Rose Bowl? What Rose Bowl?
Text & photos by: Shannon Kelley Gould
New Year’s Day: For some, it’s a time to reassess, to reevaluate, to take stock of their lives and determine what they want to change. For others, it’s a day to recuperate from the excesses of the holidays, to nurse their hangovers while swearing off baked brie, fudge, and eggnog for another year — or at least until they can get their skinny jeans back on. And for some, incomprehensibly, it’s all about the football. (I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Spandex is never appropriate. Period.) For me, well, I had to work. Fortunately, though, this is the surf issue, and when January 1 arrived, marked by sunny skies, warm temps, and decent waves, hitting the beach for a day of peeping was a no-brainer — which was convenient, considering the brain cells I’d offed while ringing in the new year the night before.
And so, propped up by very necessary caffeine, I made my way down to Rincon to check out the scene, feeling a bit guilty when a heavily in-demand parking spot miraculously opened up just as I pulled in. Chalking it up to good parking karma, I quickly got over it (no guilt in 2007!) and began my tour, coming upon a truckload of preteen towheads wrapping up their day with dad, a couple of guys basking in that deliciously exhausted post-surfing high, and world-renowned surfer Shaun Tomson driving in. Not bad for five minutes in the parking lot. And though I likely could have done the job without moving, something compelled me to venture farther, down to the beach. Yes, the surf and the sand are always tempting, but this was something different.
If you know Rincon at all, you know The Pit. And you know it was The Pit and its inhabitants that beckoned me, as no Rincon Peeps would be complete without the 805’s most famous surf spot’s most familiar faces, and The Pit is where I would find them. The makeshift living room has everything a die-hard surfer could want: seating, shade, a barbecue pit, even a Christmas tree — courtesy of pit-chick Debbie Stetson and her daughter Summer — and the easiest of access to the waves. I was swiftly pulled in by surfer/skater/photographer Woody Woodward and introduced to the crew, a tight-knit bunch whose friendships go back decades, with Rincon’s legendary swells in the background. They talked of old times but seemed perfectly content with the arrival of a new year, and the new times it would bring. And in chatting with those guys, so clearly intimate with Mother Nature and her ways, I had a feeling they knew better than to be making any resolutions. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as the saying goes, and their Rincon-side world is most decidedly not broke.