One Voice

… because one voice, armed with the truth, can help begin to heal the world.

A wonderful weekend, with one small glitch

Sunset in Surf City

Nicole and I just finished a wonderful weekend in Surf City, also known as Huntington Beach, California.

It’s probably my last beach weekend, especially if we are going to be fortunate enough to leave for Georgia at the end of October. Huntington Beach has always been my favorite, ever since I lived six miles up Beach Blvd. from Surf City when I first came to California.

I made a little more progress in my quest to learn to surf, but suffered a major setback when I didn’t do a good enough job of fastening my board to the top of my car for the trip home. Let’s just suffice it to say the surfing lessons I’m hoping to take later this month will have to be with a rented board.

I let that ruin my mood for a few hours, which shows what a jerk I can be sometimes.

But I decided it was still a wonderful weekend, and that being happy is really only a decision.

If you choose to be happy, you ought to be.

I choose to be happy.

After all, I just spent three pretty nice days with the woman I love.

posted by Mike in California,Happiness,love,surfing and have No Comments

It’s really hot, so why is the water so cold?

If this isn’t the strangest summer here in Southern California …

Surf City

I went to Surf City today without my board, figuring I would get back to the beach and get a little bit familiar with the ocean again before going back with my board the first part of next week.

It has been really hot here the last two or three days after what I’m told was a very mild summer up till now. We don’t use air conditioning, and it still seems too warm to sleep really well until 3 or 4 a.m. Yesterday we went out to Empire Lakes to play golf and it must have been 100 degrees.

So today I figured I would go down and do my walking at Huntington Beach. Just before I left, Nicole suggested I might as well take my swimsuit. I agreed, and when I got there, I changed into my suit and went onto the beach.

When I went into the water, I got a nasty shock.

It was cold.

Damned cold.

If the water is this cold in the middle of August — and it was pretty cold two weeks ago in La Jolla too — I have a feeling I really am going to have to invest in a wet suit before I get serious about moving further along in my surfing.

Yes, it is a strange summer.

posted by Mike in California,Happiness,surfing and have No Comments

My surfer’s journey starts with some small progress

A single step

I don’t have the best reputation as an athlete when it comes to my wife.

She has seen me attempt to learn to ski and fail, and she has seen me attempt to snorkel and fail. So it was natural that she was curious about my first attempt to learn surfing.

I don’t remember her exact question, but it was something along the lines of this:

“Was it a total failure?”

Actually, no. It was a slow start, to be sure, but there was nothing about it that made me not want to keep trying and ultimately succeed.

I drove down the coast to La Jolla this morning with the promise of a free surfing lesson from a pretty good teacher. My brother-in-law Marty Malin grew up in Southern California and has been surfing for about 35 years. Just to let you know how dedicated he is, he lives on the East Coast now and actually surfs in Massachusetts.

Well, he surfs in the Atlantic Ocean, just off the Massachusetts coast.

We went to the beach today, and as it turned out, the time of day was less than ideal for accomplishing too much. The tide was coming in, and conditions were kind of choppy. Mostly I learned to paddle out, and then how to ride waves in on my belly and manage to keep from falling off the board.

A false start

As you can see from this photo, that took a while to learn.

The person you can see in the picture is actually Marty, who was standing near the board. I believe I’m somewhere under the board in the Pacific Ocean.

I think that was the moment at which the little voice of negativity in my head spoke up.

Mike, you’re 60 years old. What the heck are you doing?

Trying again was what I was doing. Surfing is something that has fascinated me pretty much all my life, and if it’s ironic that I’m finally trying to do it during my final summer in California, so be it. The desire to learn to surf is one of the reasons I have lost 75 pounds this summer and am working with the goal of losing another 25 before I stop.

Shortly after that ducking, I started getting a little better at managing to stay on the board on the way in. I rode one wave all the way in, actually scraping my right forearm on the beach and scraping up Marty’s longboard.

Hey, he didn’t tell me to hop off when I got in that close.

Catching a wave (sort of)

But a little later in the day, just before we finished up, I managed to catch one wave perfectly and zoomed in toward the beach on my belly. I was amazed at how fast I was going, and pleased that I managed to keep my balance and stay on.

I could only imagine how great it would have felt to stand up and ride the wave in, but that will come.

Was it a total failure?

Not at all, and I’m not at all discouraged. I’m looking forward to my next time out there, maybe as soon as next week.

I’ve got a long way to go, but the point is going to come at which I’ll stand up on the board and stay standing.

A journey of a thousand waves begins with a single stand.

Or something like that.

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posted by Mike in California,Happiness,Hobbies,surfing and have Comment (1)

First day in the surf getting closer and closer

My surfboard

Two words I never expected to write.

My surfboard.

My surfboard arrived today, courtesy of Federal Express, and if there was one surprise to me, it was how amazingly light it is. I had a few accessories I had to go out and buy — some Mrs. Palmer’s board wax, a rash guard (which is sort of like the top half of a really light wet suit) and, get this, a leash.

The leash is sort of like a bungee cord. One end hooks into a spot near the back end of the board, and the other gets velcroed around one of my ankles. The idea is that when I fall off the board, it won’t get too far away from me. I suppose that could be a mixed blessing; it could snap back and hit me in the head. I’ll bet even as light as it is, that wouldn’t feel real good.

I’ve been reading James Maclaren’s book “Learn to Surf,” although I haven’t gotten around to watching my Corky Carroll video yet. I’ve got the better part of a week before I go down to San Diego for my first day of lessons, and the biggest temptation will be to take my board down to Surf City and try it out.

I think I’ll wait.


posted by Mike in California,Happiness,surfing and have No Comments

Surf fever is definitely making its mark on me

I have never been on a surfboard, but I am definitely getting surf fever.

I had a conversation with my brother-in-law, who is about 10 years younger than I am, last night. He lives in Massachusetts now, but he grew up in San Diego and has been surfing for 35 years. Marty is going to be out here for the next two weeks, and he has promised me that if I drive down to San Diego — about a two and a half hour trip — he will give me some first-class surfing lessons.

I am so there.

It actually won’t be convenient to our schedules for me to do this until the second week of his visit, so I plan to take my board — which should arrive sometime next week — and go down to Huntington Beach and fool around a little. I’ll watch my Corky Carroll DVD and at least learn how to paddle out.

By the end of the summer, I plan to be at least an inept surfer. Before I leave California next spring, I hope to be ept.

Yeah, I’m 60.

But I am a younger and younger 60 with every pound I lose, with every walk I take, with every weight I lift.

I don’t know if I’ll ever shoot my age on a golf course, but I guarantee that before I’m through, I will be able to stand up on a surfboard and ride a wave all the way in.

It’s the only way I’ll ever douse this fever.

posted by Mike in California,Family,Happiness,Health,surfing and have No Comments

It’s time to ride, ride, ride the wild surf

Surf City USA

Some months back, when I was still wearing my Fat Boy clothes, I wrote a couple of blogs about how I was going to learn to surf.

Now I’m ready.

I went to Huntington Beach today to scope out the situation, and it was a very interesting time to visit Surf City. Starting next Saturday and running for nine days, Huntington Beach will play host to the U.S. Open of Surfing, which will bring together all the top surfers for a massive competition.

The facilities — mostly some pretty massive grandstands — are going up fast, and there were plenty of wet suits in the water today as folks appeared to be practicing their tricks.

Me, I checked out the cost of surfboards — most of the new ones were $600 and up and even the used ones were $300 or so. So I went on line later and found a Ventura company that sold me one for $105. It should arrive sometime next week, and soon after that, I’ll try to find a place to learn how to use it.

Gee, I hope it isn’t made out of styrofoam.

I ordered a paperback book from Amazon, and I picked up a Corky Carroll video on “Learn to Surf: The Safe, Fast and Easy Way.”

Corky Carroll

“Easy is good,” says legendary surfer Carroll.

Heck, he’s two years older than I am, although he has been surfing for about the last 50 years.

I don’t have any illusions about this being easy. The last thing I taught myself to do was play golf, and even after about 15 years, I’m still not all that good at the game.

I don’t expect to be able to do a lot of tricks, and I doubt I’ll be driving up and down the coast looking for the biggest waves. I just want to be able to paddle out, turn around and raise. Heck, that’s all there is to the coastline craze.

Then if I can stay up and ride a wave in, I’ll be a happy man.

posted by Mike in baby boom,California,Happiness,surfing and have Comment (1)

California beaches make life special.

A lot of people probably think that if you live in Southern California, you spend a lot of your spare time at the beach. After all,a very large majority of folks in our state live within 100 miles of the Pacific Ocean, and more than 10 millions in the Los Angeles area are within 50 miles of the coast.

Through the hills to Malibu

Through the hills to Malibu

I’m trying to think right now of the last time I got sand in my shoes or got my swimsuit soakedĀ  with salt water, and I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been this year. You see, the part of L.A. that people think of as L.A. is only a small part of the nation’s second largest metropolitan area.

I worked in San Bernardino County — about 60 miles inland — for nearly 18 years, and if you were to take the palm trees away from cities like Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga or San Bernardino itself, you might as well be somewhere in the Midwest or the South.

Going to the beach is more a road trip than it is a way of life.

As far as road trips go, though, heading to the beach isn’t a bad one, as these slides from YouTube show.

I don’t know if I could pick a favorite beach, although there are several that will live in my memories long after California is in my rear-view mirror. The ones around Malibu are wonderful, clean and not too crowded most of the time. Manhattan Beach and Santa Monica Beach are two that I have enjoyed walking with my lovely wife time and again.

I do suppose I have a soft spot for Huntington Beach, which was only about eight miles from my first apartment when I came to Los Angeles. Huntington Beach is the “Surf City” of which Jan and Dean sang. I haven’t fulfilled my promise to myself of learning to surf yet, but I think we’ll still be here next summer and I’ll get another chance.

We here in the Southland may not spend all our time in the sunny surf, but we’re not stupid. We know that without the ocean and all those lovely beaches, heck, we might as well be Texas.

posted by Mike in California,Happiness,Hobbies and have No Comments
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