Upon recent reflection, I’ve discovered that Las Vegas truly is a place that could have been drawn up in a fictional piece of literature or the setting for a hollywood blockbuster. If you’ve ever been, you know just how outside of the real world it can be at times. If you haven’t, I am going to try my best to paint you the picture (or atleast the one I know of [which is probably even on the tamer side than some devout Vegas goers]).

Enter a tall, bright light, hot, industrialized city plopped in the state of Nevada. Sure, there’s towns and civilization out there (shoutout to my roommate KC who grew up over there), but you have to think the idea to plop this crazy international attraction in the middle of the desert is a strange thing to dwell on. Just imagine nothing and then snap your fingers and you have big, bright buildings that never close down. I am sure it wasn’t built overnight, but this ideal alone can kind of get the gears turning. 

The second thing that really just makes you feel like you’re living in some sort of screwed up netflix series is the rules-or lack of them. It seems like just about everything is legal in Las vegas. Walk around with beers or open containers of hard liquor on the streets? Check. Having people trying to blatantly sell you all the drugs under the sun as soon as you exit your hotel and walk on those same streets? Check. Having go-go girls dressed up waiting to handcuff you and give a good time for a monetary payment? Check. Combine all of these along with the strange characters that inhabit the vegas streets and you can really easily see how things could go astray quickly. As all this is going down, there are still cops regularly arresting people and breaking up street fights.

Now on the polar opposite end of the spectrum-gambling is very legal but heavily monitored. There’s big money floating around even the common folk tables, and then there’s even the high roller zones where people put up stupid amounts of cash just to take a ride with luck and probability. In the casinos, rules are not meant to be broken. You have to know how to act. No phones on the table. Dealers switch every 15 to 30 minutes. It’s a well oiled machine and it’s kept that way so the gambler rarely has the upper hand on the casino. Which tends to work out well in their favor. The streets can be lawless, but the casino keeps things very buttoned up.

No matter the regulations, Las Vegas is a gambler’s dream. If you fly in, get ready to hit the slots at the airport, because there’s plenty there and you know you have time to kill while waiting for a cab or an uber. If you drive it, from where I live you spend 4 hours give or take with not much scenery just to arrive and most likely make that initial bet. You gotta spend money to make money here. And whatever money you have, you have to be very comfortable losing it all. Play it safe or suffer the consequences. 

These are all the attractions that pretty much come free of charge, and then you have to factor in the mecca Las Vegas is in the entertainment industry. Big shot DJs, rappers, and comedians all have residencies (or pretty much hotels they call home) in which they get paid boatloads of cash to perform. Either during the day, during the night, weekend or weekday, there’s a party going on. Like most things in vegas, you’re going to have to pay the premium, whether that’s a cover (girls get in free), a stupid expensive mix drink, or just something going wrong and throwing a wrench in the system. 

It’s easy to see how some people love this place. If you want my personal take on vegas-a weekend is typically enough. But I could see how you could get sucked in and stay a while. There’s just something in the air that’s different. I’m an early to bed and early to rise kinda guy, but in vegas I push the bedtime back a little bit and take in the big bright lights. 

The Great Equalizer That Is Sunset Beach

Out of sight, but in this instance I took the first one on the head and then was greeted by a second beatdown moments later.

If you are an avid subscriber to this site or subject yourself to my instagram spamming on @gqgio, you probably know that in February I took my maiden trip to Hawaii. Specifically the North Shore. AKA the epicenter of the surfing world. With many waves to tick off my personal bucket list, there was one that I knew I could potentially have an interesting connection with: Sunset Beach. Now, my pops and I are very different surfers (mostly because we grew up in completely different eras of the sport), but we’ve always had some similar styles when it comes to certain things and even mimic the same movements on occasions. On top of this, we also share the same love for some spots along the California coast, all while being one goofy foot and one regular foot. My dad’s love for Sunset Beach is one that I’ve always known about-as he claims it as his favorite wave in the world.

When there’s a shit ton of swell on the North Shore, there are a lot of spots that get overpowered with swell and don’t really work. Two breaks that can take pretty large amounts of swell are Pipeline and Sunset. Both as different as can be, I’d be lying if I said they were of equal consequence. Pipeline is probably the gnarleist wave on Earth, so it holds a bit more terror to it’s power than Sunset. With that being said, the beach and the point at sunset both know how to deliver a proper flogging. 

A massive playing field with a long paddle out, multiple peaks, and sneaky sets that can come from what seems like every angle, a longer board is pretty much demanded, not recommended. Paddling is the name of the game, and for most booking it to the channel when you see mountains of water out the back can be a common occurrence, and you’ll be thankful you are packing the extra inches. With that being said, unless it’s tiny, you can still get smacked around in the channel. In a sense, nowhere’s safe. On Top of this, unless you ride a massive board, you need to sit more inside to catch the wave on the ledge, making you even more prone to copping one on the head. I think of all my sessions, there was only one I was able to dodge every set. It’s a bit of a write of passage to take a set on the head out there. 

As an added bonus (and also annoyance), my whole time surfing out there was with the top 32 surfers in the world, as it was on the world tour schedule this year. Paddling battling them for waves? Not fun. Watching them surf smaller boards and be jealous you can? Not fun. But there is one joy I got to experience in this instance. There’s not much of a better feeling than dodging a bomb at sunset and looking over to see a world champion surfer doing the Waimea duck dive seconds before getting exploded (as bullyish as that sounds). I think everyone that’s surfed out there has been in the position, so it’s not bad karma to laugh when you see Italo or Griffin get demoed by a set. Sunset is the great equalizer. No matter your ability or alertness, it’s pretty hard to not get humbled one way or another. Not to mention it is hard as hell to surf.

Handwritten Posts 001

The scene of the crime.

Initially, I didn’t want any words typed-just the handwritten note. but there should be some context.

I decided to handwrite a post for the hell of it. It wasn’t any sort of structured post, just a free write with a pen and paper. In classic writer fashion (or at least how I picture them in my head), I had to write on the back of 3 seperate to do lists since i had no classic line paper. Upon beginning, I got instant flashbacks to my writing prior to actually enjoying it. Standardized tests and high school english assignments. But that’s enough. Read it below.

Taking in the scenery: Oahu, Hawaii

Travel is one thing I maybe haven’t had the chance to do a crazy amount of in my life. And not for any particular reason, really. The places I’ve been outside the USA are sparse, but there’s plenty to see in America-especially if you’ve hopped around states and seen all the quadrants of the country. Long story short, whenever I get to take in a new zone I get excited and always tend to make sure to capture the beauty and local flavor with both my handy iphone and also my canon film camera (which unfortunately is suffering some light leaks). 

Recently, I got the opportunity to hop on over from Orange County to the beautiful island of Oahu in the island chain of Hawaii. I had only been once before-circa 20ish years ago. And as a surfer, the north shore of Oahu is pretty much a hajj any dedicated surfer needs to take (but more on that later). I really didn’t have much recollection of the inaugural trip, so I was excited to get back over there and take in the change of scenery. 

The landscape of Oahu is lush and green. You land in the city of Honolulu but as soon as you get on the H highway system, you are often surrounded by green on all sides. The air smells fresh. It had a refreshing breeze so we rolled with the windows down. I feel like after 5 hours on a plane any type of fresh air feels good. But this air felt especially good. 

40 minutes later and we got into the stretch of island I would spend most of my time at-the 7 mile miracle aka the north shore. So much green and blue. Seeing 10 foot waves groomed with trade (offshore) winds got the heart beating pretty quickly. What would come in the next 12 days would be tons of surfing, plenty of sightseeing, seeing old friends while making new ones, and just an overall stress-free stretch of time. It’s easy living. 

As much as I think I am a good writer and a rather descriptive one, I think some of the pictures would tell a better story. Here are a few selections from my film rolls in Hawaii:

What’s The big Whoop All About: An honest opinion on a pretty cool piece of tech

My Whoop and Whoop tan.

I wear the Whoop band everyday. I sleep with it on, shower with it on, sweat with it on, surf with it on. It’s pretty much life-proof. And that’s the point. If you’re confused as to what I am referring to-see below.

If you didn’t click play, whoop is essentially a “fit-bit” that measures daily stress on your body, how your body recovers from said stress, and then the sleep you get to help you recover from said stress. Strain, recovery, and sleep are the 3 pillars of the whoop system, and I check them at the beginning and end of each day. You can really put together a lot of useful information and health statistics that can help you feel much better more often. Here’s a couple things I have taken away from owning one since last April:

-Learn When To Take Your Foot Off The Gas

Working out feels good. This is just a fact, and when you get in a solid rhythm it becomes rather easy. Prior to getting a whoop I was pretty hard in my ways on certain days requiring this workout, run, etc. However, with whoop telling you about your recovery from the day prior and your sleep performance before starting your day, it’s easy to tell when you might want to have a rest day. When you have a lower recovery, if you put up high strain again you will need an unrealistic amount of sleep (at least if you are in the working world). When I see a yellow or red recovery, I know I might take today as a rest day instead of my usual day or tune a workout to be lighter than anticipated. 

-In That Same Breath: Trust Your Instinct

In the beginning, I took the recoveries very literally. And I think a lot of people do get stuck in the rut of relying on their whoop to dictate the workout. This directly goes against what I said above, but trust your instinct. If you feel good, ignore the lower recovery. If you feel so-so, maybe heed the caution. Sometimes I feel great and have a less than ideal recovery, and other times it is warranted and I feel a little less pep in my step. 

-Sleep Is VERY Important

Sleeping is one of the pillars, and really can make a difference in how you feel, how you perform, and how you pretty much live day to day life. At first I would just wake up at my usual 6:30AM wakeup call, and sometimes my recoveries would suffer if I went to bed too late but still woke up at this hour. On top of this, the whoop breaks down your sleep stages, so you can see how much light sleep, deep sleep and REM. Deep sleep and REM are what help your body recover, so getting sufficient sleep in these stages is vital. The Whoop has really made me be analytical of mty sleep and strive to get a solid recovery the next day. 

-Things That Ruin You The Next Day

There are a myriad of factors that can mess around with your body and have it be seen on the Whoop. However, the one that was most startling to me was drinking booze. Waking up in the red the day after a night out is bad enough. At first it was comical as I am pretty good about not letting it ruin my next day. Going surfing on a 1% recovery? Check. However, when you do a deep dive on the numbers and see the difference in your heart rates before and after alcohol, it’s a bit startling. Drinking really does a number on your body, and having the whoop has made me pull back my habits a bit.  

-Competitive Drive

On the whoop interface, you can join teams of all sorts of varieties. I have one with 2 of my close friends. One with some of my favorite surfers. Even one that is just a bunch of people with the name James. Some of these teams I often am in the #1 spot. Others I have to really work to be ranked #1. But seeing other people push it and also seeing my ranking on the teams can fire me up to put the pedal to the metal. I probably look at this aspect the most, but sometimes you just want to be number 1. 

-It’s All About Balance

When it comes down to it, life’s all about balance. There’s gonna be days you can’t get enough sleep. There are days you’re gonna have a shit recovery. The whoop should be used as a means to know when it’s best to dial it up or down, not so much to tell you the exact days. There are plenty of surprises that happen in a lifetime, so sometimes you gotta live in the moment. But it doesn’t hurt to know how your body is feeling when these moments arise.