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Two Decades of Kids and Counting

By Sally Torbey

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About this blog: About this blog: I have enjoyed parenting five children in Palo Alto for the past two decades and have opinions about everything to do with parenting kids (and dogs). The goal of my blog is to share the good times and discuss the ...  (More)

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Surfing to sixty

Uploaded: Apr 11, 2016
Now that I have crossed over to my late fifites and am on the inevitable slide to sixty, I have a new goal. I want to learn to surf. This is a long held ambition of mine. Ever since I swooned to The Beach Boys' songs of sun, surf and sand as an anxious, awkward teenager at dances in an Illinois high school gymnasium, I secretly knew that I was meant to be a surfer. I had a chance when my parents moved to Ventura when I was in my mid-twenties. While attending graduate school at UCSB, I lived with them for a couple of years and became pretty proficient at boogy boarding. My dad and I hit the surf almost every morning before he headed to work and I headed to class. But with full days of studying, research, working as a teaching assistant and applying to medical school, I told myself I was too busy to take up surfing, but the real reason was I was too self-conscious to try.

My dream was reinvigorated when I dragged my family to The Beach Boys in concert over winter break. A recommendation for a Santa Cruz surf school from a new acquaintance who mentioned she learned to surf as an adult was next, and it all culminated in my two daughters and I out on Cowell Beach at a surf lesson last week. I was by far the oldest person within sight. It was cold and windy, and paddling out completely exhausted me. But on a couple of waves I managed to stand up for a tenth of a second, and it was as exhilarating as I always knew it would be. I am recruiting friends and have already booked another lesson, and I'm eying a tacky tin "Gone Surfing" sign for the front door!
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Comments

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Matthew, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Apr 11, 2016 at 11:05 am

Great objective! I know you will do it. You need to get the "rest of the family" with you... :-)


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 11, 2016 at 11:06 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Thanks for the support, Matthew!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by LJ, a resident of another community,
on Apr 11, 2016 at 12:23 pm

Next stop, snowboarding! Then skateboarding!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Laura, a resident of another community,
on Apr 11, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Way to go, Sally. We need to get you out wake surfing too!


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 11, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi LJ,
The advantage of surfing is that water provides a much more forgiving landing than cement or snow!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 11, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi Laura,
I might need a few lessons but the absence of cement and snow is a plus in wake surfing!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by JK, a resident of another community,
on Apr 11, 2016 at 2:09 pm

Surfing sounds like a great hobby and I know you will do great! I hope to be surfing soon as well :)


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 11, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Yes, JK, that should be on the top of your to do list!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by JG, a resident of another community,
on Apr 12, 2016 at 8:27 am

I'm 65 and have been surfing since age 11.Through the years I took a few breaks for school, work and kids and at age 40 jumped back in and now surf almost everyday around the San Diego area. I still work full time but I manage.

I applaud your decision to start at 60 and I have many friends up in to their 70' and even 80's who still go out regularly. That said a little advice:
Surfing in NoCal is cold and can be exhausting. As much as you can surf at spots that are not too demanding.
Travel to surf. San Diego is always a good choice.
Locations with warm water and air and great waves is the best choice. The warm conditions tend to lube the joints.
The lonely perfect waves in premier spots give you an opportunity to perfect your skills.
my favorites:
Salidita in Mainland Mexico
Scorpion Bay in Baja
Pachalas on Kuai
Check them on You Tube
Visit the surf travel sites for more destinations

Try for great surf trips 2-3 times a year. It will keep you young and in the game.

Good luck.

JG


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Humble observer, a resident of Mountain View,
on Apr 12, 2016 at 9:11 am

Here's the movie you clearly need to see (if you haven't already): "Surfing for Life." Web Link

A thoroughly life-affirming, uplifting documentary (even beyond the surfing factor), and I don't know if any of the dozens of surfers featured was even as *young* as 60 at the time. Some were 90 years old. Two were twin sisters. A theme is that the activity keeps them young.

Surfrider Foundation screened it locally in San Mateo County several years ago, when the film was in current release. I'm sure you can find it at Amazon etc., and while I haven't checked them, a Google search suggests that excerpts are available on YouTube.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 12, 2016 at 10:32 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi JG,
Thanks for reading and commenting, and your inspiring words. Great to hear surfing can be a life long sport, and thanks for sharing your favorite surf sites. We've got a son studying in San Diego so I will absolutely be surfing there soon!

Dear Humble observer,
Love to hear that 60 is still young, and I ordered the film online, thanks for the recommendation. No question that the data all points towards the need to keep moving as we age, for physical, emotional and cognitive health!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Mira K, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Apr 13, 2016 at 6:20 am

Yet another wonderful way to take advantage of living in California!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 13, 2016 at 7:46 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi Mira,
Hopefully we'll get you out on the surf soon!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Debbie, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 13, 2016 at 1:12 pm

I am impressed!!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 13, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

HI Debbie,
You can be impressed when I stand up for more than a tenth of a second!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Katie, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 15, 2016 at 8:14 am

Way to go! Keeps you young. Now you have a purpose to travel to warm places to refine your skills.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 15, 2016 at 9:18 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi Katie-
Yes, another excuse to travel to warm places!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Budd Solaegui, a resident of another community,
on Apr 18, 2016 at 11:18 am

I started after 50. I'm 62 now. My tips. Swim laps in a pool. Swim with your head up like water polo, because your neck muscles will kill you. When they do, stack your fists and rest your chin. Swim laps under water or as far as you can go and keep track. Keep your tongue in your mouth when you stand up. Kick your board towards the beach when you fall so it doesn't get thrown into you. Cover your head when you fall. If you fall in shallow water, fall shallow, spread out. Don't try to be cool when you fall, think safety. Find the sweet spot on your board to stand, and mark where you are when you lie down to paddle so that you end up in the same spot each time. Don't go to the best breaks where you have to compete with better surfers or locals. Stay to the side if you do, you will be timid for several years, don't worry about it. Learn several ways to go through breaking waves, turtle, letting go of it completely if there's no one between you and the shore, or what I call an otter roll, if you're interested I'll describe it later. When you're trying to get up, and you think it's time to stand, take two more strokes. Don't be surprised if by the time you get to the best place to be, you are too tired to paddle, again, swim. Good Luck, Budd


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 18, 2016 at 1:36 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Thanks, Budd Solaegui, for all the great tips! It's great to hear from someone who started over 50 but has had success and enjoys the sport. Very inspiring! I've been swimming 2-3 days/week in a very low key Master's program for a number of years, otherwise I doubt I'd have made it through the first surf lesson. Just paddling out had me shaking from fatigue! Good idea to throw in some laps with the head up to strengthen the neck. I learned the turtle roll, but the otter roll? How does that work?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Budd Solaegui, a resident of another community,
on Apr 19, 2016 at 9:20 am

Hi Sally. I came up with "otter roll" after watching an otter calmly laying on it's back eating in big surf near morro bay. I was looking for less energy use than a turtle roll and no water up my nose. Keep in mind it is limited to about about 4 foot surf, much bigger the wave picks you up too far, so start small. Also, if you are in real shallow water, let go of the board if the wave stands up the board as your weight will drive the tail into the bottom. Here goes. Instead of rolling over the board, leave it upright, slide into the water, move to the tip, throw your arm around it and pull the tip to your chest/belly tight, your chin would be a few inches in front of the tip so it doesn't hit the board. As the wave comes from behind you'll hear it, and you just relax your head into it a little bit. Your chest is against the board but your legs will be pushed (creating drag) a bit and the buoyancy of the board picks your head and shoulders out of the water, no water up your nose. When you come down, no flipping the board back over, just get on it and go. It takes less energy for me. As a swimmer, we always blew air out of our nose when doing a flip turn, when surfing in I want the maximum air in my lungs under water, so I let water go into my nose when turtling just in case of a hold down. By the way, if you wear glasses, they make soft contacts (about a buck a piece) that are UV resistant, I hadn't seen clearly in the water for years, very nice.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 20, 2016 at 1:59 pm

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi Budd,
Thanks! Will try it out next week, sounds like less effort and maybe less pummeling! The contacts are a great idea, too.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Aug 11, 2016 at 9:00 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.


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