Heading out vs Head Ding Ouch!
Mon, 28 Sep 1998
Having been given an unqualified green light from the boss to take the
next week off from work, I spent Sunday morning cramming the Explorer
with gear for a much anticipated weeklong trip to the Outer Banks of
North Carolina. I won't bother you with the list of essentials I'm
taking for fear of prompting some individuals to respond what a cream
puff I am. But suffice it to say I'm going to be the guest of a highly
placed person at the National Geographic Society at his Zillion Dollar
beach house. (Yes, in fact there are hot tubs in every goddamn bedroom
of the floor we're staying on and one on the deck overlooking the
ocean.) I plan to lobby heavily for more surfing oriented features for
the Nat.Geo. Explorer series and hopefully pitch myself as an unpaid
Packing puts me in a frenzy of activity, especially when I'm going on a
surf trip. As a result, I was not being careful and came around the back
end of the truck with an arm full of stuff and ran directly into the
raised tailgate, taking a full shot to the head.
I dropped the gear as my vision began to close in from the sides like a
closing door and knelt immediately in the gutter next to the truck. I
literally saw stars as I fought to stay conscious and spent a long time
wondering if I would ever get clear enough to go in the house. I sat for
a while on the curb and went to rub the spot on my head where it ran
into the latch on the tailgate....my hand came away bloody. Even through
my baseball hat, I'd managed to gash my head on my front left lobe (ok
you lobotomists, is this the area of cognitive reasoning, creativity, or
motor skills, please I gotta know?)
The Foondoggy household has been the scene of many an accident. So to
cut through the ambiguity of communication, especially when the injured
party (me) is trying to communicate to MrsFoon what the problem is, we
have developed a system of tersely worded statements that I can call to
her when I come in from an injury. The damage order is:
"TLC!!" This only informs MrsFoon that I am injured slightly and would
appreciate her loving care in putting on my favorite band-aids - the blue
ones with the battleships on them.
"NURSE!!" This warns MrsFoon that I've done something I cannot self
assess and would like her opinion about how bad it is and what should be
done. Usually a trip to the neighborhood walk-in emergency room.
"CALL 911!!" This is a warning to MrsFoon that I've really done
something very bad that may require the care of professional medical
people fast. (I've only had to do this once)
Sunday's headwhack was somewhere between a NURSE and CALL 911, judging
from the blurriness of my vision and the amount of cascading blood
seeping down my face. I wanted to be optimistic and conservative and
went with the NURSE signal when I staggered into the house. When
MrsFoon came down stairs and saw me drenched in my own blood, she headed
for the phone. I told her it was just a head gash and that we should
clean it up first before we called 911. She asked me my name to be
certain I was fully in control of my faculties. When I answered, "Duke
Kahanamoku," and smiled, she knew I was OK. As it turned out, it was a
half inch puncture, almost to the bone, so we wrapped my head in a
towel, packed it with ice and headed for the local walk in clinic.
It being Sunday morning the place was rocking will all kinds of
injuries. The abrasions and laceration staff had a 2 hour waiting list
for sports and gardening related cuts, slices, and contusions. As I
walked in the door the receptionist staff all gave me a cheery welcome,
"Good MORNING Mr.Foondoggy!! Looks like we got a good one today!!??"
They all know me there and it's sorta like going home to visit.
Sure enough the puncture needed 5 stitches, but the worst part of this
whole gig is getting the novocain shot in the wound. DAMN, that
hurts...almost as much as some twinky assistant asking about how it
happened and when was my last tetanus shot.
I was told not to get the stitches wet for several days and already I
was pondering how this was going to cut into my session time. The doctor
told me to stay home for a day and be watchful for signs of concussion.
And when I did go to the beach to be sure the stitches stayed dry. My
plan is to get a bunch of those surgical gloves and pull one of them on
over my head sorta wearing it like a skull cap.(who cares if the fingers
stick up, maybe the crew in the water will give me a little more room in
the lineup. Or maybe they'll just call 911 and request the loony squad)
When MrsFoon heard this she suggested getting one of those clear plastic
dry cleaner bags, pulling it over my whole head and fastening it with a
big rubber band around my neck. She's such a thoughtful person. Now why
didn't I think of that? That damaged lobe must be the cognitive
reasoning one, right?
With Hurricane Jeanne and Tropical Storm Karl pin wheeling well offshore
for the next week or so, I can't help but think there's going to be some
swellage on the OB. And if the remnants of that bastard Georges come out
over the Carolinas setting up some local offshore conditions.....the
next week or so on the OB could be a fun fest of surf sessions. So if
you're out on the OB next week and you see a guy on a Black bodyboard
with some unique head gear, give a holler. But forgive me if I can't
hear you through the dry-cleaning bag. :)
"My head hurts, my feet stink, and I don't feel so good." (Ok you
country music fans, who's lyric is that?) but I'm still smiling for
Sacred Ground...Holy Water
Thu, 08 Oct 1998
**Surfing Stuff a ways down, but you know me. Can't get right to
The Outer Banks (OBX) never fails to get my stoke up, even when there
are few waves. There's something about the place that's "special" in the
hearts of Right Coasters. I've been traveling there to surf since 1965
and have seen and experienced my share of epic surf. I have seen the
place metamorphosize with fascination and horror from a hard-core
fisherman's outpost to a Cosmic Ocean Vacationland. Each year the
encroachment of people on the OBX takes it's inexorable toll and makes
it harder and harder to remember the pristine environment of over 30
years ago. Whenever I go there and my feelings of disgust and sadness
seem overwhelming, I always seem to have a day like Oct. 1st, to wipe
away the negitude and rekindle my soul.
This year's trip began on a gorgeous Fall Classic day of warm temps and
gentle breezes. But as I pulled onto the OBX a rising bile of disgust
left a sour taste in my mouth and a psychic scar on my heart. For the
purposes of trying to put a positive spin on this journey I will refrain
from complaining about what has happened to the OBX except for one rant.
It has little to do with the transformation of a workingman's fishing
village that has mutated from a quiet little enclave filled with
unshaven guys driving primer red Internationals and Jeeps, into a
multi million dollar Sportsman's Paradise. Reality reveals a legion of
Eddie Bauer wearing guys from all over the country, sporting $5000 worth
of fishing tackle and driving $90,000 Sportsman's Coaches spending Tens
of thousands of dollars to catch less than 100 lbs of fish. But that's
not my gripe, eventually they all go home.
No, the biggest shock has been how the North End of the OBX has been
transformed into some mutant YupZone from Hell and I'm not even talking
about the reasonably sized, legitimate beach homes placed carefully
behind natural sand dunes. What jams a mental pickax straight into my
front lobe is a community so over the top big and ostentatious, they can
only be called Beach Homes on steroids. This little (?) village is
called Pine Island and it occupies a former bird sanctuary north of
Take your biggest Southern Plantation Mansion of say 10,000 square feet,
complete with wide, covered verandahs on all sides, Architectural Digest
interior decorating, and place it on top of a fragile natural dune. Now
take 75-100 of these monstrosities and string 'em along the dune with
about 10 feet between 'em. They should have called it "Bullseye Village"
because when it's completed Huey will be obligated to send a Cat 5
hurricane in to wipe this putrid pile of civilization from the OBX
forever. End of rant, sorry.
A headwhack leaving me with five stitches kept me out of the water an
extra day so I spent all day exploring some of my old secret spots from
Frisco and Buxton to Corolla. A two day onshore breeze helped a small
and reluctant offshore storm pulse to offer up 3-5 wave sets of waist to
shoulder waves every 10 minutes or so, but the high tides and increasing
onshores rendered them unrideable. I spent most of the day checking
sandbar setups and Barbecue joints. Miraculously, the winds shifted that
night and dawn almost coincided with a changing tide. I walked down to
my chosen spot the next morning ready to engage once again in man's
eternal struggle.........No, not man against nature......
Surfer vs Fisherman!!!!
The place I'd scouted and picked was so secret only two dozen fishermen
knew about it. With my board and fins in hand I walked directly up to
the biggest guy with a pole I could find, determined to meet the
challenge head on. The one I picked was a huge, denim shirted, unshaven
and grizzled Good Ol' Boy, a true native and a mean lookin Reb to boot.
"Catch anything?" I asked...as a way of breaking the conversational ice.
"Buck" took a good long look at me, taking at least 10 seconds to size
me up with his squinty, crystal blue (but bloodshot) eyes, staring at me
from beneath the brim of a sweat stained Redman baseball hat.
"Nope." He drawled, then shot a long, brown stream of "bacci" juice from
a chew in his right cheek which landed inches from my bare feet.
I knew his name was Buck since every Southerner knows Buck is the most
common male nickname in all of the South, even more than Bubba. That
and the fact it was stitched over the breast pocket of his fishing club
shirt. Buck was now looking me over taking in the black bodyboard, fins,
rashguard and Miami Hurricanes Baseball hat. I could tell he was not
exactly pleased with what he saw.
"Where you from, Boy?" He asked, hoping I presume I would respond with a
location somewhere on this planet.
I explained I was from Maryland, but was born in New York City. (OOOOH
SHIT!!) Then I quickly tried to cover that tactical mistake by claiming
blood lines back to the Confederacy. My ancestors fought for the Gray in
the Big War and in fact, by lineage I was a Son of the South. Buck
looked like I'd just told him General Robert E. Lee was a woman. He cut
to the chase.
"What's your name, Boy?"
When I told him, Buck's eyes went wide in disbelief. To satisfy his need
to know exactly who he was talkin to he drew upon every Southerners
crystal clear knowledge of Confederate history and asked, "You related
to Senator Sam of Wilson (pronounced Weeeeelson) County?" When I nodded
yes, he let out a slow low whistle of appreciation. Then blurted,
"Sheeeeitt Boy, too bad you was born a Yankee, son. With a name like
that you'd be treated like royalty round these parts."
I thanked him for the compliment but told him I was only down on
vacation and had every intention of catching and riding some of those
tasty little waves I could see over his shoulder. He looked skeptically
at me and the waves then said,
"There's about two dozens hooks out in that water now son, and if you
was to go out there you may get snagged on one." Buck let this
statement hang in the air like a cloud of cigarette smoke waiting to see
which way I'd go. Praying my pedigree still meant something around here,
I blundered ahead.
"Ya know Buck, I love the South and it's people. And I love these Outer
Banks like they were my home. Shit, my granddaddy was a state delegate
from Wilson and it bothers me I only get down here a couple times a
year. So though you may think this sport is silly, what I'm goin to do
is go out and ride some of those wonderful waves right now. So if you
or one of your boys does happen to hook me, I'd ask you to do me a favor
and reel me in right quick. Cause I have a tendency to pass out when I
see myself cut bad and will likely drown if you don't bring me in fast.
And if you could call 911 on that cell phone I see lashed to your hip,
I'd be obliged. Just tell 'em you just killed (insert significant
Foondoggy surname) and maybe they'll come a runnin a little quicker."
For 5 long seconds I thought Buck would call my bluff, but instead his
sunburned and wrinkled face cracked into a big brown toothed smile and he
cuffed me on the shoulder.
"Sheeit Boy, you go on ahead," as he started to reel in one of three
poles he'd set up.
"We wern't catchin nuthin anyways. You have a good time and God bless you
and your Family." I thanked that very same God for letting me pass the
test and hoisted my board to walk to the water.
Surfin Stuff, at last.
- Day: Rocktober 1, 1998
- Place: Unnamed beach break, North End OBX
- Time:7:30-10:30 am
- Temps: Water 78 Air 80
- Conditions: Offshore winds under 10 mph. A long lined but
symmetrical swell from some dying offshore Atlantic storm. Waist to chest
on sets, 8-10 sec period, Outgoing tide.
Ever go to a tent revival in the South? One with full immersion baptism,
a 6 piece band, and a 30 voice gospel choir that could blow you out of
your seat without a sound system? The air is absolutely electric with
emotion, the sound and music heavenly and the holy spirit washes your
soul with joy. It is riveting.
This is exactly the way I felt as I launched myself into the warm, clear
water that morning. I swear I could hear the soprano section riffing a
major "THANK YOU JESUS, SAY HALLELUJAH!!" The spirit of stoke washed
away my worldly worries and I yelled out loud in joy, unfortunately it
was as I was duckdiving my first wave so I got a mouthful of
seawater...GAG!! The swell was angling in from the SouthEast starting
its break at the mouth of a fairly strong rip current that bisected the
sandbar causing a deeply pitted bowl section that was makeable 3 out
five times. But what telegraphed fun to me was the smooth little
righthander that reeled off the bowl and traveled for a good 50-75 yards
ending in a near shore trench of deep water. The wall was steep, even a
touch sectiony, depending on the wind ...perfect for bodyboarding and if
you were of that persuasion, noseriding.
When I first paddled out I was unaware just how strong the rip current
was. So I was surprised to find myself 50 yards outside the lineup in a
mere seconds after I got there. As I struggled to paddle in again I
realized the rip was something I was going to have to reckon with to
stay in place.
My first wave was a pleasant, long, nicely paced wall I dialed into
easily and found the pocket, lip feathering over my shoulder. I pulled
out totally jazzed thinking, "Hey, that was fun and too easy." Finding
my way back to the takeoff it became clear I was going to have to anchor
myself to the sandbar to stay put, or miss a bunch of waves. I slid off
my board, stood chest deep on the sandbar and chocked my feet into the
sand leaning against the outgoing current. I let my board trail by the
leash outside noticing that in the rip it created a bit of a wake, and
my body formed little whirlpools and eddies. Each time a set would
appear, I'd jump on the board, pick a wave and ride.
The waves were so easy to catch I began to spice up my fun by playing
with the lip. Executing rapid climb and drops, carving off the bottom
then putting the board between me and the lip letting it splash back
down the face again and spraying another turn. I averaged at least one
of these good waves every 10-15 minutes for 3 hours. By time my back
seized up from doing so much twisting and turning I was thoroughly
satisfied and completed tapped. Reluctantly I took my last wave and
walked slowly out of the water, noticing all the fishermen had packed it
in soon after I'd gone in. In the whole time I was there, not another
soul came to surf. I firmly believe when conditions are good you can
still find a spot to yourself on the OBX.
MrsFoon came down just as I was leaving the water, giving me her
professional visual check to make sure I was not injured or cut. She'd
brought a wonderful breakfast of Ham and Cheese Omelet and grits, with a
fresh thermos of coffee and a fresh biscuit. (Heaven) We spent the rest
of this glorious Fall day sunning and swimming in the ocean. It was as
good a day as I've ever had at the OBX for years. I could still hear the
choir singing in the background.
The OBX is still "the" mecca on the Right Coast for surfing. While I was
there I would see many cars and trucks with boards from states all up
and down the Eastern seaboard and as far West as Ohio (nope, wasn't
Surff's Tahoe). When I met and talked with surfers in the shops or on
the beach it always felt as though they all knew they were an elite army
of men privileged to be exploring this 100 mile stretch of Carolina
heaven in the month of October. There is truly nothing quite like it.
The stoke is palpable and the look on the faces of everyone was that of
great joy and anticipation. The place just has that kind of effect.
And though we'd like to think that surfing rules on the OBX during this
time of year, the sheer numbers of vehicles with fishing tackle on them
give silent testimony as to who really "owns" the OBX. So be it, if
they're mostly like Buck.
There are many things to dislike about the OBX. I chose not to dwell on
them here though that new Barbecue joint "Jurassic Pork" is serving up
some pretty ugly pig. What I want to remember is the sheer joy of
paddling out into the best surfing area on the Right Coast on a picture
perfect Fall day for a truly fun session. I can't imagine or care how
good it was at other spots that day. I just hope they all got it as good
or better than I did. Sacred ground....Holy water.
Keep on Tuckin'
Tue, 13 Oct 1998
Columbus Day weekend is usually a major milestone weekend in Rocktober,
and in the past I've been lucky. This year it coincided with my birthday
weekend (49, and staggering toward that finish line)so we headed for the
Bunker with no expectations other than to have a good time.
The Delmarva was lousy with bloodsport and macho types this weekend.
Deer hunting season was open, so the camo guys with bright orange hats
and vests were thick as flys. A National Offshore Powerboat race was in
town so the Big Boat boys were strutin their stuff around the beachfront
bars and clubs. And the Custom Car and Hot Rod show was also in town, so
motorheads were leaving rubber all over the place.
It was almost more testosterone than I could handle. All I wanted for my
birthday was some TLC from my wife and a good surf session. Conditions
didn't seem that promising. A slow moving coldfront was parked over the
Delmarva and the readings off buoy 44009 were not inspiring. But since
that buoy is almost 80 miles away, I don't really use it as a gauge for
Bunker surf conditions.
MrsFoon warned me I was not going to have enough energy anyway for a
rigorous session :)
(God, I hate when she threatens me like that!!:) So I was mentally not
prepared to wake up Saturday and see some very promising wavage. Slight
offshores - long lined swell, low tide at dawn. The incoming bump would
put it at chesthigh or better on sets.
The Bunker Balcony wavecheck showed the Bunker beach was dumping pretty
hard on the close in sandbars. The recent hurricane swells had done
nothing good to create a decent setup and I immediately started to think
of other breaks in town that would be better. True to her word and
attentions, MrsFoon had left me little strength or desire to tolerate
the certain pounding I would get at the Bunker, so I loaded my gear,
coffee and low cal frosted Poptart into the Foonmobile and headed for
With all the other "sportsmen" in town, I was not surprised to see (it
being Rocktober) that the surfing community was well represented at the
inlet. In fact, it was a frickin zoo. The inlet displayed an ever
shifting peak off the jetty with clusters of riders anticipating better,
longer, shorter, faster rides in a couple of different lineups. Veterans
who enjoyed the dropping, turning and ripping part of a wave took off
deep nearest the jetty resigned to the fact of a short-lived ride due to
closeout, or snaking or both.
The cruisers picked waves from mid beach points and often connected them
for long rides to the beach. I recognized early there were no
Bodyboarders and suspected there was a very good reason for that, but I
The cream of the area was out this gray but classic morning as I paddled
out. Standups have a way of not seeing bodyboarders at all so my
presence in the lineup was almost anonymous. I worked my way out to the
"older" crowd recognizing that the rabid shortboarders didn't know or
care who was on a wave, they just took off on anything that came by in a
feeding frenzy of "MY Wave" arrogance and Stupidtude. At least with the
older guys I figured I'd have a change. Wrong Foonboy - spongers were
universally disrespected and ignored in this lineup, regardless of age.
What gave me hope for a good session was the first good wave I saw as I
paddled out. Someone riding a modern longboard took a headhigh peak and
almost didn't make the drop. As he carved a bottom turn right and
trimmed he bent at the waist and threaded the "crouching barrel" for
about 20 feet until the balance of the lip landed on his back. To my
amazement he had enough balance and poise to stand up through the lip,
drop down and motor around the section onto the shoulder without losing
any speed. A snappy kickout ending a very pretty ride.
What I found out later was the combination of the increasing offshores
and the incoming tide, were grooming the waves to standup a long time
before they broke. The result was a tissue thin lip that anyone could
punch. Not that I had much chance to play in these nice waves. I was
snaked on 5 of the 6 waves I tried at the inlet and realized as the
crowd thickened I was going to do no better. I moved on to the next
break. (Note to self: Ask the ng about conditions that affect the
thickness of wave lips? I'm not really sure why some have thick or
At three successive breaks I found similar conditions and attitudes,
which I thought was astounding considering our normally laid back crowd.
I guess with the BigBoaters, MotorHeads, and Hunters in town, everyone
had to do a little "turf marking" to assert themselves. There being not
a lot of good waves this Fall, the Me First attitude was just too easy
to adopt. By mid morning the conditions had all the look of one of our
"One Day Wonders" (Right Coasters know exactly what I'm talking about)
and I knew I'd better score soon. I decided to try a midtown spot I used
to surf for many years and a place I knew bodyboarders frequented. I
paddled out and found my very own break sharing only with two older
longboarders who took only set waves. I nibbled the inside extras that
had more thump and zippiness, and when time permitted move outside for
As the tide came in the tubiness seemed to be exaggerated and I found
myself tucking my big carcass into tasty, whisper thin tunnels of
various duration. Fun? Yes! Challenging? Not exactly. But after 2 hours
I limped out satisfied and happy. As I walked into the Bunker, MrsFoon
had a proper breakfast ready to go and a coy smile. She asked, "Have
fun?" yup, "Get some good waves?" yup, "Too tired to get your birthday
present?" uh, nope :) And breakfast wasn't too bad either.
Wed, 14 Oct 1998
Were I to own a clothing store, it
would be more like a consignment shop if it were patterned on my own
couture. The average age of my own clothing is 5 years, and some of my
beachwear consists of t-shirts from almost 10 years ago and shorts that
must be carbon-dated to determine age. I love handmedowns and Moms Foon
has made it her life's work to troll the shopping networks to find me
the most repulsive shirts in modern history. This years birthday present
was a beige and brown t-shirt which proudly proclaimed "Will watch
Football for Food." Go figure. My beachfootwear are 7 year old Reefs
flip-flops. My gearbag from Bodyglove (or some cheap knockoff of
Bodyglove), its 12 years old and never been washed, much to the disgust
of the Mrs.
Anyone who's seen me would not mistake me for a Land's End wearing
yuppie, though I've been known to mingle with that crowd for the perks
of being able to sponge off their highly mortgaged lifestyle. They drink
good booze and smoke some fine cigars and rent houses on the beach on
the Outer Banks. Why not exploit 'em?
The Explorer? Yeah, I own one and it's 5 years old and falling apart. I
paid extra for the best JBL 9 speaker stereo system I could buy, but
it's still a truck with a stick shift because I am intellectually unable
to figure out how to operate an automatic. I wouldn't buy another one,
but since 92% of the population of North Carolina own one, how bad can
Thu, 15 Oct 1998
This thread needs some remedial .. foon .. attention.
I have totally ignored this dialogue after sampling a few of the
The utter vacuousness has left me speechless. But since Dug thinks it needs
attention, I'll let others speak for me:
"When people are bored, it is primarily with their own selves."
- Eric Hoffer
"Zeal without knowledge is fire without light."
- Thomas Fuller
"There are some remedies worse than the disease."
- Publilius Syrus
"Every man has a right to utter what he thinks is the truth, and every
other many has the right to knock him down for it.
- Samuel Johnson
"With the collapse of vaudeville, new talent has no where to stink." -
- George Burns
Don't get mad, get even."
- Robert F. Kennedy
"I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty and
the pig likes it."
- Cyrus Ching
"If fifty million people say a foolish thing....it is still a foolish
- Antole France.
Foon (Reminiscing on the good old days when Rick C. was the Flame war