The Encinitas and San Diego surf culture is a menagerie of style and circumstance. Wade through the tattoos, tans and thongs, and you ultimately find a flow that is a little funky, fun and free. Whatever your role is it will never be as big as the Pacific Ocean’s command of the scene.
Just wrapped up the BIO International Convention in San Diego. From the Welcome Reception on the USS Midway, to the incredible life science companies that are changing the face of healthcare, it was well worth the time. Seeing Richard Branson speak was interesting as well. Here are a few pics:
I get around with my camera, and there is no shortage of expressions to be captured.
I’m here in Atlanta with a few inches of snow and ice on the ground thinking about our recent surf trip to Nicaragua. Looking back I am a bit amazed that it all came together. Of course, it would not have happened without significant determination, especially considering the hurdles of wives, kids, work, money, schedules, weather, and the world. Even then William’s trip was cut short with his grandmother’s death. And Nathan, coming off the heels of Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums, managed to rupture his ear with a blow from his surfboard. Glad he could surf through it.
But how did it come to this?
Of course, it all started more than 25 years ago on a scrappy little windswell at Folly Beach. We rented a couple of boards from McKevlin’s Surf Shop back when the old man was still alive. We were hooked, and so began the ocean obsession.
In contrast to the powerful and pleasing aroma of surf wax, I can still smell the old Charleston buses that cost a quarter to eventually make it out to Isle of Palms, surfboards tucked in the seat next to us. We would surf all day.
Our parents had some understanding of the obsession because every now and then we’d get a new surfboard, skateboard, or managed to swing a pair of booties and gloves for those cold winter sessions. A trip to Florida here and there, and I’ll never forget surfing with Matt Kechele and Charlie Kuhn in Hatteras near Rodanthe Pier. They pulled aerials while we watched in grom-like amazement.
We competed a little in the Eastern Surfing Association contests, Coach Kowalski shouting directions from the beach, and we managed to get first place when Mikee Rawlings didn’t enter. For whatever reason that didn’t last. Maybe our parents were afraid we’d take the surfing lifestyle too far?
Then there was Wrightsville Beach where we lived for 2 different summers. We were all in boarding school, so it was a real chance to cut off the neck tie and live life unhinged. How our parents let us live alone in a beach town at the age of 16 I’ll never know. At night we worked hard to convince girls we were in college, and in the morning we rode our bikes across the island to work as bus boys and housekeepers. But we surfed whenever there were waves.
College came and went and few, if any, waves were caught together. New York, Lake Tahoe and Charleston were all too vast of distances to organize an impromptu dawn patrol session. When we’d see each other over the holidays, cocktail parties and late night benders were the source of camaraderie. We got married. Life sped on.
Our friendship is not tied to surfing, for we share time and a place we call home. And whether we are backpacking around Europe, sitting in a deer stand, or sharing a glass of Sauvignon Blanc on the streets of Brooklyn, we find plenty of things to give each other shit about.
But Nicaragua got under my skin. It reminded me how much I love surfing, and how much I enjoy sharing it with you guys.
When are we going back?
Sincerely ~ Robert
I would be remiss without a trip to the MOMA in Manhattan, but it was nice to spend a little more time in Brooklyn checking out Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Park Slope. Watching Beck perform “Billy Jean” at Prospect Park was also a nice addition.
Brooklyn is blowing up…along with the real estate. But such a cool and eclectic mix of people and places. The fact that Jay Z launched his new album in a warehouse in Red Hook should tell you something.
Feel free to click any of the images for a larger view.
In the days leading up to departure to Sayulita, Mexico, I had purposely repressed any potentially misguided excitement. Reason:I had no clear indication as to whether it would be one of those propped up touristy towns, or one that has actually preserved some semblance of authenticity? I’ve been to a few other places in Mexico, as well as Costa Rica and Peru. Sometimes culture will stand up and shake its rattle at you. Other times it is disappointingly absent or smothered. But after arriving at the Puerto Vallarta airport and promptly being whisked north to Sayulita, I began to think that I was going to be pleasantly surprised.
Upon waking the next morning and gazing up towards the jungle covered mountains, and then out towards the deep blue Pacific, I still reserved final judgement. I needed to have a good look around what appeared to be a rather quaint little town tucked into a big sweeping bay. As I walked the stone streets I passed by the Escuela where children played in their black and white Catholic attire. Outside the walls women swept the street. A man rode by shouting, “Camarones!” while flashing a large one by the tentacles. Crossing the river I could see surfers moving across the reef.
Sayulita turned out to be a wonderful little stop off by the sea. The locals have not only managed to preserve their town as best as they can, but they are quite warm to tourists as they seem to recognize their contributions to the economy. There are wonderful galleries and restaurants and recreational activities abound. I happened to be there during their Mexican Revolution Day, and I have a vivid memory of watching a fantastic music performance in the square downtown after a colorful parade. None of that mariachi crap you always think of but instead men, for example, adeptly playing clarinets in plain clothes while friends and townspeople cheered and danced along.
Just south of Sayulita is Punta Mita which offers several surf breaks composed of both reef and sand. During the winter months whales migrate through the area, and it is common to see them close to shore. Fishing is excellent and there is no shortage of boats and captains strewn across the bay waiting to take you out for a chance at hooking up. There are day trips available that run the gamut from mountain biking to bird watching. It is all there if you want it, including a comfy chair, warm sand and a view for when you are not up for much of anything.
Would I go back? Absolutamente!
Conveniently located next to the Blue Ridge Parkway and just 8 miles from Waynesville, North Carolina stands the quaint and majestic 100-year-old Balsam Mountain Inn. Sporting 50 bead board rooms complete with claw foot tubs and a decidedly mountain cottage-style feel, reservations include breakfast and as much rocking in the rocking chair as you desire. Dinner is also available onsite if you choose not to venture out. If you do, the Frogs Leap Public House is an excellent choice. Of course, there is plenty of access to hiking, kayaking, and exploring Smoky National Park.