Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Above Steamer Lane

I intended to go inside the historic Santa Cruz Lighthouse and check out the surfing museum, but I watched a young man stretch on the grass and then take his surf board and jump over the cliff.  My heart nearly stopped.  I'd read the sign:  Stay behind fences.  Stay away from cliff edges.  Respect the Ocean.  The dude obviously couldn't read!

 I ran around the lighthouse to the observation deck to see if I could spot him, but they all looked the same from above.  All riding the waves of Steamer Lane with fearless abandonment.  Surfers.  A different breed of the human species.  More seal than man.  They challenge the ocean.  They disobey signs.  They skip school or call in sick at work.  They are only happy and truly alive when a set of ten foot waves roll in and they're right there with them.   Man, they make it look so easy.  Believe me, it's not.

  I forgot all about the museum.  I stood (behind the fence) and watched them for an entire hour.  I gave the camera to my travel buddy who disobeys signs, too.  He's a windsurfer so he can relate.  He hopped over the fence, leaned far out over the cliffs and got some great pictures.

We went to lunch but my buddy didn't talk much.  I knew, of course, what was wrong.  He wanted to be down there with them.  He wanted to be young, fearless and athletic again.  Cold beers helped lift the depression, as well as a delicious meal of ahi salad and sourdough bread.   We ordered another round of beers and I made a toast.

"May you never stay behind the fence," I said.

He clinked his bottle with mine and smiled.  "And you gotta start crossing them!"


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