Say goodbye to the metric system and the Looney and hello inches, miles, gallons and George Washington. A much needed meal of good old Mexican food is eaten and we are off to find the Olympic Peninsula in the dark.
Morning light brings a somber high fog, but glassy, windless conditions. Although my knee is hurting, I am dying to at least get wet and surf in Washington waters. Driving down the coast, we pass by a parking lot with beach access. I ask Scott to pull over to have a look. The coastal overlook reveals a rocky headland with good, hollow waves peeling off into a sandy bay. Laughing at my dumb luck, I am jumping out of my skin, ready to surf. Scott is not as excited as I am, telling me to go out if I want, but that it looks a bit eerie and would rather film. I keep seeing waves funneling through and decide to give it a go. There is something so exciting about surfing a new spot, learning the currents, direction of wind and swell, tidal fluctuation, and the wave of course. New environments provide learning experiences. As I paddle out next to the headland, I take note of the high seal population, and figure thatÕs a good sign that the landlord with sharp teeth isnÕt around. The waves are fun, but challenging and a bit scary as they are wedging up right in front of the rocky outcropping. One wave doubles up and throws a gaping tube as it grinds towards me. All alone, I scream at it half in fear and half in excitement. I kick myself thinking about the tube I would have gotten if I had been sitting 30 feet deeper in front of the rocks. The water is cold, but far from unbearable. What becomes unbearable to me is sitting alone outside on this point in the fog, trying to line up without getting nailed by the sets. I keep looking up towards the trail down to the beach half hoping to see a few guys scurrying down to surf with me. After an hour, I am done. Most definitely satisfied, but still thinking about that one wave that spit at me.
The Washington coastline is rough, yet beautiful. Heading south in the fog, we pass beach after beach surrounded by lush forests. Some forests are logged while others stand tall and majestic. In Nanaimo it had been hot and dry everyday, but here on the coast we are once again surrounded by dampness and fog, pulling out the parkas and turning on the windshield wipers. Washington becomes Oregon, and we are one state closer to home.
There are a couple of spots I am anxious to check out in Oregon, and even though my knee hurts, we are searching for surf. Once again I am glad we look, and exit the ocean very satisfied after surfing glassy, clean waves. Rumors have told me that Oregon has the coldest water in the Northwest, as well as the coldest vibes to visitors. Both are an understatement. That evening we head to Portland where we find ourselves staying with Gavin Lee, one of the brains behind Mad Rock climbing shoes. Gavin takes us to his home in Vancouver, Washington, which is just across the border from Portland, Oregon. We spend two days here, checking out Portland, climbing and eating. Gavin has been nice enough to be our tour guide, hooking us up with some local climbing talent and taking us to some cool rocks. GavinÕs parents own a Mongolian BBQ restaurant in Vancouver where we spend our final evening eating from the all you can eat buffet. The food is actually raw, which you choose and then bring to the cook who prepares
your meal to your liking. Sauces and all, itÕs up to you to decide what you want to eat. Gavin is a veteran, and makes sure we leave happy, which we do.
Leaving Portland, the sun has decided to appear for the first time, but not for long. As we head to the coast, we are confronted by one of the first weather fronts of the oncoming winter season from the Northwest. The rain begins, and doesnÕt end until we reach California. We make one last surf stop on the Northwest Oregon coast, and find clean conditions with way overhead surf. I paddle out into some thick waves and even a thicker vibe, but squeak away unscathed aside from a few hard looks, and one serious backside tube. As we scurry out of town, both Scott and I spend a good amount of time reflecting on how heavy the vibe was, even for Scott who didnÕt even surf. We are both glad to get out of there. I almost feel like we stole something as we head south. We make one stop in Newport where we get skunked for surf, but meet a neat pair of folks named Jessica and Greg. Greg is the owner of Surf Pulse, a surf shop in Newport. His friend Jessica is one of the few hardcore women surfers on the coast of Oregon. Both are dedicated water people who live a life dictated by the calls of the Ocean. Greg has been surfing this coastline since the age of 11 years old, and has it wired, telling tales of fickle winters where high pressure dominates the Oregon coast, and the surf pumps for weeks on end. He also talks of spells of rain and bad winds that keep them out of the surf for long periods of time. He clues us in on a few zones to check out, but secrets are meant to be kept, and IÕm sure heÕs got some good ones. After a nice evening spent with our new Oregonian friends and a needed shower and bed for the night, we are on a mission to get to the bay area in two days.
We wake up Wednesday morning to another storm, and surfing is out of the question. We are ready to drive, rain or no rain, and try and make it to Marin by Tomorrow night. Two hours outside of Newport, I hear a strange noise coming from the engine that squeals like the sound like a loose fan belt. Scott tells me to pull over immediately and kill the engine. The hood is popped, and we find that our smog pump has seized, causing a horrible noise as well as keeping the water pump and the alternator from working. We limp the car back to the nearest town two miles back, and find a mechanic who says he can fix it, but it will cost 300 bucks and we will have to wait until tomorrow afternoon. We deliberate our situation, and ScottÕs ingenious automotive sense brings him to the conclusion that our problem can be solved for less than 300 dollars and a day of waiting, so the tools begin to fly and hour later we are on our way, 10 bucks into some new belts, and a drivable car without power steering.
Our goal is to reach the Klamath rivermouth by nightfall, where we have been told there is awesome rock climbing. Our half ass directions work, and sure enough we find ourselves on the beach just before dark, checking out some huge rocks, and some big surf as well. I have heard rumors of epic waves here, and also know that a friend of mine was attacked by a great white shark surfing at the mouth of the river. The vibe is heavy, and so are the waves. Scott heads down the beach looking for more rocks, and I hangout filming some of the sunset and the big surf. All of the sudden, as I am gazing towards the water, I hear the sound of a dog coming up behind me and turn to see a well-sized pit bull running in my direction. My heart jumps, and I slowly get up and begin to retreat. The dog proves to be friendly, as she licks my legs and wants to play. I pet her still with my heart almost in my mouth and begin to slowly back up to get out of there. As I turn, all of the sudden I hear this booming voice coming from the shadows. ŅDO YOU SPEAK YUROK!!??Ó I turn and see a man probably about my age standing 20 feet away holding a baseball bat sized stick. I remember the sign we had read as we had entered the beach warning us of the area being a Native American ceremonial ground for the Yurok tribe, and to be respectful. ŅNo I donÕtÉÓ I tell the man. ŅGET OFF OF THE BEACH NOW!Ó He tells me. The vibe is on and I am not one to argue when the confronter has a pit bull and a big stick. I apologize for my lack of respect and shuffle towards the car at a good pace, with my heart beating like I had just seen a great white shark. Wondering where Scott is, my question is soon answered as I hear off in the distance, ŅDO YOU SPEAK YUROK!?Ó
As we leave, wondering what had just happened and what we had done wrong, we inspect the map and find that the area we had just been to was reservation land. Still confused and a little jumpy, we head south, with the experience on replay, re enacting the situation over and over again in conversation. I later ask a local north coast surfer about the area, and his reply is nothing more than, ŅWhoa man, those guys are gnarly up there! BE CAREFULL!Ó
BACK IN THE BAY! We have completed our first leg of the trip. We arrive Thursday evening ready to shower and eat some home cooking. Scott will work on Friday, and then fly to New Mexico to visit Erin for the weekend. I head immediately down to Santa Cruz to see the doctor about my knee, and visit my wonderful girlfriend Sara. It feels good to be home, seeing old friends and family, talking story and eating good food. It almost becomes to easy, as I feel myself falling back into my old routines, and have to shake myself to get ready for the next leg of the trip.
Before we head south, we make one last mission to the North and head up to the Humboldt coast for some camping and surfing. Once again luck is on our side as we score great waves and beautiful weather. I make a huge mistake before we begin our hike by putting on a brand new pair of shoes. The 6-hour hiking mission in the dark at high tide with a rising swell takes its toll, and my feet pay, as they are blistered and bloody upon arrival. We arrive to our destination in the dark, and although the terrain is familiar, I am feeling as though something is completely different. We wake up to fog, but as it burns off, it becomes evident that the forest surrounding us has been completely scorched by fire. The huge driftwood logs and old shelters built by campers have even burned, and the terrain, although still beautiful, has an ominous feel. We spend three days by ourselves here, surfing and relaxing, and getting ready for Mexico.
Today is Monday, and Scott and I are finishing up capturing footage from the 20 or so tapes of video we have shot, and trying to get the car packed. Our goal is to leave tonight and head south the central coast to visit our friend Torsten and his family before we make it down the south of California. Right now Southern California is burning like crazy, and we are wondering what we will find as we head south. Next stop, So Cal and then onto Mexico lindo y querido!
We spent the last three days in the luxury of ChrisÕs living room. Roughly three hundred square feet of flat floored, wall to wall carpeted space with an adjoining kitchen, bathroom and indoor climbing woody located in the garage below. The kitchen is equipped with pro style latt machine that seems to run non-stop and keeping us going as we have been working, editing the video we shot in Alaska. Throughout the day the sun tracks across the living room through a big south facing picture window and creates a display of shadows from the house plants that I am now accustom to using to indicate the time of day. Zack has his computer set up on the coffee table and has been sleeping on the couch beside the table. In the mornings usually around 8:00 AM, he sits up turns ninety degrees and heÕs working; in the evening around 2:00 AM or so, he counter rotates back ninety degrees and he is sleeping. This routine is broken up with a regiment of hourly jaunts to the climbing wall and delicious stir-frys with fresh vegetables from the garden.
This is a Macintosh household which suites us Mac snobs just fine; and to top it off Chris has supplied us with dedicated high speed Internet I have been sleeping on the floor and sharing a computer with Chris and Janet in their office space. Janet is studding biology and often up all night and then goes to school during the day so I am able to use her computer then to journal and surf the net. Chris is often in and out during the day analyzing particulate matter with his spectro photometer to save the world. Chris is one of the smartest noblest characters I know. He could easily work for a chemical company developing new herbicides in an attempt to combat natural life on the planet and make six figures a year. Yet he chooses to teach and do research that might one day help people sustain themselves on the without having to create toxins. He is a great resource for laymen such as myself. He answers my simple questions with reason. ŅChris what makes sun screen work?Ó Well Scott, Octyl Methoxycinna, Oxybenzone and Octyl Salicylate, the active ingredient in sunscreen they cover your tissue with a cell structure that breaks down instead of your skin.Ó Or ŅChris I hear that its bad to drink soy milk if you donÕt refrigerate it after you open it but some people say itÕs ok. Well Scott, Soy is a protein and left enclosed and un refrigerated it becomes toxic because it grows a blah blibity blahÉÓ He goes on and on but I know if Chris tells me not to do something because its chemically toxic thereÕs no doubt I shouldnÕt do it.
Our stay here has come to a close and tomorrow we will make our way to the USA. Chris has been a good friend usual and I know that I will cross paths with him and Janet again as I always have and this makes saying good by for who knows how long like saying see you tomorrow.
Although the line separating the US and Canada is thin the air in the lower 48 is thicker and re entry burns a little. We have ridden the ferry from Victoria on the southern tip of Vancouver Island to Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. From there we drove down the coast and are camped in the rainforest of the Pacific Northwest. Immediately entering the US there is a noticeable difference in the general vibe. Subtle glances and tones people use seem to posses more tension. It is something I canÕt necessarily pin down with a specific example, that maybe I have only noticed because I have been removed from it for the past month and a half. There is a definite difference in the in peoples approachability and a visible invisible force field of personal space amongst people.
Its wet. The air is wet the road is wet and the car is wet. We have made some tea and are unwinding under the canopy of giant coniferous trees. Zack is playing Guitar and the ŅRURRÓ stuck in my head from driving is almost gone. The tent offers a dry bubble to sleep in and the forest muffles the ambient noises in the air into utter silence that will make it easy to sleep I am sure.
The Washington coastline is isolated and lonely. ItÕs not so isolated that you canÕt get there without a car in fact there is a road that runs the virtually the entire length. ItÕs socially isolated naturally beautiful and gives me a felling like ŅOk. Thanks for visiting now go home.Ó The continual fog adds to this feeling as well as the fact that we havenÕt really met any one. Occasionally we see someone at the beach off in the distance through the fog but for the most part we have been like similarly charged magnets with other people and not had much contact with others at all. ThatÕs how it seems up here, particularly isolated, a good place to come and be introspective or just left alone.
Zack has been surfing and I have been tromping around shooting photos. The days never really seem to get started. When we wake up, itÕs usually around nine and it looks like we are inside a florescent light tube, an even bright light with no reference to where the sun is. We make coffee then go about the day and when we decide to make another late morning cup of coffee just to see if we can get the day going. I look at the clock expecting it to be about 11:00 AM and itÕs 4 or 5. I thought I would get used to that but itÕs been happening day after day.
Today we stopped at a popular surfing location in Oregon just south of the Washington border. I canÕt mention the name because surfing educate prohibits it. The wave has a reputation for being really good and to protect this spot from over-crowding the locals have a reputation for throwing down some heavy ŅVibeÓ. WeÕve herd stories of flattened tires broken windshields and even dead dear heads on doorsteps of intruders. But for the most part itÕs like any where else if your respectful, play by the rules, donÕt get in anybodyÕs way, arenÕt obnoxious and donÕt show up with a crew of people, youÕll be fine. I seem to have developed an infection on my toe that is quite painful and dominates my existence so Zack surfers and I sit on the beach cooling my toe with a rock and spectating. I make soup and we head to Portland to visit Mad rock shoes, do some climbing and see my cousin Josh.
Coming from the South West I have a perception about clear and sunny weather. When itÕs clear and sunny the sky is blue. Deep blue. The air is crystal clear and visibility is over a two hundred Kilometers. In Portland they say its clear when the off white sky has a tinge of blue peeking through from behind and itÕs not raining. This opinion isnÕt entirely fair as we were only in Portland for 2 days but Gavin our host says that the low cloud cover is pretty typical fair and beams with excitement that its clearing up as a light blue area passes over head. Gavin works for Mad rock Shoes and we have been staying at his house in Vancouver Washington Across the Columbia River from Portland. He is a Second generation Chinese American and as he says, Ņlike any good Chinese American family, my family owns several restaurants.Ó One of which happens to be a Mongolian BBQ that he treats us to after a day bouldering at the local area.
This morning we have coffee with my Cousin Josh and I get another South Westerners perspective on the neutral grey weather thatÕs starting to where me down. ŅYou get blue sky days here, itÕs not grey all the time?Ó I ask, ŅYea one or two a year but for the most part blue grey is pretty good.Ó My toe has now swelled to Epic proportions and I have lanced it producing gobs of white puss that repulses a crowd of onlookers at the Climb Max/Mad Rock office. Luckily they have a resident doc that informs me itÕs a Stash infection and prescribes antibiotics. After a run to the local Fred Myer we are back on the road to the coast.
We have decided to return once again to the spot Z surfed before and get it again. ItÕs a different day at the beach. Before it was a weekend. The weather was that sort of that blue grey clear thing the locals are so excited about and the surf was about head high, but today is a week day, itÕs raining and the surfs well over head. I have decided that I am not going to be affected by any sort of social peer pressure. Besides IÕm not going to surf any way I can barely walk yet alone ride a surfboard. And I am a climber any way so why should the local surfers threaten me with the attitude. We pull into the parking lot and subtly become the center of attention. The locals are out and the vibe is on every time I look up the lazes beam eyes of everyone around is staring into my soul. ItÕs a different ball game now I pull on my parka and head out walking to watch the surf as Z suits up. As I pass the surfers coming in along the trail leading to the break I think, ŅOk I will over power this negativity with positive energy. I will smile and say hello to everyone I pass. Nine out of ten people give the same response to my happy hello and jubilant smile; they just look me in the eye expressionless and walk on by. Its like they have a club and they all get together and train Vibe technique. No one scowls or it mean in any way just expressionless and intent. One guy smiles back and says hello. I sit on a log and eventually make eye contact with Z. He motions he is going in with a shift of his eyes. I stand up walk back to the car and meet up with Z and we share two words. ŅLets SplitÓ
We spent the last couple of days puttering along the coast of Oregon checking out the numerous skate parks along the way. It seems as though every costal Oregon town has a skate park and theyÕre not cheap little wooden ramps built over some old tennis courts. TheyÕre full-blown concrete skate parks with numerous bowls and custom features that are even landscaped with decorative plants around the perimeter. In New port we met up with a nice guy named Greg who owns Ocean Pulse shop and he introduced us to a motivated surfer named Jessica who gave us a place to stay for the evening. The surf is stormy and unrideable, so in between squalls we are able to skate a little.
Yesterday we entered California and stopped at the Klamath River mouth to check out the bouldering on the beach. It was foggy and there was a mist in the air from the eight-foot shore break crashing on the beach. There was no one on the beach and I walked south down the beach while Zack stayed behind and filmed the shore break. When I returned Z was nowhere to be found and I began looking around and walking back toward the road. Through the mist I noticed a figure, a man walking with a dog. I immediately noticed the man was carrying a big stick and walking directly at me. The dog approached first, a young Pit Bull wagging and licking my hands. As I pet the dog I hear, ŅDOYOUSPEAKYUROK.Ó Ņ What?Ó I respond over the sound of the crashing surf. ŅDO- YOU-SPEAK-YUROK-?Ó I pause thinking and respond ŅNo.Ó He responds, all the while advancing directly at me ŅGET OFF THIS BEACH!Ó ŅOh, ok is it private IÕm sorry I didnÕt know.Ó in my comparably small voice. ŅGET OFF THIS BEACH!Ó he interrupts, still advancing. ŅOk.Ó And I walk quickly away averting his path. Through the mist I see Zack walking away, toward the car as well and come to find he has had a similar experience. Apparently the guy didnÕt want anyone on the beach.
This next week both Zack and I will be working and taking a little break from the trip. Tomorrow I am going to New Mexico to visit Erin and the dogs.
The week in Marin has come to an end and I am refreshed and recharged and ready to get back on the road. My visit home to Erin left me with a strong feeling of connection to her and excited to have her join us in Mexico along the way during her Thanksgiving break. Separation from the ones you love when your love is strong. The weather in the bay area is bursting and I have been hanging out with my friend Jason Hicks. We have spent the weekend bouldering and at the beach with his kids Taylor and Gauge and another neighbor kid Max who climbs with more natural talent than I have ever seen in a seven year old. Zack and I are going to back track north to surf in Northern California at a spot where we will have to hike in and camp out. It will be nice to get back on the road and be exploring again.
We have returned from our adventure north and are once again are bobbling around in the bay area doing some last minuet preparations to get ready for the journey south The trip North was a classic outdoor experience. Zack showed up with some circa 1970 backpacks for our eight-mile hike in along the beach. We loaded up six cliff bars rice, beans pancake mix and, of course, La Vida, a tent sleeping bags, surfboards and wet suits. We took off hiking at dusk along the coastline with a rising tide. Not the best idea but the surf is going to be on tomorrow so we must go now. The hike takes us five and a half hours dodging in and out of small nooks in the small-lighted space created by our headlamp lights, as the surf rushes in and out. We arrive late in the evening surf and hang out for the next couple of days and then returned on Thursday. Clif Bar has hooked us up once again with an abundant amount of nutrition bars and we are now ready to roll south.