Archive for December, 2012

BoringThe car I have bought is great but I need to get the board on the roof if only to create space for me to sleep in it from time to time. It would also be good to have some company at various stages of the journey so I MUST sort out a roof rack. However it is turning into a Grail Quest, and a painful one at that. Everywhere says they are open online but I drive halfway across the city to each vendor who is either closed, hostile, locking up having sent the staff home early, but most importantly for all of them unable to sell me the final piece of a three piece jigsaw which I must collect before departing. Sadly I will now have to wait two days until people start answering phones and I can even get an ETA on when I can lay my hands on the last bit of kit.

Having all that grief and having to do other very boring stuff like walking for an hour to find a post office which closed 10 minutes before I got there, printing off and finalising my limited company’s accounts for last year, etc means this is a really frustrating day. It is New Year’s Eve so I will have to go out and raise a glass to sooth my furrowed brow.

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SF Streets3I did the test drive when buying the vehicle but need to open it up to see what it will perform like over the long drive I have planned for it. After taking some tips from this bloke (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuDN2bCIyus) on how best to cope with the crazy streets of San Francisco I originally plan to catch up with some of Kevin’s friends down in Santa Cruz.Camerons Pub

However the pace of traffic and the number of Sunday drivers on the road are turning it into a painful experience. Due to havving the board squeeze into the Beetle with me I cant see the ocean on my right as I drive south which takes the fun out of things, so I gladly pull into a ‘British’ pub I spot at the side of the road near Half Moon Bay.

British FayreAs well as Boddingtons on draft and serving a very fine bangers and mash, they also have a village shope stocked with British goodies. As you can see I have stocked up on the essentials.

I return to San Francisco and go out to enjoy a few beers in Kevin’s local ‘The Tipsy Pig’ where I am treated to my first bar room brawl which is strangely done in silence without reaction from the well heeled crowd drinking in there. Also meet a couple of locals Brady and Kat who were born just as I finished school. He has just come back from Peru and Chile so is a mine of useful information about the area. Another great day.

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Uke Case PictureNow that I am back on the mainland I do not have anything at all planned until my flight out of Lima in Peru to Santiago in Chile at the end of May. To get to Lima I need a surf wagon of some desription and this picture on the box that my ukulele came in gives an impression of the carefree existence I am hoping for.

My beautiful pictureHowever anybody who knows me will tell you that I am blessed with a Leper’s touch as far as vehicles are concerned. In the same way that I have a talent for finding great surf lodges I can select the runt of the vehicle litter without even trying. These pictures show some of my more epic failures, but they are far from the whole story.

Stunt Milkman

One shows the car which we got stuck and had to abandon in the Sahara Surf trip (a car after the original one that blew up before we had gone 20 miles in it on that trip) and the other shows the aftermath of my attempt at cornering the market for stunt milkmen back in the early 90s. I have also chased the surf bus ideal before with a 6 wheeled 3.5tonne truck which turned into a vast money pit, so am justifyably nervous about this shopping expedition.

I walk the length of San Francisco and back on one day trying to find second hand dealers. However almost all of them have been put out of business because the US, like the UK, operated a scheme through the credit crunch where decent old cars got scrapped by owners in favour of thousands of discount off their next car, which removed almost all the supply of saleable used cars from the market overnight. Consequently I walk for miles and miles without any joy of even finding more than one used car lot, but towards the end of the day I am directed over to Auto Row in Oakland, which is the nickname for a road of delerships who may have a bought old cars off buyers in order to sell a better vehicle to them, which they in turn may be willing to sell to me within my budget. It is on the other side of San Francisco Bay but accessible by the BART train so I head over there first thing this morning.

Another epic stroll up and down this road, ducking and diving, bobbin and weaving my way through just about every second hand car ruse known to man as I walk along and I realise I will have to spend a wee bit more that I wish if I want something half decent to be my lifeboat, my changing room, my hotel room, my shelter, my dining room, my safety deposit box and my board storage for the next five months.

Surf Wagon2

I actually spot this beauty in the Mitsubishi dealership, which is the first one that I see on day two, but continue down the street and back to ensure I am not missing a different gem. However my scouting doesnt unearth anything worth shouting about, so I go back and haggle like a demon until this lovely VW Beetle is mine for the trip.

Surf Wagon5I’m not sure if it was the fact that ‘The Love Bug’ was filmed in San Francisco or if it was VW’s huge surfing pedigree but it felt right so I went for it and am now looking forward to kitting it out over the next few days. It looks much better from a distance than it does up close, but the chassis engine and wheels all seem good which is all I am bothered about for now.

Name suggestions would be very welcome, because I can’t think of anything straight away. Anybody?

A funky car for a funky trip. Wooo-hoooo! 

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BART TrainThe BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport) trains are full of the homeless when I return to San Francisco in the middle of the night. It is the only warm place for them to get some sleep and I look distinctly out of place in the hula shirt I wore for the flight back from Honolulu. I see several gettinh hassled by the police and moved along.

All of which is quite a depressing return to the mainland. I head over to Kevin’s place near the Marina and half frighten Jenn to death opening the door in the middle of the night.

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pete cakeSpecial shout going out to my good buddy Pete Griff who has surfed his way to 40 today. Pete and I had epic sessions back in the day when we were first allowed on the roads and had access to boards.

Nobody else will understand the night it was too windy to get the tents up in the corner at Hell’s Mouth, so we fashioned a shelter of sorts from driftwood we found on the beach and slept in our board bags which were wrapped in the fly sheets to keep the torrential rain off. We were hoping that the swell would clean up the next day and alternated stoking the hobo stove we made from an oil drum as well as piling in another arm full of wet logs through the night. Even the farmer whose field we were supposed to be crashing in came looking for us because he thought we were dead! I seem to remember it being in the middle of winter too but I could be confusing it with many dawn raids which were more than a tad frosty.

Hardcore Pete. You know the score. Sorry the message is a little late dude. Aparently it is going to be triple overhead near San Francisco tomorrow. I’m going to check out Mavericks and some other breaks dude and will bag a beaut’ for you.

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Hawaiian FlagAloha works as well as goodbye as it does for hello, and I definitely take a bit of the Hawaiian spirit with me as I head back to the mainland.

Apart from the Union Jack which still forms part of Hawaii’s flag I leave a little bit of myself in the islands, and I’m not talking about the back of my hand shredded off by the reef at Makaha or the $100 surcharge to get my board back to the mainland! I have dreamt about surfing here for years and it was everything I hoped it would be, and just a shame that I dont have more time to enjoy it. But like my surf sessions it is always good to get out when you are still thirsting for more. Mahalo to the islands for a great time.

Feeling a litle deflated on the way to the airport I consol myself by chatting up the German girl who shares the shuttle bus with me. he is from Santa Barbara so there may yet be more twists in that particular tale.

 

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North ShoreAs ever I wake up early and realise that I am not flying out until after 9pm so have another full day to amuse myself before leaving the islands. The surf forecast for the south coast is pants but the North Shore is supposed to be huge so I decide to hire a car and try and get a picture of myself riding the huge waves on my new GoPro camera.

Easier said than done though because all the cars on the island are hired out. even the hooky hire dudes known as Rent-a-wreck dont have anything. Avis, Hertz, etc are all looking for nearly $300 a day for a Ford Ka or equivalent with a minimum 3 day hire. Using guile and cunning however I manage to lay my hands on a vehicle for $160 which in the circumstances is a right result, even if it smells decidedly dodgy and the transaction is all a bit cloak and dagger with cash payments etc.

Apart from trying to get myself killed on the North Shore for the sake of a glorious picture I am using the opportunity to do a complete lap of the island, and have my new room mate Neal from Saskatawan along with me in the front, as well as Manon and two Brazilian Girls she knows called Elluar and Isabela coming along for the ride in the back.

Crowded PipelineThe scenery of course does not disappoint the others who havent got outside of Waikiki yet, and the waves everywhere on the North Coast are absolutely pumping. There is a massive crowd watching Pipeline as usual and one that is almost as big as that in the water around the break. As if the wave wasn’t hard enough you have to slalom your way through the flotsom. Not everybody manages that each time and the carnage is unbelievable. I also see the worst drop in I have ever seen in my life. One guy flying along in the tube only for another to blatantly drop 20 feet on top of him at about 45mph with the wave whumping both of them in the ensuing wipeout! Awful and that nobody was seriously hurt was a miracle. Surfer number 1 in this story had a few things to say to surfer number 2 you can rest assured however!

We opt for the edge of Hale’iwa lagoon which is sheltered from the monster waves breaking past the harbour and will be great for the girls who know nothing of surfing, but sadly the lifeguards will not allow any boards to be hired out due to the pumping surf. Denied we cant hire anywhere else and I cant leave everyone on the shore for two hours so I am not going to get a chance to take on huge North Shore waves on this trip after all. Never mind it might be  good thing for my own health and they will let us hire Stand Up Paddle (SUP) boards for a trip up the river that feeds the lagoon, where we can supposedly see loads of turtles as well as trying out the latest surfing craze where you have a huge board and a long canoe paddle to propel yourself.

Eloa, Isabella and ManonWe pay up, are in our swimwear (what little there is of the Brazilian bikinis) and good to go when Elluar goes back to the car one last time and locks the keys in the boot. #*$#%&#&£!!!!!! Not happy doesnt quite cover it.

If they weren’t so pretty I would go apoplectic. (Can you tell me which one you would forgive first?) However I am now stood only in my swim shorts with bare feet on a ticking clock for the car hire, missing my plane, another nights room rental, admin fees, etc where as the others have no rush at all to be back in Waikiki nor the grasp of the English language to deal with the situation effectively. Consequently I have to fall on my sword and tell the others to go out on the SUPs without me. They later say it is the best thing they have done on the island whereas I did not even get wet, instead spending the next hour in the steaming heat trying to persuade people in the surf shop to ring locksmiths for me on their mobiles, then trying to get the tradesmen out on Boxing day to release the keys. (To rub the salt in I can all the while see and hear the massive glorious surf that is the reason I hired the car crashing down on the reef, which is so close I can almost taste it, but never get near to.) Miraculously one locksmith does come out fairly quickly and has the keys in my hand in under an hour. I then have to swim out to the others who are over running on the hire of boards because they are seeing so many turtles and having such great time, to shepherd them back in to the beach so I can drive us the hour back to the south of the island hopefully returning the car on time and make it to my shuttle bus. Nail biting stuff but nothing I’m not used to and I get the car back with 85 seconds to spare to find the guy standing and tapping his feet outside the hire shop, which he has already closed up for the night!

A frantic and more than a bit frustrating end to a great stay, and I have an hour to enjoy a few beers and say my goodbyes to everyone before heading for the airport.

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It is my last night in Hawaii so I decide to go on a Pub Crawl around the various bars of Waikiki The crawl is led by Chad who is the loadest man in America even if he is a Canadian. Thankfully there are no pictures of the night but I have a great time, meet loads of new friends and am suitably trashed by the time I get back to the room.

As Chad would say “Not just Awesome, F##king Awesome!”

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DCIM101GOPROI have treated myself to one of the GoPro Hero cameras for Xmas. I installed it the previous evening and it is good to go on the nose of my board for this session. The waves are not epic by any means for this session, but are perfect for trialling this product. Manon and I enjoy posing for it in the sunshine as we wait for waves.

DCIM101GOPROWe paddle out at Waikiki to get ahead of the crowds but even at 7am minutes after the sun comes up there are already twenty surfers in the water including several wearing santa hats, including one fat bloke with a thick white beard and sunglasses who looks like he has just finished a big shift at work. Hmmmmmm, I wonder.

We have to wait about 10 minutes for each set to come through and it is at best waist high and the scramble to catch each one gets worse as each new surfer drags themselves out of bed and into the water.

DCIM101GOPROPatience brings it own reward though and I bag a few small waves but take them for long rides with this being the best picture of the lot taken by the GoPro which snaps nearly 2500 during the session. I can see I will be spending a significant amount of time hitting the delete button to get rid of all the dross if I want to have any space left on my hard disk by the end of January.

DCIM101GOPRO I was hoping for some great surf shots for me and for you to share, however what I wasn’t expecting was for the camera to capture how much it means to me. If you ever want to know why I go surfing. Check out these picture which say far more than I ever can about why I go.

DCIM101GOPROI look look like I am having such a good time even in rubbish surf.

 

 

 

 

DCIM102GOPROProper stoked!!

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ElcioAfter a stroll along the beach and enjoying some retail therapy because everyhing is open here on Christmas Day I enjoy hanging with the Brazilians in the hostel. Elcio my room mate is on his way back to Sao Paolo from watching his beloved Corinthians beat Chelsea in the final of the World Club Championships in Tokyo. He gives me loads of presents, so much so that I may now have more Corinthians kit than the team, which I am adopting as my south American side due to partying with him and becoming an honorary member of the supporters club!

ManonWe are joined later by the lovely Manon who is only 19 and from France, but can already speak 5 languages and sings to me whilst playing on her own ukulele. We try to jam a little but she is far too good for my ham fisted playing. Were it not for her age she would be a very serious contender as the future Mrs Pearson. She is adorable and we agree to go surfing together the following morning.

A very mellow end to an absolutely marvellous Christmas Day

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