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San Clemente Journal

Sun, Sand and Surf - Answering the Call to the Beach

May 05, 2005 03:14PM ● By Don Kindred
By Anne Batty

Beaches are places of mystery and wonder waiting to be explored – “Ribbons of Sand”
Beach time. That time to break from routine. To make time to rejuvenate and reconnect with nature, enjoy lazy days and answer the call of the soothing sunrays, warm sands and balmy ocean breezes.
Those who live in San Clemente have a myriad of opportunities to succumb to this beckoning, and while there are many ways to enjoy fun in the sun, surf and on the sand, there are ten that seem most popular among those who live in and visit the village.
Famous surfers have been riding waves in town since the 1930s.With many of them growing up and still living in town, it goes without saying that the sport of surfing has played a major part in attracting residents and visitors to the city’s beaches. On any given day numerous (too many according to locals) wet-suit clad bodies can be seen bobbing atop the waves at Poche, 204, the Pier Bowl, T-street, Second Spot, Lost Winds, Trestles, and San Onofre’s Old Man’s beaches. From involving the tinniest grommets, to the recreational, amateur, world class and senior surfers, this sport remains the number one reason the call to the ocean is heeded, no matter the season.

Boogie Boarding
The invention of the Morey Boogie Board in 1971 made wave riding for watermen/women (who were formerly using anything afloat to help them ride shore breaking waves) easier, more maneuverable and a lot more fun. Since that time Boogie Boarding has become a contest sport with the first professional bodyboarding contest, the Morey/Gap event being held in Huntington Beach in 1979. While boogie boarders can be found at all of San Clemente’s beaches, the most popular spot for boogie-ing is T-Street Beach. The wave break at this shoreline is just right for this water sport, and on any given summer, fall, winter or spring day, adults and children, novice to professional, can be spotted indulging in this pleasure.

Skim Boarding
Skim Boarding dates back to the late 1920s when Laguna Beach lifeguards at Victoria Beach used to skim along the shoreline on pieces of wood. The sport finally gained popularity with the general public in the 1970s, and has been a major part of growing up in the beach area ever since. Although this type of boarding experienced a decline in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, it’s rearing its head once again in the 21st century and beachgoers everywhere are taking up the challenge.

Sand Play/Sand Sculpting
Whether burying each other or building structures, children and adults visiting the beach have always found entertainment in sand play. The sand, a bucket, shovel, some molds and the ocean’s water are the only things necessary. And although the joy of these pastimes is certainly found in the execution, the excitement seems to come from the expectation that what’s done will eventually be destroyed, or even washed away, and the process can then be repeated. Once considered only child’s play, the pastime of sand building or sculpting is fast developing into a competitive sport in coastal towns in the United States and around the world – becoming a sport-art so to speak. According to history, the first sand sculptures were those practical models of the pyramids made by the Egyptians, and the first sand sculpture considered art was that done in the late 19th century by an artist on the shores of Atlantic City, NJ. Today, artists exploring new venues for their creative ideas can be found competing on beaches worldwide, earning ribbons, prizes, money and recognition. San Clemente’s Ocean Festival provides local artists opportunity to compete in such an event annually.

Let the games begin
The earliest accounts of beach volleyball are the six-person games played in the roaring ‘20s along the beaches of Honolulu, HI. It wasn’t until the 1950s, when retired San Clemente contractor Jim Miller came to town, that the sport’s popularity increased on this city’s shores. While many still play and enjoy the original six-person game, hometown volleyball celebrities like Karch Kiraly have done much to generate interest in the two-man team version. With beaches like North Beach, the Pier Bowl and Lost Winds providing volleyball nets for the public, the sport remains alive and well on the sands of the village, and it’s not unusual to find beach lovers involved in the game year ‘round.

Smash Ball
Smash Ball is a game played with lightweight wooden paddles and a rubberized ball. While similar to the game of tennis, on the beach the ball isn’t bounced, but is always taken in the air. With no formal rules for beach play, it functions as a form of entertainment and exercise that concentrates on hand-eye coordination and mobility skills.

Paddle Tennis
The game of paddle tennis was originated in 1898 for children, but soon gained the attention and interest of adults. It is a game much like professional tennis played on a smaller court with deadened (punctured by a hypodermic needle) tennis balls and titanium, graphite or wood racquets. The scoring is best of three sets, with only one underhand serve used. It is a fast paced, exciting game due to the smaller court and longer rallies. Members of the Shorecliffs Homeowner’s Association and their guests are privy to the only courts available in San Clemente at Poche Beach.

Checkers, Backgammon and Chess
For those who dislike sitting on the sand, Schleppy’s on the Pier and at the Beach at Calafia provides seating and oversized game boards where family, friends and strangers can come together to play checkers, backgammon and chess. Owner Carl Schleppy revealed that he has watched strangers become friends after indulging in these games, and has had people, who haven’t played games in years, thank him saying they’d forgotten how much fun these games could be.

Exercise has become a major part of daily living, and village beach lovers, preferring their work-outs outside, can be seen strolling or running along the firmly packed wet sands of San Clemente’s five-mile shoreline daily. But while this work out is enough for some, others prefer the more strenuous challenge offered by a beach path that meanders from the Pier Bowl, along the sands of T-street, over the Amtrak tracks to the cliff side of the beach, extending as far south as Cyprus Shores. Maneuvering on this hard packed earth, over tracks, below residences, through numerous forms of vegetation, dodging dogwalkers and even bicyclists, eventually ending on the sands at the south end of town, offers runners and walkers alike a very challenging and satisfying experience.

There is no better time to kick back with a book and a cool drink than the lazy days spent at the beach, and for many, fun on the sands means a time to catch up on leisurely reading. All along the city’s shores beachgoers can be spotted lolling in beach chairs, on towels and under umbrellas perusing books and periodicals. While everyone has their own reading preferences, the following books have been suggested by reading groups, best seller lists, bookstores and beach reading lists to be good leisure time reads.
Beach Girls by Luanne Rice – A story of three friends who grew from girls to women on the sandy shores of a mystic coastal town in Connecticut.
A Cup of Tea by Amy Ephron – This book springs to life from its rich cast of characters and brilliant evocation of the uncertain days of World War I. A darkly romantic novel, it engages impeccable plotting and a deep sense of foreboding, propelling toward a shocking conclusion.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – A powerfully moving story of fierce cruelty and fierce yet redeeming love. A portrait of the violence the people in Afghanistan struggle to triumph over daily. 
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd - Set in the south, a story of mothers lost and found, love, conviction and forgiveness, boldly exploring life’s wounds and revealing the deeper meaning of home and the redemptive simplicity of “choosing what matters.” 
Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen - A comic novel depicting a madcap trip through southern Florida: a screwball delight full of bright, deft, beautifully honed humor.
A Trilogy of the life of Josephine Bonaparte by Sandra Gulland - From birth in the Caribbean, to the prisons of the French terror, to becoming Mrs. Napoleon Bonaparte, and an Empress finally exiled, an unforgettable story of love, personal betrayal, political intrigue and tragedy, told through Josephine’s heartfelt diaries.
-The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. 
-Tales of Passion Tales of Woe
-The Last Great Dance on Earth

The ocean and its shores hold a magic hard to resist, and under their spell we do things we wouldn’t take time to do elsewhere. Participating in the things mentioned above and others, like surf fishing, pebble, shell and sea glass collecting, kayaking, football, Frisbee, picnics, sunrises and settings … the options are endless. San Clemente’s beaches offer all these things and much more. And like those beaches in the book, Ribbons of Sands, these too are filled with experiences, mysteries and wonders, calling to and waiting for dwellers and visitors alike to take time out to come, explore and enjoy.b