Tag Archives: beach

Wild places

We have been living here now for going on 7 years. I will NEVER get tired of this view. Same pier, same bay, same setting sun. I’ve seen it hundreds of times.  The thing is, the colors change like in a prism. Some times there is more blue, sometimes pink. This day it was surreal. The clouds had the setting sun glowing with a golden-green hue and it bounced off of everything, setting even the tiniest shell ablaze.

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Then on the opposite shore, like a different continent, everything blue.

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This place is magical.  The colors of the sky ever changing and rainbows arching from one end of town to the next.

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When we first moved here and started exploring our environment Billy said to me “I’ve lived on the Texas coast my whole life and I didn’t know anything like this existed anymore”.

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This area has been preserved in time. Trees are not permitted to be taken down without a permit. Animal habitats are protected fiercely.

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The diversity of animal life here is huge.  Sea turtles, endangered whooping cranes, fox, raccoon, cougars, deer, bobcats….the list goes on and on.  It is one of the last wooded and wild habitats left along the Texas coast……..

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…..and we intend to keep it that way.

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In a blaze of glory

Last night we went to search for sea glass.

Walking upon tiny shells, footsteps crunching, we looked for jeweled colors peeking out among the bleached white; aqua, turquoise, frosted white, pink, purple blushed, browns and blacks.  Just two weeks ago we left with our hands full of worn glass, and on this day we filled our bag again; the waves always bring more glass to the beach in our absence.  When our necks grew stiff from looking down, we raced across to the bay to watch the sun set into the water.

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Gold, blue, orange, yellow and the shore a black contrast to the brilliant show.  Such a magical thing, the sunset is.

We watched, mosquitos buzzing and biting, until the color started to dull and the bugs had us retreating to the car….then home to prepare for the new week.

Goodbye weekend. Until next time……

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North meets South

This is what happens when a fierce Gulf of Mexico meets up with a Norther.

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Right before the front the waves were chest high to overhead + and gnarly. All that water moving to the beach and then the Norther hit. Man, it was epic. Girls were surfing and I turned around to see that dark line moving toward us from the north. Mia had already paddled in, and I hoped her friend would see it and paddle to shore as well, which thankfully she did. It hit us as we were walking out of the water. Literally. So grateful, as the chaos that erupted was unreal. Waves got huge. We watched some monsters roll in from the Gulf. Someone got hit in the head with a SUP board and cut his head open. A SUP BOARD! Winds like that can pick up the heaviest of boards and fling them like matchsticks.

This morning I sat on Mia’s bed and we talked quietly as sleepy eyes adjusted to the morning. We talked about how mighty the ocean is, and how awesome our God is for making the fierce wind and waves. I am so thankful for little moments like these.

And for the big ones living here allows us to experience.

She got to see a clash of the Giants.

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Liquid Salt Magazine

I was so very honored and excited to have my writing featured on Liquid Salt Magazine back in December.

Father and daughter

Bill and I had gone surfing with Mia, and I just can’t describe how beautiful the day was.  When we came home, I sat down at the computer to write, and when I finished it Bill said “You need to publish that” and he got on the computer and brought up Liquid Salt and said “Send it to them now”.  And I did, along with this explanation of the text to the editor:

We had just bought a new longboard and hit the beach on Black Friday
to avoid the crowds and craziness.  Water was clear and the waves were clean and
glassy…thigh to waist high.  I watched from my board as my husband and
daughter rode tandem on the new 9’3″ long board.  Such joy!!  Later she paddled
out to the outside with us and surfed those waves on her own board…paddling in
fiercely, and not allowing any help from us. She’s a very small little girl,
just shy of 4 feet tall and 50 lbs dripping wet.  Waves were about chest high on
her and she had a blast. It was an amazing day and I can’t for the life of me
imagine a different life for my family….that salt life.   I  thought about it
and realized that the love of the ocean and the desire to be near it is, for
some of us, a yearning that goes beyond the love of the beach. It helps define
us and our life revolves around the ocean.  My husband and I were both born with
that strong, strong desire to be near the sea and  it seems my daughter feels
the same way.   We also have 3 other children…..3 boys ages 18, 15, and 12.
Only the 18 year old shares with us the love of surfing and the ocean.  These
differences in our family had me thinking, so I sat down and wrote a bit.

To my surprise and absolute stoke the editor replied that evening:

Thank you for writing to us.Today was sunny and warm and the waves were small, but once in the water, I was struck by the clarity of the ocean and the colors. Around me in the water and on the beach were families with kids learning to surf with their dads. I happened upon your email as I got into my car after drying off from a good paipo session. Needless to say it hit me with a lot of impact. I enjoyed every line of your ode and resonated with its meaning in a deep way.  I would love to run your piece on LS……

And he did.

Above anything I have published, this one makes me the most proud.  Not because of the writing…. but to be included among some of the most beautiful and soulful surfers and artists from around the globe.

I  hope you will enjoy my ode and if you’d like, leave a comment there and let me know if it resonates with you too.  Be sure to flip through the pages of Liquid Salt and soak up some of the beautiful Aloha sun, surf and soul found there.  You may look up and realize you have been reading for hours!

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Physics lesson, or magic?

Gravity defied

There is a man who makes these balls and balances them all over the beach near the pier where we surf. Little architectural wonders for us to enjoy. He rides his bike to the beach, then sits in the sand and rolls balls and defies the laws of gravity with them.

I would be lying if I said that I knew how he did it. To be honest, I don’t really want to know. I want to believe that a round ball can perch on the tip of a stick and stay there in 20mph winds without falling.

I want to believe in magic.

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Sunday surf

It is funny how the week crawls by, but the weekend is like a flash in the pan.

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We had a great weekend filled with surfing, running and lots of kids in and out. Saturday was spent at home doing this and that.  Cabinet doors opening and closing, lots of cups on the counter. Dried, winter grass tracked across the tile. Spend the nights, shrimp tacos, a 5 mile run through the trees.  Exhausted that evening, we watched Netflix while a little one fell asleep beside us.

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Sunday was filled with sand and sea. Surfing with Bill and Mia is like escaping to another continent. It really is. A land of endless blues, greens, whites and shades of beige, melting into each other to form our world for a day…for a moment.

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And now we are back to the Land of Reality. School, drivers ed (another driver? oh em gheeeeee), work, chores. We get past Monday, and on to Tuesday for Bill’s half day (ahhhh)….then the countdown to Saturday begins.

3, 2, 1……..

Silver

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Best Ripcurl wetsuit evah!

We went surfing yesterday and met up with the man who wanted to give us a wetuit his son had outgrown. Here is Mia rocking her new Ripcurl E-bomb Pro wetsuit that a complete stranger gave to us.

Ripcurl wetsuit

The generosity of this just blew me away as these are top of the line wetsuits and very expensive. The best part of this is that now the stranger and his family are our friends. Surfers = Ohana. It’s as simple as that.

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Ghost shells

There are sand dollars aplenty on a winter beach. You just have to walk the shoreline and be aware of them peeking out of the sand.

I see so many tourists walk right past a beautiful one hiding in the edge of a lapping wave. I usually call out to them and say “Look down and to your left” and they cry out and quickly reach down and pick up a perfect sand dollar. I rarely pick them up and hand them to the person….it’s not the same unless you pick it up yourself. Many say “thank you! I have been looking for one all week long!!” and I am baffled as to how they can’t see them. I will walk that same beach and pick up 30 or more in an hours time.

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I think to some they are just ghost shells. They are that sought after treasure that eludes them every time they come to the beach. Maybe they just look too hard; not seeing the obvious.

It is Friday. The go, go, go of the week needs to come to a screeching halt. Kids are out of school and the work week is over. I see many people try and cram in activities to keep busy and ‘have fun” only to have Sunday arrive and they feel like they missed the whole weekend. Where did it go? They are exhausted and wish it was Friday all over again. That down time so desperately needed was never found. They had sand dollars spread over their whole weekend but they never saw them.

They tried too hard and missed the obvious. The beauty was lying right there in plain sight, at home, in the simple things. Cooking meals, wearing slouchy socks and talking. Watching a movie with small feet peeping out of warm blankets. Reading together. Taking a bike ride. Listening to the sound of guitars playing in your children’s bedrooms (and maybe some arguing as well…just keeping it real) while you cook. Really, it’s all the little things.

Being together and being content. I think it is a treasure we should ALL spend more time allowing into our busy lives.

I hope you can find something intangible this weekend to treasure. Don’t look too hard…..it’s probably right there in front of you.

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Dedication, or more accurately…stoke.

Air temperature 43ºF. Water 56ºF. Wind 15mph with gusts to 20. Surf waist to chest high on them. Current running north to south. 8 and 11 years old, paddling next to the pier…..the tiny one following her friend like a little duck. This is what dedication looks like. Me? I stood on the beach shivering, with frozen, numb hands thrust in my fleece jacket, eyes on the girls; a sentinal. They paddled out into the ocean, boards running sideways to the current; Mia struggling to stay near the pier and finally allowing the current to take her away from her stronger friend to the breaking surf. She caught the first wave that came to her. I pumped my fist in the air so she could see that I was watching.

Remember this image the next time you worry about your child on the high slide, the monkey bars or licking a cake spoon with raw eggs in the batter. It’s all relative.

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When Mia came out of the water and walked to the warm car on wooden feet, another surfer was grabbing his board to get in the water. He saw Mia and said “Hey, how old are you?” and she replied with numb lips “I’m 8 years old”. The man said “I have a $350 wetsuit that I bought in California for my son. It’s really nice. I want you to have it. My son outgrew it. I have been waiting to give it to someone who really has the stoke. You surfing in this proves you do. It’s yours!”

And so it is with surfers. They are like this. They give freely to pass the joy…the stoke…on to those who understand.

It is a family of strangers.

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After school fun

Mia gets out an hour before the other kids, so we have some quiet time to do homework, listen to music, prepare dinner or get crafty.

She found an old box the other day and made a “car”. She decorated it with various surf logo and played while I made dinner.

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Still a little girl and I hope she stays that way for a few more years.

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Bone cold

December chill

Winter blew in. Her cold air meeting with the Gulf’s warmth, forming fog in protest. It sends a chill down into our bones. We walk with bare feet on sand so cold. Wetsuits are stretched on and they still don’t keep out the icy waters. You wade out gradually, feet numbing, cold water seeping into the seams. Your body warms the salty sea trapped between neoprene and skin….for a bit. It is not really the cold that brings a surfer in, shivering. Okay, well, technically it is, but what truly brings us in is the numbness. Bone chilling numbness…when you can’t feel your hands, your face or your feet.

The waves are good so we stay out as long as possible; huddling down into the icy water to escape the wind and keep warm. We paddle to get the feeling back into our hands and have regret when it does; pain flashing. Finally, even with a nice set rolling in, there is a realization that the point of being “cold” has passed. The body is now frozen. You catch the next wave and ride it to the shore.

Running up the beach on ghost feet and reaching back with stone hands to try and grasp the zipper to undo a wetsuit is comical. Fingers are defiant to the grasp signal coming from the brain; they feel like chunks of wood. At the car the heater can not be turned on fast enough (if you can move your fingers to do it), and the struggle to remove a skin tight wetsuit, without the use of fingers, begins. When the shivering starts, you might as well give up.

Once the blood runs warm in your limbs again, you get that winter surfers glow…..flushed cheeks, salty skin, and hands that are a bit icy to the touch for hours. It makes a warm cup of anything that much tastier. After you are warm, you don’t regret it at all (emphasis on AFTER). You remember fun waves that were good enough to challenge you to get outside your comfort zone.

My threshold for cold is when the air temps dip below 50 and the water temp below 60. And the only way I will tolerate that is if the sun is out and shining bright. I am aware it is not really cold by some standards. I have surfed in much colder conditions, but I can’t say I liked it. I hate to admit it, but I am a fair weather surfer. There, I said it. I just can’t get out in the really cold stuff and enjoy myself. In my head, surfing should not be a sufferfest.

Today the water temperature is 58.8 degrees and the air hovers at 43. It is raining off and on. No sun at all. A cold wind is blowing.

We are home, warm and dry; dreaming of warmer days to come.

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Winter beach

A cold front marched through and cooled things off last weekend and instead of snuggling in the house we loaded up to go surfing. The temperature was not too bad, maybe in the 60’s? But with the water temp down into the 60’s combined with the wind, well, it was chilly.

I went out surfing and then spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get warm. The back of the truck made for a great wind break.

Warming up

When the fog rolled in, the boys got a fire started. A friend brought some yummy chili and after hours of surfing for the kids, it sure hit the spot. We also brought stuff to make s’mores.

Fire and 'smores

Here I am back in clothes and still feeling brrrrr. Once I get cold, I pretty much stay cold and it is pretty hard for me to warm back up. Huddling next to Bill helped…..oh, and the fire too.

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The best part of the day was being with good friends. Friends who share like interests are worth more than gold.

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I don’t think s’mores could ever taste better after having them over a campfire on a winter beach. Sand and all. The two girls spent the entire afternoon surfing and must have eaten 10 ‘smokes each in an effort to replenish the 10,000 calories they must have burnt surfing and shivering. I have no idea where they get the energy from. *cough*marshmallows*cough

Making 'smores and keeping warm.
Making ‘smores and keeping warm.

North winds are marching through and beach days will be fewer in the coming months. Cozy days at home will be the norm for January and Febuary but there will still be days here and there to freeze our butts off enjoy the beach and a cold surf on a sunny day.

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Tiny surfer

Don’t let her little size fool you. This weekend she paddled out to the outside with the big girls and competed in the 11yo and under division at a surf contest. She placed 3rd!!! It was her first time to paddle out in a contest without a parent in the water with her. The plan was that she would surf on the inside so we could get to her if she needed help. Apparently she had other plans. They all paddled out together, and instead of hanging on the inside break closer to shore, she kept going. I honestly wigged out and got in the water and tried to swim to her, calling her name and trying to get her to come back. It was super unnerving for me, especially since there were larger waves on the outside and if something happened I could not get to her! Everyone was on the pier watching her and cheering her on as she paddled, and the photographer talked her through where the waves were breaking and told her how to ride the rip out right next to the pier. I heard people saying “Go little girl!!!!!”.

The other girls turned around and saw that she had made it out to the lineup and they were like “Mia, what are you doing out here??” She paddled over and settled in next to her friend, who is an amazing surfer and one of Mia’s BFF’s. I realized there was nothing I could do in the water and that there were 50 people on the pier who would be in the water in a heartbeat if she got in peril, so I and went back to the beach to watch.

A set came through and her friend told her to turn around and paddle for it. We all watched as she paddled hard, caught a wave, stood up and made the drop that looked to be at least head high on her as far as we could tell from the beach. She turned and rode that thing like she owned it. People were screaming, clapping and hooting for her on the pier and on the beach. It was awesome and I will never forget it. I know she won’t either.

Afterwards, we went to the awards ceremony and when they called out that she got 3rd place…competing against 11 year olds…we were so jazzed. She earned it for sure. I have never been more proud of that child. She is headstrong and determined and it will get her far in life, even if she gives her old mom a heart attack here and there.

Earlier that day she had found a shell as we were walking down the sand to the water for her heat. She was holding her surfboard and said “Mom, see that? Get it for me please”. It is a perfect little orange striped shell and I slipped it in my pocket. Later at the awards, I reached in and found it still there. I pulled it out and peered down at this tiny shell that came from so far away to end up in my palm. I look at my tiny little girl and see the same thing. She came to me from the mystery of creation and the depths of love and heavenly mercy. I decided that I would make a necklace out of it. When I put it on, I will remember that day and I may never take it off again.

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Thanksgiving weekend surf

I hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving! We drove to Galveston for the day and spent it with our family. I took zero pictures. Zeeeero! I recorded Billy singing in the car on the way there, which was hilarious, but not another pic snapped. If you beg, I might post it here. ;*) Instead I left the camera in the car and enjoyed my day, which started with one of my BIL’s famous Bloody Mary’s. Mmmmm.

We were anxious to get home for a restful, long weekend, so we left late that afternoon. On the agenda was surfing.

We surfed on Friday and had a blast on some little Thanksgiving swell. Bill bought a new longboard on Black Friday (our contribution to the idiotic chaos of that day was to drive to the island and buy a board from our favorite surf shop and immediately go surfing on it. Better than fighting for “stuff” at the stores.), then we hit the beach. Mia surfed on her board, and then she and Bill got up and rode tandem on the new one. I sat out on my board in the lineup watching them and I swear it was the best day ever. I really don’t think there is anything better than being out there, surfing with your husband and tiny daughter. It was adorable watching them tandem on the log. She also came out on her board to the outside with us where the water is way over her head, and paddled into her own waves! Again, I have no pictures. Just snapshots in my head.

On Sunday we hit the beach early. The swell had really died out but we still had some little waves rolling in so we got out there and enjoyed them. We went with some good friends and had a blast.

This time I brought my camera!

Here is Mia paddling into her own waves and surfing like she owned ’em. ;*)

This paddling into her own waves thing is kind of a big deal to us, as it means an end to pushing her into them ourselves. That part of our surfing life with her is over now. Her doing this means she has crossed over into a new phase of surfing. She calls it “real surfing”, and I have to agree with her on that. As a non-surfer, you may not be able to understand how hard this is, especially on that tiny board. Her board is only around 16 3/4″ wide and 5’2″ long. That is one little surfboard! When the waves have some power, it is not too hard, but on a day like Sunday where the waves are little and moving slow, it can be a bear. She did it with ease. We are so proud!

Here she is paddling into her own waves.

It was a beautiful weekend of surfing, oyster eating, chatting and laughing with good friends and being one with that amazing thing called “island time”.

Hau’oli La Ho’omakika’i!!! (Happy Thanksgiving!!)

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She was initiated into one crazy club

The first real cold front has arrived, and with it we pulled out wetsuits. I take Mia and her friend surfing after school once or twice each week. We went yesterday and not only was the air temp around 58F and the water about 70F, but it was also raining and no sun at all. With the air so cold, the water felt like bath water, so the surfing was fine……it was the getting out that was freezing! Chattering teeth, blue lips and fumbling fingers that were too cold to work on wetsuit zippers and such. Brrrrr. Thank goodness for heaters and warm sheepskin UGG’s to slip our feet into.

There will be more warm days to come, so I dont think wetsuits are it from here on out, but yesterday they were certainly in order.

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Don’t let that smile fool you. She wanted nothing to do with having her picture taken. All she was thinking of was the heater in the car. Her little legs were mottled blue and she could not stop laughing. It was her first cold front surf and in spite of the sufferfest that getting out of the water was, she had a blast surfing. We were laughing and laughing because my fingers would not work to snap the picture. She stomped her frozen foot and said “OMG Mom, just take the picture already. I’m frozen!!” After numerous tries and threatened mutiny from the little surfer girl, I finally got a picture.

I just had to have a picture because there is something magical and inclusive that a day like yesterday brings. There are not many people who will get out in the ocean on a day like that. Only a soul surfer will put up with that kind of discomfort to catch a wave. It’s like she became part of the tribe yesterday afternoon. I am so grateful to have been there to share it with her. As much as taking that picture aggravated her, one day she will see it and remember that afternoon at the cold beach.

And I would bet my life that she smiles and remembers that feeling. That stoke to be a part of something so special. That surfing life.

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A big day for a little girl

Mia lives to surf these days. Its all she talks or thinks about it seems, and she is really getting good at it.

The waves in these pics were, on an adult, probably about thigh to waist high, but for her they were waist to neck high. Its all about perspective. When you are less than 4 feet and a Gidget (girl-midget), 3 foot waves are BIG.

Gidget and Goliath

It rears its mighty head,
a mammoth of the sea
And rises up before us
So wild, so fierce and free.

Fish stream across the glassy face
in harmony they flow
Aquariums of nature
A flash of silver glows

Water surges up and gathers
A steep wall with frothy crest
Eyes wide,  she turns and paddles
Strong willed to meet the test.

I smile,  she stands so quickly!
Glides down the smooth, strong wave
A tiny little surfer
So strong, so true and brave

See, it’s all about perspective
I see a wave so small
But it really is a giant
When you’re on only 4 feet tall

~ Jody

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Dawn patrol and surfing with the pro’s

What is dawn patrol? It is basically getting out of a warm bed before the sun rises, and heading to the beach to get some early waves.

For us it meant a 5 a.m. wake up and being on the way by 6.

Not everyone is a morning person.

We had to leave early, as Mia wanted a slot in the Hurley Rip My Shred Stick contest. She needed to be in line so she could be sure to get one of the limited spots.

It was so worth the early morning. Hurley did a fantastic job with the event. No charge, no booth selling anything. It was purely for the kids and those guys made a great day for everyone. The day was full of energy and fun. Mia was excited at the prospect that Rob Machado would be there. She wanted to surf with him, and he did not disappoint. He was there bright and early with his team mates and Mia spotted him right off the bat and asked for a picture.

Time for her heat!

A shot with her bros who came to cheer her on.

And then she was off to see if she could get Rob to help her in the water. She paddled over and he grabbed her board and walked her out.

She asked him if he could take her out with the big kids, so he did. He told her to be sure and bend her knees etc etc.

Here she is getting pushed into a wave by ROB MACHADO!!! You have no idea how epic this was to watch.

He pushed her into many waves and spent almost the whole heat with her. I was watching from the beach and thinking “Unreal. Rob Machado is pushing my girl into waves in the Gulf of Mexico. Once in a lifetime happening right now and I get to watch”.

I love how he is watching her in these pics. He applauded for her and cheered her on.

He took her out again and again and she had a blast with him.

She has always been a bit afraid to be out over her head in the water, but not this day. She asked him to take her way out and she did great.

They had tons of games and fun on the beach.  The kids played “corn dog” where they got themselves wet, then rolled around in the sand covering themselves head to toe in it!

They gave away lots of stuff to the kids….each one getting a bag filled with Hurley goodies.

What a great bunch of people they are. Rob Machado signed the kids Hurley hats (they got those in the bags), and was just so gracious and kind to everyone. He has a calm and gentle spirit that was inspirational. All the pros (Rob, Pat O’Connell, Noah Snyder) went out in the water with the kids and stayed out for over 4 hours, pushing them into waves and surfing with them. I can wrap it up simply by saying “Hurley ROCKS“!! The Coastal Bend thanks you guys for putting on such a great event for our kids!

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Summer of surfing

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Summer has been in full swing here. I have meant to get on here and post about all the fun we have been having, but honestly, the fun got in the way. Lots of surfing has been going on, trips to the ranch to hunt arrowheads, pool, beach, movies, cooking. Its been good and we still have 6 more weeks of it to go!!

In the next few days I am going to try and play catch-up here and post some of the highlights so far. This pic is from a long, fun day of surfing. After coming in from our session, Mia and I walked down the pier to watch Billy catch some waves. There is nothing like watching him surf. Be still my heart.

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