Time Traveling: Richer Poorer Gets a Taste of the Northwest

Words by Chris Zimmerman
Photos by James Barkman

The four of us are pressed up against the side of the van as fog and mist off the ocean roll past. One of us has a butter knife wedged in the frame of the door, another with a wire coat hanger hopelessly fished down to the lock, two others spotting and offering moral support. This peaceful stretch of Oregon oceanfront highway feels much more ominous at night, our scene lit up by the lights of the truck behind us. Our new friends from Richer Poorer probably never thought their first PNW surf trip would entail breaking into a ‘92 Previa at 11:30pm on the side of Highway 101, but luckily they were game to give it a go. Hopefully this combination of teamwork and dumb luck would be the key, literally, to unlocking the broke down Previa so we can figure out our next moves.  

Our day began much more routinely: a morning surf check from the top crow’s nest of the rental house, coffee in hand, watching the sets roll in and trying to make sense of the various peaks. If there is one notable feature about surfing Pacific City it’s the beach’s power, and this day was no different. Large offshore barrels for those with the necessary skills and courage, and powerful shore-break sets tossing boogie boarders and beginning surfers alike rolling in from thousands of miles away. While the session was fairly short, the crew from Richer Poorer, being from Southern California, and much more competent surfers, was able to dissect the hectic break and make it look easy in the process.

After a couple hours the crew reassembled back at the house for lunch, tried to dry out wetsuits as much as possible and prepare for our next adventure to Short Sands. About an hour away, Short Sands held the promise of mellower, more protected waves, and the hike down to the beach would be a pretty classic Northwest surf experience. Heading out of town, it didn’t take long for the van to overheat, a problem previously solved by adding a bit of water to the radiator. Since the quick fix didn’t seem to be working this time, and the clock ticking on being able to surf in daylight or not, the decision was made to leave the van, pile into the other trucks, and come back for it on the way back. While this was a good plan in theory, locking the keys in the broken down vehicle wasn’t going to make the process any easier.

Short Sands is an Oregon treasure, but not an unknown one, as typical summer weekends see full parking lots and beaches littered with surfers, beachgoers and free ranging dogs. By the time we roll up on this early fall day, it is well into the afternoon so the majority of the crowd has already thinned out. The hike down to the beach isn’t too long, but long enough that people change into their wetsuits on the beach, packing down the day’s essentials. More of a cove than the open, exposed beach at Pacific City, Short Sands generally stays more protected, and today was a perfect example of its potential. With light rays breaking through overhead clouds and pretty much just our crew in the water, our time at Short Sands was as iconic as could be hoped for, a great portrayal of Northwest surfing for our friends from Richer Poorer.

That brings us to the trip’s final mission. Huddled around the Previa, attempting to break into our own van. Butter knife in the door frame, coat hanger jammed through the crack. After about an hour filled with plenty of curses and window-breaking considerations, a little skill combined with luck was all it took to hit the lock. While getting the van started and safely back to Portland would prove to be an adventure in itself, our trip with Richer Poorer proved how a shared love of surfing can far outweigh cares of car problems and how being up for an adventure, no matter the time of night, can create lasting memories worth laughing at later. Thanks to the crew from Richer Poorer for being great travel companions, cooking up all that bacon, and for introducing us to fish and chips at the Pub and Grub.

 

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