My long day started at 5:30 AM. Already three cups of high-test caffeine deep and 30 minutes into Mike & Mike blaring out of the TV, I was agitated, antsy, and more than ready to make some photos after four days of beefy, windblown cold-front swell pummeled away at Brevard County with few good freesurfing waves to be found, let alone photograph.
I had enough of waiting around for the winds to come correct, the six- to eight-foot-plus swell to clean up, the daily aborted Sebastian sessions with First Peak now gone into complete hibernation, and continually hearing stories of all-time Caribbean conditions and epic waves from the Mid-Atlantic northward, where gaping barrels were the norm ad infinitum.
To top it off, it was windy, cloudy, and rainy here in Melbourne Beach and the surrounding surfing environs, and it was showing no signs of abating any time soon according to the Central Florida Doppler analytics. What we had here was your typical shit-end-of-the-stick Florida winter waves/cold-front scenario, and it called for one thing: Road Trip.
On this day, a slowly cleaning up swell could not go to waste while the heavens opened up and pissed down precipitation. Two quick calls yielded two distinct personalities and possibilities: 1) go south to try and beat the rain before it got down to Reef Road and hang with hellman extraordinaire/now full-time lifeguard and one of the funniest dudes I know, Baron Knowlton. Or 2) head north, drive out of the approaching squall line, and try to make chicken soup out of chicken shit with former WCT legend, budding media pundit, semi-pro weatherman, and a charger in his own right, Shea Lopez, on his home turf up in Ponce Inlet.
They both know their local conditions better than just about anyone, so I felt pretty secure when BK told me to head north because the lingering cold front would bring nothing but clouds and rain to Palm Beach County sooner rather than later. And Shea-Lo backed up his prognostication with a claim of at least fun waves at Ponce Inlet and clearing skies at some point much earlier in the day.
The die was cast, the car was loaded with equipment and a cooler full of food and drink, and a promise of a cool little surfing photo adventure lie just a two-hour drive up I-95. All I needed was gas in the car, my trusty 7-11 refill coffee cup, a couple of keen surfers, and a little luck with the weather and the waves.
It's this kind of fun road trip that helps keep me sane, my trigger finger happy, and you, our loyal readers, hopefully satisfied with our exclusive ESM Phlogs.