I first sunk into the thick grainy sand of the infamous North Shore of Oahu a little over a month after my seventeenth birthday, back in 1997. I had just gotten sponsored by Rusty and before the dream of seeing Pipeline had even formed in my young mind, I found myself staying at the legendary Jerry Lopez Pipe house with a view of the wave from my bedroom window. I was in awe. I remember meeting Joel Tudor. He stood on the front porch and asked me if I had ever tried to surf an entire session switchfoot. I'll never forget it.
I've made the pilgrimage every year since then, spending anywhere from a quick ten days to a full two months. I've surfed Pipe myself (albeit very small), had my bikini bottoms ripped off on a heavy duckdive during a photo shoot at Log Cabins, gotten one of the tubes of my life at very crowded Gas Chambers, spent hours and hours paddling against the current at Rockies, scared out of my mind at Sunset, competed at Haliewa, Pipe, and Turtle Bay, bounced by the backwash at Makaha, and scraped on the reef at V-Land. I've scored countless breakfast sandwiches at Ted's Bakery, Teriyaki chicken sandwiches at Wailua Bakery, pupus at Haliewa Joes, and mourned the loss of Taste of Paradise, Kammie's Market, and Sunset Pizza. I've watched the North Shore grow and change, been apart of reality tv shows, Triple Crown house parties, and generally been another regular performance in the annual circus.
The North Shore bike path
This year, I didn't want to go. After elleven years of the same old thing, I just couldn't motivate to make the pilgimage. I needed a break. I stayed home and wore my thick wetsuit. Sometimes in looking at photos posted on friends' facebook pages I regretted my decision. After a particular cold morning of way too many ice cream headache duckdives, I had a minor freakout. I needed warm water! Fortunately, that afternoon I got a call from a friend saying she was headed out to the North Shore for the first time and was wondering if I could recommend a hostel. I quickly volunteered my services as tour guide and travel agent, booked us a house across the street from Rockies, and that was it. I was going to the North Shore afterall - me, and three 18-19 year olds!
sets stacking at rockies
our view of sunset from the balcony
Emily aka "Em-dogs" Wratchskoo
There's nothing like hanging out with 18 year olds to remind yourself of the pure joy in surfing and surf travel. It was exactly what I needed.