Tag Archives: surfing

Surf Dad

Grebes are a type of bird – oddly proportioned, graceless on land, they live most of their lives at sea, like sailors.  They hunt by diving into the water, flying through the depths, soaring between the currents.  Their legs are placed far back on their bodies, to propel these aquatic hunts, but making walking difficult. And in flight they should be embarrassed.

Boyfriend and I see them quite often.  Unafraid of every wave’s swell, often diving into them, which is more than I’m willing to do.  The types we see are typically sized – small to medium – arching their necks as if they were for all the world sea-bound swans.  These necks are black and white.  Their bills are yellow.  Their eyes are red.  We are always glad to see them.

A couple of weekends ago, I was standing on a rock, monitoring Boyfriend’s surfing exploits with our camera.  It can get dull between rides, so my attention will stray.  I had seen an adult pair of grebes earlier, red-eyed and companionable.


Now, I saw what I thought was a wayward scud of foam to my distant right.  But as I watched, it seemed to disengage itself and start swimming against the tide.  To my delight I realized that it was a ‘raft’  (a group of grebes) of young grebes, possibly thirteen in all.  They were just about grown out of their down, but the adult coloration had not established itself yet.  They swam in a ragged line, diving into the waves, bobbing over them, coming dangerously close to the rocks.  I feared for their little lives.  The world needs more sea birds.

These little ones were being weaned from their parents – possibly the two I had seen earlier, free at last.  But these tiny youths might still have needed a parental figure, and were willing to accept any port in a storm.



You Shouldn’t Laugh At Others’ Misfortunes…

…but sometimes it’s just FUN:

(Apologies to Boyfriend)

The Seven Seals

"And behold, and lo," it was said.  And thence came a creature empowered with seven horns, seven eyes and seven Spirits.

And there were seven seals.

The first seal…

was Conquest:

Boyfriend had an excellent day of surfing at Asilomar Beach.  I couldn't tell:  there were dozens of black wet-suited figures in the water.  But all I could tell was that it was early, I was hungry and I wanted to go to the Monterey Aquarium.

The second seal…

was War:

I chased Boyfriend down on the bumper car rides at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz.  Always hug the curb, friends, and then attack from the inside.

The third seal…

was Famine:

I was so hungry on Saturday.  Fortunately there is a place on the Santa Cruz wharf that serves a dish that is built thusly:  a slice of sourdough bread is covered with a mix of crabmeat, shrimp and mushrooms in a cream sauce and then topped with Monterey jack cheese. 

The fourth seal…

was Death:

Something, that is, that I wished on Boyfriend and something I believe I narrowly escaped after he insisted I ride the Hurricane rollercoaster on the boardwalk.  And yes, the website is correct:  I did not notice the beautiful ocean views.

The fifth seal…

was a Vision of Martyrs:

On Halloween, Boyfriend and I saw the original 'Night of the Living Dead' on TV.  I'm not sure – is the story here a little martyr-like?  This was my first zombie film, so there were many things that confused me.

The sixth seal…

was Earthquake:

There was a 3.7 magnitude earthquake on the Sunday that we left for home.  The earthquake was in Central California.  We were in Central California.  I don't think I need to explain further.

The seventh seal was the Trumpets of Angels and the end of the world:

On Sunday we went to the Monarch Butterfly Habitat.  The butterflies fluttered like gilded angels.  The migrations forced upon them are tremendous, and many do not survive.

Boyfriend and I have made this trip every year that we've been together:  a considerable time.  We stay in Pacific Grove, visit Monterey, spend the day in Santa Cruz.

We haven't encountered anything yet to make us change our plans.



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Coasting Along The Coast

Aubrey has just recently returned from a long weekend spent with Boyfriend visiting Northern California's charming trifecta, its most – in my opinion – compelling acres:  Pacific Grove/Monterey/Santa Cruz.

We stayed at the Lover's Point Inn, in Pacific Grove, a mere crosswalk from the ocean.

Run across the street and you're there, taking in the clear water washing up in translucent blues and greens; hearing the blubberized harbor seals bark; watching them maneuver in sloppy fashion for a rocky seat that isn't occupado; observing various examples of seabird confrontation:



It's a good place to find your own seat beneath shadowy cypress trees, braced in the clear, cold wind.  It's a good place to wish you'd brought your bloody jacket:

Lighthouse Avenue is the main drag.  It's where you will find the Greatest Restaurant In The World.  Boyfriend likes it there too, and can vouch for their desserts.  This is how a brownie should look:

This is a clafouti, fruits and batter, baked in a pan:

I can personally recommend the breakfast quiche/frittata, made with vegetables and parmesan cheese, that is so good that, in the words of the song about a red-haired woman, it makes you wanna slap your mamma down.

Monterey and the Aquarium are about a mile away.  Aquarium photographs were difficult, because I choose to obey the pleadings of the Aquarium staff:  that is, to PLEASE DO NOT USE FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY.  I have imagination enough to keep the image of a 1,000 lb. sunfish fresh in my mind, without photographing it in a frenzy of light.  Limited as I was, however, I could still take a photo of an otter – its constant motion momentarily contained inside a bucket.  Or of seabirds, either resting in mirror images or boldly staring me down:



Boyfriend went surfing, obviously.  Asilomar Beach was lovely, but the shores seemed to glitter more than sea-swept sands usually should.  Walking closer, we saw that it was dotted with glowing globules:  jellyfish, helpless in the rip currrent, washed up and stranded along the length of the shoreline.

The waves on that day were, as Boyfriend succinctly put it, "as hairy as can be".  He went out anyway.  And was lost from sight for 20 minutes.


Was I worred?  Oh, a bit.

But in the end all was serene, and I was perfectly willing to be the extra in Boyfriend's photograph of his '67 Mustang.

Oh, and the annual Pacific Grove Butterfly Parade, with the local schoolchildren dressed in butterfly costumes?  The parade that celebrates the butterflies arriving on its migratory coastal flight?  The butterflies that come floating on wings like tawny windowpanes?  The parade I had arranged this vacation around?  Well, when the above picture was taken, it was half over.  When we got back to town, the best we could do was run after its remnants.

Now ordinarily this would have slammed Boyfriend in the doghouse, with the key most definately thrown away.  And that most certainly would have been the case if is wasn't for the stray butterfly we saw on our dejected walk back.  I was fortunate enough to catch her on film:


We spen most of Sunday in Santa Cruz.  You can hear the sea lions arguing for position beneath the wharf from nearly a mile away.  I don't think people can help smiling when they hear a sea lion/seal barking.  It's such a bulky, goofy sound.

We went on the boardwalk, braving ten rides.  Interested in waking up wih a fused spinal column?  Try one of the back cars of The Giant Dipper roller coaster.  It's wooden, over 80 years old, and is very much loved by the walk's patrons.  I love it too, but as I said, there's that spinal column thing.


Equally loved is the Looff Carousel.  Its horses first sprang into action in 1911 and are as fiery as every.  I rode twice.


Years ago, riders would grab a brass ring – now it's one of dark and dour steel.  You try to fling it into the open mouth of a terrifying face of a clown painted on a wall as you  pass by.  If your aim is true, lights flash, horns blow, and I think angels descend from heaven.  If you miss, well, you're still throwing metal objects at a clown, so it's a win-win situation.

There is a ride called The Double Shot.  I remarked that it's called that because it's an apt description of the projectile vomiting which follows as soon as you stagger off.  Here's the thing:  you're shot 125 feet into the air, brought down half way, shot to the top again, then slammed to the ground.

Finally, we came upon the Holy Grail of all theme parks, county fairs and boardwalks:  the deep-fried Twinkie.  They are served, I'm happy to announce, with powdered sugar and your choice of strawberry or chocolate syrup.  Boyfriend ordered one.  Why?  Well…

We had dinner on the wharf, waiting for a table by the window so we could watch the sun dim over the trees and the lighthouse, winking its assurance throught the oncoming marine darkness.  We could see sea lions floating, lazy and happy.  We saw sea gulls behaving madly:  one had what looked like a tea bag – of no use whatsoever; still it would not relinquish ownership to the three other gulls who followed it in a Darjeeling-possessive row.

We arrived on Friday, and left on Monday.  We're already planning for next year's visit. 

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Surf And Syrup

This past Saturday Boyfriend and I went surfing.

I'll clarify this.  Boyfriend has been surfing for 30 years.  In the 1970's he was a tow-headed surf punk – I've seen the pictures.  He's surfed up and down the California coast, and in Hawaii.  He judges the value of foreign places by the quality of their waves.  Many times I've had to gently correct him that London has no shoreline.

Anyway, he's a surfer.  That's established.  I am NOT a surfer – yet what do I do?  Inevitably, Boyfriend and I will walk into the sea, walking and walking, as if we were to disappear, I wearing the same expression of wariness and fear as the couple did who entered the empty waters of Amity Bay in 'Jaws'.  We rush beyond the aptly named 'impact zone', where the waves crack the glassy shore waters into a million ripples, and paddle far beyond, until the swells become gentle, awaiting their birth into full-grown waves.  I lay on the board, and when a likely swell makes itself known, Boyfriend gives me a push and I hold on as if Satan and his minions from the holiest of hells were biting at my heels.

If I stay on, there is a pleasant lifting feeling, as the crest of the wave lifts me towards the shore.  If the board 'pearls' – if the tip of the board takes a dive – there's nothing I can do, and submerged I become.  Here they be monsters, indeed.

I think what I'm doing is Assisted Body Surfing.  What I do know for sure, is that it usually scares me, is that wetsuits are not flattering, and that I oftten end up bruised and sore.  However, I always make Boyfriend very happy when I make the effort.  So that's why I do it. 

So Saturday, things go pretty much as expected.  I take six waves, and take a salty dip on four of them.  Fine – I have, after all, been avoiding this for over a year.  Then Boyfriend comes up with an idea.  An idea, which upon hearing it, I found terrifying, unsettling and wholely unnecessary:  what if we both went into the water – as usual – and went far, far beyond the waves, where the surface would be mild (and the water DEEP)?  And what if he left me there?

Then, on reaching the shore, he'd grab the camera and click off one or two pictures of me, bobbing on the water.  Alone.  Unaided.  Subject to the ocean's mischief.

Here is proof of how I am treated:

However.  Once the session was over, Boyfriend did charge through the water to rescue me.  And just as we were about to go in – we saw a sea lion, not four feet from me.  It no doubt wanted a closer look, having never seen such a diminutive whale before.  We could see its gleaming little body gliding through the green water.  We heart it snort, horse-like, as it came to the surface:  we witnessed a merging of zoology as a sea lion became a sea horse.

Now, after all this watery mayhem, came the real reason for these outings:  breakfast.  Close by the beach is a coffeeshop named The Pancake House.  And there's nothing 'International' about it, friends.  Sturdy stacks of pancakes, buckwheat or buttermilk.  Omelettes are cooked in souflee pans – they come to the table puffed with eggy pride.  And the coffee is strong – just the thing to wash the taste of the ocean out of your mouth.

Boyfriend always has the same thing, the Hawaiian Pancakes.  Well, this time, we were feeling a bit giddy, and thought it would be a fine thing to take a photo of his brakfast:

But I wasn't satisfied with it.  However, by the time I had decided to take another photo, it was too late:

And so we learned our lesson, that this is the tragedy of all breakfasts:  that in the hearts and appetites of humanity, they all end too soon. 

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King of the Coast



Pacific Grove is a small town that lies on the California coast, between Monterey and Santa Cruz.  Boyfriend and I have visited there every year, for the past…eight years, I think.  It's calm and friendly and beautiful – what you'd like a good friend to be. 

The buildings there are lovely, many dating from the late 19th century (even the liquor store is built in a pseudo-Victorian style), there are bike paths everywhere – which made us wish we'd brought our springer-seat beach cruisers along, kittehs – loved and content – come up to greet you as you walk by, all streets lead to the ocean…the atmosphere is happy and creative.

BUT.  Pacific Grove's claim to fame is Butterflies.  Millions of monarch butterflies undertake a remarkable migration to the warmer climates in California and Mexico every year starting in the Autumn.  No one really knows how they know to make this flight – they only live long enough to make the migration once.  One of their favorite stops is in Pacific Grove.  How can you not ADORE a place that has an annual Butterfly Parade?  Local school children dress as butterflies, march in butterfly formation, carry signs and banners welcoming the butterflies…THAT's good stuff!! 

There is also a Butterfly Sanctuary there, where the butterflies congregate.  When the sun shone through their wings, they looked like little pieces of colored glass.  I saw two meet in mid-air, and they spun in a circle, as if they were dancing.  I can't recommend this place enough.


Just outside of the town is Asilomar Beach.  Boyfriend is a surfer, so he had to try his luck.  Personally I don't like it, because the waves can be trecherous and there's no lifeguard on duty, but I guess that's just me being all concerned and girly.  Anyway, this is a picture of him, making the lonely trek down the beach, so the rip current will carry him to the spot that he really wanted.  I was so terribly relieved when he was done… because we could then have breakfast.  

What?  I was hungry!



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