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Northern Oregon Coast - November 2003
IAU Escuelita Schoolmates Reunite for Surf and Friendship

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A Glimpse of Surfing Oregon

After three days of cold Puget Sound work duties it was off to visit long time ago schoolmates of mine, Leon Lowman and Ruben Justiniano (IAU Escuelita Classes of 1968 (LL), 1969 (RJ) and 1970). It was an exciting reacquaintance as we hadn't seen each other for over 30 years -- since our surfing and school days on the west coast of Puerto Rico. Leon lives down in southern Washington State and Ruben lives in the Seattle area. After a good night's sleep in the new W of Seattle, I called Ruben and we both hit the road for points south.

Arriving at Leon's place a bit ahead of Ruben meant that I was able to get the full house tour. What an interesting and artful home Leon has made of his grandfather's place.  Beautiful hard wood floors with Leon's art and various collections of antiques, shells, and speakers hanging or displayed in every corner.

When Ruben arrived it was hugs and slaps all over as these three boys broke out into smiles and intermittent bouts of spanglish.  Then we hit the road to Seaside.  Leon guided us to The Cove for our first surf check of the trip. In the distance you could see The Point, a nicecly shaped wave he's been raving about the last couple of years, but it was barely breaking with the tide mostly still high. Clean off shores groomed the small 3' waves in the cove, great for longboards but a little slow and sloped for shortboarders and prone riders. We paddled out any ways just to share some water time. Initially there were about a dozen people in the line-up, mostly on longboards. Skies were partly cloudy with a moderate offshore wind, air and water in the low- to mid-50s. I never chilled too much except when the sun disappeared behind the clouds and the wind picked up. No doubt that if more swell was in the water it would have been warmer.

After two hours the crowd had filled to about 25 people including about half-dozen or more women. Leon tells me there are lot's of surfer chicks in the local waters, mostly from the Portland area. Ruben and I shared many stories covering our past 30 years, the whereabouts of his brother and sisters, and what each other had been doing.  All of us were uniformly stoked and astounded to be hooking up together after so long. After Leon came in we grabbed a room at a local motel and dined on halibut fish and chips (succulent!) at a local restaurant ate, grabbed some brews and shared more stories into the evening until Ruben had to depart for home. Leon and I crashed soon after.

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On Sunday morning we slept in until the late hour of 7am allowing for the morning frost to thaw. Checked out The Cove, but it was smaller than Saturday and The Point was not showing at all. Little luck for the other point that Leon knows about, so it was some breakfast of huevos and a search for surf and sightseeing. We ventured south to a check out point and whoopee! as nice shoulder to head high waves were breaking in a cove to the south.  We suited up and hiked through a forest of old and medium growth trees, ferns covering the forest floor and birds singing their songs. After about a mile of hiking in we descended the cliffs along a steep path to our chosen break to catch some solo waves. The sun was shining brightly, the air was warm, and I felt over-rubbered as I slipped on my layered booties, hood and gloves.  Ha Ha!  The water was frigid without protection but with the sun shining brightly we never chilled during our 3-1/2 hour session. The local buoy and weather reports had the water in the low 50s and the air topping out at 57F.

The paddle out in the channel to the north was easy. We opted for the middle break as the far outside break was mostly just crumbling over. On a good middle break wave you could connect to the inside's shallow and hollow section. Leon scored the first few waves as I adjusted to the feel of the ocean and reacclimated myself to all the rubber, especially those damn hoods that muffle the sound. Before long I was picking off one wave after another, lefts and rights, mostly fun late takeoffs that had my buddy smiling. Towards the end of our surf we were joined by three other surfers who chose to play around on the inside.  All I can say is what sheer beauty was all around us -- soaring cliffs covered with green trees in front of us, oversized rock islands jutting out from the ocean along the coast, and mountains in the distance. Looking south the mountain cliffs were veiled in mist while to the north it was as clear as can be.

After hiking back to our parking area is was time for some quick sandwiches, cold brews and more story telling.  Then we were off for a park and surfing area to the north. We met a surfing couple from Vancouver, BC, down for a long 4-day weekend of surfing and camping. They love coming down here instead of Washington State because it is more friendly and has more and varied breaks. We talked about Tofino, on Vancouver Island, deciding to all go surfing together sometime.  Alida passed along her e-mail before we split so we will be in touch down the line.

The next stop on the Oregon surfing tour was the humongous jetty on the Columbia River. Leon noted several spots that are surfed and related in hushed tones about a prospective tow-in spot in the area.  We watched sunset on the pacific from the tower at beach number 3 as peelers rolled in smacking nicely on the sandbars several hundred yards out and clammers worked the shoreline on the inside.  As the western sky darkened several young women danced in the south section of the lot. Time for us to head homeward. We dined at one of Leon's favorite Mexican restaurants in Longview before heading to his place. As we both started crashing hard we somehow managed to quickly run through a couple of his scrapbooks, including two feature shots:  BC's namesake and a picture of the line-up from his cave!

Other weekend pleasures: joking and talking Spanish and a 3-way sharing of secret high school lusting fantasies :)  Not sure if I will share many of these at the reunion this December, but who can say what will happen under the influence of a Pirate or two?

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Last updated on: 11/11/03