Dawn patrol – part 2

Columbus Day Morning Surf 5x7 Oil

Image courtesy of Joe Mancuso at Mancuso Fine Art (on the web at http://www.mancusofineart.com/)

On the Road

While he forgot to get gas last night, he didn’t forget to pack food for the day. He would need fuel and he didn’t want to leave the beach to get it. He also didn’t want to cut a session short if it was pumping, just to eat. He grabbed the 3 sandwiches from the fridge, a full size bag of chips from the cabinet, 2 bananas, an orange and an apple from the fruit basket on the counter, put all of it in a paper grocery store bag and that was done. Wait, he needed water, which was another thing he would have to spend for at the 24 hour stop when he got gas. Again, twice the price than if he would have bought it at the grocery or the drug store. He filled a glass from the sink and chugged it, did it again, then one more time and he started to feel like he was getting hydrated. Once more to be sure and then it was time to load up the car.

He loaded his wetsuit and food into the mini trunk on his 1972 primer grey Honda Civic CVCC and strapped his board on the roof rack. Todd and Dave had to drive separately because the Honda, with its little 4 cylinder engine, really couldn’t handle a full load of 4 guys and all of the gear anymore. The poor little thing would top out at about 30 miles an hour, in the Low-1 gear, trying to get over the summit on Highway 17 with more than 2 guys in it. That could be embarrassing. The car had some miles on it and they were almost all from his surf adventures. He inherited it from his mom when she bought her new one. That was just a couple of years ago and he hoped the car would last long enough for him to save up for something to replace it.

Marco lived in a gated community on the North Western edge of Los Gatos. He had to hit the 24 hour gas place in Saratoga which took him out of his way from Campbell but at this time of the morning he could speed a bit and there was no one on the road. He had $12 for the day, at least until he got to work and he could take a draw against his paycheck from the cash drawer. Just one of the bennies he got working at the gas station. Given his time pumping gas (he called himself a “Petroleum Transfer Agent”), he was skilled at hitting the number he wanted, in this case $9, exactly. He went inside to get grab a couple of waters, got the $0.62 change from the attendant and bolted.

Back in the car and headed to grab Marco, the thought occurred to him that Hector might be manning the guard booth at Rinconada. That was good for a laugh. Hector was a guy that was fully committed to his role as a security guard. Total military buzz cut. He had the full on utility belt of a Los Gatos PD officer (sans gun of course). He wore it with pride. We all thought his dream was to become an LGPD officer. He was just too serious for us. Whenever the opportunity seemed ripe, the crew would find ways to mess with Hector. Whenever he was on duty and the crew was hanging in the community, which they did to use the pool and spa and sit on the hillside killing 12 packs of Coor’s, we tried to come up with creative ways to mess with the guy. Hector hated us. We all had long hair, made surfing our one and only commitment in life and really didn’t care about much else.

He knew it was the crew that was messing with him. He had to be careful though. If a resident, like Marco’ mom were to complain about him it could hurt his chances applying to the LGPD and we knew it. As a result, the harassment was all good natured. We didn’t want to kill his chance to achieve his dream. He made it tough on any of the crew trying to drive into the community when he was on guard duty. We generally ignored him when he tried to flex his authority. It was a Yin-Yang thing.

No Hector this morning. It was the old guy who mostly slept through his graveyard shifts. He was making Z’s in the guard booth. Drifting through the stop by the guard shack, he looped around the traffic circle, past the club house and traced his way along Casitas Bulevar to the house where Marco lived with his mom and her boyfriend.

Marco’ bedroom window faced the court yard of the house and he knocked on it lightly. It was dark, no evidence of movement. “God Dammit Marco!” he quietly whispered to himself. Marco was cheating. Getting those final few minutes of sleep until he showed up instead of being ready to go like they discussed. It was always the same. He would act pissed, Marco would say he was sorry and they would be off and running in a few minutes. In his mind he felt like he deserved better. He was the one actually committing to driving, he got up with the fucking shitty alarm by his head. A little bit of respect was called for. Even with the delay to get gas and water he was only 2 or 3 minutes late and this fucker was taking advantage. Maybe next time he wouldn’t offer the ride, or maybe he would sleep in and say fuck it, no surf today. He knew that wouldn’t happen though. These morning dawn patrols were his favorite thing in the world and a brother was a brother. He wouldn’t want to surf without his friends. Of course he would surf alone when he had to, but it was always better with the crew. No one would believe that barrel ride if you were by yourself.

Marco moved the curtain aside and gave him that “are you fucking kidding me” look that showed the wear and tear from the previous night. Marco and the Professor could drink. They were always trying to outdo each other and were probably beating the odds that neither had been in serious trouble as a result. The difference for him was that he knew how to drink lots of water and take aspirin before passing out for the few hours of sleep he would get. As a result he tended to have a fairly soft landing getting back into the waking world.

After what seemed like an eternity but was only about 10 minutes, Marco appeared at the front door with his gear. He grabbed Marco’ board and told him to throw his stuff in the trunk he had left open.

Officially back on the road and no stopping until they got to the beach, he get out of Rinconada, ran up Quito and Lawrence Expressway to Highway 280 and started pressing north. He figured it saved them about 10 to 15 minutes going 280 to 92/35 into Half Moon Bay, then connecting with the coast highway than if they went through town from Highway 17. This way it was all highway until they dropped onto Highway 35 towards HMB and turned south on Highway 1. They were heading to one of the beach breaks north of town they like to hit to avoid the crowded lineups. Plus, it was kind of hairy. Giant Elephant seals were common sights on the beach and in the water. There was one absolutely huge bull we called “Big Neck” that was truly scary. He had a harem of about 30 females and pups all over the beach every year. Knowing that the pups were the favorite food of Great White sharks that frequented this part of the red triangle kept the crowds down in the lineup. He had never seen a fin that didn’t belong to a dolphin out there but that didn’t mean the men in grey suits weren’t hanging around looking for a tasty fat baby elephant seal. If the shark books were right, you would never see it coming anyway. Truth be told, he was more afraid of the seals anyway. Big Neck looked like he could take your leg all the way up the thigh in his mouth without even trying. On more than one occasion he would make very shallow, high speed passes under us in the lineup and it would chill the Professors bones when it happened. He would go prone and lift his hand and feet out of the water until he either had to paddle or would see Big Neck pop up outside. The crew often teased him for this.

The drive on 280 was about 35 minutes and Marco snored the whole way. Still cheating… motherfucker….

He took the 92 exit and looped over 280 and started the trip through the redwoods and Bay trees towards the coast. Another 20 minutes and they were cruising through Half Moon Bay and turning south on Highway 1. Another 10 or 11 miles and he was pulling into the parking lot at San Gregorio State Beach. Time to wake Marco.

That’s part 2. Final entry, part 3 will be posted next week.

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