Tales from the Tour – Rain on the Parade


It has been a long time since I have written anything about regarding the life on the WQS Pro Surfing Tour. We all face roadblocks. I have had many experiences that to me were just fun and entertaining. However, it is the times when things go off plan that help shape you as a person.

Time to Head North!

Starting in August, there was a short series of surfing contests that basically gave you almost an event every weekend. I had a job and I could not attend them all, so I picked out the local one and then picked out a few others that I could attend up north in a short amount of time to ensure I kept up my ratings points. Going over the calendar, I figured I could easily make the Heritage Pro in New Jersey and then the next week shoot down to North Carolina for the Outer Banks Pro.

As my plan began to take shape, I decided that as usual in that time period that I would drive up. I put in the time off request at work and it was promptly approved. Then I started to call my group of travel buddies. Oddly enough, none could go on that stretch. I made a few more calls and then just gave up. I would go alone. Which at this point was not a big deal because I knew plenty of hotels and I also had friends in New Jersey to stay with.

So the day came and off I went! Driving from state to state I kept a close eye on the news. It was the end of the summer season and it was prime time for tropical activity. True to form, there was a system moving up through the islands and taking aim at the East Coast of the United States and it was well on its way to becoming a hurricane.

We Are Off!

The event was nothing grand. The opening heat was in normal surf and I did not have to do much to advance. The next heat was good. The third heat I had to step things up and barely missed the cut. Done and out of the event, I had to head to Belmar, New Jersey to stay with my buddy Wild Bill. The problem was that separating myself from home was now a hurricane and it was expected to make an impact in the Outer Banks. I needed a place to sit things out.

I arrived in Belmar and the conditions had already started to ramp up. Big sets were coming in beyond the jetties. I paddled out and picked off a few bombs. Towards the end, the wind started to pick up as well. Bill and I ran back to the car to head home.

Waking up the next day, the news showed the devastation around Kitty Hawk and the contest site. It was painfully obvious that a surf contest was not in the cards for that area. Outside the window, the rain and wind began to hit the house. The news spoke about flooding on I-95 and portions of the highway being closed. For the moment, I was blocked. It was 10:30 a.m., and I had to just wait.

So Bill and I drove down to Eastern Lines Surf Shop and we made a day of it. We drove to take care of some errands and late in the afternoon, we returned back home. Watching the news, I saw my big break scroll across the ticker along the bottom of the news screen. I-95 is now open! Oh yes!! I grabbed my bags, gave some hugs to the family, and was off. Just outside Belmar, I stopped at the gas station and filled up the gas tank.

So at the time, I just had a cheap cell phone with no internet access. Who knows if Goggle Maps was an option at that time. It was now night. I was making good time although remnants of the storm were still on hand. The cities rolled by. Philadelphia through to a rainy run through Washington D.C. and then across the state line of Virginia. I wearily looked at the scenery.

Running on Empty

I pressed on and was starting to feel tired. I soon saw the 95 loop for Williamsburg and made my way onto it. I noticed the gas gauge was getting low so this would be my big priority. I would just have to find the next exit and get off and fill up! The big question was how much longer should I drive? I cleared my eyes and fiddled with the radio. Suddenly, I saw a road veering off to the side and my headlights light up a sign. What?? An exit? I kept going. Then it happened again. They just came out of nowhere in the pitch black. Why were they not illuminated? This was not going to happen again. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw cars lined up behind me. I seemed to be leading an auto parade. Once again, my headlights caught the green of an approaching sign and this time I turned off and made the exit. As I came down the ramp, I was greeted with…nothing. Black outlines showed in the distance. As my eyes adjusted, I saw the outlines of buildings, stores, and a darkened gas station. Why would they be closed? I looked at the gas gauge…Close to empty. Cars lined up behind me. I turned and made my way back to the highway. This played on over and over. What was going on!!!

I pulled off to the next exit and was greeted by yet another pitch dark town. As with every exit, there was a usually thriving gas station that was abandoned. I pulled up next to the pumps. The line of cars swooped around and kept on. Then it became clear. The hurricane hit the Outer Banks and moved inland and up into the Chesapeake area and that included Williamsburg. The storm had demolished the power grid. Everything was out. I picked up the phone and began to make some calls. Then I thought of my friend Jamie who lived in North Carolina. I called Jamie and he had an idea. He would get gas and drive up in the morning and he would give me enough gas to get going. So that would be it. I would just wait it out for the next day. I took in the situation. Out of gas. In a strange town, in a city with no power. Stranded. Despondently, I laid down in my car to try to sleep.

Over the next hour or so, I would try to sleep but would be interrupted by cars pulling into the station in desperation. I would lay down again. Then a car approached and the lights shown into my car windows. I looked up. A police officer!

I rolled down the window and greeted the officer. I spilled out my tale and how my car was below E. The officer looked at me and then told me that I was in luck! He knew of one local gas station that in a miracle was open 24 hours and had power. Literally, the only one in his area that he knew of. I could not believe my luck! The police officer told me the directions and I just had to turn right and drive several miles. With an escort, I felt better. The officer slowly pulled out of the lot. I turned the key. The gas gauge barely budged. My car crept forward. Then he turned onto the road…left.

I drove to the right. Why would he not show me the way!! So I pressed on. Stay steady to conserve gas. Minus the power, the night was dead black. I scanned the dense forest for a sign of a gas station. Only twisted trees. Come on! Suddenly, I passed a single lane veering off into the forest. Oh well. The trees cleared and off in the distance was a lone illuminated gas station sign. Was that the exit! What do I do! Thankfully it was late at night and the roadway was abandoned. I was now going about 10 miles per hour on the highway. In the dark, I saw the onramp winding down a hill coming to meet my highway. I quickly made a disjointed right turn straight onto the onramp and drove the wrong way towards my destiny in the distance. Please make it! Please!! A few more turns on the wrong side of the road and then a fast burst of speed straight up to the pumps!

I went inside and bought some snacks and drinks. What a relief. I was exhausted. It was now after midnight. I really should just call it a night and find some place to stay for the night. After filling the tank, I jumped back onto the highway and set my sights back on I-95. I rejoined the line of cars.

Empty to Full

Yawning, I pressed on. Soon, came an exit. I pulled off with the line of cars. Some were looking for gas but now I joined a new group which was the group searching for a room. The line nervously headed towards the first hotel. No power – No vacancy. We all moved to the highway. Once we got off the loop, after several miles on the highway came the first illuminated billboard. Power! Then a highly illuminated road sign. Off I went down the ramp. We all eyed the hotel. Some cars drove to the other side of the lot to try to shake the others. People jumped out of cars and ran to the door…and came out. No vacancy. Then off to the other hotel with the same result.

This went on for exit after exit after exit.

Then came yet another exit with people jumping out while I was trying to find a parking space. I drove to the side of the parking lot with still no open spots. Then I hit an elevated spot that looked over to a nearby town. I looked at the buildings. The stores. Then my eyes caught it…Best Western! I punched the gas.

I nervously looked in my rearview mirror. No one noticed me making a break towards the town. I pulled into the town and headed towards the magical sign. A quick turn into the Lobby parking area and I ran off to the front desk. The doors opened and the bleary-eyed agent greeted me.

Well…I only have one unit left. It is an ADA (a unit with disabled amenities) unit so would this be o-kay with you?

YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!

After finally getting a shower, I laid down into an economy room that felt as good as a stay in the finest 5 star resort. I sent out one message before shutting my eyes.

Thanks Jamie! No need for the gas. Talk to you tomorrow.

I have had worse experiences for sure. But times like these help one understand that things do not always go to plan. You have to calm down and press on and get past it.

Any travel disasters that would give me a chuckle?




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A Few Steps Forward


A few days ago, I was at work counting down for the best moment to make my departure. The swell from the hurricanes was waning and I wanted to get in a few last drops of what energy was left. After changing, I hurried down to the closest main surf beach in my area which also happens to be by far one of the most fickle and is also prone to being the worst in the area.

I got out of my car and hurried down to the crowd of people playing volleyball and laying on towels. The wind blew in short bursts at my face and rock music blared from a bar on the pier. The surf was extremely poor. Small choplets broke in a confused series towards the shore. The sun was quickly setting. I had to paddle out.

Like everyone, you reach one of those points. Am I satisfied with how things are going? Is my employment giving me the fulfillment I think I deserve? What can I be doing to be better?

The past few sessions during the hurricane surf gave me hope.

A few turns that were sharp and impactful. Some linked up rides. A well set up barrel.

And a few that pointed out what I needed to work on.

A ride that I found every turn to be a bit to late and behind the section. I noticed that I was not doing enough floaters and pumping as wide as I should have as well. And one ramp that I hit to late. So I need to get into the lip earlier and do more rail work instead of just a late end move.

So I waded into the turbulent water. The only adult foolish enough to go in. The only adult who knows that surfing poor waves is the key to improvement. Even if every wave is a struggle to complete, there is a chance to work on something.

When I came in and made my way through the crowd, a woman stopped me. She was from Canada. She said that her daughter saw me surf and wanted to try it during the vacation and asked if I wanted to give lessons. At that moment, the answer was clearly no. My soft top had a damaged fin. I had to work the next day. And at that moment, I had only my tiny shortboard which she would not find easy to try on. So I had to direct her to a friend who gives surf lessons.

That moment did make me think.

There are other avenues in life. I can still compete at some level even if for fun. I can still coach and work harder to make that a reality. Write. The list goes on and on.

I just have to leave the predictable and monotony of the routine and step into the unknown. No matter the conditions or the time.



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Frame Work


This hurricane season will go down as one of the most catastrophic seasons on  record. These storms have done damage to many I know scattered from the mainland United States to the Caribbean. My heart weighs heavy for anyone whom has been affected.

For me, working on the coast in a resort has put surfing on a different priority. Once the resort and town are damaged, surfing must take a second seat to correcting and repairing the property in which I am employed. This happened last year during Hurricane Matthew. Instead of surfing, I spent long days helping to clean up down tree limbs and other debris.

For some though, the storms did deliver. Classic surf came to some spots and destroyed others. So at times, finding the best spot was a crap shoot. I would say that as far as myself taking on some challenging surf went: I completely lost out. I had two early-morning sessions in the most convenient surf spots which unfortunately were not as big as other spots. But, I did surf and I am thankful for that!




Short sequence of me at my local spot




So I bet you think that I am disappointed…

Not at all!

I rode a 5 foot 5 Tomo during this swell and for many middle-aged surfers; this would not seem like a good idea. I always receive questions about my board and I always tell people the same thing. If you focus on the odd nature of the board then you will never ride it well. I just catch the waves and do what my experience tells me to do and that is to pay attention to the wave and do the turn that fits in best with what the wave seems to be doing.

Going further to life in general, people spend to much time focusing outward. Asking questions such as what is my co-worker doing and how can they afford that? What if this goes wrong and someone decides to break the rules? Where is this person going?

The answer is that you can not control the actions of others. You can not make someone do what you think is right. You can not make someone vote the way you feel they should vote. You can not force people to be valiant or saintly.

You can control your own life and your own actions.

So I spent my day working on my surfing and making the choice to enjoy the experience with the other surfers who also came out. One guy came down from Massachusetts on a business trip which is a long ride so I made him feel welcome.

I also was grateful that I was able to surf with a few friends whom I have not surfed with years. One of them, Matt Sawyer, grabbed his camera and was cool enough to get a few shots of me riding.




So yes, I did not get to surf the best waves of Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria.

I did get to surf with some good friends, get some photos taken, and enjoy a few relaxing days of practicing.


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Looking Inside


The last 6 months have been draining to say the least.

Looking at my drafts folder in WordPress, I have written at least 5 posts on some variation of my feelings in regards to those events. Some have social sprinklings. Some political. Some spiritual.

All written but none good enough to be considered worthy of a push of the Publish icon.

But I do have a big takeaway and it is worthy of a try. It is also counter-intuitive.


I will not lie. I have prepared for war. I gathered information. Wrote reports and was ready to drop bombs. My finger itched to get retribution. This mindset spread through my life. I found myself eager to go to social media and try to point out how other people had wrong views on our current social and social climate. This only caused more stress.

But on another level, my life was taking a different turn. I began to look to other mindsets and I stripped my ego and anger away and just pulled far back. Then it all fell into place.

In an environment of small-minded people. Back stabbers and pot-stirrers; I could turn my attention to them and become them or look in another direction. I turned my attention inward. The more I focused on myself, I could see the very people who thought of themselves as role models were merely average. And others in higher positions saw the same.

Your Model Life

Imagine buying a model airplane and some glue. Then taking every intricate part in one hand and the glue in the other. And now imagine yourself not looking at the parts but instead, you are focusing on the actions of your neighbors outside your window, your family, and the television.

What will the airplane look like once the last piece has been stuck on?

This plane represents the plane of your life. This is what you jump into daily and expect to fly off to a better way.

This is the problem of many.

We are bogged down daily with impossible tasks that only end with bad results. Trying to change the feelings of people around us who feel that they are right and that you are wrong. The end resulting in people unfriending us on social media or fights breaking out and nothing is solved.

Watching the actions of others at work or in public instead of focusing on what we can do to better our own lives. Then feeling shocked when the review comes back as average or someone else is promoted. Or the savings account is almost negative. Or we feel out of shape or depressed.

These are problems that you can tackle and solve. Problems that will have an impact far greater than worrying about terrorists or bogeymen. How long are Teds breaks and why he is going to the restroom so much?

The focus just has to shift from looking for problems outwards to looking inward.



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Noise to Note! #142

Noise to Note!

I have not churned out a good edition of Noise to Note! in a while so it seems now is a good of time as any to get back on the proverbial horse.

For this installment, I am going with a cover of a great song by The Stone Roses. The song is, I Wanna Be Adored. I think that this cover does the song justice as well as one I put on soon from a band called Iris.

Since this band is not a household name, I am going to put on a secondary track as well.

Monsters are Waiting – I Wanna be Adored.

Monsters are Waiting – Nobody


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A Picture and a Few Words


People prize autographs. Scribbled upon squares of paper towels or upon artist controlled photographs. Well, a few days ago I found my prized surfing magazine. A magazine that has various autographs written inside of it.

So I was a young kid with a case of idol worship. In my eyes, some of my surfing heroes basically could walk on water. So imagine my feelings when I met some of my favorites and I was able to sit in a quiet area and we were having adult conversations. After one day of a contest, I came home and thought to myself that nobody would believe my tales. Sure you were hanging out with a world champ…so I found a pretty fitting edition of Surfing Magazine and took it with me back to the contest.

Looking back, my perception has changed as an adult. As a 15 year old, I failed to pick up on some of the politics that were playing out. My magazine presents a snap shot of that period of time. You see the magazine that I picked out was far different than most surfing magazine set ups which seem to consist of stories and each story features a different group of participants. This magazine has multiple shots of a small group of people and even the profiled athletes are in other sections of the  magazine.

So, during a conversation, I would pull out the magazine and then ask the unknowing target to sign it. After they took the magazine, each surfer would sit down and thumb through the pages until they found a photo that resonated with them. A few times I even suggested another photo but the surfer would not really be into that photo and would tell me that they liked some other photo better and then they would pen something onto the relevant photo.  Looking back, I can see how the choices fit into what was going on with them at the time.

Peter Townend

Peter was a former world champ. Long before social media came into play, he seemed to be well ahead of the curve as far as creating a marketable character was concerned. He was part of the Bronzed Aussies which was a surf team that was comprised of Australia’s brightest talents.

When presented with the magazine, he quickly thumbed to the ad and signed the photo as part of the Bronzed Aussies. Shrewd!


Cheyne Horan

Cheyne was in a state of transition when his young future concubine handed him the surfing magazine. Magazines, of course, come out months after most of the events inked across the pages had occurred; so Cheyne appeared in this magazine as part of the Bronzed Aussies. The reality of that time was far different. He was on the verge of a long journey of self exploration. So when he saw himself in the same ad that Peter Townend previously signed; he opted out as he had split from the team. Instead, he chose a small photo in a collage. A photo that forced him to spill his words off to the side of the page.


Larry Bertleman

Larry had several choices as well. As a kid, it perplexed me that he chose to sign a picture of the underside of his surfboard skipping across the wave instead of a photo that clearly showed one of my favorites ripping. Now, I get it.

Shaun Tomson wrote to me about speed. But I think he was speaking of the human creating the path. Larry spoke to me about fins and board designs. Designs that could help him go where he wanted to go. Directions his former boards could never muster.

This was Larry’s homage to his partner…his board.


Shaun Tomson

Shaun liked the speed blur angle of this photo.

To Steve: Speed is the Essence.

I have always carried his words in my head when I hit the surf. Speed opens up possibilities.


Jeff Crawford

Jeff had more choices than anyone. He had a feature interview in this edition and he looked at every photo in a deliberate manner. Finally, he opened to the page and smiled. He picked this back light beauty at his beloved Pipeline.


Wayne Bartholomew

Rabbit went the perfect route. The photo was big and unlike Peter Townends choice; he ensured that there was no doubt that he held the world title.


Dick Catri

Jeff Crawford is sitting next to Dick in this photo and he passed this up for the tube photo.

So I was pretty psyched that I had all these signatures in my magazine. So psyched that I told Dick of my great fortunes.

Dick picked up the magazine and began to thumb through the pages. Finally, he came to a page and picked up a pen.

You forgot someone! He began to scribble on a page.

Little did I know that he was in an ad but he knew. Finding it years later and seeing that he signed it means a lot to me now that he has passed.


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Stubbies Pro Trails


Lou Bell, Matt Kechele, and myself at one of the Stubbies Trials.

Recently I found an old YouTube video of the Stubbies Pro Trails which brought back a huge flood of emotions. Mainly…a lot of cringing.

You see, I also have found a lot of old videos of myself surfing and old super 8 films as well.

I have been through a lot of phases and surfed through a lot of the evolutionary moments of surfing. Some were great and some were well-intentioned but really missed the mark.


Me riding the sucky twin fin. Yet, still getting 5th place.

As a grom, I thought I had a good style and for a kid I was able to surf in a mature manner. Then came my twin fin phase and the contests. My first board (after moving to Florida) was awful. Sure it worked in some conditions but the star systems fins seemed to break like crazy and the wide point was to far forward. My second twin was great. It is similar to what I ride today. An aquatic skateboard. Then came my big break – a sponsorship with Natural Art.

My first boards were duds. This was due to Rich not knowing my surf style but even more due to me not knowing what to order. Plus, my spastic surfing did not compliment the boards either. I also had a wonderful gift of damaging my boards so I was borrowing boards that were completely wrong for me. This goes hand in hand with some of the surfing in the video. Talented surfing and a lot of extra hand motions. Many of the surfers featured in this video molted into smooth as butter rail surfers. It was just the times. Flat twin fins with surfers being judged on how much they could move their boards around. Going with that, the video of me during this time frame makes me cringe to say the least.

Thankfully, Rich Price began shaping me some thrusters and the rest is history.

Finally when you reach the end of this video, check out my dad! He is wearing the Stubbies purple tank top and he has on a blue hat. He is holding the trophies that Pat Mulhern and Charlie Kuhn received. I was somewhere off camera watching.


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