Yesterday was a great day for all as Clan Ross hit the beach.
It started at Seaside Surf Shop, where I signed up for a surf lesson. The price wasn’t too bad for a 3-hour group session with some instruction and equipment rental, and in hindsight the lesson is a good thing to have when first paddling out into the surf for a couple of reasons:
- The instructor will cover some basic safety regarding how the board acts in water, what to do when you eat it (cover your head);
- the instructor will take you to a safe, easy place that’s good for beginning surfers;
- the instructor will do their best to help you catch some waves, and
- they might even explain to you how waves work.
As it turns out, that black cable wrapped around the tail of the board was not an FM antenna. 😉
The guy who was patient enough to teach me to surf was named Laird. He’s been around, to California, Hawaii, and Mexico; he’s surfed in those locations, and I’m sure that he’s surfed in other places as well. I did mention I paid for the group session, and at the time it looked like I would be the only one (a cheaper way to get a private lesson, for sure) but there ended up being two of us — a guy from British Columbia, originally from Colombia (in retrospect, I may have misunderstood that part) named Ruben.
Rob and Ruben: now that’s interesting. 🙂
We followed Laird in our cars to a parking lot about twenty minutes south of Seaside, and then carried our boards on a ten-minute walk through an old-growth forest path reminiscent of Jurassic Park, or the Mirkwood; the trees were big and jumbled, with blankets of bright green moss hanging from their branches. We found the end of the path in a little southwest-facing cove with a sandy bottom; clouds of mist rolled down from the treetops, and here the sky was a bit more clear. Mme. Ross and Little Miss were there too — they played in the sand while I made my first ever real foray out into the ocean. Once the daughter was ready to pass out from sheer exhaustion and bliss, Mme. Ross packed her into the Ergo and started taking pictures and videos.
We were out there for about two hours, and while my phone (her first choice for documenting the adventure) died almost right away because the wind was blowing a little too hard, Mme. Ross plugged away with her Nikon (thank you Paul Simon) until its battery gave the old heave-ho.
So how did I do? Let’s put it this way: I had fun. I’m hooked. But I have to admit I’m a tad jealous of Ruben because he managed to stand up on a few waves. I had problems committing to the pop-up at first, and then by the time I was ready to do so I had already worn down some, and lacked the power to jump into the crouching surf position. Plus the rental wetsuit was super-tight, and I wonder if it wasn’t restricting my movement somewhat.
But here’s my insight on wetsuit surfing in cold water: it’s a friggin’ miracle. You know how you get into cold water and you just want to jump right out because it’s so cold on your skin? Or maybe you’re the kind who has to go in stages, or just get it over with? When you’re wearing a wetsuit you go out there and it feels like a waterproof barrier you’re wearing. You’re not cold at all. As the water leaks through the porous neoprene, your body heats it up so fast that you never feel cold, and when the cold water hits your face it’s insignificant compared to trying to get your body into that water. The verdict: wetsuits + cold water = fearless surfing. I love it.
The biggest rush, though, is when you see that wave coming; it’s bearing down on you and you’re trying to time it. You start paddling, trying to go fast and still do long strokes, because you want to be ahead of it when it picks you up, sucks you back, and then shoots you forward like a rocket. The Then you grab the rails (the sides of the surfboard) and you jump your feet up to this stance (and this is why we do power yoga, right?) Holding your balance, with your weight mostly on the front foot, you stand up with knees bent; Warrior One — or drop your arms, if you have “balance supreme”.
I’ll be honest, I ate it every time except one time when I rode the wave all the way in on one knee. Still, it’s incredible fun, and a physical challenge that can’t be topped; by the time you’re starting to think about retiring, it’s a little bit of a challenge to get on top of the board in chin-high water. I want to go again today, but it’s questionable as to whether we will have the chance — more likely tomorrow.
Day 2 in Seaside looks to be a little more chill; Mme. Ross wants to get out of the rental, and so do I; the only question is what to do today: go down to Cannon Beach and take pictures? Check out the Aquarium? The Carousel Mall? Drive fifteen minutes north to Astoria and see what’s up there?
No matter what we do, I know it will be an adventure;
but surfing would be better.
If you’d like to see some pictures, I picked the best of the best (I’m on a time crunch now) and uploaded them to a fresh Flickr album: Surfing in the Cove.