Jun 1, 2006

The Red Tide

Originally uploaded by flybutter.
I only had a few days in LA and there were some things I had to do while I was there. One of them was to get out surfing. I love the ocean - who doesn't - and I couldn't wait to dip my feet in and get a taste the salt water. My girl Samantha was cool about taking a drive to Santa Monica to pick up a longboard from my buddy Oliver before he left town. After picking it up, we drove around with this 8 footer on her car, hoping it wouldn't fly off while on the highway, then dropped it off at her place before heading out for some Friday night fun. Crazy night. Ended up at some slick place in the hills with a beautiful pool til 5 in tha morn, then called it quits. Only 4 hours later Sam decided it was time to do yoga. What? Are you kidding? I thought initially, but my attitude changed. When in Los Angeles...

If she could wake up and do some downward dogs after a night like that, well, dammit so could I. I was feeling hard core. Two hours of showing off and a nice latte later it was time to hit the beach. I hadn't surfed since Australia and was super psyched. Sam and I, and another couple girls piled into her car and drove for an hour to Topanga canyon. It was gorgeous. Think this is where most of the first season of 24 was shot.

The beach wasn't too bad, even though it was beside a highway. The waves were a decent height. There were some locals there that didn't love us, but I was riding with an LA girl who was used to competing in the IronMan/Woman, so I wasn't worried.

I stole a couple waves which is really bad style and realized I couldn't get my ass off the board. After giving my all at yoga all I felt like doing when I caught a wave has lying down on my board to catch some zzzz's. The paddle out was hard enough. Guess I can't do it all. That was it for day one. One more shot tomorrow.
Back to Santa Monica. Got my board ready to go but...it was flat. You really gotta prep for this stuff. Know where and when to go and wait for it. Be ready. Kinda like being out there and waiting for the wave itself.

We had a nice breakfast instead and watched the weirdos of Venice beach do their thing. Not too far away, beyond the sounds of skateboards clacking, we heard a drumming circle; so we found a spot on the beach nearby to chill, listen and watch the sunset.
Still a bit upset with myself from the day before since there'll be no more surfing for this Toronto girl for awhile, I could at least get another taste of the water. Anyone else game? Nope. No one. But I was insistent. Spiled LA kids, they get beach time whenever they want, probably too cold for them now that they're used to LA life. I went in, on my own, and it felt gross. Not like Miami where you could linger in the salty stuff all day.

Flying home early the next morning I saw why the beach isn't so impressive to some in LA. It's called the Red Tide. You could see it from the plane. Streaks of algae for miles. And I got kinda sick when I got home. They did warn me it was kinda dirty and polluted, but folks had said that about the pristine beaches of Oz too.

So while I realized I shoulda followed the whole "when in Los Angeles" philosophy...I relaized if one does it would mean no swimming at the beach, lots of driving, power yoga, lattes and organic food. It's a strange place with some seriouly contradicting values. Really you just have to be prepared. There's a ton you can do and if you've only got a little time you've really got to figure out what's worth it. Maybe you wanna go with the flow, but maybe it's worth it to stick to your goals. LA is a sprawling metropolis, it's no beach town.

--- Susanne Jespersen in Los Angeles


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