photo scott braun

In New Smyrna you can drive on the beach. You drive really slow so as not to run over the small children who will dart out in front of you like wild animals; and you park on the beach (very carefully, so as not to flatten the taut ass of a Bud Light drinker who has positioned herself precariously between two parked cars). If you manage to park the car without committing manslaughter, though, there is a reward. Everything you need to sustain yourself for an entire day of surfing is right there on the beach, safely locked up inside the car while you are in the water.

Sarasota to New Smyrna is about a 3 hour drive. That means, leave early and stay late. The car becomes a hub. It contains sandwiches, water, towels, etc. I have even been known to take a mid-afternoon nap in or near the car. I am blessed with the ability to fall into a dead sleep anywhere I want at any given time. In Nicaragua, I frequently fell asleep face down in the sand, only to be awakened by the curious nudge of some Nica’s half-wild dog. Surfing tires me out, what can I say?

However, most people surfing the inlet don’t stay dawn to dusk, so the two parking spots that flank me see a lot of turnover. This means I’ve heard a lot of post-session chatter, and done a lot of pretending not to watch as dudes change into dry clothes next to their cars (just kidding, guys, I’m not watching, I promise).

The guys to my left approach their vehicle all smiles and “sick, dudes.” They knock back a couple beers and talk about how they haven’t seen the inlet go off like that in years. Twenty minutes later, the guys belonging to the car on my right approach. They are not happy. “Bro, the waves sucked today, I had such a shitty session.”

Someone made fun of me the other day for the frequency with which I write about good conditions and uncrowded lineups. It got me thinking about the seeming discrepancies of my car-on-the-beach eavesdropping. Could it be that conditions are subjective? Perhaps not, but our perception of them must be. Myself, for instance; I’m not looking for air sections or barrels, I am just happy to be out there flailing around. My lack of ability makes me less discerning. Also, attitude. I am grateful for any time away from this desk, out there in the ocean or napping in the sand. My good attitude makes it nearly impossible for me to walk back to the car grumbling. I guess that is why you are unlikely to hear me complain about conditions.

What the hell is there to complain about anyway?