Traveling is one of my favorite pastimes.
In early August, I had the opportunity to visit Aliso Viejo, California for a visit with my childhood friends Aaron Woitas and Shawn Peake. Within an hour of landing at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, we made the short 8-mile jaunt from Woitas’ residence in Aliso Viejo to Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point. Once we reached our destination, it took us nearly 20 minutes to discover an open parking spot due to the popularity of the beach.
We brought a football and ran pass routes on the beach, but the highlight of the visit was hitting the waves to body surf. I’ve absolutely loved the water since I learned how to swim at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard pool in Bremerton in 1991 as a 9-year-old.
I grew up in a town called Belfair, which is 72 miles from Mercer Island in Mason County. The town was in close proximity to various sources of water, including the Hood Canal, Puget Sound and a sizable amount of lakes/rivers. Visits to the Pacific Ocean during my childhood were sparse because of the 94-mile one-way drive to Ocean Shores. Waves were always fascinating to me and I loved swimming in the ocean, even though it didn’t happen as frequently as I would have liked.
I couldn’t wait to fully take advantage of one of Orange County’s finest beaches.
For the next 90 minutes, Woitas and I attempted to catch as many waves as possible. As the day progressed, waves continued to significantly swell. For every wave we did indeed catch, we missed a multitude of others due to our lack of ocean experience. Multiple times the intense force of the ocean tossed me around like a pinball in a 1980s arcade facility.
A few times, I was driven forcefully into the sand by the power of the waves. By the time we departed the beach, my upper back, right wrist and right foot were sore, courtesy of the unbridled power of the Pacific Ocean. It was an absolute blast and was by far one of the highlights of my summer.
In my opinion, going swimming in the ocean or hiking in the wilderness are two of the purest activities a human can partake in. When an individual steps foot in the ocean or the woods, they are at the mercy of nature. You can take as many precautions as you want, but you really aren’t in control of anything.
There aren’t many places in society in 2017 where that is the case. I can’t wait to return to Orange County in the near future for another visit to Salt Creek.