By the way, this is my 900th blog post since I started this up a little more than a year ago. I wanted to do something special for the 900th post, so here goes.

One of Wiley’s biggest desires for our vacation to Hawai’i was to learn to surf. In all the times I’d been before, I’d never even touched a surfboard. I had little to no interest in surfing, in part because I assumed I would not be able to do it. But to make the trip great for Wiley, I did my usual research and ran across Hawaiian Fire Surf School. Run by mostly off-duty Honolulu firemen and EMTs, the research i did said this was the way to go. They use a beach a little west of Pearl Harbor so there is consistent surf and a great deal of privacy and space. Their information suggested that if you could go from lying on your stomach to standing in 5 seconds, you could learn to surf. (By the way, I highly recommend them if you’re ever in Hawai’i and you want to try surfing!)

When it came time to reserve Wiley’s lesson, we ended up booking all three of us for the lesson (on the strong suggestion from my dear wife). I don’t mind telling you, this was not a part of the trip I was looking forward to. We wanted Wiley to have maximum time to surf later, so we scheduled it for our first morning on Oahu. Still having confused body clocks, we left early, made sure we could find the beach, and then watched the first lesson session as they surfed.

Finally it was our class’s turn. We all got surf shoes (to protect against coral) and “rash shirts” to protect against chafing and sunburn, and sat down for the explanation and safety portion of the lesson. Then they took us over to our surfboards, where for about 20 minutes we practiced paddling in the sand and standing up on the board. So far so good, but we’re still on dry land.

Then after a family picture on the beach, it was time to try the surf. Now or never, I guess. Based on where we were in the sand line-up, we entered the water. What they don’t tell you and nobody ever really discusses is that surfing is about 90% paddling into the surf, about 5 waiting, and 5% riding a wave. Fortunately I had been swimming for the month before the trip so my paddling was first rate, and I ended up as one of the very first to try a wave. Get ready, paddle, a push from the instructor, four big paddles, and let;s try to stand up. I made it up . . . for about 3 seconds, and then splash! But much better than I expected – I think I can do this!

So, I paddled back out and tried again. Same drill, get ready, paddle, push, four big paddles, stand up, and ride the wave, all the way in. I actually did it!

Then for the next 75 minutes we paddled, waited, and surfed. There were some small mishaps – I almost got run over by one of the other students, Kerry needed to change which direction she stood, we got tired of paddling, and so on, but all in all it was a great experience. We all surfed successfully, and we had an awesome family experience while doing it. Wiley surfed some at Waikiki, but he managed to tire himself out enough that the last day or so before flying to Maui he just wanted to swim. I was going to try once at Waikiki but I never managed to squeeze it in. Maybe next time.

Anyway, enjoy some of these pictures of Balthrops surfing.

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