Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online



Dawnwalker

Book 1 of the Dawnwalker Cycle


a novel by
Wes Boyd
2002, 2008




Chapter 10

The changing rooms were outside the main building, unheated and chilly, but it felt good to peel out of the wetsuit and towel off, then put his dry clothes on. As he changed, he realized the adrenaline rush from Lesser Wesser and the river in general was wearing off; suddenly he was tired, mostly from having an active day on top of a night of little sleep.

He finished changing just as Crystal came out of the women's side of the changing room, and he followed her into the main center. A solidly-built, bored-looking brunette girl a little older than them sat behind the counter. "So how was the river today?" she asked, though they could tell it was more as a matter of course, rather than with any real interest.

"Pretty good," Crystal told her. "A little pushy, as high as it is, but there's some good holes there. What do you figure Lesser Wesser is today, class-wise?"

"Oh, high III, pushing IV, maybe," the girl yawned. "I was watching you guys. That was a pretty good run. We had some kids down here earlier today, and they had some carnage on the last drop."

"Any place to eat around here?" Crystal asked.

"Naw, everything around here's closed, but there's a twenty-four-hour place back up the road," the girl told her.

"Anybody come through on the AT yet?"

"We've had a few, but it's still a little early. Another two or three weeks and we'll have a pot load of hikers coming through every day. You just missed an older couple who came through a bit ago. They're doing fine, but going a little slow. They're trying to stay in the valleys on the bad weather days, so they're not making very good time."

"Darn," Crystal said. "I'd liked to have met someone doing the AT. That's on my list to do up the road a few years. I just can't commit five or six months to it right now."

"I know how that goes," the girl said, showing a little more interest. "I did it two years ago. Good hike, but it took me six and a half months. Maybe again in a year or two."

"Trail name?" Crystal asked.

"Scooter," the girl smiled.

"When I was at OLTA, I met a couple guys who had done it," Crystal told her. "Dagobah and Ridgerunner. Dagobah was making sounds about doing it the summer you would have been out there, but I don't know if he actually did it, or what."

"Don't remember him," Scooter smiled, brightening up considerably. "You went through OLTA too? I did it four years ago."

"Three years ago," Crystal said. "Neat place. I've never learned so much in such a short time in my life."

"It is intense," Scooter grinned. "If you decide to do the AT, remember everything they taught you about keeping it light, then lighten it up some more, otherwise it'll wear you the hell out. I had to go off the trail for a month after I hurt my knees, and it was hard getting back up to speed, but I beat the snow to Katahdin, and that's all that matters."

"You wouldn't happen to have a copy of the Thru-Hiker's Handbook laying around, would you? All I've got is the '93."

"Sure do," the girl said, pointing at a shelf of books behind Crystal. "Wingfoot laid a bunch of updates in it, too. Make sure you have a fresh one before you start."

"You going to be around this summer, or just wintering over?"

"I'll be here at least through the summer, anyway," Scooter told her. "Mostly doing whitewater clinics, and running raft trips, I guess. Might find myself doing some rock climbing courses, just for a breather."

"Neat," Crystal said. "I'll be over on the Ocoee, running for Ocoee Adventures, third year, now, so I'll be getting over here now and then. Maybe we can get together and swap some stories."

"Yeah, look me up. Ask for Rhonda Whitsell if you don't see me. These whitewater yahoos don't know 'Scooter' from Adam."

"Sure will. By the way, I'm Crystal Chladek."

"Oh yeah!" Rhonda grinned broadly. "I remember you now! You fished that customer of mine out below the Whirlpool after he swam last summer, and we thought we were gonna have to do CPR."

"Oh, that was you!" Crystal smiled. "It got a little interesting there for a while. Glad he started breathing again."

"That was a hell of a swim you made to get him," she said. "I never saw anyone move in the water like that."

"I was just glad my customers kept their heads and got the raft to shore," Crystal told her. "It all worked out, though."

"Well, thanks again for the help. You down here for spring break?"

"Just for the day. We're from Northern Michigan University, heading on down to Florida, gonna do some surfing."

"I was sorta wondering what a surfboard was doing on a car parked here," Rhonda smiled, interested. "The skiing any good up there?"

"We had some gonzo corn last weekend, the snowboarding was awesome. Hey, look, I've got someone waiting. I'd better grab that book and beat it on out of here, but let's get together over the summer sometime. I want to talk AT to you a bit."

"Sounds like a plan," Rhonda said. "Have fun over in Ducktown. Maybe we can hoist a few."

As they walked down to the car a few minutes later, Randy was grinning. "You lost me bad in the shop talk, and I wandered off to check out some of the gear, but I sort of listened in," he said. "You sure threw her switch when you said the magic word, 'OLTA.'"

"Yeah, I guess it did," Crystal laughed. "She thought we were just a couple of your normal bozo whitewater posers, but when I said 'OLTA' and 'AT' she lit right up. Us OLTA people stick together."

"OK, I know OLTA, but what's AT? Appalachian Trail, right?"

"That's it," Crystal told him. "It runs right through here. I've done a couple day hikes on it, and doing it end to end is on my list of things to do after I get out of NMU. It'll take maybe six months if everything goes right -- it's over 2000 miles and has a shitload of up and down. I've talked to people who've been over it, but wouldn't mind talking to someone who's done it recently. I've thought maybe I ought to think about finding a trail partner, although I don't see any reason why I couldn't solo it."

"I don't know why that should surprise me about you," Randy told her.

"Well, I like hiking," she said. "It doesn't have the thrills and spills of whitewater, but you get a closer feeling for the wilderness, more a part of it. With the schedule I've been keeping, I haven't been able to do enough of it, so it's really something to look forward to. Maybe the Pacific Crest or the Continental Divide some day, too, but the AT, for sure. It has a culture of its own. You've either done it, or you haven't, and getting into the first group is high on my list."

"Myleigh knows about this?"

"Of course," Crystal smiled. "She thinks I'm crazy. But then, she thinks I'm crazy anyway."

~~~~~

It was late in the day when they stopped for supper at a small roadside restaurant not far out of Wesser. The sun was setting by the time they finished eating. It was still spring, if an early spring, when the sun set, but when it rose again far down in Florida after they'd driven most of the night, it seemed like summer to their winter-acclimated bodies. Though at first light the temperature was only in the high fifties, it seemed positively warm to them. It was a clear day; once the sun got up a little higher it was going to be considerably warmer, but it was already warm enough for them to forget about jackets as they stopped at a fast-food place for a quick breakfast. It was definitely getting warm as they turned off the Interstate at Melbourne and headed south on A1A. To Randy, in the back seat, the salt air seemed spicy and invigorating. He'd only seen the ocean a couple times in his life; it seemed wild and exotic, and especially so on this trip.

"It'll be good to see Buddha and Giselle again," Myleigh smiled. "They broke the molds when they made those two."

"Yeah, we sure got lucky when we met them," Crystal agreed from behind the wheel. She had peeled down to an NMU T-shirt and jeans, letting the warm salt-tanged wind blow in through a half-opened window. "Randy," she raised her voice so she could be sure he heard her, "The first time we came down here, I kept seeing all those billboards out on the highway for that surf shop back up in Cocoa Beach, so that was about the first place we went. I walked in there, and got real bad vibes. Big place, but all full of poser kids who wanted to get a couple T-shirts to wear at home so they could show how cool they were. It didn't seem to me like the place where I could learn anything about surfing."

"Even the billboards tell me that," he snorted.

"Anyway, I just turned around and walked out of there," she continued. "We went on down to Melbourne Beach, and saw some people out surfing, not just kids screwing around in the shore break, but really working the outside. So we hung around and talked to them a bit. A couple people said I'd got the right impression up at Cocoa Beach, and that if I really wanted to surf, I should come down here and see Buddha and Giselle. They are très cool people, it turned out, real hardcores. It was the right move."

Crystal pulled the Olds into a sand parking lot of a small glass-fronted building with a wide porch in front. It was a touch on the shabby and weather-beaten side, with surfboards of all kinds, colors, and descriptions sitting on racks. Behind the shop, to one side, sat a small house; both were surrounded with scrubby bushes, obviously wind-beaten from the strong salt winds off the sea. The ocean was out across A1A not far away, and the surf was running, although not terribly high. In the distance, Randy could make out a lone woman in a bikini, working a wave, but she was too far to make out any details.

They went inside, to find more surfboards and gear, and only a small, nondescript selection of T-shirts. There were a couple of customers looking at boards, and a burly fortyish or fiftyish man, deeply bronzed, head entirely shaven, with a big earring in one ear, talking desultorily to them. He took one look, and brightened. "Crystal! Hodad!" he said in a big voice. "Long time, no see!"

"Good to see ya again, Buddha," Crystal smiled.

"Salutations to you, Buddha," Myleigh said gaily. "We have arrived upon these salubrious shores from the lands of quasi-eternal frosts, and it is sheer delight to gaze upon your shorn pate once again."

"My dear Hodad," he replied. "It has been many long, barren months since my eyes last had the pleasure of making your acquaintance. I cannot help but wonder if this is to just be a brief encounter, or whether, perchance, you might remain for an extended period."

"The ultimate duration of our stay shall have to depend upon the way Crystal reacts to the unstilled deep, and, of course, whether the breakers suit her fancy." Myleigh smiled. "In the meantime, I have a small item to bestow upon you as a token of our camaraderie." She took a plastic bag she'd carried and handed it to him. By now, the two customers had picked up on the changes in Buddha's language and behavior and turned to watch, amazed and wide-eyed at what they were hearing.

Buddha took the bag and reached inside to pull out a hardback book. From the look of it, it wasn't new, but not an antique either. He glanced at it, and his eyes lit up. "Hodad, may I present you with my profoundest thanks. I've searched many colportages for this to no avail. Where did you acquire it?"

"It's not incunabula," she told him, "But knowing that you prefer content to rarity, when I came upon this tome from a printing early this century in a used bookshop in Chicago last Christmas, my thoughts immediately turned to you."

"It's much appreciated," he said. "Ann Radcliffe may be the greatest author of her era in her field, yet is hardly known today. I have long desired to read these pages."

As Myleigh and Buddha descended deeply and quickly into a nearly incomprehensible discussion of the book, Crystal got close to Randy and whispered in his ear, "We were both shocked when we discovered that Buddha is a nut about eighteenth-century Gothics. You remember what it was like when I said 'OLTA' to that gal up in Wesser?"

"My thought exactly," he whispered back, grinning ear to ear. "I see Myleigh's in high gear, and he's running right with her."

"They can go on like that for hours," she snickered. "Give them half a chance, and they will. Maybe I'd better bring Buddha down so he can deal with his customers."

Randy glanced over at the two wide-eyed surfers, probably on spring break themselves from the looks of them, and grinned again. "There's some interesting looks on their faces."

"Buddha," Crystal spoke up. "I beg forgiveness for interrupting your fascinating conversation, but your patrons appear close to reaching a decision and desire your attention." He turned and glanced at her, and she stuck out her tongue at him. "See, I can do it too," she grinned.

"Yeah, but you have to think about it," he laughed and turned to Myleigh, "Forgive me, dear lass, but commerce awaits. Let us continue this pleasant discussion at a later occasion." He bowed slightly, and turned to his customers, whose jaws by now were hanging open wide. "Ya'll like that little shortboard, huh? That's got nice rails and a good edge, it'll carve a nice one and it ain't too bad in the soup."

"Yeah, but that's the grossest color I ever saw," one of the guys said, putting aside the incomprehensible scene he'd just witnessed. "Ya'll got somethin' like it that's maybe a little gnarly?"

"Come on out back, I think I got something," Buddha said in a distinct southern accent. "Crystal, Hodad, why don't ya'll grab a seat out on the porch? I'll be with you right soon."

The three collected in comfortable chairs around a table out on the porch a couple minutes later. "Jesus," Randy said to Myleigh. "Don't tell me there's another one like you running around?"

"Buddha is the very soul of compatriotship," she said abstractly. "He likes to make those with whom he deals feel comfortable. He does really love Gothics from that period, and I was sure that he'd find Sights From A Steeple an enjoyable and thrilling gift. I've read it myself, and found it quite entrancing, considering the period."

"He has an ear that's dead on for the way people talk, that's what he has," Crystal smiled, her eyes lighting up. "Randy, he hasn't heard you talk yet. When you two get a chance to talk, talk Yooper at him. I want to see what happens."

"I got trouble doin' it if I'm not hearin' it, eh? But I'll try, yaaah? Enaway, whad's dis 'Hodad' stuff, eh?"

"He started calling me by that expression on our first visit when he discovered I have no interest in surfing," Myleigh explained casually. "It apparently was a term of deprecation once used on the California shore, but I know he means it in the best of natures."

"He's a real character, yaah?" Randy replied, getting into practice. It was hard to do if he wasn't hearing it from someone who was really talking Yooper, but yeah, on first impression, Buddha was something else.

Crystal shrugged, and waited for a moment while the noise from a loud car went past on A1A. "Shows you what happens when an English lit major goes goofy and decides he'd rather surf. It's about how I'd expect Myleigh to be if she ever falls off the wagon," she teased.

"I think not surfing," Myleigh grinned. "But then, one never knows, does one?"

A few minutes later the two guys came out, one carrying a short chartreuse surfboard; Buddha followed, and helped them tie it on the top of their car, which had another one already on top. "Ya'll can try the break out front if you want," he said. "It's a little smooth and sloppy today, but ya'll don't wanna push too hard on a new board, heah?"

"We gotta get back up with the gang," one of the guys said as they got in their car. "Hey, thanks, Buddha. Ya'll be cool now, hey?" Doors slammed, and they drove off.

Buddha came over and joined the three in the shade of the porch, shaking his head. "Dude had a week on an egg last year and now he thinks he's hot shit. It'll learn him, though. So, how long ya'll down for?"

"We're just down here on spring break," Crystal told him. "I want to get out with you and Giselle for a while and see if I can pick up some pointers. Randy here thinks he wants to try it out."

"Holywa, how ya doin, eh?" Randy said, by way of introduction.

"Oh, purt' good, eh? You from up dere in Yooperland, too, yaah?" Buddha replied in fair Yooper.

Crystal and Myleigh broke out into a roaring, helpless laugh. Buddha turned and looked at them, wondering what was so funny. "All right, Myleigh, you win," Crystal said, bringing her laughter under control a bit.

"What's dis, eh?" Buddha asked.

"We bet on who'd do the next two laundry runs," Crystal told him. "Myleigh said you'd be able to do Yooper, too. I figured no way. That's sorta rare."

"I hadda coupla guys come from Michigan Tech last year, eh? Dey do Yooper pretty good, yaah?" Buddha grinned. "I figgered I better pick it up when I could, eh?"

"I don't really talk Yooper myself," Randy said, dropping back to normal. "My roommate does, and when I hear him, I do it, too."

"Yeah, I'm the same way," Buddha smiled, dropping back to what might have been a normal accent himself. "Anyway, you want to try surfing, then?"

"Crystal thinks I'd do all right," Randy told him. "I'd never even thought about trying it until she suggested it. It's not something that you think about doing where I'm from."

"You snowboard, by any chance?" Buddha asked, looking right at Randy.

"A little. I was out a couple times earlier in the winter."

"You ever piss around on a skateboard when you were a kid?"

"Quite a bit," Randy told him. "Haven't done it for a while, though."

"OK, that's a start," the older man replied. "Long board, or short?"

"A fairly long one, I guess. We didn't have a lot of selection where I'm from."

"Now, when you were going down, say, a long, shallow parking lot, how'd you turn? Just hop the tail and scrunch the front wheels over, or did you lean and do a smooth turn?"

"I started out doing it the first way," Randy told him, "But I learned how cool and smooth it was to do it the second way. It's kinda like edging a turn in a kayak."

"The principles are the same, but the moves are way different," Buddha said. "You ever had any experience in lake or ocean surf?"

"Just a little trying to body surf in Lake Superior last fall," Randy said. "That sucker is cold."

"Yeah, it looked like it in that picture of Crystal that Hodad sent me last fall," Buddha said, turning to Crystal. "Looked like you were having a good ride."

"It wasn't real big, maybe waist high or a little more, but it was fast," Crystal told him. "There weren't any of those nice long-spaced, slow rollers like you get down here. That was all storm stuff, and there's another wave coming at you right now. And cold? No shit!"

"We gotta talk about that a little," Buddha frowned. "But now's not the time. How long are you kids staying?"

"We don't really have any plans," Crystal said. "We'd kind of like to get in another day or two on the rivers up around the Smokies in a week or so, but beyond that, it's pretty loose. Depends on what the surf is like here, and how Randy is coming, I guess."

"Well, we'll just have to see. Today's kind of sloppy, but it's good beginner surf. It's supposed to pick up a little for the next two or three days, though. Probably the best thing to do is get you out on the water, Randy, and see how fast you catch on. I see Giselle is heading in, so we'll let her watch the shop for a bit while you and I give it a whirl. Then, Crystal, you and Giselle or I can work for a bit."

"Can we tent out back again?" Crystal asked. "Myleigh and I can get set up while you give Randy Surfing 101."

~~~~~

The ocean wasn't quite as warm as it looked, Randy thought a couple hours later as he lay on the beach, watching Crystal and Giselle work out on the outer break. He was chilled from the cool water, now, and lay in the noonday sun, letting it bake some of the cold out of him. Buddha had started him out in the frothing shore break, just letting him get used to handling the board, paddling it around, and although it was different from a kayak, it was enough like it that he picked it up pretty quick.

Once he had that down Buddha had him go out a little farther, and catch some of the little waves while still lying on the board, just riding the soup toward shore, getting the feel of it pushing him. Then Buddha had him try the same thing, but this time getting to his feet. It was a tricky move, sort of a pushup with a body twist built in, and it took a few tries to get it down. Just like in a roll, smoothness was the key, he learned, but once he learned to balance on the board, knees slightly bent, Buddha showed him how to lean toward the edge of the board in the direction he wanted to go. That was harder to learn; although it was the intuitive way to do it, it being the reverse of edging in a kayak. He fell off a few times before he got it down. However, he never had to chase the board far; there was a leash attached to his ankle that made it easy to catch up with and try again. Once he managed that, he began to learn how to ride the wave's shoulder, and do a "cutback," a harder turn that would take him off the shoulder and over the top of the wave.

After he'd done a few cutbacks, Buddha got together with him and told him, "You're picking it up pretty quick. I'll head back up and watch the store for a bit, and let Giselle get out with Crystal for a while. You sit and watch them and think about some of the things you've learned, some of the mistakes you've made. Then, maybe later if it stays fairly easy, we can try a few breaks outside."

They were out there now, Giselle mostly sitting on a board, yelling pointers at Crystal as she worked some of the breakers. Randy had only met Giselle for a few minutes up at the store when he and Buddha were getting set to head out, but they were interesting minutes. She spoke English with a thick French accent, and it turned out that she was from Montreal, originally; Buddha usually talked with her in French. He explained that she had come down to get away from a hard winter for a week or two, and that had been twenty years ago. That led Randy to guess that she was around forty, but she could have been ten years on either side of it, with no way of telling -- she had that kind of agelessness. She was as tall as Crystal, although a touch thinner, and just about as muscular, long blonde hair bleached near white and done up in a braid, but with a skin worn deep brown and filled with wrinkles from sun and salt, which made her seem like some bikini-clad ancient sea goddess.

He watched as the two sat on their boards, outside the break line, probably talking about some maneuver or style, so he was a little surprised when he heard Myleigh's voice beside him, "It's good to see someone can do something better than Crystal, isn't it?"

"Yeah," he agreed, turning to look at her, surprised to see that she was wearing a tiny black string bikini and spreading a large towel out on the sand. Since the warm day a couple weeks ago, when Myleigh had worn a short skirt and a tight sweater, he'd known there was a pretty reasonably shaped girl under all that wool. How reasonably shaped he hadn't been aware of until now, when he'd gotten a real eyeful of it. "Strange to see you out in the sun," he said, trying to sound nonchalant.

"I figured that I'd better get my fifteen minutes of it today," she said, handing him a bottle of sunblock, then kneeling on the towel and turning around. "Do my back, would you please?"

"Sure," he said. "I figured you'd be up to your eyebrows in old English Gothics with Buddha."

"We were, but he had some customers come in, and it sounded like they were going to be a while," she said as he took a big handful of white glop and smeared it on her back. "He really is the sweetest man, but he rarely gets to talk about his avocation with the kind of people he meets down here. On the other hand, he has a life that he is comfortable with, so that counts for a great deal."

"It does," Randy told her, working on her backside some more. There was a lot of nicely-shaped girl there, and not much bikini, so it took a while.

"Actually, I would expect that Crystal will settle down to something like this, someday," Myleigh said as he ran his hands up and down her back. "Perhaps not surfing, but something that's basically outdoors, without all the roaming. Tell me, can't you just look at Giselle and see Crystal twenty years from now?"

"I got the same feeling from Rhonda, up at Wesser, yesterday. Settling down just isn't in their blood, any of them. The sirens are going to sing to them all their lives."

"Yes, I fear that Crystal is fated to become an outdoor bum, just as she wishes. She may call being an OLTA instructor something else, but it's the same thing, with a tag labeled 'respectable' stuck loosely upon it," she said, rolling over onto her belly as he handed the tube of sunscreen back to her. "It's much the same with Buddha and Giselle, I suspect; it's just a semi-respectable tag used to cover up something that they'd really rather do anyway."

"They seem to have found their niche," he commented.

"Yes, and realistically, I hope that I'm that lucky. Randy, you know that my goal is to ultimately get a doctorate and teach English literature some place, and if it happens, I hope that I find myself as happy in my niche." She cocked her head, and made a face. "Although if you get really philosophical," she continued, "Teaching English literature is just another semi-respectable tag to cover up what I really want to be doing."

"Just curled up with the books?" he asked.

"Of course. Sometimes, watching Crystal hare off after this and that, I wonder if I shouldn't have a wider range of interests, and perhaps be a little more active, myself. I am a very bookish person, I concede."

"Probably wouldn't hurt," he told her. "I know Crystal was teasing you about going out and surfing, and really, it's not that difficult, but there ought to be something that'd give you some different interests."

"I suppose," she admitted. "I guess I haven't discovered what that might be. It probably wouldn't be anything terribly physical, however. Perhaps some day, it will reveal itself." She looked up. "Oh, look, they're coming in."

In a few minutes, Giselle and Crystal were up on the beach beside them. "Hanging it up so soon?" he asked.

"It's been two hours," Giselle said in her thick accent.

"Doesn't seem like it," Crystal said. "I am getting a bit hungry, though."

~~~~~

Later that afternoon Giselle took Randy outside for his first real surfing, while Crystal played in the waves nearby. "It is like surfing along the shore," Giselle said carefully. "You are to start paddling early as the wave approaches. When it is under you and lifts you up, you should be at full speed. Then is the time to stand and turn for the shoulder."

It took two or three tries, ending up in the water in the more powerful surf, before Randy finally caught a ride for a few seconds. "That is more like it," Giselle said as he pulled himself up on top of the board and began to paddle out again. "Try to ride down on the wave when you feel it getting away from you and cut back up to the peak if you get too far ahead of it."

Randy tried it again, and again, getting the hang of it little by little. After some time, he was successfully catching most of the waves he tried to get on, and was able to cut back over the top of about half of them without dumping. Finally, as they sat outside, Giselle motioned Crystal to come over. "I must go in and make dinner," she said after a glance at the sun -- it was all the watch she needed -- "But you may stay out here and surf some more, so long as Crystal is nearby. We will go out again tomorrow, but from here on, it is practice, practice. Watch others, watch Crystal. Do not be afraid to push yourself, for all you can do is fail. Then, try it again. Do not stay out too much longer, for you and Crystal and Hodad are to have dinner with us."

"Thanks, we appreciate it," Randy told her. "If we stay out too long, try to get our attention." He glanced at the sun, "But I don't think we're going to be out that much longer. The light will be starting to go pretty soon."

"Hey, Giselle?" Crystal asked. "Can we maybe swap boards? I'm thinking I'd like to try something that's a little edgier."

"I have been waiting for you to ask," the older woman said, reaching around to undo the lanyard that attached the board to her ankle. "You are well past that funboard and need something that more suits your talent," she added as she rolled into the water. In a moment, she was atop Crystal's board, heading for the beach.

"You liking this, Randy?" Crystal grinned as she hooked up the lanyard.

"This is even more fun than I thought," he said. "I'm glad you talked me into it."

"I thought you'd think so," she said. "I'm relieved. Buddha crawled my ass about storm surfing by myself, and really, he's right, but I didn't have anyone to surf with up there. Now, if you stay with it, maybe I will."

Randy remembered the picture in the paper, and remembered what the waves were like that day. You could almost hear them crashing up on campus, cold, vicious things, not like the warm, gentle surf they'd been playing in this afternoon. "I'm not ready for that, yet," he said.

"Oh, yeah," Crystal smiled. "But, that's next fall. I doubt like hell we'll see any chance to surf up there before school's out, but if we get out whenever we get the chance, we could have a good fall before the ice sets in. And, we've got a week down here to get you started."

Randy shook his head, realizing that sure enough, he was looking forward to it. "Guess we'd better get started, then," he told her. "You wanna go first?"

"Yeah, sure," she said, glancing over her shoulder. There was a nice peak coming, not far off, and she began to hand paddle to catch it. In a few strokes she was up to speed, and she caught the front face easily, stood up, and felt out the new board, swiveling her hips to ride up and down the face. Randy heard a scream of delight, and, over the roar of the waves, "Wow! This thing rocks!"



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