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Swells & Surfboards: The 2013 US Open of Surfing

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Huntington Beach is where I learned to surf. It’s where I realized I was in love for the first time. It’s where I met Arnold Schwarzenegger – for the second time. No, I was not in love with Arnold. Actually this guy’s last name was even harder to pronounce, so I won’t put you through that…

Huntington Beach holds a special place in my heart. I’m excited to share the first of many posts about it with you.

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Shameless selfie time! Okay, moving on…

So a few weeks ago we pulled into the garage of my aunt and uncle’s house located less than three blocks from the Huntington Beach pier. My mom, my dad and I had brought along our dogs Kona and Beau for a stay in one of the greatest surfing destinations in the world (Huntington Beach isn’t called Surf City USA for no reason)!

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We spent the evening resting up in preparation for the monstrous surfing documenting we would be doing early the next morning.

You better wake up early if you want to eat breakfast at the Sugar Shack before it begins to get crowded.

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This place is famous. So famous in fact that our adorable server, Summer, is often recognized in other parts of the country when she’s working as a flight attendant – her other job.
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The Sugar Shack is a 3rd generation family owned business. It’s a Southern California style “mom and pop” hole-in-the-wall breakfast joint. The inside is covered with decade’s worth of photos of legendary surfers, many of them studded with autographs. A waiting list for the outside tables hangs out front under the forest green awning.

TIP: If there’s an available table inside, feel free to grab it! And you better do it quick!

ANOTHER TIP: My favorite things on the menu… If you want to feel like a true local you gotta try the Main Street Burrito which is stuffed with avocado, mushrooms, onions, sprouts and cheese. If you’re aiming for a quick bite you can’t beat the Wake Up & Shine – 2 poached eggs on toast. If you’re aiming to eat healthy I recommend Michele’s Special – grilled chicken breast, three egg whites, bell peppers and tomatoes. And if healthy eating isn’t a priority add a hot cinnamon roll to your order. You won’t regret it!

And pancakes are always a good idea!
And pancakes are always a good idea!

Main Street and the surrounding area have an impressive selection of delicious things to be consumed – everything from açai bowls to poke bowls to the best burger in Southern California. I’ll cover my favorites in detail in a post focusing on Huntington Beach as a vacation destination sometime in the next few weeks.

Okay… onto the surfing!

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The misty morning began with the horn that announces the beginning of the heat, signaling the surfers to paddle into the line up and start scoping out the incoming swells.

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As we made our way further down the pier the cool, salty ocean air filled our lungs. The breeze out on the pier was just heavy enough to need a sweater and even though it was only 8am and completely overcast I was glad to have sunglasses.

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My dad and I arrived early enough to grab a key spot huddled up next to the professional photographers. Our pictures aren’t in the same league as theirs but they treated us as one of their own – all of us reminiscing about past U.S. Open of Surfing experiences and our predictions for this years events.

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The first surfer that caught our attention was Conner Coffin, last year’s (and spoiler alert this year’s also!) Junior Pro champion from Santa Barbara, California. It turns out Conner has a blog, which you can check out here.

My family followed Conner’s progress throughout the U.S. Open and we were ecstatic to watch him take home the Junior Pro title for a second year in a row the following weekend.

Here are some shots of random surfers we observed from the pier over the next few days.

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Have you visited Huntington Beach? If so, what are your own personal highlights?

Have you ever tried surfing? Would you?

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