the last days of Surfing Safari 2012

The final days of our summer trip to Arch Cape were a whirlwind of family and friends… and daily surfing or paddling expeditions. There’s no way to summarize them except in the most cursory way.

Thursday, July 26th. Surfing in mid-AM with Ben Walsh at Indian Beach. It was semi-clean, 3-4 ft waves, WNW. Decent time for a mid-day surf.

Friday, July 27th. Surfing in early AM with Sean McEnroe and Ben Walsh at Indian Beach. A bit later than the previous day. Small, but clean. Fun. Ben took the Big Blue Flame Linden, Sean the 8′ Blue Linden, and I was back on my Super Ugly. I love that board. Later in the afternoon… what a perfect day it was, with low winds and sunny weather… super small waves and clean surface. A few of us took turns paddling out on the kayak out in front of the house. Super fun. I went in just my shorts, crocks, hat and sunglasses. I did flip the ‘yak in a wave near the rocks at Arch Cape but it was no big deal. I even managed to retrieve my hat and glasses from the waves… no problem. :-) I am over my fears about ocean kayaking. Friday afternoon was so gorgeous I ended up hanging out with the family on the beach, digging sandcastles and playing… I could not be bothered to hit my final training session of the training cycle! Barbell Gods forgive me; this was supposed to be a vacation and I took a day off training.

I can’t remember for sure if we went out on Saturday July 28th or not. As I recall it was a situation of “no waves at all” and I called it off at about 6:00 am, and went back to bed. It was a lazy day later on, with visits from the Shipleys and DK with George. Also, my folks arrived.

That Saturday was the last day of my 4 week training cycle… and on Sunday, my “play week” began. I was feeling good about how active I’d been in the last week. Something nearly every day.

Normally Sundays are rest days for me, but this was a surfing safari, so, on the first day of “play week,” on Sunday morning, July 29th, at a pretty low tide, Sean and I went out, he on the kayak, and me on the Big Blue Flame, taking off right out of Arch Cape, and paddling south around the cape into Falcon Cove. Although the swell was down to flat, there were some small rollers in Falcon Cove and we both managed to ride both kayak and board (we switched, half way through) and felt pretty badass for making the 400 meter paddle south and back to check it out.

Monday morning, July 30th, Sean and I did a repeat of the prior day’s surf adventure, this time joined by my Dad, who is 69 years old. What a trooper! He stayed on his Big Blue Flame Linden, then switched to the Kayak, which he seemed to enjoy. Sean stayed on the Super Ugly the whole time and said it did him well. There was less to ride in the way of surf than on Sunday, but it was still fun making the paddle into Falcon Cove. Monday afternoon, feeling kicked from all the activity, and overly surrounded by too many family and friends, I again skipped my planned workout. Anyway, I HAD worked out… just by paddling and surfing. I justified this to myself as an acceptable thing to do during a “play week” where I also happened to be at the beach.

Tuesday afternoon, July 31st, we took the family down for a high-tide mid-day session at Shorties. This was mediocre surfing at best (2 ft. SW swell at 19 seconds… i.e. almost flat). To make things worse, the kids and wives had a horrible time. It was one of the most beautiful days, but the North winds had kicked back up… first time in days… and they didn’t enjoy the mini sandstorms that each gust brought.

Wednesday morning, August 1st, I thought about going out alone. It was a super early morning super low tide, still no waves at all, and the prior day’s N wind had kicked up the surface into a chop. And it was gray. At about 6:30 am I looked out at the shallow waters, choppy surface, gray skies, and flat waves and decided I could deal with being done with surfing for the summer. I suppose I might have worked in a workout on Wednesday, but I didn’t… I let the prior day’s surfing session stand in for that… again justifying it as acceptable during a play week… and also in view that I had to clean up the beach house and travel. I spent all day cleaning, then drove to PDX, said goodbye to Mom and Dad, and flew out of the state.

Alas! All things, good and bad, must come to an end.

tuesday dawn patrol

Good surfing day on Tuesday, left for Indian Beach at 5:05 with Ben and we were in the water by a 5:50 sunrise. High tide was about one hour before, so there was plenty of water when we started, about 5′ or so. Mark Mekenas and crew were right behind us. Mark had his awesome new Linden chambered balsa wood longboard. I happened to have been riding his old blue flame 10′ 4″ Linden that my dad bought for himself… riding it for the first time, actually. No pressure.

The wind was down (but higher, North winds are promised all week, due to the high pressure here and the low pressure system south of us). The cove looked flat. The north end was clean, but small. A larger break beckoned in the middle and to the south end of the beach, but that was considerably junkier. Ben largely stayed north. I was the southernmost surfer (out of about 10 during the morning session). I took some time getting used to the fat blue flame. I also tried a bunch of lefts… catching several. Actually it was a fun morning. Might be even better tomorrow, though it might be smaller.

saturday surprise

Did not expect to get to go out on Saturday. Winds were down the last couple of days, and today was sunny in the afternoon, with the seas growing calmer and calmer. We planned for a visit from Megan and Tom S. and family but they cancelled and so Ben and I … Ben having just returned from Portland … took off suddenly without previous plan and surfed Indian Beach. Before we did I scrambled to prepare enchilada casserole for the family, so my absence during dinner prep time would not prevent people from eating.

The afternoon sun was gone but everything else was right from 4:30 to 6:30 at Indian Beach. Water was above a high low, and getting higher. The water was warm… maybe 62. The air was warm… maybe 75. Indian Beach had bikinis and picnics and a festival atmosphere. Swell was 5′ or so, NW. Winds remained light. It was more junky than we might have expected, but there was a smooth cleanness to the surface nevertheless. (That is not a contradiction nor a paradox, somehow). The middle wasn’t too productive. The current kept pushing us south, into the pot-boiler at the southern end of Indian. We ended up walking back up to the rocks, which was great, actually. From there I had what I hope won’t end up being my ride of the summer, a long clean right that went on and on.

It got sunny again, and the green water and warm conditions were so fun. I did not want to leave. We did have to leave.

At home we were late, and welcomed with some local panic over a missing boy, and wives with tired children, and leftovers and dinner mess to clean up. That isn’t so bad really. The boy turned up, the kids all went to bed… eventually, and I swept up the crumbs while dreaming about surfing.

how to brutalize yourself

Wednesday I technically did a double, if weightlifting at lunchtime followed by an full surfing session in the late afternoon counts as a double. Leaving me with a brutal, full body fatigue by days end.


5 rounds x 5 burpees @ 90 sec

Chin-Ups and Dips:
Chin-Ups 3 x max reps @ 90 sec (3, 3, 2)
Ring Dips 3 x max reps @ 90 sec (3, 2 & -3, 0 & -5)
Damn, my Chin-Ups and Dips SUCK. Suck suck suck. This time last week I found myself able to manage a set of 5 on chin-ups. That was NOT happening today. I’m used to the fluctuation up and down in my capacities with these movements, but GOD I am frustrated when I get less volume in one session than another. I’m sure it can’t have anything to do with surfing for two hours yesterday, right? LOL.

Main Strength: Squat
5 x 45
5 x 155
Then, @ 5 min intervals: 3 x 205, 3 x 225, 2 x 220 & f on 3, 3 x 210, 3 x 210.

Comment: got the number I wanted, 3 x 225, but man what an ugly 3rd rep. Disappointing performance overall. “I hate squats,” is all I can think, even as I fume and scheme about wanting to get better at them. I sensed today that if I didn’t attempt my heaviest set earlier than the others, I would fail. And indeed, after getting the 225, I wasn’t getting the 220. Anyway, I was kinda pleased to get them, except for the fact that these wimpy squats, so well below where I have been in the past 7 months, make me look and feel weak. Feeling weak in the squats makes me seriously consider Zach B’s recent offer to program my strength lifting for me. But it is also confronting me with my lack of faith in myself.

1 x 12 x 70 lbs
3 x 4 x 105 lbs
Presses, on the other hand, are going great. I like my method of adding reps and repeating the same workout three times a week. It makes me think I could do something like this with 225 lb HBBS. Lay down a better foundation and drill the movement until my body really really adapts? Anyway, not going to try that right away, but it’s on my mind.


I didn’t condition today, but at about 4:15 pm, Ben W. and I set out to surf the ebbing mid-day high-low tide at Indian Beach. We spent about an hour, maybe more, in big surf. 7.5 foot NW swell, low winds, but junky surface. We went to the south end of the beach, paddling past maybe a dozen other surfers. I was often in position but had trouble setting up, and took a bunch of tumbles into the rough surf. I had several battles from inside to outside, and then got washed in to shore near submarine rock. We walked back up the beach, and I gave it one more go, surfing from outside on the north end. I did catch several night rights, and felt good about being there. I was surprisingly able to paddle well… surprising because of yesterday’s session and today’s workout.

This is how you brutalize yourself: lift weights and then surf in the same day, the day after a heavy session. And then keep going. Rest days are for when summer’s through, I guess.

mid morning surf

Had a glorious Tuesday surf at Indian Beach today. Spent about two hours in the water. I paddled to the southern end of the surf, where the NW swell gets through a bit more. Had the waves almost to myself. Another guy showed up but he was cool, and we talked a bit. It was clean, and nicely shaped. I got to work on my left. I took several left breaking shoulders and had fun. But the currents on the inside on the south end of Indian are brutal. On several occasions I had to fight hard back to the outside — even swimming in front of my board — through the chop, breakers, and currents of the south end; down just to the north of submarine rock it’s a swirling cauldron.

Took hundreds of strokes. Rode maybe a dozen waves. Took as many spills. Quite a workout.

Water temp: about 58 degrees. Swell: WNW/NW 5 feet at 8 seconds. No wind. Plenty of water in the “cove” from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, on a rising tide.

good clean fun

Tuesday morning I made my way to Indian Beach bright and early; I arrived there about 5:20, and got dressed and was in the water before 5:45. It was a rising tide, clean, small, fun. Very little wind. Two foot SW groundswell (about 13 seconds). No NW swell or wind-waves at all. I was alone for the first 20 minutes, then was joined by one other surfer… ahh the joys of dawn patrol! I took out my old board and did well with it. Actually… for me, as I caught a bunch of waves, turned into them, etc., all I could think was that nothing beats my Bruce Grant 9’6″ Super Ugly! It was nice to RIDE. So, session #3 of the summer surf safari was a success, and totally fun.

It’s difficult to quantify surfing from a “fitness” standpoint, but I can state pretty well that, at least at my level, one of the main ways that it stimulates the body is through hundreds of repetitions of an arms-only swimming motion similar to the crawl stroke. I don’t spend a whole lot of time working the core or legs in standing on waves… a tiny fraction of the effort is that part. All the burpees I’ve been doing over the past few months easily prepare me for the pop-ups, and my core and legs are strong and flexible enough now to meet the challenge of standing on a wave. It’s the paddling. My shoulders, traps, lats, and triceps were raw and complaining by the end of an hour out there.

sunday at oswald

Super early… left at 5:01 am for morning session at Shorties. Grey sky. Light wind. SW swell 2 feet at 17 seconds. Pretty high tide, but falling fast (-1.4 ft/hr) while I was out there. Sunrise at 5:35. In the water by 5:45 am. Initially I was alone. Sounds decent, right? But it was too small. The waves were soft and just ill-shaped enough to make it a tough go. It was choppy on the south end, as it always is. Maybe it was the falling tide, maybe I’m out of shape, or maybe I was just too tired on what should have been a rest day, but it was very hard to find a good spot and stay set up. In short, I sucked. But it was only my second time out this summer.

A bit later one other early riser was out there too. Better than me.

My new wetsuit is so big, thick, heavy, and tight, it takes enormous effort to put on, and even greater effort to remove. I’m starting to think of it as being made out of boa constrictors. It took me almost 20 minutes to get my act together, strip down, pack up, and get back to the car.

Sitting cold on the logs, wrestling with the constrictor, I watched a few more wave chasers take to the flat waters. From the shore they looked like a rippling sheet of black iron.

heavy day three

Wow the third day of week I of Summer Surf Safari 2012 was super active and heavy. I was dragging by the end, and ravenous. It was Friday, and Johnny C arrived. I extended by eating and drinking window by 2.5 hours to 10:30 and had a bunch of carby crap and EtOH at the end. But still a great day.

Morning Surf: left at 5:00 am for Indian Beach and got in the water for the first time this summer. There was a WNW 4.6ft at 10 seconds and light wind, but not enough water, as the tide was rapidly receding towards a 10:00 am low. Dad went with me. We didn’t accomplish much, but we tried. That’ the thing. We were, of course, alone in the water.

Morning into afternoon beach work: shoveled and pushed wheelbarrows of heavy wet sand up the hill of the berm many many many pounds, all morning and until about 12:45, until my entire body was shaking.

Then took a water break, had a bite of watermelon, a half and hour rest, and then, before lunch, worked out.

Afternoon workout: This was done according to plan, on the driveway, of course. Fun.
5 rounds x 5 burpees @ 90 sec

3 double interval rounds:
Chin-Ups 3 x max reps @ 90 sec (4, 3, 2)
Ring Dips 3 x max reps @ 90 sec (2, 1 & -2, 1 & -2)

Main Strength: Hang Power Clean

Power Clean 5 x 3 @ 3 min
5 x 95
3 x 135, 3 x 140, 3 x 145, 3 x 150, 3 x 155. Completed these as planned.

1 x 12 x 70 lbs
3 x 2 x 105 lbs

Conditioning: none

awesome tuesday Oswald gloaming session

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” — Aldous Huxley

surfing 12

Everything happens only once. It is so important to remember that even within a routine, even within a pattern of praxis, what you are doing right now is inherently unique and unrepeatable. We never return to a past moment. So: appreciation. For the now; for this happening that cannot exactly recur; for events the likes of which you may never again see.

Tuesday evening I arranged a hall pass for myself, and took off BEFORE kid bedtime to go hit the rising tide, and the lower evening winds, at Shorties. What a beautiful amazing session. I hiked all the way up the sand to the NW end of the beach. There were 4 foot waves W/NW; 10+ second period; warmish, 60+ degree water; glassy surface; light N winds mostly blocked by Cape Falcon on the north end. Blue sky. Amazing colors, light, and sounds. Not too many people.

It was surfing the way surfing should be. Calm. Gorgeous. Smooth. Many fun rides.

I would have kept going but I lacked the stamina. My hamstrings, calves, and quads started cramping up on both sides, it was actually quite painful. Giving in to my weakness, I left about 30 minutes earlier than planned. I was probably in the water about 90 minutes, from about 7:00 to about 8:30 pm. There were only 3 or 4 surfers who stayed in the water longer, until sundown at about 8:55 pm. It was glorious to return to the beach and not be in a rush. Sitting on a rock, watching the cliffs glow with the reflected orange of sunset, I enjoyed my thermos of lemon ginger green tea.

Then, in the gloaming and growing dark, I returned to a quiet house and a large, late dinner.

surfing, sandcastling, skimboarding

There are lessons one can only learn from surf and sand.

What a glorious week of skimboarding sessions… afternoon low tides Monday through Saturday meant that most days we were out kicking the pipoboards around. Also, great weather, and friends in town, meant lots of kids on the beach, and a heck of a lot of shovel time. Over the four day period of Wednesday through Saturday, Ben and I built three HUGE sandcastles for the kids to play in. Shoveling wet sand, digging moats, etc., we moved a couple of tons of gray basalt sands. This is much more of a workout than you might think. I definitely hardened up my hands a bit more. It was so fun to see the kids playing on these castles, splashing in the moats, screaming in delight as the waves washed them away. Hendrix was repeatedly invoked.

Surfing 10. Wednesday morning July 20th we hit Indian Beach for the super early dawn patrol session. Ben and I left Arch Cape at about 5:00 am, arrived at Indian Beach just about 5:30 am, got suited up, and spent about 80 minutes in the water. The old guys (Mark from Cannon Beach Surf and friends) were also out there. It was a lot of fun. The water was warm, the surface was clean, the swell was 4 feet, the tide was pretty high. I had a couple of good rides. I was back on the Doyle, newly repaired by Sandy at Cannon Beach Surf. Sandy was out there too, showing how it’s done… since 1957, I believe he said, in the parking lot after the session.

An ultimate pipoboarding session. Thursday evening July 21st, Ben and I hit the super deep dark gloaming on the beach at Arch Cape for an evening mid-tide pipoboarding session that was out of this world. Unforgettable, yet, indescribable, so probably doomed to oblivion. The light. The perfect flat sand. The utterly still air. The “warm” summer waters.

Surfing 11. Friday morning July 22nd we went back to Indian Beach for another dawn patrol. It was similar to last time, but much junkier, much much junkier. Fewer people in the water. We spent only about 60 minutes and then gave up. Again, I got a couple of good rides in. So I was happy. But it could have been better.

Friday afternoon was serious sandcastling and pipoboarding time.

We planned on another session for Saturday AM but I was SO SO SO wiped out after the week of debauchery and sand play that I opted instead for a sleep-in.

Saturday was another castle day and pipoboarding session. I got video and photos of our last sandcastle, and my dad got some ok video of my fat ass on the pipoboard. I’ll update this post later with some photos and youtube on the fun times.

Days of heaven.