Sometimes the Trip is About Your Crew
Updated: Mar 24, 2022
Leaving home. It’s a transition we’ve all made in various forms. Leaving for the day to go to work or go to play. Leaving for college to learn how to become a real life self-sustaining person (or not). Leaving to move across the country or across the world. Or being left by the person or people that make a place home.
I was chatting with my Mom a while ago and she stopped me mid thought to say “You know you just referred to three different places as “home”, right?” I was talking about an approaching trip to see her in South Carolina (coming home), then heading up to Virginia where I’ve lived for the better part of the last 25 years (going home), and then flying back to Hawaii where I’ve lived for the past couple of years (heading back home). She was concerned that I didn’t have a real feeling of being rooted somewhere that felt like “home”. But as we talked through it, she understood that I am actually blessed to have three places that truly are home to me. And in each of those places I have a family.
On Kauai my family is my “Ohana” of friends, neighbors, and coworkers who make each day an opportunity to learn something new, do something different, or meet someone interesting. I am blessed to have an incredible community that has taken me in and made me feel like I belong to this island. That I can call this island my home.
That’s the home I’ve just left. I recruited a very capable caretaker to take charge of my life there, moved my crap out of his way, handed over the keys and said “See you in a year.”
And now I’m off on the first of many adventures with another branch of my extended family. I’m not necessarily “home” unless you roll with the “Home is where the heart is” theory. I’m in Puerto Rico with some of my absolute best friends from my life in Virginia – my Cape Charles Kite Crew. Over the past couple of decades guys have come and gone from the small group of kiteboarders who call the Eastern Shore of Virginia home, but these guys are the core of who we are as a community of riders. We’re missing a couple, but having Sam, MJ, Jon & Erin all together in a place that we’ve grown to love over the years is just awesome. Over the decade or so that we’ve been coming to Puerto Rico, a local kiter named Miguel Angelo has become an integral part of our crew. Erin spends about half the year here, and these two spend a lot of time on the water together, but he’s not just “Erin’s friend” who rides with us, he’s a core part of the team.
It seems that friendships are often as intense as the shared experiences that form them. Kiteboarding in the remote waters of the Eastern Shore is an adventure on the best days… and an odyssey on a bad one. We’ve all been on the water sharing waves and high fives, and watching each other grow as “athletes” having the time of our lives. And we’ve all gotten stuck in the marshes, torn up by oysters, trudged miles down beaches, and hidden from lightning under trees when the conditions shift, change, fail, or just freak out. We’ve broken just about every piece of gear you could imagine, patched it up, tied a few knots in things, and jumped back on the water to finish the run.
There are plenty of days when all we do is drive from one spot to another looking for wind, trying to read the tea leaves of what Mother Nature is stirring up, and telling stories as we chase our tails around in circles just hoping to catch that elusive bit of wind that might bless us in the middle of the hot, humid Chesapeake summer.
It turns out that not only do these experiences create a very strong foundation for a tight web of friendships, they were also pretty good preparation for this particular trip to Puerto Rico.
Over the years we’ve been extremely spoiled by the conditions here. The wind blows every day. There are waves everywhere. The water is sparkling blue, and the wind and water gods smile upon us in our endeavors.
This year they decided to test us. There were teasers of wind. We did get to ride. We had some epic fun on water. But we drove around a lot. A whole lot. We saw more of Puerto Rico this week than we have in 10 years. Don’t get me wrong - we had a blast doing it. I guarantee that we had the most fun of any mini-van full of idiots on the island. We found remote beaches, tried to empty the rum stocks of remote bars, waded out the water with our hands in the air trying to figure out “Is this wind? It feels like wind. But is it really wind?”, and scrolled through google maps trying to find quirks in the coastline and mysterious dirt roads that fit into our visions of finding perfect wind and perfect waves to go along with the perfectly happy brotherhood of kiters we have bouncing around Puerto Rico in a perfectly ridiculous mini-van maxed out beyond capacity with kite gear.
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