Ireland. Don't expect to get away with cheap car insurance. But be surprised if you run into a cop on the Republic. We spent most of our days racing daylight. Fitting as much as we could in the 7 hours, driving, hiking, getting lost and running into incredibly nice individuals. We were alone more than we were expecting and found it to be refreshing, coming from coastal California where finding isolation becomes a part time job. It goes without saying the pub food was amazing, Guinness is...well...it's Guinness in Ireland. It's ridiculously good and not as filling as you might expect. We drank in converted hardware store pubs, spent only 2 days in N.I. which we could have easily dragged into a week if we planned right. The giant's causeway blew our minds, and Dublin drained our wallets. Overall, we returned home stoked, tired, and ready to dig our heals into spring. Cheers - J
December. With the exception of the day after Christmas and New Years Eve, Ireland seems a bit empty. Leading up to the holidays, pubs fill with local kids returning home to visit Mum. They begin the evening reasonable enough, and before you know it, your taking shots of Jameson at the bar, singing the fairytale of new york at the top of your lungs. We managed to bring a vicious flu with us from sfo and jeff fell into a feverish coma for the first few days. Then there's the town of dingle. On Christmas, good luck finding somewhere to eat dinner. The entire town shuts down, with eerily empty street that fill up the following day as the town erupts to celebrate the day of the wren, a celebration steming from celtic mythology. Until 100 years ago, participants would hunt the wren which was a symbol of the last year. Today, crowds of strawboys and people dressed in masks join bands and march through the town, stopping in pubs for a quick pint. After wren day, we drove. Searching for waves, music, and massive cliffs.
Chicago. Tons of insane neighborhoods, amazing food, blues, booze and an overall good time for tourism. We came for work and went full tourist on our time off. We walked, rode public city bikes, bickered about where to eat, ate too much, and then decided to go on the tour to end all tours: the chicago architecture boat tour. I got sunburned, we drank overpriced beers on the boat, and tried to shoot the classic skyline while avoiding that one brutal tour that has the insidious owner's name printed way too big on it...you know the one. So here are a few quick snaps from our little boat adventure.
After a wild year of photographing and attending a massive amount of epic weddings, we dropped ourselves off in the far ends of the caribbean floated. We drove on every coastal road we could find, ate the best fish of our lives and i put more dings in my surfboard than times i went surfing. People were people...some kind, some wanted money, some showed us secret trails, some were sick of tourists and some just wanted to have a good time and give us coconuts after a long session in the glaring sun. our taxi driver was also the barber and shaved my beard, dori almost paddled out in waves that could have mangled her on dry reef, and we both couldn't stop eating the macaroni pie. So overall we had a fantastic time and returned home sunburned and beyond stoked. - J
We drove. I was so excited to get down there, I left home at midnight. Ready for the epically long journey after an entire day of packing, checking gear, double checking gear, putting racks on, taking them off...you know...working on the baja rig.. Getting it dialed in. So I drove to LA to pick up Noah who just flew in from Denver on a whirlwind trip that will eventually end with him flying home to El Salvador. Heading south is the easy part. Mexican immigration just waved us through and we were free to roam in the land of cactus and empty waves. The highways are smooth but just windy enough to make any sort of napping for me completely out of the questions, so I opted to stay awake for 38 hours. Lucid daydreaming. Chills in the midday sun. Loss of appetite. That's what sleep deprivation does to me. We arrived to our destination just after sunset, blindly weaving through the webbing of dirt roads. The following days were filled with surfing, eating, napping and more surfing. Sand made it into the crevices of everything we owned. It filled our sleeping bags, layered our clothes, mixed with our wax, made it's way into my coffee sock. We searched miles of coastline for some empty wave possibilities. We were joined by others just like us looking for some wave riding entertainment. Older men who had clearly been there for months, preferred to work on their baja rig while empty waves ripped through rocky shorelines. We surfed until our arms gave out, our shoulder seized up and our wax melted off our boards. We were skunked at spots, we scored at others, and we ate a shit ton of avocados. Headed north we tried to access a few waves on the way out of Baja and were rejected by private land owners. We begged, we bribed, we almost got in. Empty 10 foot waves, accessible only by boat. So we sat on the bluffs 500 feet above the point and watched one grinding right after another peel off the reef. Noah yelled after each wave. I cried. We drove north. In the end, our greatest fear was running out of gas at the US/Mex border. The gaslight turned on an hour before reaching an immigrations officer. We idled, held our breath, watched surf movies on my phone and puttered to the gas station just north of the boarder. -J
So there is a pretty sizable swell coming to the west coast of california in the next 24 hours and i started to get a bit antsy about surfing/documenting/observing the madness of what mother nature is about to deliver to our doorstep. I ran out the door this evening with the hopes of documenting some really solid ocean swell, but what i saw wasn't anything reminiscent of what the charts are predicting...it just hadn't hit yet. So I decided to crawl around different nooks and crannies of west cliff in an effort to create something so i wouldn't go home completely empty-handed. I've played around with panning a tidbit in the past, but something about the light tonight made it feel a pretty unique. Here's what i came home with and i'm pretty amped to play and push the process more and see how it will evolve.
We made the long and straight drive south to attend a good friend's wedding at Smoke Tree Ranch in sunny Palm Springs. We stayed for a long weekend and enjoyed some desert sunsets and cactus love. Jeff not having picked up a racket in 20 years or so was absolutely destroyed in a playful tennis tournament hours before the ceremony....Dori found herself by the pool at neon El Saguaro. We tried our hardest not to touch anything at the moorten botanical gardens and got nice and secluded in Joshua Tree for some sunset hikes in a sweet oasis. Overall an epic weddingcation and one of the more visual stimulating trips we have had in awhile!
We recently had some awesome visitors who've been on the road for more or less 8 months. They've been to Japan, New Zealand, Santa Barbara, San Francisco and now here. We had a killer time showing them local treasures like Companion Bakeshop and having neighborhood BBQs. Here's a few snaps from a trail north of Santa Cruz, including fern caves and all.
Meet Kuntu. Although we could only speak to her through a translator, it was one of the most meaningful interactions and exchanges we experienced on Bali. She spends all day collecting wood for fire that she will sell at 2kgs for around 50 cents. That's breaks down to two buckets full of wood for 50 cents. She does this everyday during the low tides to make ends meet. She lives with her daughter in Medewi, a little fishing town northeast of Kuta. The town of Kuta is hugely impacted by tourism and after talking with a few local workers in the Kuta area we were curious to find out more about Balinese workers outside of tourism. Kuntu is part of the informal work force making money to survive beachside in a small town. Medewi is gaining more popularity with surfers + surf tourism and is slowly transforming from a sleepy fishing town to a destination for good waves that many make the drive from Kuta to surf. It will be interesting to see how Medewi transforms over the next few years as its waves become more and more popular among visitors and what that might mean for locals like Kuntu..
Menjangan Island was one of those places that National Geographic puts on it's pages. The reef, oh my goodness, the reef! The colors were magical and let me be the first to tell you that we were kicking ourselves for only bringing one tiny little backpack (that we shared mind you) leaving us with no room for our underwater housing. So really, apologies that we have no bright, neon reef pictures. But above the water was pretty spectacular too. The mangrove lagoon that we departed from on our tiny, rickety boat had a certain moody air to it- there was a storm brewing and the sky was swirling. The water was beyond turquoise, like mouthwash that you just wanted to drink up if you could. Even the boats had an energy to them- all very old and built in the old style where not a single nail was used, just wooden pegs. A local told us that all this would change soon. The old fleet of boats would soon be replaced with new plastic and epoxy boats, shiny progress. The thought of new boats in these ancient waters seemed strange. Out in the middle of the Indian Ocean we caught glimpses of the giant temple to Ganesha built on the cliffs of Mengangan that instantly made you feel like a tiny ant, in awe of the sacredness that this island holds for the local population. We docked on a small beach and took to the turquoise with all the other tourists- masks in hand and ready to see another world. Like I said- hanging out in the pages of National Geographic was quite the experience.