Ever since Joey was a kid growing up on a ranch in Texas, watching Hawaii 5-0, he dreamt of someday going to Hawaii, and soon got his wish as a young eighteen year old U.S. Marine. That trip was short lived and he didn’t get off base much, but he had already been bit my Hawaii. He never forgot that trip and still remembered every detail, but never made it back. Twenty years later he got an offer to work a gas plant shutdown for a month in Hawaii, including condo, plane ticket and a rental car. He was all over it…. and before that job was over he’d already set his sights on living there fulltime.
Flash forward seven years and Joey found himself laying in that hole in the mountains in Colorado, unaware if he’d ever walk again. It was at that moment that he told himself he was moving to Hawaii……and if he is able to walk again……….he was going to surf.
We could have rented boards and taken surf lessons the day we got here but after thinking we didn’t need to, and then having my surfer girl guru also say we don’t need lessons, we decided to do it the way we do everything……in a slow, organic way. Joey spent the first month tracking down used boards (amongst all the other household stuff we had to accumulate to create a home for our family). We also watched the waves….a lot. Joey talked to surfing friends, lifeguards and locals. He absorbed everything like a sponge. Then he had to get to work.
He spent the next month working the same shutdown that first brought him over here back in 2002. He chooses the night shift so we can still hang out and go to the beach during the day but after working 14 hour days, seven days a week, our beach trips became scarce. Then he had an allergic reaction on his arms from fiberglass from work, so that, combined with the sheer exhaustion of working a shutdown, surfing was put on hold.
We now have five surfboards, 10 ft. and 9 ft. longboards, and 7.5, 6.5 & 6 ft. short boards. We had to buy leashes for most of them and every single one of them had to be repaired for dings. We could have spent $40 a board to let a professional do it or Joey could watch instructional YouTube videos and send me to the store to buy resin and fiberglass and only spend $30 total. Didn’t take a rocket scientist to add up the math on that one. Note, the folks at City Mill in Waianae were awesome, they took the time to help me find everything I needed and were extremely nice to me.
Joey never did let those boards go to waste, though, during their down time. He had to leave his weights behind so he used the boards in place of his dumbbells. That’s Joey ………. always thinking, always creative.
Now, the boards are ready, the arms are healed, once broken leg is strong and only slightly in pain, but the surf in Makaha is way too much for a newbie. It’s not just too much because of the big waves, though, it’s also pretty busy, and the surfers are pretty territorial……not that he’d ever invade their turf anyway, but at the advice of friends and lifeguards the place for him to learn is at a beach the locals call Rest Camp or, the beach behind the Army Recreation Base. You have to go through a guard gate to get there, and that must keep a lot of the unwanted’s out, because we’ve experienced nothing but the friendly’s. The water’s a little scary, though. First paddle out we noticed how close the reef is below us! I fell off my board and scraped foot on the bottom ,and I was way out there! It’s a solid rock floor about four feet under the water, so when you fall you have to make sure to fall sideways. Fun stuff. This is my biggest problem, though: Good wave day = lots of surfers. Little to no surfers = paddle like a dog to catch maybe one wave. Joey doesn’t care either way, so I take pictures while he learns to surf without me. Turn around Joey! Turn around!!
Because Joey doesn’t care that the waves aren’t that great he was the absolute only one in the water this day. It was flat and as calm as could be when out of nowhere this set rolled in. Patience is a virtue in surfing. You can see the rock under the water in this picture, and somehow Joey has avoided crashing into it.
Recently in Makaha beach our 13 yr old friend tried boogie boarding only to get jacked by the locals there not letting him catch a wave. They actually did something to his board to make it flip back and smack him hard in the face with it. Here at Rest Camp we have experienced men going out of their way to help Joey out. This surfer, kayak surfing for the day, watched Joey and gave him some tips on when to stand up and where to stand, and then Joey caught THE VERY NEXT ONE! And the one after that! Once that kind “soul surfer” helped him out, it all clicked, and now Joey says it’s like riding a bike. He actually even said to me before we made it home that day, “I can’t wait for my first competition!” That man! I’m still trying to stand up and he’s ready to compete!
Jake has caught the bug too, and whenever he can pry himself from videogames, he joins us. Jonas got hit in the knee with the tip of his board first day out where the pain lasted a week, so has no more interest in surfing at this point.
Joey’s proof it’s never too late to teach an old dog, new tricks. A fine specimen of a 43 year young man, if I do say so myself. Love ya, babe!