Escaping The City To Ride The Waves, Just 90 Minutes Out Of Portland

I knew the water would be cold, but I didn’t expect it would be that cold. The kind of cold that seeps through a wet suit right to your skin. The kind that makes you sure you’ll never be warm again and numbs you to the point where you can’t even think.

Incidentally, propelling yourself through shark-infested waters isn’t the best time to not be able to think.

“Maybe I should just call it while my brain is still functioning,” I wondered. Here I was, attempting to surf in the waves off of the coast of Oregon, having traded the comforts of the city for a lush, green landscape that felt a million miles away, and wasn’t that enough?

Sure, I wanted to catch a wave, stand up, and feel the crisp, salty air rush past my face as I rode to the shore. But I also really wanted to feel my toes again.

I grew up by the water. The sound of crashing waves is as familiar to me as my own breath. But as a southern California native, I can tell you this: The northern Oregon coast is a whole different animal.

That was the whole point of my adventure. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been traveling all over the country looking for thrilling, new experiences that can found just an hour or two outside of major cities. Being from LA, and having lived in major cities my entire life, I always appreciate the opportunity to step out of the office or off a set and be a part of nature. This month, I’ve had the chance to do so from Utah to Atlanta.

For the third stop on my whirlwind “microadventure” tour, I was at Indian Beach — a surf spot less than a two hour drive from Portland, Oregon — where thick, towering trees give way to the cold beauty of an isolated, rocky shore. And for the first time in a very long time, I was going to attempt to surf.

My host for this surfing adventure was Al Ciske. Al is this super laid back, funny, expert surfer who shapes boards in this quiet corner of paradise that he’s carved out. He’s the kind of guy who’s building a house basically piece by piece, by hand. He surfs every day, sometimes twice a day. He’s just always out in the water, always out in nature. But he didn’t always live like that. He used to work in the hustle and bustle of Portland. Then he realized he couldn’t be happy that way, couldn’t really make his art in a city. He just felt this connection and pull towards something deeper. So he left, bought a little plot of land, and started making surfboards the way he wanted to, in a place that inspired him. His boards are some of the nicest boards around. He shapes them for some of the top surfers in the world.