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    Posted December 27, 2012 by
    Ogden, Utah
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    VW camper van memories

    Surfing Trip to Baja

    A surfing trip in 1976 from Imperial Beach California to Baja Mexico in my best friend Joe’s 65 VW van will go down as one of my greatest youthful adventures. I say “one” because I could write a book about this van.

    After more than a few flat tires, getting stuck in the sand continually and running out of gas more than once, we were 800 miles south and the engine blew. I would like to think it was confidence in Joes’ mechanical ability that kept us cool and calm but really it was probably more so being ignorant and young that made a perfect combination. We didn’t think of the possible down side of the situation or what could happen and what we didn’t know certainly couldn’t hurt us. Right? I believe that is a symptom of youth. We did everything on a wing and a prayer back then.

    While being towed back to the closest town, we saw a couple of guys from home. I stayed with them and surfed while Joe got on a bus and headed to Tijuana. A friendly local also named “Joe”, allowed us to leave the van at his house. We thought this was sort of like leaving your wallet at the bus station for a few days and expecting the best but what else could we do? The plan was for Joe to go home and get a new engine, we would meet back in a couple of days, install the engine and proceed with surfing. Of course it would work! Such a simple plan. Can you imagine Joes dilemma? He had to travel by Mexican bus, approximately 1600 miles in a little over two days along with finding a new engine and transporting it from Tijuana to who knows where Baja. Piece of cake.

    He loved that van so it didn’t surprise me. I think we all did. It was just one of the guys really. When I think of all the dawn patrols we did in that van, rolling up to a surf spot and seeing perfect waves, I get a bit verklempt and I am not even Jewish. I can’t count the number of times I hid my board in the van and ditched school to go surfing. I didn’t think my Mom ever knew. How dumb was I? Joe and I always told each other, that we would never stop surfing. I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything. I am glad of that. After a long military career, I haven’t surfed in 32 years. Well, outside of my mind anyway.

    The stars must have stayed aligned for quite some time because we arrived back at the van just as Joe was departing the bus. The engine removal and installation wasn’t done in a garage. We did it in a dirt lot, using an old tire to hold the engine up and utter strength to lift it the final inches required. The new engine? Yeah, Joe pulled that from his sisters van. Funny, I never asked him if she knew but that is how he rolled. The installation went great but the initial start wasn’t going as well. After about an hour of frustration, “Joe” from the town came out of his house to see what the Gringo’s were up to. I had noticed upon our first introduction that “Joe” spoke excellent English. Now, after speaking with him a little more, we find that he is the town dentist, pilot and has a very large fishing boat. You most certainly could not read this book by its cover. “Joe” asked to take a look and we certainly moved to the side. After a little fiddling on his part, he asked to have a go at starting it. What do you think happened? We were back on the road in less than 30 minutes, looking for surf. I am not a real religious guy and I think “Joe” really meant Jose but it could have easily meant Jesus.

    How was the surfing? Insane! How’s the van.? Still around.
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