Oregon Coast: Gotta Go Fish

pc20153We packed our trailer and headed out from Bend, OR in mid-September with iflatables for cruising adventures and a couple of boards for SUP surf. Pacific City – here we come. The weekend kicked off with the annual Longboard competition. Saturday offered up some sweet waves, glassy and chest to head high. Riding a swell all the way to shore in the shadow of beautiful Cape Kiwanda on a warm sunny day is just about paradise.pc20151

In spite of dozens of trips to Pacific City and a few days catching salmon in both the spring and fall runs, we had never paddled the branch of the Nestucca River that flows east from town all the way to the inlet where the Pacific comes roaring in.

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Screenshot (152)On our first trip we knew we were paddling out on an out-going tide. With a spinning rod on Ed’s board and my net strapped to my board we planned to fish at the inlet where all the boats seemed to have the most luck. After a few hours of fishing, the tide would be incoming, making the paddle back a breeze.

We put in at “Guardrails,” just across from Bob Straub State Park. The trip was idyllic – seals sunbathed by the dozens on untracked sandy beaches, forested cliffs reached high to the south and the closer we got to the inlet the more clear and marine blue it became.pc20159

Currents swirled with plenty of energy as we approached the south side of the inlet. Absolutely wear your PFD and use a leash. There were so many combinations of eddies, waves and powerful current that it took concentration to get from the inlet area to the pocket beach we founf on shore – but was it ever WORTH IT! pc201522

After about an hour of casting, Ed hooked in to a HUGE salmon. As it leaped, guys in the 16 boats fishing the inlet gave a thumbs up and the fight was on. Just as Ed was about to get spooled, the fish began to turn. Then, unawares, a boat cruised across the inlet and cut the line. We lost the fish but gained some friends among the fishermen.

A few days later we were back for the third time and one of the guys from the first day – the BIG fish day – offered to put Ed in his boat and take him out for a salmon. They had caught their limit and had to admire Ed’s presistance. I also think they admired our trips up and down the river stretch paddling our SUPs in all kinds of conditions over the week.

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The one day that an incoming tide couldn’t match the 20-25 mph headwind on our return home was something we would not like to repeat. Even the best laid plans come up against good old Mother Nature. Be prepared, know your waters, tides, winds and currents and stya with your paddle buddy.

pc20157Our last night in Pacific City with fresh grilled salmon, a beach walk at sunset and a local brew could not have been better.

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Your Little Beach Town: Off-Season Awesome

cck4On the deck of Cottage 13 of the Cottages at Cape Kiwanda this morning I was sipping Fogcutter coffee freshly made from the Five Rivers coffee provided in our kitchen. Small lines of waves rolled past the Haystack Rock bobbing a few early morning surfers when two dark “somethings” rolled southward just off shore of their position.  “Whales or seals?” I wondered. Then the playful duo began to roll and ride the waves – definitely a couple of seals out for fun.

I have probably spent 100 days on this Pacific City beach over the past 10 years in every season and in all sorts of weather. There is something magical and unique about being here in what many consider the “off-seasons” of Fall and Winter. Few crowds, less fog and the opportunity of availability and lower rates at the luxurious 2- and 3-bedroom oceanfront suites of the Cottage at Cape Kiwanda on the Oregon Coast.

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cck2After a day hiking the beach in the “all to ourselves” afternoon in this mid September off-season, we ended our yesterday the same way we began our today – “Good night and good morning” from the cottage deck perched high enough on the dune to give an amazing view of beach life in and out of the sea.

After hiking up the shoulder of  Cape Kiwanda with my daughter – granddaughter squealing with glee in her hiking pack we strolled around sunset gilded tide pools where tiny toes danced in Pacific Ocean waves for the very first time. Ready for the fireplace and some home-cooked dinner we played “gourmet chef” in the fully appointed kitchen. Spaghetti sauce and meatballs simmered in the Cuisinart cookware while music stereo system filled every corner with our favorite tunes.

cck5From the custom-made cherry tables and dovetail-joint dressers, hand-blown glass sconces and rich leather sofas we enjoyed the perfect blend of contemporary and cozy. We have only been here 18 hours – and 8 of those hours were spent sleeping like a baby – yes, even the baby – nestled in the luxury that only top quality beds and bedding can provide.

With our bedroom window tipped slightly open the soothing sound of the sea buoy mingled with sleepy rolling surf kissing the shore. Before heading out for today’s fun we freshened up with a shower that was nothing less than a spa experience in itself. If you haven’t been spoiled by luxurious bamboo linens
and SpaH2O bath amenities be ready for absolute bliss. cck7

Yes! We are ready to head out for another day of fun – and are already looking forward to coming back to our wonderful home away from home Cottage.

Surf the Turf with Laird Hamilton: GolfBoard

Laird catching a glide on a frozen

Laird catching a glide on a frozen “wave.”

Don’t you crave that feeling of “the Glide” when you catch a wave or down wind current? No matter our ability, that moment when wind and wave propel us forward we feel young and wild and free. After catching some solid waves we’re happier, friendlier and more relaxed. I live in Bend, Oregon so I think about surfing more than actually paddling for waves. When winter brings the ski-snowboard season and glides come from frozen waves – it’s all good. Fun, play, being active and the exhilarating feeling of wind in my hair – that’s the ticket!

Laird Hamilton is a co-founder of GolfBoard, based in Sisters, OR.

Laird Hamilton is a co-founder of GolfBoard, based in Sisters, OR.

While tens of thousands of surfers play golf, I spilt from the links a few decades ago. That was, until last weekend when I had the opportunity to chat with Laird Hamilton about his role in a company immersed in play, innovation, imagination and cool engineering: GolfBoard. (video HERE)

Laird was in town with friend and training partner, Don Wildman and the GolfBoard team as part of the festivities around the world’s first GolfBoard-only tournament at Tetherow. In the early stages of the interview while Laird and I got to know each other a bit, I happened to mention I was turning 66 in a few days with the shrug that said, “I am so old.”

Laird laughed and said, ‘You’re only as old as you think or behave. Energy and a sense of play keep you young. I’d like you to meet my great friend and the inventive mind behind GolfBoard, Don Wildman.” With that Don came over to join the conversation. How lucky was I to share in a conversation with these two guys. Do NOT miss the chance to learn more about Don Wildman (perfect name for this guy) and his life and training philosophies.

The following is an excerpt from the conversation I had with Laird before Don took over to teach me (in 1 minute) how to ride the GolfBoard. I loved the “woohoo” experience that just might have me dusting off the clubs and heading out for 9 holes of surfing the turf.

ElderSUP: What is it about the way you experience sports that influences your unique ability to innovate, invent and collaborate?

LH: I think innovation is in my DNA. I come from a long line of thinkers with a background in the sciences. I was a kid during the short board revolution in the 60’s so I was used to a lot of change around the sport of surfing.  We lived at the end of a street where we didn’t watch much TV. We didn’t have a ton of toys so we all just went out to play, imagine, create – play was the key that fed my imagination. My Mom was a big factor in developing the way I think. She read to me a lot, great books like LORD OF THE RINGS and such. I love to create. In fact, I love the process more than the end result. If I build something that I think is cool and then i see someone else using it – with a big grin – there’s the reward and confirmation that what I build was good.gb2

ES: How tough do you think it will be for clubs immersed in the conventional and traditional way of playing golf to take a more hybrid approach.  How will GolfBoard grow among golfers and their courses/clubs?

LH: I know that you ski, and you have plenty of snowboarders at Mt. Bachelor. Ski engineering and design was revolutionized by snowboard design. On the other hand, snowboarding evolved as it did because snowboarders were able to use the infrastructure of lifts and grooming at a ski resort. Golf has a long history and a huge worldwide following, but clubs need to innovate and change in order to gain a broader membership, bring in younger players and engage golfers in new ways. By testing GolfBoard, Speed Golf and even Don’s version of Renegade Golf at the  “early adopter” clubs like Tetherow we can use feedback – and watch for the smiles on the faces of golfers – in order to learn how to make the transition the best it can be. GolfBoard can impact the game of golf like snowboarding did for skiing.

ES: What are some benefits golf clubs and golfers can expect to gain by adopting GolfBoard and new way of playing?

LH: Golf has plenty of adaptation to scoring and play that change up the game, and for many players it makes the game more fun. One example is ‘best ball.” The scoring system in golf is based in a frustration cycle that measures all the failures. When a player moves from shot to shot on a GolfBoard, especially after a bad shot, they arrive ready to hit their next shot from a more relaxed and playful place. You have to concentrate and stay in engaged in the process of riding the GolfBoard. I hear it all the time. After a round or two playing on the GolfBoard people say, “That’s the most fun I have ever had playing golf.”

When people play golf the way strong and agile octegenarian Don Wildman does it will become more fun and dynamic

When people play golf the way strong and agile octegenarian Don Wildman does it will become more fun and dynamic

Don Wildman, GolfBoard inventor added some thoughtful insights, “People are busy and time is the most valuable commodity for many. One way to get more done is multi-tasking. Playing golf on the GolfBoard is faster. Speed of play is one of the most frustating aspect of golf for many players and one of the complaints most heard by club management.”

Don continued, “It’s great for the older golfer for many reasons. If a person was used to walking the course, instead of moving into riding a cart as walking becomes more difficult, they can switch to the GolfBoard. For any golfer it’s easy to get stiff while sitting in a cart between shots. If you balance and move your whole body from shot to shot you arrive at the next shot more relaxed and ready.”

ES: How hard is it to learn to ride the GolfBoard?

LH:  The learning curve is about as close to zero as it can be. Similar to standup paddling, once a person is on the board the actual riding or paddling is intuitive. We have had more than 1100 golfers riding the GolfBoard without a crash. We built the GolfBoard with specifications suited to preserve the conservancy of golf as a sport and the course.

gb7I appreciate the time with Laird, Don and the entire GolfBoard team. The inaugural GolfBoard tournament at Tetherow was stellar!  You can FOLLOW GolfBoard on FACEBOOK.

I have to stop writing now and go workout (not exactly how Laird goes about it) – and maybe grab Ed and head over to Aspen Lakes or Tetherow for some GolfBoard turf-surfing.

SUP Surprises: Oregon Coast Delivers

Two "Elder SUPs" on an adventure

Two “Elder SUPs” on an adventure

It was the final day of our “SUP Surf” trip tp the southern Oregon Coast.  A wicked series of winter storms fueled by gale force winds and torrential rain filled the creeks and rivers to flood stage. The best surfing is near the mouths of these rivers and conditions were not good for our favorite water play. So we hiked and explored for eight amazing days.

On our final day we took a hike that hadn’t been advertised much, and we took off through the wonderous forest without much expectation – and then we came upon Indian Sands Beach. The 3 hours we were held spell-bound flew by. The video captures a bit of the adventure but you must see it for yourself.

Below the video is a collection of links to all of the articles which journal each day of the “2015 Great Winter SUP Trip.”

Great Winter SUP Trip Great Winter Trip Day 2SUP Travel: Expect Wonder Rainy Days and Sunday: Cozy FoodHere Comes the SunWinter Glassy Surf: Brookings OregonStories from Under the Waves –SUP Adventures:  Nature Dictates –

 

The Story from Under the Waves

A lucky shot captured with my cell phone in 2012 at Pipeline

A lucky shot captured with my cell phone in 2012 at Pipeline

 

Sitting up on the cliff above Peahi (Jaws), bracing against wind as Ho’okipa fires off, joining the crowds on the beach at Pipeline or watching storm surf off the Oregon Coast, waves fascinate us. It’s not so much about surfing as the power and mysteries of the ocean at its most extreme.

lowtide1Low tide and everything exposed as the ocean retreats twice a day allows exciting exploration of tide pools – and more. This week we had so many opportunities to explore the geologic formations that form the waves we love to ride.

One of the most compelling accounts of the rocks and bottom formation that create the power and personality of a particular wave.

rockyhikewaves2In her book (The Wave) by Susan Casey does an exceptional job of explaining the natural forces (winds, currents, ocean-bottom shape) that create these daunting surfing spots, and in particular her exploration under Jaws with Laird Hamilton.  Casey’s account of the impromptu adventure is terrific, you’ll want to give it a read.

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The beach at the end of the Cape Sebastian hike, rocky vantage point is to the right of this area

capesebpatternThere’s a beautiful 2-mile hike from the viewpoint at Cape Sebastian, just north of the Pistol River and south of Gold Beach.

capesebwave2 Take the hike (and then be very careful) to the right to an incredible viewpoint. We were fortunate to arrive just after low tide, with the rocks that shape the waves – and are shaped BY the waves, exposed. Detail and variation from dense to sandstone invited a careful, closer look.rockyhike

Shoreline climb near Harris Beach State Park

Shoreline climb near Harris Beach State Park

Many of the haystack type formations were available to climb. From high vantage points we saw the effect of  this week’s low pressure and storms.The size of a swell is determined by the strength of the wind and the length of its fetch and duration. Because of this, surf was huge this week.

rockyhikegreenAccording to Wikipedia, “The most important influence on wave shape is the topography of the seabed directly behind and immediately beneath the breaking wave. The contours of the reef or bar front becomes stretched by diffraction. Each break is different, since each location’s underwater topography is unique. At beach breaks, sandbanks change shape from week to week.”

rockyhike3So we explored up, on, over, around and under the exposed rock and sand formations. It was a fascinating exploration of waves – from the beach.

capeseb3 capesebwave6Great Winter SUP Trip Great Winter Trip Day 2SUP Travel: Expect Wonder Rainy Days and Sunday: Cozy FoodHere Comes the SunWinter Glassy Surf: Brookings OregonStories from Under the Waves –SUP Adventures:  Nature Dictates – 

SUP Adventures: Nature Dictates

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Balancing with the power and pounding of the sea almost 360 degrees around the SUP perspective is fresh and exciting – even without a paddle.

For months I had been planning all day every day paddling and SUP surfing during our “Great Winter SUP Trip.” Today is day 7 and the boards remain in their bags – two Naish Hokuas and two Naish ONEs,  Strangely, we have enjoyed some of the coolest waves. Instead of connecting with the force and beauty of the ocean underfoot while skimming its face, the waves have been all visual and full of the crash-pounding melody that calls us all to the sea.

We have gone to Pacific City for a long weekend and spent the full 3 days on the beach in and out of the water for surf sessions and paddles along the Nestucca River. In a week in the southern part of Oregon coast in the winter we have seen 2 surfers – and not a SUP water-person at all. Yet we feel more connected to the sea than ever.

IMG_4751IMG_4749_2IMG_4748_2Yesterday we took the hike from the view point at Cape Sebastian down a switchback series to a fork in the trail. In one direction was the hike to the beach – beautiful, for sure.

But we also took the fork to a series of rock outcroppings that rose 50 feet out of the water and about 500 feet into the ocean. Canyons filled with waves offering 10 ft faces. A lone gray whale rolled and blew as it rolled and dove not 150 yards from us. On the trip down south, these giant mammals head on a direct course, move quickly, and mostly stay about 5 miles offshore. Coming back, the whales travel much more leisurely and stay closer to shore—within a half mile is not unusual. We feel lucky to have spotted our lone whale.

The feeling of sitting on a precarious rock outcropping and waiting for the large set waves was so similar to standing on our Hokuas and waiting for a sweet set wave to ride.

IMG_4760In fact, because the entire process of waiting for waves and standing in awe of their magnificent power was all about the wave – not about our ride – maybe it delivered us to a closer tie with the waves we love to experience.

Later that evening we sat by our fire and watched the sun sink in a sea of light pink and peach – almost a shadow of the night before when it was a fiery explosion of color, almost celebrating the end of the storms.

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Ed and I have been heading to the sea in sailboats and on surfboards since 1965 – and he has never had the inspiration to stand in a perfectly executes “Mountain Pose” in front of a magnificent ocean environment. We never tired of waves crashing against the solid, grounded magnificence of the many rock formations on this coast.

IMG_4677We should be all bummed out because we didn’t have the surf and paddle trip we planned – but we are NOT! Instead, perhaps we have never appreciated the gift of experiencing the sea and its beaches like we have this week – right in the middle if what is usually our gray, snowy winter.

Surf is where you find it – thanks for that, Gerry Lopez!

Winter Glassy Surf: Brookings, OR

brsunsetTuesday night’s sunset over the surf break in Brookings, OR was breath-taking. The waves were chest high to just overhead and glassy good.  In this light all looks idyllic. Can we finally hit the water and SUP surf, paddle up river and explore?

Talking to rangers at the beach and a few other locals we learned, “Increased pathogen and fecal bacteria levels in ocean waters can come from shore and inland sources such as storm water runoff.”

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Surfer at dusk, enjoying the first sunny day in a long time. (Photo by Ed Shasek)

In short, we can surf – but maybe we should wait a few more days for some clearing of the water to take place. It’s not easy to watch these waves roll in, but in the daylight the obvious amount of river run-off has turned each wave a brown muddy color. Water and various bacteria issues are common world-wide. Caution, a hot shower after a dip in the seas affected by run-off, make all the difference.

We were on Maui and Oahu a few times after winter rains flooded rivers driving golf course and farm run-off into the sea. Warning signs at the beaches were very clear – DO NOT GO INTO THE WATER. Both bacteria and other (think shark) risk occur while the water is murky.

As we drove up the coast from Brookings, past Gold Beach to Port Orford we passed numerous rivers and creeks, all coursing their way to sea. The beaches are carved with picturesque pools and sandbars from the fresh water sculpting. But the browns of these waters contrast sharply with the clean green-blue of the bays away from the rivers. Ore-South-South-Coast

For that reason we decided to do our crabbing off the working dock at Port Orford. Good decision! It was informational, fun to talk with the local crabbers and staff on the dock.

Seals played and the male crabs eluded us – but we grabbed our share of fun.

So, no surfing for a day or so. Thinking water should clear considerably by Thursday – and the waves are predicted to be chest to head high, our favorite. Winds, calm. Even better!

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Here Comes the Sun: SUP Trip Fun

IMG_4695After four days of dark day cloudiness (exciting storm-watch fun days)  the sun set on the Pacific last night switching on golden beauty.

This shot of a 100 ft tall haystack off Harris Beach State Park provided an incredible burst of orange sunburst through a wave-worn notch at its base.

Without gale force winds and sideways rain we suddenly couldn’t wait to explore our beach. For the first time we took the short hike from our campsite down the trail to the nearby “marine gardens” area. There are no words for what we encountered. IMG_4677

The surf report says today andThursday could be just the conditions we have hoped for. With daytime highs at 60 degrees we are ready for an all day adventure with sand and/or waves underfoot.

grottoThe last stormy day did not disappoint. If you are in the Coos Bay area, be sure to fuel up with fish and chips at Fisherman’s Grotto. We ran into a Simpson local (his great grandfather was part of the original group to settle Charleston) full of stories. No matter who came in, conversation bubbled from table to table – and the fish ‘n chips were crisp and delicious.

shore-acres-state-parkOur next stop was Shore Acres Park where we hung onto the viewing rail a hundred feet above the raging sea smashing sky high wave bursts.  If the frigid wind didn’t chill us to the bone we would have stayed for hours.

IMG_4684Tide pools, rock formations, cliff views and trekking – this winter SUP trip is delivering beyond expectation.

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Rainy Days and Sunday – Cozy Food

I'd rather be paddling my KIALOA Tiare - but the redwoods were awesome

I’d rather be paddling my KIALOA Tiare – but the redwoods were awesome

It’s our third night out on the “Great Winter SUP Trip” and the wind keeps cranking into the 30-40 mph range, although the time between rainstorms is getting longer. The trip is the epitome of making the best of what the weather delivers. We have yet to see a single surfer or paddler out in the water.

So we bundled in to the car and headed out. We explored from Brookings, OR to Orick, CA in the Redwood National and State Parks today. We dodged rain, a herd of elk (safe distance), fallen trees and shoreline salt spray.

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As dusk approached we bundled up for a hike on the Lookout Trail above Harris Beach State Park for some peek-a-boos of sun – YAY.

soupAs dinner time approached it just seemed like a night for soup. Luckily, a few weeks ago I had made a number of crudite’ trays with lots of leftovers. I sauteed all of it – carrots, zucchini, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, even some cucumber with onion in a little olive oil. Simmering it all in vegetable broth smelled good but did not have the robust flavor I wanted.

Looking around I spotted about 8 oz of leftover hummus and about 2 oz of Manchego cheese. Soon it was all simmering and mingling flavors. That frozen goodness became our dinner – with  a fresh green salad and garlic bread. soup2

Here’s the hummus recipe – what a delicious addition to a vegetable soup.

Ingredients
4 garlic cloves
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
Scant 1/4 cup olive oil – only as much as is needed to create the texture you like.
8 dashes hot sauce

Directions: Place the chickpeas, garlic, and kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 15 to 20 seconds. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and process for another 15 to 20 seconds. Add the lemon juice and water. Process for 20 seconds. Add the tahini. Process for 20 seconds, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil and about 8 dashes of hot sauce.

SUP Travel: Expect Wonder

road1If you have been following the “Great Oregon Winter SUP Road Trip” you know that an epic (in a negative way) three-day long band of intense rain and wind storms is hammering the coastline from Northern CA  north through the Oregon coast.  (Day 1 StoryDay 2 Story)

Actually, it’s not a problem. The RV sites we have found have been STELLAR.

road2Last night as the winds roared wild from the south,  gusting to 50 or more, we slept soundly at Harbor Vista Park (Lane County) outside of Florence. If you plan to go there you will be happy with any site, but for unobstructed ocean views – plan ahead and try to get #13 (secret awesome tip). Just a short walk from the site you’ll find a great hike to a wide area where the Siuslaw River joins the Pacific. Seals play and so will you.

road7Today we worked our way down to Harris Beach State Park in  Brookings. Along the way we saw a sign with flashing lights that said, “GUSTING WINDS next 27 miles” – what were we supposed to do? We drove on. Later we saw a sign that said “high water,” and a mile down the road we were pushing a pretty big bow wake with our truck and trailer.

We arrived at Harris Beach State Park and scored an awesome, ocean view site (bonus tip – A 18 can’t be reserved but try to get it). Right now we are being hammered by a powerful storm band, but again, we are loving the ocean view right from the couch where I’m typing. Within a 30 minute walk in any direction there are rocks and views we plan to absorb over the next week. road5

Our Naish Hokuas are still wrapped in their board bags, the surf is chaotic and huge. The rivers are pouring muddy fresh water into the sea, so surfing is not particularly inviting or safe. That said, the beaches in this area could not be more picture postcard perfect. As we drove through Bandon we took a shoreline detour and found a great beach walk in the Devil’s Kitchen area.  The sun came out, creating a monochromatic scene.

road4So, until the weather clears we will spend some time watching H2Mexico and The SUP Movie while the rain pelts us. But don’t worry. We are well fed and pretty happy. We had a yummy fish and chips at the warm and cheery Crazy Norweigan restaurant in Port Orford. As the evening evolves, a nice bottle of Beaujolais-Villages keeps me calm while the trailer wiggles from time to time.

But tomorrow – the BIG storm band is on its way. By noon the weather man predicts the worst of the storm will be upon us and winds will be blowing off the chart. Stay tuned.