Holding onto summer with a visit to Surf City U.S.A.

I’m holding onto summer with both hands.  We have dedicated August and  September to packing in as much outdoor activity as possible, trying to squeeze in as many little jaunts as we can manage before the days grow shorter! In our latitude late fall and winter months mean it is dark by 5:00 PM. and I never really savor that shift.

   I think I’ve been quite clear that the ocean is my happy place, and so the other day we headed in that direction once again!

Railroad magnate Henry Huntington’s name is all over Southern California. We live a few blocks south of Huntington Drive. The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, Henry and Arabella Huntington’s home, draws visitors from all over the world–I’ll tell you more about that wonderful place another time. And Huntington Beach is about an hour from home. We don’t measure distance in miles, rather in how long it takes to travel overburdened freeways.

In a previous post about Balboa Island I talked about Huntington’s Pacific Electric Railway ‘Red Car’ system as a significant factor in bringing interest from the Pasadena area, where Huntington lived, to the beach cities. Orange County’s Huntington Beach was another Huntington development, with the Red Cars connecting the beach city to Downtown Los Angeles making it possible for people to live in the suburbs.

Beach Volleyball

Another time I’d enjoy telling you more about Huntington Beach history. I’m fascinated with early California, and the area was part of a Spanish land grant. But for now, I’ll hold back my enthusiasm for the history and get right to the surfing!

The city is famous for the most consistent waves on the West Coast, a feature responsible for the city trademarking the nickname, Surf City USA.

We couldn’t resist building on the theme of the Olympics, so we decided to eat at Dukes. What is Dukes? Dukes is steak, chicken, fish…infused with the tastes of Hawaii. I didn’t suggest it primarily for the food, but for the view. Our table faced the surf, and that’s a winner.

Duke was a full-blooded Hawaiian who won two Olympic medals in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. He won the Gold by setting the world record for the 100 meter freestyle and the Silver with the U.S. relay team. By 1914 he introduced surfing to the U.S. Atlantic Coast, including Australia and New Zealand. He was a standout winner (Silver) again in the 1924 Paris Games, and again, at age 52, a Bronze in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. These are but the Olympic highlights in a life that also included a career in Hollywood. He is something of a legend in surfing history.

I love the ocean all year round. But there’s a particular energy during the summer that will soon disappear. The surfers are year-round, but it isn’t always favorable to comfortably  congregate on the pier.  The temperatures will begin dropping with the shorter days.

But I think I can get a few more of those wonderful ocean sunsets before I officially concede that summer is over!

Do you have weekend plans incorporating some of your favorite pastimes? We are headed  away from the beach this weekend and plan to spend some time in the local mountains. We have to cover all the bases before summer flies away.  I do hope you have the chance to exhale and have a great weekend, too.

I’ll plan to see you on Monday.


54 thoughts on “Holding onto summer with a visit to Surf City U.S.A.

  1. Great idea, hold onto summer. With enough money, you could travel where the good weather was all over the globe, all your round! My choices would be: spring in England (alright, I know, it’s going to rain!), summer in France, autumn (their spring) New Zealand/North Island, winter (their summer) northern Chile. I can dream.

    1. Thank you for the ReTweet, Fran. I hoped my friends would enjoy a little taste of summer in Southern California. It is probably the best of what we have to offer. I am not at all well-traveled. I think it is one of the things I have most lacked in my life, the opportunity to see Europe or really anything outside of the United States. Of course I haven’t ruled out the possibilities, but while I consider what that might actually look like I do make the most of what I can. It sounds to me like you have probably been to some wonderful places! I’m glad we can share!

    1. I think perhaps summer is the best of what we have to offer! I sometimes say that the ocean and easy summer living is our reward for putting up with a lot of other nonsense! We are dreadfully overpopulated and our resources severely taxed, but the sun and climate seems to trick us into a natural state of well-being. I guess that’s fine! I do wonder about it longterm, though! Hope you are doing well with your studies! D

  2. Fascinating history about the Red Cars – I must read more. Surfing sounds suspiciously close to having a bath which I find worrying 😉 Love that golden photo of the waves rolling in at the bottom. My weekend will be a home football match on Saturday. But we’re off to the coast next Saturday when we play away at Hastings – an old Fishing town. Must get there early and take some photos. Hope you enjoy your weekend at the beach 🙂

    1. Your weekend sounds like a good match for your interests, Martin.I hope you will indeed take some photos while in Hastings and perhaps share them. While we are away this weekend I hope to spend a little time getting caught up in reading new to me blogs! I will be popping over to see what you are up to! I am not very well traveled personally, but I have really enjoyed seeing a bit more of the world through my blogging friends! Enjoy your football match! Debra

  3. I’m with ya, Debra! I’m “That guy!”, the one wearing shorts and sandals into November. I just hate to surrender to winter. It just seems to go on forever in these parts. So, I’ll put on my shorts, slip on my sandals, and head outdoors, pretending that the overcast 45˚ day is really a warm and sunny 75˚. Enjoy your weekend!

    1. If you are a summer guy, John, I can’t imagine how hard the very cold winters must be! I probably need to be very careful what I complain about in February, don’t I! I think much of what constitutes my mental attitude about summer is that I have always worked in schools…from preschool to now the university. Summer represents lighter workloads and a complete shift of responsibilities, on top of lots of outdoor activities. Our mental framework and associations affect us, I’m sure. But I also feel so much more energized with much more outdoor time, so we’ll just do the best we can with what we get! Ha! I hope you and Max have fun tomorrow, perhaps at the farmer’s market! 🙂 D

  4. Ocean beaches are special places … and even better when you involve a sunset as you get! Given that daylight savings time goes through October, you have time!

    For us, the only thing I’m confident of getting in this weekend is time on the ballroom floor. After that, I’m not sure. Enjoy your trip to the mountains!

    1. You’re right we have some time before summer will feel completely over! Our days are already getting a little shorter and I can see the signs of fall, despite the heat. The squirrels are up in our oak tree going crazy with the acorns. That always signals fall is near. But we could still have 100 degree heat through September into October…and then we have wild fire season! I hope you have some great ballroom floor time, Frank. I must admit I do envy that a bit! We did Arthur Murray classes for about a year five years ago…it was so much fun! 🙂 Debra

  5. You know I love the sea and mountains Debra, so I’m always happy to share in your trips ! And you know that beaches with palm trees always get be oooing and ahhhing 🙂
    I’m curious about the railway, does much of the line still exist? I’d love to take a train to the beach.
    And I have to fess up I’ve neve rheard of Duke, but he sounds a remarkable man. Looking forward to hearing about your mountain trip……

    1. I wouldn’t know a thing about Duke, Claire, if it weren’t for the restaurant! He really does sound remarkable. I didn’t want to make the post too long so I stopped…but apparently he was commended for saving lives on a ship that was going down and on and on! Some people are larger than life!

      The red cars don’t exist any more, but they were running through the 1960s. It is almost criminal that they were taken out–so short sighted! Now the effort is to put light rail back and of course, at the cost of billions of dollars. There are a few trains, one line called the Surf Liner, that does go to some of the beaches. It is primarily a commuter train. Our cities are so spread out over so many miles that the infrastructure for commuter trains are slow to be established. Getting Californians out of their cars is hard to do, even with fuel costs rising higher and higher. I love to take the train whenever I can!

      Hope you have a great weekend, Claire! Enjoy the last of your summer, too! 🙂

  6. We’ve no plans, Debra, but I’m sure the strains of the Beach Boys and Surf City USA will be drumming in my ears this weekend. I would love to hear more about Huntington Beach and California history. What little I know is so fascinating. How I envy you your view of the surf from Duke’s. What an amazing time that must have been and life story of his, coming to the mainland, traveling to Stockholm, the Olympics. Can you imagine how long that trip would have taken, by rail then ocean liner? Oh, dear Debra, you have my mind whirling with thoughts this day, but, fear not, I will exhale.

    1. Thank you for being so appreciative, Penny. I have very suddenly, it seems, developed an almost voracious appetite for particular aspects of California history. It all started with an exhibit at the Huntington earlier this year of maps of the early waterways in the area, dating back to the Indians. I was fascinated, and realized how little I knew! Now that I’m reading and connecting some dots I’m finding so much I never knew. I’ll probably be sharing more due to the fact I almost can’t help myself. And I hadn’t really stopped to think about all that Duke would have experienced to have traveled even from Hawaii, let alone on to Stockholm and again France. He really was a very exceptional man, I think! I hope having no specific plans this weekend feels very restful! We need those weekends as much as we need time away! Enjoy! Debra

  7. I was thinking exactly what lifeonthecutoff said – the song Surf City USA was running through my head as a background to reading your post, and I’m sure it’s there for the day! I agree that I don’t much care for deep winter’s early sunsets (we lost the sun here between 4:00 and 4:30), but I’m welcoming fall’s cool temps with open arms!

    The mountains and woods are my favorite “happy place”. The air is so cool and fresh, unlike anywhere else. And there are always lots of interesting flora and fauna to discover! 🙂

    1. You’re right, of course, after a long, hot summer the shorter days are a good trade for the heat! It’s a wonderful thing that we have so much natural beauty in each of the 50 states! Our local mountains aren’t high enough in elevation to give us much cooler weather, but they are still beautiful, and I’ll take a change in scenery. Whatever you find to do this weekend, I hope it refreshes! I’ll be home in time to check in Monday and see what Daisy has been up to. Hope she is behaving herself! 🙂

  8. I am off to a music festival again tomorrow, one that I have never been to before. True to form, after the concerts there is a giant potluck and a do-it-yourself jam. Sunday I’ll stay home, I believe — it’s my one-year blogging anniversary and I have something special to release. Enjoy your beach day.

    1. What a great weekend! I hope you’ll mention something about your music festival! I was thinking about the variety of your musical groups, and wondered if one just needs to know where to look, or if there are just a lot more to choose from in the your part of the state. I certainly never hear anything, nor do I know anyone in the general L.A. area who seems connected to anything at all similar. Your plans sound really nice! And congratulations on one full year of blogging. I must have found your blog very early on, and I had no idea that you were just getting started. It seems you had a clear vision from the beginning. I’ll look forward to seeing how you celebrate! 🙂

      1. Hi Debra. I thought about my blog for a year before I started it: the anniversary post may tell a little more of the story behind it. I studied blogging, read about it, listened to what other people had to say before I took the plunge.

        Just about everything I do musically is related to a local community of folk musicians that is both large and diverse, containing all levels of professionals and amateurs like me. If you like, I could try to find out if there are folk musicians hanging out in San Gabriel (They might be there already). It took me awhile to connect with the community and even longer to feel accepted by it — there are circles within circles. When I lived in Santa Barbara I hung out with contra dancers and madrigal singers.

        1. I think your preparation anticipating the launch of your blog really shows, and did from the beginning. I was planning to practice and was tentative in what I even wanted to do, and accidentally went live! Fortunately, for awhile no one read it any way. Not even my friends! Ha! Thank you for the offer to ask about musical groups near my home. I think for now I’m more of an observer than ready to participate so maybe I need to start practicing musically again first! That has suffered a lot lately! I’d love to revisit that offer later, though! 🙂

  9. Thanks for taking us along to Huntington Beach. It’s such a pleasant read, and I really enjoy how you mix personal experience with facts of various kind. Great little story about the local Olympic champion. As for me, I don’t believe the summer is over yet, in a long, long time, but unfortunately this weekend is all work and no recreation. Have a nice weekend!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind remarks, Otto. I have a lot of fun sharing some things I find interesting about our local history. I have recently been very curious about how people, places and events of the past connect. The more I read the more questions I seem to have, and some of my “exploring” makes it into the blog. I’m glad you have found it interesting. I also hope you find time to relax at some point this weekend, but I know sometimes work just takes priority! Our little mountain weekend is still quite close to home, so it makes it much easier to drop everything for a day or two and then fold back into work on Monday! 🙂

    1. I work in a university and the students are all returning, so I think I’m responding as though summer is really over! It’s probably much more accurate to say that vacation is over…we’ll have heat and more heat for a bit of time, so I have a little time before the days are quite so short! 🙂 I hope you enjoy your weekend, too!

  10. It’s still August but the summer is slipping away. It’s interesting to learn more about surfing, which seems like a classic summer activity! Great pictures too- thanks Debra 🙂

    1. Yes, Meg, surfing is a staple of Southern California beaches. We don’t have the killer waves that Hawaii and Australia boast, I don’t think, but large and expansive coastlines that aren’t too rocky, which makes surfing very popular. They are fascinating to watch. I tried surfing in high school and found out how hard it is…I couldn’t do it at all! I can feel the seasons changing, even though it’s still a little early. The squirrels have started collecting acorns from our oak tree. Each year they begin right about now and I’m fascinated. We don’t have snow…they really don’t have to work so hard! 🙂 I hope you enjoy your weekend, too, Meg.

    1. I picture Cornwall with a rocky coast. I may be wrong, but my imagination fills in a more dramatic coastline. I think surfing in Southern California offers easily accessed beaches and consistently favorable conditions, and that’s the draw. I think it’s always interesting to see surfers all over the world chasing waves. I love to be in the surf, but not with a board! I just watch and applaud!

  11. What a reminder how fast summer goes by. It seems for us Michiganders and Ohioans that short days translate to cold winters. Short days, highlight changes in weather throughout the USA…and your post was a great reminder. I guess I just assumed it’s always warm in CA! It’s usually warmer in CA though.LOL Enjoy your trip into the mountains.

  12. I love the beach too. Love the image of the palm trees – it screams holidays. I hate winter too and I’m starting to get excited that our days are getting longer and the weather is starting to warm up. Shame for you though! Glad you’re packing as much into the remaining warm days as possible xx

  13. Enjoy your trip to the mountains, Debra. I hope you will bring back more lovely photos like these. I particularly like the surfboard shot from above.

    We’re going to the Farmers’ Market, like we always do on Saturday, getting coffee, reading the NY Times, followed by my writing, writing, writing.

    1. Your weekend sounds lovely, Andra. You are so dedicated to your significant writing schedule. I really admire your discipline. I do hope it all goes very well for you and I’m sure you have multiple projects in the works! I don’t think you could contain all of your creativity! 🙂 oxo

    1. Do you see many differences from your own beautiful coastline, Nancy? When we visited Florida’s beaches the only thing I found very different was the water was warmer, and I couldn’t get used to the fact that the sunset was behind me! LOL! We do enjoy our sunshine, don’t we! D

    1. I have been enjoying a new camera, Marie. I’ve really enjoyed taking photos of the ocean and sunsets. I now how hundreds! Ha! Many of them looking exactly like the previous photo, but I can’t seem to help myself! 🙂

  14. Dear Debra, I’ve been away from blogging for over a week and have missed your boundless enthusiasm for life and nature and the gifts that come with living in California. That final photograph of the sun on the water and the surf is so evocative. It could bring forth poetry from me were I a poet! Instead, I’ll just say, “Deo Gracias!” Peace.

    1. I’ve noted your absence, Dee, and even checked your wonderful site just to be certain I hadn’t missed you in error! I hope you’re doing well, and simply taking a break. I think we need breaks now and then, or at least the opportunity to slow down, or we’ll find it difficult to keep up our blogging regimens! I do enjoy sharing the lighter elements of life in Southern California. I’m sure you know how stressful life can be in such a heavily populated geography! I simply do my best to focus on the points in SoCal that best contribute to my personal well-being! 🙂 I’m very glad to hear from you, Dee! Debra

  15. I didn’t know all that history about Huntington and Dukes. So interesting.
    I too love the ocean and when we moved here and were near ocean, mountains and with palm trees and jacarandas I felt as happy as a kid in a candy store.
    Every time we go to the beach and I see the ocean I’m sure I say the same line “aren’t we lucky we didn’t have to catch a plane to get her?” but unfortunately we don’t get out to the beach often enough because I work Sundays.

    1. How long have you lived in Southern California, Rose? I thought you were working Sundays…I was finding a pattern in your stories and posting! 🙂 But we are indeed fortunate to live near mountains and beach…it’s our reward for putting up with overcrowding and other things about the region that are a little frustrating, don’t you think? 🙂 Debra

    1. There is a movie being filmed in our neighborhood right now, coincidentally! We have lovely geography and fabulous weather…but we also have tremendous overcrowding and many of the social issues, like high crime rates and problems with the schools, that go hand in hand with overpopulation–I just don’t share about those factors! They wouldn’t be compatible with a blog titled “breathelighter”–so I only show the best parts! I know it could sound insincere, but it’s true…I wold love to experience a little estate under a dreary sky! I guess that’s why we need to travel, even if from time to time it is vicarious! 🙂 Debra

  16. What wonderful photos and a great sentiment! Debra, thanks for inspiring me to appreciate these last few days of summer.
    It’s easy to move to quickly into the next season. We had a great summer vacation this year, and now the kids are back at school. I guess our end of summer focus is on moving to a new home in the next few weeks! 🙂 It’s a bit of a different way to end the summer, but a good one for us. I’m just hoping the move will go fairly smoothly.
    Hope you had a great weekend!

    1. I don hope your move goes very smoothly, Karen. Any move is so much work! But I’m sure when you have finally made that transition it is going to be such a good one for you! I’ll look forward to reading how things go for you, in particular with your blessing of the new space! I love that! Debra

  17. Pingback: the sea and the sky | me, mine and other bits

    1. You lost some time not feeling well, Elizabeth, so you can rightfully extend your summer just a little bit! I think I feel a little rush towards a season’s closing because the students are all returning to the university. In truth, summer isn’t over for another month! Get to it! 🙂

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