A Great Way To Spend A Saturday: Road-tripping North

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. 

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Driving up

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. 

Morning Sip

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. 

Beach Day

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. 

Last Bite

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. 

Nighttime Sip

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. 

Texas 1st Timers

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Wednesday afternoon through Friday afternoon, I found myself in a completely foreign state in both a literal and figurative sense. The literal? I was spending my first visit to Texas. After hearing so much about it and having plenty of pals that hail from the Lone Star state, I was eager to see what the deal fully was. I was lucky to travel here for work, but more on that later. We would arrive and just from the airport drive alone, it was pretty much everything I had imagined. It loosely reminded me of a town close to home, but an even more to the extreme of rural. Tons of flat land, excruciating heat, and strange smells were aplenty.

We would be staying in Austin, in two super luxe houses that always had the AC cranking. From the grocery stores to the streets, there were a large amount of characters very different than our group of ~10 Californians. Wednesday night I reached Texas nirvana, indulging in by far the best BBQ food I’ve ever eaten. We arrived to Terry Blacks BBQ in Austin and hit dinner line ASAP, as all of us hadn’t eaten much since our 7 o clock LAX flight. The only thing holding our stomachs over was Chick-fil-a nuggets and waffle fries. I would select some green beans and corn bread, for my sides, along with a whole avocado showing my true inner Californian. When we got the the main meats, I had to have a sample platter. I was dead set on brisket, and got some jalapeno cheese sausage and a pork ribs to switch it up. The brisket required no knife, and was so juicy and smooth. I hadn’t ever tasted meat like that.

Fast forward after some Chappelle stand up post BBQ pig out, and we find the sun barely rising over the horizon as we drove in our sprinter van. We were making the commute from the city of Austin to the rural town of Waco, which happened to house one of the latest and greatest wave pools in America. To say I was stoked would be an understatement. The commute was pretty desolate and lacked any real beauty aside from a blood orange sunrise. We did happen to stop at this place Buc-ees, which had every weird nic-nac, texas gear (I think they even sold guns?), and some gas station breakfast burritos plus coffee. The coffee was so bad we chucked 5 full cups into the garbage and drove through the nearest Starbucks. In a mere 45 minutes we would arrive at our destination.

It’s a little tough to put words to what was going on all Thursday. This is where the figurative foreign state of mind comes into play mentioned earlier. Never would I think of going on a trip to Texas to surf, and not only surf but also surf fun waves with a full BYOB set up in piss warm water and one hundred degree weather. What the hell? We would have the pool from eight to eight, and had some stoked surf shop workers who sold Hurley product all summer to reap the benefits of this trip. Everyone had a smile on his or her face. From the beginner surfers learning their way around the waves, to Yadin Nichol and Brett Simpson tearing the place to bits. When it was all said and done, no one really had any words left to describe the day. If anyone wasn’t stoked, it was on him or her. I surfed through lunchtime and survived off half of a Bucceys breakfast burrito and some fruit and trail mix. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. No bad days out here in Waco. I hope to return soon.

While we didn’t get to really see Austin, I was unbothered. We had both Wednesday and Thursday night to explore the town and nightlife, but neither night materialized. Wednesday we had all woken up at 4AM and were beyond cooked after running errands all day. Thursday, after again having an early morning and at least 5 hours of surfing under our belts, no one had the excess energy to burn. Don’t worry, plenty of Lone Stars, Modelos, and White Claws were crushed from sun up to sun down. And then some. While I’ve heard so many good things about the Austin nightlife and the scene in the city of Music, I will have to wait until next time. If there is one (which I think there will be).

Friday we would wrap up the trip. After checking out of both places of stay and having a mellow morning with coffees and classic breaky foods, we would make our way to the airport. Austin has a really nice airport, complete with nice water refill stations, decent food and coffees, and even bathrooms strictly for pups. I walked past those and was kind of tripping. Texas now has a strange place in my heart after this trip. To think within 12 hours I went from eating some of the country’s best-prepared BBQ to getting tubes and a perfect punt section in the middle of nowhere. Talk about a trip. Thanks Terry Blacks, BSR, and Hurley for a couple fun days in the office.

Airport Analysis (Brief)

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Airports are a funny place. It almost like most common sense just gets lost at the baggage check, and everyone is like headless chickens running around and getting egg over the littlest things. I am not saying this out of spite or bitterness, as many a times I was the very confused or aggravated person (more so the confused one). While I am no where near as well traveled as other people, the commute between east and west coasts has made me privy to the horrors of travel. It is honestly pretty funny how different the two airports I go in and out of are from each other. Both have caused some travel hiccups, but one way more than the other.

On one hand we have Newark liberty international airport, an airport in which most see a bad reputation tagged on it. It is definitely nothing short of a shit show, and on this particular occasion I am posted up here on a Monday. Lots of foreign faces and business casual wear lines the halls and security check. The most annoying aspect of this airport is the first 15-30 minutes in which you enter though the automatic sliding doors. The baggage check and security lines are next level crowded, and there often are people in such a rush since it has probably been backed up all morning. Once you get past the initial gauntlet, its otherwise smooth sailing. One thing Newark has is a lot of food and snack options. My friend swears by the dumpling den, but I can’t get myself to try it.

On the other hand, we have a very sleepy and easy airport in John Wayne Airport, located just a mere 10-15 minutes away from my house in California. This airport is a breeze, and I think if you blindfolded me I still could probably get to my gate quicker than I would in Newark with a head start. Usually super cruisey and way less congested, this airport is a cakewalk. In the opposite fashion of Newark, there are very limited food and drink options. However, I can show up way later, opening up options of bringing snacks or eating beforehand.

Most of the time, the factors that can make or break your airport experience are very out of your control. Both in California, New Jersey, and even abroad in Panama, something will happen when you just have to suck it up and keep going. Whether its walking what feels like a mile to get in a security line, just to walk back to where you came from, or buying waters in the airport just to have to pour them out with no warning (this requires more backstory, and happened outside the country). Delays, baggage trouble, and even just shitty people. Not much you really can influence or change on this one, so it’s best to just laugh it off.

Airports have only been getting better and better for every flight I take. I currently am anchored in Terminal C at Newark, and am reaping the benefits of free WiFi while I anxiously wait to board my flight. I am thinking about coffee number two, but think I should hold back so I don’t tweak out before even getting on the plane. I also have ample reading material for the flight, and will wait to crack into that until we are in the clouds. For now, I think I’ll tinker around on my laptop for the next hour. And post this!