Eureka- Finding California

Artist Matt Beard emerging from a makeshift log shelter on the Lost Coast of Northern California circa 1996

Stories of California: Memories, Recollections, Truth, Lies, and Points in Between

The following collection of short tales was an early attempt to establish a narrative to accompany my art in a book format. A handful were printed to test the waters, but it never went into actual production and publication.

Later on, it was submitted to Surfer Magazine and was awarded runner-up mention in a writing contest they held. I thought that was pretty cool for a painter.

Most of these stories are based on memories from my youth- junior high, high school, and college years.  Some of them are truer than others…

Part I: The Land


Deep in the anxious nowhere of Los Angeles,  an old home stands in solemn opposition to the thousands of fleeting glimpses of a rushed humanity that bombard the busy thoroughfare just beyond it’s front steps.  Out on that street there is no longer any memory of the past, it’s been rewritten as a vain attempt at remembering the future. What comes next is all there is, or more accurately, all there will be then, for there is no longer any now. There’s no time for that sort of luxury anymore.  Not out there, anyway.

The old home is a different story though.  There’s plenty of now to be had here. There’s shade everywhere, as anything that grows out of the ground has been allowed to just keep on growing.  A huge tree stands in the yard next to the house.  Kids bikes lean against the tree, rusting into permanence at the end of the dirt driveway.  You can stand still here and see time pass.  The joy of now.

Stand on the porch and wait for a pause in the traffic, so you don’t inhale the future’s fumes, and take a deep breath.  Oranges.  The past here smells like oranges.  Acres of them.  As far as you could see in any direction.  Grandparents of today were once children here who drank fresh squeezed orange juice because that’s all they had.  They laughed and screamed and rode their bikes in every direction as far as they wanted down the dirt roads between the neighboring orchards. On hot summer days, though, this would get old and they’d complain that they were bored. They would wish that something would happen here, and figuring that it never would, they imagined a different life beyond the orange trees.

Part I: The Road

Roads Worth Travelling.

Most roads worth traveling on started out as dirt roads.  The very best roads probably started out as nothing more than animal trails snaking through the brush.  Ever hike through a remote and untraveled backcountry, far off the trails where folks just don’t go?  Then you know what I’m getting at here.  Time after time you’ll find yourself following these little rabbit trails to nowhere as long as they’re headed to loosely the same nowhere you’re aiming for.  Now if you have two places that really are worth going to, you’ll have folks repeatedly tramping down all the choice rabbit trails between them until they forge connections and there you have the genesis of the footpath.  Then they’ll get the idea to drag all sort of junk on wheels down this footpath and so it widens and we end up with a great dirt road.

These old dirt roads were arteries that connected one vital, life-giving piece of land to another.  Sure, they got you where you were going, but you never had to leave where you were to get there.  In a very real way they actually connected you to the land you traveled upon.  They’d follow rivers, they’d bend with the contours of the land, they’d wash out in heavy rains, they’d hold your attention, and if you went too fast they’d send your pregnant ladies into early labor.

It’s been paved for a mighty long time now, but the finest road in California for a surfer is Highway 1.  It makes all the sense in the world.  Following the contours of the coast, sometimes nauseatingly so, connecting each coastal town to the next, and thereby providing the finest tour de surf check that the state has to offer, this road undoubtedly had it’s roots as a first class series of rabbit trails.

Part I: The Sea

Life Support.

Follow any river long enough and chances are, you’ll find the sea.  Beginning miles upstream where the rabbit trails run free and humanity runs scarce, the ridges and valleys funnel the rainfall into these grand meandering waterways.  But the mountains do more than simply shape and direct the flow of water, they sacrificially give themselves to it. Every year, every rainfall, a little more mountain blood is shed into the rivers, only to be given to the lowlands below. As they near the sea, and sometimes long before it, these mighty river valleys open up into broad alluvial flood plains, miles of fertile soil, rich in minerals from the blood of the mountains above.

Down on these plains is where the humans dwell, planting orchards, growing crops, herding livestock, building homes, making babies, and living short, often tragic lives. At the mouth of the rivers, by the edge of the sea, conditions are ideal for human settlement. It’s always been this way.  There is everything here.  Fresh water from the river for drinking and irrigation.  Food can be grown from the ground, raised on the fields, hunted in the hills, caught in the river, or caught in the deep blue sea.  The rivers that make life possible on land do the same in the ocean, their nutrient rich waters mixing at the mouth and supporting an abundance of life above and below the surface.

The rivers don’t stop giving there either.  From their mouths, the finest waves are spoken to surfers who have ears to hear.  Their sandbars and cobblestone points produce an ocean poetry unlike any other.  Beauty and danger mingle here as do bliss and fear in the heart of those surfers who answer the call. On cold mornings when the icy wind blows hard down the river valley and out to sea, they paddle through schools of fish, shadowed by the wings of birds, surrounded by sea lions, always alert to the one who feeds on all of them.

Part II: The Land

Venturing Out.

The rising sun shoots blindness at tired eyes, but not yet warmth to a frost chilled Ventura valley. The east wind howls hard offshore at this hour, following the nearly dry Santa Clara riverbed as it limps to the Pacific, but it’s sure to back off as the morning reinvents itself into day.  The smell of oranges is strong in the wind. It must be nearing the season of harvest.  Nameless, and faceless workers from another troubled land will tend to the harvest, filling untold numbers of glasses with fresh-squeezed liquid sunshine.  Tip the glass to the southern horizon and drink deep to prospect of another blissful day.

A distant storm has produced a strong and clean west swell, and being a Wednesday, the crowds will hopefully be busy at work.  Most of them migrate south five days a week into the metropolis of Los Angeles. Today will be a day to venture north up the coast and seek the antithesis of all things South.  Open country, room to breathe, time to slow down a bit. Here it makes sense to sit on a rock overlooking the ocean for an excessively long time, feeling the sun begin its warming work on my back as I time the sets, and observe the lineup.

The crowd is light as expected, and we enjoy our session in collective isolation. No words are spoken, beyond the occasional nod.  We are finding what we were looking for. A new face joins the lineup and aggressively challenges for the choicest waves, apparently claiming ownership of the sea around him. I wish he’d go back to where he came from. He stays, so I leave. I’d had my fill anyway. On the way to the car, I stop and warm up by a smoldering beach fire. A gust of wind blows down the canyon, and I have to turn away to avoid breathing the ashes on this fine Wednesday morning.

Part II: The Road

Where There is no Road.

There are places that are just too wild for a road to be built.  This can be a good thing. There are some places that are just too sacred to be profaned with asphalt and easy access.  Let the roads be washed out. Better yet, let them fall entirely into the sea, never to be rebuilt.  Access to these places can be the old way, one foot in front of the other, carrying all that you need on your back.  Factor in to that the flowing creeks that come alive in the wet season and you’ve got some fun to look forward to.

Your pack is wearing ruts into your shoulders and you’re already feeling pain in new places from the last few hours of marching in soft sand with your sixty pounds of gear and a board under your arm. Then you come to the creek. Big deal.  No really, it is a big deal.  You’ve got options to weigh here.  First scout for a possible way over the creek that will keep your feet dry. If there is a route it will most likely consist of a gamble of your balance and wits against luck and gravity, with stakes ranging from a wet foot, to a six-foot fall off a slippery log with your pack doing nothing to help you. Consider carefully.  Another option is to take your boots off and ford the creek barefoot or with some slappy sandals. This hurts. The water is really just fresh-squeezed ice, and it’s carrying small rocks at speed, aiming for your numb ankles. But make it across with no major incidents and congratulations, you’ve got dry socks and boots to look forward to until the next creek.

There is yet one other option.  Just shrug your shoulders and tromp boot-first into the creek, damning the consequences of the wet feet and the grief they will bring.  Nothing worth-while comes easily, right?

Part II: The Sea

A Floral Arrangement.

They don’t have it easy. Fishing for a livelihood isn’t what it used to be. Restrictions, depletion of stocks, an influx of commercially harvested fish bringing prices down, all conspire against the small-scale fisherman who simply owns a boat and knows how to use it. Not that there aren’t good days, but they just come less often and don’t pay as well as they used to. But then there is the sea. They love the sea. It feeds them, teaches them, and speaks to their souls, shaping who they are. They risk their lives upon it, but in turn it gives them life. A fair trade, they reckon.

Waiting out some bad weather on land, a few of them and their ladies, went out for a walk on the bluff, watching the sunset.  While the men stared out beyond the horizon, reading the sky and sea for a glimpse of tomorrow, the ladies busily gathered wildflowers. As they sat on the hood of their old battered truck watching the sun make it’s final bow before heading home, they all noticed the kid riding the stormy surf out front. He seemed to be part of the ocean, moving to its rhythms, matching its moods, making music of the madness. The men of the sea saw this and they knew what was happening. It had happened to them long ago. It took them back to their first calling, their first love. They were moved enough to even say it aloud to their ladies.

They watched the kid ride his last wave and make his way up the trail to the old VW he’d just inherited from his grandmother. As the kid mindlessly moved up the trail, feeling at one with his surroundings, he simply chalked it up to the weed he’d smoked earlier before going out. When he got to parking lot he saw the old burly fishermen sitting on their truck staring him down. He approached his van sheepishly. He was shocked when the ladies approached him and presented him with a huge vased bouquet of flowers. Um, OK. Not sure what to make of that, he figured he’d better not drive home in his present state of mind, so he slept on the sand that night, and drove home holding the flowers steady on the floor between his feet the next morning.  A confirmation of his calling to the sea.

Part III: The Land

Stand Off.

In my mind it was neither here nor there, city nor country.  Where I came from was the nowhere that lies between them.  Suburbia.  Where the endlessly identical shopping centers sold your life back to you every other weekend at half-price.  I’d look to the horizon and wonder what it would be like to be somewhere, anywhere, where real things happened to real people.  I suppose I could’ve gone anywhere, or even stayed put, and realized that it was all just life unfolding, no more, no less. But I didn’t stay put, I went North.

I was drawn to the land there. It was alive and untamed. Unpaved, undeveloped, unpasteurized for human consumption.  I knew I’d found what I was looking for on one of the first trips I’d taken up the coast looking for surf.  There we’re a few of us who’d pile into the car and headed north to see what we’d find at the end of the road. We drove until the pavement ended and turned into a gravel road. We drove until the gravel stopped and gave way to hard-packed dirt. We drove through creeks up to the doors until the dirt road ended. We figured that would be a good place to get out and have a look at the surf which was just over a few small dunes.  A creek came down from the mountains here and dispersed itself in a fan out into the dunes. We made our way along a finger of dry ground, hoping for passage to the dunes and surf beyond.

Coming around a corner we were confronted by a big burly local.  He stood there facing us, but apparently much less concerned about our presence than we were about his.  No words were spoken, we just stood and stared for a few moments.  The local, standing up to his ankles in the murky water then surprised us all, when he exhaled and began to relieve himself right there in the water. One of the guys figured that since he was busy and seemed unconcerned he’d just try to calmly walk past him on the narrow patch of dry ground. He was about 3 feet away when the local put his head down and began to charge him with a rack on his head the size of a shopping cart.  I’ve never seen my buddy move that fast since then. The four legged local backed off quickly, uninterested in the chase. He’d made his point.  We went back to the car and drove back the way we came in.

Part III: The Road


Sometimes life will take you to a place where there is no easy road.  It’s good at those times to keep in mind those words of wisdom that say that the road to destruction is easy and wide but the path that leads to life is narrow and there are few who find it.  When the burden you carry digs into your shoulders with the weight of the world, and the ankle-turning cobblestones you hobble over show no trace of those who’ve gone this way before, keep in mind that this is the path to life. When the rising tide threatens to trap you against the cliff, don’t be discouraged, but bear in mind that the tide that brings difficulty now will be the rhythm to which tomorrow’s blissful days will dance. Remember where you’re going. Remember why you’re going.

Soon enough you’ll round the last bend.  You’ll see the ancient stones marking the path of ascension.  Your legs will burn as you are carried up that last slope not on your own strength but by the goodness of the hope which lies ahead.   The goodness that revealed itself to you long ago, though you did nothing to deserve it.  Friends who’d gone before you told you of it’s existence, and pointed the way.  You simply took their word for it, and went to see it for yourself.  And that brought you here to the final climb. Your body wants to give up, but your spirit pushes on.

The expanse that opens up before you removes in one glance any doubt of why you chose to endure the trials on the way here.  All you need is here.  Welcome home.

Part III: The Sea

Eating Mussels.

When camping out in a hard to reach place, the length of your stay is often determined by the amount of food you were able to carry with you.  Food rationing can get extreme if the waves get good and no one wants to leave.  The really smart thing would be to know where and how to catch a fish and survive on what the sea provides.  Not everyone has spent the time and effort perfecting this art.  Knocking a mussel off a rock at low tide however doesn’t require much more than basic caveman skills.

Supplementing top ramen with fire-roasted mussels became the method of choice to extend food supplies on one memorable trip.  Throwing them on the rusted grill over the fire at night and watching them steam until they popped open in a final and dramatic release of the mussels life became a nightly routine. Scooping the little alien out of the shell and into the boiling ramen noodles was an easy chore at that point.  Getting them down your gullet was another story, though.  I can’t say they were that bad, a little tough maybe, but they aren’t called mussels for nothing.  Just a little strange getting used to them, I guess you have to be in the right mindset as well. But I can say this, living day after day to the rhythm of the oceans roar with a group of good friends, and eating strangely tough and crunchy little crustaceans every night with them is a great way to forge lifelong friendships.

I tried it on another trip by myself, but just couldn’t get em down. Maybe I wasn’t hungry enough. Maybe it was the lack of moral support.  I don’t know, but it was always in the back of my mind that you have to be careful eating them due to the fact that for three months of the year they are poisonous.  Hmmm.  I could never keep straight the rule about when they were safe or not. Months without a “u” in them? Without an “r” in them?  Who can remember these sort of things?

Part IV: The Land


“We don’t want ‘you’ here. This is ‘our’ spot.”  It’s as simple as that at many places on the California coast.  This is just a part of the reality of the landscape here.  Nothing personal, in fact it’s extremely impersonal.  It really doesn’t matter who you are, all that matters is that you are not recognized as someone who belongs here, and there will always be those who will let you know about it.

He grew up just up the street and surfed out front quite a bit as a kid.  The older guys would harass folks they didn’t recognize, but they always left him alone.  He liked that.  He moved away for awhile once he turned eighteen.  A few years later he returned and went down for a session at his old homebreak.  He didn’t see any of the older crew,  must be busy with careers and wives and kids by now he figured.  Oh well.  On the way down he passed some kids at the top of the trail who nodded and said “hey wassup” under their breath.  The next generation.  A few moments later a small rock landed on the trail in front of him, followed by laughter and another rock bouncing off his board. He moved a little faster as the sky began to rain rocks.

He quickly got out of range and relaxed a bit and enjoyed his session.  The wave hadn’t changed at all.  The crowd in the water was enjoying a steady rotation in the take off zone, and he quickly joined the rotation and shared a great session with the locals, even exchanging the occasional hoot on a good set.  This was one of the better days of surf here, and he was surprised that his rock-throwing friends never made it out to the water. He was even more surprised to see them waiting for him at the top of the trail.  Had they nothing better to do? He covered his head with his board which picked up a few new dings in the now predictable rock barrage. He was mulling over just what sort of words he’d have with them when he reached the top of the trail, but as he came around the last corner they were gone.  Oh well, he figured he owed them a thanks anyway. If it weren’t for them this place would be overrun with folks from the city, and he kinda liked it better this way.

Part IV: The Road

A Place Worth Going To.

After all the work and planning and sweat and blood it took to get here, he was happy to just sit on the grass at the base of the hill, and look out over the water watching waves march down the point one after another in an endless display hypnotic beauty.  He was done. He didn’t have it in him to move anymore, nor did he want to anyway.  This was as perfect a time and place as any he’d ever known.  How did he arrive at this place in life? There’s no road map to this state of mind.

He closed his eyes and just absorbed it.  He might have been stoned a little bit, it’s hard to say. But he sat there for a long time, perfectly quiet, just breathing.  At one point he sensed a presence around him, and he opened his eyes.  Surrounded by grazing deer, a mother and two calves, he was startled to see them, he hadn’t heard a thing.  They looked at him, aware that he had seen them, and continued to graze, completely unfazed.  He just sat in a daze.

Part IV: The Sea

No Man is an Island.

The van came screeching, then skidding to a halt in a cloud of gravel and dust.  Boards and bodies flung forward in disarray, we slowly emerged and determined that we were, in fact, still alive.  Apparently someone decided this road should make a hard left turn directly adjacent to a fabulous view of the ocean.  On an ordinary day this can be problematic but on a glassy afternoon with a clean swell running, it almost proved disastrous. Fortunately there was a gravel driveway extending exactly in the direction the road had been going, so that the driver with his eyes fixed on the ocean didn’t even have to try to turn on to the driveway as he suddenly veered off the road.  It may be more accurate to say the road was at fault for suddenly veering out from under the sketchy windowless van.  We brushed off and congratulated one another, piled back in the van, and continued down the coast.

As evening approached, we knew we’d have to sleep somewhere.  One campground was full, and another wanted 25 bucks just to park the van overnight.  This would not do.  We parked on a quiet street in a small coastal town, and grabbed our sleeping bags and headed to the ocean. Nobody wanted to sleep in that van anyway. It smelled. Just down the bluff, if you timed it right between waves you could hop across a small pile of rocks and scamper up to a good sized rock island.  We didn’t have wood for a fire, but we sat around into the evening talking story and enjoying our claim to the island, surrounded by the sea in wonderful way.  We’d all been hassled in the middle of the night at one time or another and told to move on by various rangers and authorities, but there’d be none of that here. The sea was our protection.

Huddling down in my bag, though, I thought I was gonna freeze. It got cold out there.  It didn’t help that I had no money for good gear in those days so my bag was a hand-me-down from a friend who slept to close to a fire and woke up with hot coals melting away his bag.  He later patched it with duck tape, and after realizing it just wasn’t cutting it anymore he gave it me. I was stoked. It was way better than just wrapping up in an old blanket.  But this night it was all the same. I don’t think I slept.  I just watched the shivering moon trace it’s coarse across the sky, knowing that soon after it set, the sun would be up. The sound of the seabirds beginning a new day, with the promise of the warmth it would bring, was the best thing I’d ever heard.

Part IV: The Land

Throwing Stones.

“Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

Well, we were about thirteen years old, so I’m pretty sure we weren’t without sin, but we sure we’re having a good time throwing stones. As usual, my mom had dropped us off at the beach on her way to work in the morning where we were free to roam all day until my buddy’s dad picked us up on his way home from work in the evening.  A typical 9 to 5 day for us. We loved our jobs. Even on days like this when it was stormy and onshore and too ugly to surf. Maybe it would get better later. Nothing to do now but wait and see.

Harassing animals was  a great way to kill time for a couple of bored kids.  We’d get sticks and climb around on the jetty smashing crabs. Ruthless. Twisted. Fun. The birds must have loved seeing us climb around out there preparing feasts for them.  On one particular day my buddy started throwing rocks at the seagulls overhead.  He had a good arm. Me, not so much, but I joined in all the same.  We’d probably only thrown about seven small stones, when one of them made contact.  To this day, I’m not sure which of us threw it, but I don’t think it matters.

What I do remember is the initial excitement quickly melting away as the bird went into a limp spiral, landing in the water just outside the breaking waves.  We watched it in silence as it struggled lamely against the currents and chop, slowly drifting out to sea.  We’d killed more than just time on that stormy day, and I was no longer innocent.

Part V: The Road

Return to Civilization.

Driving down the highway after full immersion in the deep north of California is a fairly mellow and bucolic affair. A narrow two lane meandering road for much of the way, with a few bumps like San Francisco and Santa Cruz thrown in the middle just to keep you on your toes. As you approach Los Angeles, the road widens, two lanes become four, then six, and after that you can’t quite count them all but I’m sure at times there may be twenty four lanes of speeding metal to deal with. It’s a sobering reality to consider that all of this happened so fast, and it’s not slowing down either.

For the best effect drive in at night with loud music blasting and enjoy the psychedelic showdown of lights and concrete as you integrate yourself into the pulsing circuit board of Humanity 2.0 as it rushes headlong into its own unhistorical future.  Watch the helicopters circle the moon in an attempt to bring it into submission. Laugh when it resists arrest. Speed up. Tailgate a bit if you have to. You’re not there yet, but you will be soon, if you go a little faster.

Notice the rhythms and sounds have changed.  People are busy and irritated.  You will be too soon enough, but just not yet. A piece of you is still out there somewhere resonating with a different vibration. Since you’ve immersed yourself in nature’s rhythms you can recognize them humming faintly in the distance even in the city of hopeless angels where it never gets dark and yet there is no light.

Part V: The Sea

Dark Nights.

To the sea.  It’s where people go when their world has gone dark before their eyes. Having nowhere else to turn, they turn to the blackness of the ocean, deep and dark enough to absorb any sorrowful soul that gazes out upon it.  Some, out of sorrow, are driven to its depths by their own choosing.  They never return.

Others are drawn to sea in their darkest hours seeking comfort. They find peace in the reminder of their own insignificance. When faced with an ocean large enough to contain every salty tear that has ever been shed, suddenly their problems just aren’t that big after all.

We spend our longest and darkest nights huddled up on the beach in solitude, trying to stay warm, waiting and hoping for a new day. We spend untold hours staring out at the horizon in times of sorrow and loss, looking for answers and though we find none there, we find peace all the same. They may be lonely times, but we are not alone.

Part VI: The Land

Washed Ashore

Dead things float. And things that float get washed ashore. Then they smell.  You smell them long before you see them. The concentration of death on the shore gives a good indication of what’s lurking beneath the surface off any given stretch of coast.  Endless empty crab exoskeletons.  A lobster from time to time. Seals with large bites taken out of them.  Sometimes the sharks that take large bites out of whatever they please.

What’s really neat is to walk a stretch of coast far enough away from any civilization so that where anything that washes up will remain where it lies until nature runs its full coarse.  If you slow down and really start to look closely at the flotsam and jetsam and rock and driftwood and seaweed, you’ll be surprised at how many bones you will find.  Cool bones too.  Sometimes skeletons with vertebrae still in tact, but most often loose and scattered bones worn smooth from tossing about in the shorebreak.

Far down one stretch of coast there’s a grove of trees where, if you were to venture that far, you’d find massive whale vertebrae and all manners of ocean bones hanging from the tree branches, suspended by whatever ropes their mysterious makers found on the shore, in fantastic multi-faceted arrangements.  The beautiful display of death confirming that this coast is indeed alive.

Part VI: The Road

L.A. Go Home.

“L.A. Go Home.” It’s a mantra repeated up and down the coast. Even in L.A. itself, they’ll tell you to go home.  But nowhere has it been stated so poignantly as here, spray painted in big block letters that you have to walk over on your way out to the water, exploding as a clear warning shot of just what sort of attitudes will and will not be tolerated here.

Ironic, though, to consider that if the command were taken at face value and everyone who came from a more densely populated zone south of here all left and went home, there’d be very few left to surf here.  Chances are, even the very hands that painted the words would have gone home as well.

But the biggest irony of it all may just be in the very rocks on which the words were written.  One of the countless jetties constructed by the Army Core of Engineers all over the country, this one like many others was built in the name of stabilization of a port of entry, in order to fallicate commerce.  Mockery of nature in the name of the mighty dollar.  Does it get any more L.A. than that?

Part VI: The Sea


She just wanted to go home. She was barely two years old, but she knew she didn’t want to be on this boat anymore.  And when was Daddy ever going to come home anyway?  She missed playing with him.  They told her he was gone, that he’d gone to a better place, but then what were all his friends doing on their surfboards out in the water around the boat? They all looked like him in those black wetsuits that looked just like his.  And what was that jar of dust that made mommy cry when she emptied it over the side of the boat?  Too many questions, not enough answers. She stared down through her own tears into the emerald green water. The bright orange and yellow flower petals drifting past the side of the boat caught her eye.  She still wasn’t happy about any of this, but she felt a little better looking down in the water.

After a while the boat motored away, leaving a hundred broken hearts to drift in silence on an emerald sea.

And still no answers. I never knew that peace could be so painful.

Part VII: The Land

Trees of Misery.

She wept in front of us all.  We were in the “museum” of a tourist trap off Highway 101 touting mysterious trees and weird gravity.  We were being shown examples of traditional artwork of the Native American tribes of the northern California coast for a college class.  Looking over the carvings of wood and bone, the woven baskets and the colorful beads you’d think you were looking at the ancient artifacts of a long extinct culture.  She said these things could have been her grandmother’s.  She reminded me of mine.  And she wept.  This was not history for her, these were not artifacts, these were living memories.

She gathered herself, and made it clear to us all, that her people were alive.  They weren’t just stories in a book, or mythic imaginations, they were real people living real lives here and now.

While she referred to this area as her people’s land, she didn’t seem to concerned or eager to tell us to leave.  None of our tires were slashed either, and no rocks were thrown that day.

Part VII: The Road

War and Peace.

It is arguably the most historically significant stretch of coast in surfing’s history.  The crowds are outrageous.  There is a nuclear power station built on the bluff overlooking the whole stretch of coast.  Just beyond that the Marine Core practices war games in the hills. Who knows how many rabbits they’ve inadvertently blown up in the name of War and Peace.  They even used to tell surfers to go home.  It was their beach.  But the surfers kept coming back until the Marines gave up.

Last time I was there, my kids built their own shade shack in the sand out of driftwood and bamboo they found laying around. It didn’t look too stable, in fact I think it eventually collapsed on my laughing three year old boy, but they built it themselves and I was proud of them.  After the collapse I went for a surf and had a good old time.  I guess while I was out there they figured they needed more bamboo to make a better shack so they started pulling up live shoots from the ground by the parking lot.  I’m sure that’s a real shame and all but they meant no harm.  A park ranger pulled up and was giving them a stern lecture about the error of their ways and while he was correcting them you could hear the artillery being fired off in the distance behind the domes of the nuclear facility.

Sometimes I reckon things don’t have to make sense just to mean something.

Part VII: The Sea

A Laughing Child.

The sea collapsed on the laughing child. Again and again. He’d roll up on the sand, still laughing, sometimes choking a little bit just long enough to get his breath between all the laughter.  It made no sense to his dad who watched on, a bit nervously, fighting back the urge to protect him from a possible danger.  He could see well enough that the sea had struck a chord in his child and his child was responding in the key of laughter.