You know it’s a Happy Catastrophy-style day when it begins with a 70 year old ocean wind surfer in Santa Cruz and ends with sushi in San Francisco.
Saturday morn, the Man surprises me by telling me we are taking the long way to The City tonight, (or, to translate the hip Bay Area lingo: San Francisco) to meet an old friend for dinner. We are leaving early and driving there via Santa Cruz!!
Now, i am chronically map-challenged and the Bay Area is complicated, but even i am pretty sure Santa Cruz is not on the way to San Francisco from San Jose. (That’s a lot of “San”s, i know. It’s hard for us Spanish-impaired to keep it all straight. We can just try and do our best and the local descendants of the Mexicans who actually owned this land first, are kind enough to forgive us when we slaughter the pronunciations.)
So, we leave San Jose and drive west. (West is toward the ocean. The big, blue, water thingie the sun sets on) When we hit the ocean, and the road ran out, we turned right and headed north, up the coast. (i knew we were going north because the water was on our left. See? Maps CAN be conquered!)
It was SO beautiful.
It was the first sunny weekend in a long, long time and a lot of people had the same idea we did. But the heavy traffic didn’t matter. The sun shining off the water and the warm wind blowing in through the open windows made it impossible to not enjoy the slow drive. I ate Doritos and sang along to the radio (80’s hits!) while the Man drove and looked for a beach to walk the dog.
And “look” we did! California! What’s UP with the dog-hating?? Every beach we stopped at had a no-dog sign posted. Along with a no-litter, no-fire, no-camping and something that looked like no-seals?? These were picture signs without words…not sure what the no-seal thing was but i’m sure glad the sign was in pictures because i am pretty sure seals don’t read. Prretttttyy sure….
We pull in to a beach parking lot near Half Moon Bay. It was very windy out and over the water i spied a dozen colorful parachute-like things flying in the bright sun.
“KITES!” i holler excitedly, pointing at the colorful things in the air.
“Wind surfers,” the Man corrected, getting out His new Kindle Fire and putting on His new bluetooth earbuds. The Man likes his toys. “Hop on out and have a good time. I’m going to listen to an audiobook.”
Not at all surprised that my city slicker, super-braniac Dude is opting to sit in a warm vehicle and read a book while the dog and i embark on a windy beach adventure, i leash up Annie, stuff a couple of poop bags in my pocket, and head out across the parking lot. I get to the trail leading down to the beach and there is one of those dang no-dog/no-seals sign again. Rats!! i am considering ignoring the dumb sign and taking Annie down to the beach anyway to watch the kite/wind surfer thingies when a grey haired man in a wetsuit walks up to me.
“Beautiful dog! I love dogs,” he said as he squatted down to pet Annie, who, as usual, sniffed him and turned rudely away.
“Sorry!” i apologize for my dog’s behavior. “She’s a bit shy. i wanted to take her down to the beach for a walk but it seems no dogs are allowed?” i point to the dumb picture-sign.
“No, they aren’t,” he shook his head slowly. “A lot of California beaches are this way. I’ve seen folks take them down there anyway, but you are taking a risk – especially on a Saturday when the rangers are out.”
“Oh.” i pout. “Well, are you a wind surfer too?”
“Yes.” the grey-haired man stands up smoothly and not at all arthritically and awkwardly like i would have. He didn’t even use a prop! If that were me down there, i would need to have some serious help getting out of that position. I could just see it now. “Quick Annie! Go get help! Mommy has fallen and she can’t get up!” Whereas my legs would give out and i would topple over in pain while Annie joined me on the ground, legs in the air, rolling around and begging for a tummy rub. She’s no Lassie, that’s for sure. He looks down at me and i see that he must be in his 70’s and is trim and athletic-looking.
“I’ve been out there for about 2 hours now. I just came in to eat a sandwich, then I’m heading back out.”
“Wow!” i say without thinking. My surprise showing clearly on my non-poker face. Then, recuperating from my faux pas i say oh-so-intelligently, “Is it like flying???”
“It kind of is for me,” he responds. “A lot of these guys like to ride the waves in. I like to ride them out as well, and hit them just so, then I can catch 20-30 feet of air.” He looks longingly back out at the water. “Jumping the waves is my favorite thing to do. Otherwise, it would just be boring.”
i look out at the water, seeing men and women surfing waves with their board and kite thingies, muscles bulging and waves crashing, and decided that being “boring” looked like a whole lotta work and even a little dangerous. How do they keep from sailing into each other?? Or hitting whales?
“Wow.” i say again, just in case he didn’t hear me being an idiot earlier.
“Well, i will let you get back to it,” i say with a sigh. “i guess i have to go find another beach that allows dogs.” i turn to leave.
“Good luck!” 70 year-old surfer dude calls out as i walk away.
As it turns out, we never did find a beach that allowed dogs. Eventually, we grew tired of looking and i decided to take a chance and be an outlaw. Annie had a wonderful, leisurely walk on the beach where she met a rambunctious pug named Henry who was also a law-breaker. Henry’s dads told me that they didn’t see any dogs on the beach – only little furry people, and we all laughed.
When Annie and i finally returned to the car, a little wind-blown and sandy but happy from our frolic on the beach, we loaded her up and headed north to The City. We met our friend at Kama Sushi on Folsom Street where we had some great sushi and even greater conversation. It was a fantastic day.
When we finally were home and in bed, tired from our long adventure, i found myself drifting off to sleep while thinking about the grey-haired-David-Hasselhoff-meets-Yoda guy. Here was a man who had found his passion, and was not letting life pass him by! He could have been an actor on a Viagra commercial or AARP’s “fit senior” campaign. This guy was LIVING life! As i snuggled up next to my now softly snoring Sweetie, i closed my eyes and imagined myself out there on the waves, dodging whales and leaping to the sky, pulled ever upward by my colorful kite-thingie. And not ONCE did i crash or drown or cause any disaster whatsoever.