Posted on November 19, 2013
We have teamed up with our friends at The Inertia to bring you the "Call of the Wild"- a monthly series of editorial features that will cover every aspect of heeding the call. This month we're sharing five of the best road trips you could ever take (in our opinion), where the horizon stops being a finish line, and begins to become something to chase without ever expecting to catch.
It’s funny how immensely popular getting away from life is, and how prevalent that feeling is in the surfing culture. Photo: Haro
A good road trip is something every surfer talks about at some point. Surfing has a certain something, a certain je ne sais quoi, that just begs for the empty road. There is plenty of surf in places where creature comforts are readily available, but where’s the fun in that?
On a good road trip, at every corner you turn, over every hill you crest, there’s something unexpected. Even the boring stretches take on a sort of whimsical charm. When the light hits the cracked, white pavement just right, something strange happens. What was previously just plain old pavement burning in the heat of the day turns into a shimmering pathway to the unexpected. The inevitable boredom of a long trip is fractured, if just for a few fleeting moments. The horizon stops being a finish line, and begins to become something to chase without ever expecting to catch.
Three months ago, I packed a van full of stuff and a girl, then pointed south and didn’t stop. I’m still in the van. For better or for worse, it’s a trip, in both senses of the word. After watching Cyrus Sutton’sCompassing I was struck by a few things: how immensely popular getting away from life is, and how prevalent that feeling is in the surfing culture. “I’d credit Foster Huntington for creating #vanlife,” Cyrus wrote me in an email regarding van life. “Glad you’re feeling it.” I’d credit Doc P, I thought. But whoever it is that started the movement doesn’t really matter. What matters is where you’ll go. Like my favorite doctor used to say: Oh, the places you’ll go. You’re off to great places. Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way! Here are five of the best road trips you could ever take. And of course, fill us in on your story in the comments section below for a chance to win $200 worth of gear from Howler Brothers, perfect for those fall road trips.
1. Canada to Mexico – West Coast (Vancouver to Tijuana, 2500 km/1500 mi-coastal route).
Take this road and find everything you’re looking for. Photo: Matt Bauer
The road from Canada to Mexico is beautiful. Things change from country to country, even when it’s two countries as similar as the US and Canada. The air smells different. Street signs have slight changes, and there’s some kind of something that lets you know you’re not in Kansas anymore. It’s still there when you get off a plane, but it’s been diluted by the global village syndrome – that oft-touted-as-a-good-thing term for the modern technology making the world a smaller place.
The coastline from Washington to Oregon is surreal in its visual beauty. It seems as though massive parts of the coastline have broken off and made their way out to sea before coming to rest in the shallows. The Pacific’s fury is unleashed on them, battering them with open ocean swells. But when Mother Nature is feeling pretty, she puts on a yellow sun dress and caresses these states with a gentle touch. Waves are everywhere, and due to the long coastline, they’re often empty. In between the giant, crowded cities of California lies mile after mile of empty wonder. As you move south, things slowly change. The grass on the side of the highway changes shades. It gets taller and has more ridges, grabbing your legs on pee breaks. The ocean seems less angry, and the sun is undressed by clouds more often. The waves get better, and the water, degree by degree, gets warmer. Beer is cheaper, and before you know it, you’re in sunny SoCal among the glitter and glam, feeling sweaty, dirty, and out of place. It’s a wonderful feeling. Next stop: Mexico.
Must Stop Surf Spots:.
Washington – La Push: Probably not worth the trip in the dead of winter. La Push swallows as much swell as the ocean can throw at it, and in this part of the world, that’s a lot. But find it on a good fall day or with something in the water in the summer… you’ve found a chilly paradise.
Oregon – Lincoln City State Beach: Thumping beach break on those bigger days. The outside here holds larger swell, and there are plenty of peaks to choose from.
California – Trestles: Of course it’s Trestles. Although you’ll never find perfect Lowers with no one out, the crowds are worth the wave. And if you really can’t handle it, just head north or south for some other almost-Lowers waves.
Posted on October 17, 2013
We have teamed up with our friends at The Inertia to bring you the "Call of the Wild"—a monthly series of editorial features that will cover every aspect of heeding the call. This month we're reflecting on Fall as the leaves begin to change color and a bit of nostalgia creeps in.
I have mixed feeling about fall. On one hand, it’s beautiful—everything is changing colors from that dry August tone into the deeper, darker hues of autumn. The air is tentatively feeling sharper, as though it’s testing the waters before it makes a decision to jump right into winter. Mornings are brisker, crisper, and clearer. A feeling of change hangs over everything, like the world is preparing for bed.
On the other hand, though, everything is dying. The leaves are the first to go, losing their color and clinging to the branches before they fall to the ground. Summer’s warmth isn’t quite gone, but it’s on its way out the door. Nights get colder, forcing either layers or walls for protection.
But one thing remains clear: Fall is a great time for adventure, for many reasons. Here are five of them.
Crowds. One of the worst things about summer is the deluge of tourist whales. They trickle in slowly at first, then the floodgate can’t hold them back any longer and they spill, flailing over each other in a writhing mass of sunscreen and umbrellas, into your previously quiet town. Of course, many towns need that influx of tourist dollars, but that doesn’t mean you have to enjoy taking photos of total strangers with four different cameras. As summer leaves like a wave receding back into the sea, it scours the beaches of the sunburned masses and in its wake, leaves just the locals gasping for air.
Waves. With the advent of the winter months comes the onslaught of winter swells. They march down the coast, banging into points and tripping over reefs, unleashing their power on your favorite break. You know it’s fall when the first of those big dark blobs pops up on the forecast. These aren’t the weak swells of summer—they’re the ones that get your heart pumping and keep your eyes open at night in anticipation.
Fires. I always love a good fire, but sometimes in the summer, I find myself making one purely out of habit. It’s too hot on those balmy nights to sit beside a roaring fire trying to look comfortable while you’re sweating through your tank top, trying to find that happy medium between reaping the benefits of the light and keeping your body temperature below the temperature of the sun. It’s a great evening—usually sometime in late September or early October (for me, anyways)—when you start a fire and realize when the sun drops that you can actually stand being near it.
Re-discovery. There are nooks and crannies everywhere, and for the most part, you need to see them more than once to really discover them. If it’s truly a hidden spot, you’ll need to check it on different sized swells and directions. Summer time is perfect for finding visual beauty, but heading back to that spot when the seasons have changed for the scenery and finding an empty wave breaking in the middle of it all is one of those things that words haven’t been invented for.
Reflection. Summer just seems like a time for fun, and exclusively fun. Parties, bikinis, cold beer, and warm nights pervade the warmer months. That’s all well and good, but there’s a lot to be said for the serenity of a colder, quieter season that lends itself to quiet reflection instead of sweaty drunkenness. Sitting quietly on fall’s porch for a few minutes and ridding yourself of the ringing in your ears after summer’s nightclub shuts down is like washing the dirt off your soul.
We want to hear your own favorite reason why fall is the best month for adventure! Share them in the comments section on this post at theintertia.com. Best one wins $200 worth of gear from Howler Bros, perfect for those fall surf trips. Congratulations to Brian Vincent for winning the last prize pack! While you’re at it, take a peek at previous installments of The Call of the Wild Adventure Series powered by Howler Bros.
Posted on October 4, 2013
Howler Sketchbook consists of installments from the sketchbook of Howler founder Chase Heard, generally sourced from his travel, brainstorms and the rigors of driving the Howler ship.
Posted on September 20, 2013
We spent last weekend at the Bar Z Riverside Ranch in the glorious state of Montana with Casting 4 A Cure, a charitable organization co-founded by our friend Bill Farnum to raise money for Rett Syndrome research and family support. Frankly, just a few short years ago we really were not familiar with Rett Syndrome, a neurodevelopment disorder which impacts young girls. After meeting Bill back in 2011, we have become fully engaged in the impact of Rett on his family and others around the world. Bill is an unbelievably dedicated champion of the cause, an expert at bringing people together and a person we admire without end. If you’ve ever met him, you know what we’re talking about.
Bill and C4C do not put on lame charity events where you slap down thousands of dollars to watch a Power Point presentation and eat cold chicken. Their events are deluxe, multi-night affairs and, honestly, whenever we attend one we feel like we get back far more than we put in. This time was no exception as we joined about 20 other supporters of C4C to square off in a little friendly fishing tournament on the Bar Z’s incredible waters to raise money for the cause. Along the way, we managed to pick a few bluegrass tunes with a couple of the Bar Z boys, drink up some Dry Fly whiskey, watch the White Sulphur Springs Hornets vs. Ennis Mustangs 8-Man football game, dodge some bears and make a load of new friends.
Here’s a few pics to prove we were there. If you have any spare change in your pocket or want to learn more about what you can do for C4C go to http://www.casting4acure.com/.
Posted on September 19, 2013
We have teamed up with our friends at The Inertia to bring you the "Call of the Wild"- a monthly series of editorial features that will cover every aspect of heeding the call. This month the subject is how to best prepare to experience the "freedom" of van life.
A few days ago, my girlfriend was mistaken for a homeless woman. “Here, take this,” a kindly older gentleman said to her through the front window of our van. “Buy yourself something to eat.” My girlfriend does not need something to eat, nor does she look homeless. Our van, however, makes her look like someone living in a van.
We’ve been living out of our van in Venice, California, which to me, is similar to living inside a circus – only the performers all have incredibly short cut-offs, fantastic haircuts, and awful tattoos. Ah, youth.
We’re in the middle of a three month experiment, testing out all those so-called “freedoms” that everyone says come with the #vanlife. It’s not easy, especially on a budget. Just last week, I spent almost four hours pulling the exhaust off in the dark, lying in a parking lot of an O’Reilly’s Autoparts (who, by the way, lent me a hacksaw after I spent a good half hour using the catalytic converter as a sledge hammer – very nice folks).
Sure, it sounds great. Everyone I tell about our trip says the same thing: “I’d love to do that!” But would you? Would you love to piss into a bucket in the middle of the night? Would you love to lie in the sweltering heat while apparently unmuffled motorcycles scream by three feet from your head? Would you love for someone to think your girlfriend is homeless? Probably not. No one would. I sure don’t. But there are benefits. Road trips, for one. You can go where you want, when you want – and that’s where vans really pull their weight. They’re not made for living in a city. They’re made for the open road; pulling over when you’re sick of driving, finding waves and napping in the shade. But since a long road trip may entail a few weeks here and there of parking in a city, I’ve compiled a few tips for those looking to experience the “freedom” of van life.
1. Clean your house. The most suspect vans are the ones with the blacked out windows. You’ve seen them: ink-black tint peeling off a corner of the window, exposing a garbage dump with a pair of filthy feet sticking out. If you give your van a thorough cleaning and leave the curtains open, the neighbours will see that you’re not, in fact, a filthy hobo and be less inclined to call the cops or worse, give you dirty looks and spare change.
2. Don’t get too comfortable. A few days ago, we parked in a residential area next to a few seat-shaped rocks shaded by a palm tree. It looked idyllic. I pulled off my shirt, sat down on the rock and poured a margarita. My girlfriend opened the doors wearing one of my shirts and bikini bottoms. It was all so perfect – smiling at each other over our mugs, laughing at some silly nothingness, sunburned and salty – until someone walked by, and we realized that we’d turned the sidewalk into our living room, officially making us hobos. Try to avoid being a hobo.
3. Bring tools. For God’s sake, bring tools. Bring all of the tools you have. Wrenches and hammers and duct tape and hacksaws and screwdrivers and twine and batteries… man, just bring everything. Pack it in there. You’ll probably use it. I know it sucks because you might not have room for your photo albums or your grandmother’s quilt or whatever, but grandma’s quilt isn’t going to tear your exhaust off in an O’Reilly’s parking lot, and no one wants to see your photo albums anyways.
4. Bring books. If you don’t read, then start reading. Bring lots of books. Bring ones you don’t think you’ll like. Bring ones you’ve read before and re-read them. One thing about not having a house is that you don’t notice how much nothing you actually do until you have no place to do it in. And honestly, one of the best things in the world is pulling over, opening all the doors, letting a breeze in, and reading in silence for a few hours with a girl’s leg draped over yours.
5. Simplify, simplify, simplify! “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumbnail.”
Have any tips on how to live in a van (down by the river doesn’t count)? We want to know about it! Add them in the comments section on this post at theintertia.com. Best one wins $200 worth of gear from Howler Bros, which may not fit in your van. But you should throw out more stuff to make it fit. While you’re at it, take a peek at previous installments of The Call of the Wild Adventure Series powered by Howler Bros.
Posted on August 23, 2013
Howler Sketchbook consists of installments from the sketchbook of Howler founder Chase Heard, generally sourced from his travel, brainstorms and the rigors of driving the Howler ship.
Posted on August 14, 2013
Perhaps it took us a while to recover or we just wanted the memories to fully sink in, but we are just realizing that we never posted a proper recap of the First Howler Pilgrimage. It’s hard to believe it’s been over 2 months since we parted ways with our fellow pilgrims at the Palometa Club in Punta Allen. The good news is, we could hardly do a better job of retelling the tale than our friends at the Palometa Club did in their blog. The piece contains some awesome images from photog Matt Jones who chronicled all the gritty details. Check it out here: Palometa Club Tourney Report
Tom Bie from the Drake Magazine also gave the event some nice run in the current issue. Tom was nice enough to leave out the part about him losing a big fish and, possibly, the tournament because of Howler founder Andy Stepanian’s reel malfunction. He focused on the positive things, like their tasty team name “Palometa World Peace”.
If you want to get a video feel for the fishing and the Club, check out the promo video Jamie Howard of Howard Films put together on location at the Pilgrimage.
In the end, we owe a huge thanks to the participants that came from all over the world, to the Palometa Club, to David Leake @ Tailwaters Flyfishing, to the other sponsors and to all the guides and staff at the Club. It did our hearts some good to see literally everyone associated with the Club in any way decked out in Howler Bros. gear all day every day. They are putting our stuff to the test.
Also, thanks to the makers of Tres Generaciones tequila. Sales have to be trending up this year.
We are already thinking about next year and Pilgrimage 2.0. Ideas abound. Stay tuned.
Posted on July 24, 2013
We have teamed up with our friends at The Inertia to bring you the "Call of the Wild"- a monthly series of editorial features that will cover every aspect of heeding the call. This month the subject is finding your own surf spots. Because we all know an uninhabited break is a rare find but well worth the effort...
A little while ago, I wrote a couple of sentences that made me start thinking about something: “Surfing is leaving. Surfing is looking. Surfing is finding.” Now that I’m done quoting myself – which feels like an awfully arrogant thing to do, here’s what I started thinking about.
I can barely remember the last time I found a new surf spot, but a big part of surfing for me is finding an empty wave somewhere. One of my friends always says he’d rather surf a shit wave with no one on it than a great wave with everyone on it. And although I sort of disagree with that, I know where he’s coming from. Right now, I live in Canada. On the West Coast, right down south, to be exact. And while it’s getting pretty crowded, there are still places to find, still places to explore. Much of the world doesn’t have a lot of that anymore, which is something I find sad. There’s no fun in that. So here, before it’s too late: a few ways to find a new surf spot. And you know what? It still counts if it’s shit. It’s the searching that counts.
1. Google Earth. Yes, I know. Everyone knows about this. But in all seriousness, if you know even the slightest bit about topography/bathymetry and how a wave breaks, you’ll probably be able to find something. And one of the most helpful things about this satellite-assisted search is that you’ll be able to tell (at least a little bit) what direction your new spot will work on.
2. Look both ways. The last time I “found” a new wave, I was surfing one that was well known. In fact, I had to crane my head around a bunch of heads to see it. It was right there, just two hundred yards away, breaking off a rock and funneling into a little bay around the corner. Of course, it was breaking into ankle deep water and, as it turns out, only worked on that exact swell direction, period, swell height, tide, wind speed, lunar cycle, and Saturn’s relation to Pluto, but you never know. It was right there, and no one was on it except me.
3. Settle for it. Sometimes you’ll drive by something a thousand times on your way to something you know is better. But sometimes, just go look. You know that wave you think might work when it’s just a little more west? Next time it’s a little more west, go sit there for a few hours and see what happens. Sure, you’ll miss a sure thing at the popular spot, but that will happen again. And if you score, you don’t have to tell anyone about it (except me).
4. Listen to rumors. There’s always a rumor of a wave somewhere. Most of the time, they’re highly exaggerated and wildly speculative, because surfers are worse than fishermen when it comes to exaggeration and speculation, but there’s the off-chance there’s something to what they’re saying. I call these “Grape-vine Waves.” Go find one.
5. Just go and LOOK. No one walks anymore. For those of you who have surfed Trestles (which is probably a LOT of you), I surfed there for the first time a few years ago. When we were deciding where to go, one of my friends was leery about going there because it was a “crazy long walk.” I thought that a “crazy long walk” meant an hour or more through rough terrain. Turns out it meant “a sunny stroll on a paved, beautiful trail.” Suck it up. Go get your feet dirty. Wade through rivers, swim through bays, climb up cliffs.
You know what I’d like to hear? Tales of your search. Add them in the comments section on this post at theintertia.com, in all their muddy, bloody, wave-desperate glory. Best one wins a prize pack from Howler Bros, your friends on the search. Congratulations to Ben Levin for his submission to last month’s feature! Read past installments from The Call of the Wild Adventure Series.
Posted on July 22, 2013
Howler will be at the Agenda show in Long Beach this week. Come on out and see us in booth G24. There might even be some free wax in it for you...
Posted on July 17, 2013
The crew here at Howler spends a lot of time on the road chasing one calling or another and we are always on the lookout for optimal travel gear. So when we came across the rugged but refined design aesthetic of Topo Designs we were immediately big fans. Style and function are something we strive to bring together in all of our products at Howler and the guys from Topo are clearly after the same thing. With this similar design sensibility and a shared love of fly fishing and travel it wasn’t long before we put our heads together and got to work on a collaboration. For this limited edition release we created the Topo x Howler Hip Pack and worked up a special edition of their legendary Klettersack. We topped off the project with a pair of handsome co-branded 6-panel hats. Head over to the gear section for more details and to pick one up for yourself.