Work Hard. Play Hard.

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.

Oregon Trees + high-res version

Curious Gorge

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.

Surf City + high-res version

Surf City

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.

A surprise flash mob dance that I organized with friends and family for Caroline and Michaels wedding in Camp Sherman, Oregon on September 29, 2012. There were so many people on the dance floor you could barely move, but it turned out to be a blast for all. (Check out the behind the scenes practice too!)

IMG_1905 + high-res version

Dragged, Launched and Stoked on Kiting

I have wanted to get into kiteboarding for a few years now. I flew a trainer kite, took some safety lessons, but until now I somehow convinced myself against it. “Get better at surfing”, “You don’t have the time for another sport” and most importantly “I don’t need more gear”.

My perspective changed once I got the opportunity to watch two of my best friends and former ski racing buddies compete in a kiting event near Hood River, Oregon. After a morning of mountain biking, we cruised down to watch them huck, launch and flip through air. It was like gymnastics meets surfing with a huge adrenaline rush, and I wanted in. Lindsay managed to take home the win for the day and Blaine (photo to the right) runner up for the men’s. I started nagging them to get me out on the water.

So when Lindsay called me up a few weeks later with an adventure proposition I quickly jumped on board. “Not sure if you’d be up for it, but would you want to drive 5 hours to a place on the coast where we can teach you to kite?”. Within a day we were headed to Floras Lake, a shallow lake that sits on just the other side of the sand dunes and catches high winds off the coast. We scored… or so I thought, it was blowing around 30mph, which according to Blaine is perfect for learning (not so much for the other kiters that launched themselves 30+ft in the air and came cowering back to shore). So I learned the safety ropes, body dragged left and right, worked on power strokes, and launched myself across the water. It wasn’t without an ear-to-ear smile and a thirst for more. Now it is just a matter of putting those board skills together without immediately pulling down on the power bar and investing in the gear!!!