Monthly Archives: February 2014

Aliso Beach Storm News 2014


Having to get to North Orange County this morning from the south part of the county, logic told me that the storm would make the freeways an absolute nightmare.  We are projected to get anywhere from 3-6 inches of rain over the next 2 solid days or so making being on the roads a little more perilous than Southern Californians are accustomed to.  So I decided to take Pacific Coast Highway.  While the storm was producing rain and there were big gusts of wind bearing down on the coast, it wasn’t really anything to worry too much about, and I felt like as long as I stayed at a reduced speed and left plenty of space between me and the vehicles ahead of me it would all work out just fine.  When I got into the Dana Point area, the winds started to pick up and the rain got pretty heavy.  Visibility became another variable in already dangerous roads.  The amount of water running through the road and towards storm drains increased the danger of hydroplaning very real.  As the rain blew more sideways and the size and velocity of the drops increased, I really couldn’t see much of anything.  At about that point I noticed the car in front of me slam on its brakes and I had to come to a complete stop.  A large eucalyptus branch had fallen on to South Pacific Coast Highway blocking the left lane and partially obstructing the second lane.  It had just happened.  Fortunately for the truck in front of me and myself, the cars behind us and in the right lane saw this happen and they slowed down to remain safe and allow cars from the left lane to maneuver around the downed tree limb.  The tree fell in the Aliso Beach area of South Pacific Coast Highway near the Montage Resort.  It was a sudden and violent squall of wind and rain and as fast as this all went down the weather event calmed back down. My theory on it being safer on the freeway could very well be misguided now that I think about it.  If those Eucalyptus trees in South Laguna along Pacific Coast Highway are dry and now prone to being dismantled by winter storms, that could make driving the coast in this type of weather a real danger.  It made the drive up the coast more interesting, and yes I had intended to stop off at Aliso Beach to check and see what the storm was doing to the waves.  The rain was coming down so hard, that I could not see anything.  Oh well!  I wasn’t paddling out anyways.  Hopefully this string of late winter storms will place sand bars in spots that give us some memorable surf as the winter season marches towards the closing bell.

Be safe out there today, the roads are dangerous.  South Laguna and the Aliso Beach area was getting pretty torn up by the winds and driving rain so if you can avoid being in this weather, it may be good to catch up on things in doors.

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Exotic Motorcycle


VIP Allaince, Kris, Scorpion P6, Aliso Beach, South Laguna

Kris of VIP Alliance With Scorpion P6 at Aliso Beach Photo Credit: Scotty Carter

One day I was in the parking lot at Aliso Beach talking with Scotty Carter, a dude pulled up into the little bay in the Aliso Beach parking lot that over looks Aliso Creek.  He had this 3-wheel, futuristic looking motorcycle that looked like something out of a Batman movie.  I had never seen one before and I certainly don’t know anyone personally that has one of them.  Scotty was fascinated by the bike so I told him to go take pictures. His name is Kris of VIP Alliance.  VIP Alliance has a slogan of being the “World Leader In Cool” and they might just be right!  Kris is a legit dude.  He had a big smile, a friendly demeanor and he was gracious with his time. We had the opportunity to speak with him about the bike and his work as others flocked to the bike to find out more.    I am quite sure that he rolls up with that bike at other places and he is stopped by people that want to know more about it.  More than just Scotty and I jumped into a conversation about the bike and Kris had more than enough time to talk enthusiastically about this bike and his work in custom bikes.  The dude is impressive, and I think most people who have the opportunity to meet him would speak well of him.  Some took pictures of their kids next to the bike while others wanted to find out about the bike and what it was capable of.  Come to find out, this extraordinary bike was a P6 from Scorpion Motor Sports.  I have since learned that the P6 is a lightweight car that is classified and registered in the United States as a motorcycle.  It gets 40 miles per gallon depending on how crazy you get with the beast, goes 0-60 in 3.5 seconds and tops out at 150 miles per hour!  The thing can move!


Aliso Beach, South Laguna Beach, Kris VIP Alliance, VIP Alliance

Kris of VIP Alliance Following His Dreams Aliso Beach

As his story goes, he got interested in customized motorcycles and custom wheels and he dared to follow a dream to do this kind of work. He parlayed that into a successful business, one that keeps him busy and allows him to do what he loves.  It’s a great story, and it does send a message about following your heart and never, ever letting go of your dreams.  We enjoyed talking with Kris, and what he called his crazy lifestyle.  His adventures as he told them were interesting.  His travels for custom bikes have had him in the Middle East with wealthy Sheiks who have the money to spend, time to play and an interest in having the very best.  Kris loves what he does, and you can tell when he speaks about his work that he is absolutely  living the life he wants to live.  Another interesting aspect to what he has done is that he was a part of the design and production of  the bike ridden in the commercial by the T-Mobile Girl.  You all know the commercials!  You can’t miss Carly Foulkes!

Kris, in talking about his work, passes along an extremely valuable lesson to us all right from Aliso Beach.  Follow Your Dreams!  If you ever want to know more about custom wheels for motorcycles, I suggest you call this man at 1-800 401 -3971.  You will find a very knowledgeable guy, a creative dude with vision, a business owner that believes in what he sells and designs.  He isn’t afraid to enter out into public with the products he offers.  He represents the business and himself well.  When you a buy a product from someone, you want to have the person you buy it from not only talk about it enthusiastically, but also you want them to endorse the quality of the product by using the products themselves.  Kris does all that and more. If you would like to see more on VIP Alliance and their badass custom wheels, click here!


Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach News, Aliso Beach Stories, Aliso Creek, Aliso River, South Laguna Beach, South Laguna Beach News Tagged , , , , , |

Aliso Beach Surf Photographer Etiquette


Aliso Beach, against her will, has unwittingly become a part of a sociological experiment that literally has surf photographers at each other’s throats.  I think it is important to look back to the mid 80’s and remember how untouched this Laguna Beach gem was.  Aliso Beach was not nearly as popular as it is now and there are a number of things that have made this particular beach so popular.  Things that have changed over time that have affected Aliso Beach include:

  1. Aliso Beach is the only beach in Laguna that has a parking lot that is large enough to serve people looking to enjoy a day at the beach.  More people know about that today than ever before, and with parents preferring to go to a beach where parking is not an issue or they don’t have to park up on a hill and cross the dangerous South Pacific Coast Highway, Aliso Beach is a really good choice.
  2. The sport of Surfing has changed.  It used to be that the larger percentage of surfers avoided shore break waves that closed out.  They looked for perfect waves that gave them the opportunity to come out of the tube and give them a run way for cut backs, aerials and acrobatics.  In this day and age, they are attacking every kind of wave along our coast.  Evolution in surfboard materials has definitely contributed to growing enthusiasm for nasty shore break waves like found at Aliso.  Costco and other soft top surfboard retailers and manufacturers have created a more cost effective way to tackle the waves at Aliso Beach.  They are somewhat safer in the waves at Aliso Beach and are much less expensive to replace should an Aliso Beach wave break the board in 2.  Many of these soft top boards come with a liberal replacement policy so these guys aren’t afraid of being out on the streets from replacing their boards.
  3. Skim Boarding has seen a resurgence of popularity at Aliso Beach and with young champion Austin Keane, and his patented dread locks inspiring a generation of young up and coming skim boarders, the beach is often packed with young boys and girls running with boards towards in coming waves.
  4. Small and inexpensive digital cameras have become all the rage at Aliso Beach.  Between all of the Go Pro photographers and the professionals with digital cameras in water housings in the water at Aliso Beach, they are often packed together all trying to out maneuver each other to get the shot.  Honestly, there wouldn’t be half the number of people in the water shooing waves if there wasn’t a a camera like Go Pro because a digital camera like a Canon or Nikon in a water housing would be cost prohibitive. 

It’s the surf photography that is creating the most issues at Aliso Beach at this point.  When the river breaks by itself, or more likely with the surf photographers helping it along, there is this territorialism that is growing as it relates to who should and should not be shooting the river.  It is funny because I am hearing photographers that have been shooting less than 3 years talking about everyone else getting in their way.  Yes, you heard it right.  These guys are all fighting over the waves at Aliso Beach.  I was recently informed of an incident where 4 grown men with Go Pro Cameras teamed up to push out another photographer.  Has it really come to that?  In a few short years, with Go Pro Cameras becoming so popular, and the exposure that Clark Little’s success has given surf photography, you literally have people trying to bully each other in the water.  If you talk to many of these surf photographers, you will find that many of them migrated from a wave riding discipline of one form or another to escape the crowds, localism and heavy competition out in the water.  In switching to photography, they had the ability to separate themselves from the intensity of fighting for waves and enjoy the ocean.  Quickly, the ability to swim away from the competition and just have fun in the waves doing something they love to do, has deteriorated with everyone wanting to shoot the same waves at the same time. Aliso Beach is now a free for all of surf photographers with Go Pros and traditional Digital Cameras, and this convergence of wave enthusiasts in the water all fighting to get the best shots and then run back to post them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and their websites has created animosity between these competing interests that I hear about any time I roll up to Aliso Beach.  Just last week I heard a particular photographer complain about everyone else in the water getting in his way.  I might add that this person has not been a photographer very long and has become possessive of the beach.  What soul who liked to go to this particular beach to escape the non-sense that is every day life in the matrix and concrete jungle wants to deal with that type of energy? Answer:  Nobody in their right mind.  It is amazing to me how human beings act when they feel entitled to something and want it so badly for themselves that they feel it necessary to try and keep it from others.  This type of behavior is not isolated to the beach and surfing communities.  It is everywhere!  The irony in that is that it used to feel like you could go to places like Aliso Beach and be free of that mentality.  Why run to the beach to escape that if the minute you are there you are an unwilling participant in the very behavior you seek relief from?  Perhaps this begs the question of whether or not there should be some sort of codified surf photographer’s etiquette at Aliso Beach

Unfortunately for Aliso Beach, it is right in the middle of the competitiveness that has generated some really negative energy.  So, if there was to be an Aliso Beach Surf Photographer’s Etiquette, what would it look like?

Aliso Beach Surf Photographer’s Etiquette

1) If there is a large crowd of surf photographers in the water at Aliso Beach, there are a handful of logical solutions.  A) Be adventurous and go find another spot in the coves and beaches of Laguna Beach.  B)  Shoot a different area of Aliso Beach. C) Wait until a couple of the photographers in the water leave and then venture out.  D) Come back another day.  In an ultra-competitive sport and industry, for many of these guys it may be too much to ask.  My opinion is that if shooting Aliso Beach was viewed this way, I would hear a lot less of surf photographers bad mouthing and complaining about each other.  

2) Give each other space.  Crowding is a majority of the problem.  There really are no excuses here. You know what your fellow photographers are looking for and understand the positioning required to get the shot.  Why then do you guys all sit right on top of each other?  If this arrangement contributes to the attitude you have towards your fellow photographers I would ask you to consider finding a little spot for yourself and resisting the urge to pile on top of everyone else.

3) Since most of you surf photographers came from a wave riding discipline, why don’t you paddle out a board every so often?  As it stands today, some of you surf photographers at Aliso Beach are just as likely to pick up a board these days as I am to spot Big Foot.  Get back to your roots.  Remember what it was like to enjoy the ocean because clearly this ultra competitive and outmaneuver your fellow surf photographers in the water is making you unhappy.  How do I know this?  I know this because of the angst you express in the parking lot talking about each other, barking at each other and expressing the entitlement you feel towards a spot that belongs to God!  Get back to being stoked and sharing it.

4)  A lot of progress could me made if surf photographers at Aliso Beach decided to yield the right away.  That is a part of our California DMV Handbook and that works to keep us all safe on the roads and signifies courtesy.  This is a courtesy that is lacking today in the waters of Aliso Beach.  Since there are so many of you that want to shoot all at the same time, I would recommend you talk in the water and as a set approaches let another photographer know that you are skipping this set and you are going to work to be completely out of their way.  My belief is that this is a favor and courtesy that will be appreciated and returned.  The truth is that there are a lot of waves at Aliso Beach and one photographer can’t possibly shoot them all.  What can happen is these extended courtesies can lighten the mood in the water, return the stoke and marginalize the angst that many of you feel being in the water at Aliso Beach.  Some of you won’t be able to help yourselves when you see this article and you will mock it and deny the message that is being offered.  No offense guys but I do know what I see and I do know that when you come out of the water all bent out of shape and ripping on each other that I don’t want to be at Aliso Beach.  My guess is that if you had the choice, you would not leave the water with that kind of negativity so save your breath on that!

5)  This particular aspect of surf photographer etiquette may have the biggest impact on Aliso Beach of them all.  I hear many surf photographers complain that others don’t call them to shoot Aliso Beach.  Many of the surf photographers today are former wave riders that have decided they enjoy the solitude and the closeness to nature that being a surf photographer gives them.  They have found that they prefer the water photography to riding because all waves are beautiful but not all waves are suitable for riding.  As a surf photographer, there are simply more waves and at least in theory, surf photographers don’t have to get at each other’s throats to enjoy them.  Wave riding disciplines, like most sports, are activities typically done with friends.  That is part of the problem.  Aliso Beach clearly has limited prime shooting, water, real estate and too many of you who believe you are entitled to it.  What if part of the surf photographer etiquette at Aliso Beach was to discontinue the practice of calling all your photographer friends before coming to the beach?  You all complain about it being too crowded and yet you invite each other down.  You synchronize calendars and call each other on the way.  Are you insane?  You actively contribute to the things that are making you upset at each other enough to spew negative energy at each other.  Stop the madness!  You have more control over the environment that makes you unhappy than you realize.  The change you seek starts with you and if everyone viewed it that way, you would all be happier.

Aliso Beach is a wonderful place.  Aliso Beach is a public beach and is available to all to enjoy.  None of you own Aliso Beach.  Clearly some of you feel that you have been given greater rights than others and the whole point of this piece is to get you to think about whether or not you, as surf photographers, are a big part of the problem and whether or not you hold the power to change it.  It is time to look in the mirror and accept responsibility for contributing to making Aliso Beach less enjoyable.  If everyone looked at suggestions for surf photography etiquette above and made a conscious effort to extend courtesies and visit other spots, then there would be no need to bring this to everyone’s attention.  Whether you like what I am saying or not, it is an absolute fact that I do not find Aliso Beach nearly as enjoyable as I once did and I have been body boarding the place since 1983.  Back then, there was nobody there and the waves with that pier were extraordinarily better than they are now even after you guys all race to see who gets to control the river sand bar.  The cool thing for me is that as long as God humors me and allows me to remember, this walking sack of skin, blood, organs and brain have cherished memories that I treasure.  While I am hopeful for new experiences and memories from Aliso Beach, I can tell you that the way this thing is going, this is not the Aliso Beach I know and love.  Given that many of you express your frustration with each other showing up at Aliso Beach, perhaps Aliso Beach has changed for you too.  Take the advice I give above or don’t.  Think about everything in the larger context of people being good to each other and how making some simple adjustments to your water routines at Aliso Beach as suggested above could make things better for everyone or don’t.  It it really is up to you all.  What is clear to me is that the convergence of the popularity of surf photography and the limited space at Aliso Beach to shoot it’s most photogenic waves has created an increasingly hostile and competitive arena that is making many of you unhappy.  Admit it and do something positive to change it.  If a few of you extend these gestures I know that others will join you.  Maybe then I can return to Aliso Beach to be in and around the water and get the peace and sanctity that I have always counted on getting from this South Laguna Beach Gem!





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Papas Tacos


One of the things we want to do with this website is to promote local South Laguna businesses in the Aliso Beach area.  Aliso Beach is an incredible find in South Laguna and there are small businesses in reasonable distance from the beach that include restaurants, shops, convenience stores and service related businesses.  One of the places that we have talked about is Papa’s Tacos.  I happened to stop off there one foggy morning on my way up PCH to work.  The guy who was manning the front, the owner I presume, was a really cool and friendly guy whom I could see would make a big splash with local patrons.  He was a talkative guy who makes you feel welcome and appreciated and that is a very important element to the success of a restaurant. He talked confidently about the quality of the food and stressed the importance of quality ingredients.  I had a breakfast burrito and it was all that he said it would be.  One of the things I found interesting was the fact that I chose to devour my breakfast burrito 45 minutes after I picked it up and it was piping hot when I opened it. That tells me that not only are they not cutting corners on their ingredients but they have also invested thought and time in how to keep food warm.  We would all agree that it is ideal to pick up food and have it be warm.  The Papa’s Tacos Breakfast Burritos are legitimate and they come highly recommended by the team at AlisoBeach.Com.

We might also agree that one item does not make a menu.  The burrito is fabulous, but, we wanted to dig into other parts of the menu so that we could talk about Papa’s and a number of their menu items.  With 2 experiences with them, I am confident that you will find anything you purchase from them to be of a high quality.  My second dive into the Papa’s Tacos menu was with the Carne Asada Tacos.  The meat was lean and tasty and the onions, cilantro and salsa were clearly fresh.  Again, the tacos as wrapped in their foil wrapper, keeps the food hot to the touch as if it had just come off the grill.  This time I sat back in the Aliso Beach parking lot with a bottle of Mexican Coke (Mexican coke being the thick glass bottle version using cane sugar as opposed to GMO laden corn syrup…it’s so much better!).  I soaked up the scenery at Aliso Beach and had an amazing lunch.

So, there you have it.  Papa’s Tacos now gets our endorsement on the Carne Asada Tacos and the breakfast burrito.  We will report back on our next adventure into this small local restaurant’s menu fully believing in a similar result.  They are that good!


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Aliso Beach News And Notes


Rumor has it that Aliso Beach had a special visitor yesterday, Monday February 17th, 2014.  Actually, it is more than rumor because the source I have is as credible as it gets.  With my work in marketing artists and photographers that focus on beach lifestyle, waves and surfing, I am connected to a who’s who of wave riders, water photographers and beach enthusiasts.  Many of these people are not bashful in calling when something cool happens down at the beach or the waves come up, and they do so knowing full well I have to be at work. That’s okay though, the beach isn’t going anywhere!

The call I received yesterday was from Tom Monroe, a name you may associate with his online photography portfolio and brand as Mokitom.  Tom is an interesting character that I could do a whole separate piece on that would be interesting and worth reading, but I will leave that for another day.  Some stories require an extra attention to detail to honor the people that you cover and Tom Monroe would be one of those people!  I have had the pleasure of getting to know the man a little over the years and he is someone I always look forward to hearing from him.  His first call was just a hello from Aliso Beach yesterday morning with the news of the waves are nothing special.  The fog had a mind of its own yesterday clouding all of South Laguna, and the waves were nothing to get all worked up about.

I was surprised to get a second call from Tom.  When I saw his name and number come across my phone, my immediate reaction was that the surf must have turned on.  While I have no idea if the surf yesterday at Aliso Beach was anything I should feel I missed out on, Tom was excited about a Grey Whale that visited Aliso Beach yesterday.  Having seen Grey Whales in their birthing grounds in Southern Baja, Mexico and studying them, I can say that Tom and Aliso Beach’s special visitor was probably a male Grey Whale making its way back to the arctic feeding grounds.  Typically, the males are the first to leave the Grey Whale Nurseries of Southern Baja with the females hanging back to nurture the young and make sure they are strong enough to make the long journey back to their arctic confines.  Tom was excited to tell me about the whale, and yes Tom, I missed it!  It would have been a sight to see.  I love those things!  Having ventured out into small pangas in the lagoons of Baja with momma and baby whales swimming right beside the boat, you could literally reach out and stroke these massive animals.  Incredibly, the mom’s played a role in pushing babies to the top so that you could touch them.  About the only word I could use to describe this is priceless!  I will never forget it!

If we are lucky, Tom will see this story and offer some of his pictures with links back to his website.  At least that is my hope, but I do understand that what he does is work and that he does spend his time and money trying to capture something amazing.  He is a professional photographer.  Check back to see if that is something we can make happen and watch for Grey Whales traveling north back to their feeding grounds.  They are large, majestic, and beautiful creatures that are seen off the coast of Aliso Beach and all of Southern California on their way north this time of year!

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Treasure Island Pier


Said to be taken down in 1999 at the same time the Aliso Beach Pier was removed, the Treasure Island Pier that was once reserved for residents of the Treasure Island Mobile Home Park was taken down and relegated to memories and photographs.  As enamored as I have always found myself with Aliso Beach, how is it possible that I cannot recall ever setting my eyes on the Treasure Island Pier?  Is it because I was so swallowed up by the waves and experience at Aliso Beach? Is it because I was oblivious?  I really have no explanation for why I can’t remember ever seeing, and certainly ever acknowledging, the existence of this structure.  I was surprised to be stopped dead in my tracks by a 199o’s (can we call that vintage because it’s film?) photograph of a pier in an older file of photography of the Aliso Beach area taken by Scotty Carter.  I had to ask where that was.  To my surprise, I was told that it was the Treasure Island Pier.  At one point, I might have said I am observant.  How on earth did this one get by me?

Treasure Island, Aliso Beach, Treasure Island Pier, Laguna Beach, South Laguna Beach

Aliso Beach Pier before Its Removal

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Two Thumbs Up For Papa’s Tacos


It was a cool and foggy day along the coast in Laguna today with sun poised to make an appearance shortly.  As I came through South Laguna Beach just before PCH makes a descent towards Aliso Beach, I decided I would stop for a breakfast burrito at Papa’s Tacos.  The owner asked if I had been there before so instead of being embarrassed to say that I had not been there in nearly 20 years, I told him that I had not.  I had made the decision to stop there in recent weeks and months but have not found parking on PCH when I was coming through the area.  There is enough traffic to unnerve you as you try and wedge yourself into available parking or parallel park.  Today, I was able to roll right up and get my burrito.

The owner ran the front of this small, takeout Mexican Restaurant.  I don’t know his name but he was a friendly guy and he was confident in the quality of the food  If I heard it right, he even gave me the “Homey Hookup”, on a hot salsa that was better than Tapatio.  Getting back into the car, I had thought about pulling into the parking lot at Aliso Beach but was distracted and missed the parking lot.  For that reason, I decided to drive all the way into North Orange County for work, before digging into my breakfast.

Before I compliment Papa’s Tacos on their food, maybe you would appreciate the customer reviews from their website.  On the way up Pacific Coast Highway, I periodically reached into the bag to make sure it wasn’t getting cold. The burrito was wrapped in that typical paper you find around burritos and take out food and that was sealed in some sort of aluminum or foil like material.  A half hour later, the burrito was still piping hot and to the touch, it felt as if the tortilla and the ingredients had come right off the stove.  The tortilla was fresh and tasted like the kind that does not have preservatives in the.  Please note that I can’t be sure of that so don’t hold me to it.  The beans were incredibly authentic and tasty so let’s assume they cook pinto beans with lard and that is absolutely okay with me.  The salsa that the owner bragged about was different and incredible.  It had a peppery flavor and a hot quality that caught me by surprise a little.  This was great for me because I advocate for salsa’s that make beads of sweat run from your hairline to your eye brows, over the bridge of your nose and on your cheeks.  I love that!

There is much of the menu, I have to get back to so that I can report back.  My immediate hit list provides for attempting their chilaquilles breakfast.  This particular, authentic Mexican dish comes with a ton of scrutiny because my brother in law is from Jalos, Mexico and he makes the most incredible chilaquilles.  I will get back to you on this.  For now, the reputation of authentic Mexican Food remains intact.  The current owner seems to be building on popularity in the community as a local eatery to visit while maintaining a solid grasp of fresh ingredients that lend themselves to authentic Mexican cuisine.

Loved the burrito and see you again soon!

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