The Ranch. That magical surfing Shangri-La. Surfline Man has never been to the Ranch!
Surfline Man is feeling so bored.
It’s October already and so far, the winter swells just aren’t even happening. Every morning he opens his laptop and scans the forecasts. Maybe this time there will be a new swell. But no, not yet. And every evening he repeats the same ritual once again.
Still, no waves.
That big winter swell that got Surfline Man all flustered, like he had to get fit and he needed a new board, that thing disappeared on the very next model run. Here today, gone tomorrow. The surf forecasts, like life and the cute girl in the Swamis parking lot are so cruel.
On the bright side, Surfline Man now has way more time to get fit and figure out the whole step-up equation. More rocker, less rocker, Surfline Man is totally not sure what to do. Surfboards can be so confusing.
In the meantime, Surfline Man has been riding his red fish every day. But he feels like he needs better waves for his new board to shine. And he does want it to shine.
For one thing, he waited months and months for Mike the Shaper to make his new red fish for him. But also, why surf, if he’s not going to blow everyone’s minds?
If he’s honest, he knows he has a ways to go before he can hope to achieve this level of surfing excellence.
But Surfline Man is determined. He’s willing to do the work.
Surfline Man even went running in his old Vans and nearly passed out right there on the sidewalk in Cardiff. A rough moment, for sure, but he is way more fit now. Yesterday he made it a whole five blocks before almost passing out. Real fitness is so close now.
If only the waves would finally show up. Where are they hiding? Please come soon, waves!
Sitting outside the Pannikin, Surfline Man flips through the forecasts in a desultory kind of way. He is supposed to be building a website for a friend, but he’s just not feeling it. Even the coffee just isn’t doing it for him today. Life is just so boring.
Then his phone buzzes.
hey bro what up
just got a new zodiac
gona take it to the ranch this weekend
The Ranch. That magical surfing Shangri-La. Surfline Man has never been to the Ranch, but so many times he has dreamed of it. All those miles of empty coastline. So many set-ups, so many waves. All of it, forbidden fruit, hanging just out of reach.
But now, Surfline Man has a chance to go to the Ranch. Surfline Man sits up straighter in his chair. Suddenly, the coffee tastes so much better. Finally, he can find some waves worthy of his new fish. The whole world looks brighter. Day, made.
He picks up his phone and taps out a reply.
yah i’d be so stoked
what’s the plan
Coffee finished and texts exchanged, Surfline Man bounds to his Sprinter and heads home. That website he was maybe building? It can totally wait. Surfline Man has way more important things to do.
Surfline Man is going to the Ranch! It’s going to be such an adventure. First, he’s going to spend the night in his van in Ventura. Then he’s going to ride with his friends in the new Zodiac all the way to the Ranch. They’re going to score such good waves. It’s going to be the best trip ever!
Returning home, Surfline Man heads to the kitchen to check on his stock of avocados. He needs to make a Whole Foods run. More mac n cheese, defnitely.
Also, surf wax. Surfline Man is pretty sure he’s running short. He’s been meaning to change the fins on his fish, too. But there’s only so many hours in the day, you know? A man can only do so much.
Supplies assembled, Surfline Man meticulously packs the Sprinter for his big adventure. He stuffs a wetsuit, towel, fresh changing poncho, and his lucky bar of surf wax, into his rad new Da Kine dry bag. With a carabiner, he clips his favorite marine blue Hydroflask to a handy external strap. He slides a Clif Bar in the pocket. It’s so good to be prepared.
Surfline Man likes his comforts, and he lovingly spreads his Big Agnes 20-degree down sleeping bag in the back of the van. He grabbed some fresh expedition-weight long johns from Patagonia, and he’s going to be so cozy in his van. He can’t even wait.
Surfline Man almost forgot the most important part. He’s not sure how many boards he can really fit in the Zodiac, but he figures it’s good to be prepared. He slides his new fish and his precious turquoise midlength in the van. Just Surfline Man and his surfboards, spending the night together.
Spending the night turns out to be more complicated than Surfline Man expected. For one thing, he left town late. He kept forgetting things, important things like his new wax comb that he bought at the surf shop just yesterday.
Then there was some kind of situation on the 405. Surfline Man doesn’t even know what it was. Freeways, they make the surf forecasts look reliable.
When he made it to Ventura, there wasn’t any parking left. Surfline Man couldn’t even believe it. What in the world was he going to do now? He decided to keep driving.
Somewhere north of Santa Barbara, Surfline Man finds a dirt turn-out. It’s actually west of Santa Barbara, but really, Surfline Man can’t be bothered with directions at that point. He isn’t even sure it’s a legal place to camp, but he’s not about to be picky.
Surfline Man slurps down his mac n cheese, puts on his fresh long johns, and settles into his comfy down bag. The van sways when the big rigs swoosh by. Surfline Man convinces himself the whole situation is relaxing. It almost works.
Around two am, a freight train lumbers down the nearby tracks. Surfline Man sits bolt upright in his comfy down bed. He can’t even imagine what monster could be bearing down on him! He peaks cautiously out the window. A line of boxcars runs as far as he can see. There’s no sleeping now.
After dozing off, Surfline Man wakes up late. Shit! He’s going to be so late to meet his friends and the Zodiac at the Gaviota pier. He’s never going to make it to the Ranch now!
Hurriedly, Surfline Man makes coffee and heats a breakfast burrito. He pours the coffee into his favorite Yeti mug and inhales the burrito. The sun is already rising! Surfline Man has got to get on the road.
Somehow, he is parked on the south-bound side of the 101, and Surfline Man doesn’t even remember how this happened. Surfline Man has no choice but to drive south. His panic grows. He is driving so far! And there’s nowhere to turn around!
Finally, Surfline Man sees an offramp. Goleta! He is all the way back in Goleta. This is not the Gaviota pier where the Zodiac is waiting. Surfline Man knows he is not the smartest ever, but even he knows the difference between Goleta and Gaviota.
Resolutely, Surfline Man turns north or west or whatever direction it is, and gets back on the 101. He’s going to make it to Gaviota, and he’s going to surf the Ranch! Nothing more can go wrong with this, Surfline Man feels certain.
Singing along to the Beach Boys, Surfline Man pilots the Sprinter along the 101. Surfline Man has been in a total retro mood lately. Maybe he should learn to longboard. Cross-stepping. Toes on the nose. Yah, that might be cool.
Lost in his thoughts, Surfline Man completely misses the left turn to Gaviota State Beach. It’s not entirely his fault. No one expects to turn left on the freeway, after all.
The 101 serpentines through the Gaviota Pass, and Surfline Man follows it. So confident in his navigation abilities, Surfline Man turned off his Garmin back in Goleta. The road starts to climb, and blissful in his Beach Boys-induced haze, Surfline Man continues to drive.
Exit Highway 1. Sounds good. Surfline Man turns west. Everyone knows the ocean lies to the west. Surfline Man is totally on the right track now.
Singing happily along to Good Vibrations, Surfline Man cruises the winding road toward the coast. He’s so going to make it now! He is going to surf the Ranch on his new red fish that Mike the Shaper made just for him. It’s going to be the best day ever!
His phone buzzes.
dude where are you
we’re all here
ready to launch
you shoulda been here hours ago