Surfers in Huntington Beach

Sometimes all you need is a good place to rest and spend some time with not much of wandering around. California sounds perfect. Now that I found a cheap flights the opportunity at fingertips. There remains only the task to find a good company for such a trip. In fact it is quite easy to find another three daredevils to willing to taste the California lifestyle. While living in Orange County, we will see sunny beaches overcrowded with surfers. This is to be considered an American prosperity mainstay. Visiting the great metropolis, small towns, the Hollywood, getting lost in California off beaten tracks and devouring whatever is happening is all about enjoying the Golden State.

California Dreamin’

Lifeguard’s watchtower

It’s hard to choose one place to live in California. It can be neither a little town, nor a great metropolitan area like San Diego and Los Angeles. The main intention is to get most of California. Learn how to surf, ride a longboard-surfboard and a longboard-skateboard, stay along the coast to see sandy beaches, girls in bikini and keep on relaxing doing activities available in the blazing sun. Our choice is Huntington Beach, a town also known as Surf City, located in Orange County, about 50 km south of Los Angeles. For the first week it is only me and Mic who arrive to Los Angeles airport. The two others will join us later. The plan is simple. Rent a car at the airport, which we would then use to buy another car and keep it for us. I find the perfect one. It’s Ford Taurus 3.6 liter ’94 for only $925. Sounds like once in a lifetime opportunity. Car despite its age and sizable mileage (120k miles) it is in almost mint condition. Probably because the only owner who had used the car was an honest Californian grandma. We have our own car so we return back the pick-up we rented at the airport.

Pier in Huntington Beach

Over the next few days we sleep in the car. Changing places overnight usually we stay close to the ocean, as there is no problem with having a shower. Booths are right on the beach. We are keep on looking for an accommodation, putting all efforts together until we come into a room available in the set of apartments. We have a swimming pool and jacuzzi, our housemate is called TJ, a laid-back Californian surfer. We live in Costa Mesa, a town right next to Newport Beach and Surf City. This is a very wealthy town just by the Pacific Ocean. People live happily and not worry about anything. Most of those are capitalists living on interest from money invested, which is enough for prosperous standard of living.

Weather, which is sunny everyday, plays also an important part. Our Californian friend says, “Even the richest guy in London still has worse weather than a homeless in California.” Every single day the sun is shining. It next to never rains. The only problem is how big the waves would be today and therefore, should I either take a shortboard or a longboard.

Dorcia arrives today. Before we pick her up we go to see Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Santa Monica with a its promenade. The worldwide renowned caption HOLLYWOOD on the hill in fact turns out to be much smaller than I expected. Certainly not as impressive as seen on the movies. Kitsch? Not necessarily, but along with the Statue of Liberty in New York, an overrated symbol of America.

Los Angles downtown

The plane is delayed three hours, but we do not know it yet. So the extra three hours we spend in Carl’s Jr fast-food restaurant, eating and looking at the planes. This restaurant serves hamburgers roasted on a char grill, in contrast to the popular deep-fry. We pick Dorcia from LAX and thus we have a full company.

In the coming weeks I have the opportunity to visit Los Angeles for a few more times. The city has never made any special impression on me. Los Angeles is just big and not so much more about it.

Knowing that all of us will live together we come to the conclusion that we might need to rent a whole apartment. We move a few hundred meters away, where we find quite an interesting offer. It is a similar standard, thus favorable financially. The only drawback is no refrigerator in the kitchen. This is not a big problem, because despite the high temperatures outside you can get used to it. From now on I buy only smaller milk boxes to be used at once for breakfast. It is important to have all you need at hand. Especially the ocean.

Surf City

A longboard surfgirl

Huntington Beach. Surfing and other coastal sports are more popular here than going to the shop. People move along on longboards (I mean longboard a skateboard, not a surfboard), beach cruisers (kind of a bike without gears, used to move along the coast) or simply walk barefoot.. Not so much time passes and a week or two later I already have two surfboards, a 6’3” shortboard and a 9′ longboard. When I go to the beach I rarely take more than the minimum, a surfboard, a shorts and a car key.

More investments to be made in California. I get myself a Sector 9 Surf Camp longboard and immediately it becomes my favorite thing to ride. Pisi and Dorcia get their own beach cruisers. That’s our team to run along the California coast nowadays. Consecutive weeks, everyday is just like that. Passing perfectly smooth and high quality sidewalks on my longboard. Beach, surfing, longboard, bicycles, sunbathing and swimming from the early morning until late afternoon. The wonderful time playing on big waves.

Learning to surf on my only 6’3” long shortboard requires a lot of commitment and patience. It is not so simple. I admit that I got this one just because of a bargain. On the other hand, a longboard can be quickly mastered. I get a used board from my Morrocan friend, the length is 9′ feet (approx. 2.5 m) and it performs quite well. You need just a few days to get hold of the basics and slide down the three to five feet high waves. I become accustomed to the sun. Sunscreen is unnecessary. I happen to me many times to fall asleep for several hours at the midday on the scorching sun, the skin does not get burns anymore. Especially in contrast to several hours spent during the first trip to the beach. It ended up in terrible pain, some blisters and skin peeling off my back. I had to use foams soothing irritation. It is the middle of summer. In the evening I take my time relaxing in the swimming pool and jacuzzi, sipping ice-cold beer.

Newport Beach oceansie

I often visit 7-Eleven riding my longboard. I start the day over there preparing myself a coffee according to taste preferences. When it gets warmer I go for an iced coffee and when it is already hot there is no better solution than a half-a-gallon cup (about 2 liters) of crushed frozen Coca-Cola. It is so refreshing that it feels like a brain freeze.

The places that deserve special recognition include the Wedge on the edge of Newport Beach. The spot is famous for its big deadly waves. Victims are shattered to the ground by a few meter high waves that pile up very quickly because of the steep bottom. Taming the medium size waves also has to be skillfully played. Being brutally thrown and mixed with sand in ears, shorts and eyes after falling down two meters is not a pleasant experience. However that feeling is addictive and makes us often visit the Wedge in search of additional adrenaline. In general the waves reach 2-3 meters most of the time, these can be considered a medium risk ones. However one day for the first time in my life I have seen such a gigantic pile of water, the waves just before smashing up the shore reached more than 6 meters.

Quest for the oranges

Freshly picked grapefruit

One day, after midnight, we decide to go on a ride around the nearby bay. We take a bike and a longboard. We have ridden for at least ten kilometers already and we are less than halfway. At some point we pass through the darkness, still we do not want it to come back. In the end our journey takes half the night, it appeared that the bay is considerably much bigger than we thought.

In the morning we decide to drive inland in search of wildlife. We squeeze through the narrow mountain paths, almost like in Austria, we pass roadside bars; admire shiny motorcycles at the Harley-Davidson riders rally. We stop by a viewpoint and then rest for a while a bit further down in the park, the perfect place to relax. The whole area is filled with citrus trees. Most of them grow completely in the wild and much of the almost wild. We start collecting delicious grapefruit, sweet-scented oranges, peaches and aromatic lime and lemon. The thought of hand picking these citrus for personal use is even more fun. We have an inventory of approximately twenty kilograms of various citrus fruits in our car trunk. Drinking juice made from large quantities of grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes squeezed together into a huge pitcher makes a day. Enough vitamins for at least a week. This is probably the easiest explanation of why this place is called Orange County.

A few interesting facts:

Rursh hours in California
  • unlike in Europe, the streetlights are placed after the intersection
  • Americans use peanut butter wherever possible(for sweets, etc.)
  • the desert is abnormally hot; when you take supplies of water take some extra for your car radiator as the water evaporates immediately
  • it is hard to imagine living without a car in California; people say, You will not live long without a car in California. California was designed to have a car. In other words, California is a place where people do not walk
  • almost everywhere there are high quality sidewalks, perfect for longboarding and skateboarding
  • in California you do not wear socks
  • you can easily fail to notice the Mexican border crossing, which is a simple gate, however return to the States sometimes may be a several hours long queue

A few details:

Dates: June – August 2007

Duration: 10 weeks

The cost of trip: $3500

Sample prices:

Services, products and attractions

car registration, insurance, testing and all other charges for 3 months: $600
two-room apartment in Orange County $1200 – $1800 / mo
cinema ticket $12 – $15
gallon of gasoline $3
entrance to most of the national parks: $5 – $15
used surfboards (longboard, shortboard): $80 – $150
new longboard (skateboard): $150 – $200
new beach cruiser (bicycle): $230
10-minute parking at the beach: $0.25

Food and drink

2 liters of Coca-Cola: $1
fast-food meal: $5 – $8
dinner at a restaurant: $15 – $35
pizza in a shop: $3
one liter of milk: $2
beer in a shop $1.2 – $ 2.5
beer in a bar $4 – $ 7
delicious and filling food in Los Angeles Chinatown $3