Magoo’s

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Dusk. It was just him and Smitty. They drove around in the San Fernando Valley. Nervous energy. Meth-infused. It had been a brain-burner all day and it wasn’t from the weather, even though it would be above one-hundred degrees all weekend. Suffering. Smitty had ridden his motorcycle over from Phoenix and set them up for a few weeks. They needed to weigh, cut and package the meth…  but it was too fucking hot at the house. Smitty mumbled and pointed to a 7-11 on the right. “Pull in over here Magoo. Need smokes.”  He eased the car to the curb and within minutes they were back cruising on Devonshire. Making it back to his house, a few friends were waiting. There was little he could do about that. He had to lock up his stash and scale. Some of the guys from the bike club had brought a couple of cuties along. The night crawled into the morning and he found himself bleary-eyed and still awake at dawn. The house was quiet as the partying had stopped around 3:00 am. His balls itched and he needed a shower. He hoped that the girl he was with last night didn’t give him the heebie jeebies. Magoo set out his scale, baggies and stash. “Might as well get started”  he thought. The big man shrugged his shoulders and turned towards the refrigerator. He pulled out a beer, paused for a second, then removed another. He set both bottles down on the kitchen table next to the scale and the ashtray. He leaned over, peered outside and closed the blinds.

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He flicked on the stereo and kept the volume down. Ted Nugent growled from the stereo speakers. “Well looky here, you sweet young thing, the magic’s in my hands, when in doubt I whip it out, I got me a rock ‘n’ roll band, It’s a free-for-all…” Magoo sat down and lit a cigarette. He heard snoring from the other room. That was Smitty and he was out. They had partied hard into the morning hours. The meth had kept the throttle wide open. Smitty finally passed out on the couch. He’d been up for a few days. It was how he did it.  Reaching for the clear plastic baggies and chunks of white powder on the table, he started cutting and packaging the meth to sell later. Hours ticked by. Cigarette smoke hung above his head like a question mark. His head felt fuzzy. The meth spread out in front of him. A chemical landscape of long-lasting pain. Another package broke apart, another batch of bindles readied, another line cut and snorted. Meth stomped across his brain in big black boots. It tugged at his spine… the mirror told the same hollow story. “More… you deserve it.” He felt lethal. Amphetamine armor.

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So it went… On and on into the hot afternoon. The phone rang late in the day. Magoo answered it. His speech was pressured, as if the words couldn’t wait to get out of his mouth. It was a guy named ‘Picc’. His name was Steve Picciolo but everyone just called him ‘Picc’. He was a skateboarder… “Yeah man. Come by. Just keep it short. We got some bro’s coming over tonight to party and shit.” He hung up the phone as Smitty appeared in the kitchen, cracked a beer and did a bump from the mirror. Breakfast. “Who’s coming by?” He asked, pointing toward the phone. “This dude I know. He drains the crap out of the pool and smokes out with us… He rides his skateboard in there.”  Smitty nodded. “That’s cool.” An hour later, Smitty was sitting on the back porch and he heard a car stop out front. “Hey…” A voice called out from the side fence. Smitty opened the gate and let two young guys in. They both had skateboards. “I’m ‘Picc’ and this is Arthur. I called earlier. Is it cool if we skate a bit?” Magoo stepped out onto the porch. “Picc… what’s going on man?” Picc and Arthur smiled. “We’re stoked to skate the pool. Thanks for letting us come by…”  Magoo pointed towards the side yard. “You know where it is.”

Steve Picciolo

Steve Picciolo

Arthur Viecco

Arthur Viecco

Picc and Arthur knew from the looks of things that the pool wouldn’t last. They rarely did. Picc had told Arthur that he also saw some seriously sketchy people at the house sometimes. Whatever they were doing inside, he didn’t want to know. Arthur looked around. There were old cars rusting and sun-bleached in the yard. There were motorcycle parts, beer cans and trash. It was dirty, hot and rundown. Life in this hothouse was one lived while dying. The dirty chemical existence they led was the end of the line…  they both knew enough to get what they could, while they could. The pool offered up possibilities. They wasted no time… Thank you to William Sharp for the image. Skate- Ozzie

There will be more on Magoo’s and other pools like Gonzales, DogBowl, Fishbowl and more in the upcoming William Sharp Book ‘Back In The Day’

 

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Return to Cleveland

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November 1, 2008. I drove through Colton and Riverside. I had started early. Dawn was a close companion and I smiled thinly to myself. Reflection aging. How long can I do this thing that I do? Funny thing. Once I got sober, I really started hurting. My joints hurt so much on certain mornings… I wish I wasn’t a junkie alcoholic so I could actually obtain a bit of relief and a full night of sleep. Broken bones start aching once you pass the four decade mark… I know. I pushed such thoughts away. I had long ago given up on chemical peace of mind. I’d lost that right. “Suffer son.” I gave myself the finger and continued driving. Steve Alba had emailed me the previous night and asked me to check a few possible pools. I had the day to myself and gladly welcomed the task. Finding pools. It is the one thing that I love the most. I pulled off the freeway and slipped into a gritty neighborhood. Older vehicles. Bars on windows. Graffiti. Trash. It wasn’t hard to determine that I was no longer on the prosperous side of life. Hope turned a blind eye. Drugs crept under the door and took hold. I drove in the early morning light. On a twisting side street, I saw it. A dead lawn lay to my left and plywood covered the windows of the home. Ramshackle. Blistered paint. Pulling over, I parked and watched. I scanned the area. Nothing. It was quiet and I quickly crossed the yard and pulled myself over a fence. The pool lay virtually empty. It looked amazing and would prove to be a gem.

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Scott Ward

 

We rolled it for a few short months that winter. On Thanksgiving morning that year, my friend Scott Ward and I, drove out to ride. It rained on us for about an hour… we waited. A rainbow came out and we ended up riding together. Thankful.

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Uhmm…. The rain dance actually worked.

A few months later, I drove over and found the pool filled in and weeds growing on top of it. I was appalled. Loss… and so it goes.  Thank you to Kyle Lightner and PK for the images. Thank you to Scott Ward for the footage. Make every minute count while you can… Skate- Ozzie

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FINI

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Lance Mountain / Peck Park

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Lance Mountain called me up one day about a year ago. He wanted to stop by Ridiculous and measure the pool. He explained that the city was designing the new Peck Park in San Pedro with the assistance of the original San Pedro locals. The new park would be built by California Skateparks. San Pedro veterans – Robbie and Andy Harris called Lance and asked for his help. Lance wanted to build a pool at the new skatepark which would ride very similar to a real backyard pool. He came by and measured everything and the results look pretty amazing. I spoke with Lance today and he explained – “I usually build hybrid skatepark pools and bowls. I design ones that are similar to the 1970′s era…  I try to keep the majority of skaters in mind so that the pool or bowl that we are building can be used by many skaters. If we build a real-feeling backyard pool, it may limit the people that can actually ride it. When Peck Park was being designed, the San Pedro skaters all wanted a pool designed off of a real backyard pool. I measured Ridiculous and incorporated its obstacle layout and shape similarities.”

Tristan Rennie at Ridiculous

Tristan Rennie at Ridiculous

Peck Park Pool

Peck Park Pool

“It isn’t a replica of Ridiculous, but its design is taken from that pool. It will ride differently as this pool doesn’t wrap around quite as much and the mid wall isn’t as steep as Ridiculous. It was an opportunity to build something new and I hope the skaters like it.”

Thank you to Lance Mountain for his time and energy in helping build quality skateboard parks. Thank you to California Skateparks for doing good work.  Thank you to MRZ for the images. Skate- Ozzie

 

 

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Owen Nieder / Guest Post

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OWEN NIEDER

My older brother Evan was a surfer and when there were no waves he would skate. In 1976 when Sparks Carlsbad opened, my brother would drive his Volkswagen van, blasting Led Zeppelin. The van was filled with his hippy friends and the smoke of Mary Jane was in the air during the entire ride to the skatepark. My mother would make him take me along. Evan was not a person that I could count on for rides, so when the Del Mar Skate Ranch opened two years later, only a couple miles from my house, it was a dream come true. My recollection — as poor as it is — begins on opening day 1978. My dad drove myself and Dave Eckles to the park.  He waited in the car as Dave and I sat on the split rail fence out in front of the park, waiting for it to open. We got our memberships and we skated, from opening until they shut the lights off. We never stopped and never looked back.

In 1978, Dave and I were twelve years old and the older park locals including Chris Strople, Wally Inouye, Kyle Jensen, Jeff Tatum, Sonny Miller and the rest were tearing up the Keyhole. But in 1978, twelve year olds were not allowed to skate the Keyhole unless they could drop in. Dave and I would wait patiently in the large channel for our turn, but it never came. So, we should spend our days and nights skating the Kona bowl, Egg Bowl, Square pool, the shallow end of the half pipe, the front reservoir and even the back snake run, banked slalom and back reservoir. A few years later when skateboarding died, just about everyone quit skating. Myself and a few hard core locals like Dave Swift, Tod Swank, Tony Magnusson, Ken Park, Billy Ruff, Adrian Demain, Grant Brittain, Chris Black, Tony Hawk, Reese Simpson, Josh Nelson and others, kept at it. We owned the place. Ozzie asked me to keep this short, but its hard to sum up a place that shaped your entire life in a paragraph. It may sound silly, but the Del Mar Skate Ranch made me who I am today. – Owen Nieder

Thank you to Grant Brittain for the image and Owen Nieder for the memories. – Ozzie

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Shogo Kubo Tribute Session

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I was pushing the aluminum doors open that led into Cherry Hill Skate Park, when I overheard an excited voice announce, “I told you it was him! I told you Shogo was here.” I looked over as two skaters rushed past me holding magazines in their hands. I heard the Buzzcocks “Autonomy” pulsing on the speaker system that throbbed music throughout the park. I heard wheels and voices. There was a great deal of activity over by the egg bowl so I turned left and rolled through the reservoir and on toward the half-pipe. I awaited my turn as I saw someone roll through the elbow and begin their run down towards the three-quarter section. I wiped my hands on my blue corduroy OP shorts. My hands were sweating. I was here!  Cherry Hill. I rode in blissful self-indulgence for about an hour before I approached the pools. The egg, keyhole, left and right-handed kidney pools lined up against the back wall like a trophy case. “Fuck the football trophy, I’ll take any one of these…” I murmured. I stood and watched as Jami Godfrey, Dean Godfrey, Shawn Peddie, Mike Jesiolowski and Victor Perez drew fast lines through the egg bowl. Jami pulled stand up frontside grinds, Mike did the longest boardslides that I’d ever seen and Jami Godfrey’s little brother Dean was completely dwarfed by the egg bowl…  yet he held his own. Dean’s under the tile inverts had me shaking my head in wonder. “Damn that kid is ten years old!” All of the sudden, I saw him. Shogo Kubo was skating toward the egg bowl. I stood in a bit of shock. He rolled past me and laughed at something someone said. I saw him smile. I found myself smiling too… “Shogo…” He rolled through the bowl a few times and the fence was crawling with groms watching. Like me, they craned their necks to see the action. One of Dog Town’s finest was under our roof and he was ruling.

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I’ll never forget watching Shogo ride the right-hand kidney later that day. He had amazing lines and style. I took a few runs while he was riding. I must admit that I was star-struck. Shogo Kubo had it all. Make no mistake.  He was awesome. I’ll never forget that day at Cherry Hill Skate Park. It has been seared into my brain cells… Last week, Glen E. Friedman notified me that Shogo had passed away in Hawaii. I felt my heart sink. I had recently spoken to him regarding photographs for the William Sharp book that I am completing. I still haven’t quite come to terms with his passing. I saw all of the tributes on the social media commemorating his life and influence but I knew that we just had to have a pool session for him.

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Not a bowl session. A pool session. We drained a pool. I called around and put things in motion. We met up at the appointed place and everyone was stoked to pay tribute to Shogo Kubo’s style, influence and love of skateboarding. Lance Mountain pulled up and on his head was a headband with a Japanese rising sun on it. It looked like the one Shogo would wear while skating. I immediately said that everyone would have to wear the headband while doing something rad for Shogo…  and so it was.

Ripperside Shawn. Light/Box

Ripperside Shawn. Light/Box

Steve Alba- frontside loveseat

Steve Alba- frontside loveseat

Me- backside air

Me- backside air

Riverside Ed - backside grind loveseat

Riverside Ed – backside grind loveseat

Brandon Wong- frontside grind

Brandon Wong- frontside grind

Kyle - frontside light/box

Kyle Kaitanjian – frontside light/box

Kevin Burke- frontside grind loveseat

Kevin Burke- frontside grind loveseat

Hours later, we put a stop to the session. Exhaustion. Stoke. Happy faces. We gave Shogo Kubo a proper tribute that we hoped would show him our appreciation for all that he gave to us. Wherever you are Shogo… thanks for everything. Rest in peace brother. – Ozzie

Thank you to Brandon Wong for the images. Thank you to Glen E. Friedman for the CHSP image. Thank you Lance Mountain for the headband and good vibes. I hope you are feeling better and we’ll skate soon. – Ozzie

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Unburdened

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The dust billowed up and drifted sideways in the wind. I banked the wheel of the Explorer sharply to avoid a narrow gash in the road. Photographer -Lucia Griggi sat beside me. She asked me to slow down. I smiled and complied. “Yes, Captain.” Skateboarding legends- Brian Logan and Tony Alva were in the vehicle directly in front of us as we cut through the countryside  in the long grueling ride south into Baja. The clustered homes and buckled concrete of Tijuana’s gritty streets lay far behind us, where crime oozed like a contagion. Poverty was at every bend.  Grim-faced men eyed us hungrily. Finessing a tangle of off ramps, we drove the toll road south. Skeletal half-completed hotels and condos grinned vacantly. The ocean was dark and looming directly west. At times, we saw fishing boats. Fog obscured the hillsides at higher elevations. The hours spun away behind us and America seemed so far away. With a sense of unreality, we sliced down through a narrow valley. Tiny shantytowns spilled over the hillsides in dirty clumps. Colorful houses of bright blue and cornflower yellow contrasted sharply with the dull and drab existence that the people seemed to share. The land and its people were in rewind. Tick tock. Clocks stopped. It seemed that despair was ubiquitous.

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Giant cactus rose up from the desert floor. Sharp spines  and pain were found in their arms. Defensive and strong.  We pushed past. We had driven for an hour in silence. The homes and villages were left behind and the desert landscape opened up to us. We felt it growing hotter. The searing sun welcomed us in a low painful voice. “Come…” Its embrace was primitive. Desiccation. Lucia opened up a package of hummus and some crackers from the cooler. Coconut water completed our mobile snack. I was the melancholy one at times. I could always count on Lucia to keep things positive and light.  She wiped a hand across her mouth. “I can’t wait to surf. It’s going to feel good to be in the water again and spend a few days just getting some waves.” I nodded and grinned as she went on to describe our ultimate destination: Scorpion Bay. “I’ve seen the place in videos and articles. It is really quite lovely. There are seven points and I’m pretty sure that all of them are mellow, peeling waves. It’ll be perfect for you to learn on.” I laughed. I was a total beginner, on my first surfing trip ever and I was heading to Scorpion Bay in Baja. At least I was in stellar company, as the three of them were accomplished surfers. It was exciting and I hoped I could get a few waves on the trip.

 

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We slowed to a crawl. There was a narrow gorge that cut to our right and meandered precariously as far as I could see. If we weren’t paying attention, it was a long way to the valley floor. I shifted down and we inched forward. Punch. Punch. Punch. The front shocks shuddered. Stream beds — long dry — ran away from us below. Smooth river rocks sat idly in clumps awaiting the river that never came. Salt flats glimmered in the distance and vultures wheeled darkly above some grisly feast. I shook my head to remove the mental image I was forming. Force quit.

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We finally limped into Guerrero Negro, a town about halfway down into Baja. Guerrero Negro is known primarily for its salt mines and took its name from an American whaling ship – ‘Black Warrior’- that ran aground in the 1850′s. Exhausted, we ate together and kept close to the small motel. Dawn came too early and coffee couldn’t drive away the misgivings we were feeling about climbing back into the four wheel, torture chambers for the long drive ahead.

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We pierced the morning much in the same way we had before. Small villages, taco stands, people on horseback, trash, dilapidated cars from a bygone era and a sparse countryside spilled past our windows. Several hours south, Brian pulled into a small town. We fueled up. Brian approached. “We need to let air out of our tires. The road is completely unpaved from here on out. Get ready for a bumpy ride.” We did as he instructed. Tony Alva smiled towards us and handed us a cookie from a package he held. “You may need this…” Munching on raisins and oatmeal, I realized that he was right. One can always use a cookie.

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As we wheeled slowly through the town, an imposing church lay ahead of us. It was old. Hundreds of years old. Gargoyles and gothic ornaments dripped from its roofline. Draconian. The windows were sullen and an atmosphere of unreality loomed. I pulled over and climbed the huge stone steps, leaving everyone behind. Hard wooden pews and wrought iron railings greeted my eyes. Christ hung like a promise from his lonely perch. The cross. Sacrifice for love and humanity. I saw a brown leather Bible on a wooden pulpit. There was a roadmap for living in its cabbage-colored pages. Life. The place was pregnant with antiquity and I found myself touching my forehead to the floor. Dominus Vobiscum. God go with us…

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The remainder of the day was desolation. Gravel and sand led us to the pristine bay. Isolated. Perfect. We stopped above the town of San Juanico. The seven points of Scorpion Bay jutted like jagged teeth in the mouth of morning. Waves peeled back like silver zippers. Hypnotic and true. We smiled together as we watched some surfers paddle into the set waves that stacked, shimmered, then meander across the long bay towards the next point.

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Camp was set. The RV canopy spread shade. Tony Alva slipped past in his black neoprene wetsuit. He grabbed an Alva Surfcraft six foot surfboard. A smile spread across his weathered face. “Did you see that last set wave?” He asked hurriedly. He didn’t bother waiting for a response as he began the climb down the rocks from the nearby bluff where we camped. In minutes, he was paddling out to the point. I smiled to Lucia and Brian. “Waste no time.” I mumbled more to myself than anyone. Brian told me that on the drive down, Tony had let him in on the fact that there was a secret skate bowl somewhere nearby. Brian stabbed a finger towards the point where Tony was waiting for a set wave and murmured, “It looks like both of you are going to get the best of both worlds. Surf and skate.”

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I nodded and turned my eyes toward the distant fishing village. Old trucks. Old fashioned values. Older ideals. The houses were thatch and stucco. Everywhere I turned, I looked on a simpler way of life. Gone was the hurry of my modern world. The ocean spread out before it all. Majestic and uncaring. I watched Tony Alva paddle into his first set wave. He dropped down the green face and tore through a bottom turn. His board balanced at the top and dove deep again. Style and presence.

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The ocean shimmered and moved into us all… its time, its rhythm. Those first few days were silver and green. All life was colors. The ocean ruled our thoughts. It had a mandate all its own. We had an RV and two tents. A fire pit completed the camp. There were several small encampments and RV’s on the black bluffs nearby. Sun-split rocks sprouted from the barren shore and the ocean licked eagerly at them. We surfed several times a day and became friends with the varied people that made the long journey to this desolate place. School teachers, attorneys, surf shapers, skateboarders, antique dealers… the backgrounds and origins were astonishing. It really didn’t matter though, where someone was from or exactly what they did. In the water, they were all the same.

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A fire sparked between the tents and the RV. A star fell and I watched it burn its way briefly across the sky. Hopes and wishes were being hung on it. We were having a get together with some of our new-found friends. Tony Alva sat nearby, a dreadlocked sillhouette. He played acoustic bass as people talked around the warm flames. Glen and his wife were Baja regulars. They’d been coming to the area to surf for decades. Glen was talking with Redondo Beach attorney David about the predicted upcoming swell that was to arrive here. “The swell has already hit Tahiti and should be here by Saturday. The seven points here are all fairly close. A few are surfed regularly. If a big swell comes in, people can actually connect from point to point.” He saw my questioning look and looked toward the darkness below. The ocean murmured against the stones as if listening. He continued, “Sometimes, a person can ride from one point and carry straight through… the surfer can actually ride the same wave past several points, making for one long ride.” Tony Alva stopped strumming and interjected, “I’d love to connect. It is one of the things I’ve always dreamed of doing.” Others nodded in agreement. It certainly sounded exciting. The evening was spent in good conversation. Libations were poured. Friendships cemented. Good people. The stars glittered and sleep soon took everyone away to their beds.

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The next afternoon found us on a dusty road. Brian stopped the truck. “I know that it has to be close… it has to be right near here.” He turned the wheel and started down a narrow lane. We were looking for the hand build private skate bowl that one of the Baja surfers had fashioned. The local surfer that built it told Tony that he made it to strengthen his legs and help his surfing. It increased his stamina for those times when the swells came in. “It helps me connect…” We saw palm trees to our right. An enclosed yard. A noted landmark. Tony and Brian stopped to look.

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Peering through the fence, they saw the bowl. A figure eight, peanut-shaped bowl spread out in the yard. It was assembled painstakingly in concrete pie slices. Each pie slice was formed and molded. The entire thing was amazing and was an obvious labor of love. Stacks of old car tires walled off the sides of the abandoned property. A ramshackle wooden house sat rotting in the sun. Roof beams sagged in the heat. Trash and refuse were everywhere. It smelled of neglect. We saw a few locals and spoke to them. We were allowed a session. Tony flew about the place with style and power. With each turn, he proved why he is one of the greatest pioneers that skateboarding has ever known. I took a few runs and the local skaters dripped surf style. Lines were drawn. Carving and speed were of paramount importance. The session could not have been any better.

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We returned to the bluff overlooking the bay. Brian Logan paddled out and pulled some extraordinarily long rides across the bay. After three days of struggling, I paddled and stood one up for the long ride in. Elation. It was late afternoon. The sky was the color of candy. Pink and purple. A huge bird winged across the rocks. Its cry went unanswered. We watched surfers paddle into set waves and take the long ride towards land. The ocean pushed and pulled like some giant who’s vision is so tall and far above us, that it’s unaware of our pathetic scrambling and nonsense. It can trample us and never know or care. We are its guests. Someone nearby remarked that the waves seemed to be increasing in size. I peered toward the horizon and saw long black lines of waves darkening. Could this be the much anticipated swell?

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I sit in a small camp chair and watch. Time has ceased to exist. Sunrise, ocean, waves, sun, waves, food and sunset. All this blends into one long, silky thread as day follows day. Peace reigns. There are no worries. Strife and conflict were left behind. The tyranny of the human face has disappeared. Unburdened. We are in the rhythm of the sea. The swell is indeed arriving. Excitement lends a commotion and bustle previously unnoticed. A group gathers as larger sets peel and rumble across the bay. Surfers paddle out and smiles are seen all around.

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We took the long road south to get to this place. We took our burdens and left them behind. There is a long toll road that was installed in north Baja. It makes the drive easier. Is easier better? Sometimes we need to travel the difficult road to find out exactly what we’re made of. In this land of isolation and unfinished business, perhaps we must move further away from those nearest to us, to become closer to ourselves. Discovery. The good in all things. Local Baja legend Mama Espinoza stated that, “Good roads bring all people and bad roads bring good people.” I think she was on to something. Thank you to Brian Logan, Tony Alva and Lucia Griggi. – Ozzie

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