On the road with my mom, the bad-ass.

Last weekend my mom and I met in Los Angeles for a wayward run down the coast. According to the Google machine, the drive to San Diego takes two hours. We wisely gave it four days.

The first morning found us on Manhattan Beach at 6 a.m. The grey dawn was working its way up to 60 degrees – water temps were cooler than that. A line-up of wet-suited surfers bobbled out along the second break.

Locals only. And my mom. 

I had a surfboard that I snagged from our AirBnB. She had a body board. I have no idea if she's ever used one before. I realize now that I never asked. In my defense, she was in the water and paddling out before I had a chance to inquire.  

We got pounded by the waves that day, and the next, and the days after that. It's what the ocean does best: it reminds us of where we stand. It pounds and pushes and puts us in our place. But then occasionally, whether we deserve it or not, it lets us ride. Fast and free and grinning like children.

Life can be the same way. And so it came to be, for four days last week, that my mom and I rode fast and free.

From sea level, to the rooftop bar at Hotel Casa Del Camino, to the wonderfully curvy road leading to the 6,000 foot peak of Palomar Mountain. And then down, down, down, lost maybe a little, until we finally dropped right into the heart of San Diego as if that was the plan all along. Music loud, top town, fueled by joy and a massive cache of roadside-stand strawberries.

Along the way, I learned that my mom can road trip like a champion. I also learned that, as a child, I had trouble pronouncing "T" sounds. So when I wanted my toy truck I'd yell "Fuck!" Or when passing the fire station: "Fire Fuck! Fire Fuck!" This anecdote has no bearing on our road trip, other than it never would have come up otherwise. Also, I'll add, it makes me very very happy.

I've always recommended taking any road trip, anytime, headed anywhere, alone or with anyone who's wired right for road trips. It's never a bad idea. But if you haven't tried it with your mom? Damn junior! You need to get on that!

5 Reasons to give Trevor Hall a try

As you might expect, I find myself feeling in an island way from time to time. When that's the case, it brings to mind certain things: The squeezing of limes, for example. Starfruit and fresh fish. Bikini ties and tanlines and open-ended days. And of course at the center of it all is music. 

My problem with music, though, is that when it comes to the island flavors I've wrecked a lot of it for myself. I'm an overplayer, you see, an obsessor. Over the years I've driven poor Bob Marley into the ground, along with Toots and Peter and Yellowman too. It's not that I don't still LOVE them, and reggae overall. I just, damn... I just need to lay off for a while. Until I can actually hear it again. Dancehall has weathered my relentlessness better than reggae, but dancehall isn't everybody's cup of rum when they're looking to chill. And you need a majority in these situations.

Stepping in to fill the island music void for me, over the last 10 years or so anyway, is a bunch of musicians that, for the most part, aren't from islands and don't write songs about islands. It's just that the vibe feels right to me. The group would include people like Xavier Rudd, Michael Franti, Nahko, Mishka, Donavon Frankenreiter and, sure, Jack Johnson would be in there too. (Sidenote: Why are these all guys? I'm at a loss for women in this realm. Jesus. Even Related Artists in Spotify just brings up more dudes. Help?!?)

More than any of them, though, the person who hits the sweet spot for me is Trevor Hall. Working late one night, I heard his song "The Lime Tree" on a compilation album of some sort. I happened to be looking at the wiki page for the island of Carriacou at the time, which has several old lime plantations on it. That night I decided a trip to Carriacou needed to happen, and it did. Several times actually. This was all before Bring Limes existed and, I'd say, those trips and that song played a major role in the inception of this site. 

Anyway: Trevor Hall. His quick story is that he was an incredibly talented kid living on Hilton Head island, South Carolina. He studied classical guitar, recorded his first album at 16, signed a deal with Geffen while still in high school, and... you get the idea. His less specific (but more important) story is that he's obviously a seeker. I can't speak to his success from a mystical standpoint, you'd have to ask him about that. But his search, musically, has lead to a deeply joyful blend of reggae, sanskrit chanting, and just plain old killer hooks.

Trevor Hall strikes me as an old soul. But even old souls know it's important to shake your ass from time to time.

Below is a little sample pack to get your started. If you're looking for an album of his on the island-vibier side, I'd suggest This is Blue

He's great live too. Here's an older version of The Lime Tree that I've always dug. 

Sea change: The photography of Sarah Lee

The earth is 71 percent water.

The human body is 60 percent water.

For the next several months, in my neck of the woods anyway, both of these things will be frozen solid. 

Before I get going here, let me just say that I'm a big fan of ice. Ice is one of the few things I like in my cocktail (other than the cocktail itself). I appreciate what ice has done for hockey. I enjoy cutting holes in ice and extracting fish. But goddamnit anyway. In the end, I prefer water when it's moving around. When it's pushing me this way and that. I prefer water when it's alive.

Case in point is the work of photographer Sarah Lee. She's born and based on the Big Island of Hawaii and her love of moving water comes through in every image. Her still photos are amazing. 

And the video at the top of this post? Yowza. It's a teaser for a short film she collaborated on called Kainos which, as far as I can tell, hasn't been released. But oh man I'd love to see it.

Earlier this year I wrote about freediving photographer Daan Verhoeven. His work, to me, carries serious weight. There's a stillness to what he does – an almost religious sense of gravity. It's stunning.

Sarah's work is stunning too, but in an entirely different way. It's an outright celebration of moving water – swirls of slivering beauty and brute force and the lucky ones that have found their place comfortably within it. 

Sarah was kind enough to let me share her images. Not only that, she signed off her note with "mahalo nui." Some people are just cool like that.

Check out more of her work, underwater and alongside it, on her site.

Bruce Gold: Last of the surfing hippies

I love people that love something. I mean people who really really love something. Every day. For all their days. 

The age of the person shouldn't matter I suppose. Passion is passion. But, for me anyway, somehow age does matter. Which probably explains why I've done more than a few posts featuring old people who are still committed to doing their thing. This includes one of my favorite things that I've shared here: A skier named Snowflake who advocates loving something so much that you forget to go to the toilet. 

With all that said, here we are again. This time we're being invited into the life of Bruce Gold who surfs Jeffreys Bay in South Africa. What's most impressive about Bruce isn't just his passion for surfing, but the extreme life decisions he's made as a result of that passion. As Bruce puts it, "It's hard to be a hobo. But it has it's rewards."

Sea urchins. Because why not, that's why.

One of the best parts of travel, at least the way I put trips together, is all the time there is for random whatnot. I'm a big fan of random whatnot. Random whatnot is the best kind of whatnot there is.

I've spent entire afternoons crafting artisanal (aka homemade and a little crappy) swizzle sticks from pieces of sea fan. I've rubbed Coors Light aluminum pint bottles with beach sand for hours because I thought it would be cool to have plain silver canteens. I've also done things that some might consider a waste of time.

So okay. Here I am in St. John, surrounded by my family and some of the most beautiful land and seascapes I've ever seen. And for whatever reason, I decided it was really important for me to photograph sea urchins. Like, all of 'em. It doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Which I guess is maybe the point. 

Anyway, here's some pictures of some goddamn sea urchins.

 

 

 

Been naked much lately? Me too!

 St. John, USVI

St. John, USVI

I'm currently perched on a cliff above the waters of Kiddel Bay, on the southernmost edge of St. John, USVI.

I should probably mention that since I've been here I've been naked. Quite a bit. As a jaybird. As the day I was born. But I'll get to that in a minute.

We arrived to St. Thomas late Sunday afternoon. Spent the night in Charlotte Amalie, grabbed a bite, and had a generally fine evening. But we were just staging, actually, for Monday morning's ferry to St. John. 

It seems I'm the only person I know who hasn't been to St. John. Its popularity as a travel destination is what a vexillologist would call a red flag. I would call it the same. (A vexillologist is a professional flag maker. I am just a guy with a strong distaste for tourists.)

But we're here anyway, my family and I, based on reports of a kajillion killer shore dives and hiking trails for days. 

Straight off the ferry, we bought a bag of genips (aka skinips on Grenada, aka chinups on Carriacou, aka spanish limes on google), and we pointed the Jeep to the remotest corner of the island we could find. From Cruz Bay to Coral Bay to the end of the paved road to the end of the dirt road to here.

So far, I have to say, the place has lived up to its reputation. Stellar reefs and deep-water boulder fields. Shark, turtles, tarpon, 'cuda, rays, cero, squid, plus all the reefy regulars flashing every color in the crayon box.

But this isn't a freaking travelogue. You're here for the nudity.

So okay. Down here, as it turns out, I'm the early riser in my family. No idea why. Given my taste for late-night rum, this is a goddamn miracle, not to mention a troubling indictment against the up-and-at-em-ness of my squad. But I'm not complaining because it means dawn is entirely mine. And these dawns have been especially good.

I've mentioned that I recently became a fan of early morning yoga. I wouldn't say yoga is entirely "my thing," at least not in the same way that, say, the sound of the ocean or being a smart-ass are my thing. But I like yoga enough that on my first morning here, it's how I decided to greet the day. There's an overlook next to our place that seemed perfect. I carefully considered what I needed to bring with me. But slowly I realized I didn't need jack shit.

Happiness, I'm convinced, is the result of reduction. Of removing everything that's not absolutely necessary so you can focus on what is. In the case of yoga, all you really need is you. Or in my case, all I really need is me. And so that's what I've been going with. Just me and the sun and the sea.

It's a helluva thing when the waves are crashing against the rocks and the sun is pressing warm against my skin. Birds are flitting all around me and singing like I'm in the scene from that old Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah movie. Except with less racial stereotypes and more dangling and flopping.

I have to say it's a great way to kick off the day. Especially when it's followed by some time in an outdoor shower. Of course my teenage boys think the whole thing is weird af. Mostly because, you know, the whole thing is weird af. But I'm going to stick with it while I'm here.

They're sleeping at that hour anyway. And. I so rarely get a chance to drive life into the corner, as Henry David Thoreau put it, and reduce it to its lowest terms.

At least not without the cops showing up. 

Theo Jansen: Maker of Animals

I came across the work of Theo Jansen the way I come across most things. Randomly. But I'm so happy I did. 

Theo Jansen makes animals. Colossal beach creatures powered by wind and imagination and some of the most captivating engineering I've ever seen. Watch the first video below to see his creations in action and get a sense of what he does. 

Then, watch the second video to see how he does it, and more important, why. He shares some really interesting perspectives on life, art, evolution, and immortality. The things his animals have taught him.

I've always been fascinated by obsessives. Those blessed and/or cursed with the ability to focus on something, on one thing, for years or decades or a lifetime. Sometimes you look at the outcome of all that effort and you say "hm, well, to each his own."

Other times, you look at the outcome and you can't hardly say anything at all.

Fossil Diving! Venice, Florida! Right on!

So you probably know Venice, Italy – with its wonderful canals and gondolas. And you probably know Venice, California – with its wonderful canals and roller skate dancers with their comically ambitious boob jobs. But whatcha know about Venice, Florida?

Venice is a smallish town/series of interstate exits between Fort Meyers and Tampa. Like much of Florida, there doesn't seem to be much happening away from the water. But the beaches of Venice, and the waters offshore, give it the absolute finest tagline for a city that I've ever heard: "Shark Tooth Capital of the World."  And as if shark teeth aren't cool enough, these Venice shark teeth are fossils. 

I know! My 12-year-old-boy brain reels! 

 

So why are there fossils in Venice, Florida? It's time for a quick lesson in paleontology. If you're turned on by big words, darling, make yourself comfortable. This is gonna get kinky.

During the Cretaceous period (50 million years ago), Florida was under water. During the Oligocene (30 million years ago), sea levels began to drop and north central Florida became an island. Then during the Miocene (20 million years ago), that land mass...

Geez louise. tl;dr. Prehistoric geology evidently isn't my kind of kink. Here's a link if you wanna learn more. But in a nutshell: the dry parts of Florida used to be wet, and the wet parts of Florida used to be dry. Go back and forth like this for tens of millions of years and, I don't know, evidently you get fossils. 

So back to Venice. Five years ago we visited Casperson Beach (which is a real beauty) to look for shark teeth. They're laying and/or buried along the water's edge – pointy little black or grey buggers that you find by sifting through the sand. Looking for them was a perfect activity for my kids who were 8 and 11 at the time. It's a perfect activity for you too if you like to pair your OCD with a little sand and sun. Over the course of an afternoon we found 50 or so fossilized teeth: a mix of mako, lemon, and bull shark mostly.

If you want the big stuff (megalodon teeth, mammoth fossils, etc.), I was told at the time, you need to do a dive boat off shore. This year, that's finally what I did. Because, you know, I want the big stuff.

So two weeks ago I boarded the Hammerhead, a 31 foot dive boat run by Megaladon/Florida West Charters (who I'd definitely recommend). We left the harbor around 7:45 am with 10 divers total, for a 20 minute boat ride to an area called "the boneyard." On the way out, Captain Dan did a nice session on what we were looking for, why it was all there, and so on. Then we anchored and in we went. It's an easy two-tank dive, relatively shallow (30 feet) with no current. Visibility was only 4 feet or so (due to storms), but no big deal since you're looking right in front of you the whole time anyway.

So yeah! You creep along the bottom carefully peeping at every damn thing you can find. Every now and again, one of the things turns out to be a shark tooth or a dugong rib from a 14 million year old manatee. New fossils reveal themselves in the shifting sand over time (the sea is a bit OCD herself), so there's always plenty down there if you're patient/lucky.

Over the course of 90 minutes or so, I found more than a dozen dugong rib pieces (heavy and black as night) and other fossils including jaw bones from whales and grind plates from rays. I found a bunch of fossilized shark teeth too, including one big megalodon tooth.

The best discovery, though, was this: I also found a dive partner. Because when I got back, I barely got done laying out the fossils when my 13-year-old son Tobias asked... "How old do I have to be to go scuba diving?"

VICTORY AT SEA!!!

So this past weekend he did a Try Scuba class at a local pool and loved it. (35 bucks all gear included!) He's starting online classes now and should be certified in time for our trip to St. John in July. 

That right there is about as good as it gets.

If you have any questions about diving for shark teeth in Venice, or Try Scuba classes, hit me up in the comments! I'd be happy to share what I know.

 

Morgan Maassen made a fine to-do list for you

Don't have your summer plans ironed out yet? Nothing nailed down for this weekend?

Fear not my indecisive one, photographer and filmmaker Morgan Maassen has about 4,000 ideas for you and he's compiled them all into one absolutely gorgeous video called "Motion."

I suppose "Things You Can Do If You're Bored" wasn't his intention when he put this together. But if watching it doesn't make you want to get out and do something (like right now!) I don't even know what to say to you.

Anyway, check it. The footage and the edit are fire and the music track by Kelpe drives it all perfectly. This kid is really really good. At 25, he's already shot for some of the biggest companies in the world. His work doesn't feel that way though which is about the highest compliment I can give.  

He's a good follow on Instagram too: here.

Island Silence

Island Silence

I spent last week on Sanibel Island in Florida.

Although it was a full-on family vacation of the time-share variety, and Sanibel isn't necessarily the islandiest of islands, the rum mixed well with the ocean air and the wind laid down enough for a few fantastic trips onto the gulf for some fishing and diving. 

Finally! Fresh fodder for Bring Limes!

Except... 

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The opposite of beauty is indifference

This couple collects beach trash and turns it into art. And they are awesome.

Richard and Judith Selby Lang live north of San Francisco. Since 1999, they've been walking the same 1000 yards of beach within the Point Reyes National Seashore, picking up plastic, then cleaning it, cataloging it, and turning it into art.

To be clear, they don't pick up ALL the plastic. Sadly, this would be an impossible task not only along the California coast, but along pretty much any coast anywhere. According to the video below, there are 46,000 visible pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean around the world. Nonetheless, I pick up what I can. As Richard says "The opposite of beauty isn't ugly. The opposite of beauty is indifference." 

These guys, though, go a step further. Yes, they've brought back tons of plastic over the years. But they do so with a curatorial eye. Since they can't possibly get it all, they focus on getting what they need. Free art supplies!

I'm really inspired by this. Artistically and environmentally, yes. But I'm also inspired by them as a couple. They just seem to have it figured out. Happily working together every day, making beautiful things while on a treasure hunt that never ends. 

You can learn more about them and their work here. 

But watch this first:

Ride with love

Leah Dawson, the filmmaker and co-star of this short video, provides a happy glimpse into the relationship she has with her old-school single fin surfboard named Peanut Butter.

Although I don't get too hung up on possessions, I have a similar relationship with the following: 

  1. my longboard (skate not surf)
  2. my jeep
  3. my hammock

The video ends with the words "Ride with love." I couldn't agree more.

You'll never surf again

The song "You'll Never Surf Again" always killed me. It's from Dan Reeder's 2006 album Sweetheart. Well, I just now stumbled across this animation by Paul Ferraris which only adds to the poignancy. 

You know there's doctors conspiring against us right now. Plotting and planning all the stuff they're going to one day tell us we'll never do again. 

That day isn't today.

Other particular harbors

Other particular harbors

So Jimmy Buffett has this song called One Particular Harbor. After close examination of the lyrics, I've decided it's about one particular harbor. It's a pretty straight-forward thing, as Buffett songs tend to be, but I've always liked it. 

“I know I don’t get there often enough
But God knows I surely try
It’s a magic kind of medicine
That no doctor could prescribe

There’s this one particular harbour
So far but yet so near
Where I see the days as they fade away
And finally disappear”

Jimmy said he wrote the song while staying on Cooks Bay, Moorea, Tahiti. I googled it up and, yup, based on the pictures I would have written a helluva song there too. But since I've never been to Tahiti (and also have no song writing ability), that didn't happen. As it turns out, his particular harbor isn't mine.

Who needs French Polynesia?

My particular harbors are mostly in the Caribbean: 

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