I smiled emphatically. After the two-and-a-half hour drive from Valencia, I had successfully navigated my way to Dana Point Harbor all while managing to avoid rush-hour traffic. I drank in the smell of the salt water and cries of the seagulls as I walked down the pier. This weekend was going to be stellar.
Not only did I have the pleasure of spending the next three days in this sleepy little Southern Orange town, but I was going to spend it surfing with two of my amigas from Nicaragua, Emily and Kristi. Kristi had a house just up the road from Doheny and we planned on making the best use of our time. The only way this trip could exceed the awesomeness that was planned was if our fellow travelers from Nica could have paddled out with us.
I was going to meet Kristi in an hour. Emily was flying in from Seattle and would touch down at any moment. Since I had made it to my destination in record time (by only slightly exceeding the speed limit), I decided to have lunch. There was a hip little carve-out on the pier called Coffee Importers that would do. I waited patiently in line, dreaming about the waves I would be catching shortly. I reached the front of the line and greeted the sandwich boys.
It was only when I said, “Yes, I will have the–” that all activity in the bistro paused. My voice was drowning in the sound of the blenders, refrigerators, radios, coffee makers, and air conditioners shutting down. The sandwich boys ran so fast out of the shop I swear there was cartoon dust trailing them. The one in the hat ran back, “Yeah dude, it looks like the whole block is out!” He turned to his manager, “Does that mean we get the rest of the day off?” My pocket started ringing, it was Kristi.
Turns out she had gotten done with work early and had just gotten home. Since I was clearly not getting my patty melt, I decided to hoof it to her place early. Shrugging sympathetically to the manager, I headed out.
I could not stop hugging Kristi, I was so ecstatic to see her. We shrieked and jumped around her immaculate hallway. I pointed at the light fixtures and we laughed at the irony. The last time we had seen each other we were also in the midst of a blackout.
We tried calling out to family but the phone lines were jammed. Eventually, AT&T came through and I got a call from my dad. We were surprised and baffled to hear the power outage encompassed everyone from Dana Point to Arizona to parts of Mexico. An estimated five million people were without power. He said they weren’t expecting to have power in our area until the next day. I made some stupid joke about having to rough it Nicaragua style and he wished me God speed. The phone line disconnected.
Emily finally arrived and we had another round of screams and hugs. Kristi and I decided to run to the store while she screwed the fins on her board. Once we scored some suitable grub we were racking the boards and heading to the beach so we had no time to waste.
When we got to the local grocery store we were shocked to find the doors barred. “Seriously? You guys don’t have back-up generators?” I looked to Kristi, but she had no answers. A little old lady who resembled Betty White approached us.
“All the stores are shut down. Everything is closed.” Her bitter tone was hard to miss. She walked away in a huff, shouting over her shoulder, “You better get some ice!”
Kristi and I piled back into the car not sure what to make of this encounter. Kristi hesitated before putting the key in the ignition. “Did that sound like a threat? Are we headed into an apocalypse or something?” I laughed in reply partly because it was funny and partly because I wasn’t actually sure of the answer.
We returned to Kristi’s hillside home with no food and having successfully wasted another thirty minutes of sunlight. Our craving for green waves was too great to fight now. We loaded up the boards and trucked down to Doheny.
Emily wasn’t too excited to surf a crowded break but I was thrilled just to have the opportunity to ride a wave (desert surfers can’t be choosers). Plus I think all of us were just content to be reunited. The air of positivity and excitement was filling on its own. The point break looked decent and the water was glistening as the sun danced on the horizon.
We pushed our boards into the water. I was thankful for the dry-hair paddle out. I was already drastically out of shape from not surfing for so long. I didn’t need the additional hassle of struggling through the whitewash to put me even further behind my fellow surfers.
I didn’t realize how comforting and balancing I found the water. By just sitting on my board waiting for the next wave I felt my chakras aligning. I could feel the peace and happiness spreading through my body with each passing moment. I didn’t need to catch a wave; being back in my element with these ripping girls was enough.
I saw a wave starting to form just a couple of yards away. I waved to Kristi and paddled away, determined to have a ride of my life. No-one dropped in and I was in the perfect position. My board picked up speed and I popped-up. I heard cheers from behind me but they were fading fast with the sound of the whitewash.
I kept expecting to fall but the wave was steady and apparently so was I. I rode the wave all the way to shore. I couldn’t keep the smile off my face as I paddled back out. Kristi paddled over to meet me. “Look at you go, girl! You’re such a charger! That was awesome.”
I sat up on my board and took in the sleepy town on shore. The sun was setting and the streets were quiet. Dana Point was a dark reflection on the water without electricity to set it buzzing.
I wasn’t sure what was in store for the rest of our surfari weekend but I was here and ready for anything. I could feel the possibilities and excitement pulsing through the water.
Whatever was coming was going to memorable, that was for sure.