Around-the-World-in-80-Blogs: Huntington Beach

Everydaystranger had a neat idea, and I’m hopping on the bandwagon. She says:

Let’s get 80 blogs together from across the world. On the same day, we will post about our lives in our parts of the prospective worlds, just a glimpse of what things are like in each little bubble that we blog from. We can connect, find something to tell others about our lives and our areas that maybe they never knew, and maybe for a day link the world up a bit.

That was, like, totally easier than typing it out on my own. I know, right? (<— You think I'm over-exaggerating when I tell you people in my hometown actually talk like this, don't you?) I live in Huntington Beach. That's Huntington Beach, California… smack dab in the middle of Orange County. For those who watch the OC— yeah, that Orange County. I live a mile from the beach.

On Tuesdays I take the baby to Surf City Nights down at Main St:

They have vendors of crafts and food, excellent street musicians, and gigantic bouncy houses for the kids (nothing’s for free, of course, except listening to the musicians.)

Huntington Beach has disgustingly perfect weather, nearly year round. We’re in the middle of a cool spell right now. It’s the height of winter. It’s 60 degrees (Farenheit). Brrrr! I seriously just saw someone in a parka waiting for a bus. A parka! That’s what they use in Alaska, and for cross-country skiing and such. It seems a bit overkill for 60 degrees, but there you have it. Orange County people aren’t known for their ruggedness. Our average temperature ranges between 74 degrees…… and 74 degrees.

I know everyone out there hates me right now, but seriously— what I wouldn’t give to see a bit of snow. Or sleet. Or hail. Or fall leaves. Weatherwise, I feel like I live on the Truman show!

So, this is where I live, and this is where I grew up. I know I should be more grateful. I have to admit, I do see scenes like the photo above all the time.

My main complaint is the REASON they’ve cropped the above photo so small.

If you widen that photo, this is what you would find to the left and the right of that beautiful, solo surfer:


People.

Throngs and throngs of noisy, sweaty, half-dressed people. When people cross the street on Main Street, they don’t just cross the street. They migrate across in a gigantic, well-manicured flock:

Oh, don’t get me wrong— these aren’t just any people! They are very, very beautiful people! My city is home to approximately 1,389,389,162,359,029 of the most beautiful people on the planet. Thanks to botox, the only way you can tell someone’s true age is to sneak their expensive, name-brand wallet out of their expensive, name-brand purse and take a peek at their driver’s license. Everyone here is either 21, waiting to become 21, or do everything medically possible to make sure they still look 21.

The men are beautiful.

Surfing is a lot of fun, and provided you plunk down the $125 dollars for a yearly beach parking pass, $100 for a used board, and a couple of bucks for some surf wax (It’s called Sex Wax. No, I’m not kidding. Walk into a beach store around here and ask for some sex wax, and the cashier won’t even bat an eyelid)… well, after the initial costs, it’s relatively free. It’s tons of fun, and an incredible workout, and the men and women’s bodies around here reflect it.

Did you know I was almost 21 before I realized that most guys don’t NATURALLY have smooth, bronzed, hairless chests? The first time I saw my first boyfriend without his shirt on, I was amazed. He was so… so… so WHITE! And he had HAIR! On his chest! And around his NIPPLES! What was up with THAT?

I grew up seeing this all through high school:

How was I to know any different? I really thought that most guys didn’t have hair on their chests, and that any guy that did was considered exceptionally hairy. I guess anybody around me who didn’t have a golden brown tan or hadn’t taken the time to properly shave/wax his chest usually had the good sense to keep his shirt on. It’s probably a good thing, as I probably would have pointed and gawked.

On a side note, every afternoon at about 3 pm my high school’s surf team (yeah, that’s right… most Huntington Beach high schools have a surfing team. You could always tell when the waves were pounding because your 1st and 2nd period classes would be suspiciously empty)— anyways, the the surf team would meet on the same corner as the cross-country team as they each prepared to go do their own workout.

Poor, poor Becky.

Having to walk through the midst of 40 tanned, shirtless, muscular young gods… every day.

Poor, poor her.

On the other hand, poor her indeed!

If you think the guys around here are hot… wait till you see the girls! It’s demoralizing being around this caliber of beautiful women.

Those photos I just showed you aren’t freak occurrences of gorgeous women. I could go down to Main St right now, on a Monday afternoon, and pick out 10 women who looked just like that in a matter of minutes (during the summer I could probably do the same in about 30 seconds). Thankfully, most of the hotties congregate around downtown Huntington Beach, which everyone calls “Main St” or “the pier”. If you want to avoid them, just head to the north end of the city and wander around Bella Terra , which has some good shopping and is much more family-friendly.

The Huntington Beach pier has been a landmark around here and is pretty much what you comes to mind when you think of Huntington Beach…. well, that and the firepits. Huntington is one of the only beaches in the Southern California area that has firepits on the beach.

Lugging the firewood and accessories out to the pits from the parking lot can be a pain, but it’s worth it. In fact, that’s exactly where I held my “wedding reception”— I had a great big bonfire at the state beach. We played music, roasted hot dogs and smores, hid our champagne and beer beneath a layer of sodas, and laughed with good friends and family. The Bean and I had an absolute blast, and the whole wedding only cost us $250 TOTAL. Beat THAT!

Where was I?

Oh, yeah. The Pier.

I could give you all the geographical data about the pier, but that’s really boring. Here’s what’s interesting:

It has a Ruby’s at the end of it. Ruby’s has “refillable” fries and FANTASTIC, FANTASTIC, UTTERLY FANTASTIC shakes and malts.

So, if you’re ever in HB, walk to the end of the pier around sunset, get a table by the window (if there are any available) and watch the sun sink slowly into the Pacific Ocean while dipping your fries in your delicious shake.

Mmmm.

(Just bring your sunglasses, because the glare is gonna kill you. Oh, and bring a jacket. Even if it seems warm at home, the stiff breeze on the pier comes in over the water and can chill you fast.)

Another interesting sidenote is that in 1988 the weather system El Nino caused massive 20 ft waves that ripped off the end of the pier (which used to be made out of wood). It’s since been rebuilt (obviously).


Even when I was a teenager, I completely avoided Main Street. When I was younger, it was too much of a party scene, and not exactly the most wholesome place to hang out. During the winter it’s not that bad of a place, but during the summertime (when the city’s population of 200,000 doubles), the streets are crammed with an interesting mixture of half-dressed sullen teenagers doing their best to look worldly and bored, surfers in worn flip flops and expensive board shorts that hang so low on their hips they appear to be dangling from their genitals like on a coat hook, and sun-drained, cranky out-of-town families, all slightly pink and carting waaaaaay too many beach toys.

Contrary to popular belief, nobody here wears Hollister. The guys wear Hurley, Quicksilver, Volcom, Billabong and other surfing/skating brands.

The girls all wear bikinis, throwing minuscule little cutoff jean shorts over them as “coverup”s.

Naturally, you don’t actually button the shorts. Like, whateeever. (No, seriously. If you wear jean shorts over a bikini bottom, you don’t button them. They’ve been doing— or rather failing to do that— since I was a teenager.)

What do I think of the pier bow that I’m older?

It’s not bad during the day, but at night it’s still too much of a party scene. Plus, the atmosphere just feels forced. The teenagers aren’t having nearly as good of a time as they wish they were, and the adults are too busy being annoyed by the teenagers to be able to relax. The surfing at the pier is good… but not THAT much better than the rest of the beach. Besides, if you’re not a local, you’re not actually allowed to surf at the pier. It’s a like a 1980s B movie— you need to prove your right to be there, bra! Who needs that headache?

The surf here is adequate, but not spectacular. I have no idea how we managed to land being the host city of the US Open of surfing, but we did. This year it was kind of neat because one of the best surf days we’ve had all year actually happened on that weekend (solid 8 foot waves, with occasional 13 footers), so this year it was actually worth watching.

When the waves go off in Huntington Beach, the Wedge almost always goes off too— and THAT is a sight to behold. The Wedge is located in Newport Beach, which is right next door to HB. If you were a crow, you could probably get to the Wedge in a matter of minutes.

If you’re a human, in a car, and the Wedge is pumping— it’s gonna take you about 2 hours, even though it’s only about 5 or 6 miles away. Forty minutes of that will be inching along at a snail’s pace, watching people walk past you… and an hour and 20 will be trying to find parking once you’re there.

Still, once you are there, and if the waves are just right, it’s kind of worth it:

Here’s what Surfreport has to say about The Wedge:

The Wedge is not a wave — it’s a 20-foot-plus meat grinder dreamed up by the devil himself. It heaves, bends and pulverizes in ways that good little waves aren’t supposed to act. The first time you swim or paddle out on a solid day, a typical thought might be, “Dang, is my chiropractor covered in my medical plan?” The Wedge is a combination of two waves that merge together, thrusting into a titanic slingshot that breaks with enough pounds per square inch to send Stone Cold Steve Austin to the mat.

The worst part about the Wedge is that the wave is breaking in something like 2 feet of water. There’s no way to escape getting DRILLED into the sand if you land wrong. It’s crazy to watch. The people who do it are probably certifiable.

If you decide to do something other than hang out at the beach, grab a cinnamon roll at Alice’s Breakfast in the Park , or have some breakfast at the fairly famous Sugar Shack Cafe on Main Street. Romp with the dogs at dog beach,

or maybe go play some frisbee golf at our Frisbee (Disc) golf course .

Like most cities with a high tourist population, the locals can be kind of snobby towards out-of-towners. I started trying to think of some of the differences, and finally ended up coming up with the following list, which is by no means conclusive:

How to spot a tourist in Huntington Beach:

  1. They’re pink. Locals are either surfer-golden or emo-white.
  2. They sport a farmer’s tan… or even worse, a sock tan.
  3. They try to hide their sock tan by wearing socks with their shoes. Nobody wears socks that you can actually see around here. I’m not sure why, but that’s how it is.
  4. They are wearing regular hiking-type sandals, instead of regular flip-flops.
  5. Even worse, they are wearing SOCKS WITH THEIR SANDALS (I’m no fashion guru, but really… where and when is this EVER okay? Is there some strange, touristy land I’m unaware of where people wander around in socks and sandals, and anybody who shows up otherwise is immediately branded as a tourist?)
  6. They are openly gawking at the half-naked jailbait, instead of sensibly buying a pair of reflective sunglasses and leering away in privacy.
  7. They have carted approximately 4.5 cubic tons of useless crap with them to the beach.
  8. They arrive during peak season (Memorial Day to Labor Day) in the afternoon and actually expect to be able to stake out a firepit. C’mon people— you have to get there by 9 in the morning if you want one of those. And by 9am most of the good ones are already taken!

For those of you who are thinking of visiting, here is what you will actually need for the beach:

  1. A beach towel.
  2. Sun screen. Make sure it’s waterproof. Don’t put any on your forehead (or your eyes will start stinging once you go in the water) Reapply every 3-4 hours. And do this even if it’s cloudy— you still fry when it’s cloudy.
  3. No umbrella (umbrellas are for sissy people who worry about skin cancer and living past 30.)
  4. No beach chair (that’s why sand is soft).
  5. A pair of sandals. No closed-toes shoes (again… sand is soft.)
  6. A sweatshirt– the closer you get to the beach, the windier it will be. You’d be surprised how quickly you can get chilly, especially if you get to the beach early and the June gloom is still going on (the marine layer sometimes doesn’t burn off till midday.)
  7. A water bottle.
  8. No food: any food you bring is going to just going to get sandy. If you have to bring food, bring something durable, like an apple to tide you over.

If you are going out into the water, discreetly dig a hole and place your keys/wallet in the sand, and then cover it up and place your towel over it. Thievery on the beach is rampant— I really think that’s how some people make a living during the summertime.

So, there you have it. My hometown, but not necessarily my home. I don’t know where my home is, exactly, but it’s someplace that looks like either Montana or Scotland, where my nearest neighbor is a phone call instead of whisper away, and there are tons of horses in my front yard.

But if you’re gonna get stuck in California, Huntington Beach isn’t a bad way to go.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I didn’t take any of these photos. I couldn’t take a nice picture of anything if my life depended on it. Seriously. My ex’s sister was a model, and when I took a photo of her I made her look fat. How do you do that? At any rate, I just googled the whole posting photos on your blog that you yoinked off the internet, and apparently it’s a bad, bad thing. SIGH. I’m going to be working on either replacing these photos with photos from photographer friends or figuring out how to give credit.

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19 thoughts on “Around-the-World-in-80-Blogs: Huntington Beach

  1. Your post was brilliant. The photos and commentary were great – also the spot a tourist as pink bit? Yeah. That's me.

    Shannon
    Everyday Stranger

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  2. LOL!!! Socks with sandals…it's common up here in the Pacific North West(PNW)of Washington state. There is even a TV commercial that talks about “The socks with sandals Guy” Gotta love it! Funny blog, I enjoy reading it.

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  3. I only found out about this because I was stalking you πŸ™‚

    Dude— hook me up with a job opportunity and the Bean, the DragonMonkey and I would be over there so fast our shadows would be looking around, trying to figure out where we went to.

    Now that I know someone from Tasmania and am convinced that it's an actual place and not someone just yanking my chain (do you guys have snipes over there? Tasmania seems like it would be the country version of a snipe), it's my new favorite place to daydream about. New Zealand seems like it's getting too populated and Scotland is GORGEOUS but they have weird food.

    The Bean's friend *might* be moving to Australia, and if he does, we're trying to convince him to let us squat at his place until we can find a job πŸ™‚ We are SO done with California!

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  4. I lived in Southern California (Torrance) for twelve years, and graduated high school out there. I sometimes miss it, particularly the mountains and the desert, but I don't miss the lack of change in seasons (other than flood, fire, earthquake, and sunshine). Or the high cost of living, and the backwards politics.

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  5. Uh, sahara4d must be my neighbor. I'm north of Seattle, and people TOTALLY do the socks + sandals thing. Black socks, white socks, whatever, it's all ugly. Women too.

    We just are not fashionable here.

    Grunge wasn't a fashion thing for us, it was a way to stay warm in winter. While fashion has moved on, we native Swamplanders continue to dress in multiple layers of flannel shirts, black knit toques, and socks with sandals.

    GQ came to Seattle a few years back to do a photo shoot on “best-dressed guys in Seattle” and we were all like, “Srsly? Where do you plan to find ANY well-dressed Seattle guys?” I think they must've brought some ringers.

    Good news is: you don't have to look 21 here, because everyone is wearing a million layers of clothes. Shapes are okay. You might like it.

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  6. heh. I'll be sure to wear sunglasses πŸ˜‰

    This was a great post on a lifestyle that is totally foreign to me. And some of the pictures are just breathtaking. thanks for sharing

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  7. AareneX-

    High on the list of VERY likely places where The Bean and I will move (as opposed to our daydream list which includes Chili, Scotland, Tasmania, and a 40' Cheoy Lee sailboat) is the Pacific Northwest. It's got a large enough metropolis that you can support a family, and enough land on the outskirts for privacy and horses. Yaay!

    Veronica: I googled job opportunities in Tasmania. How depressing. As for snipes, snipes are small, ground-running quail-like birds that live in the brush and are attracted to crevices and dark holes to hide in. They have a natural instinct to burrow and go deep inside caves and dark places when frightened of loud noises. How you hunt them is you have several “beaters” who thrash the brush and startle them from their nighttime hiding places, all towards the “receiver” who makes a low cluck noise to lure them, holding a flashlight steadily over the mouth of the pillowcase to show the “safe spot”. The startled snipe will be lured by the possible safety zone as well as soothing clucking and will dash into the pillow case. Voila! Instant dinner!

    Instant laughing πŸ™‚ If you can trick someone into believing in snipes you send them out to be a receiver and the rest of you go back to camp and drink beers until they figure it out.

    Diamond Dave: The Bean and I enjoyed a good laugh over your description of Cali's four seasons. Spot on! As far as backward politics… The Bean just tried to apply for a scholarship at his school (he applies for ALL of them, just in case!)… and was rejected because he WASN'T and illegal. We have scholarships for illegal aliens attending a public university. *facepalm*

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  8. I've actually been to Huntinging Beach and stayed there for a week. I liked it a lot and would move there if it weren't so expensive. You live in a beautiful place. And I did survive the beach in the summer as a tourist, and that rip tide nearly did me in. I don't surf. I also attempted to catch the Grunion fish next to the pier at at night. That was fun.

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  9. Yep that's the one Becky. Hi AareneX, I'm across the water from Seattle in Port Townsend. I love living in a place where you can go to the grocery store in your muck boots and dirty jeans and no one cares…or maybe I just don't care what people think. Hmmm, either way it works for me! I grew up in California, Redondo Beach, San Diego area ans the San Luis Obispo area. I do miss the big beaches of So-cal some times.

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  10. I am sorry but it is -34 Celcius with an wind chill of -43. -40 Fahrenheit and -40 celcius are the same. Takes 4.3 minutes for your skin to freeze. A little bit of +60 Fahrenheit would be a blessing. I would wear my socks in my sandals or the touque on my head and look like a clown just for the chance to go outside without 40 pounds of cloths on! No wounder we are pink with sock tans and a look of shock on our faces.

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  11. Lori, you're like a jackalope. I've heard of people who live in climates like that, but never actually SEEN them. The closest I've come is when I spent some time in Montana, and all the horses there had square ears. I asked why that was, and apparently THE TIPS OF THEIR EARS FREEZE OFF IN THE WINTER. WHAT?! THEY WHAT?!?! That was so incredibly disturbing.

    I just have to ask….

    When it's that cold, if you go outside and spit, does it really freeze before it lands and bounce on the snow? Or is that just a myth from a Jack London book I read?

    Also…

    Is it true that your boogers freeze in your nose?

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  12. Oh, and Statia? I thought the SAME exact thing when I moved to NorCal for 6 months. I thought, “Hey! It's close to the beach, so they are beach people. I should blend right in!”

    Ha. Yeah. NorCal and SoCal should really be two separate states. Or countries.

    Oh, and here in HB, it's not unusual at all to see teenagers in bikinis giggling in the aisleways of your local Albertsons during the summertime. The adults, at least, have a little mores sense.

    If you really want to get some looks, go to a store with a crunchy I've-been-riding-my-horse-bareback butt. πŸ™‚ In central California you get conspiratorial, knowing smiles. In SoCal you get slightly disgusted looks. Since boarding your horse here in HB costs, on average, about $400 and up, nobody really does it.

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  13. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

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