Texas 1st Timers


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.

Surfing but not in the ocean?

(This is an old piece from my minor in writing and rhetoric at Chapman University. Since most of my writing is pretty loose on here, I figured it would be cool to post something that had more structure. I wish I could find the prompt, alas I cannot. I also could not find the grade.)

With the 2019 Freshwater Pro approaching, I thought this piece was fitting.

Surfing to me is one of the things that can get you closest to mother nature. Already surfing at a base level, you feel very one with nature. As you excel and gain more and more confidence when standing on a surfboard, the experience turns up a notch and becomes a whole new beast. The barrel (when the wave covers you up and then you get spit out of the tunnel of water that was just around you) is the apex of this feeling. Literally the only thing around you is nature. It is an experience that is tough to explain, because words don’t do it justice. What happens when nature is replaced? Technology these days has been constantly making nature substitutes, and one recently was made that could totally change surfing.

When I was growing up as a young surfer, something like this was fairy tale talk. Never had anyone given a thought to the perfect wave, let alone it being a manmade one. Wave pools starting gaining popularity when I was in high school, so the magnitude they are being created at today is a fairly recent feat. Sure, there have been plenty of wave pools, and some really good ones at that. The wave garden, another wave pool, makes a wave any surfer would love to surf. It’s a performance wave that has lots of variety in the types of waves and sections that present themselves. The thing that sets the Kelly’s (Kelly Slater, the most accomplished surfer in the history of the sport) wave pool apart is that Kelly’s pool is actually the closest thing on earth to a perfect wave. Some waves in nature can be considered “perfect”, but Kelly’s is literal perfection, even to the point where he can alter the wave at his wish, making it perfect for everyone. Below is a video that breaks down what’s going on under the hood of this milestone for surfing.

Like stated in the video, does the search for the perfect wave end here? Just for the case of argument, here is the closest thing we have found to a perfect wave. Its in Africa, and requires a whole lot of prep work to get there. From flights to driving on dunes, all to arrive and potentially see the wrong tide or swell angle. This wave is as perfect as it is finicky. Even when it looks perfect, pros often admit its a lot harder, with underwater currents moving super fast, and the unpredictability of the wave breaking over sand.

This wave is the closest thing to perfection, and like stated above, hardly is ever perfect. This is also leaving out the fact it is only a left, where a regular footed surfer would maybe enjoy it less since he has to surf it backside. Kelly’s pool can go both ways (left and right), and literally comes down to a science.

Contrary to what you would believe, not everyone is stoked on the wave pool. Is it the perfect wave? Is it even a wave since it is not in the ocean? Lots of people are up in arms about the debate. Personally, I think anyone who is against it just is jealous they can’t surf it (like in the video earlier, it is a private property/prototype, and not open to the public). But, I have to say I somewhat agree. Since surfing at its finest is bonding with nature, would feel the same way coming out of an artificial barrel as we would a real one mother nature sent us? Only the people who have surfed it know the answer to this one, and most of them say it feels just as good. One thing that also had the surfing purists infuriated was that Kelly’s pool has replaced the Lower trestles contest in September on the 2018 WCT (World Championship Tour) present by the WSL (World Surf League.). Never should a wave pool replace the only surf contest surfed in America (it’s a world tour; Lower Trestles is located in San Clemente, CA; no other wave in the United States can support a world tour event).

This made many people angry, and many people began to say this:

(The person who said this, Noa Deane, faced heavy scrutiny and ended up apologizing for the statement.)

Kelly ran a test even earlier in 2017, and I would say the surf enthusiasts were split. Some thought it was an awesome event. Some thought it was boring, watching everybody surf the same wave. Nonetheless, the surfers in the event were stoked, and whether the public like the idea or not, everyone is going to be watching in September to see what unfolds on the artificial wave. It is such a perfect wave, it will be similar to slope style snowboarding, in which surfers can plan their run out ahead of time. This hyper reality is uncharted territory in the sport of surfing, so it will be interesting to see how it pans out.