Updated: Mar 3, 2020
A Journey of self discovery down the West Coast of North America
The ocean and surfing are the two best metaphors for life I can think of. No matter where I’ve ended up on this journey, the coast has always called me back, and the surf has kept me sane. Growing up in Kye Bay, the beach was my whole world. As a child, I’d spend hours lounging naked in the white sand and cruising around in our canoe and sailboat. If you look at our physical bodies, were actually more similar to the ocean than we are to the earth. There’s a feeling of returning home, back to the place where it all began, that really resonates with humanity. Water is life, and it also mirrors our emotional states, from hurricanes, to calm, glassy days. Our lives are governed by cycles, like ocean swells, with highs and lows, and it’s how we choose to ride them that defines who we are. Surfing is the manifestation of this philosophy, and it’s so extremely difficult because we’re floating on organized chaos. It teaches you to be courageous, patient, humble, and present. After you drag yourself back onto dry land, whether beaten up, or enlightened, you always come out happier, healthier, and more balanced, because its teachings are the best medicine there is.
I can’t trace it back to a single event or moment, but there came a time in my life where I became lost at sea. I compare it to a tidal wave of subconscious thoughts, feelings, and actions that I had kept bottled up for a lifetime, and it swept me away into its depths. To make a long story short, I was sick, lonely and confused, and I realized that I had floated off track. I had not been living my truth, and woke up one morning to this strange, dead-end road, society had let me down. So I decided to slow down, ground, and re-connect with myself and nature. I moved out to Tofino for the first time in my life, and the energy of the rain-forests and ocean slowly worked its magic. That summer, an old friend moved onto the property with his newly purchased and renovated short bus, we did a little road trip, and the seed was planted.
Looking back, it was really three separate dreams that sparked the project. My whole life I’d been wanting to do the ultimate West Coast road trip from Vancouver Island to Cabo San Lucas, months of surfing, sightseeing, and exploring the endless corners of California’s coastline that I’d grown up hearing about. Secondly, I really felt the need to re-connect with humanity and mother earth in a big way. I wanted to remind myself, and others who were suffering, that the world is 99.9% loving, kind and compassionate. Lastly, I realized that I was done with moving in and out of houses every year and paying rent, I needed a sea turtle shell. So I followed my intuition and bought a 1990 Chevy Van 30 Thomas school bus the next morning on Craigslist.
This was the ultimate freedom I’d been dreaming of, surfing our own private point breaks every day, beach-combing giant abalone, and free diving for fresh seafood at each bay we stopped at.
I moved back to Comox at the end of 2017 and built a makeshift outdoor shop on the family property. The end goal was to create a cozy, interactive living space, and art studio/gallery, that would draw people in like a West Coast campfire. I worked for nearly five months, through winter storms, ten to fifteen hours a day, and the woodworking quickly became my meditation. I salvaged 95% of the wood and metal from friends, mills and scrap yards. I really wanted to showcase the beauty of our local wood, and let the natural curves of the red cedar and driftwood flow through the whole project. The most difficult piece of the puzzle was the floating, crystal table, which symbolizes a tidal pool and the heart of the bus. I spent weeks digging out rot, sanding and epoxying, until the whole cedar burl was filled with hundreds of crystals, lights, phosphorescence and beachcombed items from around the world. I called the bus Bodhi, short for Bodhicitta, a Buddhist term meaning awakening your inner heart.
On April 20, 2018 I screwed down the final piece, and was ready to pick up my travel partner in Victoria. German is a Columbian, and longtime friend from Tofino who had just finished his studies at UVic for the Spring. The main rule of the trip was that we would wake up every morning with no set plan, and let the universe decide our route to the southern tip of Baja California. This would give us time to really connect with the earth, and let the landscape and locals shape the road trip. We saved the Northern Coast of the States for the trip back, and drove straight to the Cascade Mountains in search of hot springs and waterfalls. This route led us to the hostile ranches of the Oregon outback and through multiple blizzards as we snaked our way south to Crater Lake and the California border. The sun finally greeted us in Mount Shasta, California after some icy cold nights in the mountain passes. The scenery changed into lush rolling hills with old growth Ponderosa Pine, Juniper and Black Oak Forests, exploding back to life after a long winter. Throughout the whole trip, we only paid for camping once in the States and at two beaches in Mexico. The ease of boondocking (car camping) and lack of police presence really surprised me, and the magical new locations we would wake up to every morning was the highlight of the trip. Endless hot springs, rivers, lakes, beaches, and old growth forests all to ourselves, with no boundaries, borders or people anywhere.
We hit so much snow in the High Sierras that we decided to hit the coast and cruise the scenic and bustling Highway 101. The local farm/artisan markets were the best places to meet people and we played music and sold prints of my artwork to make some extra gas money. It’s always the kindred souls you cross paths with that really make the journey. We met a local in San Fran who invited us out on his sailboat, and nearly got us stranded on an island overnight, wet and freezing, when we broke the rudder and the engine stopped working. South of Big Sur we randomly came across the grounds of “Lighting in a Bottle” and got jobs volunteering at the 37,000 person desert music festival. At a beach party in San Luis Obispo we met a professional mountain biker and filmmaker who invited us to park at his place in Hollywood, dropped everything, and gave us a week-long tour of the city and surrounding mountains in his vintage VW van and Mercedes convertible. In San Diego we got invited by the Adventure Sports Network to do a video shoot for a Van Tours episode documenting van life culture in the States.
By the time we hit the Baja Mexico border it was nearly summer and scorching hot. One of our tires exploded 30 minutes after crossing the border in the 45 C heat. The temperature extremes were definitely one of the biggest struggles of the whole trip but also meant we had the entire peninsula to ourselves. This was the ultimate freedom I’d been dreaming of, surfing our own private point breaks every day, beachcombing giant abalone, and free diving for fresh seafood at each bay we stopped at. I love Mexican cuisine and cooking, so having a full kitchen and access to endless seafood made for some epic gourmet meals on the road.
For me, travel and exploration is such a fundamental part of being human. There’s something so magical about a road trip, and the deep peace that comes with the ever changing scenery, the gentle hummm, and the constant focus.
We finished our drive on the East Cape of the Southern Baja, snorkeling the protected coral reefs of Cabo Pulmo and surfing the endless right hand points of the East Cape. Here we did our longest off road, 40km along rugged nearly washed out dirt tracks hugging the coast. It was then time to make the big trek home and we journeyed North through the Mojave Desert and Southern Sierra Nevadas in California. Highlights were Joshua Tree Park, The Giant Old Growth Sequoia Forests, the hot springs at Mammoth Lakes, and the rivers and lakes around Lake Tahoe. We got smoked out by forest fires all the way back to the 101, and slowly weaved our way back up the beautiful winding coastline to Oregon. Coming home after 15,000 km and four months on the road was definitely bitter sweet. It took me a few weeks of settling to find my flow and rhythm again. I’m an introvert and I usually travel solo, but I came home from this trip with a brother, united by a lifetime’s worth of incredible memories. For me, travel and exploration is such a fundamental part of being human. There’s something so magical about a road trip, and the deep peace that comes with the ever changing scenery, the gentle hummm, and the constant focus. Adventure stokes my fire in endless ways, and to create something that can perpetuate that creative, simple, and free lifestyle, full of constant change and new energy, is the perfect vessel for surfing life’s swells.