Piggybacking off of 2 blog posts ago (if you recall, we were talking about being open-arms to change in life, and almost seeking it rather than loathing it), one great way to spend a Saturday involves getting yourself out of your normal zone. We often grow accustomed to the same routine, whether it is the weekend nightlife destination or even just the local beach. From coffee to coastline, we tend to stick with what we know. And often this can leave us in a rut. Jumping in the car and heading north or south can help us alleviate the normalities of everyday life. And there are limitless possibilities in the path you can take whether it’s north south east or west (typically I like north and south, staying coastal and avoiding being on a boat in the middle of the ocean [unless it’s in Indonesia or French Polynesia]). So what did I do this past weekend? I got out of the bubble. It is far too easy to stay put over the weekend. Usually by Friday you are cooked by the workweek, or maybe you work weekends and have to stick around. But this go around I decided it was time. I used to flee the OC scene far more often in my early California years, but now more often than not I find myself anchored down in Newport. I hit the 405 and headed north to SB. Here are the tips and tricks (applicable to any location) from a Saturday spent north of helLA.
One thing that can really hinder the stoke-factor of your trip is traffic. Maybe not as big of a complication outside California, but miss-timing the traffic on a little road trip can add on hours upon hours of time in the car. While half the road trip is the time in the car with your pals, every extra hour or even couple minutes where you can be out of the car already feel like salt in an open wound. The problem especially with going north on any highway coming from Orange County is grinding out the LA portion of the drive. Time it right and cruise through it without going under 40 mph. Hit peak traffic time and prepare to be shifting between park and drive while furiously skipping through songs and checking Instagram. The tactic with avoiding traffic is dodging the prime time work commute hours. This means really early in the AM or after 7PM. If you can take the day off, cruise it between 11-3 and it’s smooth sailing.
Every great morning starts with a great cup. A bad cup of coffee can really throw your day off the rails, and dialing in coffee in an unknown area can be tougher than you think. In 2020, it is pretty easy to hop on google or yelp and search “coffee shop” and get pointed in the right direction. Still, the litmus test is the actual first sip. That first drip of joe to travel through your mouth is the real tell tale sign of a good or bad cup. Getting up and starting your morning off on the right foot is essential, so if you are in the SB area (although it is on the southern end) Lucky Llama is the zone. Owned by the son of local surfboard shaper and surf shop owner Matt Moore, this place is always busy and filled with happy customers. With delicious coffee, acai bowls, and baked treats, this is the perfect pit stop for before the sun rises or a mid morning pick me up.
North of LA is cluttered with a ton of super fun surf spots to take a stab at while you are up there. From beachies to points, there’s a wave for everyone, novice to expert, goofy to regular. Whether it is a long roping point wave or a hollow punchy beach break, you can find it if you look hard enough. There is however, one wave that in particular if you are making your way up to it has a special place in most California surfers hearts. Especially if you are a regular footer. And even for some goofy footers. Rincon point is affectionately referred to as “The Queen of the Coast.” And if that doesn’t speak to the admiration of the wave, then let’s just get to the numbers. You can ride a right for up to 3/4s of a mile (maybe more, most of the time less). That’s comparable to a Jbay stint, minus the men in grey suits. If we are talking numbers, on any given weekend with swell the lineup could be littered with well over one hundred bodies, from bonafide rippers to log jammers going straight. We were talking about switching it up, so unless you regularly surf down at Trestles, there aren’t many comparable waves to Rincon in OC. And they still don’t stand a chance against the Queen on a good hair day.
Fuel for the Day
This kind of goes off the point above. If you end up posting up on the beach at Rincon point, it’s going to be pretty hard to leave. With endless right handers and the crowd only getting thinker, being hunkered down on the beach for the long haul is a good way to maximize water time in the morning before the wind and wave warriors come in stronger and stronger. Packing light, nutrient dense, and refreshing snacks to munch on the cobbles in between run arounds is the move for an all-day surf bender. Protein bars, fruits, and lot’s of water. Maybe an extra coffee to get the paddle muscles re-awakened for another marathon sprint up the point. This will increase your time before you really need a solid lunch or meal and also help you avoid cramping. Post up with a cooler and tax it occasionally until it runs dry. When it’s empty, you know you only have a couple more laps around the point left.
When you are venturing outside your usual comfort zone, it usually beckons for eating out and sampling the local flavors. Luckily, Santa Barbara has a TON of awesome eats and even better ambiance in most restaurants. However, I think there is a better way to go about finishing off a hard earned day of fun in the sun. While this can only be done if you have a couple of people you might know in the area, but eating over a friends house or a BBQ with some brews is the best way to cap off a successful day or weekend trip. Whether you grill a classic or try something new, making your own meal adds even more pride and accomplishment to already getting outside your local town and adventuring into the zones unknown. If this seems like too much trouble, finding a good place to eat in SB is easy. Just walk along or adjacent to State street in downtown SB and you’ll more often than not luck into a good bite to eat.
You’ve done it all today. Sucked down your morning cup of coffee. Took in your new surroundings. Hopefully got a surf in. Absorbed in a lot of vitamin D from the big bright circle in the sky. Ate a delicious dinner to help mend your sore muscles and pallets. And now the only thing left is a celebratory sud. A nice beer or two is the icing on the cake, and it tastes so much sweeter when it was worked for. As far as beers, you gotta stick with local breweries and trying beers you might not have ever had before. Just to make it easy, after you ate dinner around State street, hop in an Uber and head over to the funk zone. Whether it’s Topa Topa or Lama Dog, there are plenty of craft brew creators to pick from. Try one. Try three. Just don’t try none. Happy hunting.