On the road again
On the Road again
It is the 18th of August, 5:15 in the morning and my alarm is making ‘that noise’ I know it is time to get up. I jump out of bed without hitting the snooze button, realizing I am going on a road trip with 4 surfer girls together with one of my besties Anne, our photographer for the trip. Jacqui meets us at 5:50 at the garage. A pile of Surf, Sup, and Windsurfing gear is ready to load up. With our best intentions to bring it all, we need to leave the big 10ft x 34” Starboard SUP at home. We end up bringing 6 boards and a windsurfing rig. It is an impressive stack on top of the car. Lauren and Kelsey approach the garage scene a little after 6 and we all commute to the nearest Starbucks with before we head down to Big Sur.
Glide Soul wetsuits, Soft Science shoes and Dopper bottles join the ride
A few months prior to the start of our trip, my eye was caught by this very colorful wetsuits and a very cool name “Glide Soul”. Being a free agent with clothing and wetsuit brands again, I contacted them and received a super cool orange leopard patterned full suit. Talking to Natalia from Glide Soul a few weeks later, there was interest in some pictures with their wetsuits in California, preferably in the warmer waters. I offered to help out and proposed to do a road trip. Road trips are fun, exciting and free. Your ‘canvas’ changes all the time, there is a real story of the experience and it is all about the journey. There is no better way to hit the water because you are inspired by what you see instead of ‘having to go out’ because the spot was chosen weeks ago. Soft Science shoes stepped on board providing all the girls with fun and comfy footwear. Soft Science is a new footwear brand and has a foot bed that supports circulation and helps your body recover. Being active as we are and being on our feet for the most part, these slippers and shoes came in handy! We were also certain to ‘ride for cleaner oceans’, do a beach clean up along the way and be messengers for our environment. The reusable Dopper bottles would serve us well staying hydrated during the trip.
Lauren: “I love the adventure of it… The feeling that the world is full of the possibility of laughter and surf. I love having miles of road before me, a best friend in the passenger seat, and the ocean as our destination. And There were zebras!”😂
Meet the Crew
I have known Lauren Moser since 1999, my 3rd season on Maui. I used to rent a place to stay from her mum Kathy. Lauren and I crossed paths here and there in those years, but we lived in different ‘worlds’ at that time. Mind you… the local surfing community is a lot different than the ‘Euro’ or seasonal ‘wind head scene’ that comes and takes over the island a few times a year;) Years later and having moved to California, I heard that Lauren and I lived fairly close to each other and for the last three years we’ve been hanging, cruising, surfing, painting and sharing our Maui connection ever since. When Glide Soul asked me to get a few surfer girls together for a shoot, Lauren’s name popped up in my mind. She’s always up for a mission and she loves to travel, surf, create and be in the ocean.
In the year 2000, I met Anne Dokter at one of the Roxy Now “Surf Now” events in Biarritz, the south of France. Anne was there to photograph ‘surf girls’ for the Dutch teener-lifestyle-magazine “YES”. We hung out a bit during the event and ended up sitting next to each other in the airplane back to Amsterdam. We just had a click being “Stok-ed” World travelers living our dream with our windsurfing and camera gear. We also related in a spiritual way. From then on we were friends and kept in touch in between our travels, comps and shoots. When I was putting this road trip together I sent Anne a whatsapp “I am planning a road trip with some surf friends, we need a photographer, you wanna come?:))” Fourteen days later, Anne flew over to follow us in our beloved Ocean World in California. #Notevenmad
Jacqui Grallo was most likely going to be my friend here in California. I met her at the beach 4 years ago. She is the only other girl who surfs our beautiful gorgeous local shark in fested playground all the time. Most people are scared to come surf where we are, because there have been a few shark attacks. It keeps the crowds away and that’s what we love about it. We text each other surf reports and have surfed many sessions together. Jacqui is smart, fun and ‘outdoorsy’. She’s also a go-getter, up for fun adventures and that makes us want to hang outJ. I barely could finish my sentence when I asked her to come along. The answer was Yes and Jacqui was on board.
Talking about the trip with Lauren, we figured we needed a 4th surfer girl to come along. We were hoping surfer mama Kelsey Sandlin could join us. Kelsey and Lauren are the proud and creative owners of Blocks_N_Bling where they feature blogs and social media about fashion, traveling, art, culture and surfing.
I met Kelsey in the water during one of my surfing sessions with Lauren a few years back. She seemed friendly, mermaid-ish and also eager to catch her waves. Her laugh is contagious and she seemed the perfect contester for our adventure.
Thankfully Kelsey her dad was able to help her Duder with the kids for a few days so she could hang with the girls.
Normally, I plan roadtrips or surf missions a few days before a swell hits to make sure the waves are there. This time, with busy working traveling girls from different households and continents, we had to plan our trip weeks in advance.
Jacqui and I decided on our sleeping locations a few days before our departure. The “Pea Soup Andersen’s Inn” located in Buelton and “Motel Malibu” made the cut for our low budget trip with an average of 55$ pp per night. With a small south swell in sight, we could score some fun waves in Big Sur and Malibu.
Looking at the wind charts in Jalama, I put in a request to windsurf this spot. I vaguely remember this beach from 16 years ago and Jalama had been on my list for a few years now. How cool would it be to surf, sup and windsurf this trip?
Highway1 South continues
With a steamy hot latte filled in my own ceramic mug, I get back in the car with Jacqui and Anne. Kelsey and Lauren follow us and before we know we are overwhelmed by Big Sur’s beauty. Letting go of any potential planning or timing, we stop whenever we feel like it and take in the stunning views. “It is all about the Journey, not about just getting there”. I love to see how stoked Anne is on the light and the location. She has been to many countries and seen some beautiful places in her life. The cold sea fog and warm sun play with each other providing a mysterious canvas with the green hills on our left and the gray blue ocean on our right, driving little windy roads. I switch cars and jump in with Lauren for a while. What seemed forever and at the same time only 5 minutes, we approach our first surf spot 2 hours after our departure. The waves look super fun. There are some head high sets, here and there some close outs and enough ‘corners’ to surf. We get ready for our first session. Colorful Glide Soul suits overwhelm the scene and we are spotted from a mile away. Lauren borrows this beautiful longboard and glides into some left handers. Jacqui catches some fun waves on her 7’10 fun-board and 6’4” Totah Surfboard. Kelsey is feeling out her knee. Unfortunately she sprained it a day before the trip. Being injured can be soooo annnooyyying! I warm up on my 7’7” SUP and then ‘have’ to try my freshly shaped, painted and hand built short-board #12. Refreshed by the Ocean we continue the California 1 south. Our last stop (and pit stop) in Big Sur is at the local store “Gorda by the Sea”. We are aloud to refill our Doppers here and buy a few more snacks for the road. Once recapping on the day we all noticed this cute ‘toilet quote’ here:
Cherish every Memory
Love every Moment
Embrace every Possibility
We are pretty happy with ourselves making memories together that we will cherish for a long time. The spots further south offer little waves, but nothing too appealing after Big Sur. Staying in Buelton for the night, we decide to head down to Jalama Beach Park in the hope this beach break works as a swell magnet.
The wind is barely blowing and small waves hit the shoreline. It is an unusual scene, because normally the winds are up this time of the year.
We eat ‘the’ Jalama burger like a pack of wild wolverines and crash on the beach before heading out for a sunset sesh. Despite the little waves and lack of wind, it is beautiful here and again so different than Santa Cruz, Monterey and Big Sur. The water is a lot warmer and our colorful spring suits feel perfect to keep us warm. In the dark we find our Pea Soup “Jabroni” Hotel. The hotel serves our purpose and after a long day we hit the hay instantly.
Anne: “To get a call which says, we need a photographer, come over, is great
But if the call is made by a good friend, its even better
Surfers, California and Roadtrips, go together, sponsors make it even more professional
For me, being in nature, seeing all surfers coming out of the water so happy,
gives a lot of energy Going in the water with them’ and not even surf yet, was just so much fun
Surf cleans your thoughts, thank you for that reminder”
The next morning, Jacqui unpacks her cooler with all kinds of yummy breakfast items and reusable kitchen camping gear. Yoghurt, home made granola bars, chia seeds, pineapple and cold brewed coffee are displayed on our balcony. Not even mad waking up to that! Before we hit the road this second day, Anne emails the photo selection of day 1 to Glide Soul. We’re excited there are some beautiful photos already. The morning sea fog is trying to lift in Buelton around 9am, but when we head towards the coast, the fog creeps back in. It is time for a fresh cupper in Santa Barbara to keep the amp going. Starbucks meets our coffee and environmental needs. Did you know every Starbucks in California has a water station that allows you to refill your Dopper?
Visualizing blue skies and head high waves in Malibu for the afternoon, we keep on ‘trucking’. In Ventura we decide to have lunch and check out some vintage stores on the way. The coastline to Malibu is beautiful and you see the typical Californian views with the long skinny palm trees, stylish old cars and vans, ocean artwork in various public places and surfers everywhere. A little before Malibu, the sun is starting to come out and we jump in the water again. We surf a quick session on our short boards. The tide is very low and a lot of coble stones make us ‘hop the rocks’ heading out to a crowded line up. The water is warmer again than Jalama and we’re in our Glide Soul 1 mm bikinis. To me, Life feels great when the weather is warm and no wetsuits are needed in the Ocean. Something about it… a novelty growing up in the Netherlands and once living on Maui… I got spoiled.
The classic Malibu Point break is up next. We didn’t anticipate getting in the ocean here because the crowds will get ya. However, once we peaked to check it out, we were warmly welcomed and even my SUP was ‘all good’. Oh well, Let’s go then! Lauren scores another longboard and she is styling it up once more cross stepping ‘the log’. Jacqui, who is getting used to the crowds these days, makes sure to catch her share. Kelsey finally gets in the water to test her knee. Paddling around in the salty blue feels amazing, but her knee is not feeling good and a take off can’t be forced. I sneak in some little realer on my SUP. Lauren and I high five on a party wave and we can’t believe we have so much at this particular point-break. The Malibu Motel will be our crash pad after another gorgeous sunset at the beach. Dinner and a Margareta in town follow not that much later to polish of another beautiful long day. Just before midnight, while some outdoors light rays hit our ceiling van, Anne grabs her camera again to capture this light play. Her camera goes black and I giggle commenting to her the universe is messaging “it’s time to go to sleep”. It’s been fun seeing her work from up close and I recognize ‘that’ passion in her that is just there and never stops. “Love every moment”
Kelsey: “Nothing better than taking your time cruising the beautiful Cali coast with awesome women. Searching for waves, and being over taken with the beauty that surrounds us. I am Very grateful for the amazing memories and new friends. Cheers to more beautiful adventures.”
‘Another foggy morning’, I think opening one eye around 7 am and then close it quickly again. You may think that California is always sunny, but that is not the case. Sunny weather always looks better in pictures, so we always hope for that. Anne sends of the daily Glide Soul selection before we pack & stack Jacqui’s Subaru for the road. Today is the day we all need to be back home, so there is limited time to play. Anne, Jacqui and I venture to Ventura for some boulevard posing and water time. Kelsey and Lauren head north so they can make it back in time to Santa Cruz. The waves look ‘so so’ and we are not really feeling it. But you know what happens when you see ‘that one wave’ that makes you want to go out? And then another one that is worth it as well? Yup, you grab your board after already posing in a wetsuit and every wave feels like a bonus, because beforehand you decided not even going. A few minutes in the water, I spot some dolphins and paddle towards them to greed them my mermaid’s way. Double bonus! Jacqui and I end up catching some lefts and rights and one left together. We’re feeling good about our trip and are happy to wrap it up. Anne and I get back in our passenger seats while Jacqui grabs the wheel one more time and powers the 101 north. Once on the road, it is fun to notice the companies we represent respond and post pics from the trip. We get all ‘like weird’ on instagram and that in itself is something to write about! A few hours, many chats, stops and stories later we are back home in Marina loading up my garage and emptying Jacqui’s car.
Jacqui: “I am so grateful for the chance get to know each of these amazing women and learn a bit about their joyful lives–creating art in many ways, exploring and experiencing the world, nurturing little ones, and living and appreciating every moment to the fullest. I hope is the first of many travels with my fellow Marina girl, and am stoked on the happy memories!”
Driving over 700 miles (1126 km), surfing 5 spots and doing photo shoots non-stop in 3 days was definitely full on. Once being home, it felt like we were gone for much longer and ‘our movie’ starts playing back with all the things we saw, did and experienced. I am stoked (which means awesome, grateful, excited, happy, thankful) I had the opportunity to bond with all the girls, have some fun and create new memories in California.
When “One picture tells a thousand words”, I better get quiet and let you enjoy a selection of our trip in this YouTube clip: Photography- Story telling pictures by Anne Dokter.