Windy Rainbow Bridge.



As a child in Encinitas, I often sat in my dad’s den and pored over Automobile Club maps of California’s counties, dragging my fingertip along the convoluted coasts of Humboldt and Monterey, thinking, Damn, I would love to go there. At the time, one family vacation to Sonoma’s Russian River and a handful of Hollister Ranch trips were the extent of my state travels, yet with adulthood arrived freedom, kick-starting my first big surf trip from San Diego to Oregon. There was Imperial Beach, San Onofre, and the crowded Orange County boardwalks. There was Long Beach, Palos Verdes, and the urban South Bay sandbars. There was Santa Monica, Malibu, and the fertile Ventura nooks, unfurling to Rincon and sunny Santa Barbara. There was Gaviota Pass, the windy rainbow bridge from southern to central California, where homely San Luis Obispo crept into view, soon fading to Morro Bay and the San Simeon coast, accelerating into the steep wilds of Big Sur, the Monterey Peninsula, the stunning diversity of Santa Cruz, and the vast San Franciscan cosmopolis. North of the Golden Gate Bridge was esoteric and elucidating, purely magical if not for the random town names—Honeydew, Timber Cove, Mendocino. Names like these could latch my young mind to the sensations, the vivid auras of outdoor wonder, the cold and undrying wetsuit, woodsmoke, rain and fog, morning dew on green campground grass, loud surf, birdsong, and the sweet, earthen scents of forest: fir, redwood, pine sap, moss, fungi, ferns, bramble berries, rotting bark, the stillness of wood. For a San Diego-bred surfer, weaned on crowds and warmth and acres of concrete, this was good stuff.