Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fridge For Sale...Slight Kelp Problem

Love it or hate it, Huntington Beach has very dirty beaches. Not only is it almost always covered in trash, but the water is filled with trash, too.

I don't know where it ranks on the pollution scale (which has nothing to do with trash and everything to do with dangerous bacteria, which apparently are totally unrelated), but if there was a beach ranking that calculated primarily empty Doritos bags, we'd be off the charts.

Today was actually a beautiful day. Crystal clear, warm, light winds, fun sized waves, deep blue water color, and more trash than I've ever seen. My favorite is when the trash gets tangled up with the kelp and you get these sort of semi-organic Homer Simpson outsider art installations floating in the lineup.

Anyhow, while I was sloshing about in Orange County's very own offshore landfill, I remembered the grandaddy of all floating Doritos bags which washed ashore about a year ago in the shape of a full sized refrigerator. Not kidding.

It was mid-afternoon, pretty warm, sloppy windswell, not many guys out...and suddenly I notice what looks like a capsized boat floating outside. I paddle up to it. Nope. Fridge. Floating. In the lineup.

Over the next few minutes the fridge slowly but surely made its way into the impact zone where it suddenly became the biggest rock in HB history, waves bouncing off like mortar rounds. And the scariest part is that it was 80% submerged, iceberg style, and there were these creepy looking pipes poking up out of the water (I'm not sure what they're called, but take a look at the back of your fridge and you'll see what I'm talking about).

Luckily (or unluckily, depending on your viewpoint) no boogie boarders got mowed over or crushed by this mammoth-sized Kenmoore flotsam during its brief trip through the inside, and the next thing I knew there was a crowd at the water's edge. The fridge had finally beached itself and people were looking at it like Free Willy had just bodysurfed into HB for a quick tattoo.

The lifeguards showed up and roped it off, which I thought was hilarious because the time to do something was when it was plowing through the impact zone looking for sun-blinded boogie boarders to plant in the sandbar.

Nice work guys, you didn't see the fucking FRIDGE in the water for the past HALF HOUR?

Later an entire gurney washed up with a patient still in it, frantically pushing the nurse and morphine buttons and wondering how the hell he'd managed to wet himself so badly and why the hot chicks on Baywatch had suddenly been replaced with fat Riverside girls eating Doritos.

Actually no. But after the fridge incident I went home, so who am I to say it didn't happen?

The Colonel says, "At ease."

Friday, April 13, 2007

HB Memories - Part I

My route.

Talk about a creature of habit. For 4 years now I've taken the same route to the beach on my bike. And it wasn't randomly chosen either.

When we first moved here we noticed a couple of things.

1. The sidewalks are erratic, to say the least. When the houses started popping up in our neighborhood over a hundred years ago, there were no sidewalks at all. Think Carmel-By-The-Sea. But over the past 30 years or so, people have been tearing down houses, rebuilding, and adding sidewalks to the front of their homes. So now, we have this Winchester Mystery House of sidewalks that dead end, and even sometimes appear for 3 feet in between two lawns.

2. Some blocks are pretty, some are hideous. Most beach towns are weird that way, but "Old Town" Huntington is particularly bi-polar. You have brand new stucco mini-beach mansions sitting next to dilapidated 80 year-old bungalows sitting next to elegant plantation style homes sitting next to $300 a month 4-to-a-bedroom crack houses. Some blocks have more of one, some have more of another.

So after about a month of living here and taking our newborn on walks to the beach, we finally figured out a route that 1. had the most sidewalks and 2. was the nicest to look at.

Which means that for 4 years now the Colonel has exited his garage on his bike, turned right on Joliet, crossed Delaware like Frogger with a surfboard, turned left on Huntington, turned right on Franklin, smiled at the dirtbags buying Bud talls at Steve's Liquors at 11 AM, smiled at the firemen washing their trucks, smiled at the slightly more affluent dirtbags smoking upstairs on the patio of the Shorehouse, waited at the light on the corner of Main St. while people eating outside made comments to each other like, "Ooh, honey, look! He's got a rack on his bike for his surfboard" and "Now THAT'S the life," wrapped to the left on 6th St., smiled at the bocci ball players on the grass, summed up the wind conditions coming down 6th with the first glimpse of the ocean, weaved my way through a deadly cannonball run of people trying to find parking, smiled at the dirtbags at Java Beach (home of the worst coffee in America as well as the worst collection of used surfboards I've ever seen), waited at the corner of PCH, witnessing near crashes and pure unmitigated beach traffic confusion, coasted down the hill into the 6th St. parking lot, dodging people, dogs, kids on skateboards, and very very confused Dads driving massive Suburbans and trying to figure out whether to turn right or left, turned right onto the boardwalk amidst rollerbladers, bums, and retards squeezed into Lance Armstrong outfits trying to look less fat on $5,000 road bikes made for skinny people, and then FINALLY, skidded to a halt in front of my favorite bike racks, two rusted-to-shit poles, bent and drilled into the ground for God-knows-what original purpose.

And then, after all that, I'd go surfing. Which is a whole other story.

The Colonel says, "At ease."

Monday, April 09, 2007

Adios HB

After 4 years in Huntington Beach, the Colonel is being restationed.

San Clemente. And yes, go ahead and heckle. Talega.

For those of you that know, just skip ahead to the "comments" section and do your worst. For those of you that don't, Talega is a planned community that covers pretty much all of southeast San Clemente. It's a MASSIVE development. Thousands of homes spread over 3,500 acres and subdivided into about 30 different neighborhoods.

And, yes, it's full on Wisteria Lane, or Agrestic, or Stepford, or any other suburban parody you care to throw out there. Essentially middle class "luxury" homes filled with 30-something parents, SUVs, and toddlers named Connor and Madison (maybe a few more tramp stamps and Rainbow sandals than you'd find in a similar neighborhood in Ohio, but I'm not kidding's the same deal).

So are we looking at a whole new era in the blogtastic world of Charlie Don't Surf? Could be. We'll just have to see.

So, goodbye 6th St. Goodbye pier. Goodbye 345 days of rideable surf. Goodbye Christian Republican surfer skinhead tattoo artists. Goodbye 3 AM noise complaint hotline on speed dial. Goodbye Normitas, the slowest Mexican takeout on the planet (but also one of the best). Goodbye Duke's. Goodbye US Open. Goodbye fucking paintball tournament on the beach. Goodbye rusty, sandy Electra cruiser bike covered in melted surf wax. Goodbye HSS. Goodbye Jack's. Goodbye 8 miles of dirty, trash-covered beaches. Goodbye offshore oil drilling.

Hello Trestles. Hello Pedro's Tacos. Hello Rip Curl. Hello T-Street. Hello clean beaches. Hello blue water. Hello San-O with my log and my kids. Hello parking passes. And most importantly, hello suburban cul-de-sac packed to the rafters with kids and bikes and dogs.

And let's not forget to say hello to HB nostalgia. For as much as this town drives me insane, The Colonel has some pretty great memories from the past 4 years. The surfing alone was more than worth the price of admission.

So stay tuned for memory lane. And after that, stay tuned for tales from a new town.

The Colonel says, "Ah, HB. Those were the days."