November 21, 2012
Local Wild Life
A few dozen flies buzzed around the tent early one afternoon in Kamchatka, Russia. The potential annoyance of one landing on my face kept me from dozing off. Reaching for a fleece, I covered my head and rolled over. The tide wouldn’t switch for another three hours and I was dead set on following my breakfast coma down the rabbit hole. Shoving my face into my makeshift pillow, I laid still.
For a few minutes, my technique kept the flies at bay. Slowly however, the constant buzz intensified until it inevitably landed on my ear.
“Fucking flies.” I swatted my ear, dislodging the culprit.
Sitting up, I noticed that Cyrus had, much to the chagrin of the flies, synched the hood of his knapsack tight around his face so just his nose and mouth were exposed. Stifling my curses, I kicked off my sleeping bag and unzipped the tent.
Crawling out through the opening, I quickly zipped the screen shut behind me. Standing up and stretching, I looked around our camp. A dozen Russian 4×4′s dotted the beach. The uncommonly warm fall day lured hundreds out from the closest city, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, to enjoy their weekend.
“Jesus Christ. It’s like Pismo Beach out here,” I yelled to Chris, a staff Photographer at Surfer from the central coast of California, sitting on the grass watching Keith and Dane play guitar.
“Yeah, but I’ve never seen that at Pismo,” Keith said motioning over my shoulder.
Everyone fixed their gaze on a family of three standing around an Izuzu SUV some fifty yards away. The man, presumably the husband, was shirtless and brandishing a handgun. The woman, wearing a bra and sweat pants, stood a few feet away with a young girl. Resting the gun on the hood of the SUV, the man reached through the driver’s window and retrieved a handful of glass bottles. Chucking the bottles one at a time into the sand he grabbed the handgun from the hood of the car, pulled the slide back and handed it to the daughter. As if she had done this hundreds of times before, she eagerly took the pistol from her dad’s hand and pointed it in the direction where he had thrown the bottles. For a few moments she steadied the the pistol with both hands, then a pop, and a glass bottle broke. A small plume of CO2 floated out of the barrel.
“No fucking way…It’s a pellet gun,” I laughed.
The girl quickly followed up with another shot and continued until she emptied the clip. Eager to take part in the violence and stimulated by the warm day, the mother, without warning, kicked off her flip flops and stripped off her sweat pants.
“A G-Banger!!! Yes.”
“You have got to be fucking kidding me. Is that neon?”
“Sure looks like it.”
Two fresh-caught silver salmon by Keith.
Trevor Gordon is putting together a zine on the trip. I’ll post about it when it’s out.
An active Volcano.
A local salmon poacher enjoying a mid morning swig of vodka and a cigarette.
Dane and Trevor debating whether to head back out.
An empty coastline.
A fisherman lives in this house by himself from April until October each year.
Trevor heading out for a session.
A remote cabin accessible by helicopter in the summer and snowmobile in the winter. That stream is filled with geothermal hot water.
Chris Burkard and Ben Weiland have an article coming out in the December Issue of Surfer Magazine.
A salmon poacher’s vodka, waders and dog at a river mouth.
Keith in transit on the helicopter.
Hand done camo on a micro 4×4 vehicle.
Local wild life.
By this time, everyone, including Serge, our Russian guide, had gathered around watching the spectacle unfold. Taking the gun from the daughter, the mother marched into position and took aim. The husband interrupted her with an inaudible sentence and reached back into the driver’s window and grabbed a few more glass bottles. With the new targets in place, she opened fire.
Sensing our gaze, the daughter turned and looked towards seven Americans and a shirtless Russian with Binoculars. Ducking behind a tent, we laughed like middle-school boys.
Here are some more links,
“Do Not Frustrate…” (ART).
November 14, 2012
Closed for the Season
The campground looked empty from the road. Rolling past the welcome sign, I cranked down my dirty window and stuck my head out, scanning for a dollar sign. $15 per night. I let off the clutch and continued on the dirt road. Avoiding the chilly breeze, I rolled up the window.
“Might as well be free,” I chuckled to myself. The afternoon sun was dropping quickly and the north side of the adjacent hills was already clocked in shade. Driving around the perimeter of the campground, I looked for familiar sights.
Sixteen years before, my family rented an RV and explored the eastern Sierra for a month in early fall. Although somewhat hazy, the trip stands out as a highlight of my childhood. Motivated by a sense of restlessness brought about by lack of surf and nostalgia, I cut out from the coast the week before and headed up 395 towards the Tioga Pass area.
Basing my plans on a few calls with my parents, I bounced around the Tioga Pass area for a week in late October. During the week, I headed over towards Yosemite, and as as the crowds picked up, I retreated back towards the Mono Lake area. In passing and without cause, some of the sights touched on memories from my first trip.
Boarded up for the winter.
Those dots in the middle of the wall are two groups of climbers bivvying for the night.
Home is where you park it! I also run a site called Vanlife.
Sunset at 9000 feet.
Looking back through Tioga Pass.
Half Dome, in Yosemite Valley.
I wonder if they will keep the sign in the spring?
Custom Camper on a 1967 Dodge PowerWagon. This baby has 600k miles on it, and has run over a cow.
These mountains are now covered in snow.
Wish you were here.
Looking east towards through Tioga Pass.
Traveling alone affords you the time and flexibility to linger in some areas and pass through others. The Tioga Pass region is one I advise lingering in, especially in the off season. My weeks spent there 16 years ago and last month are highlights of different eras of my life. Somethings don’t change.
Here are some more links,
Out Of Reception (Tumblr),
A Restless Transplant (Facebook).
October 30, 2012
The Dog Days are Over
The sun hung over the distant hills. Standing in a dirt road berefoot in shorts, I searched for rocks the size of a finger tip. Gathering a handful of choice specimens, I stood up and removed my wrist rocket from my back pocket. Selecting a the pick of the litter, I pulled the pouch back to my cheek and aimed towards a can some 20 feet away. Letting go, the rock whirred towards the upright can, and missed by a few inches. With a hiss, the rock ricocheted off a patch of hard dirt, emitting a sound familiar to a Sergio Leone film. Searching in my back pocket, I picked the runner up in terms of size and shape, and placed it in the pouch. Brushing a fly off my shoulder, I pulled the pouch back, let out a breath and released the rock.
It was early fall on the central coast of California.
It’s a bit ambiguous when the summer ends and the fall begins. The temperature stays about the same; hovering in the sixties at night and highs in the 70s during the day. As a surfer, the season change is evident by the switching of predominate swell direction from the southern hemisphere to the northern. During this transitional time, the swell tends to die down and the section of coast protected by Channel Islands turns into a lake. Hours stretch on. The dog days are over but the foggy days of “winter” haven’t arrived yet.
Dan Malloy’s bike set up for his Slow is Fast Bike Tour.
Heading to Lompoc.
Early morning shakas.
Emma Wood is up to no good.
Jason Fraizer’s Studio.
A view from 7000 feet in the Los Padres National Forrest.
The pace of time slows and my sense of urgency backs off. Sometimes you just have to wait. I’ve never been good at it.
Grabbing another rock from my back pocket, I carefully centered it in the middle of the leather pouch. Keeping my gaze fixed on the can, I drew the rock back and released. The can jumped a foot in the air with a hollow ting.
Here are some more links,
The Dog Days are Over (Florence and the Machine),
Out of Reception (Tumblr).
October 16, 2012
A statue honoring the Veterans of the Korean War stood watch over a lone Dodge at the county park. Across from the empty jungle gym, unidentifiable country music from a Central Oregon radio station hummed through the ‘lowered windows. The west wind bent the top of the pine trees and wafted over-heated coolant from the front grill of the truck. A girl’s legs hung from the passenger window and a shirtless teenager slouched in the bench seat. It was late summer 2012 in The Dalles.
“Should we tell them their engine overheated?” My mom said, leading her Irish Terrier, Lucy, down the sidewalk.
“No, Mom… let them be,” I said, taking the leash from my mom’s hand and continuing along.
It’s hard to predict which moments come to identify a specific place or time, often it’s the most seemingly trivial ones that capture my imagination and spark my sense of nostalgia.
Here are some more links,
West Wind (Facebook).