Most of the water was out, but Cocoa Beach Publix South got a restock before the storm!
Saturday September 9th, 2017, at Orlando International Airport, and about to hop onto a plane with what felt like the Armageddon behind me. This being a huge massive storm cyclone creeping up my homeland through the Keys into Miami, before seemingly doomsday situation, so to speak. Luckily for myself, I booked a flight a few days prior, which was scheduled to take off at 3:00pm. Every other flight out after 4pm was cancelled. When I arrived at the airport, I arrived super early to insure I found adequate parking. Which was also a mess, and in its own, another story.
There was this nice restaurant in the main terminal area, so I went in for dinner while I waited for my flight. The chicken sandwiches were on croissants, and very delicious. I remember having a chat with some of the wait staff at the restaurant, and talked with a few of them about their plans for the storm. Everyone seemed a little nervous but in good spirit. And one guy laughed, having no idea what to expect, as he never lived through a hurricane before. Boy was he in for an experience! I myself have lived through many being a Florida Native. But I was ready to take a break from power outages, and fly up north to meet my new born nephew, and score some fun Long Island surf. The waves in New York get so damn good!
The flight wasn’t so bad, and after takeoff you could feel a huge sigh of relief from everyone on board. Like we just escaped hell! … you know escaping a giant cyclone sending everyone from South Florida up Interstate 95 in gridlock traffic from what could be total devastation, yeah, that’s hell. But for us lucky folks to be on the plane, we were out of the situation, and on our way to where the air is nice and cool, with no humidity or hurricanes smashing down into the state. And now that I think of it, there wasn’t really any turbulence on the flight either, and we landed 30 minutes ahead of schedule in Islip-McArthur Airport, in Long Island. Which gave me enough time to get into my rental car, and head straight to Long Beach to try and score some waves before dark.
I got on the road around 3pm, and made it to Long Beach and in the water around 4pm. Waves were firing! 4-6 foot and glassy with North winds! North winds on Long Island are a good thing, as they are off shores! I got out of the water before dark, so I could capture some photos and videos. I also made a few friends, Tim and Sabrina Boyle. They are a really cool local couple who taught me a lot about the local breaks, “All the aggro guys surf over there at Lincoln, while the rest of us take some more mellow peaks over here!”.
I was supposed to go into the city (New York City), that night after I landed to meet my Aunt, Uncle, and grandparents for dinner at some fancy restaurant, but considering I didn’t get done surfing until after dark, I wouldn’t have made it into the city until way too late. So I made my way into Central Islip after a long day, and boy the air was chilly! In comparison it’s like Florida winter, but it was only September! Once I got into town I needed a place to hang out while I waited for my family to get back, and sort through all my photos from afternoon.
I stumbled into Gino’s Pizza, where I was greeted by an awesome friendly staff of guys, who were very interested in my situation back home in Florida. Considering at the time I lived in Cocoa Beach on one the many canals, and my house was under storm surge threat. I had no idea what I was going to go home to. Well the Gino’s guys had the weather channel on with Hurricane Irma updates blasting on by the minute, while I worked diligently at processing everything I shot from earlier in that day. I ordered a cheese Calzone, and man was it delicious! I ended up hanging out there until about 11pm, until I got a phone call to head home.
The next morning on Sunday, I got up early, got in my rental car, and headed right back down the Long Island Expressway toward Long Beach, but stopped this time at Gilgo Beach to check it out and see what it is all about. When I got there, to my surprise, you go through a tunnel under the road, and onto the beach. Well this Gilgo beach tunnel is completely decorated in Graffiti surfing art! I was so stoked to see such surfing culture in New York, that I spent about 45 minutes just taking photos of the tunnel through way.
I then made another friend, Jeff, a Satellite Beach native, turned New Yorker. And I visited with the Bunger Surf Shack, surf shop, hooking them up with some Raw Surf Stickers. Actually, I made a habit of tagging up spots all over New York with stickers. So keep your eyes peeled for one next time you’re surfing up state! Gilgo was awesome, got a few fun chest high waves before heading back to Long Beach. Long Beach is more of a surf culture city, so I wanted to spend as much time there as possible networking with local surf shops to help get the word out about Raw Surf.
I also ran into Unsound Surf shop; they call them selves “unsound” because they are on the opposite side of the Long Island Sound. Then went into their biggest local rivals, LI Surf shop. Both store owners were really cool and open to what Raw Surf travel has to offer. Hey, gotta support the East Coast guys! Surfed and ate light at one of the food stands on the boardwalk, before heading back to my uncles house for dinner out with family at some local Diner. The food at the diner was mediocre at best, and the manager looked like something out of Sopranos. But it was some quality time with family, and I didn’t have to cook. I was exhausted, and ready to relax before a busy Monday planned traveling to Montauk and back, to meet up with a ton more surf shops, and a date in the City!
A few days before my trip up, I was in touch with this woman I mentioned earlier, originally “my muse” who inspired all of this Raw Surfing Adventure business to fruition in the first place. Dina, insisting I follow my passions. She too broke away from impeding doom on Florida, and by coincidence, was up in Long Island for work, and family, at the same time as I. Serendipity! We set a date for the following night on Sept 11th day, which is a big deal date in New York, after the tragedy that happened there not so long ago in history.
After an early breakfast of cereal and coffee with my grandparents, I of course ventured east to Montauk for the day to speak with a dozen or so surf shops. I drove all the way to “the end of the earth”, which is actually really what they say about Montauk. On my drive, just past The Hampton’s, a gorgeous summer vacationing destination, I stopped into Goldberg Bagels for some strawberry flavored sparkling water, and a Flagel. Which if you’re wondering what the heck a Flagel is, its basically just a skinny bagel, making more room for more sandwich meat, in my opinion at least. The food was really good, but I couldn’t sit too long, I had to make a few more stops in Montauk before long my drive back in traffic. Air and Speed Surf shop was number one on my list, but I stumbled into many others like Main Beach Surf shop, which was just on may way in from the Hampton’s.
Finishing up networking with surf shop owners; I had to go take a peek and see what Montauk’s surf conditions were looking like. I drove down to the main pass, pulled onto the beach lot parking area, got a few more photos, and a little video footage in too. It was beautiful outside. Crisp air around 65 degrees, not too humid, or hot, nor cold. There was not a cloud in the sky. A few families were there bathing in the sun. Unfortunately Hurricane Irma was out of our local swell window by then. The waves were barely waist high, but were super long, fun if you had a bigger board to ride on. I had my 5’11” JMR Johnny Rodgers Surfboard pin tail with me, and definitely needed some bigger surf to float what I was riding on.
Hey, I came prepared for big waves, New York goes off! We weren’t going to start seeing any Jose swell until Tues anyway, the following day. Hopefully providing us some better size to the surf, locally. Conditions were great no matter what, offshore winds all day. All good though, I didn’t want to get back late for my date in the city, and everyone knows how terrible Long Island rush hour traffic is. So I got on my way back to my families house, and started getting dressed to head out into the big apple for my date.
At about 7pm I hit the road to meet Dina in the City. We chose to connect at the East Village in Manhattan. It is pretty much known for its nightlife, bars, boutiques, vintage shops, and all sorts of places from fancy restaurants to cafe’s to dine out. We had a lot of options at our choosing! Met up at corner in front of some boutiques and a cafe. Being that it was the first time we’ve seen each other in almost two years, it actually seemed like a blink of an eye, like nothing had changed. Proceeding on with a grand start, tagging up news racks with Raw Surf stickers all over Manhattan! That was until we stumbled into a fancy dress shop where she tried on a few coats for me, until she bought her favorite choice. It was a lot of fun, we couldn’t stay in one place, and neither one of us were really hungry. Just full of energy, walking around the city in each others good company. As we walked we came upon an antique chess shop where Mel Fisher could have learned to play. Such nostalgic vibes this little shop gave off, I would say. The owner was really creepy, but in a cool, chess master sort of way. We watched a mom with her sons playing for a bit, while contemplating our own moves next. We decided to get up and keep walking around, that is, until this guy just standing at the corner with flyers sold us on a comedy show! I still remember at the end of the night looking into her blue eyes reminding me of the first time we ever met, which was a few years back in Orlando. It was such an amazing night in New York City, with the most amazing date.
The next day was Tuesday, and it was the day I got meet my nephew! So excited to come to his Bris, which is in Judaism is when they have the circumcision ceremony for the male babies, a week after they are born. The plan was to drive to Long beach after breakfast with my grandparents at home, and head west along the coastline in search of more surf shops to network with. I just needed to make sure I was back by 6pm for the ceremony, which seemed to me like a non issue with GPS, and a good head start at 830am. Leaving from my uncles houses, I drove back to Long Beach again for a second visit to Unsound Surf shop, where I spoke with the owner Mike about some important surf trip business, and get the scoop on the surf report.
From Unsound, I went back to the main beach parking, which was next to huge condo building with lots of spaces, but very little available parking. I finally found a spot to park my rental Nissan, then got my photo taken with a dog named Willie. I suited up. It was like Florida winter water, but the way the waves came in were so perfect. They need to build rocky shelves like this back home instead of dumping concrete into the ocean! I surfed with them until about noon, that’s about when I got hungry. I walked down the huge Long Beach boardwalk to where they have all the food trucks setup, but since it was Tuesday the only place open was “Taco Tuesdays”. Dude those tacos they have are amazing! It makes me hungry just thinking about it! I filled up my belly on tacos and then ventured to a few more stops until I made it far west into the Rockaways.
I had to stop at Rockaway Beach Surf shop. I pulled up and got lucky, the gentleman parked in front of me gave me his parking pass. Apparently you have to pay to park on the street in Rockaways. Even though its on the beach, its still considered to be park of New York City, and not Long Island. When I went inside to my surprise the owner was not happy in life. She told me she wanted to have nothing to do with surfing! I couldn’t believe it, I asked her why, and she said she did it for her family. She’s put 40 years into that shop, and wants to experience something different. I told I her I agree, she must follow her passions. Which is why I was there in in her store in the first place, to promote Raw Surf, following my passions. She laughed, and opened up to me about her husbands history as a surfer in New York City. This is a story I will share another day, and make the topic about the Rockaways Surf Shop family.
After a while, I didn’t even realize that it was 4:30pm and needed to get back to Long Island to meet my baby nephew at his Bris ceremony. I thanked them for their time and jumped into my car, hauling ass as fast as I could back onto the Long Island express through mass traffic. And I am not kidding you about how bad the traffic is in New York is. People don’t want to slow down, but its backed up, with at least five lanes going each way. It makes me very thankful to drive on I-4 through Orlando back home in Florida! It was so bad that I was 10 minutes late, which meant I missed the Rabbi’s ceremony, but more importantly pissed off my parents and grandparents. My thoughts were, at least I made it up to New York for trip in the first place. Most flights around mine got canceled because of Hurricane Irma! Good news is, I did meet my nephew. He is the most adorable baby boy, and was born on the same day as his uncle, me.
I was set to fly out Wednesday evening back to Florida. Back to the unknown. Unknown meaning not knowing if I was going to have a house left, or a car for that matter. I parked my car at Orlando Airport, remote outside parking lot. So for all I know, a tornado could have came through and demolished everything in the lot. So I had to get back, but not before I went back to Long Beach for some more surf! The waves picked up to around chest high, thank you Hurricane Jose! I surfed for about two hours by myself, before I shot some video posted above of the waves that day before I had to head back to the airport. Such peaceful vibes coming from New York’s finest beaches. Maybe it was because the waves were so good and clean, or also 15 degree below and freezing! The weather was great on my last day in Long Island. Oh and they have wax dispensers too. Pretty bad ass. I’m always forgetting my wax when I go surf!
So Wednesday evening came around, and I was ready to head back southbound. I found out prior from my roommates, that the storm surge didn’t make it into the house. It only made it up to the steps and through the garage, luckily none of our property getting damaged or destroyed. And that the power was out, with some roof damage, that we’d be taking cold showers until restoration. I landed around 1030pm, back home I was, now to go find my auto. Thankfully it too, my car wasn’t damaged. Except some paint chipped off from winds and foliage. I got in my car and drove back to Cocoa Beach. Orlando was still there, not too much damage that I could see.
Looking back now on my trip, and experiences in life, I have learned a lot about family, self love, doing things that we are passionate about for ourselves, and others. I used to try and do things to please others, to gain acceptance, and get love from the outside world. An example would be this what you see now. However, I have learned that that what I seek, or sought, in others, is truly found within myself. Love yourself first, and others will know how to love you too. Express yourself to the world, be yourself. We are the love we are looking for. And when we do things like surfing, traveling, writing, creating, or whatever gifts we share with the world, we are loving ourselves. Sometimes it just takes a Hurricane to send you off on your journey.
Blog written by David Pritzker
Photos by David Pritzker
Video by David Pritzker