Open season in Orange County

Shawn Parkin

Where would you rather be, brunching it at the Ritz-Carlton or checking into this penthouse suite?

Hard to tell it's summer in Southern California by looking out the window. In fact, it was raining in Orange County this morning (and sunny in Tofino, British Columbia, if that tells you anything). The water's still a few notches below 60 degrees. For what seems like months now an inescapable cheddar wind has begun blowing everyday promptly at 9:00 in the morning. No trunks. No bikinis on the beach. No soccer moms dumping their kids off for the day. Lifeguard towers remain shuttered. And that's all a wonderful thing.

Why so glorious you might ask? What kind of grinchy butt hole hates summer? Well, for one, traffic on PCH has been a lot lighter. But mainly it's because a steady run of south swells has kept surfers well nourished, while the inclement weather's kept the summer hordes at bay. Nobody wants to drive out from the 909 to sit in the rain ... and nobody wants to surf with somebody that drove out from the 909. See, it's a win-win situation. So oddly enough, the summer's inability to shift into overdrive is the best thing to happen to SoCal surfers, those dwelling in Orange County in particular, in a long, long time.

Lowers has been consistent (and typically crowded). The likes of Kelly Slater, Julian Wilson and a smattering of other all-stars have been doing their due diligence down on the cobblestones. Thanks to quality wind swell whipped up on the outer waters, the long-period southern lines have been crossed up beyond belief at places like Salt Creek and the Huntington pier. Even the Wedge reared its hideous head for a few days. All told, while the tourism season's been experiencing famine, surfers have been feasting.

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