Mittwoch, 28. Mai 2014

Driving down on Highway 1

Last weekend was extended thanks to Memorial Day. So we took the opportunity to get away and visit some other place. It's not something really special anymore and now we start to know it very well, nevertheless we had a great weekend in Santa Cruz and surroundings.

Just to mention first, at the Thursday afterwork we ended up in a place where there were some political posters from Switzerland on the restrooms. Anyway, back to the weekend.
After somehow not quite sure how to drive down there, we ended up on two different roads leading to a first stop in Half-Moon bay. We encountered one problem when everybody has a phone. You don't really define where to meet and so it took us a while until we got back together. In the meantime we watch the Mavericks.

At the end we found everybody and had a late lunch in probably the best Chinese restaurant there.
Again splitting into two cars, one staying to surf at Half-Moon bay, while the other continued directly to Santa Cruz for shopping at the sales. The waves were quite strong and wild. Also for quite a while we were the only two in the water. It's nice to be alone, but it's still assuring to have somebody else around. But the waves were very strong and it was possible to just stand next to the board, and once the white water arrives jump on it and stand up without even paddling. It was a lot of fun, very hard to get out and at several points I felt like being in a washing machine.
Well washed we continued the drive to Santa Cruz on Highway 1 and took some stops to enjoy the coastline and later the sunset. For the Sunset we looked for some beach and thanks to the new technology we found a very quite space, that isn't really known. There is only one way to the beach, hidden between some bushes and you have to cross the railway. It was more than worth it!
Next day was surfing day and we got more familiar with the board and I made quite some progress. Standing up gets easier and also the arms don't hurt anymore after being in the water for several hours and paddling like an maniac to catch a wave. Everybody was surfing, so there aren't pictures for proof and you just have to take my word for it. It was a beautiful day and lot of sun. Almost too much, so that even the hands got slightly red.

The last day of the weekend, we drove further south to visit something else. At Pebble beach we found another nice beach and relaxed there a little before the long drive home.

Samstag, 17. Mai 2014

Learning to surf

This is the story how I got to stand on a surfboard by loosing my badge.

It all started more than a month ago. I took the shuttle bus towards downtown Berkeley and had my LBL badge still attached to my pocket. I got off the bus and the next time I checked, my badge was gone and only the clip remained on the pocket. Well, this wasn't the best thing and I got worried what to do next. And I don't recommend to do this if you want to learn how to surf.

At the end it was less problematic than I imagined and a friendly finder, working a the lab as well, wrote me an email so I could pick it up the next day. Said and done, we met and soon after we met again for a after work drink with more colleagues from the lab. Almost all of them international students and eager to explore California. That's more like what you want to do.

And this is the result:
I know, not really impressive. But it was my first day surfing. And thanks to the very good help of Goncalo, I was able to stand on the board after trying something like one and half hour.
The first time we were a group of five people from Brazil, Portugal, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Quite international and we had a such great time, that we went again the next weekend with more people. Goncalo was the most expertized and showed us how to do it.
First we had to look for a good spot with nice waves. Not really big ones, but some with lots of white water. A wave that breaks not too close to the shore and has lots of foam, which has enough force to grab the board and carry you along. After wet-suiting up, we took the boards and went into the water. Getting familiar with the board, paddling around and waiting for waves.
Then once you see a wave coming, you paddle hard to get speed and hope to be fast enough to catch the wave.
It was not always a success and sometimes I didn't get up or was flipped over or worse.
It can be that you have to wait some time until a good looking waves comes into your direction. Or you try to move around to the best spot. But there were many other surfers, and I didn't wanted to get to much into their way. And paddling is quite exhausting, so one important point is to keep your energy for the time when a wave comes.

I call standing on the board on the first day a success and I didn't mind that my arms and back hurt for the next days. Many bruises collected and more important many good new experiences made.