Sunday, December 30, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
What are the odds? You are two motorcycles amidst a gathering of over 2000. Someone you know is taking photos of the spectacle and is not aware that you are in the group....somewhere. And in his series of photos, in the distance, you see you and your partner cornering slightly. Certainly throttling up of course. You blow the photo up, and in the blurr can easily discern the markings that identify the two of you from the rest.
One of the most noticeable things is that you are both wearing jeans. Normally this would not stand out, however on a morning where there is a threat of snow, and in fact the pavement is wet from some flakes, a lack of proper leg protection kind of stands out.
We left early in the morning from the warmth of J's NE Portland home. If the shock of the bikes firing up at 7:20 AM, booming exhaust sounds from an echoing garage did not disturb the neighbors, the the sight of us riding off in the 31 degree air may not have even been noticed.
We did not even get the kindness of a reprieve in the form of a red light. Non-stop from the house to the restaurant several miles away where we would meet some other friends.
After a warm and filling breakfast we once again gathered into our coats and gloves, our face-masks or fleece gators, and rode (now as a group) to the gathering of other motorcyclists.
At the gathering place, a bus yard, there were already several hundred other bikes there with toys strapped to them, a bus full of toys, and the inevitable Santa or two. I am certain they had to discuss why there would be two of them.
Over the next 2 hours of standing around in the cold, several hundred more bikes showed up. HOG chapters, STAR chapters, and of course, Outsiders, Gypsy Jokers, and Brother Speed.
When it came time to ride to the hospital everyone fired up their bikes and waited for the procession.
At one point everyone revved their motors. The sound was overwhelming. J's bobber that is recognizably loud was not discernible from the wall of noise even though I was only 12" from it.
Soon, one by one, two, by hundreds, we moved onto the street and made our way down Powell, through downtown, and up the hill to the hospital.
The cold got to me on that ride. Distracting as it was to watch the bystanders gawk, or wave, or just look puzzled at what they were seeing, as distracting as all of that noise was reverberating off the downtown buildings and corridors, the fact was...it was mighty cold.
I cannot tell you how impressed I was/am with J's riding. with the idea that this "princess" would put herself through this cold torture, just to get a ride in..and more importantly, to show her support for the cause.
I hear a lot of stuff about saving this or saving that....maybe...just maybe...we helped a child that is scared, alone, hurting, just maybe we made one ill child....better....if only for a moment.
We were part of a delivery of thousands of toys from the stuffed animals to the electronic games, along with over $40,000 in cash donated to the hospital for equipment and other needs.
I know it is not much, however....if all of our efforts eased the suffering of just one child...then it was worth the numb fingers, frozen toes, and frost bit cheeks to be part of getting it there.
Monday, December 3, 2007
We started our new family tradition of “hunting” our Christmas Tree this year.
We obtained our $5 permit from the ranger station and we headed to an area I am familiar with from chasing the wily Black Tail Deer.
Snow was the norm here this day and we saw lots of folks out playing, sledding, ATV-ing, and of course others out hunting their own tree.
We had visions of finding the perfect tree in some 5 or 6-year-old growth areas. A Noble Fir was our target, however if we were to find the nefarious Blue Spruce, we would certainly do whatever it took to obtain it.
Now when I say “a lot of folks” it is quite subjective. “A lot” in this case is really a few here and there.
One group we found was three assorted four-wheel drive trucks coming in the opposite direction of the single lane-logging road we were traveling.
Being the nice guy I am, I pulled over to let them by.
Ditch. They place those things in the weirdest places.
Of course the snow was covering the precipice of the ditch as well as it’s depth.
With effete “shwump” we slipped to our right and planted the truck into the deep ditch and the bank on the other side of it.
Certain I could get us out, I began a series of maneuvers usually not seen in public.
Once I exhausted these tricks, I placed the truck into 4-Low and dug it in real well.
It was nice of the trucks passing me to stop, strap up, and yank us out of the ditch.
Of course all of this took place about ten minutes after I assured Jen she had nothing to worry about.
And after showing her the worst case first hand, she finally accepted that idea.
We finally found our tree.
A bit Charlie Brown-ish, maybe 5 feet taller than we thought it was. However it is perfect.
Not unlike the home it is being placed in, or the love that shall surround it in this new family.
Family. They place those things in the weirdest places.
From this family, in the ditch, to yours in yours, much blessings and love this season and every day.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I chose to go see it.
We flew in on a Saturday with 300 of our closest friends.
My fiancé’, my bro and his wife, and me, the only surfer in the group.
The plans of each of us, our own agendas, varied. There was a lot of shopping to be done. There was a lot of beach time in the sun to be had, and of course drinks in the evening on some tropical deck. There were tours to be booked and busses to be boarded. But for me…there was only one thing to be done.
More than that.
Pay homage to the birthplace.
If a catholic goes to the Vatican, does he not pray?
So it is for me. I must pray. And pray I did.
The names lay out before me in books and maps. They are spoken of in familiar tones with those that I brush against.
The maps are purely a formality, as I already know where each of these spots rest, or not rest, depending. I have known them intimately for many years.
However, now, it is time to pray.
I should ask your forgiveness for the noticeable lack of photos. There are the usual playful pics, and I shall post some. However, for the most part, the photos one would want to have from such a journey….well…..in the moment…all is internal, if not eternal.
On the afternoon of day 1 I found myself standing in the parking lot of the Naval commissary. A connection hooked up us with cheap eats for the condo. A rain came upon me. Big fat raindrops that warmed my entire being. I fought the urge to get naked and stand amidst the deluge as some kind of soul cleansing act.
Forgive me, for I have sinned and all.
Later J and I made our way to the other side of Ewa. I paddled into warm water for the first time in 15 years. A small crowd worked the shifty peaks. I guess this spot really turns on under a bigger swell, with an outside section that wraps to the inside a few hundred yards down the line.
Today it is waist to chest, and fun as hell.
We return to this spot in the morning and it is again waist to chest. Itching to get to Hali’ewa I cut my session at 3 hours and suggest a drive up to Makaha and maybe a plate lunch.
J and I loaded up the rental and drove up the west side.
Incredible dry terrain bordered by a pristine beach leading to some of the most amazing electric blues and reef heads I have ever seen.
It was also littered with homeless camps, twitchy residents, and barking dogs.
From Ewa to Kaena Point it was vibed out, and I never got out of the car. Hell, I did not want to stop it in most places.
Seriously. At one point J exclaims something and I turn to see one guy literally kicking the hell out of another guy on the ground.
We see a woman nearly get plowed by a speeding vehicle in a crosswalk.
We turn to each other and start snapping on each other.
Obviously there was some weird Brady-tiki shit going on here.
We come back from Kaena (lacking the clearance in the rental to drive up and around it) and grab the Kam Highway north.
A touristy stop at the Healing Stones was made to at least attempt to rid us of the weird juju from the west side.
It would not be until a few nights later that we would hear from a street vendor in town why the west is so messed up.
For all intense and practical purposes, the North was flat the entire time I was there. Missed pipe breaking (small) by a few hours, scratched a few at Chun’s before I felt the idea that I might be pressing my luck, but that was the extent of my water time on the North Shore.
What I will say is that Waimea is way smaller than I ever imagined.
We drove through the interior, along pineapple fields ( are they fields?) and let the sweet humid air whisk away all the westy bitterness.
In Hale’iwa I am overwhelmed by the simplicity of it all. I stand in front of places, businesses, and surf spots that I have known for 26 years.
Surreal is what it was. Still is. Sunset, Waimea, Pipe, all of it…passes us by and people go about their usual business.
We go back to town.
Town was breaking every day. I surfed the rest of my days here amongst several known breaks. Breaks I have known the names, and contours of, for over half of my life.
A friend told me that the paddle out at most of these places was 5-10 minutes. In some cases, it was much longer.
I will say that I did not encounter one heavy vibe anywhere I surfed over here.
It was there. I am certain others were affected by it, but I slinked in and out of breaks with out flash, without brash or bold ideas. Respect was a given, and was given.
The breaks around the Ala Moana area seemed to be the place that I would get vibed as the breaks closer to the omnipresent Duke statue were usually full of tourists.
Again that surreal feeling overcame me as I paddled out…way out…to these breaks.
Over the next several days I surfed mornings from Bowls, Rockpile, and Kaisers. The afternoons were spent in other means. Evening glass offs were spent at Canoes, Populars, queens, and Publics. Some evenings were spent at Canoes long after the sun had gone down.
I will not bore you with the tourist stuff we did, and the humor we got out of it. However two of the highlights were the visit to the USS Arizona Memorial and an evening of barefoot sailing on a catamaran right off the beach. Complete with a devouring sunset, tropical drinks, and lots of drunken idiocy after reaching land.
With so many details, it is hard to discern, hard to keep it straight.
Every morning someone would come by the statue of the Duke and place fresh leis upon him.
On another visit to Hale’iwa I found myself in a sporty surf shop. Riding giants was playing on a screen over my head. My favorite segment (Mavericks) was on. I stopped and watched. An old Japanese-Hawaiian lady engaged me in conversation. She asked if I knew who Greg Noll was. She produces a large photo album from under her counter and begins to take me on a journey that predated those prison print shorts of his.
Turns out, she hand made all of his shorts in his early days here. And continued to make shorts for him until her hands gave out in more recent years.
That’s the way it is there.
It is a living, breathing, museum of surf culture and lore.
Not a day went by that I was not overcome with it all. I still lay in bed at night and think of it.
On that Wednesday a swell came up. Short lived but a nice bump to the waist to chest.
I thought about where I wanted to surf that swell. I chose my spot and watched it.
Paddling out the channel I could watch the break to the left of me, and the one to the right, and the one to the right of that about 300 yards farther out.
The scene at this spot was different.
Having surfed in Oregon, where when I paddle out, 90% of those in the water are clueless or total kooks, I was now paddling into a break where 90% was as good as me, and the other 10% way better. And they had it wired.
I watched and waited, and kooked it out scratching for the horizon or the channel, or both, on the heavier sets.
I knew paddling out, no…I knew months ago, it would come to a place like this.
After all of these years, do I have what I feel it takes to not only surf amongst this level of talent, but to actually scratch into one of the bombing sets?
I have passed on a lot of swells over the last few years. Getting old. Lazy. Fat. Scared.
I sat there for a while and watched, scratched, and kooked.
Finally, it was time to get in the game.
It was not my Noll Moment, or anything even close, however it was poignant. I was very conscious of it all.
I worked the crowd for a while and got the rhythm of who is who and where is what down a bit better.
When my first set came, I turned and dropped into the rampy peak that was at least a few feet over head. Made the turn at the bottom, and worked it all the way into the channel.
Big fans? Deep tubes? No. but I went, and I paddled back out for more.
I got two more waves that session.
Two hours. Three waves. All of them set waves. All of them larger than I have surfed in two years. Did not bail on any of them.
I went in and J asked me how it was. What it was. It would not be until late that night, in bed, that I would offer her exactly what it all was.
After 26 years, I think it is okay to say it….
I am a surfer. I always will be.
I came to the motherland. I prayed. I knelt before all of it. I was anointed.
And no, there is no Aloha or turtle sticker on my car.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Sit at the bar? Yeah, no. Crap, look at that tall table. Watch how we get seated at that. Nothing like looking up 4 ft to your beloved from bended knee. Why is this place so loud tonight? Do you hear that? How much did she drink when she was out with the girls earlier? Wow, it’s hot in here. What’s that love? Yeah…sure…sounds good.
But at least I was not nervous.
I settled right in, after being seated at the one tall table in this quaint eatery.
Over a drink and some Queso Fondido we discussed what treats we would obtain from the menu.
What’s that special again?
I turned the conversation towards the direction I needed it to go. This may be all about her, but it is going to be done in my way. Right?
I asked of her what the one lesson is that she has derived from her 40-ish years of existence. At this point, there has to be one that stands out before all others.
I am sure her answer was meaningful and insightful, however did you notice how loud this place is? Why are we at this tall table? What is that droning sub-bass beat I keep feeling in my ears?
Thank God I am not nervous, that would have sucked!
So she finishes her answer and asks me to reveal mine.
I explain the tale about the wonderful canopy ride and what it means to understand a bird’s song, but how to have that, you must first let go of the plane.
Tears welled up in her beautiful eyes and she gasped how much she needed to hear that.
I asked her if she was ready to let go of the plane. If she wanted to let go.
She said she did, however, I do not think she knew just which plane she was going to be deciding to let go of.
I mentioned to her how I know how much she likes to have a plan, to have something to look forward to.
I stood, which was easy from this 8ft high table in this incredibly loud, but suddenly silent restaurant.
I retrieved the circa 1940 vintage ring from my pocket. And there is was, sitting snuggly in it’s green velvet case as I bent one knee and caught her incredulous look above me.
I uttered, through my own watery eyes, how I would like to offer her a lifetime of looking forward. A lifetime full of looking forward to another plan, without ever having to know the sadness of it ending, for it will never end.
And just to seal the deal, Jen….will you do me the incredible honor of becoming my wife and joining me in the incredible journey?
She said yes, I think. This place is loud, somewhere. I rose and we held each other.
Being of a somewhat business mind, I needed to verify. Yep…it was a yes.
The ruby champagne from the proprietor of the restaurant was a nice touch.
We awoke early the next day and went deer hunting.
Thank God I was not nervous.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
I dismissed the gray clouds and cooler temperatures, I even got excited about surfing tomorrow, until I remembered the 4 mil wetsuit hanging in my shower.
No, there will be no need for these until I depart.
I have not surfed warm water in 14 years.
That crystal blue warmth.
The sun on my bare back.
I know that my white ass is going to get fried where I am going, and I look forward to it.
I wonder what it will be like to come home after that week.
I wonder what it will be like to have my toes in that warm sand again.
The child in me screams for it.
The man inside me screams for it.
I wonder if I am leaving home, or leaving to go home.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
We staved off the cold morning with a double helping of pancakes and eggs, sloshed some horribly strong coffee into our near frosted mugs and drove to the confluence of the big blue and this magical set up.
There were 4 guys in the water when we got there and three came in while we were suiting up. A couple Surfrider guys we had been running into lately and a retired surf shop owner.
We chatted as we readied and they unreadied.
Another guy pulled up and made haste to get in the water. I would later find out he was a crab fisherman and this would be his first session since the opening of the season in early December.
By the time we made it into the line up this made four guys in the water.
The paddle out was easy. One lunge off the rocks and a head dip followed by a few hundred yards of dry hair/hood paddling.
There was frost on the sand still, in spite of the sun being in full bloom by this later hour of the morning.
The waves would wrap in and there was a narrow take off area centered around a crab buoy that was certainly attached to a pot that had gone astray.
If you were a yard too deep, you would not make it around the lip, but even in the right spot it had the feel of instant closeout. One of those leaps of faith situations on each wave.
Once down the face and turning from the bottom you could see the right line up for hundreds of yards.
This lasted for many waves, but relatively short.
Tide fluctuations here are exaggerated and all the breaks change more rapidly than most places I have known.
What was a wonderful long and nearly flawless right, was soon a cacophony of mostly closed out sections and beat downs across the rocks inside.
But for that short hour and a half, it was pure bliss.
Nothing but smiles.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
God damn it!
As if it could be any more damned that it already is.
Since I was 14 when I first laid my eyes upon it, I have never lived any further from the Ocean than I do now.
Twenty six years.
My relationships, my jobs, my disposition, my goals and aspirations, my dreams, all of them...every damn thing in my life, affected by this one thing.
We kid ourselves about being free.
We are not free.
I am not free.
I could be living in a wooded wonderland, carving out a simple and rich existence, playing bass in my brother's blue grass/folkabilly scene, hunting moose, deer, and elk.
But I cannot.
I could be riding fee across the open land upon a growling machine, sleeping under stars, and delving into my ideas of social studies, documenting it all for whomever would give a crap to know it.
But I cannot.
I passed on a job that would have almost doubled my income.
Why? Because it was in Utah.
I hardly even surf. when I do, I do, however the frequency is not as fiery as it once was, but we all know it will come back.
Yet there are boards on my wall, in my bedroom, leaning against the wall off the kitchen. There is a wet suit hanging over my bedroom door. There is sand in my truck carpets.
When I close my eyes I can see many things and I enjoy the beauty, the love, the absurdity in each of the images that I replay to myself. But when I lie in the darkness and night is clutching at me, it is those waves that haunt me and make my heart skip.
Freedom? Please, we have no idea what that is.
Marriage holds no candle to the bounds we already know.
If you are one of us, you know what I am saying, if you doubt it, you will never be one of us.
Good for you. Save yourself, your future, your children, your relationships, your mind....your soul.
The Trap has got me.
And there is no methadone.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
tailing into a fold behind me.
Perfect trim is not a state
known by the physical
But made of the physical
and transient memories.
The sweet breath scattered
muses over her supple back
Demure shoulders where
life, it seemed, would slow.
But one cannot wait
Returning to her power,
her gift, Her.
Bowing to my lover
to let her anoint my head with her sweetness.
And the sun warmed my body.
but not again this day
If my arrogance has ever hurt you, or pushed you away,
If my condescending tone has left you with a poor taste of yourself,
My own weakness shines.
If I made you feel unworthy,
know it is me that does not fit.
If I cheated you, or slept around,
know it is my own unworthiness that I spoke to.
To have never fit in, unless amongst those that no longer fit.
If I beat you, it was not my strength that bloodied you.
If I yelled, it was not you I was yelling at.
If I ran you away,know that it is me that I am scared of.
If I hid inside of you, held you too close, wanted for the security of you,
Know it is my own unworthiness that hungered for you.
There is no hiding it any longer.
There is nowhere to run to now.
These wounds bleed.
There are no scars.
And you have all of my apologies.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
See, the more I let go, the more I gain.
It's an interesting equation. I persoanlly think it defies logic completely...laughs in it's face really.
So I guess I kind of like it.
But I really truly no longer care.
Except for the things I do.
Which is most things.
But if I no longer care I get even more to care for and about.
and somehow she sees me as an incredible man.
Not a wonderful person, but specifically an incredible man.