The best part about these trips is there is never an agenda. We surf, sit on the beach and watch our buddies surf, hang out at camp, or go across the tracks to eat, stroll, or shop. Those are the only options, and we don’t need anything else.
Today, Neal plans a long walk with Kristy and me along the beach to the next town over, Encinitas. The tide low, it is perfect for a beach hike. We stroll along, the sun above us and the breeze straight off the ocean, collecting cool shells and stones along the way. Time passes as slowly as we stroll. Some of the deepest conversations about life can be had during these moments—gems of time.
Rules and Rituals
Cool beach walks. Cold beer. Great food. Old and new friends. Over the years, our surf club has boiled life down to its simple pleasures. While we’re relaxing together on this second day of our trip, let me tell you more about our discoveries and traditions we’ve developed along the way.
The Train Track Rule
All participants in our surf trips must agree to follow one golden rule—pretty much our only regulation—the Train Track Rule. Group members who leave the campground and cross the nearby railroad tracks are advised not to return empty-handed. Making it across the tracks means you have reached the little town across the highway where supplies are plentiful and cheap; and you are, therefore, required to bring back at least one of these top three items on the surfer survival list:
Before leaving the campground, take a quick inventory on what supplies are low. If you are price savvy, you are free to purchase the least expensive commodity to satisfy the “Train Track Rule”.
Fail to bring back at least one of these vital items and face the consequences; you must purchase one at a premium price at the campground store, and you may even be ridiculed and teased at the next sanctioned surf meeting. Neal has been known to give out demerits during story time around the campfire, too.
I have taken drastic measures to avoid that humiliation, not always with the best results. A couple of years ago, abiding by the Train Track Rule, I purchased a thirty-pack of beer. After exiting the store, I hoisted the case onto my shoulder; it broke apart, and beer cans flew in every direction. If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, some of the flying cans landed on the cop car parked in front of the store. Everyone nearby rushed to my aid and scrambled to collect the rolling cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon. I couldn’t stop laughing as I chased the two cans that made it under the cop car. The officer was not present, so we got away with this inadvertent vandalism, but I’d still take a fine over a Neal campfire humiliation any day of the week.
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