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The Big Basin Horse and Windsurf Camp (humour)

Copyright (C) 1994, Luigi Semenzato

My former girlfriend and I decided we should do something together.`We could go camping' she proposed.

`Well... yes... we could... but the wind season is almost over and...'

`Oh, wait, I have to train my horses for the Pebble Beach show.'

`Right, exactly.' Then I remembered something. Across the highway from the Waddell parking lot there is a gate, and a road that goes up a valley. A short drive on that road leads to a horse campground,complete with stalls and plenty of space for trailers. Now picture this: a horse camp within walking distance of a prime wave sailing location. I told Martha; she was thrilled. She made reservations,and Saturday morning early we packed two horses, two boards, seat harness, head harness, buttpads, footstraps, uphauls, around-hauls,mouth-hauls, food, and hay. It took a while, but everything fit. No fear of mixing up items either. Anything in leather or cloth or rope was hers; anything in carbon fiber or neoprene or other high-tech material was mine. (I packed the spreader bar separately---I noticed certain similarities and I didn't want it to end up in the horse's mouth). If there is confusion about an item, just smell it.

We left for the rugged California coast in one of the largest known surfmobiles, a four-door, six-wheel pickup truck with a seven litre engine and a horse trailer attachment. The wind was still light at Waddell when we arrived, so we made the following perfectly balanced plan: in the morning I would ride one horse and Martha would ride the other; in the afternoon I would sail and Martha would ride both horses. If you think windsurfers are obsessed, wait until you get one of those horse freaks as your former girlfriend.

My horse skills are almost at par with my windsurfing skills. I can jibe and even tack a horse with complete confidence, assuming he cooperates. (This assumption is necessary to make any statement whatsoever about a horse). I'm not all that comfortable with planing on a horse yet; a light plane is okay (a little choppy, really), afull plane is still tricky. Unfortunately my horse was quite overpowered, and I had to sheet in all the time to slow him down.Yes, you got it right: to slow down you sheet in. I could explain,but it's complicated. Eventually the conditions improved and the ride got steadier.

The road followed the bottom of the valley, along Waddell Creek. The important landmarks were clearly marked. `Tram Gulch? What kind of name is that?' I asked.

`Perhaps the loggers built a tram here.'

`Loggers?'

`You didn't read the historical information? There was this guy,Waddell, who owned a logging operation here. He was killed by a bear.'

`Oh, really.'

`It was one of the early victories for the environmentalists.'

`Indeed.'

When it was time to jibe, my horse didn't cooperate. He likes to explore and wanted to keep going. This horse has a taste for freedom.He started his career as a race horse. He took early retirement, and was sent to a pasture in Arizona, from which he escaped. He joined a pack of wild horses and was recaptured a year later. As a show name for him, Martha picked `Grazing Arizona.' I don't have a show name for my board yet. Skeeter Eater? Nah.

My board was patiently waiting at the campsite when we finally returned. I dismounted and collapsed, crippled by cramps. I have horse skills, but not horse muscles. The thought of hitting saltwater helped me recover quickly. I wolfed lunch down and drove the giant surfmobile to the beach. Wind! Waves! Sailors! The ocean was mine; the vast, roadless, dustless, horseless ocean.

I rigged a five-five. A bit too large, but that was fine. The waves were small, and I had fun jibing on the inside, on silk-smooth water,with the added thrill of not knowing if I would hit sand with the fin and do the dreaded shallow-water face plant; or if I would be unexpectedly munged by a breaker as I concentrated on the sail flip.I took frequent rests and walked up and down the beach, looking for internet friends. I had announced to the mailing list I would be there, and a couple of people had replied. Of course I didn't know what they looked like, so I had to use the standard strategy: find a candidate, greet him, ask casual questions, introduce myself. My name is uncommon and people recognize it easily.

But nobody took notice, and I felt a bit lonely. At six the wind began to drop. People left, and the beach emptied. A lone sailor stood on wet sand, facing the setting sun. I greeted him, standard procedure. I watched his eyes when I said `My name is Luigi.' Behind the eyes I saw his pattern matcher kick in and the search succeed.The result emerged into his consciousness and the motor neurons contracted his cheeks into a smile. `Luigi! I am Geoff! Good to meet you!'

`Are you the Geoff from foo dot bar dot com?'

`Yes!'

`What a coincidence!' We discussed wind and electronics and I invited him over to our campsite for dinner.

I drove back to the camp. Martha was still out riding. I wanted toget out of the wetsuit but I decided to start the water for pasta first. The water faucet was a few sites away, and I walked to it and back enjoying the curious stares from people and horses alike. `What a completely alien creature!' they must have been thinking. I couldn't find any matches so I borrowed some from our neighbors, in exchange for a close-up look to my outfit, complete with vivid descriptions of the coldness of the water and the roughness of the waves and the bravery of the sailors, and mine in particular.

Martha arrived, and Geoff too, and we had a chatty dinner. In retrospect, it was an excellent idea to invite Geoff, because we had forgotten our silverware, and he provided some. In his well-equipped surfmobile Geoff even had a gas stove, which we also borrowed because ours was puny in comparison and it's unclear that it would have ever brought the water to a boil. I don't think Geoff was impressed by our camping skills.

After dinner we sat in front of a big campfire and exchanged epic windsurf and horse adventures. Then Geoff left. We returned to our site. The sky was heavily decorated. Martha and I studied the Milky Way and the clouds of dust on the galaxy plane. Martha said: `This is great. Let's do it again in two weeks.'

`It's the end of the season. There won't be any wind in two weeks.'

`Oh!' She spoke no more, but her eyes, shining in the light from the stars and the faraway fire, silently asked the unanswerable question:why did he pick such an unreliable sport?

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