“We should get together,” I said a few days ago to Larry Fitzgerald. This afternoon we were texting each other to apologize for traffic and parking related delays.
We met in Huntington Beach, aka Surf City. It’s two days before the US Open of Surfing. It’s “the season” in HB.
There was trouble at the Open last year. Violence. Rioting. Huntington Beach suffered a black eye then worked hard publicly to guarantee there would be no repeat in 2014.
It was hot in SoCal today. Temps were near 90 just a few blocks inland. At the HB Pier the report was 78° with the water at 68°. Lovely.
We were going to lunch at Ruby’s, a 50s themed diner at the end of Huntington Beach’s long fishing pier. We were there for the schmooze, not the kitsch.
Considering it’s Thursday the beach and pier were jammed! This is an active beach with volleyball, bicycling and surfing. An in-water lifesaving course was in progress alongside the pier.
It was hazy today, but I made out Santa Catalina in the distance and a few offshore oil rigs which look a lot closer in my photo than they actually are.
This is oil country. I even shot pumps in action behind someone’s house!
We decided we’ll meet again. Cameras again too!
Until I moved here I had no idea Huntington Beach was Surf City. It is. I’ve been to HB a few times already, always with my camera. This afternoon it was me, “Clicky” and a bag full of lenses.
Over the past few days the forecast has pointed toward swells from a mid-Pacific storm hitting the coast. They wouldn’t be giants, but this winter has been disappointing to SoCal surfers.
“Isn’t it a little late,” Helaine asked? I was leaving around 4:00 PM.
The idea was to combine a little surf photography with sunset and whatever else I could find. I went to the beach unprepared! I was wearing jeans and sneakers. Somehow, the walking across the sand and into the ocean part hadn’t clicked. I ended up barefoot with my cuffs rolled up.
I like the vibe at HB. The whole beach area has a friendly feel with people of every shape, size and color.
The photo at the top of this entry is a 14 shot panorama. It was stitched together in the computer. Panoramas are very wide angle shots.
As I was repositioning myself near the base of the pier I walked by two girls. One was jumping while the other was trying to take a cellphone shot. I asked if I could give it a try.
I tried first without a light, but the contrast between the sky and her was too much. The finished photo uses the flash on the camera. I can’t remember the last time it was used.
Click the photo to see a larger version.
The temperature was mild and the beach stayed crowded as the Sun dipped behind Santa Catalina Island. The real show begins after sunset as the sky cycles through its colors until the clouds turn a fiery red.
And it’s January.
There are few cities as iconic as Huntington Beach, CA. It is, after all, Surf City!
We missed the International Surfing Championships (and the post-event riot!), but have gone to Dog Beach and last night to Surf City Nights. That’s a weekly street fair held year-round on Main Street, reaching inland from the Pacific Coast Highway/Huntington Beach Pier.
It’s mid-range as street fairs go, but the night was lovely and it seemed the perfect California experience for my niece Melissa. She’s in SoCal for the first time from Milwaukee.
There are food and craft vendors, a farmers market and street performers. The vibe was good.
We took in Main Street then headed toward the beach for dinner at Sandy’s, followed by a chilly stroll down the pier.
There’s a lot to like about this lifestyle.
Lot of things are different here in California. That includes a beach where dogs are welcome off leash. Dog Beach is in Huntington Beach, aka Surf City. Helaine, Stef, Roxie, Doppler and I drove there yesterday afternoon.
The marine layer was in, leaving the beach cloudy and hazy. Maybe that was good. We were very worried about Doppler getting sunburned.
The beach was crowded with two and four legged bathers. Some dogs couldn’t wait to run into the surf and retrieve balls or sticks. Others were carried or otherwise cajoled toward the water. Not every trip to the waterline was successful.
With all those dogs you’d expect some conflict, but I saw none.
Doppler and Roxie both made it to the wet sand, though neither was interested in dipping their paws or even staying near the waves.
There was a lot to see on the beach besides the people and pets.
Surfers were riding the waves. Sometimes dolphins appeared (though not while my camera was pointing at the right spot) leaping out of the water behind the big breakers. In the distance were a few oil platforms and the misty outline of Santa Catalina Island.
Planes carrying banners flew up and down the beach, advertising local businesses and one TV show. At one point a vintage prop fighter flew by not more than a few hundred feet above the water.
There’s a lot involved going to this beach, including a post-outing bath for both Roxie and Doppler. They might not have been in the water, but they were surely in the sand!