It's about life - not "lifestyle"
Some of you may have noticed that recent updates to have been a little light on surfing content. For a website with "surf" right in the title name that may seem odd, but then again with us it's about life - not lifestyle.

In life, like any other journey, sometimes things get in the way of what you'd rather be doing, and then sometimes you just don't
feel like doing something. Add to the surfing mix the absolute fact that it is totally weather and wave dependent and you get a lot of involuntary down time. Stir in the notion that other factors dramatically influence the experience - crowds of people and massive microbiological/fecal invasions of the ocean following any rain for instance - and the field of dreams may lie fallow.

So on the first Sunday of December 2001 we took the dog down to the beach for a little pre-rain walk. The tide was high and in the 6 foot range so any wave action was slapping into seawalls or the rocks which line the coastal road here, sometimes splashing spray a few feet in the air and giving the dog something to freak a bit about. The sun was peeking in and out, illuminating the glassy grey ocean and highlighting the brilliant sprays of white water in the light offshores.

Surfers were congregated, as surfers will, at one spot, which was barely breaking at first. As the tide rapidly dropped fairly consistent 3 footers developed. We walked to the south into a camping only area which features sand bottom beach break. The surf came up, still inconsistant, but rising as the tide continued to drop. There were no surfers where there is no parking, so the ocean on this stretch was completely devoid of people.

What we did have out there were pelicans, and they put on a show which was only rivaled for me this year by dolphins last October. During the lulls the ocean was almost flat, and during the sets the surf got big enough for 150 yard closeouts. In between were nice waves. Perhaps as the storm front pushed forward, a dozen or more brown pelicans started air surfing their way south, riding the wave of air pushed up by the waves of water. My wife hadn't seen this before, and it had been years for me. You won't see this often when people are in the water.

Decades ago, surfed out and sitting on the beach or rocks and watching the windblown afternoon waves go fairly unmolested, you could watch a similar show at point breaks. The act hasn't changed any for the pelicans, and there are by all accounts more pelicans now than in their endangered period of the late 60's and early 70's.

The skimmed along, sometimes so close to the water that we could see their reflections in the wave face, arcing turns to keep with the most powerful lines of the airwave. My wife asked why, and I told her it was to cruise, to catch the "free ride", to get the most distance with the least effort. As a wave either slopped out on shore or broke or closed out, the birds simply lifted up, turned back to sea, and flapped their wings just enough to nail another line and continue on. Even the dog watched it, probably wondering how those "dogs" could do that.

It was probably the best surfing I've seen in months. It wasn't in the fouled water, either. I don't know if there are lessons from that, and maybe lessons aren't needed. There were no manufacturer logos visible, which probably constitutes some kind of lifestyle violation legally actionable in Orange County, but then we weren't in Orange County. The pelicans carried on oblivious to man...which may be the lesson now that I think about it.

Copyright (C) 2001. All rights reserved.