It was December 26th, the day after Christmas and the snow report was dismal in much of Oregon and California. The four of us were determined to find winter and willing to make the drive. After scouring the forecasts, we crossed our fingers and set out for Montana. With Vinnie, our fearless leader at the wheel of Alberto the RV and we were bound for an epic week.
Two of us “Southers” (surfers from all the way down in San Francisco) hit the highway in search of new breaks and empty beaches. We found just that, and more.
Time slowed down between Jenner and Mendocino as we checked every spot, cliff and view along the way. While some of the surf was small, some of it rose up from the south and served up glassy rights and hours of rewarding waves. Never a last wave, always one more. We paddled until our arms would no longer tolerate, and then kept paddling until the sun disappeared or the waves washed us ashore. Still mind surfing those beautiful peaks.
Vinnie and Gardner who met in Mammoth, brought everyone back to celebrate community with them in the Sierras. After a weekend wedding at Benton hot springs we headed for the backcountry. Along with the Miller boys and a few other friends we were destined to get up to the Minarets. All of us had admired the jagged peaks from the backside of the mountain for years, yet none of us had ventured out to meet them face to face. We made camp at Minaret lake and hung out with Clyde, scrambled up to get a good look at Banner and Ritter. The stars were unbelievable and the water was literally breathtaking. We took quick swims and long lizard like naps on the granite rock. It was an epic couple of days, and shocking walk back out to the crowds and tourist swarming town on the fourth of July.
Baja with the Boys
The winter in Tahoe had been cold and dry and most everyone was aching for some powder. We had been hiking around in the backcountry looking for corn, bombing groomers on race skis and trying to imagine a different forecast than the sunshine that waited. Instead of hitting the road for the Northwest or Canada, which seemed to be the only places with decent snow, I decided to flip seasons and go south. I had a week to spare before I started my new job and I wanted to play.
It just so happened a few friends were able to rally at the last minute for a trip to Baja. We threw together some tentative plans, booked our tickets and packed our surfboards. With more boards than people, we set out to find some waves. Our beachfront palapa sat directly in front of a heavy beach break and short walk from a point off Los Cerritos. We wasted little time before jumping in and battling it out. With just the four of us in the water we started a wave game where you got 1 point for dropping in and negative points for chickening out. The waves tallied up, we took plenty on the head and scored some nice ones that kept us paddling out till our arms could fall off. Between two surf sessions a day, we ate plenty of tacos, fish, wandered the beaches, read, drew and let our minds wander.
We ventured up the coast checking the breaks from Pescadero to Todos Santos. Some days we scored, some we got skunked but we usually found something to ride. The rights at Pescadero wrapped far along the rocky coastline. Some monsters were ridable, others ate you alive, but the crowd was something to remember. Friendly people lined the beach, ripped around with a welcoming and humble smile, which is not always the case for surfers. After many days of looking we didn’t score at Todos until our last. We knew it was good when we rolled up and saw the beach lined with trucks. I had a perfect end to the week and session to remember, with long lulls followed by long rights. Although I managed to knock some ribs out of alignment, get tossed, tumbled and humbled I scored some of my best waves ever and that’s what getting better at surfing is all about.
My brother makes crazy cool graphics fly across your screen. Check out his reel, it’s real sweet.
Something to be said about a place that never changes, skiing is still good!
Lone Red Chair painting inspired by Ski Bowl, Oregon.
The clouds parted and the weather was promising, Vinnie called early Sunday morning to inquire about getting out to play. The roads were too wet to ride, the snow too wet to ski, so we opted for a jaunt through the woods in the Columbia River Gorge. We packed up our cameras and headed up river to a well known route behind Multnomah Falls. It took less than a mile to ditch the tourists and we discovered moss, chantrelles, lot’s of trees and waterfalls. Protected by the trees above we barely noticed it was pouring rain as we climbed up 2,500 ft to Devil’s rest, I guess I do have some Oregonian in me still.
My brother Nick Vranizan made this (drawings too), it’s 50% amazing!
Giants’ Tight End Martellus Bennett tells his story of catching a falling fan after the Giants/Packers Sunday night game. They animate it.
The sun broke through the clouds, the swell picked up and the most fickle break in town was working. With coffee and camera in hand, I biked down to meet a group of friends and eager surfers to watch the morning unfold. I sat on the edge of the bay, looking back at the city as the pack battled it out under the Golden Gate. Although I didn’t have the nerve to paddle out myself, I admired the friends who did.