It's about life - not 'lifestyle"
TUESDAY, JULY 31, 2002
HURRICANE SWELL MADNESS
HEROES OF THE WEDGE
|Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink. Or a place to to take a whizz. I couldn't even find a place to park close enough to a store to get a 9v battery for the digital camera, so there aren't any photos this time around.
Hurricane Swell Madness is what I'm calling it. Douglas and Elida, July 2002, Southern California...I'm told they comprised the best hurricane experience since the summer of 1997. I wasn't around for that summer, but I remember others long ago, so when things started popping and my temp job finished, I thought I'd take a drive down Memory Lane.
What I hadn't expected was that while I can drive down Memory Lane, in the summer of 2002 finding a place to park and get out of the car is unlikely in many area codes. In the end I wound up somewhere up Beach Boulevard in Huntington, drinking an ice tea of all things, mostly just glad to have used the restroom at the fast food joint.
To be honest, I never saw anybody catch a wave in Newport, much less catch one myself. Do you have to own or rent a house to park in that place?
People who bodysurf The Wedge, or Wedge as they seem to call it these days, are a special breed. Of this there can be no doubt. The place is a nasty wave in my mind. I was reared in prime point wave territory, so that obviously colors my thinking, but the Wedge is nothing more than a nasty shorepound - a twisted, beautiful, huge one. All you have to do is see a few photos of the place when it's firing and you can understand why people dedicate their lives to riding and watching the place. Injuries pile up during the years, and living in an expensive part of Orange County can pile on the hurt and worry.
But dedication in the water is one thing. Before this week I thought it was the only thing, but I've had a life-altering experience. I can't imagine trying to live in a place where every time you get in your car you never know where you will be able to park it again. I spent almost two hours trying to dump my car - a small one, compared to the monster SUV's I crawled around traffic behind. It's like a reverse-image remote mountain cabin or desert rat shack. If I ever moved to Newport I'd do two things: rent a helicopter for an aireal tour to find out where the grocery stores and drug stores and whatnot are located, and then buy the cheapest bicycle and nicest bicycle basket I could find. Maybe I'd get a battery charger, too, because when summer comes I'd leave the car parked as long as I legally could.
The people who ride the Wedge are true heroes. Go look up some websites with photos (wedge.org; randomfilm.com, etc.) and enjoy the show, but know that at the Wedge, huge, scary, monsterous waves though they may be, riding them is only half the battle. Finding a parking place is storming the beach in D-Day epic proportions.
(I said "Large" huh huh)
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