If you live in Lake County, you find fewer and fewer reasons to leave unless you have to. And when you leave for any reason, you might be a little like me and eager to return. We truly have a slice of paradise. But there is one thing we don’t have: the ocean. Trips to the ocean and the redwoods are two of the biggest reasons for our family to leave Lake County from time to time. Luckily the coast is an easy day drive to visit. How lucky for us!
Step back to the year 2021 when we all hoped covid would fade into a distant memory. Instead, covid settled in and became entrenched in every facet of our lives to the point of seeing friends and family and attending any social gathering was the irresponsible thing to do. And somehow, we all found ways to stay sane. For us, it meant signing our kids up for surfing lessons in Bodega Bay. Other than the sunburn, the day was a huge success, and very soon, we made time to go to the ocean as often as possible.
There we sat week after week, watching the surf and our kids attempting to catch the perfect wave to ride into shore. Occasionally they got carried in standing, but more often than not, they came into shore tumbling and rolling. The thought of joining them in the wash cycle of the ocean didn’t seem all that appealing. Onlookers looked on with a little envy and wonder. There is definitely the feeling that those in the water were the cool people, and those of us on the beach in our dry clothes were definitely missing out. They were in the water, and we were not. Plain and simple.
In a moment, everything changed as a few elderly women made their way to the beach in their wet suits carrying their boogie boards. Into the ocean, they plunged with eagerness and devotion. Unapologetically they, too, caught wave after wave with ease and without care. I was sold. If they could do it, we definitely could do it too! No excuses, right?
Life got busy soon after, and although I had finally gotten all the gear actually to get in the water, it just didn’t happen. Finally, with some free time during the holidays and the convenience of our RV, we could go to the ocean and make a weekend of it.
After a short hour-and-a-half drive, we checked into our campsite and soaked in the remaining pink hues of the evening sunset beside a warm fire and a glass of Lake County wine. Does life really get better than this? No, not really when you are doing what you love with the people you love.
The next day, after a year and a half of waiting, wishing, and hoping, I was finally walking to the beach in a wet suit and board in hand next to my even cooler kids with their surfboards.
The first step was familiar to my toes and feet, because who goes to the ocean without getting their feet wet? The second and third steps were similar and familiar to me until the first real wave hit, reminding me from this point forward that it was all new. My kids paddled further out to catch the bigger waves while I found the sweet spot for boogie boarding closer to shore.
Being as ready as I was ever going to be, I turned to wait for the next swell. For better or worse, this was my wave. Onto the board, I dove as the wave lifted me, and water washed over my head, carrying me into the shore and bringing me to a gentle stop. I had done it! And I was hooked.
No, I wasn’t the cool one surfing the wave, but I also wasn’t the one on the beach looking, wishing, wondering, and all so dry. Nope, not today.
Did I get rolled and tumbled? Yes. Several times I was the one washed up on shore, sputtering on a mouthful of sea and sand. But isn’t that really living? Will I go again? Absolutely, yes.
It’s another beautiful sunset on the Pacific Coast. A warm campfire helps push away the chill marine air. It’s anything but quiet this evening because there are tales to be told of the glories and fables of the day. And the best part is, we knew we’d be doing it all over again the next day!
Bodyboarding is probably the easiest water sport anyone can do. It requires absolutely no athletic ability other than flopping on a board and picking yourself back up. But if surfing is more your thing, I highly recommend taking a class at the Surf Shack in Bodega Bay. The prices are reasonable and include all the gear. But be careful; it is addictive, and you might turn into a beach bum like my son, grow out your hair and talk about surfing, like, all the time. In fact, his number one criteria for college this fall is if it’s near a surfing beach. But what do you really have to lose if that’s the worst thing that can happen to a person?