East Meets West: Surfing

I grew up surfing on the East Coast. The birth of my surfing existence is on the beach up the street from Ocean Hut Surf Shop, and would be stuck up that beach until I got a drivers license junior year (NOTE: Sandy was this same year so not only would I not be able to get my driver license on my birthday, I also would not be able to access Lavallette beaches for months after). Once a legal NJ driver, I would being adventuring outside the Lavallette bubble to surf waves like Bayhead, Manasquan, and Jenks (the only wave I will admit to missing when in CA). While my surfing journey was heavily rooted in NJ, I was able to experience a handful of California waves in between trips out west throughout high school. Even though I rarely get to surf it now a days, Rincon point is a wave I know light the back (side) of my hand. I would put in hours at the point when out west for a family trip. When I came out to check out colleges out west I was introduced to Lowers. Maybe when the sand is right and the moons align, these waves can be half mimicked back home. But in my experience, I can count on two hands the amount of times this happens. Surfing on the East Coast and West Coast differ very heavily. And I would learn this after spending a mere Semester at school. Both have their positives and negatives. When I was greener to the West Coast, I would find very little to be missed about surfing in NJ. But perspective is everything, and in the ever-growing sport of surfing, things are changing very quickly. Let’s take the deep dive.

EAST:

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Surfing on the East Coast is much more of a waiting game. You simply cannot surf everyday much like other places. Now I know sometimes even the most wave rich coast can look dismal, and a soft top or log might be needed. But there are plenty of days I can remember between every season where there is LITERALLY no surf. “Lake Atlantic” is a term often coined in regards to how dismal the ocean can look. Now to double down on this, even when there are waves, it often can be in unfavorable conditions or less than ideal conditions. Winds are often way more prevalent on the East Coast, so no matter how early you wake up some days, it is still choppy. I can recall waiting for hours on hours just for a single hour window of favorable winds. This again brings it back to the waiting game. There are some spots that handle certain factors better, but wind tides and swell direction all play a major role in how the fickle beach breaks take shape.

After bitching about all that can be wrong about surfing at home, let’s talk about what’s right. For the most part, when it’s on it’s on. Nothing is quite as satisfying as rocking up to the beach to see perfect A-frame waves with not a soul in the water. With surfing’s growing popularity, this is much less common than it used to be. But plenty of days in the Fall and Spring I could see peaky chest to head high wedges with no one out at my local beach break. The crowd was me, my dad, and who ever else I wanted to invite. Plenty of times it was just my dad and I. Plenty of times it was just me. The solitude of a solo session is something very hard to replicate, and I would say a third of my surfs at home would be sans surfers. It could get a little spooky, but getting first pick of any wave puts that in the back of your head. My local beachie is still super reliable for being empty, but when it’s just not doing its thing I can enter the fray by driving 15 minutes north. My junior and senior year of high school was flooded with sessions in Bayhead and at Jenks, where you could find ledgey barrels a plenty. Anytime I’m home, I try to hone in on a session at Jenks.

WEST:

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Surfing on the West Coast is a lot less of a gamble. Wake up around sunrise and check the cams to cherry pick the best sandbar. Plenty of times I have been at the ocean and checking one spot while the cam for another is open on my phone. This is both a blessing and a curse, but for sure more of a curse. There are very few secrets left out here. Also, where I live can take almost any swell angle. Solid south swell? Spot X. Medium sized west swell? Spot Y. Combo swell and offshores? Spot Z. As far as wave quality, what the West Coast has going for it is the amount of different types of waves you can find within an hour driving on the freeway. Whether you are craving beach break barrels, rippable reef A-frames, or lined up points that offer up 20+ second rides, the options are there. You can truly think about the way you want to surf, and take a short drive to find a wave suitable for that. There is a ton of options, and on top of that before you even leave your house you can watch a camera to weigh out whether the drive is worth it.

With all good comes the bad, and this is referring back to the cameras. Where I live, there are actually more than 10 cameras within the handful of miles radius. There is a ridiculous amount of people out at just about every spot too. It is always more crowded when it is a little smaller, which it often is. A solid swell is needed to really trim the fat of novice surfers. The increasing crowds and inviting beaches just keep getting more and more densely populated. Since there are so many waves, you can escape the crowd if you get crafty enough. But plenty of spots that I used to surf with a light to moderate crowd are now ridiculously jam-packed. The crowds start before you even get in the water, too. If it’s on and passed 7AM, it’s too late. Parking spots can be scarce, and if it is street sweeping you might be walking quite a bit before you enter the ocean. When it get’s crowded, it starts bugging everyone. You see a ton more eggy folks when it’s crowded, and that really can drag the environment way down. Especially if the one being chirped is you or your buddy.

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Both coasts lay in a special place in my heart. I feel as though if I spend too much time in one, I really start to miss the other. Right about now, I would love some less crowded waves. But I know when I am home, and it is flat, I’d love even just a waist high wave to jib around on. Since I live out in CA, I am thankfully there is always a rideable wave and often can be pretty fun. But scoring a swell back home tastes just as if not more sweet.

East Meets West: Weekend Breakfast Fixes

I swear I don’t mean to make this topic strictly based around food, but it just seems like there are so many battles between the two coasts on certain food genres or what you’d get in a certain situation. Here’s the scenario: you find yourself both coast in the same month. It’s a Friday night and all cylinders are firing. For the west coast Friday, the Newport peninsula or Wayfarer for 90s night is calling your name. Back east, you might be hitting seaside or heading north. Either way, you time travel through the night and to the next morning. Things are groggy and you find yourself with a headache and a craving for greasy breakfast foods. Here is where the clash comes into play. Granted, I’ve had the east coast special on the west coast and vice versa, these are the two guaranteed hangover cures, both meant to be accompanied by a cup of joe.

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EAST: The BEC, PEC, & SEC Bacon, Pork Roll, or Sausage Egg and Cheese (EC) tends to be the immediate call for a Saturday or Sunday morning hangover when back on the east side. If I have the liberty and it’s a banger of a hangover, I will hop in my car and drive all the way up to Point Pleasant for a BEC from Barons Bagel. The best BEC in my opinion on a super egg everything or oatmeal wheat bagel and if needed I can add a hash brown. They also have delicious coffee, and would typically be my stop after a pre-high school surf to walk into my first class with. If I’m stranded in Lavallette, there are plenty of ideal spots for one. No matter where I get the breakfast sandwich from, the coffee is always from Lava Java.

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WEST: The Breakfast Burrito The breakfast burrito honestly is one of my burritos of choice for any time. Lunch, a late night snack if served all day long, or the morning after a big one, this can really help ease the pain and get your Saturday or Sunday going. While I attended Chapman and found myself in rough shape a lot more often than recently, the Cali Tacos Breakfast B would surely cure my hangover. It would also couch-lock me shortly after and throw me into a food coma, but it was all worth it in the moment. Down in Newport, there are a handful of good spots for a killer BB. I feel like of recent I haven’t eaten one simply because I run around a lot on the weekend and typically eat some yogurt instead. When in need though, there are at least 5 spots I can count on to give me my fix.

East Meets West: Pizza

After living bicoastal for an extended period of time, I think it’s a good idea to let the people back east know some things about the west and vice versa. It’s funny, because when I am on the east coast, I gas up the west coast. When I’m on the west coast, I gas up the east coast. I grew up back east and wouldn’t trade that, but there is a reason I moved out west. It’s just more my speed. Anyhow, I figured I could do an article like for a lot of things I indulge in on both coasts. So here it is, welcome to East meets West.

 

This one is brought up a lot, and is increasingly more relevant as the Barstool pizza reviews gain more and more of a following (if that is possible). Ask me which coast has better pizza, and you won’t be able to blink before I say the east coast. BUT, I do like to preface the statement with a little bit more detail.

A Classic Slice: East

I’m talking just cheese, a 1-bite-everyone-knows-the-rules slice. As far as keeping it OG, the east coast has the basic cheese slice on lock, and the west coast has no clue where the key is. This is a large reason as to why I will say the east has better pizza, as this plain of a slice makes it easy to tell who gets it and who doesn’t. Also in this category is a Sicilian style slice, one of my all time favorites and is pretty hard to come by out west. And it’s not just plain slices. Pretty much any “regular” pizza I’ve had from back home is superior to the similar pizza out west.

Designer Pizza: West

While home has my pizza pick and nothing is better than a peppers and onion pizza from the local joint in Lavallette, the west coast does do the instagram pizza well. The type of pie (as slices are hard to come by out here) that when posted has people DMing you either asking if its good, where you got it, or calling you a psycho for such a wild pie. Never would I have thought about eating a blue cheese honey pizza, until I would go to 2145 in Costa Mesa. Boyyyyy is that thing tastey. Those are hard to come by back home, unless you are in the city.

And that’s how the tale of two coasts ends in regards to the zah. Check back for more East Meets West posts.