When it comes to traveling, I believe there are two types of people…people that may or may not like to travel, and people that need to travel to feel alive. I would classify myself as the latter of the two…fully embracing a diet of coffee and peanuts and happy to sleep under the stars if it means I could just afford the rental car. We vagabonds always find a way to travel a new path and write a new story.
To me, being on the road without a destination in mind is truly the juice of life. It is the most freeing feeling in the world and brings me so much bliss! Similar to my racing style, I love to surrender to every next second, enjoying the entire journey step by step, and trusting my feet as I move along, always envisioning a positive outcome.
These trips have been some of the best in my life, learning amazing stories from others and transforming these passerbys from strangers to teachers or friends. One thing of value I have learned in life is that, overall, people just want to be heard. There is so much we can learn from giving a stranger the time of day and listening to their stories. I don’t just say this because I am a coach, but because I truly believe that we, as humans, need to step out of our comfort zones to grow and reach greatness. If you can find the most comfort when you are in your own skin than you are sure to experience a world with endless opportunity and adventure!
But then again, I am the person that can find family and home anywhere I go, feeling comfort and security with every lonely footstep…
Whatever it means, this is what I live for.
And lucky for me, the Universe brought me someone who is the same exact way! In fact, while our journeys to the west coast happened at completely different times, and from completely different cultures, we both followed our long-term dream to move to California all alone, craving independence and adventure at its finest. So as my birthday was fast approaching, my boyfriend Noah knew just the right way to help me celebrate properly.
After my Saturday morning coaching duties, I zipped back to my Oceanside apartment to meet Noah and prepare for our trip. We carefully selected and crammed the necessary ingredients for an awesome time into the back of our upgraded Dodge Avenger rental. In tow was Noah’s surfboard, my boogie board (that’s all I can handle with a recovering broken femur), Noah’s guitar, my bongo drum, clothes, music, paper and pen of course, and plenty of snacks. After loosely picking Santa Barbara for the evening’s final destination, we took our open minds to the less than open road through LA and onward via the PCH north.
We enjoyed sunset over Malibu while rocking out to the radio and munching on Sunchips, happy as can be. Nothing compares to the kick off of a vacation (even if it’s only for three days) when your energy and anticipation is at an all time high. Noah scoped out the waves while I scoped out future running routes…there are infinite possibilities in these parts of the world to find inspiration and get lost in your passions.
I had too much fun (no for real you should check out the video coming soon!) using a selfie stick for the first time and capturing some prime footage for my YouTube lifestyle vlog, The Juice of Life. But teasing Noah for being awkward while I was recording was way more fun…so it may take a bit more time in front of the camera for you all to get to know him. To Noah’s credit, he took his job as captain seriously, focusing on the road ahead and being a responsible driver. I honestly thank the heavens every time I safely navigate through the California highways, so I am thankful for his master skills.
And as the morning sun rose, it brought to us a beautiful day amidst the palm trees and artistic charm that is Santa Barbara. We explored the hills, appreciating the new views while considering the possibilities of the day ahead. Finding Noah a good surf spot was at the top of the list. He had been itching to ride his first central coast wave and I couldn’t wait to watch him in his element again. I wished I could have been in the waves with him but I looked forward to stretching out on a beach under the warm sun for the first time since I broke my femur…ten weeks ago.
My healing fracture had accumulated enough new calcium to start bearing weight and train my leg to function again. While my range of motion was still limited, I was experiencing significant gains in my recovery and strength and had developed new muscle in just a few days. This gave me the confidence to embark on some new and much needed outdoor excursions.
I attribute this strength to staying diligent with my recent rehabilitation techniques and exercises and jumping into a normal life routine. I was so ready to soak in some good juice and so ready to conquer some new hills and new terrain too.
Checking the waves I have learned is an essential process that is not only fun for the surfer, but critical to attracting the most enjoyable session in the salty swell.
First we checked the pier…(it’s always flat).
Then we checked a right point break just a few miles north of the pier that was truly a perfect Paige-Wave! A Paige-Wave is a wave suitable for my size, so not too big since I am pretty small. And in a perfect world, the sun is shining and there are happy people everywhere…a totally no-consequence break. Just fun in the water and sun. Eventually I will paddle out on the overhead days when the skies are gray and show up the boys. I’m just too competitive with myself for there to be any other outcome.
The truth is, I am actually learning to LOVE this sport! I love how you can find complete harmony and balance amongst total chaos. Not to mention just getting up on and riding a wave is the most liberating feeling ever. You are forced to be in the present moment as you dance along the wave, powered by the immense ocean behind you.
It reminds me of why I love leading races so much…for me, there is no greater place to be. I love finding rhythm in my breathing and stride, feeding off the energy of the hundreds of beating footsteps behind me. I find peace in the emptiness of the open course ahead and it relaxes me. My rhythm and feet use the energy that isn’t spent on being stressed to run faster and stronger. This is what I chase after.
I am so thankful Noah brought this new love into my life and that I found a sport I can enjoy if I ever do run myself into the ground. I’m not going to think about or entertain any energy to this reality, just cross that bridge if it ever happens and keep on smiling.
We checked a few other spots and I watched as Noah’s anticipation grew…every break we pulled up to he hopped out of the car like a dog finally let out to play at the park. Eyes fixed on the prize. After gambling on what the waves may look like we forked up the ten-dollar fee for El Capitan State Beach. We both had a feeling it would be good…
And it was.
But was it too good? I gazed down at the break where all the surfers congregated. I watched as they paddled over and into the steep sloping head high waves, dodging jagged rocks as they wove through clean barrels of water like needles to thread. A surfer’s playground. I watched as some pulled off this endeavor with stealth and grace while others plummeted over the falls and into the rocky abyss below, surrendering to the turbulent sea.
He was stoked.
I was slightly concerned.
But hey, the sun was shining and we both were ready to breathe in the good negative ions of the warm, salty, California breeze.
With an ear-to-ear smile I trekked down the hills to the beach and then over a two hundred meter stretch of rocks.
Don’t forget, I still can’t walk on my own for long distances without breaking good form…I wondered how many waves were missed by people taking note of the ridiculous little person conquering the rocky beach on crutches, with no shame at all. I had to be extra cautious with every step, finding stability in the unstable footing and carefully picking out every following step. It was pretty fun, to be honest, and I must be among a select few to have ever crutched that entire distance. The final destination was well worth it.
I sprawled my turquoise patterned beach blanket over a fluffy patch of green grass that bordered the gleaming pebbled beach. Noah zipped up his wetsuit and like a cat eying its prey, fixed his gaze on the open surf, analyzing his next movements. I will definitely say he fit in with this crew of big bearded guys in plain black wetsuits. There were no hipster haircuts in site, no stickers plastered obnoxiously over boards and no flashy neon suits. What these guys lacked in material flash was made up for in their ability. They were humble and fierce at the same time. The best athlete if you ask me.
It’s similar to when you get to a race…there are always those runners warming up that look the part…trimmed perfectly in high fashion athletic gear like they just jumped out of a Nike magazine. Showcasing their brand name of choice (it’s perfect free advertising for those companies). You are blinded by hot pink, perfectly coordinated outfits, and it’s lime green high knees around the parking lot for days. Some will spend more time applying make up then actually warming up (got to get that Insta worthy post race pic). It’s the sparkling clean sneakers that always get me. And typically, these are the runners you will pass in that last straightaway, so try not to be intimidated. The surfing world I have learned classifies these participants as “kooks.” It’s actually pretty funny.
Although, I could never call a fellow runner a “kook” because if putting on a trendy running outfit is what gets you out of bed and gets you moving your body, then all the power to ya!
Anyway, we said our goodbyes, smiling and waving for his entire walk to the surf. He looked back at me one last time with that bearded smile and time stood still. Someone strummed a guitar near by and laughter from a group of girls floated through the calm air. It was pure bliss. I tried to keep my eyes on him but he blended in with all of the other surfers, a bunch of bearded seals if you ask me. Ready to be munched on.
I pushed the terrible thought out of my head and pushed the images of seeing his blissful little face crashing into that one especially rocky section out of my mind. It doesn’t matter how skilled or strong you are if you smash into a rock. Sometimes I have this crazy intuition and can prove the law of attraction to be more than true. Maybe it is just coincidence but either way it is freaky and cool all the same. I can’t tell you how many things (good or bad) I have manifested into my life after first putting energy into or writing about it. No, no. Not today, today was perfect and splendid and we both needed this time more than ever.
Eventually I pulled out my journal, ready to sip in some creative juices and make some art with words. And just as I look up, my guy drops in to a head high wave.
And he made the drop! After that it was turn, turn, turn, just before pulling into the barrel and out the back after closing out. Wow! His first wave was beautiful and he didn’t fall mercy to the creepy rocks. My nerves settled and I returned to my pen and paper, he was about to have a great session.
That is, until about ten short minutes later when I look up and see his devastated face, scrambling out of the water.
What could have happened?! His new Tommy Moore board appeared to be intact, but he looked slightly freaked out nonetheless. Was it a shark?
I notice the blood spilling down his face…and that was the end of our nice little moment. Life is funny like that. Just as you catch your breath a new obstacle appears. So when he dropped into and pulled out of his first central coast wave, and first wave of the day, it was only natural for his board to snap back and clock him in the head. Nothing a few stitches couldn’t fix but a below average situation nonetheless.
We were less than excited to spend our last evening of vaca in the Arroyo Grande hospital and prayed the process would run smooth.
And it did! Law of attraction right?
Literally less than an hour later we were out and on with our night. Life is funny like this too. So it was only appropriate to stroll into sleepy Morro Bay just forty five minutes later, after following the advice of the nurse who stitched Noah up. She was a local, so she was the best word we had. She swore take out dinner under “The Rock” is sure to be one of the most romantic dates you may experience and to skip Pismo Beach if you are looking for a quiet evening. We try to avoid the internet on these trips unless for an emergency and instead follow our intuitions and footsteps. We all have an internal compass so if lose your way, just know there is something to be learned or appreciated from the journey.
Thick fog laid heavy over the bay, nestling between the small buildings and boats. Morro Bay felt more like a rustic fishing village from the 1960’s. The bright moonlight illuminated the silhouettes of weathered sailors, working tirelessly on their rigs that laced around the bay, imperfect and beautiful. It was only by chance that we turned down a little quiet road that lead us through the fog and straight to The Rock itself (Morro Bay’s main attraction). Huge and odd, it stood alone at the end of a peninsula. We sat below the massive rock, immersed in our surroundings. The air was cool, dark, and mysterious…an unknown concoction sweet to our senses.
It was quiet too. So quiet. And we noticed we were not alone…
There were many other people simply sitting in their cars like Noah and I, enjoying the quiet solitude of The Rock. It was just us, the rock, the crashing waves, and the fog. I had been craving a moment in nature like this for so long…you will find Southern California to be busy all of the time, and everywhere (except for Joshua Tree that is…the most silence you may ever experience). But this was different, one of those moments where you really feel alive and totally still.
When the fog lifted and sun rose on my twenty sixth year of life, we found the bright new day to be as slow and peaceful as the evening before. How could such a place exist? Everyone was happy here too. A pizza man from town had reminded us that everyone here is on “permanent vacation.” This place was a hidden gem and its unique allure seemed to be appreciated by the locals.
We explored the quaint downtown at the harbor, had fish and chips on the boardwalk and enjoyed the best birthday cupcake ever from a cozy little bakery on the main strip. If you are in Morro Bay with a sweet tooth I highly recommend the Sun N’ Buns Bakery, great service too. Be aware, the girls behind the counter are very convincing…you may end up leaving with not just one snickerdoodle cookie, but three. We roamed around like kids and found ourselves acquainted on a secluded bench by the waters edge. We sat together in complete awe, soaking in the sunny rays and couldn’t help but smile at the name of the fishing rig immediately adjacent from us…Two Dreams.
Life is perfect like this.
I have learned that the best things in life can come to you at the most unexpected of moments. The more you follow your inner compass, your innate human instinct, the more serendipitous moments you will encounter. We do not just live in nature, we are nature. So do what feels natural to you and try to understand that if one door closes, another will open. You just have to trust your feet and follow the road ahead. The best way to conquer fear or doubt is to take in every moment, second by second. Love it. Learn from it. Step into the unknown…
Peace, love, running!
*The title of this post, Walking into the Unknown, is inspired from the original acoustic song written and composed by my boyfriend Noah and will be coming soon to my YouTube channel, The Juice of Life.