Living the beach life.

Ol’ Buttercup soaking up the salt

     I am at the beach now, and living the dream. So many wonderful moments to embrace interacting with the ocean. From droplets of water dripping off of pelicans and landing on my back while sunbathing, to making a cavitation bubble as I kick my foot in the water and think I bumped something. Not that I haven’t bumped plenty of jellyfish out there. The solitude of the water is overwhelming. The shoreline and all that happens on it silenced by the crashing of the waves. Bobbing along and riding the accumulated wind which crests at meeting the beach.

Tourists on horseback!

     My whole body is wrecked from all the maintenance and surfing over the last few weeks. My neck most of all. Holding my heavy head while surfing or laying under a car has taken it’s toll. I have been spending all the time I can at the beach, especially when there is a little wind swell to be had. I could sit in a beach chair and read for considerable amounts of time without getting bored. Intermittently I throw a ball for muddy, who is becoming fearless when fetching through ocean waves. Fish randomly jump from the gulf and the terns and seagulls comb the beach. Eastern Willets gather their food in the surf, and sandpipers scurry along avoiding the saltwater. Long lines of pelican’s will occasionally fly over, taking advantage of the wind. One day here I found a Coconut on the high tide mark. My tongue was moist at the thought of some delicious coconut water, but the vessel had travelled too far, and was sodden with seawater. Living at the beach is only possible for someone who loves the ocean. One has to become accustomed to crawling into bed with a little bit of sand on their feet. Sand certainly does get everywhere.  In Texas, at Bob hall pier,  you can also expect to see some horses strolling majestically in the surf. 

     I have gone back for a few days at a time, to Rockport, in order to make a little bit of money working for Diane, who I met through Wayne. They are a happy couple. Right now Diane is trying to get the yard ready for the hummingbird tours which encourage visitors here in the summer and fall. Wayne and I set up a greenhouse in her back yard which he will be using to get many plants started. It will aslo be used to protect some of Diane’s plants next winter if we have a hard freeze again, since this winter we had temperatures get all the way down to the low twenties. Killing many of her less hardy species. Last visit over there I was also able to change out my clutch, which I had been putting off for far too long. Jittering at intersections. I will still be able to get a few more days of work there before I leave, as they are clearing the roof of leaves and twigs, as well as building a planter in the front yard. There is something to be said for doing work that is joyful and gives one a sense of bettering the world. All those hungry migrating hummingbirds! Of course, they will also fill up on sugar water which is filled regularly by Diane. Likely it is the same hummingbirds who have this spot marked on the map in their minds as a ‘can’t miss’ stop on their annual migration. They will need the energy to flap those little wings at one thousand miles per hour.

Maintenance of the Vanagon: Changing the clutch.

     I will be excited when I get back to Colorado to do a little seed planting of my own. I am going to start by planting some desert type flowers in the swales I dug. I ordered seeds last year but can no longer remember what I bought. I harvested some giant yucca seeds from around Joshua Tree area of California also.  It is nearly time to go and get some Pondorosa Pine trees to start my grove.

     Well, the tide is flowing to low, and with it the surf will improve. It is time to head back out now for an afternoon session. Surely my shoulders will fail me soon, but who knows what waves we will have tomorrow. Have to catch them while I can.

Good Morning Sunshine!



Surfing, reading, and avoiding current news.

Children on their way to school

     I spent the last three days at the beach in Port Aransas, surfing and reading mostly. The pier there has quite good surf, for a long board, and has been going off that last couple of days with all the east wind that we have recieved. The gulf doesn’t get much ground swell that I can tell, but when the wind is right and the tide comes around it can be a really fun time. The beach in Port ‘A’ allows camping for a few nights out of every twenty consecutive days, though it seems poorly enforced, which is good for me since I could stay there for a month if I wasn’t hassled. My vanagon is back up to traveling standards, having the solar panels wired back into a new marine battery and fridge, and propane tank filled.  Going to change the clutch this week, which should be interesting.
      I came back to the boat today to dump some of the excesses that I have in the van, so that it is less cluttered on my adventures. I am still using the boat as storage until I drive back to Colorado. I will also be helping Wayne set up a greenhouse. It is great to see that somebody down here is very enthusiastic about gardening and starting their own seeds. I will be interested to see how some of the plants that we propagated last time are doing. The environment is so humid here that it must be very easy for these new plants, with their limited and weak root system, to get much of the moisture that they need through their stomata.
     To get to Port Aransas you take a ferry. I am told that they talked about building a bridge, but decided against it due to the fact that the “tourists love the ferry”. There are fifteen or so orange vested workers at each end directing cars, not to mention the ferry captains, and two workers per ferry riding along to chock the wheels. You would thing that a bridge would pay for itself with all that overhead to continuously operate a ferry. From the ferry you can see drilling rigs which are parked on shore for maintenance. Yesterday I also saw one rig being towed out to sea, soon to be returned to service.
     Coming back from solitude and isolation at the beach is interesting. Though there are many people around, I only strike up a few conversations each day, and am free to enjoy reading or playing guitar or body surfing. The heat is striking mid day, and the water is quite refreshing. At the boat I have so many friends from my time here that I get people stopping by often just to chat, especially after a short time away. It is both enjoyable and a nuisance. The grocery store felt a bit overwhelming: music and the hustle and bustle of people going every which way. I am happy that I decided to skip the Oyster fest, and instead isolate myself at the beach.  It was nice to avoid the current events, which highlight the gutting of the Environmental Protection Agency fiscally, and general removal of long standing protective legislation.  I should just not pay attention to the news, I’m much happier oblivious to what is happening.
     More reading, more writing, and more surfing are on the agenda. It’s time to line up a job as a raft guide again this summer.  I will be excited to get into my kayak when I get back to Colorado and whitewater season. It is a tough life!

sunrise at the beach!

Port call Phoenix, and San Diego sunshine

     Made it to the ocean, the pacific this time. There is a west north west swell that is arriving today, growing in the afternoon. The gods are favoring me. Needless to say, my surf skills are not quite honed right now, having not surfed for over a year. I caught three waves, and I lost track of how many waves caught me. The surf was double overhead as measured from the front img_0015of the wave, but the periodicity was very manageable. The surf is supposed to continue to build throughout the day, so I will make another effort, but this time with my short board closer to the jetty at Ocean Beach. Definitely easier to get out with the short board, being able to duck under the crashing waves. As long as I get one good wave every time that I go out, it is a good session. There is a certain sense of spirituality in surfing that not everybody understands. I enjoy sitting and watching the pelicans roam the curling crests as much as I enjoy the feeling of being taken down the face of the wave by the energy of the wind carried molecule by molecule over the vast distances of the pacific ocean only to meet the shore and go vertical; or the feeling of the water moving under your feet as the big swells approach. I got out just after first light, and kept the session under two hours. From past experience going from no surfing to surfing every day, it is better to ease into the rhythm of the ocean.

     The weekend prior to this was the reunion with all of my San Diego navy friends, and I couldn’t have enjoyed myself more. I was referring to the weekend as a port call, either Pheonix or Tucson, as we changed cities mid reunion; referring to the atmosphere that we recreated from so many different stops on the USS Ronald Reagan. For port call Phoenix we all stayed at the Mariott at Tempe Buttes, which was perhaps one of the most extravagant hotels that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying, rivaled only by what I saw in Cancun, Mexico. I slept in my truck, since my budget is not even close to on par with the others. There were various pools connected within a compound that was built over a rock outcropping in the middle of the city. We swam, we drank, we drank some more. Not too far off from the hotel life in singapore, thailand, south korea, or dubai. It had been many years since I met up with many of them, and the atmosphere was intense throughout. We talked of old stories and shared many of the new life experiences that we had enjoyed since our last meeting. Being in the nuclear field, all of them are very very smart. One had been doing seismic monitoring in Alaska over the summer, another had been doing some serious music editing for some high falutin artists, and still another was working to build and repair electron microscopes. I think it’s safe to say that they ill all have a seriously large difference in lifetime earnings than my own rebellious self. Talking with all of them does give me a push toward a “career” in the corporate world: I am constantly deterred from such a career by the way that we all live on the planet(rampantly using resources), and the fact that if I make more money than I do now, I will certainly join the masses in their drive to cut down every last tree. Will we make the same mistake as the Easter Islanders? During our time in Tucson we participated in the all souls procession, a sort of remembrance of those that have passed in the last year: similar to the day of the dead in the Mexican tradition. We all painted our faces and one of the group brought a giant paper mache raven head, which was especially appropriate giving the role of the bird in the tales of the native americans. It was a powerful experience for myself, since my grandpa had passed not too long ago. We all were able to write notes to those that had passed, and the urns into which they were deposited were all lifted by a crane and burned, giving the message the flight that it needs to reach the other realms. The Buddhists believe in bardo stages, where a soul can linger, sometimes for several months. My message to my grandfather was in the bhuddist spirit: it included guidance and a reminder of our love for him. My eyes tear now as they did many times throughout the procession. Some of the most powerful moments were when you saw a sign and a family of a loved one that was lost way before his/her time. You could see the anguish in the faces of the “survived” that continue to walk the earth with their memories of loved ones lost. One deep connection that I had was with a woman in the line for the cajun food truck who had lost her husband “eighty-two days ago”. I gave her a long hug and we chatted for the duration of waiting in line: it was powerful. The whole event was an excellent reminder that we should cherish every moment. Walking a few miles with your face painted as a skull is a great way to get in touch with your own mortality.

     Muddy has been enjoying the constant travel and excitement, though I have had to put him in the truck a few times, which upsets his anxious personality. With all the driving that we have been doing I think he must be sleeping for fifteen hours a day, including the evenings. There were some particularly exciting views img_0007 between the indian reservation south of the Utah border, and around Globe, AZ. Surprisingly impressed by Arizona; not one of those states that I had given credence to such a grandiose landscape. All the potatoes, carrots, and onions that I dug just prior to departure are providing an excellent supimg_0014plement to the food that I need to buy, and fit well into my budget plan. I woke up yesterday in the Sonoran de sert among saguaro cactus and ubiquitous creosote. The twelve hours of rest was well needed after such a weekend, and the potatoes and carrots that I had for a casually late breakfast were all that I needed for the long journey to San Diego which lied ahead.  The colony of ants nearby were happy I stopped in.  I captured a picture of one of them laboring to remove a piece of onion and a few granules of rice.  We should all take the time more often to appreciate the small stuff.  

     Oh, and I woke to the Donald Trump presidency: This should be interesting. If there is a way to collapse the whole system faster, I can’t think of it.