The Summer Misadventures of “Bruiser.”

imagescatyfnzfSummer is here, and the activities available to those of us in southern CA are endless! I for one, am a HUGE fan of summer and being outside and active. Whether it’s riding bikes on the boardwalk in Huntington Beach, hiking in Peter’s Canyon, or playing catch with my boys at the park, I’m a happy person when I’m outside in the sun and getting some exercise.

I recently attempted a couple new activities, as I am always hoping to find fun ways to get exercise and keep it exciting and different. So I decided to try mountain biking. Grabbed my helmet, padded shorts and gloves, and was off to try my new adventure. I did have a more experienced friend along for safety’s sake, and thankfully so. As I had a very nasty crash coming down a rocky hill. I suffered minor flesh wounds, but was able to snap the visor back onto my helmet and ride out tof the park. (I did get a lot of stares from fellow bikers and hikers as I departed…)owie-300x300

My next adventure in new summertime activities is one I have wanted to try my entire life, and yet have never had the opportunity or a skilled person to take me out….until now. I FINALLY got an invite to go surfing last weekend. The text came at 11:30pm on Friday night, from a friend I have hounded for more than 2 years. He simply said, “Okay. Surf in the morning. 0700 pick up time.” I was eccstatic! Couldn’t believe it was actually true. Had to text back several times to make sure he wasn’t just toying with me. But he was serious, so I began rumaging through recently packed boxes scattered around my kitchen (we are in the middle of a move) looking for my $5 score on a spring wetsuit. (I got it for stand up paddleboarding, but that too has proved to be elusive to me). I was up the minute my alarm went off at 6:45am and had coffee in hand. Which NEVER happens on a work day, mind you…

sunglasses? check.

wetsuit? check.

flipflops? check.

baseball cap for frizzy hair? check.

I was ready to go! We tried several beach loactions for a place that wasn’t completely crowded and yet still had a little bit of waves for me to try out. Found one in Huntington Beach and headed to the water. I had his “longboard” which even my ape-like arms barely reached around enough to hold. He had me try to do a few “pop-ups” and was satisfied that while I have never done burpees, I had mastered enough to hop up on a surfboard while it was floating on a wave of water. (I was less convinced, but went with the flow). So we headed out, and I was relieved to find out that despite the outdated wetsuit, I was surprisingly comfortable in the water. It was extremely warm for southern California beaches so early in the summer. Nice.

I reached about stomach sized water when the first decent wave hit me. Uhhhhh oh. What did he say to do when I get tumbled by a wave??? Oh yeah, “let the board go.” So I did this as I was being tumbled underwater like a dirty sock in the washing machine, trying to maintain some kind of self-respect and get to the surface before he had to come save me. Sheesh, how emabrrassing. Then I suddenly felt pain in my right arm. Bad. No worries, I am NOT saying one word to him. As it has taken two years to get me out here, I am not going to be a whiner and never get asked again. “I’m good.” I shouted as I came to the surface. He laughed.

This thrashing of my body, and my subsequent re-paddling out, “Paddle, paddle paddle!” went on for quite some time, and he finally got me paddled out far enough to not be getting beat up by the waves, and we floated. I breathed and tried to expel all the salt water from my lungs, then noted him staring at my face. I wiped at my nose, assuming there was snot dripping out along with the salt water, but saw red instead. He said he had seen that I had a bloody nose but didn’t want to freak me out. WHAAAT??? Don’t we all know that sharks are drawn to blood??? Good gravy! I was shark bait.

I never did actually get to stand up on the board, but I did get a couple of really fun tasters of being pulled into the shore belly on the board. That was enough to make me want to go back for another try, or ten until I can pop up and land my feet on the board for one successful ride. When we got to the sand, I revealed my injury, and have since acquired my new surfing nickname, “bruiser.”

bruiser-205x300Lovely. For those who know me, this is not the first time I have been blessed with such a ladylike nickname. I recall “Crash,” “Klutz,” and “Clumsy” among others. I suppose it could be worse. At least I didn’t drown, suffer a shark attack, or have to be rescued by lifeguards…Okay, I wouldn’t really have minded the last one… I will live to surf (or at least try) again. And, I finally attempted something I have wanted to do for more than 30 years. So far my summer is going pretty alright. I hope all of you have a fantastic summer, and fill it with things you have always wanted to do. Blessings!







Andrew Vertson