Camp Pendleton was where Keeper became a water man.
Or at least he took the first step in that direction.
I cut the description short in my previous post, but this really was a nearly ideal beach campground. Not only are the sites on the sand itself with full hookups (very difficult to find), but you have one of Southern California’s better surf beaches mostly to yourself due to its being on a military base.
Keeper, if you remember, was reluctant to do much in the water during last year’s trip down the coast. He got there eventually, but it was slow going, with a good bit of trepidation and some back slides along the way. We did end last summer with some unforgettable boogie boarding sessions in Coronado, but there was still a tentativeness in the waves that he was working through.
On day one in Pendleton I made a visit to the Marine Corps Exchange and discovered that they had spring suits (short sleeve/legged wetsuits, aka “shortys”) for sale at a very reasonable price. Thinking this would allow Keeper and I to spend even more time in the water, I bought us both one. At California’s latitudes, the Pacific never really warms up. I don’t think I’ve ever seen water temps out of the 60s, nor have I seen a surfer in the water without a wetsuit, generally a full one. I figured this was a great investment for us, and returned to Davista excited.
Keeper was less so, at least initially. This being his first experience with a wetsuit, or more to the point with anything designed to fit skin-tight, he was decidedly not a fan upon first trying it on. My putting mine on to demonstrate to him that yes, this is exactly how it is supposed to fit and my reassurances that it would be much more comfortable in the water did little to quash his skepticism. “Thanks but no thanks” was basically his position on the matter. Disappointed, I agreed to return his, but fortunately something softened in him before I did, and he decided to give his one try in the water.
That’s all it took.
He’s a convert now. Not only for its ability to fend off the chill, but for its unexpected non-skid qualities. Apparently one of his biggest frustrations with boogie boarding had been difficulty in staying on the board without slipping. Suddenly that was easy, and he was off to the races. We did two sessions a day at minimum, with him turning the tables on me and asking me on multiple occasions if I’d be amenable to stopping what I was doing and heading out with him.
I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. It’s a small thing, but going out with him and catching waves together makes me giddy. And he’s gotten much better at it; his confidence in larger surf bears no resemblance to last year’s tentativeness, and he has a good sense of his limits.
The girls are making a good start as well. On Woodsprite’s first wave last year (a tiny bit of near-shore white water), she managed to slide off of her board face first into the few inches of water and proceed to have the leash wrap itself around her neck. That put her off waves for a while, but this year she managed to put that behind her, and gamely heads into the white water with Firebolt for some shallow rides onto the sand. And Firebolt has begun to push her boundaries as well – still on whitewater only and no more than waist deep, but she catches some decent little rides and makes them fun for everybody by hootin’ and hollerin’ all the way in. She’s never been one to hide her enthusiasm.
On one of our last days in Pendleton, Woodsprite, Keeper, and I went out for a pre-sunset session. Actually it was just the kids – I followed with my phone/camera as I had a sense that the sunset was going to be a stunner, and I wanted to get some pics.
I was right. So happy I bought those wetsuits. I’m going to look for some for the girls next.