Good morning and greetings, Hanukah fans, and welcome to our grand finale for 2009. Due to my life coach’s orders, I’m going to take a couple of weeks off and head out to Palm Desert for nine days of meditation, relaxation and enough sports and movie viewing to make my eyes bleed. There’s nothing like the desert in the wintertime-flowers blooming, 80 degree temperatures and the outdoor hot tubs and pools running 24 hours a day. But take my word for it, it’s not any easy existance-sometimes when the temperatures dip I have to put on a warmer bathing suit.
On the meteorology front, last week was a record-breaking doozy. I woke up Tuesday to frost on my windshield and keyboard, as snow fell in the Santa Cruz mountains as the low temperature was 29 degrees, the coldest December 8 in Santa Cruz history. How cold was it? Here are my favorites. It was so cold, hitchhikers were holding up pictures of their thumbs. Politicians had their hands in their own pockets. When I turned on the shower, I got hail. I saw an Amish man buying an electric blanket. My dog moved his blanket from the dog house to the barbecue. And finally, and my personal favorite, it was so cold, my father used tabasco sauce as an after shave lotion just to get some feeling in his face.
A blast of frigid Canadian air mixed with a large storm system that originated in the Gulf of Alaska delivered the coldest period I can remember in my twenty-four years here in Santa Cruz. Well, except for the that stretch in 1984 when my jumper wouldn’t go down and I was as cold as ice. To say the least, it was a tad chilly for Warrior fans. Or in the words of George Carlin, “The weather was dominated today by a large Canadian low, which is not to be confused with a Mexican high.”
Meanwhile, while we were shivering here on the central coast, it was sunny and warm in Hawaii as the biggest waves in years hit the North Shore of Oahu. Which meant it was time for the prestigious Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest at Waimea Bay. The event was created in 1984 to honor former Waimea Bay lifeguard Eddie Aikau, who was lost at sea while attempting a solo rescue back in 1978. This legendary surfing event is only held on a day when the wave faces are consistently near 40 feet. Because of these standards, this event has only been held eight times in its 25-year history, or about as often as I wake up past 6 am.
According to observers, it was a classic, all-time day at Waimea, with 25 foot waves, 50 foot faces and winds as sweet as a Maui Gold pineapple. As Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in his Three Dot Lounge blog, “A typical Waimea session draws big crowds but falls short on the entertainment scale, hardly measuring up to Maverick’s for quality and length of ride. But when the Bay is really firing, as it was today, no one in attendance would rather be anywhere else. There’s a spirit, vibe and historical element to that event that simply cannot be matched.”
The winner of the contest, which hadn’t been held in five years, was Greg Long of San Clemente, CA, who won $55,000 and the title for the day as the world’d best big wave surfer. Next up, Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, which was pumping last week and the next challenge for these men (and women) who ride mountains and risk their lives to ride the biggest of the big. Just before the contest began, there was a Hawaiian prayer said for the safety of the competitors. It’s the same prayer is say every time I turn on the jacuzzi jets in my hot tub.
So in honor this event, we are featuring a couple of shots I took from the final day of the Coldwater Classic held last month at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz. The morning started with a beautiful sunrise at Lighthouse Point. When I came up from shooting on the sand at Its Beach, I headed over to the Lane and was greeting by these huge waves barreling off shore. It was an exciting feeling, seeing these epic waves show up for our local contest, and although they don’t compare to the monsters of Waimea or Mavericks, they certainly brought smiles to the faces of all who came. Myself, I was just happy to walk away with a contest poster and a Jeff Spicoli t-shirt.
On to the late night action. “Honestly, — the Salahis. They had a big state dinner for the guy and all of a sudden there’s a lovely young couple there. Nobody has any idea who they are, nobody cares who they are, they weren’t invited, nobody wants them there. Since 1980, there have been 91 breaches of security at the White House. Well, 92 if you count George Bush. How about the couple that sneaked into the White House for the big state dinner? Now, they’re going to be subpoenaed by the House Homeland Security committee. But I mean honestly, you can’t blame the Salahis for going where they’re not invited. I mean, isn’t that our foreign policy?” –David Letterman
“According to the CIA, Osama bin Laden periodically sneaks into Afghanistan. Well, a guy’s got to have fun! You know what I mean? What happens in Kabul stays in Kabul. In Iowa, a large group of people waited outside a Sarah Palin book signing to urge her to run for president in 2012. The large group of people was known as the Iowa Democratic Party.” –Conan O’Brien
“This is interesting. A letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1808 has been discovered at the University of Delaware. It’s a personal letter thanking John McCain for his support in the election of 1804. This week, America’s last living World War I veteran — a man named Frank Buckles, 108 years old — he said he would like to see a memorial in Washington, D.C. You know, when he gets back from Afghanistan.” –Jay Leno “Police in Texas seized thousands of ecstasy tablets with pictures of Obama’s face on them. Drug dealers chose Obama because the pills make you feel hope and change and then send you off to a faraway place.” –Craig Ferguson
So that’s it, sports fans, our final notes and jolts for 2009. We will return on January 4, with some desert delights along with the highlights from the journey inside my mind. Birthday wishes go out to my long-time, New Jersey pal Steve Margolin, who phoned in from Connecticut to state on the record that I did not strike him out twice in that minor league championship game but does admit to whiffing on a sidearm fastball to close out the ballgame. I don’t want to say that Steve and I go way back, but the first video of me is at Steve’s birthday party where I’m wearing a red jacket and bow tie, looking like young Geoffrey Farrakhan. So enjoy the holidays and the rest of 2009 and be grateful for what you have, like family, health and the NBA League Pass. We’ll catch you in the right corner of the end zone in 2010. Aloha, mahalo and later, Elin Nordegren fans.