWN. So let's HEAR SOME NOIZE out there! OOOHHHH YEAAAHHHH!"

(You can read that in either Duff-Man's voice or in the voice of that giant talking pitcher of Kool-Aid who used to smash through walls in order to hydrate shaggy haired little leaguers back when I was a kid.)

Bottom line was that, without Machado's last second attempt to win the thing with a 7.3 wave with less than 10 seconds to go (he need a 7.7), it had to be one of the lamest contests ever.

I'll tell you what would have been cool...

"OKAAAYYY...we've got a PADDLE BATTLE out there. The WORLD CHAMP and ROB MACHA-DOOOO are both paddling for the priority bouy. They both duck dive through a small set and...WHAT'S THIS??? Andy Irons, THE WORLD CHAMP, has a GIANT JELLYFISH STUCK TO HIS FACE. OH MY GOD, folks, the champ is IN TROUBLE! UH-OH, and our boy from Cardiff has a jellyfish STUCK IN HIS AFRO!!!. This isn't good folks. Can we get the water patrol out there right now??? The water patrol is on their way. Look at that folks...Rush Randle, head of the US Open Water Patrol, has pulled the jellyfish off Andy Irons' face and is now...OH MY! He's now PEEING ON THE CHAMP'S FACE! In all my year's of pointless surf contest announcing, I've NEVER seen ANYTHING LIKE THIS! Better paddle hard, ROB MACHADO, because you and the 'fro are NEXT! Hope you've got some good shampoo at home!"

The Colonel says, "Pray for Fall."