Winter in California

 photo: Randy Ruby

 Between mid October 2009 and mid January 2010 I didn’t spend more than five consecutive days in my own bed. Sometimes only two nights at home separated a couple of three week long adventures. Sharks in Mexico, well-pumping in Nicaragua, waterfall climbing in Fiji, the holidays in Baja, posing in Panama. It was amazing. But it was exhausting.

photo: Randy Ruby

By February, the best winter for surf in So Cal since i’ve been a surfer was going full steam. Back to back to back long period swells, days and days of pouring rain. At one point I just stood in the kitchen, stepped away from the sink with a soapy plate in my hand, and stared at the rain pounding the earth in a sudden drenching for the fourth or fifth time that day.

photo: Mike Balzer

It feels good to be home.
I wake up at 5:30 and my boyfriend brings me a cup of strong coffee to sip while I geek out on the internet until it starts to get light. I use a fit ball as my computer chair and every ten minutes or so I roll backwards to glance out the window, checking the flag for wind direction and strength.

Black turns gray and I pull on a beanie knit by my sister, grab my Sector 9 and skate a few blocks to the beach. If it looks good I’m pulling on my 4/3 Vapor and booties, grabbing a Cliff bar to eat while running back down, sneaking under a fence, and trying to block out the ice cream headaches to get a few empty waves before the sun brings the crowd.

It’s not always great out front. The waves are exciting but short. A quick little view then a sandbar slamming. But I like not having to get in the car to get there. No parking meter conversations. Running back home to take my wetsuit off under a hot shower.

photo: Dave Hall

Sometimes the afternoon will inspire me to take a long walk down the beach to an overly-crowded rocky point. I’ve been surfing there since I was 17. The first time I surfed it my high school boyfriend got sent in by a scary local. In a surfing magazine interview from over a decade ago I called it my favorite spot.

I list a different spot in interviews now, and that scary local from long ago is now a friend. I remember a time when beginners and kids stuck to the inside, the shoulder, or didn’t show up at all. Priority in the lineup was based on dedication to the spot as much as surfing ability, and if the main guys in the lineup didn’t know your name you wouldn’t even think of paddling for a set wave. I wish it was still like that. I travel all over the world, sit on the shoulder, take the scraps, bow down to the locals. When I’m at home I take set waves.

It’s been about a month now, the longest i’ve been in one place since September. I’m starting to get antsy. I’m ready to get back into warm water. I want to see the puppies that were born in Nicaragua the night before I had to leave. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on that well pump. There’s been a serious drought down there this year and a lot of wells nearby are dry. I’ve heard mine still has water, but I want to see it for myself.

 photo: Mike Balzer

One more month of photo shoots and meetings in California and Taiwan and i’ll get my chance. I always seem to be counting days….

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4 Responses to Winter in California

  1. Ali says:

    Hey Holly, I just discovered you blog and absolutely love it.

    From under 4 feet of snow in DC right now I am loving your pictures and dreaming of the surf,


  2. Nice pics and I love the Tuesday Morning vid – totally captured that dawn session feeling. It doesn’t look like there was anyone else out?! Perfect soundtrack too.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Pretty cool site you’ve got here. Thanx for it. I like such topics and anything connected to them. I definitely want to read more on that blog soon.

    Best regards

  4. max says:

    Great blog! Inspirational, short concise, amazing photos! – Max

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