16 07 2018

Today marks a milestone in my life: 30 years of sobriety. I don’t share it to brag, but hopefully to encourage others that are in the same “one day at a time” situation in their lives.

July 16th, 1988, I had been 21 years old for 8 months. I was in the Army. I had been drinking and doing drugs for just over 5 years by this time, including smoking cigarettes. (I don’t know why, but cigarettes and substance abuse seem to go hand in hand).

But to know why I finally had enough, I’ll have to go back a bit.

Ephesians 2:1-10 reads:   “1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (ESV)

This will be the Reader’s Digest version: To start, though, my parents were together until I was in 4th Grade (I have a sister 2 years younger than I). My dad, an LA City Firefighter, and my mom mostly a Homemaker, but then the last couple of years they were together, looking for work and becoming a Dental Office Assistant and all that entails. I won’t get into the details as to why they divorced, but they did and it was the 1970’s so my sister and I went with my mom, visiting my dad every 2 weeks, becoming “latch-key” kids because now my mom worked.

Somewhere along the way my mom and sister stopped getting along; my dad remarried, and so she went to live with them. I stayed with my mom, for the time being.

In High School I went to live with my Dad and step-mom when my mom was getting remarried and moving as far from the beach as anyone could to me at the time. By now I was surfing and I didn’t want to leave my High School, so moving in with my dad, who wanted me, also, was the next best thing.

Understand, both of my parents wanted my sister and myself. There was never a thought that they didn’t. But they were divorced and that made it difficult when they fought each other.

In High School I was introduced to marijuana (though my first time smoking pot was way earlier than that, this is where I started continual usage) and beer. I had pretty much just turned 16 when I started smoking pot, and beer was the next natural flow. Romans 3:10-18 quotes parts of Psalms 14 and 53, but basically describes “Man’s heart as evil, not seeking after God, and that there is none righteous not even one.” We are inherently evil. That’s just so you know where I’m coming from because as I quoted Ephesians above, this is just one of the areas I was “dead in my trespasses.”

(Before this, I had been baptized in the Presbyterian Church and was calling myself a Christian. You may read the whole Prodigal Son episode in Luke 15:11-32, which I’ve applied to my testimony, also.)

As I was continuing in my drug use and drinking, I was working hard. My schoolwork was suffering in the classes I wasn’t very fond of, but I still got A’s in classes I enjoyed, even Math and English. But when I was partying, I was partying hard.

By my Senior year in High School I was smoking pot almost every day. I had tried other drugs, including cocaine and hash. I was also graduating to the harder stuff like rum and vodka. It was so easy to get. I was in High School from 1981 to 1985, as a reference.

When I graduated I didn’t want to go to college so I went to work full time and continued partying hard on the weekends. By this time I enjoyed smoking pot nearly everyday; was smoking hash when pot was hard to come by; and used cocaine, speed, mushrooms and even dropped acid once. My choice of hard liquor was moving to Whisky. I still enjoyed downing a half case of beer with my buddies. I was having a lot of fun, and still calling myself a Christian.

When I was 19 years old it started to unravel. I got 2 possession of marijuana tickets, minor in possession of alcohol, buying alcohol with a fake I.D., and topped it off with a DUI right when I turned 20. It was a messy 9 months with 2 trips to jail, 2 calls to my dad to bail me out, and 2 trips to court to solve my legal issues.

I fully believe Ephesians 2:1-3 sounds like it applies to my life at this point.

On my second trip to jail, my dad gave me an ultimatum: Move out of the house or see a recruiter. I chose the latter since most of my money was spent on drugs and alcohol and I had no savings.

I went into the Army where I was still able to access drugs and alcohol. But if you look at verse 4 of Ephesians 2 above, “But God” is so important to the rest of my story.

I met a dude, Kelly, at Ft Knox, KY that was from Washington State and he and I hung out. He didn’t drink and when I found out why (sober from heroin for 4 years by this time) I remembered my mom having issues with alcohol. She was sober by this time, too, but it’s part of the details left out above. My buddy, Kelly, asked me one time if I thought I drank too much. Since I had been hanging out with other drunks, I was never asked that. Kelly was a great friend and I’m surprised he wanted to hang out with me, “but God” made sure he ended up in my life at this moment.

After one more black-out drunk from a fifth of Southern Comfort, I awoke on July 16th, 1988 with the awful feeling that I might have driven a car the night before, but not remembering the night at all. Thankfully someone did take my keys from me, but I went on about my day, super hungover, to go waterskiing on the Ohio River with other bud’s than Kelly. So I smoked a joint to cure some of the hangover and went waterskiing.

When I got back I realized I needed to change. The only way that was going to happen was to remember my roots. I went to Kelly to see about going to my first AA meeting and that night we went.

From that moment on, I realized that I needed to make changes and the only way to continue down this path was to let God take control of my life. A life I said I gave Him control of many years earlier when I was baptized.

I can give so many reasons I went down this path, but in the end, I made my decisions, so I’m solely responsible for my actions. “But God” does not hold my past against me because of what Jesus did on the cross for my sins.

That’s the rest of the story and why the rest of Ephesians (2:4-10) matters so much. It’s His grace that allowed me to realize what terrible decisions I was making in my life and how they were clouded by being constantly high, if only on weekends by the time I was in the Army.

This could go on for a long time of all of the things God has done for me through Christ, but just know that I’m not here to preach to you, just tell you my story. How I’ve reached 30 years of sobriety (and now 20 years cigarette and nicotine free) is by the Grace of God. He gets all the credit. I’m thankful to those he’s placed in my life to hold me accountable.

In the 30 years I’ve remained sober, I’ve dedicated my time to serving the churches I’ve been involved with, but again, it’s not about how great I am, because I am not, but about how great a God I serve is.

So I’m thankful for where I am. I’m so very grateful for my wife, my job, my friends and family, and most of all to Jesus Christ, the one true Savior of mankind.


A New “How To” Year is Here

7 01 2016

So far for 2016 I’ve gone surfing twice. Saturday with the crew and Monday with a buddy in Carpinteria. After all, I had an appointment in Santa Barbara. For the most part, I’ve left the GoPro and Sony Camcorders at home, especially at the beginning of this year. It’s not so much a resolution to stop the madness (a movie every time I surf?), but a commitment to just surf and not have more surfing to do when I get home.

Those movies take a lot of time to put together. So based on a suggestion from one of my surf buddies I’ve decided to make them more of a “How To” vlog. He actually used the word podcast, but I think I’ll just stick to showing other surfers how to do certain things. Of course, not with the “this is the only way to do it” mentality. I know there are multiple ways to probably do some of the things I’ll show, but I’ll show what works for me.

So the first one I did I actually uploaded Dec 30th, 2015, but that’s because I didn’t put my movie on my newest surfboard together yet. It’s done, but I still have to narrate it.

So sit back and enjoy my first entry of 2016 on putting the rope through the center fin box leash hole. It’s intriguing. 😉

Again, I’m sure there are other ways to do this, but always remember to keep that rope short.

Thank you and God bless,

Surfer Yoda

Old Habits Die Hard, Bad Habits Need to be Murdered

14 10 2015

I got a new board, again. A 6’6″ Parole rounded pin tail, similar to a Lopez Lightning Bolt of the 70’s, but updated and with a 2+1 set up. I sold my 6’6″ Bonzer Egg and my 9’0″ Walden Magic Model 3 in order to pay for it, but after this weekend’s maiden voyage, and yesterday’s extra shot at it, I made the right choice.

The waves on Saturday were forecast to be overhead and I figured it would be a great opportunity to try it out. The tide was on the high side and the swell was more powerful than normal making for bad rips at my favorite secret spot. Rips like I’ve never seen in many years. I’m blaming that one on El Nino, but then, we’ve had some great waves so far this Fall.

With the larger consistent surf, a couple of feet over head on sets, I had to do a lot more paddling and duck diving than I normally would, which always leads to a little apprehension on my part. That apprehension is there because when it gets bigger I always seem to be out of breath, held under longer than I want, and feeling close to drowning. I know the “close to drowning” is a bit dramatic. However, when you wipe out and don’t know how much longer you can be held under only to think “what happens if I pop up and don’t have time to catch a breath before another one hits me?”, it makes for energy loss and fatigue. So yeah, it feels like I could drown.

I’m always confident I could save myself as I’ve done in the past, but still, it turns what should be a 2 hour session into a 1 hour session, or less. And I discovered the problem after I surfed that morning.

As a kid, I hated water going up my nose when I’d swim. I also hated holding my nose with my fingers as I felt that wasn’t something men should do, so I just sucked it up until a friend told me I should slowly blow air out my nose and that would help keep water out, and keep me from the necessary plugging of nose with my finger and thumb. Not bad advice, but it turned into a very bad habit that I realized is a problem, and one of the reasons I might not like waves over 8 feet after 34 years of surfing, which makes the bad habit that much older and harder to break.

It turned into blowing air out my nose every time I’m under water. Swimming, surfing, whatever. I paddle out, duck dive and blow air out my nose and when I pop up I need a breath. I wipe out and blow air out my nose only to be out of breath when I finally surface. That is a terrible habit I developed and didn’t even realize it until this last weekend’s swell.

My eureka moment made me realize that I needed to murder that habit for good, if I expect to surf some of the larger waves expected this winter. I’m still all about surfing, not surviving, so it will have to be good for me to paddle out, but coming to the realization that if I just stopped blowing air out my nose when I go under water will help me relax more when I’m under, will save my energy. I will have more air when I surface in case I can’t take a breath.

It might seem elementary to you, but really, that’s why it’s a “habit”. I made it that way and it’s not just old, but bad.

I got to put my theory to the test on Tuesday Morning. Though the waves dropped a bit, it was still overhead on the sets and I made sure to not let a lick of air out when I duck dived. It was a little harder to remember when I would wipe out, but I still even managed that and after surfing an hour, catching all kinds of waves, I still had energy after my hour was up. I know it wasn’t the same test as putting that into practice last Saturday, but it was a good test none the less.

As I surf more, big or small, I’m going to do my best to remember not to blow the air out. I never had a problem yesterday with water going up my nose, so that helped make it easier to handle. Hopefully I’ll remember that every time I go surfing. Or am in the water for any reason, for that matter.

I don’t know if you have a bad habit you need to murder, but remember, they may die hard, but you can be the killer of it.

Take care and God bless,

Surfer Yoda

They Say #ElNino is Coming

5 09 2015

I surfed a couple of times this week. Wednesday with Uncle Chris and yesterday with Gooch. Both days the forecast was 2 to 3 foot. Not stellar, but with the talk of El Nino I can see there’s something different in the water.

First, though the water felt warmer longer last year, the water temps at my favorite spot finally topped 70. I’ve been trunking it, or at the most a spring suit. Both days were way better than the forecast. There were set waves easily topping 6 or 7 foot faces. And that’s what the 2 to 3 foot forecast is, for face height.

That said, Gooch and I had it to ourselves from 6:30 to 8 yesterday. All alone. Mostly chest high waves, the two of us. It’s a huge reason we call it our “secret spot”. We know it’s no secret, but I know the typical places were already filling out yesterday and we had great, southern hemi waves to ride. With warm water!

It got us talking about the things El Nino was doing. One funny thing we saw were two seals swimming side by side. They looked like buddies. We never see two at the same time, so we blamed it on El Nino. Another was the tropical cloud cover we had which made it look like it was going to rain. We even saw a funnel cloud off in the south western distance. Definitely blaming El Nino for that one, too.

Anyway, we then talked about the stand up barrels we were going to get and that got me thinking more: risk vs. reward. I’m all about risk if the reward is there, but where surfing is concerned, I’m kind of happy with chest high to a foot or so over head. Heck! I’m fine with waist high to a foot or so overhead. So why do I care about a stand up barrel, that needs to be about 8 foot in the face for someone my size to be in a full stand up position? I’m not sure I do!

Anyway, I guess I’d paddle out to any size I could get out to and still be able to ride the waves. I don’t know exactly what that limit is, but I have a feeling I know what it is at my local breaks because there’s no way I’m paddling through double overhead waves to get out and surf closeouts. That’s the most likely scenario if El Nino plays out. The reward just isn’t there at a lot of the spots I surf.

Now, when I was a much younger man it mattered to me to say I paddled out in double overhead surf whether I caught anything or not. Today, though, I just want to surf. I want to catch the wave and ride it. Do turns. Sure, get barreled if its their, but I don’t want to be in survivalist mode. That’s when it’s just not fun anymore.

In 1982/83 I did surf at 16 and that El Nino I even caught great waves. I wrote about a near death experience a few years ago you can read about if you Click Here.

Anyway, El Nino is on the horizon and that’s good for our water situation in So Cal, as long as the snow pack in the Sierras breaks records. It’s also good for the surf situation because not all spots will be closeouts. It could be an epic time to be in Southern California. It’s also bad because we can expect flooding if the rains they say are coming, do come, which of course they will because of El Nino.

Anyway, if it all pans out, I guess the only surprise we’ll have is if it doesn’t happen at all. Then all that hype will be for naught.

Hope your favorite surf spot gets epic this winter and that it’s not survivalist conditions. Thank you and God bless.

Surfer Yoda

My Favorite Boards

9 08 2015

In the past I’ve written about my favorite board being my Walden Magic Model 3 because it is such a great all around board. It is still at the top of my list of boards that if I could only have one board in my quiver, it would be the one. I can nose ride it. I can do a floater. I can cut back on a dime. It hits the lip pretty hard after I’ve cross stepped up to the nose and back. So as boards go it’s the one in my quiver I can ride from knee high to double overhead (not that I ride double overhead, but there could be a reason to do that on the right swell and spot).

Today, though, as I’ve shortened my boards again, and have 6 in the quiver, I’ve decided that I really can’t decide between two of them.

Lucky Lucke – Shaped by Ray Lucke in Camarillo, it is the first custom board I’ve had shaped for me since I was in High School. At 5’5″ it is my shortest board and at 22″ wide it is my widest short board. It’s green for my Yoda-ness and because it’s based on a Mini Simmons outline, it’s got the traditional twin-keel fin set up. I love this board when I ride it. It’s absolutely a dream in just under waist high to overhead surf. It’s probably the fastest board I have because it hardly has any rocker and being shaped like a longboard the rails are more parallel than any other board I have, even my two longboards.

Lucky Lucke

Bonzer Bumblebee – Shaped by Malcolm Campbell in Oxnard, I purchased this from a guy in Orange County from a Craigslist Ad. I had sold a 7’2″ Bonzer Egg because I wanted a shorter version, and this popped up. The first time I rode it was at Rincon on a chest high day and it immediately took over the Lucky Lucke as my favorite board in my quiver. It’s so fast and loose and at 5’10” and 20-7/8″ wide is my next shortest board. Also ridden from under waist high to a few feet overhead it’s not quite as easy to ride at the smaller sizes than the Lucky Lucke, but it has proven rideable in most stuff I’ve taken it out in. It is quite a fun board to ride and again, became my favorite short board right away.

Bonzer Bumblebee

That last movie wasn’t close to the best days I’ve had on it, but it was a good enough day.

I just finished repairing some dings on the Lucky Lucke and I’m so glad she’s ready to ride again. I missed her while she was down. It was what prompted me to write this. I love the Bumblebee so much that I rarely threw the Lucky Lucke in the car. You see, I have another Bonzer Egg, a 6’6″, that I’d throw in with the Bumblebee in case it was a little bigger than I expected, and a few times I’ve been glad I had it.

However, as I missed riding the Lucky Lucke I realized that it too has a place in my quiver that cannot be replaced. The only thing I can do when the Lucky Lucke is on it’s last leg is to go back to Ray and commission him to make me another one just like it. I love it that much.

I hope you have boards you can day dream about when you’re not able to surf. That’s what these boards are to me. I still even day dream about the 6’0″ Roy Sanchez Twin Keel Fish, the 6’6″ Bonzer Egg, the 9’0″ Walden Magic Model 3, and the 9’11” Bill Hubina “Smith Noserider”. I can’t help it. I love all my boards. I just have a couple of favorites.

Get out there and surf. Take care and God bless,

Surfer Yoda

Just the Two of Us (For a little bit, anyway)

13 07 2015

Friday I had appointments set in Camarillo. It was an opportunity to surf, since there was swell in the water. Surfline’s forecast for my N. LA County area was 3 to 5′ with bigger sets, so how could I pass that up?

I got to the coast at my usual 5 am time and turned north on PCH from Malibu Canyon. There’s no reason to look at Malibu Point on a swell. I doubt at that time I would have found parking.

In the back I had both of my Campbell Bros. Bonzer’s. the 6’6″ Egg just in case, and the 5’10” Bumblebee. I didn’t really care which one I rode, I just wanted to make sure to check Zero’s, as you probably guessed from my last post.

Driving by Zuma Beach it was still dark. Heck, it was 5:15, but when I was turning off Malibu Canyon I could see the lights of Palos Verdes so clear. No fog this morning at all. Zuma wasn’t looking as big as the forecast, but I also didn’t stop to look. I had 3 spots in mind: Zero’s, Leo Carrillo, and my Secret Spot.

As I was seeing where Zero’s is on PCH I was quite surprised to see no cars parked near the gate. It meant the waves weren’t that good, or possibly the gate was open early, which is an anomaly there. However, the latter was true and as I pulled in the gate there were only two cars in the lot.

The waves weren’t bad. About chest high or bigger. One guy was out. The down side is it was really sectiony. That’s where the wave breaks in front of itself so your ride can be shorter if you don’t make it around the section. The guy out wasn’t and I didn’t really think I could, but it would be on my list.

I pulled out of Zero’s and headed to Leo. Of course, there were 12 cars on PCH already when I got up to it. About 4 guys in the water and many more getting ready. With the campground nearby I could only picture it being worse when the sun was up so I kept going.

As I pulled up to my Secret Spot there was one guy getting ready: Powder. It was good to see someone there I know and the waves were looking pretty good. I told him I’d meet him out in the water and since he was riding his 5’3″ I felt comfortable going on on the Bumblebee.

I set up the Beach Cam and though I could have done a better job of it, you can see the waves were pretty good and we were by ourselves. The Secret Spot isn’t really a Secret Spot, but because of mornings like this it always feels that way.

We were stoked to have all these waves to ourselves! The camera only lasted 29 minutes, so it missed the next 30 minutes, but eventually it got crowded. I’m sure it was the least crowded spot along there, though. As I drove by County Line on my way to my appointments there were cars lined up on both sides of PCH. It was looking like Malibu Point. So I felt pretty good that only 10 more surfers paddled out when Powder and I were nearing the end of our session.

It was a great morning to get wet. Great waves. Powder and I caught up on life. And I was ready to tackle the world.

Thank you and God bless,

Surfer Yoda

Independence Day Surf

6 07 2015

On Saturday it was July 4th. The day we celebrate our Independence from a tyrannical government known as Great Britain. It’s rather amazing the degree to which our Founders felt Britain was tyrannical. Comparing to our current government in this century, it has gotten bigger under both parties.

A quick jaunt down the political rabbit trail: you’d think as surfers, carefree and independent, we’d be more concerned about who we put in office making our lifestyles more libertarian, like. However, I don’t see that as the case. Thanks for listening. I’ll get off my soap box.

Saturday the forecast was better than the previous days, but the tide was going to be as low as low can be when we got there. We never change our timing for the tide. We are dawn patrollers no matter the swell and tide, and no matter the day of the week. The swell was building out of the south on Friday, supposedly, so it should still mean surf-able waves.

When we arrived at our meet up spot, our favorite secret spot, there were rideable waves, yes, but only if you wanted to take your fin off your board. It was so small and close to shore that we all considered the rockiness of our spot and decided that though we might have it for a couple of hours to ourselves, no way would it be any good until maybe 8 am. That was just too late for us. We got there at 5:30, after all.

So we headed to Zuma, Gooch, Diesel, and myself, to meet up with Rev and Baby Gorilla, who hadn’t quite arrived, yet.

On the way we looked at Leo Carrillo and Broad Beach (the northern most part of Zuma that is in front of multimillion dollar homes) and the same problem persisted. The nice thing about Broad was it was sandy bottomed like the rest of Zuma. Still, no rideable waves, yet. I could see other spots as we drove by and had seen a bump at Zero’s, but at that low of a tide that bump could have been breaking on the sand.

We met up at Zuma Tower 12 and I walked down to the water alone contemplating going out. I thought we could just paddle around, but Diesel was thinking of sleeping in his truck while we did that. It was still too early for a Lily’s breakfast burrito and as we sat there wondering what our next move would be Gooch suggested looking at Zero’s.

It was all his idea. I had seen something, but I didn’t really think we’d have any luck.

As we pulled into the parking lot at Zero’s it was already clear that we were probably going to finally hit the surf. One other was getting ready and a few others were pulling in to check it. There were glassy knee to waist high waves coming in, and breaking far enough out that we didn’t have to worry about breaking a fin! There are rocks there, but there were other peaks in the sandy area.

Here’s the vid:

We all caught some fun waves. Some were shorter than others and after surfing on my longboard I felt I probably could have easily been out on my Mini Simmons, or even my Bumblebee, but I only had the Simms with me and I left it in the truck figuring the longboard was the way to go.

There were just the five of us this day, but it’s always fun surfing with the crew. We manage to get wet every time and find a way to catch waves and be stoked about the waves no matter how small the littler waves are that we catch.

Hope you enjoyed your weekend. Thank you and God bless.

Surfer Yoda