Peter Heller : Journal

Adventures in Words and Landscapes

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Old Man’s

August 5th, 2010 · 207 Comments · Uncategorized

Huntington Beach, up at 4 am, excited to drive down past San Clemente to San Onofre State Beach, and the break lovingly called Old Man’s.  Carl Hampe and I decide to meet and have a day.  He’s a smart, adventurous producer who loves a good story, worked on Slumdog Millionaire and likes to kayak difficult whitewater, and surf.  Sunday, gonna be crowded, they only let 250 cars in at a time, better be in line by 6am.  We are.  I can see Carl’s old bio-diesel twenty cars ahead on the switchback above.  The guy behind me in a big old truck drinks his coffee, smokes a vanilla cheroot, and invites me to paddle down to “Dogpatch” to surf with his buddies.  He’s an old hippy/cowboy, a rare mix, and we chat quietly while the sun rises.  When all the cars start up to enter the park, he gives me a hug.  Surfers always frigging surprise me, the random glimmers of aloha spirit.

Surfer’s have been winding down off the bluff to ride this generous wave for fifty years.  Carl and I surf the big slow waves until my biceps cramp.  Hours.  Catch some long rides.  Take off together on waves and split the peak, he one way and I the other.  I love my new, used Takayama 9-0.  Between sets, we sit the boards, rising and falling, and share kayaking and surfing stories, stories about making stories.  He is funny, unguarded, a blast.

Finally we crawl out of the water, shower in the bamboo grove spigot, drive to breakfast at the firehouse-red café in Dana Point, then go out to Doheny’s in Dana Point for another session.  The place looks, smells, sounds like a dream of So Cal summer, yells of kids, beach volleyball, grills smoking, bicycle bells jingling, gulls.  Must be 60 surfers out there.  Somehow we paddle out and find an opening.  Catch one shapely little wave after another.  Carry our boards back to the cars on the hot paved path.  Body humming with fatigue and a pervasive, muscular good will.

I love surfing.


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