A day of offshore perspective between book working...returning to SB Harbor.

A day of offshore perspective between book working...returning to SB Harbor.

Via the wonder of air travel, I was back to Cali just in time to celebrate Sean and Beth’s union, where an  owl feather and a night with fantastic friends helped ease the launch into 5 weeks of solitary book-making confinement in Goleta (thanks to the Ault family for providing me with the most amazing platform to do so). Simultaneously, up close and personal with the harsh reality of human impermanence after many hours spent in the skilled nursing facility with a dear friend and mentor who suffered a stroke while I was away in Bali. We can only learn from those who go before us, carrying on their goodness and love into the future. Her life an inspiration to me always…suffering is so difficult to understand. New lessons, new perspectives and a day in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

A few good sessions at the points and the islands and north of Conception to keep me from shriveling. Surprise visit from mom and dad in Goleta makes for a meal to celebrate all holidays at once!! Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday! Body surf sessions at Sands…odd to be back in Isla Vista…smells of tar and dust and crisp air and purple mountains at sunset and the islands I love so much rest quietly offshore. A day in the shaping room with Jason, after realizing that a surfer is not complete until she knows what goes into making her surfboard. Laying on the grassy cliff in the dark, nibbling chocolate and watching a storm slowly come in off the sea and cover the twinkling stars, lights of the city, the oil rigs, and the squid boats…raindrops on my head. Yogurtland!!!!!!! Lunching and learning with Barry. Rendezvous with Pablini, lawyers are scary, a few more days in Portland to wrap it all up, is it what I really want? Go do some hot yoga and meditate on it…

Precious final hours with Mom, Dad, Sis, Rita…until a hard drive crash adds some parting spice…

After reading ‘Paddling My Own Canoe’ in 2007, I began writing letters to the author, Audrey Sutherland, legend in women’s adventuring. And so it seemed the perfect time to go  meet my hero as my plane ticket back to Tahiti routed me through Oahu, where she lives. So it was back to Hawaii, where Aunty Marsha and Uncle Russel await full of aloha. Russel even lent me his car to head to the North Shore where one week became two.

...Amazing what Audrey was doing in the 70s! read it!

...Adventures alone on the Molokai in the late 1960s! read it!

With my lovely hero, Audrey Sutherland

With my lovely hero, Audrey Sutherland

Audrey alone on Molokai, 1967

Audrey enjoying solitude, 1967After reading ‘Paddling My Own Canoe’ in 2007

Audrey, in her late 80s, still pondering the next adventure with a twinkle in her eye. Hardly having put her paddle down after 8,000 miles of paddling Alaskan waterways alone. Humble, beaming, decided, rich in memories and satisfaction, life worn well, stories over chicken luau and chocolate ice cream. Lessons from Jock, brimming with aloha and expertise, showing me where to skirt the rocks to get out at his spot. The house exuding the character of more than 50 years of housing its legends, sessions at the rare Jockos sandbar, and following Gavin out to Lani’s when I wasn’t sure I want to be out there…broken 6’4” boo whooo.

And the ‘Esalen’ on the North Shore: Crystal and Dave’s place a dream: outside bubble baths with tea, greens from the garden, homemade kombucha, Coconut Bliss!, biomat relaxing, every meal a gastronomical masterpiece, generosity and positivity spilling over! Crystal leading me out to bodysurf Pipeline! Big wave bodysurf sessions galore to test my swimming skills: dolphin dives out the back of the waves changed my life forever!!!!!!, and the SAND!! the most amazingly beautiful sand!!, Little Haven almost made procreation look enticing, sailing with Cole, Jen’s Lilikoi pie, hide and shriek with a herd of kids at the BBQ…another BBQ?! More to recording music than I ever imagined…listening to Jack strum his new album barefoot in the studio, curry and bike riding with Jaime and pushing my bodysurfing limits even further, Royce chocolates: heaven can wait, getting to my feet on Crystal’s Alaia—what a feeling!, surfstoke with Russel, Indie Pyzel: an afternoon on the North Shore through the eyes of one rad 12-year-old girl means treehouses and fruit plundering, handfuls of guavas, fins stuck in the tree and tugging on lilikoi vines.

Ready for anything...my new sea sister, Crystal Thornburg.

Ready for anything...my new sea sister, Crystal Thornburg.

Ready to bodysurf? Follow Patagonia surf ambassador Crystal Thornberg's lead...

Ready to bodysurf? Follow Patagonia surf ambassador Crystal Thornburg's lead...

Couldn’t be more grateful to Crystal and Dave…hard to say goodbye after so much fun. One last afternoon with Audrey, and a stop at Yogurtland…And somehow I bust out a little French and get my boards on the plane for nearly nothing…big hugs and thanks to Russel, my adoptive Hawaiian dad…its off to Tahiti.

Welcome to French Polynesia! The square-faced customs official pushes my bond papers and Swell’s documentation back at me. “No way, this paperwork is not valid…you must have a return ticket to enter the country.” He shut the gates to the outside world and it appeared I would be on a plane back to Hawaii if I couldn’t get him to understand…half hour later…he comes back to apologize. He was able to contact the bank. My bond was valid. And there was Prisca waiting patiently outside…

The following evening I walk across the deserted boatyard to find my dear Swell, waiting patiently for me under the rising moon.

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