Jeff Smith noon, March 8
- Community Blog
- An Altered State of Place
An Altered State of Place
We pedaled out of OB on mid-west mountain bikes like proper transients, choosing the scenic route. Pelicans, which I initially referred to as Dinosaur Birds, dove fast for prey in front of Sunset Cliffs. Waves rolled and crashed below a beautiful Sunday morning sun. The plan: meet up with our friend Chump and his visiting brother Dante at Point Loma Sea Foods, then go check out the Red Bull Air Races downtown. The journey: worth the rare occasion to leave Ocean beach for a day.
My boyfriend Dylan and I stood above the ocean, watching the surf and planning our route downtown. Some dudes were getting high in their truck with the doors wide open, so we asked which hill was the easiest to climb. "None of them," they said. They were right. We headed up Alhambra on a gamble, and were soon walking our bikes in a pathetic fight against gravity. Dylan pointed out different trees, commenting on their flowering patterns and quizzing my identification abilities. The Jacarandas are purple, some Corrals are orange. I stared at the homes, each unique and maintained, wondering when and how I would ever own one. Daydreaming about the view.
What felt like five hours later we reached the top of the hill and I swore I would never smoke another cigarette for the rest of my life. Or wear tight jeans while biking for that matter. What goes up gets to come back down, however, and we flew like jets. I silently thanked the employees of Bernie's Bike Shop for noticing and replacing my worn brake pads. The descent into downtown was breathtaking, with the sweet aromas of San Diego vegetation whipping past my nose.
We found Chump and Dante outside of the fish market, laughing at a couple of sea lions that were mugging for tourist's cameras. Chump is Grade A OBeacian, face pierced, dread-locked and trucker capped, forever refusing to grow up. His brother stuck out like a sore thumb from LA. Wild eyed yet quiet, he boldly rocked a Dodgers jersey amidst a sea of RVCA and Hurley gear. They both rode 20" BMX bikes, and the competitive spirit of grown brothers amused me terribly.
We ordered smoked wahoo with crackers and mustard, causing an uproar of gratitude with a small tip. Tip, people! Since it was almost noon, we decided it was a fair time to start drinking, so we rolled over to Captain's Quarters. The bartender poured margaritas that were more like tequila shots and whoa! we were ready to roll. Chump led, bouncing over and up the curbs and against any wall that we happened to pass. Dante followed suit, mimicking nearly every trick.
Once we reached the Harbor, it was time to re-whet our whistles, so we stopped for a couple of pints of liquor for the road. The sculptures along the harbor always fascinate me, particularly the glimmering cd fish, and the giant kaleidoscope that are somehow supposed to resemble trees. Bike taxis guided tourists with an enthusiasm that showed no boredom from repetition. Homeless folks banked on leftovers from Anthony's and parents nervously pulled their children out of the path of our rapidly biking caravan.
The mob that had congregated for the Air Races made biking any farther impossible, so we stacked our bikes domino style and locked them all together. Climbing over the wall provided VIP seating and we perched on the rocks, sipping Hornitos and feeding leftover wahoo to tiny crabs scuttling past. The planes zipped by in all their noisy, smoke trailing glory, twisting and tumbling to my Olympic cheers. Quite a show indeed.
Afterward, we reversed in the same fashion as we had arrived, with a touch more wobble and a lot more speed. The guys had mustered a dangerous amount of liquid courage and were riding their bikes like the whole world was a skate park. Even Dylan was bunny hopping along down the trail. I kept up, but with both wheels on the ground. We paused to eye the boats in the bay and were summoned by the clanging bell of a small fishing boat. AHOY! A bold pirate flag whipped in the wind and aboard were some OB longhair friends from Newport Pizza.
The 25 foot Catalina was full, but we collectively decided there was plenty of room for four more. The Captain paddled his side canoe over to the dock and, one by one, brought us aboard. This guy deserves to be referred to as a pirate. With his stringy hair hanging over tattooed shoulders, missing front teeth, and constant snarling laugh, I'm sure Johnny Depp did a case study of him for the Caribbean hits. Like a gentleman, he offered me his hand as I climbed from one boat the the other. Like a pirate, he then leaned over and licked the entire back of it with the sincerity and shamelessness of a Golden Retriever. Roaring with raspy laughter, he rowed back tot he dock to retrieve my boyfriend.
High fives and pounds all around, someone handed me a bottle of Sailor Jerry, someone else handed me a joint, and every one was singing along to 40 Ounces to Freedom. Dante seemed a little daunted by this San Diego boat party of goons, but held his cool pretty well. I crawled to the front of the boat to take in some scenery. The skyline looked so clean and crisp over the water and a certain silence prevailed on the bobbing mast. Smart move, I told myself, smart move moving to San Diego. I returned to the seated area of the boat and noticed through hazy eyes that the intoxication level of the crew had greatly increased. As slurred compliments bombarded me from every angle, it became far too evident that I was the only girl on the boat. It was time to go.
Naturally, this was more of a challenge than it should have been. Now we were sure the little canoe could hold more than two people at a time. Dylan was to be the paddler. Alas, the rope connecting the boats snapped as did the paddle and Dylan began drifting off to sea. Every one found this wildly amusing, and our hysterics were not particularly helpful. Lord, I prayed in irony, just get us back to the sanity and sanctity of OB. The sun was setting into the ocean by the time we were all back on our bikes, but I'm pretty sure I was the only one concerned about visibility. I made the executive decision that giant hills suck so we rode through Point Loma to get home.
I watched three silhouettes swerve and hop in front of me. I saw Chump climb onto the center bar of his bike, to surf it down the approaching slope. Dante and Dylan dropped down the hill after him. I came to a screeching halt upon finding Chump lying on his stomach in the center of the road. His bike lay twisted and ignored about fifteen feet downhill, his shoes kicked off in either direction. Dylan and Dante stared down at him like kids who found an injured bird. Everything was still.
"Car!" I yelled. "Move if you can move, now!"
In one full swoop, we managed to snatch the bike, the shoes, and Chump out of the way of traffic. He was hurt bad, all showing-off had subsided; the guy was in pain. He held his right arm close to his body, a look of agony aching through his face. I thought hospital, but Chump was too proud. He wanted to go to the bar instead. He ended up going into Scripps Mercy the next day. His wrist was broken in two places and needed surgery and pins put in. Word got around town about the crash, so the mini-fame that followed temporarily made up for the cast.
My bike is my only means of transportation, so I spend most of my time in Ocean Beach. The rare occasions when I cruise to other parts of the city tend to lead to such misadventures, always interesting, but usually semi destructive. The Air Races escapade was fuzzy but fun, a day of busting loose but breaking wrists. Dante probably won't be back for awhile, and I'll give it a week or two before I leave my little beach town again.