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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Down south: Good Eats

Heading south means surfing super long left pointbreaks- it also means eating really, really good Mexican food. Here's a couple of photos of epic eat spots:

These dudes know how to eat. This spot was just off the road on our way back down south. The beers were cold and the huevos rancheros... unreal!

It's hard to know what you're getting when you roll the dice on a place like this. One clue is the clientelle- if the locals are lining up for it then it's probably worth checking out. Don't be afraid to peek into the kitchen- look clean and orderly? Go for it! Check out the super loaded Dodge Attitude- amazing we didn't cave its roof in.

Okay. Here are the goods.
The dish at the bottom of the photo holds three round chicken sopes. Sopes are close to what you'd call a tostada but the bottom part is really thick masa. Masa is the stuff that they make corn tortillas out of- a really bad comparison would be very dense, thick cornbread. The masa is formed into a little cup and then fried, shredded spicy chicken is loaded onto it, a little cabbage and some crema and your all set. Sopes are my favorite down there. Check out the whole, grilled onions on the top plate- those were so tasty- sweet and slightly burned from the grill...mmmm.

This was our favorite dinner spot.
You could feed four hungry guys, eat all the sopes you could stand until you were totally stuffed and the bill would be around ten bucks... for everybody. This place was definitely a standout- we ate there daily.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Board Photos: More Sacred Craft '09 Shots...

Here's a few more photos from the Sacred Craft Board Show in Del Mar:

Photo: Joe Blair

Stu Kenson with the Pug Zapper in the background... thing looks good!

Photo: Another Joe Bauguess (of mini-Simmons fame) creation... with no fins... and lots of channels.... glassers love these things.

Photo: Stamps and big C.Patterson

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A couple more photos...

I've got a couple minutes here to throw up some shots- check 'em out:

Big boy coming down the line. I know it looks small (it was) and I know it seems flat (kind of) but this is one really fun wave. I like it because it throws up so many different sections. If you want to surf it well, you've got to read the thing as it unfolds in front of you. It's challenging because it's a long wave with different sections to it. One particular spot throws up a fast little wall, perfect for a little speed run to cutback. But if you get too cocky and cut back too deep on the fat part, the wave will hit a little shallow spot, pick up speed, and run away from you. All the change ups make it super fun- I could surf it all day.

Well this happened twice; flat tire. Not a problem in Mexico- there's a llantera (tire man) in every little village. This time it was a rusty nail. I've seen sidewalls punctured by large twigs! Always check the spare before you need it. If you come out of the water to a dead tire and find your spare's flat, your life becomes a little more difficult. The tire guys down there are superb- we were up and out of there with two patches in about twenty minutes.

Dreamy. Send me back!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Travel Pics: Wave potential

We ended up heading north to check out a couple of other spots in the neighboring state of Michoacan. Here's a couple of spots we just passed right on by. If you had the time and inclination, you could surf by yourself everyday down there. Check these out:

Photo: Check out the left hander peeling off in the distance... nobody out, nobody going to paddle out... all yours.

Photo: Same problem... nobody to surf with.

Photo: Santi snapping away... save this spot for next time!

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Mainland Mex Snapshot

Here's an overview shot... from the camera at the end of my paddle... of the place I like to go to down south.

No high rises, no flashing neon signs with guys hawking time shares and tequila shots- just a fun little wave out in front, palm trees and cold beers. Sure the electricity goes out almost every time it rains and it does get a little hot at times but I'll gladly accept those shortcomings to keep "big Mexico" out of this little corner by the sea.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Killer New Travel Bag and the last of the GEAR GEEK!

If these were available for stand up boards 9'6" and smaller, I'd buy one right now. Check this thing out.

I especially like the part where he chucks the 50lb suitcase onto the board and says, "Oooops". Kind of like when the 300lb United luggage handler plants his size 15 boot right into the guts of your new $1500 stand up board. It'd be sweet if you could stuff an additional prone board in there too.

For better or worse, here it is: The Last of the GEAR GEEK!

19. Ipod and Sony Sound Canceling Headphones:
Our return flight out of Zihuat. was brutal... all of Club Med loaded up and each one was packing at least one toddler. Gnarly. At one point, even the four Coronas ("On the house" said the shell shocked flight attendant), couldn't dumb down the cacophony.

At this point, you just want it all to go away... and it does when you slip these puppies over your flaps and redline your 'pod (my recomendation? The SteelDrivers- some of the best bluegrass out there). Instant bliss. The combo is so effective that I peacefully missed out on the projectile vomit episode that went down a few inches behind my head. If you've got the big bucks go with the $400 Bose version but if you're like me, and don't like to travel with things you can't bear to lose, pick up this Sony headset for about $40.

20. and 21. A lesson from two trips ago: Always bring more than one paddle... and pad it up. I use full length paddle bags and haven't had a problem since my first run down south.

20b. Oops, I listed the number 20. twice! No problem, check out the O'neill, SPF 30, long sleeve rashguard. The best thing about this particular model is the back zip. You can stuff all kinds of things in there for a long day of paddling: Powerbars, small bottles of water, car keys.

One thing to remember about rashguards in the tropics, they're not just for sun protection. At certain times of the year, beaches can become infested with jellyfish or, even worse, broken up pieces of stinging jellyfish. The second option is horrible, you'll never see the stinging part before that branding iron burns itself in. Ouch. When it get's bad it can drive you from the water, that's when you'll be glad that you brought the long sleeve version; you've effectively up-armored yourself. Surf on.

22. Tropical Wax: be sure to rewax before you get to your destination. Best spot? The air conditioned comfort of your living room (try waxing up on a hot day in the tropics- no dice) Throw on Beyond Blazing Boards and mix up a gin and tonic. Shoot, it's like date night- just you and your board. It's good to be a grom again- especially on the eve of a surf trip.

Hot tip: Bring a couple of extra bars for the local kids- a little regalo goes a long way down south.

23. and 24. Buy good boards! Here's my trusty travel quiver: 9'4 Stand up and 6'4 quad fish, both boards made by Tim Stamps up in Seal Beach. I'm pretty well covered with what I've got here. The only gap I've got is if it gets super, hollow, heavy and scary. At that point I pull the cap off a couple of Pacificos and plant myself in the shade- it's good to know your limits.

25. FCS 9'6" Stand Up Travel Bag: I haven't found a better bag out there. This one comes with an interior paddle bag and velcro fasteners. The bag is well built, looks good and is big enough for me to stuff my two boards (and the 6'4" is even in it's own bag inside the FCS!) and two paddles inside of it. The inflatable SOMA bag looks good but until they've made a SUP version, this one will be the go-to.

26. DaKine Day Bag: This one's for my 6'4". On my last trip down, I super wrapped the fish in bubble wrap- kind of a pain. Kelly Kraus told me to just stuff it the board in it's own bag and pack it- what a great idea! The big plus is that when you've got to chuck your board in the back of some local's pickup for that once-in-a-lifetime trip to that forbidden, mysto point break- your board will get there intact.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sacred Craft Surfboard Show: Some new stand up boards in the mix

The annual Sacred Craft surfboard show came to town last Saturday and Sunday. Here's a couple shots of boards that caught my eye:

Here's a cool looking Stretch bat tail quad that is somewhere around 9'6" in length. The bat tail quad is kind of a bread-and-butter shortboard shape for Stretch- here it is translated (and, pardon the pun, stretched) into a stand up shape. The thing looks fun- I wonder how Stretch's stand up boards are catching on up in Santa Cruz- I bet the boys at the Lane dig 'em.

Here's the tail end
of that stand up board- a committed four finner... like I said, looks like fun!

Dave Daum's area- coming on strong with a whole line up of stand ups straight outta Cardiff.

These guys are making some of the hottest, short, stand ups on the water. The label is Plus One and this board is somewhere in the 8' range- sweet outline, this one's a ripper for sure.

Another shot of Plus One's short stand-o. I'm going to have to hook up a test ride on one of these sometime.

I haven't heard of these guys before so I don't know where they're from or what they're about (someone out there help me out) but the stand up they had tucked away looked clean.

Most striking to me
was the shift in interest to smaller stand up boards. The first wave has come through, worn out their 12'ers and are demanding surfable stand up boards- from what I can see the shapers are up to the challenge. Can't wait for some of these boards to make it through my hands.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mexico Travel Gear: Part IV

More gear info:

13. Waterproof wallet: small enough to fit in your wax pocket yet large enough to hold your passport, credit cards and pimp roll. If you're staying in a semi-sketchy zone or have to park the rental car off the beaten path, you'll want to know that the paperwork that'll get you home is safe and secure.

14. Mexican TelCel pay-as-you-go cell phone: Pick one up, they're everywhere. Load the thing up and make your calls. You lose it, it get's stolen or you break it? Who cares?

15. Ding repair kit: Tube of Solar-Rez (in my case, epoxy Solar-Rez, since I ride epoxy boards- make sure you use the right kind or you'll end up with a disaster), sand paper, screwdriver for installing fin nut, length of shoelace for leash plug and, most importantly, a roll of sail repair tape. The plastic film sail repair tape sticks like crazy and is totally impervious to water. I buy mine (it's the white roll of tape) from West Marine- don't get the nylon fabric kind!

16. Dell Mini-Inspiron Laptop: This thing's rad- and it's cheap enough that if it was stolen, I wouldn't be too worried about it (which definitely wouldn't have been the case if I'd sprung for the $1600 + Apple laptop I was drooling over). I picked up this little laptop (10" screen, 2 lbs) for $320 bucks. It's the perfect size for throwing in a backpack (super lightweight and small) and it does everything I need... and not much more. Which is okay because this thing isn't my primary workstation it's just meant to keep me in touch with this site and my email... and maybe a surf report or two. Only downer is the 2.5 hour battery life- maybe there's a better battery just around the corner.

17. RadioShack rechargeable AA and AAA batteries and Energizer Rapid Recharge station with cigarette lighter adapter: Everything I need to keep my Canon S5 IS and GoPro powered up and working. The Energizer charger is great; go from dead to full charge in about fifteen minutes. Fire the thing up in the rental car or the casita- a super versatile piece of equipment.

18. Photo gear: Want a killer little camera that snaps fairly sharp photos, decent video and has a zoom that's the equivalent of a 650mm lens? Pick up a Canon Powershot S5 IS. This is a tough little unit, it's not an SLR so there's no worry about dust infiltrating the body when you change lenses. The camera is simple to operate as a point and shoot but does allow for a moderate level of control if you're into messing with all the different photo controls (I really like the exposure compensation button). I've carried this camera all over Mexico, treating it badly every step of the way and I've never had a problem with it. I use the thing to shoot most of the photos you see here on and almost all of the video that has been posted. This model is last year's version, the newer SX10 IS is also very nice but its lens doesn't allow you to add aftermarket telephoto accessories. If you can find one of these out there, grab it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Here's a couple from down south...

I'm going to give my inner gear-geek a rest. We'll wrap up that "What-to-bring-on-a-stand-up-paddle-surf-trip-to-mainland-Mexico" piece next time. How about a couple of surf photos from down south? Sound good to you? Check these ones out. Sure was a good time... can't wait to do it again!

Photo: Mercedes and Chico. Chico is the baby deer that Lourdes (owner/proprietor of the bar/restaurant on the point) found on the highway. Chico roams the point, sleeps with Lourdes' two dogs and comes in every now and then for a little feed from the baby bottle. I'm sure it won't be long before he's ripping the point.

Photo: I'll call it "Up the road", if you've been there you know where it is. A good, fun, non-life threatening wave. Plenty of lonely waves to be surfed if you have the means to paddle away from the ten or so guys surfing the main peak. Check this one out, running both left and right, empty the whole time we were there.

Photo: "Out in Fronts" doing it's thing. Super long and really fun.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Packing for a stand up travel trip: Part III

Hey! I'm back. Here's a bunch more info about my travel rig, trying to finish this up to get to some trip photos... maybe even a little video clip.

6. 15' Thule straps with the rubber covered, cinch-cam. Stand up boards are trouble when it comes to racking them with standard soft racks. Our wide boards tend to eat up all the webbing- leaving nothing for the boards of your travel mates. The problem is compounded when you're traveling with more than one paddle board. Here's my solution: Skip the fancy soft racks and buy a pair of these. When you're ready to roll, just throw the boards directly onto the car's roof, stack the boards in two rows, run the straps over whole mess and completely through the windows, cinch 'em down and your in there. On this trip we transported four surf boards and my stand up without a problem.

Tip: I like the Thules because the ratchet cam seems a bit higher quality then what you'd find at, say, Walmart. Also, Thule's straps come with a cool rubber covering that keeps that metal cam from knocking a dent in the side of your car (or an incisor from your jaw) when somebody tosses that little metal wrecking ball over the pile of boards.

7. Lee Child novels: My surf trip reading list doesn't include nail biters like Anna Karenina or The Scarlet Letter. I need something a little more accessible. My "go to" choice? Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. In a nutshell: violence, intrigue, espionage, bad guys who've got it coming them and super cool fight sequences centered around elbow shots to the Adam's apple and ear drum busting head slaps. If you like it down and dirty and need to know why the first squeeze of the 9mm Steyr requires a fourteen pound pull, this is the series for you. Perfect surf trip reading.

8. Future Fins: My new infatuation? The Futures Gerry Lopez SUP thruster fin set. Get yourselves some of these, they do it all- especially in head high to overhead surf. I also never go anywhere without my G10 Scimitar 3/2/1s; if the surf gets small I pop these things in for an instant small wave speed gain. I'm a little conflicted with where I'm at with my middle fin when running the 3/2/1s so I usually bring the Futures 7" cutaway style center fin and a 6" FCS offering and switch them back and forth until I'm totally confused. Fin's will mess with your mind- find a couple of sets you like and play with them.

Tip: Be sure to bring an extra finbox screw and plate- these do get lost, stripped or broken, be sure you've got yourself covered.

9. Box of Kool-Aid individually packaged drink mix and a box of EmergenC individual drink mix packets: Staying hydrated is easier when it tastes good and the EmergenC keeps me in the vitamins (even if I'm really just peeing them away). I mix one Kool Aid packet and one EmergenC packet in my Nalgene bottle, stash it in the fridge and drink it throughout the day.

Tip: No, Vodka and EmergenC don't make a tasty cocktail.

10. Liquid Pepto-Bismol: Yes, the tablets are lighter, don't leak and work well. For me, though, nothing says I'm going to coat, soothe and relieve that stew of chorizo, jalapeno and horchata churning in your gut like a bottle of original pink. As soon as that thick sludge slides down your throat you know you're going to make it through the night... or your three and a half hour plane flight home. Believe me, don't leave home without this stuff.

11. Mosquito net: Light weight insurance against the longest, most miserable night of your life. I used mine on this trip and was snug, happy and extremely satisfied to see those sneaky little bastards bumping against it all night long. Hah.

Tip: Throw a shoe string or a short length of twine into your mozzie net's bag- you'll thank me when it comes time to hang that thing up.

12. Telescoping 8' fishing rod and reel set: All carbon, high quality travel rod. This thing's slick, made for legitimate fish handling and available at I picked up the Mobistick, haven't used it yet but I'm excited to try it out.

About half way done with this stuff... Check back for more!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Travel Gear Part II plus a Mainland Surf Pic!

Photo: Surf has been super fun and today it started building.... gonna be interesting tomorrow!

Here's a little more info on my travel gear:

4. Hand towel: Big beach towels are heavy, take up room and don't dry too well in humid tropical surf spots. A hand towel will get the job done. The downside to it is it makes the beach change a little interesting.

5. Sanuk slip-ons:
light, comfortable and fast drying these are the perfect back ups to a pair of flip flops. On the plus side they cover your foot for night time mozzie protection and if you have to slip them on and off for the TSA guys, you're into and out of them in a flash.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Quick Mainland Surf Report

Hey Folks- after a little messing around with my new netbook (yes, I did contemplate going fully postal on it and beating it on a palm tree) I'm up and on the 'net.

Quick down south surf report: Been here two full days now and have surfed seven different times. The surf has been super fun- chest to head high, glassy in the morning and a bit choppy in the afternoon but smoothing out nicely by sunset. Water's beautiful- high seventies- possibly more. The kind of water temp that is absolutely comfortable when you first hop in... at 7am. Like a nice warm blanket.

Crowds? Super light. Maybe ten/fifteen guys in the water during the prime morning surfing hours. So much space though- I've surfed every morning session by myself up near the rivermouth. Funny how lemming like surfers are. If there's any easy to reach peak, you can bet everybody will head right to it. Easy enough for me to paddle right on past and surf by myself. Good, long, warm water surf.

Gerry Lopez SUP fin set:
Simple enough, these fins are HOT. I've used them now in everything from slopey, slow, mushburger point surf to roping head and half reef/point waves. The fins just work- and they're fast. I did have to make an adjustment in fin position for the bigger, faster days; I moved the middle fin all the way to the back of the box to give me a little more drive and sticking power off the bottom.

I'm super surprised at how well the things hold- I haven't spun out once although I did get a little moment of skitteriness on a bigger wave- moving the fin back solved that. I am going to experiment a bit with a six inch fin in the box and see how that goes. Surf is supposed to jump in the next couple of days so that may be a great time to see how it all works out.