Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Epic Return Part I.

The Weekend:

We spent our last weekend in Los Angeles, not in Los Angeles. We instead went south to San Clemente to surf and have some fun with some damn fine people we have grown to love, The Nash Family.

It was bitter sweet. It really sucks knowing you are departing and yet spending time in the company of folks you know you really are going to miss. The move to Los Angeles was made worth while alone based on getting to know people like Pete, Liz and Jack. I'm pretty sure there is some horribly malformed karbunkle on Lemmy Kilmister's ass from which Pete, Adam and I were all cleaved at one time. We share so many things and in some odd twist of fate, found each other and formed what I would consider a lasting and fiery bromantic triangle.

I'll regret that last sentence, I am sure.

The weekend was fun. The surf was better on Saturday than on Sunday or at least that's how I saw it. Frustration took its toll on me come Sunday. My dead arms and shoulders, atrophied from long hours animating and basting in my own juices, just wouldn't power me through the chop and allow me to catch the waves I wanted. I wanted to quit and toss my board into the surf by the time we left but I knew this was the learning curve.

Pete confirmed it. Most people don't make it past this point. I get why. Getting your ass handed to you and feeling like you've been beaten with a stick is no fun. I was really hoping to go out on a high note and instead got a low one.

"Mistah, I pack your things reeeeal nice."

Monday: The Move

The movers arrived at 9:15 am. I was driving back with Eireland asleep in the backseat after dropping Miete off at Liz and Pete's so she could play with Jack and stay out of the way. I toured around Westwood a little for the last time before coming back so she could get a decent knap.

The movers were two very quite Mexican dudes. One had a long pony tail and a fu-man-chu. He was in charge. The driver to be sure. The other, lankier and lackier was doing the heavy lifting for the time being. The driver looked like a young Danny Trejo. He would quite possibly shank me if I pissed him off. I decided to sit back and stay out of the way.

Hours went by. They wrapped each piece of unboxed furniture and goods methodically in 5 layers of heavy gauge moving paper. Shit was taking for ever. I have never in my life seen a couch wrapped like a present. You name it, it was wrapped like a steak at the butchers. I'll give it to them, they were thorough. They were so thorough in fact that the driver took three shits in our bathroom in the process of packing. I pretty much lost my mind by 3pm when they had left.

Nevertheless, I gave them a $30 tip to make sure my stuff wasn't hawked in North Venice later that afternoon.

The Drive North

Day 1: Los Angeles - Santa Barbara

We took off and headed through Malibu and wanted to make Santa Barbara two hours away to stay for the night. Midway through Malibu Lisa remarked to me that Los Angelinos sure like their personalized license plates. She pointed out the plate on the Camry in front of us which I had not noticed. I broke into laughter at what appeared to be a gross oversight on the owner. The female driver had her first initial and last name embossed on her plate. A real mark of pride for her I am sure. She must have never heard the murmurs or jokes around the water cooler regarding the combination of her first initial and last name.

S Hart.

Always too late, SHart carries a change of clothes in the trunk.

The ironic thing about this horrible choice in names and vanity plates is that it made me laugh so hard I nearly shit myself. I told Lisa to take a picture but she had a hard time focusing on the moving target so the plate is a little unclear but rest assured, Sally Hart was driving her Camry beside us down the PCH that day and probably had stained her whites with a brown bingo dabber.

Entering Santa Barbara it becomes immediately apparent why everyone from Los Angeles comes here to get married. It’s pretty and quaint and most of all, clean. I had never really noticed how dirty Los Angeles was until I left it. I guess it’s a matter of desensitization to filth. The garbage and detritus strewn about the street and sidewalk, the constant cacophony of traffic, the brown layer of haze that sits five hundred or so feet above the ground on days without wind become white noise against the busyness of the lifestyle.

I’ve been running at a sprint pace for seven or more months now and the stroll which Santa Barbara meanders along is a welcome change and marks the end of the Los Angeles experience with double bold and underlined punctuation. So be it. I have no mixed emotions on this matter. My sole emotion is exhaustion.

It's no wonder then why I put up no fight when Lisa strays from the advice that Liz and Pete gave us to stay at the humble but clean Motel 6 and instead opts for the place across the street because she prefers the appearance. The Cabrillo Inn does look moderately nicer than the Motel 6 so I put up little resistance and check us in. The rate is decent so I'm not too worried. We will only be here overnight in any case.
As we enter the room it's like we stepped back in time to the mid-seventies. Tacky as all getout. What's more is there's no air conditioning and the room is hotter than hell. We open all the windows and leave the door ajar and turn on a massive floor fan they have left in the suite for cooling purposes. The room is brutal. The bed is like lying on broken springs. After a harrowing day of running about and being generally stressed this is not the relaxing stay I was hoping for.

We leave the "comfort" of our room and head into town to grab some food. Lisa suggests fish and chips and I look up the restaurant directory and as it turns out, there's a Brit run chippy with great reviews. I'm stoked. We arrive at Mac's Fish and Chips and order and we are not disappointed. This is the best fish I have eaten since arriving in Los Angeles. Delicious. Good chips too. I highly recommend this place should you ever find yourself in Santa Barbara.

We get back to the Cabrillo (s)Inn and crash out in the hot sticky room. Lisa and Miete go for a quick dip in the heated pool and come back shivering twenty minutes later. I have a brutal sleep and awake grumpier than a bear with a sore ass.

 A/C or not, this kid doesn't care.

Day 2: Santa Barbara - Carmel

We head back into town and hit Joe's Cafe for breakfast. I get a really decent Huevos Rancheros but the other meals are mediocre. It's like they knew I really needed that meal. We're packed up and we head out shooting for Carmel if we can make it.

We hit Morro Bay by lunch and Miete has been melting down in the car for the last hour. Both Lisa and I are ready to leave her on the side of the road. We pull in to the small fishing town and I take Eireland for a walk around the small single strip which runs the length of the sheltered inlet. We look for a restaurant and find something that looks decent enough and decide we'll hit the fish and chips again since we've been so deprived for the last seven months. Lisa, in the meantime calms Miete down and meets me outside the restaurant. We hope we can get through the meal without another melt down.

We barely get through the meal. Miete is restless and wants to get up and leave so Lisa takes her into a neighboring shop which sells little porcelain keepsakes. They select one to bring home and break another so two are purchased. Miete comes back and sits through our meal as there are some sea otters playing in the ocean outside the window of where we are seated. They're super playful and almost pose for photos as kayakers pass.

Pete had told me that Morro Bay apparently has a good wave but that he had never checked it out himself. I go to the tourist office and do a quick read on a pamphlet and it says the large rock which towers out of the ocean and lies in front of their power plant has a decent surf spot to its right. I elect to check it out and we drive to the area and lying there is some pretty nice looking waves.

Don't let the weather fool you. It was warm and so was the water.

One of the best things about Morro Bay is that you park your car and can walk past the break and put your board in the water and paddle a mere forty feet and catch waves. There's several areas of break and it looks like the main area is down the way but I elect for the easy and less crowded area right around the parking lot. I am not disappointed. 2-3 footers are rolling in with the odd 4 footer.

I share the break with one other guy. The perfect three wave sets of easily managed 3 footers keep rolling in. The waves are benign and boost my confidence so I am going for almost anyone that rolls in provided my sole competitor isn't trying for them first. I catch a small ride which is short lived but enjoyable and paddle back out. After the disappointing trip to San Onofre I am really hoping to exorcise the demons of uncaught waves. I see a really nice 3.5 footer forming up and paddle for it. I catch it and stand up and ride it to the beach pumping my fist as I drop off my board and into the water at the end. Consider the demons gone.

After another half hour or so the kids are wanting to get back in the car and Lisa is itching to get going so I change and pack up the board and we hit the road.

We drive through Big Sur. It's apparently scenic and beautiful but we wouldn't know it. Mist and fog obscure all but the road directly in front of us as we press on slower than usual. The cliffside drops away sharply into the murk below. I'm sure that more than a few lives have been lost to a lapse in concentration.

As we get closer towards Carmel we have some snacks while driving and decide we will make the last push although everyone is tired and wanted to get out of the car. We are all glad we did when we finally hit Carmel because it is so beautiful and quaint. After a quick look around we rent a three bedroom cottage minutes from the beach. It's so nice we both decide that we could stay in it permanently.

 Our quaint living room.

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