My family has been loving living on the coast, with one of our favorite things being the opportunity to grocery shop in the ocean, and then cook in the open air and over an open fire in the backyard. Surrounded by nothing but old trees, berry bushes, and the sound of pounding shore break from where the mighty Pacific's energy terminates on Oregon's wide beaches just down the hill from our house, meals become so much more than just food. But our rule is: I don't go spearfishing until we've eaten all that was harvested from the last day of diving.
Opening the freezer, we had two, large Black rockfish left. Rockfish's white meat cooks up light and flakey; perfect for fish tacos. Fish tacos are always best shared with good friends and so those last two fish became my bargaining chip, the proverbial “carrot at the end of the stick” to get two dudes that I don't get to see that often to come for a visit!
Tyler Bradt has become one of my best friends and is someone who inspires my world-view every time I'm around him. Anybody who's spent time with Tyler knows he beams positivity, is up for just about anything and is the type of guy who, when the going gets bad, and then worse, he's still smiling and making sure everyone knows that suffering is a good time when looked at from the right angle. He currently holds the world record for the largest waterfall ever run in a kayak and yet, you'd never know it talking to him. We've jumped out of planes together, jumped off some big walls together, flown paragliders, paddled whitewater, surfed, and perhaps most impactful on my life, we sailed across the South Atlantic Ocean together from Cape Town, South Africa to northern Brazil. Those 33 days at sea were some of the most growth inspiring days I've ever had. His humility and drive is simply contagious.
Issac Levenson is another special human. I haven't known Issac as long but when he dove head first into the art of paragliding, we became fast friends. He's applied his experience as one of the best whitewater kayakers in the country, along with his general curiosity and humble attitude, into his exploration of flight. The results have been inspiring. Most recently, his quest for more knowledge brought him into the world of general aviation and it's been fun to follow along on his journey to become a private, and now instrument rated, pilot. He bought into ownership of a Mooney, which is one of the fastest and most efficient of the single engine “commuter” planes in the skies today. Both Tyler and Issac live in White Salmon, Washington which “via Mooney” is only about an hour away from the coast.
So, the call was made. Turns out, the surf was up! And of course, I sweetened the deal by reminding the boys there would be “fish over the fire and a beer after the waves”. And as expected, that's all it took to get those two in that airplane and headed this way!
The buzz from my phone informed me they were 20 mins out so I jumped in the truck and a few minutes later, was standing on the taxiway at Newport Municipal watching their approach. True to form, Issac “greased” his landing and as they rolled past me toward the tie downs, Tyler's smile was beaming out the side window. They were clearly stoked.
Photography: Jeff Shapiro
First thing's first, Tyler wanted to get a new wetsuit so, off to the surf shop and 10 minutes later, he was equipped with what he needed for all sorts of future trips to the Shapiro's. Driving back to show them our new home base, we made a quick stop to do a preliminary wave check and found clean peaks and good size to the swell. Laughing our way back to the truck, I was reminded that warm sand between the toes never gets old.
Home, boards, wetsuits... check! Back at the beach, it was obvious by the smiles that both Tyler and Issac were genuinely happy the quick trip had led to this point. The good energy was palpable. With the sound of waves crashing and only a light breeze blowing through the gold and green grass lining the sandy walkway leading to the ocean, the only thing left was to paddle out.
The day offered exactly what we were hoping for. Glassy faces and only good vibes in the water. A few locals were out and we all traded off hooting and hollering each other into waves. Some waves were made and some were not but we surfed until our arms were “falling off” tired and the boys were completely satiated with all the swell had to offer. I swear, there's nothing better than paddling back out after a really nice wave, only to see one of your good friends ride past you with a smile that speaks only of pure joy. Surfing has that way about it. It's similar to BASE jumping in that the level of being present that is required is absolutely singular.
Photography: Jeff Shapiro
When I'm riding a wave, I'm trying to fit inside its dynamic and fluid medium, reacting only to what presents itself. Nothing can ever be completely anticipated and so living from moment to moment becomes the only way to operate. In reality, all of life is like this. It's just easy to forget the fact when you’re planning for later and learning from before overcomes the need to pay such close attention to the here and now. But, surfing teaches this lesson in that while doing it, all we have is right now. This singular lesson has allowed me to focus, to slow down, and to genuinely appreciate that each moment in any given day is unique, special, and to be grateful for.
We arrived at the house tired and hungry so, as promised, bottle caps popped off and a fire was made amongst the trees and the sounds of the crashing waves through the dark. Watching the last two Rockfish sizzling to perfection over the WG Grill in the dancing light of the fire made this day even more fulfilling. Turns out, tacos were not needed to get the boys psyched about coming to the coast but, they definitely didn't hurt my chances for getting them back for another visit sooner than later!