Steamer Lane is an epic break in Santa Cruz. Home to many a surfing contest and the highlight of surf films old and new. I leaned how to surf at the next beach down (Cowells) when I was a girl.
The Lane has always been part of my life’s landscape. One of the few definite touchstones. My dad used to say it was one of the “classiest lineups in the world, because if you jump off the cliff past the lighthouse you can get into the break with your hair still dry.”
Some wonderful friends of his added a burl to the collection of memorials that have gathered at the top of the stairs.
Right next to the rules of the wave. A very fitting place.
He can see the lineup and watch the riders as he did in life.
Surfing and surf culture was such a huge part of my dad’s identity, this break was one of the places that confirmed his place in that community. I don’t know when or why this picture was taken but I know exactly where:
I think it was for the “Big Stick Club” or the “Old Wave Surfing Association” (he was members of both,) OR just a bunch of yahoos that decided to take a picture at The Lane.
Who knows? I know which one is my daddy:
Standing to the left of my godfather, who always had the biggest stick.
There is no doubt in my mind that he is happy with this location and the constant company of surfers; getting in and out of the water.
Surfers are a tight knit bunch but when you are out in the line up, everyone is on their own. You and the ocean. Some days it chews you up and spits you out. Other times, it gently shows you new depths of your own soul.
The ocean always reminded me how small and fragile life is. For that reason above all others I am glad my dad is there. We put him in a little carved bottle and stashed him behind the thoughtful carvings.
This was one of his happiest places on earth. It is one of mine too.
I am greatful I learned to surf when I was small and even more appreciative that I survived. It is a privilege to have been even the minutest part of this community. A crazy bunch of wing-nuts playing in the water at the edge of the continent, for no other reason than they could.
It is the essence of surfing to look at an unstoppable force and think, “I can ride that.”
Life has many waves. When they stack up in front of me and I realize I am going to have to turn and paddle or duck under; I am reminded of the skills I learned surfing. Indecision results in wipeouts. The ocean taught me to respect the tremendous power of the earth.
It can not be stopped but it can be ridden.
My dad’s ride ended much sooner than any of us wanted. He did the best he could with the time he had. To feel a wave take your board and hurl it and you faster than you can paddle, is one of the most awesome experiences. My dad had countless days down at The Lane paddling out and riding in. Now he will have many more watching over those who continue that tradition.
That is satisfactory.