Journey into freedom: The latest from five teens on a coming of age trip

Navarre Press has been following the journey of five 2016 Navarre High School graduates as they make their way across country and back on a trip of a lifetime.  Seeking to gain responsibility and independence, Riley Roberson, Patrick Keele, Gabe Morrill, Jacob Blea and Jeff Holland set out to travel to National Parks and other famous sites as part of creating a life-long bond between them.

This is from yesterday’s journal:

sequoia web

July 12, 2016

We woke up to birds chirping, and the sound of wind blowing gently through the trees. We set no alarms, choosing instead, to be woken up by the sounds of nature. Well actually, I woke because a stampede of children were running around our circle of tents and there was a dog barking.  Regardless, I then scrambled out of my sleeping bag, stumbling about to roust four irritable teenagers from their tents. We ate oatmeal for breakfast then set out to explore San Francisco, our first stop was Half Moon Bay.  Dense fog settled low over the California landscape making for an unforgettable drive across the Golden Gate Bridge.  In a city where everything moves so fast, time seemed to stand still for five young men peering out the windows of  a muddy Yukon.  When planning the trip, we knew visiting Half Moon Bay was a must, yet we didn’t realize how much of an unforgettable experience it would be. Apple maps and confused teenagers didn’t quite match up, but after about three u-turns we found the renowned Mavericks Surf Shop. The shop was unique, it set off the aurora of a traditional surf shop yet it held a story much different than any one we have been to before. We saw plenty of boards designed by the Mavericks pioneer Jeff Clark himself, and price tags we could only dream of. We geeked out a little bit longer and then piled back into the Yukon; headed to the cliff face overlooking Half Moon Bay and the Mavericks break. We searched around the bay looking for a way up the steep bluff, yet we had no luck. At the end of the sandy path we noticed a group of senior citizens enjoying a nice brunch perched in the boneyard of Half Moon Bay. We were looking for answers, and they held a fountain of knowledge; they told us how the surf at HMB is too dangerous and choppy at this time of year and how we would have a much more enjoyable experience at Santa Cruz. They told us stories of rogue waves, and insane surf conditions in the area. On the way back to the car we ran into a man on a mountain bike, his beautiful Rhodesian Ridgeback prompted us to stop. We started conversing with him about his canine counterpart, yet little did we know that this man was one of Jeff Clark’s best friends, he shared with us stories about before the Mavericks was even a thing. The man first met Jeff when he was about 16 and Jeff was 12, he told us how he would drive by and see a young Jeff walking home from the beach wet and miserable nearly every day; but one day he offered him a ride and it turned into a lasting friendship for life. He explained to us how Jeff was fearless, even though he was a terrible surfer at first. He told us how Jeff never quit, he laughed to himself as he reminisced on Jeff getting slammed by waves and coming up to the surface laughing his ass off. A couple years down the road Jeff kept pestering him to surf the break that today is known as Mavericks, yet no one in their surf niche would let him go out. The man said he went off to college to study Forestry and when he came back he met up with Jeff again, Clark had been surfing Mavericks for seven years by himself. The waves that pro surfers have dreams and nightmares of was discovered. The surf spot exploded and Jeff pioneered the Titans of Mavericks competition and the Mavericks Surf Shop. After the story telling and comradery, the man showed us how to get to the top of the bluff. We went up the beaten path and envisioned ourselves in the movie Chasing Mavericks, it was a breathtaking spot and we all felt honored to be able to enjoy it. Walking back down the bluff and jumping in the Yukon again we headed into San Francisco. The city never stopped, confusing tow away signs and expensive parking garages made us anxious. After nearly an hour of searching we found a spot, nearly a mile away from pier 39. We trekked over to the pier, it appeared to us as a glorified outdoor mall. But nonetheless it was amazing. We headed to Fisherman’s Wharf and got serenaded by street performers, they showed us how talent can be found by anyone yet must be discovered in yourself. We walked around a bit more and then headed to the car and had Camp China in our minds. The day is finally over, and it was a great one. Tomorrow we head to Santa Cruz, maybe a couple of Florida boys can surf the promise land known as the west coast. -Riley


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