Chris Ahrens

Articles by Chris Ahrens

Oceanside – California's best kept secret

San Luis Rey Valley, the pier, the mission, the harbor, Hill Street, California Surf Museum

From the moment we spotted the billboard proudly shouting: “Oceanside, California’s Best Kept Secret,” as we wheeled in from L.A. on southbound Highway 101, my brother Dave and I were frothing. Crossing that imaginary line ...

Jacumba – the far edge of San Diego

Across border in Jacume, De Anza nudists, In-Ko-Pah, Border Angels, hippie fest, flying saucers

A quiet street and an old hotel Jacumba is a kind of living ghost town out in southeast San Diego County, on the Mexican border, in what’s called, the Mountain Empire district. It has come ...

Ryan Burch and Carl Eckstrom – outlier surfboard designers

The asymmetricals all clicked

While the world seems geared toward breeding out individuality, surfing celebrates those who successfully break predetermined boundaries. Still, in a time not long ago, fog shrouded our tribe’s favorite activity, and we tumbled into what ...

Surfing owes a lot to Baja

Ensenada a mecca for board builders

The Baja Peninsula is a Rorschach test. Visitors see heaven or hell in an arid landscape. Three million-plus citizens see a homeland free of the congestion of their northern neighbors. Surfers see a crooked finger ...

Taylor Guitars’ master guitar designer, Andy Powers has built guitars for Taylor Swift, Zac Brown, Edge from U2 and others

“It’s a rare breed, with maybe a few hundred worldwide, and probably no more than three of us in San Diego.”

Andy Powers plays a little ditty he made up on the spot on a guitar he built by hand, in the home he rebuilt to perfection. Powers, who ranks among the best guitar makers in ...

Find money, fins, and Frisbees in the "stank bank"

Even less hip than metal detectors

The great kelp forests off our coast grow up to two feet a day under ideal conditions. At their peak, individual strands can reach over 100 feet in length. Usually, however, they are ripped from ...

Algae-based surfboard foam produced in Ensenada

An eco-friendly solution for surfers

After 44 consecutive years in business, Gordon “Grubby” Clark, closed his doors for good. Clark’s company, Clark Foam, once produced most of America’s surfboard blanks, the foam cores essential to building surfboards. His closure resulted ...

Oceanside’s link to “Once Upon a Time in the West” pedal steel great Buddy Emmons

“Cheeks” is not for sale at any price.

Nothing cries as convincingly as a pedal steel guitar. While that sound breaths emotion into Hawaiian, country, and even rock n’ roll music on occasion, it is more often associated with Nashville than Oceanside. Yet ...

The five-star surf spots of San Diego

If you are not a local, wait your turn

Tijuana Sloughs in the south and Cotton’s Point in the north bookend the 70-some miles of San Diego coastline. Sandwiched between these two deep-water reefs is one of the lushest wave gardens on earth. Prime ...