September 17, 2018

Surf Slam 2018 – Pacific City, OR

By In 4Runner, Adventure

For the past 6 years, we make the trek down to Pacific City, OR for a super fun jet ski event. Naaaa, not those sit down types that go 100mph. We’re talking about the “old school” type that you stand up on and these days, people do flips and rolls and get just as crazy as any other moto sport. I spent several summers rallying around local lakes and even making it out to the surf a few times and while I never got the courage or ski to try a flip, I absolutely loved being able to jump the surf and be out on the water at the same time.
With a sketchy weather report in the back of our minds, we left Thursday afternoon and eventually made it to our campsite for the weekend, a small camp ground on Whalen Island. Apparently this land was nearly sold off to investors looking to turn it into a place for homes, but was saved by the state and a small portion turned into the camp ground. We camped further away last year and were annoyed with how long it would take to get to camp after watching the sunset in Pacific City. As much as we loved the unlimited hot showers, we wanted the short drive.

We woke up to blue skies and a gorgeous view. We’re close enough to the ocean to hear the waves, but far enough away to see and hear the birds, catch people fishing or clamming in the area and generally avoid the wind you typically find right on the coast. This year would be the first year we’ve done Surf Slam with the RTT. We’re still learning things about it as we go. We figured out that the included pad just wasn’t enough for us. It would work in a pinch, but really, foam pads would need to be purchased to supplement it. We got some new LED string lights I’ll probably post about later, those were insanely helpful for getting around camp. So for Day 2, some time on the beach, but an eventual trip to Tillamook would need to happen for those foam pads.

Dani made some amazing omelettes for breakfast and we made our way to the beach. When we’re in Pacific City it’s a pretty simple way of life. Food, skim boarding, jetskis and people watching. We got right into some skim boarding and we would spend many hours over the next three days on different parts of Pacific City in the surf. We keep talking about surfing, but as of yet, just something we talk about. Looking back, this first full day would have been absolutely perfect for newbies like us. We more or less ignored the jetskis for this first day and enjoyed the weather, sand, surf and people getting stuck left and right. Having enjoyed many days on the coast in the northwest, the weather really is unpredictable and can change drastically from hour to hour. We figured we’d take it easy and just enjoy this weather in case it turned ugly.

Night 2. Speaking of drastic changes. We got back to camp in the dark, I set up the tent while Dani made Fajitas. The wind had started to pick up a little and rain was in the forecast, but spirits were high after the day we just enjoyed and kinda hoped it would pass through without much issue. Nope. We realized we had likely parked the 4Runner the wrong way, leaving the ladder side of the RTT to face directly into the wind. This more or less allowed the wind to hit us full force and create a ton of noise and anything not strapped down was flapping against itself. Around midnight, I knew I had to figure something out, I jumped out, secured the ladder and turned the 4Runner around to face the tent the other way. I figured a quick move would be okay and it worked perfectly. Instant relief from the noise, but just as I was tying down one loose area of the rain fly, the rain started. It was enough to to get us back to sleep and we would deal with the wet tent tomorrow.

Day 3 started off a little more gray than the day before, not surprisingly. The big thing with RTTs is that if and when they do get wet, that you need get them dry within several day to prevent molding and smells from forming. I had read and seen horror stories of people opening their tents to large stains from the mold and knew we would need to open the tent at some point, out on the beach, but would the weather be on our side again? After a quick breakfast and making our way into Pacific City, the clouds would eventually to break. We grabbed a few items and then made our way over to Tierra Del Mar, which is technically where the event takes place. Smack dab between Pacific City and our camp site, 5 minutes to either one. We caught a few pro heats before heading back down the beach to thankfully open the tent and enjoy the scattered clouds and get some more skim boarding in. We had talked about opening the tent back at Surf Slam, but with hundreds of people on the beach and us wandering around ourselves, we didn’t want to come back to find someone had been “checking it out” and maybe crawled inside for a closer look. So back down the beach, away from the event, we popped it open and got enough breeze and sunlight to dry it out enough to feel comfortable.

We hung out here for several hours before heading back to Pacific City to try and catch the sunset. Once over there, something caught our eye and we decided to try and catch the sunset from out on Cape Kiwanda. We were treated with amazing views and a decent tide hammering into the rocks. As many days as we’ve spent out here, I realize how little time I’ve spent just sitting and enjoying this show. In the picture below, maybe you can see the tiny humans sitting on the rock below. There is so much to see and explore on this part of the coast. This time of year is usually pretty good for whale watching and we saw plenty, but honestly, sitting here and waiting for the big waves to crash, watching the sun slowly set and just enjoying the fact that the moment was truly ours and for both of us, thoughts outside of this moment were more or less gone. It was a sunset to remember, easily.

We made it back to camp as it was getting dark. I set up the tent again, while Dani made Fajitas again. We even got a fire going this evening and enjoyed a couple of Coronas before crawling into bed and dozing off. We had new foam pads and even downed a sleeping pill. I slept pretty good that night. The next morning we did another quick breakfast and planned to head out that evening. We had Monday off, but no reservations to sleep anywhere, so with rain in the forecast, we figured we would organize the rig, pack the RTT nice and tight and head over to enjoy the final couple rounds of Surf Slam, hope for big waves during the Big Air Showdown, maybe catch the sunset and then rally home in the darkness.

The event was nuts as usual. We don’t follow the sport too closely, but plenty of familiar names and even faces. I certainly have a few riders I enjoy more than others. I think I enjoy more of a lazy surf style. Big wave slashes, slow relaxed flips, etc. I got to see a little of that for sure. I picked a few favorites to post below. The Big Air Showdown is a quick event after the final pro round. It generally works like this; a rider goes out and a 2 minute timer starts after his first trick. Which, depending on the surf, can work out well, or not. I’m honestly not a fan of how it works as these riders have been siting for a little and you want them to go huck themselves right off the beach. So they maybe do one big warm-up flip, but then can’t find another decent wave in that two minutes and I dunno, just seems like there could be a better way to get these guys/gals to huck themselves and put on a show for us. I’m curious how the riders feel.

Anyways, after the event, we rolled back into PC, set up the tent to get out any leftover moistness (yeah, I know) and enjoy what would be our last few hours on the beach. Every single time we come to PC, we talk about finding property and somehow making it work. This trip only reinforced that idea and come hell or high water, I think we’ll end up out this way eventually. For now, a cold beer, a warm fire and an amazing view. We ended up talking to some kind folks from Alberta for a couple of hours after inviting them to sit around the fire and it was great to trade stories of life in different parts of the world. Seemingly so close, yet not at all. It was crazy to hear about the differences in seasons, people, jobs, healthcare, overlanding, etc. Devin and Sarah, was a pleasure to meet you both!

With it being well past sunset, we optimistically jumped on the road towards home. At 9pm, we figured to reach home by 1 or 2am. As luck would have it, twisty roads and a headache produced some pretty crazy nausea. We found a cheap (and it was) motel somewhere in Oregon, grabbed a hot shower and slept like babies until the next morning. Jumped back in the rig and finished our drive home.

Another amazing trip to our favorite beach in the world. Hopefully we can explore this area more the next time we’re in town, but oh so thankful for the days we got this time around. This little coastal town has exploded over the years and what used to be our little secret beach and has become anything but that. Maybe the next time we check in, we’ll be finding some small piece of land to purchase and one day retire on….