#42: Crescent City. Noll Longboard Contest – no, not in the contest, just a personal free surf on the north end of South Beach. We’d expected the wind to turn north after days of south, but no look. Despite the onshore factor, I had fun – as much fun as “better than not surfing at all” can be.

K surfed in the contest (year six), as did Nick (first time). Conditions were about as bad as they could be: K’s heat was on Saturday, when the swell hit 14 feet, the tidal surges flooded the booths and the current swept “the gals” hundreds of yards down the beach. All whitewater, all the time. Fortunately, everyone not only survived, but the ridiculousness of trying to surf in that situation made them laugh – having friends in the heat definitely helped keep the mood on the lighter side. She didn’t advance, which was a bit disappointing, but also a relief, especially when we found out the gals’ semifinal was at 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning. (We did get up and watch our friends, however.)

Nick fared slightly better – “better” in the sense that the swell had dropped a few feet. But the menahunes were stuck with whitewater, too. The excitement of being part of things had to be enough, because the actual surfing wasn’t providing much pleasure.

But later, when Nick switched back to his regular board and we walked together to the South Beach jetty, Nick and I had fun on the waist-high waves. Nick, because he caught several. Me, because I enjoyed watching Nick have fun – the waves didn’t have much to offer me besides an anticlimactic short, slow ride. The locals call that spot on the beach “Fizzles,” I was told – certainly appropriate.

As always, we had a great time despite the cold, wet, windy weather. For the first year, we eschewed camping and stayed in a hotel. The break with tradition saddened me somewhat, but having a warm, dry place in which to seek refuge was undoubtedly the right choice. (Quite a hit to the funds I didn’t really have to spare; fortunately booking online saved me about $40 as compared to over the phone.)

We also ate, after a friend raved about it, at the Thai House restaurant in Crescent City. I’d always wondered whether it was good. It is! Plus, with a table of 14, we were in, seated, served and done in an hour – the speed of the service was only surpassed by the yumminess of the food. I opted for yellow curry, as did Bobby. Nick had egg flower soup, served in a flaming tureen (followed by a flaming banana dessert!). K had crispy tofu with mango sticky rice for dessert. The menu offered pages and pages of options with a sizeable vegetarian chunk. We would have thought Thai House quite decent in SF; to eat there in CC was amazing.

#43: Quick dash to Power Poles. Not much time, but I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t paddle out into that glassy head-high surf, especially with the north winds expected to come on for the next several days. Miraculously, instead of the “I really need to go in” causing a dearth of waves, a perfect set arrived, providing a long, beautiful ride that took me a hundred yards, all the way to the beach, peeling and reforming all the way.