Hermosa Beach, Summer 2004: Part II

Check out Part I here

With the ‘Burban road-worthy again, we set off for our first overnight in Conway, Arkansas. At the time, this was where Aunt Bonnie and Lance were living. They put us up in for the night in their comfortable, fully stocked and lovely home. A nice break from the confines of our pickup-truck-with-a-cap of a vehicle.

Tyler Suburban

Go West young man!

After spending the night, Bonnie and Lance filled us with breakfast and we were on our way. I’ll be honest, I don’t really remember what happened between here and Backwoodsville, New Mexico so if anyone reading does, please fill in the blanks. I do know we had grand plans to stop and smell the roses as it were. Those plans went fluttering out the window in our excitement to get out West. Foot to the floor, we drove until we could go no more.


Tapped out, we pulled off the highway as night fell…somewhere in New Mexico. Our basic plan of not having a plan shone brightly that night. We saw one of those blue highway signs with a hotel logo and decided it would suffice. Now, nothing untoward happened that night but the guy behind the counter, the Stephen King-esque feel of the area and the general sense of unease was memorable. You would think that 4 young gentlemen traveling together and sharing a room would have nothing to be afraid of.  You would be wrong. Somewhere, there is a video we filmed, using the night vision setting in our hotel room, discussing that night. I wonder where it went…

Tyler Dave NH

Though not a photo from this trip, it sums up the mindset quite nicely.

Our final stop before the Pacific was in Arizona at the Zentmeyers. Much like Aunt Bonnie, Katie and Jess took care us and helped recharge our batteries for the final push. As I write this, it seems like New Mexico-to-Arizona-to-California is not actually very far. But it was a good stop nonetheless. I recall a pool and maybe a party and, uh, probably beer? Considering I can’t recall how old am I when put on the spot, it’s no wonder I don’t recall the details here. But I know we had fun.


I’m going to guess we spent one night and then fueled up for the home stretch – HERMOSA BEACH! Why this town? My cousin Todd was living there at the time. I must’ve been talking to him at some point about a loosely formed plan to spend the summer in California. And he must have suggested Hermosa. Because otherwise I’m not sure we would have ended up in that little slice of heaven. Thank you Todd. Your suggestion became our summer of a lifetime.


Next time, we’ll cover our first couple weeks in sunny Southern Caleeforenyuh. Living with Todd, living at a hotel, eating all the donuts and signing year long leases.

Hermosa Beach, Summer 2004

I recently found an old journal documenting the beginnings of an epic summer of fun in Hermosa Beach, CA more than 10 years ago. I’ll copy it for now and then try to fill in the blanks as best I can. The basis of our trip – myself, my brother Tyler and Dave Russ – was to spend a summer accomplishing nothing. Our original plan was to work and save enough money so that when we got to Hermosa from New Jersey, we could spend the summer doing anything but working. Here’s how it began…

Hermosa Part 2

The summer kickoff was Tyler’s 21st birthday. We all went to the Sun Tavern in Fanwood to celebrate. By the end of the night, Tyler and his buddy Matt were arse over elbow into the bushes outside the bar. Off to a good start.


On the walk home, Tyler, Matt and another friend, Lucas, rampaged sleepy Fanwood with a fully exposed streaking episode. They successfully generated NINE phone calls to the police. The nudists mercifully made it home without being detained. Tyler’s friends visiting from New Hampshire – Andi and Matt Dolan – did not. Drunk, lost and disorderly in someone’s backyard, they were given a cop cruiser ride back to 154 Herbert.


Upon arriving at the homestead, me, my sister Caroline and Tyler’s friend Gary had to wake up the Mother unit for some “please don’t arrest these clowns” conversations. When one of the friendly local cops mentioned reports of streaking, the sideways look I received made it VERY difficult to keep a straight face. For obvious reasons but also due to the fact that Tyler and the Nude Crew were hiding in the backyard bushes snickering the whole time.


The next night at midnight, 4 of us hit the road – myself, Tyler, Dave and Matt Dolan. We were given use of my parents’ 1995 GMC Suburban. The perfect vehicle for a 3,000 mile road trip with 4 surfboards on the roof. A generous gift. We had about 20 hours to our first planned stop at my Aunt Bonnie’s place in Conway, Arkansas. But we didn’t get there quite to plan.

Hermosa Part 1

Somewhere in Tennessee, the Suburban started bucking in bumper to bumper traffic. To our elation, there was an exit just up ahead and a truck repair station right off the highway. The gentleman running the place was a little squirrelly but happy to help. Hooking up a scanner, he learned the throttle position sensor was out of whack. Incredibly, a GM dealer 10 miles up the road had the part and our new friend agreed to make the fix if we could be back in 2 hours. Foot to the floor, we said a collective prayer for the ‘burban.


The old beast made it there and back without much bucking, new part in hand. It was then that we noticed the beer cans in our savior’s hand and the engine sitting on the floor. He happily explained that was the motor he blew up earlier in the day “fixing” it. Hmmm. With no other options we pressed on. The guy got our new part in but wanted to check his work. This involved stuffing his hand in the engine bay and revving the hell out of it. If you’ve never driven a Suburban, they’re not exactly rev-happy machines. Satisfied with this abuse, he prepped for a road test as final engineering sign off.


I hopped in the passenger seat, armpits sweating, as he wheeled us to a narrow, hilly side road. At 100 mph, I casually suggested we wouldn’t be hitting these speeds. What with the 4 surfboards on the roof and all. He chuckled and quipped about hoping the brakes had enough lining since the end of the road comes up quickly. We did get back to the shop in 1 piece and apparently we only paid $22.00 for this service. I also paid with 22 years off my life but we were on our way.