Flying to Mexico, Hawaii, California or points more exotic for your standup paddle or surf adventure. Traveling with a SUP or longboard is an adventure (not always a good one) in itself. We had to drive from Bend to Portland in order to catch a plane that would carry a board longer than 115″ (LXWXH). Rather than have the drive and negotiate the timing to make our morning flight, we decided to come in the night before and stay somewhere that would safely keep our car for a good value price.
Back at the Hampton we had a nice cup of tea and enjoyed a movie on the flat screen television. Wifi is free so we did some Facebook updates then off the sleep. We had time to hit the clean, well-equipped fitness room for an hour of cardio, catch up with the news and some balance and strength training with the kettlebells and medicine balls. By then we welcomed fresh fruit, coffee, eggs and sausage for the complementary breakfast. The waffles looked great but we had beaches waiting for us.
We arrived at the airport easily 90 minutes before our flight – rested, exercised and well fed. Consider the Portland Airport Hampton Inn when you fly to your SUP or surf destinations.
Fifty years ago when this Florida surf chick wannabe was graduating from high school in Hollywood Florida an icon of Pacific Northwest hospitality opened its doors in Hood River. Last weekend my daughter and granddaughter and I enjoyed another wonderful “girl trip” experience at Best Western Plus Hood River Inn. With “new” properties vying for your vacation attention pop up all the time it is refreshing and grounding to enjoy the amenities and customer service 50 years in the making. The culture of Hood River Inn greet you from the first moment.
On April 29, 1967, the Eddie Mays Inn original hotel-restaurant complex opened as a 64-unit, two level motel, two level restaurant that incorporated a lounge, main dining room, 24-hour coffee shop, two banquet rooms, and fruit grower’s sales building. Its opening attracted thousands of people, for tours of what would be a premier destination for lodging, dining, business and social events in the Gorge.
This weekend under the sunny skies of Hood River, surrounded by the sparkling waters of the Columbia River just steps away from the newly renovated riverfront dining areas and deck, we enjoyed the first night’s sunset wine and dinner outdoors. Were we hungry for the fresh and local fare? Absolutely! We had sunned and splashed at the outdoor pool protected from the wind by clear glass that allowed a full view of the river and sweeping panorama views.
It’s an easy walk to the event center where you can rent SUP, windsurf or kiting equipment and lessons. A mile will take to downtown amenities and you are close to the fruit, berries and wineries Hood River is known for. World class fishing is literally a stone’s throw away.
Think modern, clean, attention to detail and comfort when thinking about the accommodations. In 50 years, the Hood River Inn has more than tripled in size by many measures, into a 194-unit hotel, vibrant restaurant and lounge, providing 12,000 square feet of meeting space. Some of the hotel’s mid-nineteenth century “modern” design character remains, but the operations are firmly planted in the hospitality standards of today. The Best Western Plus Hood River Inn currently ranks as one of the best hotels in Oregon*on top review site, TripAdvisor, for “Best Value + Top Rated.” It’s among the top five most-reviewed hotels in the state on the same site. Its many awards and honors are evidence that, in its 50-year history, the Best Western Plus Hood River Inn has become one of the best destination and convention hotels in Oregon.
It’s summer – make your reservation now. And plan ahead for Fall. That’s a season the Hood River Inn is stellar for water athletes and lovers of fruit, leaves and fine dining.
It was the best way to put a wrap on the coldest, snowiest winter I have ever experienced. We watched all the YOUTUBE videos on how to pack a board, flew to Puerto Vallarta and drove a cool Nissan surf truck from Gecko car rentals to our resort – The Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort and Spa. Surprises and adventures beyond our imagination awaited. Most importantly – it was the people that added so much to the experience.
Let’s begin with the waves! After all, that’s what we came for. Day one dawned and we peeked out from our ocean view balcony to the break called Burros just to the left of the more protected swimming beach in from of the Palladium. The little jutting out of land you see on the map is where the adult infinity pool and the friendliest bar you’d ever want to find is located. Burros was a solid 8 feet with occasion much larger sets rolling. No, you’re right, we had no business going out that day – but the water was warm and we were excited. Both Ed and I got some sweet lefts (the locals sort of owned the rights) – and we also got worked. It was a LOT of fun and adrenaline laced adventure. Yes, we did relax with a tropical drink afterward. The team at the beach shack where you can borrow boogie boards, surf boards and SUP boards were amazing. Led by Eder and Elvin, each was knowledgeable and friendly – really added to the experience.
The next day we opted for a less challenging break so we drove in to Punta Mita to try the Anclote break. Holy cow, what a day! The consistent chest high, glassy rights were uncrowded and beyond fun. To access the beach you can park then walk through the alley near the Cinco Hotel or (surprisingly) right through the El Coral restaurant! Water shoes can help, the shore is rocky and there are sea urchins. Once you get out to the break there is plenty of water. Long rights and an easy paddle out await – it was heaven. (Photo credit and so much gratitude for the adventure – Dennis Oliphant)
Each day brought a slight change in the swell – we enjoyed the break to the far right (from the map perspective) of Burros, in front of a sweet sandy beach. This day the swell was more chest to head high and came in definite sets so the paddle out was easy. There is a channel at surfer’s left of the break, so we’d paddle out there but line up to catch our waves in front of a shoreline rocky ledge. They only thing that will bring you back to shore is the out-going tide – and the thought of lunch at the Palladium.
Did I mention that in addition to fresh, clean rooms cared for by an incredible, friendly staff, the resort is all inclusive. We chose to visit the buffet (you do need to practice restraint) for breakfast and lunch. You can be as healthy or decadent as you wish. Egg white omelets to an expanse of fresh baked treats, or every sort of Mexican traditional delight you could ask for are there for you. Top quality yumminess and – again – friendly and attentive staff. After a strenuous morning surf session I leaped for the home baked pizza with a light and crisp crust – and a beer – most days for lunch. Salad? Yup, from fresh fruit of every kind to greens and veggies you will be happy.
We spent off water time taking long beach walks. We loved the area to the northwest of the Palladium the best. Huge cracks and fissures in the shoreline rock ledges created openings for the swells large and small to crash and spray with azure and white beauty. Tide pools large and small were host to all sorts of little critters and fish – and yes, sea urchins. Be aware.
(SIDEBAR: When you surf and play and beach explore in the wonderful sunny heat in Punta Mita you will get thirsty. One of the most wonderful aspects of what is available at the The Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort and Spa is the ever available filtered water. Whether it is cold bottled water in the all-inclusive refrigerator in every room to the cool pitchers of water offered at every meal, quench your thirst without concern about water. In addition, the filtered water ice is clear and plentiful).
It always happened that we arrived at dinner starving – and we were not disappointed. We chose to download the Palladium app so that it was easy to reserve at one of the ala carte restaurants each evening. Our favorites were Bambu, an oriental themed spot, and PortFino, which had a great selection of Italian cuisine. The Mexican restaurant perched high on the bluff had inside and outside dining choices and a magnificent view of the break at Burros.
While we enjoyed the food, again, it was the the people that made the experience. For example, we didn’t order sushi our first night at Bambu. Oh my, our waiter, Francisco, was devastated. “Ramon is a master sushi chef, please, you must try his chef special.” So we did. We were not disappointed. Ramon created a beautiful plate with three varieties of sushi, all light, fresh and delicious. And Ramon visited our table to see how we liked it – and we did. His grin could light up a room. Needless to say we returned often.
After dinner a walk was always needed. From exploring the vast property or strolling the beach with a fresh drink, we passed the time until the 9 PM POP (people of Palladium) show. Talent to the max – we enjoyed each show, different every night. It was obvious that “People of Palladium” have a mission to create a great experience for us all.
No story about our Punta Mita experience would be complete without mention of the unique service and team at Gecko car rental. We were collected at the airport with VIP service with boards and bags quickly loaded into an air conditioned van for the 20 minute ride to the Gecko office. In no time our boards were on the truck – and we were handed a book. Little did we know how valuable that book would be. It was the most comprehensive and well-written guide to an area I have ever used.
In addition, we had trouble with a sensor light (the truck was new and the sensors were finicky). In no time a driver from gecko met us at our hotel with a different truck – no problem at all. Smiles ruled the day.
I recently had the absolutely joy of watching the “Progression Project” film Nine of the world’s top SUP surfers hit the waves with Erik Antonson of PaddleWoo. Antonson is responsible for some of the most progressive media in paddlesports, producing free content via his PaddleWoo podcasts and blog posts to help expose and advance the industry. The Progression Project documents nine of the world’s best standup paddle surfers in Costa Rica showcasing the sport in its most progressive form in one groundbreaking SUP film. Left to right in the photo above: Sean Poynter, Caio Vaz, Ian Vaz, Kieran Grant, Fisher Grant, Zane Schweitzer, Giorgio Gomez, Erik Antonson, Mo Freitas and Noa Ginella. (Featured Photo above: Chandler Williams/Modus Photography)
The film is now available at no charge online. Erik explains why he is offering the film for free, “My hope is that by releasing it for free, we get some curious surfers to watch the film and realize there is so much more in paddle surfing than they realize.” A brilliant way to bring understanding and mutual respect out on the water.
The film hit home in so many ways.Let me start with a totally unrelated story – the first chair lift ride of my ski season at Mt Bachelor this year. We were heading up with a snowboarder talking about skiing vs boarding. Since the guy did both, he was balancing his joy in each sport as both different and very good. One statement he made about skiing, just an off-hand comment, changed my entire season.
Just like the guys in the Progression Project film talked about small things they learned from each others style and technique away from competition, the guy shared one insight and it made all the difference for me. He simply said, “I love that feeling in skiing when you initiate a turn with your toe and move to mid-foot, then the turn locks in so easily.”
He might have said more, I don’t know, because that one statement stayed with me. I didn’t think I was much aware of the exact mechanics I engaged when initiating a turn – so many things to think about. But that one statement, stuck and my technique and level of fun on the show has soared this season.
In the “Progression Project” film again and a again each of the water athletes is interviewed and each share what they observe, respect, appreciate and can analyze from the very people they perform against in competition. One small thing, one observation could bump a skill up a level. It was great to experience the camaraderie and fun these elite athletes maintain. The shared respect for each other and for their sport – and the most amazing SUP surfing footage you’ll enjoy again again – make this a unique and special project!
A huge “mahalo” to that guy on the chairlift! And to all the athletes in the Progression Project. I may have even subconsciously picked up a SUP surfing tip, too.
You expect participants in a highly personal, built-for-connection event like Standup for the Cure to be enthusiastic and highly invested in experiencing a positive event. The surprise for me at the November 12 event at Miami Yacht Club was the attitude and absolute commitment of the sponsors. A lot of the praise for that goes to the tireless enthusiasm and work by event director, Dan Van Dyke (shown here leading the prayer circle).
Before I go on and on about the weather for the event (absolutely stellar), the course (indescribably beautiful) and the raffle prizes (so many, and all so cool), I will introduce you to some of the many sponsors i enjoyed talking with.
The sun was bright so one of the first people I chatted with was Morgan Parker of Raw Elements, makers of clear and tinted sunscreen made with 100% natural ingredients including zinc oxide. The moisturizer was evident as I applied the clear stick blend to my face. They were at the event because, “It’s a great cause and a natural audience for our mission toward skincare and cancer prevention.”
Speaking of prevention, I experienced the quick and easy breast cancer screening available at no charge to all. In the course of the Standup for the Cure history hundreds upon hundreds of early stage cancers have been detected, with support and followup made available. Each $125 raised by the event is used to support someone in need for screening. With $850,000+ raised so far think of the positive impact the event has had for so many of us across the country.
We all love the ocean, surfing and a great cause but we don’t all take action to make a difference. Two local high school students Jacy and Joie started SURF TO THE RESCUE at the end of their 2016 school year. These students donate proceeds to Surfers for Autism, except on Nov 12 all proceeds went to Standup for the Cure. The shirts are top quality and the logos unique – and their hearts are definitely in the right place.
Besides winning a very cool hat at the Ambry Genetics booth (answered questions about breast cancer correctly), I had a fantastic conversation with Jaci Talpash. Few could be more proud of the work done by their company. She shared so much about all Ambry Genetics does and I walked away grateful for all the teams behind the innovations and research.
The team from Cobian Footwear (check out the styles) lives their #everystepmatters message with their participation in causes that resonate. Grag Tayler shared, “We are national sponsors of Standup for the Cure, so this is not a one time effort for us. They are honored to be part of the effort fighting breast cancer and those working to find a cure.
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse fed us well with perfectly grilled burgers on melt in your mouth buns. Kona Brewing Company team froze their hands off reaching into a cooler full of ice to hand us perfectly chilled beer. We all needed it after an active morning. The morning was made more active for many as Andrew Crane representing Starboard shared Allstar and Freeride boards, paddles, leashes and PFDs to dozens upon dozens of eager paddlers, both novice and super experienced racers.
We love to explore new surf spots when we visit the coast. Recently we got a bonus in Santa Cruz. After grabbing some fun waves at Cowells and Indicators – skipping Steamer Lane – we spent a flat day in town. Off on Water St we discovered Covewater Paddle Surf, a shop fully dedicated to SUP.
Walls of the brands that innovate and lead SUP design line the walls, including the Kialoa GL Hulu paddle. Accessories and apparel are neatly displayed – with a vast array of choices.
We were fortunate to meet Olivier, the store owner – enthusiastic, knowledgable and eager to connect with the community – both locals and visitors.
When asked what’s the most fun about taking groups on SUP trips to local beaches, Olivier had this to share, “It’s all about sharing the passion of stand up paddling. The most fun is like when you have new paddlers who really get stoked. They realize that’s all they want to do now after taking a class with us . One by one they become part of the SUP community.”
I spotted a great design on a sweet, vibrant colored hoodie and immediately inquired about the Polynesian inspired design.
Olivier filled me in, “We wanted to refresh the logo and the identity of Covewater. I have a lot of interest in Polynesian art and culture that is very oriented to the ocean.
From there I had a chance to start working with James de Leon at 57 Design. James aka JD was the perfect person to work with on this project. He has the same passion as I do about stand up surfing but also about the Hawaiian and Polynesian culture and art.
We both really enjoyed this project that included a new logo and also a full new website featuringthe Covewater apparel. “
Take some time to learn about the history and culture of Covewater Paddle Surf, a history that brings the entire team pride in what they do.
From ski movies to films about surfing, SUP, cycling and wilderness adventures, I love to vicariously travel and experience sports stories. While I work in words, music and images presented in films can impart an energy and immersion like nothing else. Last night I had the pleasure of viewing a film envisioned and produced by Jim Brewer. The film is Driftwood. Directed by Peter Trow and narrated by Shaun Tomson, it carries the viewer on an extraordinary journey.
Driftwood is more than simply a film about paddle surfing, but equally about culture and discovery. Surfers Sam George, Noah Yap, Ammy Naff, and Jim Brewer travel to Sri Lanka, Iceland, and Colombia, among other places, on their quest to paddle rivers and oceans around the world. In a conversation with Jim Brewer, her shared, ” I had an idea to make a film that focused more on the places we visited rather than the travelers themselves. It was my job to capture details for each location. Hopefully, the viewer will get a sense of the experience of the many different locations and cultures.”
In my mind, the team did exactly that! While I have no aptitude for music, I couldn’t miss the dance between breath-taking local images and the rhythm and style of the soundtrack. Jim explains it like this, “I put an incredible amount of time into finding the soundtrack for the film. I wanted the music of the film to be representative of locations we visited and help to create a feeling for the country and our adventures there. For me, the music is the most important part of the film so I put a lot of effort into finding tracks that help to highlight the images.”
They nailed it! I read a review of the film by Glenn Dubock and couldn’t agree more with his description of the Driftwoodexperience, “Imagine yourself free floating in a liquid Technicolor world; here, you interact with locals and wildlife in places that haven’t seen anyone ply their waters on a craft quite like yours. This is exactly what the creative Jim Brewer and Peter Trow so masterfully captured in high definition during their globetrotting adventure on standup paddleboards. “Driftwood,” as Brewer clearly states, is not a movie about SUP—SUP just happens to be the watercraft of choice that allows Brewer and Trow to enter into some very far off places and become involved with some very far-out people.”
Put your passport away and grab a beer and some popcorn – the adventure comes to your home. Enjoy a short trailer here, then grab your copy of Driftwood.