Surfing on Whidbey Island Fort Ebey State Park

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The view from the Tower

Can you surf on Whidbey Island? Is it worth the drive from Seattle? Are there locals to contend with? What is the surf break situation? How consistent are the waves? What are the best conditions? Read on to find out!

How to get there: Whidbey Island is a short jaunt from Seattle. From Seattle, you take I-5 northbound to the Mulkiteo Ferry (about 40 minutes North of Seattle). The Ferry ride to Whidbey Island is about a 15-minute ride. Once on the island, it is about a 40-minute scenic drive to Fort Ebey (watch out for deer and speed traps!). Ignore Google Maps trying to take you all the way north on I-5. Seattle-Mulkiteo Ferry-Whidbey Island is the way (unless you are coming from Bellingham or north). Fort Ebey State Park is well marked from the main highway. When you enter the park, you will pass by the ranger station where you will present your Discover Pass (if you do not have one, there is a station to purchase a daily pass ($10.00 at the time of this writing) in the parking lot. If you do not have a Discover Pass you will get a $ 99.00 ticket, guaranteed, so don’t chance it.

How to get to the Surf Break: There are two parking lots, an upper and a lower. The upper parking lot has decent bathroom facilities and access to the coast but is less desirable than the lower parking lot, which is a short walk to the surf break. The lower parking lot has about 12 spaces so it is best to get there early and claim one for the day. If the lower lot is full then the upper will do just fine. From the lower lot, you will be able to see the water. Walk straight out from the lot to the water’s edge. From there you will go left about 75 yards to the point. This is where the left point is (there is also a shipping marker up the cliff that marks the spot you will sit while in the line up). About 300 or so yards to the north is a right point.

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This is the tower you use to line up on the point

The Surf: The left is a left point over a rocky reef. Don’t worry, you aren’t going to slice your feet off if you touch the rocks lol. Also, don’t get intimidated by the rocky bottom, just respect it and be aware. Don’t fall head first. When you fall, fall backward or sideways. Don’t ride a wave all the way in, kick out (or fall smartly) before that point. The best swell for this spot is an 8’+ WNW swell on the incoming tide (though my last surf was on a solid W swell and it was just fine). The water was 47 degrees. I wore a 4/3 full suit, booties, gloves, and a hood and if it were not for my leaky booties I would have remained warm the whole time. The take-off zone for the left depends on the tide/swell but you can use the shipping lane marker as a guide and line up there or just a smidge north of the marker. With the right swell, the waves are super fun, consistent, and have an excellent shape. On an 8′ swell, you can expect shoulder high sets. You may even happen upon a small barrel towards the inside section. The right point had some nice sets coming in as well but I surf goofy foot and I was having too much fun riding the lefts. There were a few regular footed surfers surfing the left point too so perhaps the left is the better of the two. You can check the swell, wind, and tide forecast here. I would not make the trip unless it was a W or WNW swell direction with a minimum of 8′ but I would gladly welcome a larger swell. During my session, the wind was 15-20kts and a combo of side shore and offshore. At one point the conditions seemed completely blown out, but as I was waiting for a set wave to ride in, the winds changed back to offshore and I surfed for another hour. In summary, if you go when the conditions are such, you are going to catch some fun waves. Important to note, this is not a spot for beginners. A beginner will have a miserable time here solely because of the rocks. You should only surf this spot if you can consistently pop up on a wave and ride it. Otherwise, you are not going to have fun here.

The Locals: If you do a quick search on Google you will get misinformation about localism on Whidbey Island. In short, there are no locals. There are just a bunch of friendly surfers that welcome you with open arms. During my session, there were 3 obvious locals surfing. One local in particular, I think his name was Rob (surfed a fun board with several strips of tape on the nose, regular footed), went out of his way to make me feel welcome. Rob was cheering me into waves and complimenting me on my surfing. He chatted with me about the surf break and was perplexed that more Seattle surfers did not come to share the spot. When you do come to surf Fort Ebey, please make sure to keep an eye out for Rob and give him a big hello from his new Seattle friend!

Grinds: Not a lot of obvious options for after surf grinds. However, the espresso business just south of Fort Ebey (in the gas station) had an array of organic and healthy treats in addition to tasty coffee. There are also a few grocery stores. Otherwise, pack it in, you are not going to find many fast food choices here.

Final verdict: If you live in Seattle you should be surfing Fort Ebey, Whidbey Island, every chance you get. It is a short drive from Seattle, and the trip is a mini surfari. Fort Ebey State Park has numerous trails with amazing views. There are also many options for picnic’s and the State Park is dog-friendly (keep them on their leashes though).

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Gus approves of this surf destination
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2018 Year in Review

Personally speaking, 2018 has been a huge year of growth for me. “Growth” is defined differently for everyone and for me, today, growth is knowledge. This year I learned so much about myself and about life, thanks to a series of events that were thrust upon me.

I could go back into my calendar and get you a play by play of events but the large events that stick in my mind are the experiences I learned from the most. Chronologically, and in an executive summary, I will share what I was gifted this year.

January 2018, my girlfriend and I ended our long-term relationship. I wish I could say that we had a beautiful 2-hour talk and arrived at the fact that we were just not the right fit for one another, and promised to keep in touch and have coffee once in a while, but that would be true only on opposites day. It ended in a somewhat dramatic fashion and we have not spoken since. Perhaps that is what needed to happen to break the cycle we were stuck in and move on. It was so tempting to revert back to the ghetto-street skills I had honed as a youngster and saying what was really on my mind but I chose the more refined version of myself and carried myself with tact, respect, and love. This experience taught me that I need to be honest with myself. Honesty with yourself means happiness. I like being happy. More honesty, please.

February 2018, I spent the entire month surfing in Costa Rica. This is the 6th year that I have been able to travel for the entire month of February and work remotely. This is the second year in a row I have been to Costa Rica to surf. I was not able to join my dear friends Scott and Melissa this time due to Scott’s declining health, so I went solo on this trip. I had met many friends from the previous year so it was somewhat of a homecoming with familiar faces. I was able to become part of the special Santa Teresa community and had one of the best trips I have ever been on. This experience taught me that I have no limits in life, only the limits I place on myself.

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, February 2018


March 2018, celebrating my 50th year alive. When I think of a 50th birthday celebration, I see 100’s of people raising champagne glasses, toasting that I am a jolly good fellow, etc. Honestly, that is not what I wanted and as the year went on, honesty with myself became a reoccurring theme (more on this later). I had the absolute best birthday ever. My three children joined my best friend Scott and his wife Melissa, and we had a small celebration. Scott and I grew up together and have known each other for 43 years. In fact, Scott was at my 10th birthday party, and we snapped a picture on that day that we then recreated on my 50th birthday. Having my children altogether, along with my best friend, was the best birthday gift I could have ever received. My heart was truly happy. This experience taught me that my time on earth is short and the relationships that I choose will be deep, loving, and only with persons who reciprocate in a way that adds value to my life.


April 2018, my son, 19, moved back home so he can attend college. Our relationship has been strained for 5 years. His attendance at my birthday party was a gift in itself. There were many concerns about his homecoming (for both of us) but we discussed them and he moved in and started attending college. As I type this, on December 31st, he is now preparing to move out. I have many emotions about this but in the end, this is what seems is best. I am grateful that his exit is as amicable as can be, and that we will still be spending time together. This experience taught me that my son is a different man that I am. While there are similarities, he has completely different interests that I do not understand, but that I do not need to understand. All I need to do is support and love him.

May 2018, social life heating up, balling in my professional life. Dating teaches you a lot about yourself. It helps to expose weaknesses you might succumb to or have succumbed to in previous relationships, or more importantly, teach you how much you have grown and learned from previous relationships. Professionally, I got to start a project that very few get to do. I am still working on this secret project but the outlook is positive and hopefully, I can share soon! This experience taught me that I am a baller and shot caller in my career. I get to do things that not too many others get to experience. I am grateful for this.

June 2018, celebrating our companies 10th anniversary. This is huge. I played poker to subsidize my income when we started it. We now have millions of humans that know us and use our products and we also get to disrupt an industry that is dominated by a few. This experience has taught me to focus and enjoy the journey versus focusing on the end goal.

July 2018, took a float plane to Canada and also invited on a yacht trip in the San Juans. I have never taken a float plane and this was a cool experience. For one, Seattle/Lake Union is the best place to take off and land in a float plane, and flying over the Puget Sound has to be the best place to fly over. On another trip, we were invited to stay on a yacht while touring the San Juan Islands. The weather was perfect, 80 degrees, slight breeze, and clear as can be, the entire trip. Being able to stay in Victoria, on Canada Day, at the Empress Hotel, and travel on a yacht in the San Juan Islands on the most epic day with an amazing woman was one of the highlights of my year. This experience has taught me that I deserve the best and to seek out unique experiences and say “yes” more than “no.” 

August 2018, I lost my best friend. I grew up next-door to Scott in Norwalk on Cyclops Street. I have been blessed to have Scott in my life for over 40 years. He is my brother from another mother. Unfortunately, Scott’s options for treatment of his cancer ran out and he peacefully passed away in late August. I will be writing more about this experience in depth, but this was the single biggest learning experience for me this year. I have learned so much from his passing and his life and I can’t wait to write about it. In summary, it is being honest and true to myself, focusing on quality versus quantity, and living in present. Take nothing for granted. I love you brother, and I miss you every day.

October 2018, Spoke at an industry event in Las Vegas. Anytime I can get up on the stage and speak to a group of people about something I am passionate about is a victory for me. I had a team behind me helping to prepare my talk and designing the deck, etc. All in all, the talk went well and the audience was receptive to my topic. What this experience taught me is that I am good at public speaking and that I really enjoy doing it and that I am not so good at speech writing or deck designing. Another example of me being honest with myself so I can focus on what I enjoy doing versus becoming a curmudgeon doing something I don’t enjoy.

November 2018, finally got to wear a White Tuxedo. Because Halloween fell on a mid-week day, the costume party I went to happened in November, and therefore this event qualifies for a November log. We were invited to a super fun costume party that was themed film noir. The event was in Queen Anne at a wonderful couples very party friendly home. We dressed up in the perfect theme and started off the night at Canlis having drinks. What this event taught me is that I like to have fun!

December 2018, I hiked to Mailbox Peak. I have been on quite a few hikes this year thanks to my girlfriend’s love of hiking. We have been on many challenging hikes this year but none as challenging as Mailbox Peak in Washington. The most challenging aspect of the hike was that we went late in the day and therefore spent 2 hours hiking down in the dark. Hiking in the dark in cougar and bear country is not fun at all. We survived and are smarter from it. What this experience taught me is that I need to be a better planner and anticipate all possible outcomes when putting myself in such situations.

I had so many more amazing experiences this year but those above are what stuck with me when recalling them. I am really excited about 2019. If you have not guessed it yet, I will be accentuating the theme that introduced itself in 2018, and that is to be honest with myself and live my life true to myself. I will not sacrifice my values to appease another. At this point, I know myself better than I ever have and I owe it to myself, and to Scott, to be honest with myself and live my true life. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my blog! Happiest of New Year’s to you all.

Why Does Watermelon Always Taste Better at Work?

 

Anytime I bring a watermelon to work for lunch, my quality control diminishes. I can’t quite get a beat on why.

At home, I savor the best pieces of watermelon and then leave the remaining edges of the melon in the fridge, where I hope they will be eaten by others. Sometimes, while I am throwing together a quick Screen Shot 2018-09-07 at 12.52.27 PMlunch, I humor myself by packing a baggie of the factory seconds that I abandoned earlier.

As hunger ensues, I head to the office fridge, grab the baggie, proudly walk with it in plain view back to my desk. Then it happens, the party starts. The watermelon pieces that I discarded as not being good enough are now prime pieces of fruit and I am enjoying them possibly more than the gluttonous party the night before.

If you can help explain this anomaly please do tell!

Walking Tall

Last week I was at the Jack White show at the WaMu (Century Link) venue. These day’s Jack White’s shows are hit and miss. Don’t get me wrong, Jack is special and you are going to be blown away when you see him, but when he went solo, he started to get a little soft. He was playing a more of a country/bluegrass style than the raw rock he was playing when with The White Stripes and Dead Weather. The Raconteurs were great, but again, not hard rock like the aforementioned bands. So when you see a Jack White show, it is hard to know which Jack will show up. On this night in Seattle, the raw, Detroit fueled rocker took the stage and played a solid and hard rock show.

My senses were a bit more alive at this show because Jack does not allow cell phones at his shows (he is using a super cool start-up product, Yondr, who has created a locking cell phone case that you keep with you). Additionally, Jack’s sets are usually monochromatic and industrial. Tonight it was all blue and very visual.

 

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Christ the Redeemer who might be the tallest of them all.

The other element that completed this experience was that I had a clear view of the stage all night. I was midway back from the stage and literally, every person in front of me or within my view was shorter than me. Of everything I experienced, this was the thing that I reflected on the next day, which is how grateful I am to be tall.

 

There are not too many cons to being tall. A bumped head here and there. Planes and seating can be a little uncomfortable, tee shirts are never long enough (can someone please make a decent XLT tee shirt please?), but for the most part, being tall is awesome. I am on the low end of “tall” at 6’2″ and the past year or two I have been noticing more and more how tall I am compared to everyone else, especially in crowds. According to my Daddy, only 3.9% of U.S. men are 6’2″ or taller.  That is not a lot of people and the number gets much smaller the taller you are.

I am grateful for my height. It is not something that I could have developed, it was in my cards and I just got lucky. And for Jack? He is 6’2″ and also happens to be a badass so no hard feelings about you getting soft OK Jackie?

 

 

How Do You Motivate Yourself To Exercise?

Working out is not easy. If you are like most humans, you are met with a constant stream of internal discussions why you should skip exercising, “You need a rest day” “Your going to hurt your back” “Don’t worry, you will get it tomorrow,” I could go on and on, to infinity (Shinehead reference), but you get my point. In addition to overcoming mental roadblocks, there are also physical blocks (family, partner, wine, Netflix, sleep, etc) that are a constant battle.

If that were not enough, once you make that commitment to exercise, you then have to struggle with fatigue while working out, “You don’t need to do all 4 sets, 2 is fine,” I’m telling you, the struggle is real! When I am hitting the weights (especially when bench pressing), I pretend I just walked into a prison yard filled with shady characters who are sizing me up as I approach the bench. As I position the bar and get my hands aligned I can feel their eyes on me, in disbelief that I am getting ready to press so much weight. As I successfully finish my set and get up from the bench, the thugs part and I walk away unscathed.

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For the most part, I have overcome most of the demons that show themselves when it is time to exercise but it has not been easy. Probably my biggest motivator is my attitude and how I view exercise. For example, I don’t have to exercise, I get to exercise. Imagine how many people in the world who are not able to exercise that would love to be able to. If you can change your mindset to really appreciate that point, it will help a bunch. You will start viewing exercise as a positive versus a negative. Lastly, if you have children they are also great motivators. My 7 year old would often accompany me working out before she went to school in the morning. Having her in the room with me motivated me to have the best form, and to model the best habits that she will hopefully follow when she is older.

 

The Elusive Calzone

Newport Beach, California, 1987. I had just finished a surf at 54th street and starvation ensued. We parked by the famous Frog House and sauntered into an establishment that served up what would be the best Calzone I have ever had in my life! I am sure that my starvation played a key role in my fondness for the iconic meal I was about to have. It could have also been that we were in Orange County, in the mid 80’s and just finished surfing Newport Beach. There were a lot of stimulating elements at play. As for the Calzone, I remember a perfect overdoing of cheese, pepperoni’s, sauce and dough that would satisfy my hunger in a way I had not previously experienced. Everything was in sync. The proportions and each ingredient complimented the other (kinda like all of Kanye’s albums).

Fast forward to 2018. Last night I had dinner at La Vita E Bella in Seattle. As I was browsing the reviews online, I saw that a customer posted a picture of their Calzone for all the internets to see:

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At that point, I had already decided on another entree, but, the waiter had not yet returned to take our order. I immediately started to have flashbacks of that elusive Calzone I had 31 years earlier. All of the emotions and senses alive in me on that day in 1987 were returning as they had never left, only dormant until the right opportunity presented itself. I ended up ordering the Calzone and enjoyed the anticipation and endorphins that were flowing until my entree arrived.

And? Well, it looked exactly as the above picture illustrates but I was quickly let down. As with all other Calzones I have had since, none would match the intensity of that experience I had years ago. I immediately nicknamed it “doughball” and braced myself for the gluten express that my body would soon accept, albeit begrudgingly. This has nothing to do with you La Vita E Bella, you are great. This is internal.

At some point in each of our lives, we are all introduced to a “Calzone” that blows our minds. We may spend our entire lives trying to reproduce that nirvana. Some of us are successful in our search, and some of us are not. The key for me is to never stop searching. No matter how many bad “Calzones” I stumble upon, it is important to not give up hope and to keep searching.

I am still searching for that elusive Calzone and will gladly accept any recommendations you want to share!

 

Dropcam vs Nest Cam IQ Outdoor Camera

Ten years ago, security cameras are something that I would have never considered for my home (due to the complexity of installation and the expense). When Dropcam came along, it solved the problem of hardwiring a security camera and made it simple. I purchased a Dropcam (now Nest) a few years ago so I can keep an eye on the entryway of my home. The image quality has been pretty good and the alerts have been helpful. With my Dropcam, I can see when I get deliveries, visitors, and the random cat prowling around at 3am. This is especially helpful because I live by myself. In any case, having a security camera for your home is no longer a novelty item, it is a necessity.

There is nothing really wrong with my Dropcam, but I have heard a lot of chatter recently about the all new Nest Cam IQ Outdoor Camera so I set out to learn as much as I can, and investigate the possibility of upgrading. The first thing I learned is that they are much more expensive than my existing Dropcam which I think was less than $100. The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor are $ 349 each or $ 598 for a package of two (not an affiliate link).

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The second thing I learned is that IQ Outdoor comes with advanced features. One of my favorites is the facial recognition feature. You can read the overview of the features here. The third thing I learned is that they were sold out and unable to ship for 5-6 weeks at the time I was considering upgrading. This posed a problem as I was planning on heading out of town and having an upgraded security camera all of sudden became urgent. While searching the internets I stumbled on an eBay listing for the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor from a dealer and immediately bought it (especially because at the time they were sold out everywhere).

The first thing I noticed when I received the product is that the camera is noticeably bigger than my Dropcam and looks really nice. Everything it says it does, it does really well. The Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is a huge upgrade from my original Dropcam. What really surprised me is the quality of the image. Most reviews said there was no difference in the image resolution (from Dropcam). After I installed the new camera, I still had the old one installed so I can compare them side by side:

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That is a pretty noticeable improvement! Another bonus is that it integrates with my Google Home. All in all, the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is a huge upgrade from my trusty old Dropcam. They are not cheap, but they are definitely worth the extra expense. They are super easy to install. It took me about 30 minutes tops. No hard wiring necessary provided you have an electrical outlet within 25′ of where you plan on installing it. I highly recommend that you add these camera’s to your home too.

What I am Thankful For Thanksgiving 2017

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Happy Thanksgiving! It has been three beautiful years since I posted about what I am thankful for. One of my biggest gifts in life is being grateful. Being grateful for me is akin to being the richest person on the planet. Being grateful is happiness. Being grateful is love. Being grateful is free.

Being grateful is not easy, it is something that you have to actively pursue. The good news is that if you work hard enough, eventually it will become second nature and you will begin to see beauty in things that previously were oblivious to you. Bad days will soon disappear and your friends will start calling you Pollyanna (this is a good thing)!

I have many things to be grateful for. My health is excellent. I have a great career. I have lots of choices each day. I have friends who genuinely care for me. The list goes on and on. But this Thanksgiving, what I am most grateful for is being grateful. No matter how challenging my life can be, I can always find something to be grateful for. That is a gift that will always bring me joy. May you also find the gift of gratefulness and may it bring you as much happiness as it has for me.