Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Perfect Firestorm

My buddy Mike called me during his drive down from Oregon last Sunday.
"California is on fire!" he yelled, then the line went dead.
He called back a minute later. "Sorry," he said, "had to find a charger."
His reports were grim--much of the Shoreline Highway was socked in with an unclean-fishtank-shade of brown haze, areas were being evacuated.
Air quality was ten to fifty times worse than normal, dangerous for the sick, old, and young. I, personally, fit into at least two of those categories.

Satellite Photo of Northern California

Now, more than a week later, California is still in a State of Emergency with inestimable damages.
Here's how it went down:
Spring, 2008: dry.
Early June, 2008: hot and dry. Water resources and inland temps resemble August in 'normal' years. The word 'drought' is tossed around. Since we won't get any significant rainfall until late Fall, this is a problem.
Saturday, June 21st: atmospheric instability (usually seen in winter) produces lightning storms of epic (for California) proportions. At dawn's first light on Sunday, the reported 6,000 lightning flashes spark over 1,000 fires from Ukiah to Crescent City.
Farther south, fires in Santa Cruz destroy homes and close highways.
Sunday, June 22nd: news agencies offer hope. Reports abound of fires being '90% contained.' We breathe a sigh of relief, but not too deeply, as we are warned against this.
Monday, June 23rd: smoke fills our quaint little valley up here North of the Bridge. A brown haze settles in, as if we are staring out at life through an old coffee pot. News reports take a turn for the less-than-hopeful: temps are climbing, winds shifting, fires are no longer contained. Governor Schwarzenegger calls in the CA National Guard for assistance.

My Backyard

Tuesday, June 24th to Saturday, June 28th: fires worsen, air quality worsens, the state of firefighting worsens. Helicopters and planes can't drop retardant, as they have no visibility. Firefighters are exhausted after nearly a week of constant struggles. Fire are at an estimated 5% containment. Medical experts warn against doing anything outside, even surfing, as the coast is plagued with the same poor air-quality. Gov. Schwarzenegger declares a State of Emergency. Mendocino county begins evacuating hundreds of citizens.
Even worse, overnight storms are predicted to bring more lightning, fires.

Sunday, June 29th: the storms never materialize. Patches of blue sky appear for the first time in eight days. Temperatures back off, humidity increases, and firefighters intensify their efforts. It is claimed that 20% of the fires in Mendocino County are contained. Over 900 homes are still considered 'at risk.' It appears as if the tides have turned, but we've heard this many times this week as more than 18,000 firefighters continue to battle on.
And, we're just getting underway in a long, hot, dry fire season.
Did I mention how badass firefighters are? They ask for very little, and we owe them very much. Down from Shasta, up from L.A., how can you express gratitude to those willing to put their lives on the line to protect your own?
Much respect.

If you're the praying type, I'm sure many families would appreciate some thoughts sent their way.
As if that's not enough, in a snarky, nose-thumbing gesture, Mother Nature blessed those of us lucky enough to not be fighting fires or evacuating our homes with calm coastal winds and a clean south swell. I snapped exactly two shots in the parking lot this morning--the first was a clean soul turn under glassy conditions, the second was a hawk, perhaps enjoying the increased visibility at a slightly less hazy coast. The connection between the two pictures and the fires seemed clear to me at the time, but escapes me now. Anyone want to take a stab?

Take care out there.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Clean, Poorly-Lit Surfboard

There's something about a clear longboard with a T-Band stringer that makes me feel good. A simple, elegant set of curves without bells, whistles, mudflaps, spinners, dingle balls, or anything else to distract the eye and the water.

I'm thinking of calling this new model: The 9'2x22.5 2+1 Squash Tail Longboard Designed with both NorCal Beachbreak and Central Cal Poinbreaks in Mind for a Tall, Svelte History-Teaching RipMaster.
Thoughts on the new marketing approach?

There's something about a guy showing up to pick up his board with a cold sixer. The board is a speed demon, as well as the brew.
And, like the IPA, this shred sled is all Sonoma County. Take that, fossil fuels!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

80s television hit series The Facts of Life's (featuring a then unknown George Clooney, pictured with full cast below) theme song urged us to take The Good, to take The Bad. "Take them both," the peppy jingle advocated, because, when combined, these two opposing forces form 'The Facts of Life.'

(whose hair is feathered better--Clooney, or Tootie?)
I was too soft-brained during this SitCom's run to appreciate how the abject nihilism and tenacious good-cheer embedded in its opening lyrics reflected our 80s nation: engaged in a dark, secretive Cold War, yet hypnotized by bright colors, reckless fashion choices, and dancing, dancing, dancing!
It's been a week of opposing forces up here, too. First (The Bad), my beloved MacBook was stolen. However, six days later (The Good), the teenage architect of this heinous crime was brought to justice, my laptop returned lighter by a few thousand personal files and photos, but heavier by some disquieting porn and game downloads.
Speaking of lighter (The Bad), this week also saw gastrointestinal gnarliness strike, leaving nothing in the house unscathed. It was like Invasion!From Planet C if the invaders were parasites and 'C' stood for 'colon.' Not pretty. However, (The Good) saltines were ingested, ginger ale was sipped, and most of us are feeling better.
Surf-wise, (The Bad) there was wind, and there was wind. However (The Good), a few pulses of south swell fought their way to our shores, providing a few peelers for those in the know.
The week continued, offering up some classic oppositions. It was hot (Bad for baby) so we blew up the pool (Good for baby). Gas prices rose (Bad), so we didn't drive (Good).
School ended (Good), so...well, that one has no downside.

(6'10" round-tail bonzer-inspired egg with 101 Fin Co bamboos for stoked bro up north)
In the midst of all this Facts of Life, a few plugs of foam were transformed into sparkling surfboards, resin and fiberglass were added, hardened, got sanded, got polished, got waxed, got surfed. A trip to the Fattyshack restored the stoke and belief in human generosity. Some beautiful fins arrived from 101 Fin Co.

(rootbeer tint Fatty special quad ripstick)
It's the stuff inbetween the Facts of Life, when I'm not struggling with a setback or a solution, where I find some sort of grace.
Neither good nor bad, but there you have it.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Three Little Fish

These three candy-colored ladies now temporarily reside in the (former) High Tide Surf Shop in Petaluma. I say 'former' because new owners Drew and Crew have big plans for the little shop, including a new name, location, and focus. For now they can still be found behind McNear's.

6'0 Blurple quad with a clear deck and red pinline.

Classic full board coke-bottle tint. 5'10". Quad. Bitchin.

I call this color Limeade. Fatty calls it Ice Lime. She also calls me a hairy little whiner, so you can make up your own mind on this one. 5'8" of quad fun.

I'm not going to spoil the surprise of the new name, so I've buried it in a word scramble for the motivated. Rearrange the following:
Sonoma Coast Surf Shpo
These guys will pack any board and ship it anywhere in the world!*
*I just made that up.