Greetings from sunny Orlando, Florida!
Driving away from the airport through a dead flat sea of urban sprawl on a jam-packed highway tossing quarters into tollbooth baskets, I thought about how much I missed Bend already. I'm here with Meg and Dave Chun to spend four days at Surf Expo, the biggest trade show for the surf industry, selling Kialoa stand-up paddles. Working in the surf biz is a pretty good gig, but even so, you sometimes have to pay your dues. Here, in the land of amusement parks, it's all about escaping reality. My love of surfing is all about connecting to the ocean, oneness with the water, the sun and the moon (what else would you expect from a Pisces?). Ironically, we couldn't be farther from that inside the cavernous, windowless Orange County Convention Center surrounded by thumping music, aisles of stickers and wax flotsam, and a flotilla of surfboards. But, some mid-winter stoke is a very good thing and I thought I'd send some along to the surfers in the crowd.
BUY A NEW STICK... OR A BUNGEE CORD
Overall, the show is a little sedate, given the state of the economy and the fact that the industry has settled down from the Clark Foam brouhaha two years ago. Of course, there are bikini-clad models, free sunscreen samples and lots of cool boards as always. Probably the most interesting new product at the show is the Banshee Bungee, a $200 bungee cord on steroids that launches skimboarders, riverboarders, snowboarders or skateboarders at 30mph. I know of some anonymous Bendites using it to canal surf. You can watch videos at www.bansheebungee.com to see it in action. I'm wondering what their product liability insurance costs.
GO TO CAMP
Speaking of surf, the best way to get stoked is to actually go catch some waves. The truly hardcore venture out into the 20-foot winter surf on the Oregon coast. A cushier option is to attend a tropical surf retreat like Pura Vida Adventures in Malpais, Costa Rica. Part-time Bendite Tierza Davis owns the surf and yoga camp specializing in empowering women through surfing (she hosts co-ed camps too). Spending about half her time there and half her time here, she flies back and forth with her dog. When asked if she could imagine spending her life any other way, Tierza replied, "Never. Inspiring women to embrace the experience of surfing-fears included-and watching them overcome the obstacle of fear is the magical part of my job, my reward." If beachfront bungalows, Caribbean style mahi mahi and top-notch surf coaches sound good to you, visit www.puravidaadventures.com.
GO WITH THE FLOW
If you can't get to the real thing, you might want to try some indoor surfing. Lucky for us, the only Flowrider wave machine on the West Coast is located in Sunriver at the Mavericks aquatic center. The Flowrider creates a 3-inch deep standing wave by propelling water up a ramp at 32 mph. Surfers and body boarders can ride the wave indefinitely (theoretically) by carving and cutting back. When I tried it, I had a blast even though I only lasted a few seconds before wiping out each time, and took home a little whiplash as a souvenir.
WATCH A FLICK OR READ A BOOK
If a new board, surf camp or even the Flowrider are not in your budget right now, you can still keep the stoke burning with a good surf flick or book.
Many surf flicks, like Riding Giants, are fairly testosterone laden, though I do want to see Laird Hamilton's latest DVD, Waterman, which features bodysurfing, stand-up paddle surfing, tow-in surfing and hydrofoil in Indonesia. Laird's first book, Force of Nature, in which he shares his secrets to success, just came out too. An interesting new release on DVD is Bustin' Down the Door. It's a riveting tale of a group of six young surfers from Australia and South Africa who challenged the localism of the 1970s Hawaii surf scene and changed the face of the sport. Personally, my favorite surf movie is Blue Crush because it's a chick flick where the girls kick a**, but I've been watching a lot of classic oldies lately, including North Shore, which has some fun cameos of local surfing legend Gerry Lopez 22 years ago. By the way, Gerry is signing copies of his book of essays, Surf is Where You Find It, at Between the Covers on Thursday February 5 at 6:30pm.
Hey, we did manage to escape the land of Disney World for a beautiful day of stand-up paddling with stingrays and dolphins near Vero Beach.
Wish you were here,