I was born in Mississippi and I also lived in Florida during the fifties.
Dad was in the Air Force and we were stationed in Florida until he got orders to rotate to Europe.
We lived in a small village in Luxemborg where half of the street that I lived on was still in ruins from allied bombings during ww2
It was at the height of the cold war. The city of Berlin was divided and "The Berlin Wall" was under construction.
We moved from Esternach, Luxemborg, which was very cool, to Bittborg, Germany where my dad was stationed on a tactical air base. The air base was a tense place and was ready to go to war with Russia at any moment
. We were on alert frequently and we spent nights in the underground air raid/bomb/fallout shelters below the building that we lived in.
The citizens of East Berlin were desperately trying to flee the city. My Cub Scout pack helped to collect and distributed can foods and clothing to refugee family's that had left their homes in East Berlin via tunneling or crawling through military patrolled barbed wire barricades to freedom in West Germany
After four years.my fathers tour of duty was over in Germany and we sailed back to this fantasy place that I had been dreaming of ("America") on the SS United States.
We raced the Queen Mary and beat her to New York even after stopping at sea to pick up and injured sailor from another vessel in route!
Well we were rotated to a desolate radar facility in eastern Washington.I think that the rock formations that I explored (as a board adolescent) around the base is one of the chief factors in my passion for rock climbing.
After living in Europe for four years my parents returned to their home in Mississippi.( It was during the civil rights period). Pearl, Mississippi was a universe away from Bittborg, West Germany. (It was like being dropped onto another planet!) In Mississippi I experienced racial segregation for the first time. (There were separate drinking fountains, restrooms, schools, church’s busses, ECT for black people).
I didn’t fit in well at first. I got in trouble at school a lot. Once I got in trouble for protesting in front of the school l along with a group of black kids over bussing. It seemed like it was a good thing to do at the time.
These are a few of my random memories of that period:
Riding Sting Rays and sneaking out at night with Ritchie Jones to go driving around with the Mc Neil girls in that red convertible mustang .Crawdad fishing in the swamp behind my grandparents house with Ronnie Huffman (it’s a wonder we weren’t snake bit! Adventures with Tommy Nichols I his old Studebaker (double dating and switching off who got the back seat, you know who you are)Our house on Childress Rd. and all the people that hung out there,Cecil,Buddy,Tommy,Ronny,Bonita,Charlie,Theresa,Joe,Wayne,Jack,Bill,Mary,Donny,Allen,Mary Frances, Debbie, Danny , Ralph ,Ritchie and Beaver (although their parents didn’t like them hanging out with us even though they were wilder) Stephanie, Mom, Jeff, and a host of occasional drop ins. Working in that damn garden as both of my grand fathers watched and shot the breeze while my pals were playing base ball, getting beat up by Jerry Clack ( for beating up ‘well you know who you are!’ Red sand pits , Interstate lake, The old Cox house ( It’s a wonder we didn’t burn that place down), fighting with the red necks (you know who you are)Hanging with the bands ,Wimbles (Jimmy, Brillo, Billy, Bill, Allen), Cinnamon Fly Wheel(Cecil, Bill, Charlie)Swing Inn, Hullabaloo Sean, River side park on Sundays ,Zap Boutique, rolling yards, driving Popsicle trucks, cruising Shoney’s, Red white and blue school bus, tripping at the reservoir, taking the heat for all the stuff that Bill did. Fishing on the Pearl River with Papaw, eating at Granny’s (my Granny was every ones Granny), East Gate Heights, Making out with? (I can see your face but your name escapes me)Donny Aldridge riding that moped up and down the road, getting paddled in class, dating Marcia Halford, Billy Barlow’s car, the fair, away foot ball games, Old Milwaukee, shrooms, skeeters, feeling safe, boot legers on the pike, sneekin girls out at night,KKK beat my dad up for promoting a black worker in his business. I played sports and attended church often.
When my parents divorced we rented the property next to my grandparents and we renovated the house.
My brother Bill and I lived there alone with barely any supervision!
I moved briefly to The French Quarter in New Orleans where I spent my one and only night in Jail.
I then moved on to Eldorado Canyon near Boulder, Colorado where I developed a passion for rock climbing.
I was hungry a lot until I learned that I had to work to survive. I was always hungry!
While living in Nederland,Colorado I met a young lady (Melanie Williams) in the Pioneer Inn. We were under age and had both snuck in!
Melanie pitched a fit with her parents and they gave in. She packed her stuff and flew to Mississippi where I was spending the summer.
My Grandfather told me that I had to marry Melanie or else God was going to punish me!
SO,I got married to Melanie.
It didn’t last but we remained friends for life.
In the 80’s and 90’s I worked as a carpenter. I also rock climbed,ice climbed, taught and guided rock climbing , skied, snowboarded, surfed, wind surfed, mountain biked and did a few TV productions as well.
I took my first road trip to Mexico!!!
I made my first visit to Hawaii
I spent many years developing the physical and mental strength necessary to climb the best rock routes that I could find.
Many aspects of my life were affected by rock climbing; relationships and carrier suffered the most.
Although I was pretty happy, there was something missing. I only realized it when I wasn’t climbing.
I was introduced Janice Williams and we fell in love. After a year of courtship (during that time I put climbing on the back burner)
Janice agreed to marry me.
She didn’t realize how addicted I was to rock climbing. We found a very cute house in the little town of Morrison, Colorado that happened to be right at the base of one my favorite bouldering areas.
When I wasn’t working I was climbing.
The first year of our marriage Janice spent a lot of time alone while I explored new climbing areas and developed routes with my climbing partners
For me this was a wonderful period. I was climbing better than I have ever in my life. I was getting fair amount recognition from my peers and also the magazines.
Janice had absolutely no interest in rock climbing at all.
The fact was that my passion for rock climbing was killing our relationship!
One day Janice came home with a sail board and told me that she was going to learn to wind surf. She also said that she didn’t care if I did it with her or not.
She started spending her free time at the local lake while I was off climbing.
When I wasn’t climbing I would join her at the lake and found out that there were a lot of single guys hanging around there and Janice being an attractive young woman that showed up at the lake alone they were all willing to give her the attention that I wasn’t.
Realizing that we were drifting apart I had to make a decision and fast.
Looking in the paper, I found an advertisement for some used wind surf gear.
At first it was simply a way to save my relationship with Janice and I really wasn’t enjoying myself very much at all.
I was used to the challenge of great rock climbs with dynamic partners that shared my passion for climbing.
This little pond that was near our home had very little wind and just wasn’t stimulating me all that much.
I began reading the various magazines dedicated to the sport and realized that the sport had allot to offer and that there were places where the sport could be done on a world class basis. Like THE GORGE!
I made my mind up that we were going to go to the Gorge and that we were going to apply ourselves to becoming the best windsurfers that we possibly could be.
I don’t think that Janice had this level of intensity in mind when she bought that thing. I think that it was mostly a way to take her beach chair and cooler along with her sail board to the beach. It was a new social environment.
After allot of stress on our relationship Janice started to make some real progress with the sport. She was quickly becoming one of the best females in the region.
Our every free minute was spent either sailing or planning our next trip to The Columbia River George or Mexico.
Windsurfing became my life’s greatest passion! I planned all my free time around getting to the best places to practice my sport.
I fantasized actually living in a place where I could sail every day year round.
I have finally achieved that dream.
There have been a number of adventures along this road.
Like the time our V.W. van caught fire and burned to the ground in Mexico
With the experience accumulated over almost a decade of trips down there I had a pretty good idea of what is available in the stores. You can buy almost everything you need unless you plan on getting off the beaten path. In that case everything imaginable has to be acquired from mechanical to medical. I guess Spartan; decadence would fit as a definition.
And that is what my Toyota 4 wheel drive van was. It was piled high with surf and windsurf equipment, shovels and rakes, 2x2 and 2x4s etc. The inside was packed full and tight. With camping gear and other provisions not available in Baja.
I drove nonstop from Denver to Los Angeles. I was on a very tight schedule. I was on a mission to pick up my two goddaughters Nikki and Rochelle and her husband Zach and their daughter Mattie. I arrived only minutes before their plane landed at LAX.
We all piled into my over crowded van and headed for Laguna.
We pulled up at valet parking at the Ritz. I asked the attendant if I could park the van myself and the informed me that it was against hotel rules and would have to park the van himself.
When we climbed out of the van, loaded down the way I just described, we looked a lot like the Beverly Hillbillies! I was bare foot with a three day growth of beard. Nikki the pouting 13 year old, Rochelle with a screaming baby in her arms and Zach with his crew cut hair and tattoos all over. I gave the guy the screw driver that I used to start the van and asked him to be very careful with it and he reassured me that he would. The staff couldn’t believe that we had room reservations. We were defiantly the strangest looking guests that they had ever seen at this 5 star luxury hotel.
I couldn’t have felt more out of place if I were a black man at a KKK convention.
One really cool part of this whole experience was that there was a great surf break at the bottom of the cliff that the hotel was built on.
Andy and John Callahan (a long time cast member in the daily soap opera All My Children) played golf and I went surfing.
It was strange and yet very cool to be strolling through the halls of the Ritz and down the back outside stairs to the beach and then paddled out. I didn’t get many waves but the experience was all-time. My wetsuit wasn’t warm enough so I got out fairly quick and went back up the stairs dripping salt water on the immaculate marble floor of the hotel.
When I arrived back at the room I lounged in the sunken marble tub in our suite.
This proved to be a most enjoyable experience.
If it could go wrong, it did, all the way down the line.
It was supposed to be an outdoor wedding and it poured rain all day so the wedding was moved indoors and every one had a wonderful time.
As best man I had duties that ran long into the evening after everyone had left. I had to: Make sure that wedding gifts were sent to the house in Albuquerque, Arrange for rented tuxes to be returned make sure that bills and gratuities were paid, Arrange for the kids to return to Albuquerque. And a host of other tasks and loose ends to numerous to mention or remember.
With my list of tasks and obligations accomplished, I checked out of the Ritz called for my van and I headed south in to Baja.
It felt good to be finally on my own agenda again!
I love my friends and I was honored to be Andy’s best man!
My first stop was to visit my friends in San Felipe
Sandi, Dean and Buc were carving out a life on the frontier. They started a sailing charter service. They provided day, and overnight excursions on their 40’trimaran, “The Triple Play”. They were shut down for not paying off the right Mexican officials. The boat was just sitting at the marina and Buc was living on it. In the mean time Dean had started another business giving tours into the mountains on Baja buggies this was sort of paying the bills and also supporting his “off road racing” addiction.
As always I was enjoying my visit but I was on a wind surf trip and really needed to be on my way down to Los Barillas.
Dean had taken a job as day time manager of a local bar in town and I was having coffee at the bar when I stood up and said that I would see him in a couple of months.
There is a road on the map of Baja that goes directly south out of San Filipe, I was told that it hadn’t had any maintenance in years and was not recommended at all. With that information I just had to take, Mex.3. It wasn’t so bad for around 5 miles but after that it went from bad to much worse, to even worse. In fact it was easier to drive in the desert than on the road! The potholes were bad. It was a virtual obstacle course navigating around them.
Progress was at a snail’s pace.
Although I filled up on fuel in San Flippi I was concerned that I might not find fuel until I reached Gero Negro. I spent some time searching for fuel in the small and picturesque sea side settlement of Gonzaga. They hadn’t had a fuel delivery in weeks and were completely out.
As I moved farther south the road became some what better, but not much. At least I wasn’t driving in the desert!
After hours and another long and rough stretch of bad road I reached Porto Sedis This town had some fuel but it wasn’t available until sometime the next day.
I decided to take my chances and head inland toward Gero Negro.
The road on this stretch was dirt and had been recently been graded. After all the hours and the endless miles of pot holes this was so relaxing that I thought I would give myself a treat and take a puff of the KILLER green bud that I had stashed deep in my gear. The air was so still and the desert flowers so fragrant the songs of birds and insects filled my senses completely. I stopped the van and found my stash. I took a toke and replaced it in its hiding place.
I became more and more paranoid, the pot was having the exact opposite affect than I had hoped. It got so bad that I pulled over again and got the stash out and put it down my pants. I threw the pipe out the window and felt increasingly more uneasy.
With no moon out the desert became completely dark. The dirt road was no more than a graded path across the rolling hills.
As I crested one of the many dark hills, enough light to laminate a sports arena came on and I was surrounded by the Mexican Army! They had mounted machine guns and other automatic weapons. I stopped immediately! They asked if I had drugs or guns I said “No”. The soldier in charge said that they were going to search my van. I really didn’t want all my stuff thrown all over the desert. I asked if I could help so we could do the search in an orderly fashion. He smiled and agreed to let me help and the search started. In the still desert air the scent of the high octane green pot that was in my pocket was overwhelming! He didn’t notice or at least made no comment about it.
After we searched the back of my van and had everything put back in place. I opened the side door and there it was! My cooler! He opened it and his eyes lit up as if he had found a treasure chest! After a long hot day in the desert heat the sight of ice cold Coca-Cola had him salivating. I offered him one and all the other solders as well. Refreshed from the icy beverage and realizing that I probably wasn’t a smuggler he smiled and then only half heartedly searched the rest of the vehicle. We put everything back just the way it was before and I was on my way.
There were a few more military stops along the way. I was searched each time. Of course I gave the solders cold drinks each time and things went well.
I made numerous journeys down the Baja Peninsula
My best friend Tommy Nichols died.
My youngest brother Jeff died.
I climbed, snow boarded,mountain biked and built houses during this period as well as windsurf. I was a very happy fellow and had no idea that something was missing in my life.
While on a windsurfing trip to the southern coast of Oregon
There was a party at Chip Winert’s house where Clay Thomas (my stock broker among other things) and I were guests.
The party was being held to celebrate the birthday of Connie Higgins, a friend of Chip and his new girlfriend Cindy.
I must admit, this turned out to be one of my most idealistic wind surf trips!
The excellent wind surf conditions combined with a blossoming romance with a beautiful woman.
With our vacations over we returned to our individual lives.
We thought that if things worked out, maybe we could pick up where we left off next year when I returned to Pistol River to windsurf.
A few days after I returned to Colorado I received a late night call from Connie and Cindy. They had been having a few glasses of wine and talking about the time that we had recently shared.
Connie expressed that she missed me and wished that we could meet again sooner than the year’s time we thought.
I was of the same opinion and made arrangements to travel back to Oregon within the next few weeks.
Once again it was romantic bliss.
Chip went away and left us his house.
Naomi, “Connie’s mom” stayed with the kids and we were allowed to have yet another rendezvous.
I just fell head over heels in rapture with the idea of being part of this world.
I couldn’t help myself I expressed my feelings and suggested that I move to Gold Beach.
Connie was equally smitten. We were hopelessly in love!
I went windsurfing while Connie went to work and then we spent our evenings together.
I put the big rock on her finger and uprooted my very idealistic life in the
mountains in Colorado. I quit the best job in the world, rented my house, and
packed a truck with everything I needed to start life with Connie, Rochelle,
My good friends tried to council me( to quote Dave Farmer” This sounds spooky to me!”) but I wasn't hearing any of it.
In fact I resented their well intentioned input. I have always viewed
myself as the can do man. Anything that I set my mind to, I accomplished. And
this would be no exception. (So I thought)
The Oregon coast was great! I worked as hard as I have in my life to make
the relationship with my new family work. (Maybe Connie did as well?)
At any rate the waves were good and they were my only sanctuary from a very
stressful home life and overwhelming business hurdles. A delinquent
renter in Colorado didn't help matters at all. I was about to mentally snap when the phone rang. It was my old surfing buddy (from Baja) Darren Fulhorst.
He offered me a possession as a boatman and guide for a privet
off season raft trip down the Grand Canyon. I answered YES!!! Immediately. My
thought was that a break from the domestic action was just what the relationship
225 miles over twenty days of negotiating some of the biggest white water on
the planet at the bottom of one of the most spectacular geologic wonders on
earth will definitely put life in perspective. Also words like (
transformation, metamorphous, etc.) come to mind.
Upon my return to Oregon I found That Connie had taken the liberty of
packing my things for me (I left some furniture).That was a very small price
to pay for my freedom!
With my volume of possessions down to tools,
toys, books, and art, I set out looking for a new home.
Two months reflecting while remodeling a friend’s house in Colorado did
wonders! I could have stayed longer, but the ocean was calling so I moved to southern Baja just north of Cabo San Lucas. I Windsurfed on The Sea of Cortez and surfed the Pacific Ocean (often in the same day) for the entire winter while my emotional wounds healed.
When spring came I moved north to Punta San Carlos, a very desolate place on the
Pacific Ocean. (PSC has one of the longest pealing waves in North America)
As summer grew close I headed north to Moab, Utah for rock climbing with
old friends. It was wonderful to be climbing again! The desert southwest is
such a magic place full of power and adventure! After Utah, I helped a friend
build his home in Drigs, Idaho. His property is right at the base Of the
Teton Mountains and truly one of the
most beautiful places that I have ever been. It seemed like I had finally
found my new home. Dregs has a great ski area and gets more powder snow than
anywhere that I know of. In the summer it has world class rivers to run,
Yellowstone NP is right around the corner, Great people with similar
interests, and lots of work!
I received an invitation from friends were gathering for windsurfing in the
Columbia River George so I joined them. I thought that I would be gone from
Drigs for a week. I found out that there were waves on the south coast
.Wouldn't you know, I was right back in the
very community that I had been trying to escape and completely at peace. I
had found my home and it turned out to be in my soul. I was once again full
and completely at peace. Meanwhile I helped my friend Victor build a house out near Cape Blanco for
our friends, Robin and Dee. We had a lot of fun and made
a sack of money.
By this time winter was coming on and the Oregon coast is a harsh place. It
can rain sideways for months!
Living in the same small town as Connie in all that grey was the last thing
on earth that I wanted to do.
My mind was finally made that it was finally time to experience Maui,
I contacted Tom Krebs and I asked, “What do I do”. His reply was, “just come”!
That seemed simple enough.
I contacted Tim Requia and told him that I needed some gear for the wave season in Maui.
He arranged for all my equipment.
Meanwhile I'm still asking, “Tom, Do I have a place to live?" I got the same reply, “No”, “just come".
What the heck, I bought the cheapest ticket that departed LAX.
I stored my van at Walt Bendals house in Costa Mesa, Ca.
Tom picked me up at the air port in his old truck. It was packed full of new windsurf gear.
We headed to the beach.
After unpacking and disposing of the trash (a scene somewhat like a little boy
opening all his Christmas presents) we sailed until dark.
While de-rigging our sails, I asked Tom the same question.
“Do I have a place to stay?”
I got the same reply "No".
We got some beer and started catching up since I hadn’t seen Tom in almost three years and not really much correspondence or phone contact either.
At this point, it's dark and I have no idea what this place even looks like other than the
beach that we sailed at which could have been "sandy beach “anywhere.
We dropped in on Dave, Jen, and their daughter Sarah chatted and drank more.
Jet lag was setting in and I was going down and fast! After waking in California at three a.m., the long flight, wind surfing till dark, and libations.
I woke up alone in the most quaint little beach house and in the most
comfortable bed that I have ever slept in.
The cob webs were so thick that I felt as if I were still sleeping and
having the sort of magical dream that you never want to end.
I followed the smell of coffee from the kitchen and poured myself a cup and
walked outside and across the lawn to the rocky beach where I found
Tom and his friend Elissa sitting on the rocks and chatting while the
largest waves that I had ever seen were crashing on the outer reef about a quarter
mile off shore.
A rainbow manifested far out to sea and reached all the
way to shore ending at the very spot that I was standing! While standing in this spectrum of living color I realized my first experience of Maui!
The mission started! I had to buy a car, and rent a place to live.
After looking at the vehicles available, it seemed like I
would either be walking for a while or spending way more than I had
I wasn't letting this get me down although it did concern me a bit at how
hard this place can be. I still didn’t have a car and no place to live!
While making the rounds of all the surf spots I saw something out of the
corner of my eye.
corner of my eye.
It was love at first sight! She was a 1969 Caprice Classic(the
vehicle of choice by many demolition derby drivers) She was a one owner and in mint condition, with more engine than five modern cars, and longer than the business district of Paia (two blocks), and absolutely no rust.
vehicle of choice by many demolition derby drivers) She was a one owner and in mint condition, with more engine than five modern cars, and longer than the business district of Paia (two blocks), and absolutely no rust.
They wanted $1000 I offered $900 cash and the deal was done.
The very thought of her brings tears to my
eyes. Especially when I see her on the street and someone else is driving
When Tom saw her he said "Olaf you’re going to cut a wide swath across this
town in that baby"
eyes. Especially when I see her on the street and someone else is driving
When Tom saw her he said "Olaf you’re going to cut a wide swath across this
town in that baby"
I had a vehicle now all I needed was to find a place to live and as it turned out that happened very fast !
We w re in Jacques having beers and Tom runs into some people that he knew . it turns out they were celebrating Sherry's room mate leaving the Island. Sherry wasn't looking for another roommate but we agreed to have a chat the next day at her house. We just hit it off real well and a long story short we lived together as roommates for several years. the reason that things worked so well is that Sherry traveled about 8 months a year so I just lived in this palatial estate alone most of the time.we were also not emotionally involved ether.
I surf, wave sail, and apply myself every day
After applying myself to work all day long, I was sure that I had missed my window opportunity to wave sail but I drove to the beach and checked the surf anyway.
To my surprise the wave conditions at lower Kanaha were still near perfect.
Due to the late hour, I had the place almost to myself.
In fact, there were only three other sailors out.
We caught wave after wave.
The clouds were moving with the trade winds.
From time to time they passed in front of our lunar light fixture and the world became extremely dark and eerie.
I was a sitting duck when one especially large set wave came through.
The thing almost took me out!
Luckily, it passed under me and I didn’t get sucked over the falls.
I didn’t see the thing until the very last instant!
I didn’t want to make a mistake that could separate me from my gear a quarter mile off shore and in the dark.
I almost aborted the next wave of the set, due to my lack of vision.
I was deeper than I wanted to be and I decided that bailing would be more hazardous than taking the wave. (Often, hesitation can get you into big trouble!)
SOO! I dropped in!
As soon as I committed to the wave, the moon slid from behind its hiding place.
The angle of the light projected on that wave, gave me a view that will be forever implanted in my quiver of magnificent scenes to remember!
I dropped in and bottomed turned early. I climbed back to the lip and dropped in again this time cranking back side, (left) into the peak and then turning “right” and down the line for several more smacks.
The moon pulled its disappearing act once again so I headed back to the beach.
I de-rigged my gear in the light of the full Maui moon and reflected on a great wave sailing session.
I was hired by a Brazilian movie production company to help with the filming of the “Tow-In World Cup” a surfing competition being held at Peahi "Jaws".
My initial assignment was establishing two separate camera stations on the sheer cliff above “Jaws”. In addition to the camera platforms, a trail system with safety rails also needed to be constructed in order to safely transport the equipment and protect the crew that were posissitioned on these steep and awkward perches.
The film was to be shot with 35mm movie cameras.
This required a person constantly running freshly loaded film canisters from a production vehicle on top down the cliff down to the camera station below and transporting canisters of exposed film back to the production center for processing and reloading.
While I was working on my camera station and trail project, there was allot going on out on the wave. In addition to the usual surfing activity, another production crew was at work.
Laird Hamilton, Derrick Doener, and Dave Kalama, were towing in to waves in the 30’ range. They were wearing camouflage print wetsuits, firing weapons at each other with all three of them surfing the same wave. This was an action stunt for an upcoming James Bond movie.
After the trail construction was completed the swell on the north shore dropped drastically causing the contest to be postponed.
Two weeks went by before I received the call telling me that the contest was on and we were going back to work.
The majority of the contestants and film crew had left the island and gone back to their homes. They were now on the first flights back to Maui!
Also on its way to Maui was a giant swell!
With all the logistics of a live film shoot, something had to go wrong, and things did!
One of the rented 35mm movie cameras went down at another very important camera spot.
Mercer Richards our assistant camera man was moved to that station to continue the shooting using his personal movie camera equipment.
Greg Huglin received a radio call from the producer (Mike Slattery) asking which of the backup camera men he wanted to fill in as his assistant. His response was, "I already have a man Olaf is taking care of things quite well and all we need is a film runner to take his place"
This resulted in my assisting Greg Huglin while he filmed “Jaws” at over50’ with the best big wave "tow–in” surfers in the world competing for a $70,000 first place prize!
Yup this amazing shot keeps on popping up and I think it's the most widely watched shot online.
It was shot by Pete Fuzard in Super18 from the helo.
I was shooting from the spot you built me and ran thru twenty 400' film mags (80 minutes) that day, the most I ever shot in one day, ever.
I begged Pete to let me do the helo shooting since I had already done almost 200 hours in the past but he was the director and it was his call.
It was Pete's very first time of using the Tyler Mount in a helo and he friggin nailed it!
The shot of Parsons is jaw dropping and will live as one of the best ever.
That was an amazing day we all had courtesy of the Brazilians.
I just ran into Ricardo Fonseca, the Brazilian producer of that event here in Santa Barbara.
He was visiting a rich Brazilian surfer who is a mutual acquaintance and Ricardo came over to my house and visited.
He still has a surfing TV show in Brazil.
Hows the Maui life for you?
I used the credit that I had accumulated at the Quatro shop and bought one of their 68ltr wave boards, I then canceled my flight reservation.
Day after day we were blessed with (often good) trade wind and spectacular waves that were frequently (almost) too big! Luckily the intervals were spaced far enough apart that with a bit of timing and some raw luck access was granted through the often mast high white water.
The conditions were so good that I was determined to stay here on Maui until the waves went away and they stayed for a while.
I launched my sailboard from the usual spot at Kuau two days ago in extremely marginal conditions.
The waves were great but the wind was extremely light. There was a cloud over Haiku and a squall to the N/E so I figured that either or both of these features would provide enough wind to move me around and catch a few of the perfection waves that were pumping in.
A number of sailors had been out and made it back to the launch. Several guys weren’t so fortunate and they had to swim with their gear to other” sketchy” landing spots down the coast.
I figured that I had about a 30/70% chance of making it back to the channel .The odds were against me but I launched any way and hoped for the best. The wind was so light that it took forever to get a water start and when I did I found the only way I could plane was to bear off the wind and loose valuable ground. I semi planed and slogged for a while and lost ground on every reach. I rode one wave and was then punishedg it back to the channel .The odds were against me but I launched any way and hoped for the best. The wind was so light that it took forever to get a water start and when I did I found the only way I could plane was to bear off the wind and loose valuable ground. I semi planed and slogged for a while and lost ground on every reach. I rode one wave and was then punished by the next three. This little episode pushed me even further down wind and made getting back to the Kuau launch a massive struggle and a zero on the fun scale.
I tried to be positive thinking that the squall would push through and produce enough of a breeze to make it back. But that just wasn’t happening. I was afraid to sail too far out to sea in fear that it would completely shut down and then things would go from a pain in the butt to an epic!
Every time I would sail towards land I would be presented with opportunities to catch waves and would have to turn around and let those great waves go in order to continue to make the little bit of progress that I could. I did this routine several times and thought “This Is BULL!” On my next reach I purposely pointed into the action theater. With only enough power in my sail to keep from falling over backwards I drifted purposely into the peak and waited. I let two nice waves go by. I didn’t want to pump myself out of posisition while trying to chase them down.
It wasn’t long before my wave came along. It was a beautiful pealing left hander. I rode it for as long as it held up and then I caught the residual pulses following it. I rode them as far into the bay as possible. There was no hope of ever sailing out of this position so I started swimming for the back of the bay. Having done this swim a number of times over the years I was familiar with the currents and used them to drift and paddle along the jagged rocky shore line. I scoped out the progress that Robert and I had made on the house he is building on the shore as I passed by it.
In the extreme back of the bay there is a sort of rocky/ sandy place that isn’t AS bad as the other possible landing spots. It’s sketchy at best but I knew this spot and familiarity makes it a bit safer. With patience and timing and luck I negotiated the shore pound without destroying my gear or injuring myself on the rocks.
Typically I de rig my sail and bundle it up into a tidy package. I then put my board under one arm and my bundled rig under the other and hoof it back across the large boulders back to the launch. But this day I was concerned that I might slip on one of the wet rocks and reinjure my leg that I have only recently rehabbed to the point that I can play in the ocean again.
My buddy Trevor lives only 50 yards down the beach from where I landed. I decided that I would carry my rigged sail down the beach and de rig in his yard and then return for my board. It was just safer to do it that way. When I was in front of Trevor’s beach house he was standing at the top of the small cliff over the rocky beach and said “I thought that was you. What happened, didn’t you put enough quarters in the wind machine?” I said” NO!” I passed my rigged sail up to him. I then retrieved my board and passed that to him as well. I hosed off my sandy sail and board on his lawn and then used his hot shower myself. I borrowed some dry clothes to wear while I hiked back to my truck.
I picked up “Corona’s” on my way by Kuau Mart to pay Trevor for his hospitality. We drank one and talked story while I de rigged and loaded my gear into my open truck bed.
I checked my voice mail and had a message from Tom Krebs that he and some of the gang were over at the blue house on the beach at Kuau having beers and that I should drop on by.
To quote one sailor, "We sure are having a great winter, this spring!!!!"
As soon as the last of the (out of season) wave episodes diminished on the north shore I caught a flight to Colorado.
Then along the Colorado River past such dynamic features as The Titan in The Fisher Towers area.
and further on Castle Valley with features like Castleton Tower, The Priest, The Nun's, and The Rectory.
All of this with the backdrop of the majestic snow covered peaks of the LaSalle Mountains.
Every turn of the road or bend in the river held magnificent vistas and conjured up vivid memories of past adventures in this dynamic arena and of the gallant warriors that I shared them with!
To quote Steve" Once you get that red sand under your finger nails, it doesn't come off, and you can't get enough of it!".
"Indian Creek" is the best pure jam crack climbing in the world!
The amazing thing was that I was climbing at close to the level that I had in my prime (go figure?) I was constantly mesmerized at the beauty of this region it's no wonder that I have spent so much time there in the past. Steve and I did three spectacular routes. I led a particularly nice one on "Cat Wall" that was in the mid to upper 5.10 range. I was pleasantly surprised that after a decade (has it been that long?) I was able to climb and place (trad) gear without falling, hanging, or down climbing at all!
We did another climb that I thought was especially cool. It involved sustained thin hand sized jamming and lay backing for at least 100' with no rests! I was able to do that one "clean" as well. Cross training by paddling a surfboard everyday and hanging on to windsurf booms does pay off.
We had a low level cloud canopy that was threatening rain while also protecting us from the emaciating high desert sun. It was hovering at about1000'.
The evening sun cleared the cloud valiance and dropped directly behind the pinnacle of North Six Shooter Peak
North Six Shooter was silhouetted by the solar spotlight from desert flour to top of the spire while sending radiant beams aimed directly at the magnificent desert wall that I was in the process of descending. The desert colors were so personified by the brilliant, celestial light that I had to stop my descent so that I could absorb this visual / spiritual sensation. It was liken to the first time that I stood at the end of a Maui rainbow and knowing that all my dreams were going to come true.
Steve and I were very stoked over our successes on our initial day at Indian Creek and had high hopes for the days to come. Steve was chomping at the bit to get back to Sacred Cow wall to power up these seemingly interminable wide hands to fist crack that we scoped the day before. It looked to be just his size and would probably be harder for me because of our physical size difference.
We spent a wonderful evening having beers around the campfire with several of the other climbers that had camped nearby. We told the stories of the old days at Indian Creek and reminisced on the many near forgotten desert adventures that we had shared.
We vowed with the promissory clanking of mugs to generate many new ones as the fire waned and the exhaustion of the days efforts sent us to our various shelters.
We woke up the next morning to a late season snow storm that turned the desert into a surrealistic kaleidoscopic visual savwafare.
The effervescent green of the just budding willows and cottonwoods growing along the stream and throughout the entire valley were garlanded in white. They were heavily burdened and hanging low with the wet and very heavy load. The red sandstone of the surrounding walls and towers loomed through opaque (snow flake filled) air.
This freak storm made climbing out of the question.
Neither one of us had the luxury of just sitting around in the dessert until the weather broke and the routes dried so we went our separate ways.
We made plans to meet in The Black Canyon of The Gunnison the next week end to do" The Journey Home" a grade 4 / 5.10 that we had each done in the past,( weather permitting?)
A few days later Steve called and told me that he had an opportunity to work as first mate on a fishing boat in Alaska. He was very excited about making enough money to pay off the overwhelming debts that he had generated while restoring his vintage 100' cargo vessel in Bellingham, Washington.
The Black Canyon climbing had to be canceled, the weather was suspect anyway.
My old friend Chris Teter gave me the use of his luxurious house on 40 wooded acres in the mountains above Conifer, Colorado. He also provided me with a four wheel drive pickup truck and his dog Kuma while I was in Colorado.
Chris was away on the river trip down the Grand Canyon that I had to excuse myself from. He returned only two days before I had to leave. We did have a chance to catch up and share our stories.
After the climbing trip, it was nose to the grind stone and catching up with years of maintenance on my house. With the help of Buc Taylor my old friend and climbing partner who trouble-shot various mechanical issues while I hauled trash, cleaned the grounds, and addressed the various carpentry issues
I snuck off for 1/2 days of snowboarding at A-Basin as often as possible. It was just magic to be at the top of the continental divide in just a tee shirt and wind shell. Although there was still great coverage there were absolutely no lift lines, in fact there were no people on the mountain, it was a treat to share a chair and have someone to chat with.
Several times I ran into people from my past and it was as if I had never left. Our conversations were as if we had seen each other just the other day.
With my task accomplished and my allotted time on the mainland exhausted, I caught a very early flight back to Maui. Karen picked me up at the airport. We went straight to the auto parts store and I bought a new battery for my truck. I then went home and installed the battery. Next I loaded my gear and drove to the beach. I sailed my Quatro 68ltr. wave board with a Goya 4.4 wave sail on logo(10') high waves at Kuau till almost dark.
The next two days I drove over to" Woody's" on the lower west side and surfed head high waves, with no crowds and often alone or with only a few others. It was great to be finally using the Walden 9'0" Magic model that I bought to replace the 9'0" Dave Mell that I broke at Kanaha the last winter.
I've been surfing Woody's in the mornings (shoulder to head high) and windsurfing Kuau on the north shore in the afternoon. We have had a generous amount of wind and waves to ride on the North Shore of Maui lately. In fact one day recently we had some mast high (15'+) sets and most of the sets were better than logo high. The wind was very light so there was allot of time out of the harness. Being 140lbs with a bagged out 5.0 Goya wave sail and on a 78ltr. Goya wave board helped. Although I was mostly slogging, I was able to pump on to a plane using the energy from the wave that I had selected. (Pumping on to a wave is allot like paddling into a wave you can’t give up, or the vast amount of energy that you have expended is wasted and you will definitely be out of position for the next one) my body size gave me an advantage over the heaver sailors and let me get into better position on the wave.
Summer on Maui is allot of fun but it can get to be a little long when the waves on the south side are inconsistent. The windsurfing is good but the water is choppy and the waves are nearly nonexistent. That being the case I would skate board most every day that there weren't waves to surf. It was so fun to be carving fluid turns on the hill in front of the house. I noticed that my surfing was improving a lot as well. That is until I stepped off my board !!!!!!!!!!!!!