Saturday, August 13, 2016

Summer Sojourn: Lolling on the Newport Peninsula

In the years since my family sold the vacation house we had in Newport Beach, my mother has rented a house in August.  Originally, a house on the bay, close by the old family home, the last two years it's been a beachfront house along the boardwalk on the peninsula between 17th and 18th Streets.  For a week, or as much of it as each of them can, my family joins my mother to enjoy the surf, sun and opportunity to reconnect.

Especially over the weekend, this has become an annual opportunity to share surf with my sons, frequently with various of their friends joining us in the water.  Mornings, most are on boards but, in the generally sloppier afternoons, with black ball flying (a yellow flag with a round black circle in the middle indicates no surfboards, fiberglass boards or boards with fins permitted), all turn to bodysurfing.

The switch to the beachfront has had great promise: formerly, most surf mornings, we'd load cars with boards and paraphernalia and drive 13 blocks up the peninsula to around 18th, and then seek out parking.  Many afternoons, we'd walk the 3 blocks across the peninsula and then at least 5 blocks along the beachfront to where the waves would break better, and further out.  Now, the 18th Street surf can be checked directly from the second story and it's a short walk across the sand to jump in the water.

Beauty of beachfront living: Joe
As luck would have it, this summer, as well as last, our particular week has not been blessed with much swell.  Last year, there was nearly none from the Friday we arrived to the Friday that we left.  This year was a bit better, as a small swell - 2-3 feet - lingered over the weekend, before dying off to maybe 1-2 feet through the week.  

How to exploit a smallie (1)

How to exploit a smallie (2)
On arrival day, Friday, I got in a nice solo surf in the afternoon in moderately small and somewhat closed out surf that nonetheless had some of that punch that Newport gets on a summer south swell.  Later, as the sun slowly sank to our right and the wind gradually slacked off, Joe and I enjoyed similar, slightly better, conditions, and Allan joined us briefly as the light faded and dinner preparations called.

Small, but well formed and clean
Saturday, while the swell remained, found my sons, Allan & Joe, along with two of the Schwimers, Kevin and Michael, and an Abeger, Sam, all on boards, joining me in fun little surf in comfortably warm (71 degree) water.  This was the best of it, particularly late morning, as the wind held off while the tide filled in.  All pictures are from Saturday morning & midday.

Allan found a little size
Mini-floater - Joe
Air Schwimer
Kevin, seeking barrels
Sam, trimming
 Sunday morning, there was still enough for Joe, Allan and I to get in session in the fading swell.  By Sunday evening, the south was largely gone, leaving the 1-2 foot westerly swell that would provide slim pickings - but more than nothing! - through the remainder of the week.

Monday through Thursday, Joe and I would jump in periodically for a little recreation and to cool off.  There were periods of onshore breeze, sometimes stiff, but some glassy mornings and evenings.  At one point, the water cooled to a chilly 63, but eventually worked its way back up to 70 or 71.  

Through the week, my mother fretted, concerned that the lack of meaningful surf would ruin the vacation.  She need not be concerned!  Nothing can match it: a week of falling to sleep, and waking, to the sound of surf; of lolling on the sand, staring at the unbroken horizon or reclining on the front deck watching the constant parade of creatively and colorfully clad pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders, skaters and surrey riders slide past; of tuning into the Olympics when events got interesting; of striding down to the water's edge and wading in for a swim, and a wave or two, whenever the impulse struck; and, of course, of reconnecting with family through lazy days and extended dinners.

Joe & Grandmother
Evening on the boardwalk

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