Editor’s Note: Only the Road Knows is an ongoing series following Bob Cooney’s trip up the Pacific Coast highway. See day 1 here, day 2 here, day 3 here, and day 4. Look around his website for updates at OnlytheRoadKnows.com

Something you won't ever see in Southern California. Photo: Bob Cooney

Something you won’t ever see in Southern California. Photo: Bob Cooney

Monday morning had me jonesing to surf. I had gotten a tip about a killer wave from Adam at www.ouropenroad.com, and wanted to check it out. There was a south swell building and I was hopeful that the first real waves of my trip would show up.

If riding a horse on a beach is on your bucket list, this is one of those beaches where you can check that off (that is, if you don’t mind riding in a long trail line with unenthusiastic train horses). Seahorse Ranch in Half Moon Bay is a much better option.

The beach was a mile hike from the parking lot.  It’s a flat hike along a river.  When I made it to the beach, a pretty big set was breaking along the rock, and then formed a perfect left all the way to the beach.

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I paddled out, lined up, and waited. And I waited, and waited, and waited.  After 45 minutes of waiting, two other guys paddled out and took up inside. They caught three or four fun waves in succession while I waited for the sets to reappear. I had to paddle constantly to stay in place against the howling wind. After almost an hour, I gave up, paddled inside, and had some fun.

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Of course, that was the cue for the other guys to paddle out to the rock and wait.  And sure enough, that set came through. At least someone rode a set wave that day.  All in all it was still a fun session.  There were a bunch of playful sea otters in the water checking me out, the sun was shining, and despite the wind it was a beautiful day.

After about three hours, I packed up, headed north to Santa Cruz, and hoped to find a spot to camp. I stopped for dinner at a fantastic Mexican restaurant in Castroville called Alfonso’s Authentic Mexican Food.  The food is fresh, the tortillas are hand made, the beer is cold, and the chips and salsa are free.  I had the Camerones Vera Cruz, which came with 10 jumbo shrimp.  It was delicious.

The drive to Santa Cruz was uneventful, and rather than hunt for a campsite late at night I decided to push through to the north about 10 more miles, where roadside camping is prevalent.  I found a dirt drive that led to a cattle guard and an open gate that said private property. I made sure I camped well before the gate, and turned in for the night.

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