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Posts Tagged ‘Ventura’

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Its moments like these that really count. Photo: Christopher Dunlea

It’s still a mystery to me how this life works or even why.  I know the religious cats out there like to leave it up to their god or gods.  The fatalists believe our lives are already predestined according to the rules of fate.  The transcendentalists like to watch how life unfolds in front of them.  As for me I spent most of my time confused and boggled by both my everyday life and the greater scheme there of.  In addition I find myself in a constant state of awe and utter amazement of the world around me.  Most of the time I just plain spend too damn much time attempting to figure out just what is going on instead of just going with the flow, a motto I have very much been carefully learning to adopt.

Maybe If I had been able to “go with the flow” so to speak things would not have gotten as out of hand as they did.  For there has always been a fine line between going with the flow and standing up for what you believe in.  Whats right is right after all.  A friend of mine took note the other day that my blogging seems to revolve around my former relationships to define epochs in my life.  This thought began to marinate in my mind a bit and I thought that maybe my friend was right. My life for at least the last ten years or so has been defined by one woman or another and each one subsequently led to my personal demises.

Once again this little blog saga that I have been dragging out is nothing more then a pathetic epilogue , a sad testament even,  on some level to another failed romance.  If I have learned anything from all of what you have already read and are still to read it’s that women in general are fucking nuts.  Believe me I know crazy.  I’m completely bat shit, certifiably insane. I crossed over that line and never looked back around ten years ago.  Ultimately my thoughts are that I will never understand the female psyche and I suppose I don’t really care to anymore.  I am just going to do my thing and let them do theirs.

Anyhow so last I left off I had been jilted by yet another she devil. I know now she was just a rebound, but at the time it killed me.  I think the hardest thing that anyone has to do is get over a relationship and many of us can’t help but jump right into another one to if even for a brief moment be able to relive the same feeling of love we had with our exes.  This momentary memory becomes pure bliss and we forget our troubles.  What usually happens at least for me and others I have talked to is that I end up putting way too much emphasis and pressure on this new budding relationship causing it to falter before it even got off the ground.  This was exactly the case this time around, though it didn’t help that she had one of the least agreeable dispositions I have ever come across in a relationship.

After the break up that was the pretty much the premise of the “When it rains it” blog I went into my usual downward spiral of drinking, drug abuse and incessant partying.  At the same time I was also losing interest at my job.  I was promised all these so called changes that were going to take place to make my life easier.  Instead they just made my job harder and way more annoying.  Over it and feeling very aggravated with my life in general I began to act out against the management a bit.  I even began to stir up a bit of mutiny among my fellow employees.

The fact that it was an El Nino winter and the WNW swells kept pouring in didn’t help either. In fact I began using my sick and vacation time in pursuit of catching good days out at Naples, El Capitan and other of my favorite waves.  At that point I was over missing decent waves for a job that was going absolutely no where and for a management system that completely didn’t care.  When I think of all the great days of surfing I have missed for that stupid job it makes me sick, including the once in a life time Hurricane Marie swell.  You can click this link for that skinny on that one.

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Saying the winter was solid is almost an understatement.  Photo: Christopher Dunlea

I guess it was late January when everything went down.  The hard part about work place politics and one I have never been all that good about is knowing who’s ass to kiss and who to side with.  My problem always is that I don’t kiss anyone’s ass and just about all the time say exactly what is on my mind good or bad.  I finally had enough of all the new changes going on with out any consultation of my own.  I steadily began making complaints and inquiries into everything that was taking place.  I suppose my bosses and a few other employees who were looking to climb the ladder a bit at my own demise got into cohorts against me and began compiling incriminating evidence, most of which was absolute bull shit, against me.  I was the only one with the integrity and gall to challenge what I felt was unfair policy and as a result like any great martyr I took the fall for it.

Ultimately it all led to my termination for a charge of which I was guilty of just that it had been known that I was an offender of such since I initially began working there six years ago, and was never warned or questioned about.  As a matter of fact my own bosses used to joke with me about it.  I am not going to get into here cause it is a tad embarrassing and could hurt my professional reputation.  The evidence against me was severely lacking and mostly hearsay.  I actually consulted a few lawyers about the possibility of a wrongful termination suit and was advised against it, being told although I had a decent case it was not worth the time, money and effort.  In the end I took what little severance I was offered and moved on with my life.
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By February and my birthday I found myself totally and completely at a loss.  I had no job, very little money, no prospects and no girl friend.  Some would say my situation seemed rather bleak and if I was a normal person I would have felt the same.  As I dug deep into my inner self and came to grasp with my situation I actually realized that my current state of things though sounding a bit desperate was the best possible scenario one could ask for and one I have found myself in before.  Life had basically in one fell swoop handed me a do-over.

Basically I was involuntarily handed a clean slate to draw up whatever plans or lack thereof I saw fit.  Slowly I began to climb back up to my former self. As of press time after a tough spell I feel greater then ever.  The world is my oyster and I’m hunting for pearls.  The winter was amazing.  I got to do and experience lots of wonderful things that my career had taken from me the past six years.  I finally remembered what it was like to live.  In the end as angry as I was at Sodexo and everyone involved in my unemployment I feel the need to express a great sense of gratitude for setting me free.  I don’t know what’s next for me at the moment, but I am exploring some different avenues all a bit outside of the box. Time will tell my friends, it always does.

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Hoping for a grand future.  Photo: Christopher Dunlea

 

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Photo: Christopher Dunlea

When it rains it pours, shit runs down hill and all that jazz.  The last time I wrote something here I was rather optimistic about life and the world; my life specifically.  OPTIMISM!!! What word, what a dangerous mother fucking word.  It implies that with good thoughts, feelings and hopes good things will be brought about.  Maybe this works for some people. No one I know in particular, but some delusional idiot out there lives by this crap.

Even a pessimistic realist like myself falls into these optimistic ideals on occasion.  It always happens to me when my life starts actually turning around.  Then again had life really turned around for me or was I just starting to believe the lies in order to come to grips with the settlement my life had become?  There were the lies I told myself and the ones that the machine of conformity claimed would bring me happiness.  I am one for total honesty when it comes to oneself, but then again there are times when one needs to believe his own lies in order to accomplish certain goals and ultimately in this mess of an oxymoron a new truth may be achieved.

While I am at it let’s briefly touch on how I feel about the idea of happiness.  I have always subscribed to the thoughts of Aldous Huxley “Happiness is never grand…Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery. And of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt…Happiness is never grand.”  This quotation is basically how my life has played out since birth.  If you have been reading here a while then you know.  If not, feel free to indulge yourself for I am not going to bore myself or my loyal readers with my own redundancy (that’s a fucking joke).  Shit I have not written anything for months so I suppose I need to make it count.

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Ah the sweetness of adversity Photo: Christopher Dunlea

Now that we got all that philosophical crap out of the way lets get into exactly what has happened in my life over the past four months.  Believe me a lot must have been going on if I was left nearly speechless by it all.  Some one who existed briefly, yet had a major impact on my life recently said that she found it rather odd that I only share the good side of things on my social media.  Clearly she never read this blog for I am the anti-hero of my own story, a modern Sydney Carton waiting to give his life for his beloved Lucie Manette.  Fuck how often am I positive about myself here? To be honest the pain, misery and suffering I had been going through had me so mentally crippled I was for once in my life at a loss of words or at the very least decent words to delineate my situation.  I also have to blame El Nino as well cause if you frequently read the surflog or just surf in California you know how good it has been here in the 805.

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Oh it’s been fun! Photo Christoper Dunlea

I guess the best place to begin my tale is in the middle of October.  At this point of my life everything was looking splendid and grand.  Things at work were going well.  I had recently got a solid raise.  My bosses were pumped on me.  I had the respect and esteem of all of my employees.  The food we were producing was in my opinion the best we ever had done in my six year tenure at the college.  I was working with my best friend Bizarro and watching him develop as a cook, which gave me a real sense of kin.  Life was good.

Yet there was something missing I just couldn’t put my finger on. Although production was at an all time high, quality good and waste low I still knew we could do better.  I live by the code of the samurai striving for complete perfection and mastery of whatever I wish to consummate.  “So many aspire to greatness yet so few succeed.”  Maybe I got too full of myself.  My ego can be a bit ridiculous at times.  I might have pushed the kitchen and management too hard.  I don’t really know how it all fell apart, though looking back now I have an idea.  We are not there yet and I don’t want to get ahead of myself.  I may not have wrote for a bit, but I think upon the conclusion of this piece you be happy I waited.

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I will stand by my food with my life.

“Hindsight is 20/20” and in life I have always had eagle eyes.  Like I said work was good.  Life was good.  I was surfing a bunch and well. Biz and I were shooting tons of photos.  On the party scene I finally climbed to the top of my circle.  It certainly helped having a bit of disposable income around.  In my personal life I wised up to a certain entity that had been bringing me down for years.  It wasn’t her fault or mine we just kept ignoring the writing on the wall and our own good sense.  Certain instances took place that I am not going to mention, but opened my eyes and saw that as a couple we were never going to go anywhere and although we had found a livable groove that could have went on for another five years, I needed more.
party1I’m a romantic, a Shakespearean, an avid reader of Jane Austin.  For these reasons alone I could no longer exist in a relationship of convenience.   Finally after spending the bulk of September agonizing over what to do I took a deep breath and cut the cord.  I emotionally freed myself from the cage I put myself in two and a half years ago.  Man, it was scary.  As most of you know I am not a person who does well alone.  One thing I have always held true to is that I would much rather be alone for the right reasons then with some one for the wrong reasons.  Loneliness, vulnerability and depravity by themselves are not good enough reasons to pursue a life with another if there is no magic.  Thus I walked away standing tall and proud of the decision I made.

Once again I found myself single.  The dating world had changed quite a bit from when I was in the game.  It is very possible that I had changed a bit too, now in my mid thirties and having very different needs and wants then I ever had before.  For the first time in my life the thought a family crossed my mind when meeting a woman.  I wanted someone I didn’t have to save or constantly help get out of trouble.  I didn’t want to regularly have to turn negative vibes into positive ones.  I really wanted to learn from my past.  Luckily I analyze the shit out of my life and especially my romantic escapades.

I wasn’t perfect either.  In the past I had ruined more then one possible great relationship by being a total ass, selfish, immature or all three.  My temper has always been a problem.  I am Italian after all and we are very passionate people in all aspects of our life.  Temper is definitely a flaw  I am most guilty of.  Over the years I have made great efforts to control such.  There is still a long way to go. We are all works in progress till death comes knocking at that door, probably sooner then later for me.

Ultimately I wanted a relationship with more substance, a person with more substance.  I wanted someone in the industry.  People in my field constantly work crazy hours, nights, weekends, holidays.  This makes having a relationship with someone in the 9-5 world nearly impossible.  When you are off they are working.  When they are off you are working.  When you get off at 10 pm you want to drink a glass of wine, maybe go out, eat a meal. The 9-5’er is already in bed.  On the weekends when they want to rage most likely a member of the hospitality industry isn’t getting off till midnight. It becomes a real strain on both parties.

I thought about other cooks or chefs, but we all have egos and mine is heavier then most.  I knew unless I found the most passive chef  we would kill each other.  I put my sights on the front of the house, waitresses, hostesses, bartenders, managers, etc.  Also let it be said I wanted at least six months to pass before I met anyone else.  Even though my former relationship had been technically dead when we broke off our engagement nearly a year prior we still stayed together for another year of emotional dolor.  By all psychological accounts I needed time to heal.

Day in and day out I went upon my everyday.  As much as I hated the world of internet dating I got back on that horse again to no more avail then I had the first go around.  The difference was I had grown a thicker skin and didn’t really take anything too seriously.  If I met someone cool, awesome and if not at least I got out of the house and made a new possible connection.  One should try to make at least six contacts a day according to many very successful people at life in general.  I had a bit of fun with it all this time around.  Why not have fun? We only get one go around.

My life was good.  That almost brings us up to the fated  blog of optimism I published on November 17th 2015: “A Fresh Start“. Not quite entirely, not even a little bit.  During the aforementioned foray with dating through a digital medium I managed to meet someone whom I began to feel rather smitten for.  I believe she did as well.  The chemistry between us was about the best I have ever felt between a member of the opposite sex and myself.  We had enough in common to be compatible, though not so much as for it to get boring.   There were complimentary strengths and weaknesses existing among us as to be advantageous to both.  The two of us looked good together as a couple both having impeccable fashion sense and good taste (yeah mostly her, my tastes are still very much on the Guido side of things.  You know the saying: “take the kid out of Jersey, but never take the Jersey out of the kid”).

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Like I said “Guido”

We genuinely got along.  With all of these aspects of a budding romance in play I decided to legitimately pursue the relationship breaking my six month rule I had set earlier.  There will always exist a spoiler to such rules in this life.  For that spoiler always has been if I think I met someone who could actually be “the one”.  Cupid doesn’t time when he shoots his arrows and I have let plenty of opportunities for love pass me by cause I  ignored his call in order to sort out a different directive.  The impetuous modern day version of Romeo I can be at times threw all caution to the wind and went for it.  By the time I posted “A Fresh Start” I was very much in love and in the midst of a torrid romance.

For weeks I was in a blissful rouse of jovial spirit.  As a matter of fact I couldn’t remember a time when I was more happy.  Its funny how amazing life is when you feel everything is going your way.  I didn’t have a care in the world.   Nothing lasts forever and as fast as love had come to me that was as fast the pitiful wrath of its ending also abounded.  How it all came crashing down at such a hastened pace was beyond me and the downward spiral it would cause was soon to be realized…

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Photo: Christopher Dunlea

Stay tuned for more of this most recent saga of my life soon….

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I checked my mail when I got home tonight after yet another obnoxiously intense day at work courtesy of incompetence of extreme proportions.  Most of which were not of my own causing.  I hate checking the mail and it is a task I seldom get around to accomplishing.  Usually I let if fester in the box till it is so full the mail lady will actually bring it to my door step and leave it there in a rubber banded ball of postal fury.

The reason I made the great effort to walk the extra 41 steps from my couch to my mail box this evening was in the hopes my new debit card would be waiting despite the asinine 7-10 day period the very charming call center operator said it would take. What happened to my old one you might wonder? It was lost in the rapture of a Wild Cat party.  Yep no real surprise there.

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When you live the high life the occasional lost card is a consequence one must accept. 

I had actually managed to hold on to said card for nearly two years.  That’s a long time.  Though it is an even longer degree of time when one is the age of two for it is that person’s entire life time.  As we grow older this seemingly long interval of time to us as a child is now no longer then a snap of a finger.  What is two years, or five, or even ten for that matter when your head is buried down to the grind stone?  Its nothing unless one stops for a moment to reflect on all that passed in that period.

For myself the past two years have been a whirl wind both personally and professionally.  If you read here regularly then I don’t have to elaborate cause you already know.  If not feel free to peruse some of the posts on here from the epoch in question.  I can assure it won’t take long for creatively I was a bit spent as a result of the constant emotional bombardment I took on a regular basis. Thus that brings us to the point of my imbecilic ramblings.

Recently  just up until I lost that card a few major changes in my life have taken place or at the very least seeds for some serious change in the near future.  I don’t know how much of this I really want to get into at the moment or even at all with some of it.  As much as this blog has been a vehicle for relief, reflection and accountability for my life and my own actions at times I wonder if my writings here had about as much control over the outcome of my life as I did.  Certainly some of what I wrote altered the course of the world around me.

I still want to write here and I think my silence for the past two months beside of course the surflog has been the fact that I didn’t really know what direction I wanted this blog to go in.  I am going to try something new here.  I want to tell some of my old surf tales from back in the day.  Write more surf related articles.  Maybe try and write something with a bit more substance then some of the crap I used write.

Things are changing and I think, really believe that the tide is finally turning for me in this life.  That’s all I have for now.  I know this is a bit of a cryptic post.  For now it’s all you’re going to get.  Kind of a dick move on my part considering the lack of posts lately.  I blame WordPress.com for making me feel guilty about not writing anything in two months. Hope this made up for it. Oh and its Rincon season again!
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SandSpit

Epic Sand Spit circa ’09. Pretty sure I was in the pit for the first half of this wave, then hit this section and pulled back into it. Photo: David Molleck

 

I found myself sitting on the break wall  at Sand Spit tonight watching one intrepid soul doing his best to make to the most of the meager wind swell on offer.  Though it was small it also looked a bit on the fun side.  Did I turn around and run back to my apartment to get my board for a paddle?  Not even.  I had a mediocre surf a Emma Wood in the morning that more then filled my surf quota for the day (Check out the April Surflog for more on that surf).  Then I remembered back eight years ago when I first came out here and didn’t even have a car.

I surfed some of the most deplorable Sand Spit one can imagine.  I would have been super stoked on a session that I was at the moment bearing witness to.  Eight years is a long time.  Throw in another three years or so of constant travel to some of the world’s best waves prior and one’s perspectives can really change.  Up until the past two years ago or so I never would have believed that I could even be considered a jaded southern Californian surfer.  I thought my east coast surf ethic would stay strong.  In a way it has still.  I with out a doubt paddle in far more conditions then my born and bread Californian friends.

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Near Epic Rincon Photo: Chris Lisanti

At the same time I have in the last eight years surfed nearly every single wave in the Ventura/Santa Barbara area epic at least once.  Spots like Rincon I have had so many days that would make any normal surfer grin from ear to ear and experience the wave of his life on that I have lost count.  These days such has almost worked to my own personal detriment.  It’s hard for me to get into average Rincon, or small Sand Spit, sub par El Capitan.  I have seen these waves at their best.  I have caught some of the best waves of my life courtesy of them.

There was a time when I first arrived here in Santa Barbara that I was constantly finding the “wave of my life”.  Today my causal expression when asked to describe the conditions is most likely “Best of the worst” or “better then not surfing I suppose”.  I still have plenty of stoke and love surfing more then anything else in life.  At the moment I am having a real difficulty finding that fire in my eyes that I used to have.  I want to recapture that.  I want to go out there and be stoked on two foot Sand Spit and an eight turn ride at Rincon.

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Hollywood By the Sea absolutely going ballistic. Photo: Christopher Dunlea

What do we do when the magic appears to be running out?  I have been surfing 24 years, been a professional, challenged and pushed my limits.  Where do I go from here?  One thing that is for sure surfing is still the love of my life.  Every facet in my day to day is catered around finding the best surf I possibly can.  If I miss a day I still feel as bad about it as I did when I was eleven.  I guess I just need to reconnect with that inner grom that at the moment is ashamed of who he grew up to be.

I remember when I was fourteen I rode my bike 3 miles in February to the beach.  The air was maybe 2oF and the water I was furiously peddling to get to a balmy 38F.  I would get to the beach already frozen, pull on usually wet and cold 5/4/3 and paddle sometimes windblown knee to thigh high closed out dribble and it meant everything to me.  Lately I have felt lost and I think the main reason is because I lost my stoke, my soul.  I guess the new plan is to rediscover this, find my stoke, my soul and let my inner grom out and forget about this being an adult stuff.  I think I have let the real world cloud my priorities for way too long.

I am going to  get back on my bicycle, ride down to the beach and surf and forget about everything else cause in the end all that bullshit society has made me believe was important to me and suppose to make me happy hasn’t.  When I was sleeping on the couch at my current apparent back in 2007 with nothing but four surf boards and a back pack full of clothes just shredding anything and everything I could were some of my happiest times here.  These days I have nice things.  Friends are envious when they walk into my apartment.  All the while I am miserable.  Get ready, for a change is soon to take place.

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The dream is still very real. It’s out there for the taking…Photo: Chris Lisanti

 

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Hollywood21115

How is it that the month of March has already thus come upon us?  It seems to me like I was just getting finished with Bizarro’s and my birthday weekend, which happened the first week of February and now I turn around and it’s March.  Where did the time go? What happened?  Hmmmmm…..My friends and I used to always joke about how days would get away from us.  Now I guess I have moved on to entire months, maybe even years.

The Chris’ Birthday Bash

ChrisBday4It was suppose to be a one night drinkers take all kind of party of Feb 6th.  Instead it rolled into two solid nights of Wild Cat mayhem.  This was an important year for the two of us.  Bizarro was turning the big 30 and I had planned to announce my semi-retirement from the Santa Barbara party scene.  It has been a great run, but I am pretty sure there is more to life then partying, casual sex and getting completely obliterated and I feel it is time to find out just what that is.  I have had a long and fruitful run starting from when I was 13 years old back in Manasquan, New Jersey being held upside down for a keg stand by a dude twice my age to prove I could hang with the big boys.  Since then I have been mixing it up with both friends and randoms all over the world.

There have been fun times, sad times, pathetic times and then the times I just can’t remember, mostly the latter.  At 34 I am starting to feel my age and I think my body is telling me to seriously give it a rest.  I always said that once my drinking began to affect my health and subsequently my surfing I would slow it down.  Plus I sort of liked some of the positive effects in my day to day not being drunk, sick and hungover had to offer.  Finally since Heather and I are giving things yet another go and a major part of our problems was my excessive social agenda stepping away made sense.  Of course Lisanti can’t live with all work and no play.  That being said I have limited my party appearances to just a handful of times a month and stay on the more sober side when I do.  So far so good.  Better to go out on top then found a bloated dead body lying face down on the sidewalk somewhere in a puddle of your own piss and vomit.

Surfing

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Photo: Christopher Dunlea

I don’t really know whats to be said here that hasn’t already been done in detail in the surflog. El Nino started out strong bringing heaps of perfect angled WNW swell that basically lit up everything in this area.  I even got a session at Sand Spit.  Unfortunately I was stuck working most of the time and was only able to half utilize the swell on offer.  Then it pretty much went flat for the back half of the month.  For a very thorough look at the month of February in my surfing life click here.

Some early month point action.  Photo: Christopher Dunlea

Some early month point action. Photo: Christopher Dunlea

Work
I have come to the realization that I hate the act of working in general.  Sure, I especially hate my job, but I don’t believe that matters as much as the fact that I hate that I have a job.  More then anything I find it quite absurd that I have to strictly adhere to a schedule that has been forcefully imposed upon me against my will.  I don’t really feel like I need to be at work from 12-8:30 pm five days a week.  Honestly I could get the job done in like five hours.  Why can’t I come in at 1 some days or if the surf is going to be better mid day come in at like 10 am, prep out all my shit, leave and come back at like 3?  Its just asinine in my opinion.   Yes I understand that one has to have order and conformity in the work place.  Unfortunately my surfing schedule and my working schedule so rarely coincide with one another.  Fuck work!!!

Maybe I would be more jazzed if I actually made some real money and got to live the “good life” so to speak.  I don’t make shit.  I have way too many responsibilities for my pay grade and most days of the week am directly in charge of anywhere from 10-30 employees.  On the weekends I am the infallible boss.  I do all this for less money then my superior pays to get his car detailed each week.   I should just go get a second job so I can be less poor and then I wont have to worry about fitting in surfing cause there just won’t be anytime for it at all.  Then again the second job would put me in a higher tax bracket and in the end I would probably have less take home.

There was a time in this country about 50 years ago where almost everyone made a real living wage instead of just 25% of the population like it is now.  I swear one of these days I am either going to cash out and disappear to someplace with good waves, cheap living and no crowds or go postal and start taking heads.  Blaaaaaaah!!!!!  Fuck it, I will just commit kitchen seppuku with my 7″ boning knife.
SeppukuBesides that I don’t really know if there is anything more to really say about the month of February except that its fucking over.  Looks like El Nino has decided to quite on us along with the entire North Pacific.  With some luck there might just be a few fun wind swell days here and there.  For the most part I am looking at six months of shitty south swells, long gas and money burning drives to either Malibu or Jalama and of course absolutely terrible Emma Wood.  The only upside is with te coming of May and the end of the semester approaching I have only two more months till being laid off for the summer.  The downside to that: absolutely no money.  I may have to suck dick for crack and then sell that crack…happy March everybody!!!!

Whoot, Whoot,  small, shitty windblown Emma Wood for the next six months!!!!!  Photo: H.Rayburn

Whoot, Whoot, small, shitty windblown Emma Wood for the next six months!!!!! Photo: H.Rayburn

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Optimistic-Chris

Getting excited for the Swell of the Century!!!!!

Well that’s what everyone is calling it.  Most likely unless the Earth as we know it is completely fucked and global warning has finally taken its toll I suppose none of us will ever see waves like what graced the coast of California on Wednesday August 27 2014 for at least another 30 years.  As for myself I know I for one will never see a south east tropical swell like such while still in my prime.  I would love to say that I scored like the mother fucker in the above video at Sand Spit, literally a quarter of a mile from my apartment.  My friends I did not!

Nope, no sir.  I FUCKEN BLEW IT!!!!! Have I surfed good Sand Bar in my tenure here in Santa Barbara?  I certainly have.  I have gotten some of the best rides of my life out there.  Wednesday was not to be for me.  I was caught in what was once foretold to me as “adult” responsibility.  Up until Wednesday I had no idea exactly what that phrase meant or why it could cause anyone so much pain.  We all knew Marie was coming and that it was predicted to be BIG.  Of course whenever a tropical swell is in question here on the west coast one always cannot be sure how good it will really be.  No doubt the trump card spots like Trestles, The Wedge and New Port will be solid, but the rest of the coast is usually a crap shoot.

Up here in the 805, well its more like a sadistic game of pin the tail on the donkey.  I have literally spent an entire day driving over 100 miles from Jalama to Ventura to Malibu only to surf absolute crap cause I missed what never really was anywhere.  When I first saw all the models I was a bit of a skeptic (what me? NEVER! Call me captain optimistic).  Although I must say it has been one of the better tropical seasons up in these parts that I have seen in about five years.  Monday night I went up to Jalama with Mike after I got off from work and was figuring it would be fun background swell from the south at best.

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Jalama feeling the preamble to the big south with nice long period lines.

Sure enough the “J” was solid (you can read the August 14 Surf Log for the details) at which point I began to get excited for the new swell.  From the lines I witnessed I for sure thought Tuesday morning (8/26) was going to be on.  Pumped I went to bed early in anticipation.  I knew it wasn’t going to be the best of things early, but figured I would at least get decent enough Santa Clara River Mouth.  My buddy Adam from back in NJ was around and met me up early.  When we began the trek south to Ventura everything was small, barely chest high and poor quality.  We ended up surfing Solimar which was super tiny when we first paddled.  By the end of an hour session already there were new long period lines similar to what I had witnessed at Jalama the previous night coming in.

Solimar, the calm before the storm.

Solimar, the calm before the storm.

I went to work and through out the day I was constantly getting texts from friends letting me know how the swell was filling in.  I guess right at dark most spots began to turn on pretty solid.  I got home around nine and I could hear surf in front of my apartment.  I only live up the cliff from Lead Better beach so this is a common occurrence, especially in the winter.   This was more like fire works going off and the roaring of a great lion then the usual mellow relaxing white noise of tiny wind swell rolling up the beach.  I began to get excited so much so that sleeping became nearly impossible.  I woke up every hour, as most of us do when a special swell event is running, hoping it was light.

Awake at 6 am I found myself pacing around my apartment waiting for my boy Adam to show up.  It was his last day in town and what a last day to have.  He is actually the second person from New Jersey to show up to SB for a rarity of a swell.  The last time it was friends of Cory and I, Alex and Carleigh back in 2007.  That was a macker of a WNW swell, the biggest Santa Barbara I have ever seen or surfed.  It was also on a Wednesday.  Maybe I will write a throw back blog about that swell at some point.

This swell was way more rare then that one.  Santa Barbara gets WNW swells in the winter.  We don’t get south swells in the summer and we especially don’t get ESE swells basically ever.  On top of that most spots saw at least head high waves and then some.  My boy should have bought a lottery ticket cause his lucky stars were counted and lined up.  We had a look directly in front of my place at Lead Better and it was solid 8-10 ft, though rather crowded and average shape at best, classic Lead Better.  I thought about having a look at Sand Spit, but decided the swell was most likely too east for it and the summer sand would be no good.  Instead I went for Sharks Cove, which is always my go to spot for when town has waves.

Leo Carillo at first light, gigantic. Photo: Mike Astede

Leo Carillo at first light, gigantic. Photo: Mike Astede

I did the drive by from the 101 twice to get a handle on the place.  From what I could see there were only about five guys on it and was at least head high.  Hammonds looked huge.  We parked and made the run to the point.  To our surprise and utter dismay about twenty more guys had already beat us there and another ten were behind us effectively clogging the point.  On top of that it was not coming in very good at all.  If only five guys were out I would have paddled anyway, but I was not about to fight a crowd. We looked west toward Hammonds and Mira Mar and it looked nuts.

Hammonds looked like some crazy tropical reef pass and from our vantage,  just way over head freight training rights.  At Mira Mar we saw some guy drop into a wave that was at least three feet over head and it looked like he was skirting the barrel.  Out of time that was the call and up to Hammonds we ran.  As luck would have it when we got in front of spot and the right was way too fast and walled.  The left looked good, though some what crowded.  The wave also ended on complete dry reef.  I have broke two boards and lost countless fins/plugs to that left on average days.  I could not imagine what would have happened if I paddled it.  Most people out there were just getting destroyed on the left any how.

The drift was heading east to Mira Mar anyway so Adam and I jumped in at Hammonds and drifted our way down.  Pretty much all the way through Mira Mar it was still very very fast.  I was pumping with all my might and speed to get two or three fast turns in.  What we thought were guys getting tubed from a far were just people being forced to straighten off.  Then Adam managed to luck into an overhead peeler that he ripped the fuck out of all the way to the bottom of the point.  Right behind him I snagged the next one and got four solid back side hits on it.  From that point we had it wired till the end of our session when it go clogged with a bunch of kook ass long boarders and old guys, who’s modus operandi was to burn us on everything despite the fact we were making all of our waves.  Whatever we got a few and were stoked.

Santa Clara River Mouth, Ventura off the chain Wednesday morning.  Photo: Mike Astede

Santa Clara River Mouth, Ventura off the chain Wednesday morning. Photo: Mike Astede

Deep down inside I knew I had blown it and was blowing it by going into work.  What was I going to do?  My hands were tied.  It was the first legit day of the Westmont student meal plans.  I am the sous chef.  It would have set a terrible example if I called out.  The fucking swell was all over the news for days.  My bosses and everyone I work with would have put the facts together and knew I was not sick.  With my luck I would have gotten a clip on the news or in the paper.  My boss would see it while watching t.v. that night and I would be busted.

On a side note back in 2003 I was attending Monmouth University in New Jersey.  A sick hurricane swell was coming up the coast.  I called my professor and told him I was having a stomach bug and would not be able to attend class.  Meanwhile I was getting some amazing waves at my home break.  There were a bunch of photographers shooting.  Most were the usual surf paparazzi and I thought nothing of it hoping to get a shot so I would get paid.  One of the guys shooting I had never seen before and he came up to me and said he got some good ones and wanted my info, which I gave.  Next time I went to that class I bailed on the professor said that he hoped that I was feeling better then through a copy of the previous day’s newspaper on my desk.  I was on the cover six feet in the air on a sickie.  BUSTED!!!!

I did the responsible thing this time around and went into work where I slaved like a dog for nine hours.  Ryan scored Hobsons, one of my go to over flow spots when the points get to crowded and said it was like an Indo left.  I heard Father Johns went off as well.  Pat said Mondos looked over head and kill-able.  That wave is the biggest kook loving mush burger 365 days a year.  As we all know from the opening video to this piece Sand Spit was epic.  Trevor got some bombs at Rincon up at Indicator, which I heard was intense from a lot of people.  I also heard that Devereux had a left breaking to sands that was crazy.  My friend Trey went to El Cap at first light and said the point was about chest to head and fun. Basically it was a magically swell that made all sorts of epic little nooks and crannies go off.

 

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Gold Coast the day after the swell.

Thursday (8/28) there was still plenty of swell lingering.  I got up good and early to have a look around.  Unfortunately new wind swell had filled in over night and tore up the channel turning the groomed hurricane lines into absolute mess.  I drove around for over an hour before desperation paddling the Gold Coast near the entrance to Emma Wood.  For whatever reason Jordy Smith had decided to paddle and was absolutely destroying the choppy crossed up offerings.  I had a barrel or two,  but it was stoked to surf with him.  I guess it was a minor redemption to a major insult of blowing the  swell of the century.  If I were a Japanese samurai I think I would have had to commit seppuku.  As a surfing guru I almost felt inclined to anyway.  On further analysis though I realized that I have scored epic waves all over the globe and have many good years of surfing ahead of me.  Sure it will suck to talk about how I blew it every time the big south of August 2014 comes up, which it will for the next thirty years.  I did get to surf and that always beats not surfing and winter is coming….RINCON.

Another look at Santa Clara River Mouth on Wednesday morning going absolutely ham.

Another look at Santa Clara River Mouth on Wednesday morning going absolutely ham.

 

 

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The North Side of Point Sur.  Notice the sick little left hander in the background.  I will only say this about the photo, it was shot about a mile away.  Translation, that wave is way bigger then it looks! Harder to get too as well.

The North Side of Point Sur. Notice the sick little left hander in the background. I will only say this about the photo, it was shot about a mile away. Translation, that wave is way bigger then it looks! Harder to get too as well.

There is a place just north of San Simeon, and south of Carmel that will change one’s perspectives on life in general. A mere seventy some odd miles of coastline, Big Sur is an expanse of vistas and adventure locked into a desolate speck of California that is awe inspiring.  I am a person who has traversed a large part of the coastal world, seen and experienced many amazing things in my life time.  What I came across on my recent trip into Big Sur left my mind blown and my heart longing for a simpler life.  My inner yearning for an existence beyond the reaches of man was once again rekindled.  An answer was posed to the question: “There must be a better way?”.
Big Sur, Northern CoastFor over ten years I have been avoiding this seemingly daunting stretch of coastline.  “Don’t waste your time with Big Sur if you want to surf” said one surf guide.  “The only true locals are the sharks and their brand of localism will kill you” said another.  I even found a statistic claiming the only killer Whale attack in North America ever recorded on a human happened in Big Sur to a knee boarder.  Throw in gnarly erratic weather, frigid water and heavy fog and lets just say I was always far from eager to make my way through.  The only time I travel up the coast is to get waves and rather then waste it and swell on a shot in the dark I have always focused my energy between Monterey and San Mateo Counties where the options and score probability are way better.

The last time I actually did drive the PCH down Big Sur was with my parents.  It was night time, the fog was so thick I could barely see five feet in front of me.  Both my Mom and Dad were passed out, while I clung to the edge of my seat, my ass so tight it could turn coal into diamonds, traversing this crazy windy road with sheer death at times on either side if I was to make a wrong move and go off the road.  When we finally got to San Simeon, our projected destination it was two and a half hours later to go eighty miles and I was so wound up I needed a fucking drink.  Of course the liquor store was closed and the bull shit motel had no mini bar.  I found myself frantically knocking at the night manager’s office to see if he had a nip.  Lucky for me most night auditors are drunks and the guy was stoked to share a flask of whisky with me.

Bixby Creek Bridge, pretty in the day light, but at night with intense fog an easy way to die.

Bixby Creek Bridge, pretty in the day light, but at night with intense fog an easy way to die.

Fast forward back to recently, Heather and I had been talking about doing one of those cliche romantic couple get-a-away type trips for sometime.  Truth be told I had never really been on such a trip before and thought maybe I have been cheating myself all these years.  Also I never have dated the type of woman who would have been interested in such.  Lets face it most of my romantic dealings with women are lucky to last past dropping her off in the morning. This whole serious relationship thing has been completely new ground for me with a harsh fucking learning curve.  Fuck I thought getting proficient at surfing was tough.  It’s a cake walk compared to this.

We decided that we would get a little place somewhere in the woods for a few days in February as sort of a birthday gift/engagement gift.  I wanted to go someplace beyond the reaches of both cell phones and internet.  I really was interested to get away and have some quality one on one time with my lady sans interruptions from the rest of the world.  Whatever the needs of the real world wanted it would have to wait a few days.  Originally the plan was to go find some snow and get a little cabin up in the mountains somewhere.  Then Heather mentioned Big Sur and around that same time a friend of mine from back east had just recently spent some time there and had a rather good time with his girl.

I wanted to try and leave surfing out of the equation as best as possible.  Those of you who are or know die hard surfers know that if you put a surfer near the coast with a chance of scoring waves it will consume him no matter what  the initial objective of the trip was.  As I stated earlier I had not ever really considered Big Sur for a surfing destination thus leaving it in the scope of a potential destination.  We managed to find a cute little cabin in the woods just as we had hoped.  I decided to pack a step up and a 5’10 just in case.  The idea of surfing Big Sur was more of a novelty then anything else to me.

An unexpected yet exactly what I expected of the Big Sur surfing experience.  Big, windy, scary conditions with no one out but me.

An unexpected yet exactly what I expected of the Big Sur surfing experience. Big, windy, scary conditions with no one out but me.

Just like that the trip was set for February 12-14th.  Believe me going away for Valentine’s Day was not part of my plan and only painstakingly added to the utter cliche of the whole endeavor.  Trust me I cringe at the thought of Valentines Day.  Fuck I wrote a great little piece on the whole fake Holiday: “#@%% Valentine’s Day“.  You can click the link to visit that blog for some fun Lisanti anger blindly targeted at yet another bull shit day.  I must say I was rather looking forward to the trip all things considered.  I never get to do anything different these days being I am so locked into the monotony of my daily routine. Heather and I rarely get any real quality alone time together either, considering our very contrasting schedules and lives.

The Journey North
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The plan was to leave early in the morning Wednesday the 12th and slowly work our way up Pacific Coast Highway taking in whatever sights came our way.  I hate rushing anywhere when I am on vacation.  Half the fun of taking a road trip some place is the act of getting there.  I have been on some trips where the actual process of getting there turned out to be more fun then the actual objective. Of course thanks impart to an impromptu dinner engagement the previous evening and bit too much wine those great laid plans of an early departure were all but forgotten.  

Instead I decided to go surf New Jetty considering that Heather was still fast asleep, not packed or ready to embark upon an early north mission.  When God closes a door he opens a window after all and in this case it was meager but rip-able new Jetty where I managed to get into an altercation with some stupid kid.  So maybe it wasn’t such a great window after all.  Still I got a few.  I you feel so inclined you can read about that bull shit session in the February SurfLog, the 2-12 entry.

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New Jetty living it up in the worlds best average wave and winner of the “better then nothing” category.

In classic Lisanti fashion we did not get on the road till around 2 pm.  Not that it was a really big deal or anything.  At that point I had come to the terms with the fact that it was going to be long past dark before we made it to Big Sur.  My only worry was the difficulty of finding the cabin considering the remoteness of it’s location.  Then again I figured we could cross that bridge when we came to it and it would only add to the adventure. The only positive thing about the late start was not having to worry about traffic since it’s pretty desolate up north and we were timed perfect to just miss the start of rush hour in Santa Maria and the end of it in San Luis Obispo.  The trip was smooth sailing all the up.

When we got into SLO I headed for the coast.  The wind appeared to be on it, but I had that st small hope of being able to find something to surf for feeding hour.  Morro Bay was all blown out.  One guy was paddling the State Beach there, but conditions were far from inviting.  Rather then waste time getting all cold and frustrated attempting to surf trash  I decided to keep cruising while day light was available.  Plus I was hoping to get up to this beach just north of Hearst Castle that is one of the largest elephant seal rookeries along the central coast.  I had missed it on my last trip.

The iconic Morro Rock, Morro Bay

The iconic Morro Rock, Morro Bay

We weaved our way up the coast in the waning light in all its golden red splendor.  The ocean was on one side and the vast coastal hills to the other.  Everything had all the makings of a perfect sunset and I hate wasting one.  I found a chill little spot to pull over just under Point Piedras Blancas.  There we watched the sun slowly sink beyond the horizon into the ocean.  Behind us was the silhouette of Hearst Castle sitting on its hill top perch.  Every time I see that impressive structure I cannot help but imagine what it must have been like to watch a sunset from one of the many verandas there.   Nothing puts a day in perspective for me better then a good sunset.

Hearst Castle, a must visit if one finds himself on the Central Coast.

Hearst Castle, a must visit if one finds himself on the Central Coast.

Luckily for us the beach with all of the seals was only a few miles away and we got there with just enough twilight left to see the scene.  As soon as I stepped out of the car I was greeted with the craziest seal sounds I had ever heard.  There was barking, screaming, cooing, snickering, snorting and howling.  It was almost comical.  Then I got to the bluff and the entire beach was littered with seals.  It was rather entertaining and if not for the darkness and intense cold I think I could have stayed there for hours. The show had to go on and we were still a good few hours from our targeted destination.

For awhile there was nothingness as far as the eye could see.  At most times I was the only car on the road in the darkness.  After a good forty minutes of driving we entered the southern most part of Big Sur, Ragged Point. There was a small little resort area there called, you guessed it, “Ragged Point”.  Thinking it might be our last look at civilization for God knows how long I decided we should stop and see about getting dinner.  I also would like to mention that I forgot to grab my Central California Tour Guide book, only grabbing my surf guide and the weakest on of the three I had at that.  Figuratively and literally in the dark we decided a bird in the hand was better then two in the bush.

The restaurant there was certainly bit on the fancy and pricier side than I was hoping for. Beggars can’t be choosers and in the rush of our late departure I also failed to pack adequate groceries for a journey into the uncivilized unknown.  I pride myself on my ability to understand the terrain I am entering on any trip I decide to take on.  I was this time around distracted by other stupidity going on in my life prior to departure and therefore found myself completely unprepared and thus had to wing it.  Alone I don’t really have a problem with that, but with Heather in tow I felt a bit more uptight and nervous of our situation.

My expectations for this place was that I was going to shell out a lot of money for a less then stellar meal.  Believe it or not I was rather shocked at the quality and portion size of our food.  Heather ordered a very tasty sauteed jumbo scallop dish and I had a Lobster Pot Pie that easily had  six ounces of lobster in it and was so tasty I considered stopping in on my way home.  Whatever the case if your ever in Big Sur I highly recommend stopping for at least one meal at the Ragged Point Dinning Room.

After a our splendid meal it was back on the road for us.  We were graced with a full moon and a very clear night making  driving conditions as good as could be asked for in Big Sur.  Seriously the moon was so bright I could nearly seemas good as if it were day. We drove the windy road in and out of the craggy coast line.  About thirty minutes in I decided to pull over and have a look at my surroundings. Heather was sound asleep in the passenger seat as I stepped out onto the seaside cliff and looked out.  Everything looked amazing in the silvery moon light.  I had not seen so many stars since my tenure in New Zealand. The ocean was shimmering as the waves crashed in and out of the cliffs below.  There was some type of rock formation out in the ocean as well that was just getting pounded by the force of the waves.   It was a surreal moment and reminded me just how lucky it was to be alive to experience such an amazing moment of solitude.

Our Cabin was about another half hour or so in the actual town of Big Sur.  When we got there it was after ten and everything was closed and not a person was stirring.  The cabin was off the Highway 1 down a non-nondescript dirt road.  Basically what this came down to is that the road was near impossible to find.  I was given the most vague directions possible: “look for a big tree with a group of mail boxes near it.  Road is passable by all vehicles but may be  seem intimidating if your not used to country roads.”  This is all I had to go by.

After almost thirty minutes of driving around in circles I finally came to what I thought to be the road up to the cabin.  “Accessible by all Vehicles”, well I guess that is a different understanding for different people.  In my little Civic coupe that is very low to the ground this muddy, rocky, root filled, pot hole ridden excuse for a road seemed like it was going to be near impossible.  Coming into to it we passed a rusted out tow truck and a beat up atv.  We figured that must be the Calvary to help get guest out who get stuck.

Our cute little cabin in the woods.

Our cute little cabin in the woods.

This creepy ass road through the woods in the dark with no one in sight just had a very “Deliverance” sort of feel to it.  Then to make matters worse the road began to climb at like an 18% grade.  How my car made it was beyond me.   Sure she bottomed out a few times, but came through no worse for the wiser.  We finally got in front of this cabin and it is full on looking a bit like “The Evil Dead”.  I was waiting for Bruce Campbell to show up with a chainsaw attached to his arm and start hacking away at the rape tree.  Actually it was a cute little cabin and I think both of us were very happy to get inside.  As soon as we were settled I built us a warm fire, which we wasted no time in snuggling down in front of.

Nothing rewards a long journeys end like a warm fire.

Nothing rewards a long journeys end like a warm fire.

From there it was into bed for us with excitement for what adventures tomorrow would hold.  I was hoping to find some waves.  Both of us were interested to see all the sights that we missed arriving in the dark.  Among all things it was nice to leave all of our troubles of the real world behind and fins a little time in seclusion with just us and nature.  In my opinion you cant ask for much more out of life then that.

For more Big Sur Adventuring check out Part II!!!!!!!
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