Chico and I cross out of town into the great valley, storm clouds push up against the foothills and bursts of light flash the sky; the valley is clear, open, and the road feels good under my truck packed for camping and surfing. We escape our world for a bit...the college fades as bridges takes me over the Sacramento River.
I run for escape, the world tightening around me: students, professors, meetings, friends, commitments, gardens, lawns, gym, office hours, shopping market Tuesdays between Martial Arts and more grading, hanging clothes on the line to dry and thinking about what to wear minutes before racing out the door on my bike to get to my office. Regiment.
Fuck it all sometimes, not always, not mostly, but sometimes just to break the pattern, to meet people, if even for a second, for short greetings amongst the beauty of nature, to share a wave, a cool breeze, or a ray of sunlight and to breathe and say, “this is life.”
I stop at the on-ramp to Highway 5 to step outside and greet the moment before plunging into the mainstream. It is a different style of driving on Highway 5, amongst the masses, literally the massive trucks and busses and RVs along with weekend travellers on missions to get through to destinations unknown to me, but dreamt. I am only on 5 for a short while and then continue west towards the ocean on Highway 20 along Clear Lake then up and over winding through mountains into Santa Rosa to the campground where my friend waits to have a beer at the Russian River Brewery, though not on the Russian River, no different from Sierra Nevada. We like names. What better than to name for geologic formations, lifts of tectonic plates and the erosion of water moving across varied temperature of oceans on a titled and rotating earth around a sun. These are features beyond humanity.
It is in these humbling moments when I let go of this society and be free; the universe too big. And after two beers and pizza, we go to a club and dance until 1:00 mostly laughing at ourselves then sleeping under stars in the backs of trucks.
In the morning we lounge in the sun amongst the oak meadow just out of town, cook breakfast, and chat like we always do. Eventually we check out Spring Lake on the drive out of town and up to the Russian River to follow it out to the Pacific.
We arrive and sit on the cliff above the brackish water pushing to sea where dolphins and sea lions ride shorebreak at the river mouth. A right peeled off the edge but it appeared to break on the sand with sea lions lounging in the impact zone. So we head further north into new territory. As a bit of rain whispers from the sky, we pass Secrets where we surfed last trip--what a heavy left off the cliff, but seems washed out and windy now. We head to Pt. Arena to “the cove.”
We arrive as a beautifully crafted mahogany or teak wooden dinghy is launched from the pier with throngs of onlookers above as flowers are cast into the protected waters. We assume ashes too, but don’t ask any of the people also celebrating life. One man rows the boat beyond the pier and quickly back to the hoist and trailer, and everyone scatters back to cars and leave.
It was a brisk cold afternoon with dark clouds above, but a clearing out west over the ocean. We hem and haw about the surf, the cold, the level of spookiness paddling out to a new break off a point of rocks the first time, but a few guys are out there already. We talk to a few done for the day and changing back into warm clothes. They warn us of urchins and leopard sharks and cold, but encourage us to go. We suit up, climb along the rocks on our way out to the cold water and paddle along the south of the point on the edge of the breaking waves. The last two guys go in before we reach the outside and we are left alone again to surf a new break.
I feel good, sit on the outside checking it out when I see the window and grab a head high one coming through. The drop is backside, my back to the wave, and I’m not great that way, but comfortable enough dropping in, as I stay low through the fast chatter, pull out ahead of the wave and realize it is huge and open and slow and easy to move on. I dip forward to get ahead of the wave then cut back left towards the whitewater into the steeper part of the wave crashing. I don’t push too close and turn back down the line going forward; it feels great weaving back and forth from ahead the wave, then turning to the crashing curl and forward again until I move closer to shore and to rocks and pull off the backside and feel incredible. What a wave! I scream out to the ocean, to Markus, to the world again alive and amazing and worth living every single second. What wonderful openness and ease to ride. The board felt great under my feet. I love surfing. I sometimes wish I did move closer again, but I know its only part of this happiness in my life right now.Many more waves open up until the last light against the sea bluff turns from golden back to fading darkness and the pink clouds above the sky relinquish the sun to night grey and we paddle in to go find some camping.