Bucket List – Surf’s Up – June 2012

To live life to the fullest, I created a bucket list of all the adventures I’ve wanted to experience. As I check off a new endeavor each month, I chronicle my experience whether it’s pretty or not. Here is what happened when I attempted to learn how to surf.

I can do that! Why I always think I can just pick up a new hobby, I’ll never understand. For some reason I decided one day that surfing looked like fun. Since I grew up on the lake skiing and knee boarding, I figured I’d be able to pick surfing up in no time. Oh how wrong I was.

Sand under my feet, salt in the air and sun shining brightly. Miraculously, the last weekend of March had some of the best weather days – lucky for me since I scheduled my surfing lessons then. I have no idea why I thought March was a good time to be in the water. March is barely Spring, most of the time still bitter Winter where I’m from. I still remember one year back home, we had snow on Easter, but I was bound and determined to get my butt up on a board.

It didn’t start off beautifully though. Worry and doubt started to invade my thoughts while I walked my dogs at sunrise. There was still a chill in the air and dew on the grass. As I stood waiting for my shivering dogs to finish their business, I began running through my head as many warm thoughts I could think of – West Texas summers chopping cotton, 4 hour basketball practice, cross country running up and down hell hill, the bus ride from New Orleans to San Antonio without air conditioning – anything to make me trick my body that I could handle the frigid waters I was about to immerse myself into.

By the time my friend Jeannine and I packed the car, loaded the dogs and started heading to the beach (and after a turn-around for a forgotten water) the thermometer had risen to a blistering 75 degrees. As I checked the weather app every 5 minutes, encouraging the temperature to keep rising, my confidence that I could do this slowly grew again.

When we finally reached the beach, the weather was truly perfect. A slight breeze kept the humidity bearable, the sun did it’s job and took the chill out of the air and the waves were keeping a beautiful tempo. Then we realized our lucky parking spot (we got the first one we could find) ended up being about a mile and a half away from the meeting spot. Not a great realization when we had two dogs and five bags (yes five) to carry the distance.

Thank God we made the trek without any casualties and even made it to the meeting spot on time. Greeted with smiles and handshakes, C-Sick Surfing owner and surfer instructor Brian immediately started gearing me up for my lesson. A seasoned surfer, Brian knew the Gulf water would still be too chilly for just a swim suit, so he had me fitted for a wetsuit. I learned quite quickly black rubber heats up fast in the sun. I think my body temperature went from ninety-eight to one hundred and ten degrees in under two minutes. This is when I would have given anything to take a plunge in the Gulf. Brian straightened me out and had me keep the wetsuit on, but only half on.

Next came the learning – I’ve never been the best at paying attention in class. I found it even harder to absorb everything Brian was telling me when on a beach. My first mistake was bringing my dogs along. Sure they were with Jeannine, but this was their first trip to the ocean. So while I was trying to remember stay in the center of the deck, always watch out for kids, know which direction is the beach, know your right from left – I was also worrying about the dogs and how they were not behaving. Luckily I was able to obtain some knowledge of surfing because before I knew it Brian was leading me to the surf.

The first time I tried standing on the board I learned something – water moves. Sure I had popped up perfectly when the board was on the sand, but water is not the same. Needless to say my face found water quite quickly. Of course, it didn’t help once I tried to pop up, I completely forgot everything I should be doing. Balance would have been good, along with staying in the center of the board and not straightening my legs. But who really stands up perfectly the first time? I was no different – I gracefully face-planted straight into the ocean.

By some kind of miracle, I eventually did stand up on shaky legs and rode a wave in. The whole time I kept repeating, “Don’t fall, don’t fall.” I know it wasn’t the pipe waves you usually see surfers taking on TV, but when I completely surfed my wave, I was over the moon. Until Brian said – “Again”. Could I do it again? Was what I just did a fluke and I would wipe out again? Of course, there is only one way to find out the answer – try it again. And not surprising I did wipe out again, but eventually I did ride a couple of waves in. Just like what my mom has always told me – get up, dust yourself off and try again.

After a grueling lesson, I was in need of some major re-fueling. Not only was I probably slightly dehydrated (saltwater up my nose did not help) I was famished. We decided we wanted authentic seafood, but didn’t want to spend an arm and leg. Our solution was to pick a random restaurant from the GPS list. Shrimp N Stuff on 39th Blvd and Ave. O was the winner, in more ways than one. Not only was their food reasonably priced, but it was some of the best seafood I’ve ever had. Needless to say, there was absolutely nothing left on my plate when I was finished eating.

I don’t know when, or if I’m going to surf again. I might have gotten the hang of it while I was in Galveston, but even on the small waves, it is hard. Every time we came in for a break I was tired. I know I’m not in the greatest shape, but getting out in deeper water, getting up on the board and staying on the board was a hard workout. After my lesson, exhaustion set in and I got a nice nap on the beach. If you are thinking of learning to surf and then driving immediately after, don’t, unless you have someone drive you. But all that aside, I had a blast learning how to surf. I should have known it wouldn’t be easy the first time out, but just like with anything else, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.


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