Published: October 23rd 2011October 20th 2011
Today Joe did a thing he does best. He'd been talking all week about surfing lessons, so we challenged him to do his own research and choose a location and instructor(s), which he did: North Shore Surf Girls in Haleʻiwa. We were instructed to meet them "behind the 76 station" at 9 AM on Thursday, which we did, arriving just on time. A deeply-tanned adorable girl with salt-spray tousled hair drove up in, no kidding, a battered old BMW with all the windows down and six giant surfboards mounted on top and an "NSSG" vanity plate with mermaid frame. Seriously, like a movie. She talked with a slight surfer accent and did the cute head-tilt. Not dumb at all, rather the most laid-back sharp-eyed businesswoman you'll ever meet. Joe, Laura's parents, and I as Anne's guardian filled out alarmingly-detailed release forms and the instructor instructed us to follow her car out to the beach where lessons would take place: "when I dive to the left, you can park anywhere on the right."
This turned out to be Laniakea Beach, also famously known as Turtle Beach, being a popular location for turtlespotting. We didn't spot any turtles although frankly we were so glued to the surfing that I won't be surprised if I find turtle bites on my butt later.
The North Shore is a surfer's paradise, and Laniakea is a surf instructor's paradise. It's right on the main highway, and throughout the morning we watched one beat-up van/wagon after another pull up, offload one of those farmers' market folding tent things you get at Costco and a bunch of broad surfboards, and set up shop on the beach. In October. Each one of the proprietors in turn offered me surf lessons every time I walked by. Most instructors seemed to have their entire families there with them: spouse and at least one young child (I counted approx. 4.7 young children under one vendor tent) and occasionally small dogs. Making a day of it. Hell of a way to make a living, and I mean that in a good way.
The North Shore Surf Girls, whom there turned out to be two of, gathered up Joe, Laura, Anne, and a superhardcore young female student wearing a knee brace, and handed them very cute rash guards (special long-sleeved t-shirt-looking garments). Greg, Barb and I set up our beach chairs in the shade and positioned our cameras. A bunch of instruction happened on the beach first, which looked like: probably a lecture on basic safety, then intro to lying on the board and paddling out, then the multi-step procedure for transitioning from a prone position on the board to a proper standing-up one into perhaps a nice sparring stance. The whole getting-up part looks suspiciously like what I have to do at taekwondo to get my ass up from a seated position at the dojahng, where the floor thankfully doesn't move around and is not made out of deep water, and that rarely goes well for me, so all in all I think me not surfing today was the right call.
At last, the four students and two instructors boarded up and paddled out, way out, way way out, to the soft edge of some modest breaking waves offshore, where each student took turns being towed by an instructor to some likely-looking wave action and when the coast was clear, being released into a wave to surf on their own, right away. All three of them did great, and all got reasonably close to achieving true stand-up, an impressive feat for only 90 minutes with long waits between turns!
Greg, Barb and I stood in modest surf on the shore and took pictures until I got tired of keeping my camera dry and put it away, and Greg's storage card filled up. Like he does, he got some amazing shots. All too quickly, the lesson ended and the girls picked up matching NSSG t-shirts to mark their accomplishment.
Joe's choice of a North Shore school put us in perfect position to hit up Giovanni's White Shrimp Truck again, this time during the day when they are actually open, so we did, and we enjoyed it a lot: generous portions of super-messy shrimp scampi and, for the non-shrimp-lovers among us, hot dogs cooked in the same scampi sauce and served on fluffy potato buns. The Shrimp Truck lot is surrounded by vendor tents hawking all kinds of touristy stuff from other refreshments to cheap jewelry and beach clothing. We bought roasted seasoned corn on the cobs and something called "ice cold coconut drink". It turns out this is literally a coconut with a straw sticking out of it. Unfortunately, we found that "ice cold" modifies the coconut itself, not the drink inside the coconut: warm, slightly salty coconut water. Before coconut water turned into a fad on the mainland, this was probably an amazing novelty for tourists. We'd bought five of the damned things and I think I'm the only one who liked them enough to drink more than a sip of the stuff. I figured having been out in the sun all morning I needed all the hydration I could get, and I hear coconut water is good for you, so I downed mine and several other people's. Pro tip: don't do that. Felt queasy for hours afterward.
We made our way home along the same road as last night's drive from the PCC, stopping briefly at Kualoa Beach Park for views of Chinaman's Hat (Mokoliʻi) and some kite-flying. Gorgeous views all the way. The kids went back out to "our" beach at Waimānalo, having a much better idea now of what the boogie boards at the house are meant to be used for. We discovered that almost everyone had picked up at least a little new sunburn, including me. I've got a combination of cami strap marks and criss-cross strap marks in back that are starting to make my skin look like the Songahm Star.
Later on, we didn't feel like cooking; by now we're starting to feel familiar enough with Kailua town to venture out to it on a more regular basis, and on Urbanspoon I found a local burger chain called Teddy's Bigger Burgers that looked like our kinda cuisine, so we went to check it out. Delicious burgers, awesome toppings, killer fries, way too much food. It's really fun to start to feel a little bit local.
Anne is dying to get back out there and try surfing again. Very few people care whether she "finishes" her year of high school in Seattle, so perhaps it won't be so bad if she drops out to become a North Shore Surf Bum, I mean Girl.