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La Vida La Cava: Pack it up and GO!

Paul LaCava | January 22, 2013

I’m shooting from the hip on this one…. New style… let me know what you think. Sometimes it’s gotta be about sharing the joy of just packing it all into a car and hitting the road, the style of travel that I know the best.

La Vida LaCava: Pack it up and just GO:

 Dec 19th, 2012: Last minute planning

Work is tapering down for the year. Holidays are approaching. Nervous energy is pulsing through my veins. Must. Leave. Soon. I don’t want to be stuck at home spending the holidays worrying about doing what normal people do during the holidays…like tossing back egg nog at some party with people you don’t know very well wearing a terrible sweater. Packing begins…

There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

Dec 20th: Will it all fit?

I’m trying to figure out how to pack three surfboards, two bikes, a hoard of warm and cold wet-weather gear into the back of a Subaru for a dubious mid-winter trip to California. I’m leaving from Portland, Oregon, in late December. Apparently, it’s actually winter in other warmer parts of the world. Arrrrrg. There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Solution: pack more clothing. Er, maybe a sweater after all. Gas tank is filled. Lots of surfboard wax has been acquired. Minimal food is packed, it’ll sort itself out somewhere on the way. Chopping wood last minute for a fire… This trip is happening…

 Dec 21st: Last minute packing

Hmm, it seems to be raining heavily. Hoping it won’t be doing this 600 miles south! Departure. Whatever didn’t make it in the car is not needed. This is a road trip. Things will happen on the road that are not expected. It will not all go right. It is because of this that it will be perfect. At least I have good windshield wipers that work along the 12 hours of Interstate 5 that separate me from home and where I need to go: Santa Cruz.

Whatever didn’t make it in the car is not needed. This is a road trip.

 Dec 22nd: Departure

Fresh tunes on the iPod, iPhone, whatever it takes, heck even a CD or two. Sunglasses have been located. I haven’t needed those in a while. It’s time to hit the road. It’s a long haul, fully pinned, with only a slight detour at my favorite coffee joint in Ashland called Noble Coffee. About 8 degrees further south, on the parallel lines of the globe, I hit Santa Cruz in a dismal pissing, shit storm. I’m a seasoned Pacific Northwest life-long resident and have never seen rain like this! Oh well, stormy weather often means big swells… I find a local state park to rest for the evening.

 Dec 23rd: Sorting it out

It turns out that the new temporary tie down surf board rack straps that loop through the car leak water inside. It also rained about 2” last night in this full monsoon. Awesome. Things are wet. No biggie. Far better than doing taxes at home. It’s quite stormy all day, the surf is mess, but I’m by the ocean and sucking it all in. So fresh! Coffee. Beer. Relax. In any order possible. I join friends Abby and Ariel in town and watch the local river at critical flood stages and we count the tennis balls floating down the river. A couple couches float by, some tires, it’s a shit storm of crap. The waiting ensues…

It will not all go right. It is because of this that it will be perfect.

 Dec 24th: Life in motion

Ahhhh, the smell of the ocean. It invites energy into the soul like nothing I know of …I checked the surf. There’s a decent swell coming into town and it’s time to paddle out! I plan to get a good couple of hours in the water and then hole up in my favorite local coffee joint in Capitola: Verve Coffee. I think I’m supposed to be doing something or I’m late for an event, it’s Christmas Eve. I couldn’t care less. I’m starting to leave the worries of life behind.

It’s quite stormy all day, the surf is mess, but I’m by the ocean and sucking it all in.

 Dec 25th: Holidays are for riding

For the holiday, I have chosen to do something obvious: go mountain biking. It’s pretty dodgy weather again, but time to break in a new bike I just built up and it’s been a while since I hit the trails. Long drive out of town and into the back woods of Demonstration Forest, I avoid some minor landslides, what with all the moisture and obscenely wet un-hot California weather, I get to the trailhead. Headed out for a great ride, got super wet, cut some drifting corners in the sloppy muddy conditions, dodged a few trees, and I feel alive! Cruising around in the huge redwoods forests always makes a person smile! Makes you feel so small compared to those giants!

Cruising around in the huge redwoods forests always makes a person smile! Makes you feel so small compared to those giants!

Dec 26th: Now on to the good stuff

Ocean is booming with swell. Waves crashing. I scout out some localized reef breaks and hidden point breaks. Nervous sweats watching the sets roll in. Heavy water today. After much deliberation I take the leap and jump in, and it’s worth the effort. Slightly beaten down and taught a lesson or two by the Pacific, I get a few waves and sit back and relax in some mid 60 degree sun. Feels good when you’re used to 35 degree rainy days lately…I can handle this.

 Dec 27th: Time to get social

Mid-morning surf. Then drive to San Jose to pick up my girlfriend, Suzanne, from the airport. Very happy to see a familiar face! Head back to the beach for some awesome camping by the water, clear skies with a starry night, and a campfire. After five days of getting to know the inner thoughts that unravel in my head and spending time in all isolation, the company is nice!

Dec 28th: Surfs up! 

Wake up. Coffee. Eggs. Listen to the ocean. Jump in the water. Catch a few waves. Repeat as needed. Getting down to the basics here and really starting to settle into the mode. Not a care in the world except for wondering what is for dinner, and even that seems like a triviality not worth giving much thought to. Life ain’t bad!

After five days of getting to know the inner thoughts that unravel in my head and spending time in all isolation, the company is nice!

Big Sur Rainbow, Nepenthe Bar & Grill

Dec 29-30th: Big Sur

We checked out some wildlife at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s awesome how much life there is in the ocean that you just rarely see! Ideally, you aren’t seeing too much when paddling around in the ocean, especially those fascinating pre-historic great white sharks that take a rent check every so often from those who wander into dark water. Sue and I decide stay on a sailboat for a couple nights and head down to Big Sur, one of my favorite places on Earth!

We watch a beautiful sunset with a double rainbow while having drinks on the patio of the Nepenthe Bar and Grill. This place was hard to leave, but all places are temporary when on the road. Enjoy it while you can.

Dec 31st: The City

San Fran. Holy shit! This place has energy! We took a quick cruise up Hwy 101 to Sausalito and found a warm bed to stay in overlooking the bay. Wow. We headed out for an awesome ride in Fairfax in Marin, and joined good friends Mike and Will for a shred session in the hills. Afterwards, we headed down to the Mission in San Francisco to ring in the New Year with a bit of live music, drinks with friends, and getting lost in a city that I could call home if I had a few extra lives to live. Look! I got a great fortune from the evening’s Chinese food.

Jan 1st: New Year’s Day

I made a quick early trip to drop Suzanne off at the airport in Oakland. I was rushing to and from places while everyone was sleeping. The city was quiet, and seems like you could drop a pin and hear it. Oddly assuring. But after two days in the city it’s time to depart, quiet things down a bit. Quick surf check at one of the most notoriously sharky evil heavy water beach breaks on the planet, Ocean Beach, and it’s breaking double overhead 1/3 mile out in the ocean. No thanks. Cruise down to Pacifica for a quick session and had another stop at In-N-Out for some healthy road food, and then on to a 300 mile drive south to warmer pastures.

Jan 2– 4th: Santa Barbara!

I’m gonna need a vacation after this trip. Three early morning dawn patrol surfing in a row in and around Santa Barbara and Ventura, and I’m tired! 5am wakeup calls and 7-11 coffee because nothing else is open so early! I’ll put up with it for some famous surf breaks with names like Rincon and Silver Strand. Heavy water again. Some perfect waves, and some serious currents and I get caught inside on a few sets and it feels like a week of work in about 5 minutes. Ahhh, what would a good trip be without some hardship!

Although things are nice and pleasant in this paradise town, I’m feeling the urge to move om again.

I decide on a quick night stay with a good old friend, Nick, to recharge the batteries. I watch the Lakers lose again and remember what I am missing and thankful for it. Although things are nice and pleasant in this paradise town, I’m feeling the urge to move om again. Recipe: drive somewhere new. It’s time to head all the way down south: San Diego! I hear there is surf there, and in December, maybe 65 degree weather?

San Diego Sea Lions

Jan 5-6th: The Good Life

Lots of wildlife roaming around these parts! The sun feels so good the sea lions are hanging around getting a dose of warmth. A ton of birds in the air. This place is paradise! I got the best wave of my life at Del Mar Reefs. Then I managed to earn the longest hold-down in the water I’ve seen at Black’s Beach while scratching like mad to make it to the outside of a huge set that rolled in. I got sent backwards over the falls and pinned to the ocean floor for what seemed like an eternity…Lessons learned the hard way.

In San Diego we cruise out to a local trailhead and get some great singletrack in the desert. Warm smiles and a few old friends on this day.

Then I stay with good friends, Elise and Jake, in San Diego for a couple nights and we cruise up to check out the cool Stone Brewery, en route to see the first Supercross racing weekend of the year in Anaheim!

It’s all surreal after spending most of two weeks cruising the quiet coastline of California out of the back of a Subaru.

Jan 7th: Time to Leave

Today when I wake up I feel the most alive I can recall. Without much of a plan in place before leaving, it’s been an incredible two weeks on the road travelling nearly 3,500 miles down the California coastline seeing friends, finding new surf breaks, stopping at a few good coffee shops and seeing a heck of a lot of amazing sunsets. I’ve now pieced together nearly every mile of Hwy 101 on this trip combined with a couple previous adventures, and I gotta say it’s one of the most amazing places I’ve seen on this planet. Nearly every mile of it. Every day and night on this trip provided me with something new and unexpected, with little expectation except for the hope of some good surf and a place to rest my head for the night.

A few extra warm showers and hospitality along the way really made it all too easy, almost, but it was great to see some friends, old and new, Life’s best when kept simple, I find, and these last two weeks reminded me that sometimes you just gotta pack it up and go, leave what you think you need behind, and worry about the rest later. Once back, I unpacked the bags and quickly found myself wondering when I would be able to hop in the car and check out the next place on the road…

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