Category Archives: Aliso Beach Waves

Dude Offered Me A Taco



I was surprised this morning how much energy was in the water at Salt Creek today.  It wasn’t huge but it was fairly consistent and punchy.  The bulk of the morning I spend body boarding the shore break with friends.  After a couple of hours and an influx of new eager wave riders, I decided to exit the liquid stage.  My friends decided to whether the crowd increase for about an hour longer and I strolled up the hill cursing under my breath as I often do at that very steep hill.  I was already cramping and tired before the incline delivered a final blow to my desire to exert myself physically.

As I often do, I run into members of the Salt Creek Community.  There are some truly amazing people from a variety of wave riding disciplines that I have enjoyed surfing with and talking to over the years.  Ezra rolled up and parked his car in between the traffic lanes going each direction to check the waves.  We had a 15 minute conversation that included how Salt Creek was more like a community than a public beach because of how many wave riders have surfed this beach for a long time and many people know each other from over the years.  He said, ” I wonder if it is like that at other beaches?”.  I would like to believe so but know that Salt Creek is a special place.

He parked in the lot and proceeded to strike up a conversation with a pretty gal and I waited for my friends to limp up the hill from their surf session.  After chatting with everyone for 20 minutes, hunger kicked in and they all zipped down PCH to Chronic Tacos.  We all agreed to get back to the coast and check Aliso Beach in Laguna due to a rapidly draining tide that favors the shore break.  I headed up to Laguna Hills to get a juice at Mother’s Market and do some shopping.

Jack beat me to Aliso and had already rained on my parade texting me that it was too small.  I was already headed there so I decided to give it a look anyways.  The winds were perfect and the water was a sparkling blue-green.  I was on the phone with Scotty Carter telling him that conditions were perfect minus the surf.  When I told Scotty I thought it was 3 foot a guy cooking at one of Aliso’s barbecue pits said, “Nah, it’s like 6 foot out there right now!”  I laughed and politely told him not today.  He went on to make a comment about how rough it was to which I explained, “that is Aliso Beach.”  He offered me a canned beer that I declined telling him, “Thank you, but no I recently quit.  Nobody likes a quitter”.  He laughed and said, ” You aren’t all that bad”.  I showed my appreciation and continued down to the water’s edge.

There were waves for sure.  It was possible even to ride them with travel time in the barrel but just not enough energy to compel me to paddle out.  There were gentle offshore winds, beautiful water color and glassy conditions.  The winds were feathering back these little wedging peaks back so I snapped a couple of photos on my IPhone.  Knowing I would not paddle out there I walked back up the sand berm and made my way toward the dude that offered me the beer.  I told him to watch for lifeguards and Laguna Beach Police Department whom I have seen write tickets for alcohol on the beach.  He appreciated that and then the dude offered me a taco.  Regrettably I had to decline.  I was so full from a large juice and a couple of organic food bars from Mother’s that I could not eat anything more.  I felt bad for having to decline.  He had the chicken perfectly barbecued and all the fixings for a taco meal and told him everything looked great.

Call me an old sap but that generous offered seemed like the world that has long passed us by.  We are so technologically connected and so inter-personally disconnected that  friendly encounters like that seem so far and few between.  It saddens me.  They were very nice people and I enjoyed talking to them.  It is those types of dealings with strangers that gives the world hope and we all should take note of how small conversations between strangers lead to meaningful dialogue and friendships. In a perfect world, the dude offered me a taco and I was hungry.  In today’s world, this afternoon at Aliso Beach, I had already eaten and wasn’t hungry.  I do appreciate their gesture and hope that people take note of this and look to have conversations like this wherever they go.  They mean so much more than we give them credit for.

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Road Rash



It’s not what you think!  I didn’t wipe out on a mountain bike, skateboard, roller blades or motorcycle, but the result was the same.  It was painful reminder from Mother Nature that we are not always in control!


road rash, scrapes, cuts, wounds

Road Rash from Aliso Beach Beat Down

Yesterday, I met up with a friend to go body board Salt Creek when the reports were less than ideal from wave riders coming up from the beach.  Between Saturday and Sunday Morning, the swell had increased, became more westerly, and by consequence, became more closed out. We figured we could come back if we absolutely had no other alternative.  It was 86 degrees, the sun was shining and there was little or no wind down at the coast.  We decided to head up to Aliso Beach.  I must admit, Aliso has not been on my radar and the last time I was there had to be before my terrible car accident in June.  There were whispers of quality surf there the day before, but as Salt Creek proved, what a difference a day can make when it comes to surf.

The aqua green-blue water that is a hallmark of the beautiful Laguna Beach Coastline, was glassy smooth and inviting.  The tide was a bit on the high side when we arrived so it had that wonky Aliso Beach look that only a much lower tide would correct.  We had time on our side without the threat of a late morning onshore wind to get in the way of our plans.  As 3 of us stood on the beach, the tide continued to recede and an occasional wave or two would peel through that motivated me to paddle out.  Having successfully worn trunks the day before at Salt Creek, I was excited once again to leave the wet suit out of the equation.  Because I feel so weighed down by the extra neoprene, it was great to once again be in 67 degree water unencumbered.  It was November 13th!  For the last 3 years I have been in the water without a wet suit during November.  Crazy!

With trunks and rash guard I plunged into the Pacific by myself leaving two friends on the beach trying to will themselves into less than ideal conditions.  There must have been 3 guys out in the lineup spread way out with a couple of skim boarders lining the shore and doing their thing.  I got a couple of waves right away and I expected my friends to paddle out.  It was decent size and it kept improving as time went by with plenty of racey waves of consequence.  As I continued to get waves and the soft top surfing crew started to paddle out and push me further north.  I continued to get decent waves. After I had been out about an hour and a half, I decided to get out to find out if my bros had abandoned me for better waves reported at another spot.  I was a little salty.

When I got to the parking lot, I noticed by friend’s SUV still in the parking lot.  He must have gone out, I thought to myself.  After putting my body board and fins away, I walked south along the parking lot and spotted my friends.  Had it not been for two or three perfect waves coming through, I would have called it a day.  On my second wave, a chunky right popped up and my friends were hooting me in.  It was a boomeranging wave that slung me pretty good.  I knew the thing was going to heave and after I got about 20 yards it unleashed its inner beast mode and  began to hollow out quickly.  I saw it coming and was perfectly slotted when the thing closed out and slammed me to the bottom on my back.  After having a fin lost to the ocean, the wave violently dragged me over some rocks and I knew that I was cut.  Most likely the rocks came from Aliso Creek and migrate south towards the reef with predominant West and West Northwest Swell Directions.  It felt like someone dragged me over a reef forcefully while lying on my back.  Yep, it was good old fashioned road rash on my lower back.  It kind of sucks!  I suppose that it could have been worse because that wasn’t the only thing that happened middle part of the beach that was alarming.  You will have to read my next post to find out what that means.  Until then I am lubed up with Neosporin and hoping that the road rash goes away quickly. It stings and is uncomfortable, but that wave was worth every scrape I got!  Be careful out there!

And yes….I know crack kills!  When I had the picture taken I was less concerned about my crack and more concerned about the severity of the injury.  It didn’t feel so good!


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Foam Top Board Carnage


With a high surf advisory in effect, there were a lot of eyes on south orange county beaches looking for good waves.  Predictably, Aliso Beach had heavy shore break waves that were good enough for wave riders to tame a few beasts.  The first thing I noticed when I crossed the sidewalk to the sand from the parking lot was a foam top surf board in two pieces leaning against a trash can.  It took less than 5 minutes of watching a 5 pack of two body boarders and 3 foam top board surfers to see a young dude get swallowed up by a good size barrel and crack his foam top board in two.  When the surf gets that big, and knowing how coming out of a barrel at Aliso Beach is rare, it is not difficult to wrap the mind around foam top board carnage. Yesterday’s conditions were a perfect recipe for leaving the beach with a foam top in two pieces. The resulting foam top board carnage should be surprising to no one.

In between the fellas trying not to crack their foam tops in half, local Wedge rider Whale was gliding into some big rights with impressive style.  His effortless drop knee take offs and barrel travel time were incredible to watch.  Having been a friend of Henry Long for decades, I really appreciate the way Whale attacks rights in a drop knee stance.  Every time I looked back out at the lineup while talking to a friend on the sand there Whale was picking off some of the best waves I saw that afternoon.  I would say he concluded his surf session very happy.  The guy was absolutely ripping!

I don’t know what the return policy is on these foam top boards but it has to be a pain in the you know what to be constantly breaking them.  With a high surf advisory expected to last until 6:00 pm this evening, I would be shocked if there weren’t the remains of additional form boards today.  Hopefully, I can get out of work in time to go get a few myself this afternoon.

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Austin Keen


Austin Keen

Austin Keen With Sombrero

Austin Keen may have the most well known dreadlocks in the wave riding community of Southern California.  When I first saw this skim boarder, I was sitting in the south corner of Aliso Beach trying to catch a wave or two with friends in between the skim boarders connecting the side waves to peaks at Aliso Beach.  There Austin was pumping his board and getting to solid peaks effortlessly with his dreadlocks bouncing along the way. It is hard to miss a guy like that. He is an elite talent and he makes skim boarding look easy.  Honestly, there is nothing easy about this sport. It takes athleticism, quickness, good judgment, balance, timing, core strength and surfing ability.  I was talking to a friend on the beach as we watched Austin take on some mean Aliso Beach shore break and when I mentioned to her how easy Austin made it look she said, “The good ones do”!  Indeed!

I don’t know a whole lot about Austin but what I do know speaks to the kind of person he is.  He possesses a good nature and is friendly.  Despite his taking skim boarding by storm as a transplant from the East Coast, there is nothing arrogant or pretentious about him.  Those who know him, including professional photographer Adeeb Howrani who is a close friend of mine, speak very highly of him. I believe that with a group of core skim boarders in Laguna Beach, Austin Keen is contributing nicely to inspiring a young up and coming generation of skim boarders that has the sport in a great place and with a bright future.

The waves yesterday were heavy at Aliso Beach.  I watched skimmers choose waves and then have trouble with their carves once they connected to the incoming peaks. It seemed like the distance that some had to travel to meet the incoming wave sucked the momentum out of the run making the ability to aggressively carve back into a wave to difficult. It was like they were dead in their tracks and not able to make the carve and back down the wave for a ride. Then there was Austin Keen sliding out to waves with style and fanning spray back as he carved back towards shore and dropped into the barrel.

Photographer Scotty Carter thought it would be a great idea for Austin Keen to take a run with a sombrero.  He looked like he was headed for a fiesta!  Don’t ask why but the Fast Times at Ridgemont High quote from Spiccoli comes to mind where he says to Mr. Hand, “Certainly there is nothing wrong with a little fiesta on our time”!  That is still funny to me today!  So Austin slapped the hat on over his dreads and waited patiently for a wave.  Given the lack of comfort with that hat he scanned the water for the right wave. He spotted a foamy inside one with nice size and went sprinting towards the incoming wall with board ready to drop. He slid out to the wave and whipped a nice carve off the top, ducked under a curtain of white water, came out briefly and then was swallowed with sombrero in a nice close out barrel.  I am not sure that will ever happen again but it was entertaining to watch. Maybe  the VIC Skim Board Championship but[probably won’t ever, have a sombrero wearing skim board contest.  Austin Keen has already thrown his hat in the ring!


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Aliso Beach Tropical Rains


For surf, wave riders that frequent Aliso Beach and Laguna coves north and south of it,  we have been stuck in this doldrums of small waves over the last month and a half which I would characterize as a slap in the face by El Nino. Truth be told, El Nino can strike out and we are off to a very slow start.  With a  stingy high pressure system in the South Pacific, swell generating storms are not making it into the Aliso Beach and Southern California Window so we have all placed a lot of hope on our dear friend Hurricane Delores.

We have heard all week that Hurricane Delores was going to deliver and it looks like as of today, that she will deliver on one of those promises.  All of the talking heads on channels 2,4,5, 7 and 9 have been yapping about how we would get rain from the hurricane.  I can attest that we are experiencing Aliso Beach tropical rains and yes we are talking about measurable precipitation.  The ground is wet and given our extended drought, I would love to see more of this. Rain was given a 50% chance of happening today and 30% tomorrow so let’s hope that we get enough water to rejuvenate some of the plant life and landscapes that have become rather crispy during this drought and Southern California water regulations.  As I type this the rain has begun to fall more aggressively and I am enjoying the cool and refreshing air.

Since we are talking about a decent shot of rain here, I would like to remind everyone of the dangers of Aliso Creek.  Runoff that is seeping into Aliso Creek will bring with it motor oils, brake dust, pesticides and various pollutants from our streets.  Experts warn swimmers and recreational ocean water enthusiasts to avoid contact with ocean water for 72 hours after a rain event.  Aliso Beach tropical rains are welcomed with open arms but may dampen any surf we get from Hurricane Delores.   I read that the Brooks Street Surf Contest in Laguna was cancelled due to small surf and the potential for lightning.  I know some of you will ignore warnings and be out there anyways so be careful.  There is a possibility I will be out there so I am not passing judgment!

While the storm did bring rain as promised, the surf appears to be lagging behind.  All week I have been staring at the Aliso Beach Surf Reports hoping for some sort of magic to finally arrive. Predictions ranged from 3-5 foot to 6-8 foot for waves for Saturday, Sunday and into Monday.  The waves are small today.  Needless to say there is a lot of disappointment in the weakening of the storm that has caused it to under-perform in the wave generation department.  As for the storm, it delivered Aliso Beach tropical rains and it appears it will give us a quick shot of tropical surf for Sunday and quickly leave us as if it were never real.  After the departure of tropical surf we are then  back to a pattern of marginal surf for a spell.  Thank you for the rain Delores, perhaps your path will inspire larger storms with better wave making talents!

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Aliso Beach Surf


So it appears that we may get enough energy from Hurricane Delores to wake up Aliso Beach surf.  The much anticipated storm finally got into Southern California’s swell window as a Category 3 hurricane with sustained wind speeds above 100 miles per hour.  The storm has taken it’s time moving out from the shadow of the tip of Baja and hugging the peninsula as it slowly moves northwest and comes apart in cooler offshore waters and increased vertical wind shear.

Since spring and early summer, Aliso Beach surf has been nothing to high five over.  While I am sure there have been plenty of playful days for the local skim board crew, the surfing and body boarding community would prefer to see Aliso Beach surf off the sand and shore. A few days ago,  I listened to a local body boarder complain about the aggressive nature of Aliso Beach skim boarders and it struck me as funny! I am all for surfing etiquette and making sure that the unspoken rules of  wave priority are followed in some utopian system of fairness, but the complaining party, lost in his own negativity, fails to understand a few things.  Aliso Beach is for the most part a skim board beach. We would all like to get more Aliso Beach surf but the waves aren’t tailor made for body boarding or surfing and without that pier, the days of waves suitable for body boarding and surfing are far and few between.  Sure enough, this particular body boarder was in the south corner of Aliso Beach where refraction of water and side waves make for the best skimming conditions around. To me, Aliso Beach has historically and is presently a skim board beach. There is a saying in urban sports that says don’t hate the players hate the game.  What I am getting at is don’t hate the skim boarders because nature makes the beach more conducive to skim boarding.  That is nothing that body boarders or skim boarders control and it is what it is.  Honestly, I love watching those guys skim and I just tip my hat to them because they are extremely talented down at Aliso Beach.

So we will see what the weekend bares.  There will either be Aliso Beach surf that works for different types of wave riders or there won’t.  I know there will be a lot of people checking it out hoping that conditions are fun.  They may or may not be.  Aliso Beach surf is predicted to be in the 4-6 foot range Sunday and Monday, and I, like everyone else, would love it if Aliso Beach was good enough to paddle out in good sized waves.  We will see!

You may check the Aliso Beach Surf Report at and you can view current conditions on the Aliso Beach Web Cam.  Enjoy the weekend of waves and be safe out there!

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Aliso Beach Surf Report


There are many more terms for Aliso Beach in South Laguna than I could have ever imagined.  Aliso, Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Laguna, Aliso Beach South Laguna, Aliso Creek, Aliso Beach Park, Aliso Creek Beach, Aliso Creek Beach South Laguna and others are used to identify the same place.  My preference is Aliso Beach but these are the ways surf reports and beach goers talk about this amazing South Laguna Beach.  This one beach with many names has experienced a drought for waves and after this week per Solspot, we could go into an extended funk and lack of waves if something doesn’t rescue us in the tropical Northern Hemisphere spots that express deliver waves with hurricanes.

It seems as though there hasn’t been enough swell to awaken Aliso Beach in over a month.  Unlike Salt Creek, Aliso is not as receptive to smaller swells and waves driven by localized winds over the outer waters.  Realistically, Aliso Beach needs to be a solid 4 foot plus or greater to really do much of anything at all and it takes much lower tides to deliver any sort of wave quality.  Often times when Aliso Creek is let out by local youth, less than desirable conditions get a boost from newly formed sand bars.  The problem is that while we have had lots of smaller swells, Aliso Beach hasn’t been particularly responsive to the energy.

Aliso Beach, Aliso Creek Beach, Aliso Creek Beach South Laguna

Below Sea Level Photo Credit: Scotty Carter

This week we have influx of swells out of the south, southwest with wind swell mixing in.  It doesn’t seem to be enough to awake Aliso Beach from its summer slumber but who knows.  I will be giving it a look.  To make matters worse, the coast is under drizzling and misting weather that is putting a little unwanted texture on the water and waves with winds out of the southwest.  This will coincide with predicted wave heights 3-4 occasional 5 foot waves throughout the week with a boost Wednesday and Friday with an effect that is to be determined.  After the weekend it appears the Southern Hemisphere and tropics will care even less and go back to napping so whatever Aliso Beach gets this week may be it for a couple of weeks short of some small, dribbling waves out of the south as storms continue to buckle under the might of high pressure and blocked by the swell muffling tendencies of South Pacific Islands.

What we do know is that summer is far from over and that Aliso Beach will have its days.  Until nature assists though, Aliso Beach will have surf that is small and uninspiring.  It seems rather strange with the early hurricanes last week of May and into June and an El Nino condition confirmed by most scientists and meteorological talking heads as forming in 2015.  Of course, no one can perfectly predict the effects of this warm water event and counter to the expected warm water along our coast, local ocean temperatures have not reached bath water just yet.  We will get waves and Aliso Beach will benefit from those swells.  How long it will take is anyone’s guess but my expectation is that before long, El Nino will have its say in the quality and strength of swells hitting Aliso Beach through the end of summer and into fall.  For now, here is your surf report and forecast from Solspot for Aliso Creek Beach South Laguna!


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New Aliso Beach Phone Cases


New Aliso Beach Phone Case, Aliso Beach Phone Case, Aliso Beach IPhone Case,

Aliso Beach IPhone Case

A couple of weeks ago we got a request for new Aliso Beach Phone Cases courtesy of Scotty Carter that we had never printed for.  Printing is both fun and addicting and I suppose that it will never get old.  This particular order came from the East Coast.  The cool thing is that the order isn’t coming from the surf photography and wave riding community in Orange County, California where everyone is cannibalizing each other’s businesses.  Given that everyone is enjoying wave photography out here and trying to make a run at legitimizing the work as a business, it is refreshing to see someone not connected in any way to the Southern California surf scene reach out and say those are beautiful and please send me some.  Needless to say I will be very happy when these new Aliso Beach Phone Cases leave for the Pennsylvania today.

The images chosen weren’t any images we had tried before.  Truthfully, I always expect Scotty Carter’s work to translate well because it always does with how hard he works to present Aliso Beach in its finest light and how much attention to detail he brings in the preparing to print process.

There are two new Aliso Beach Phone Cases.  The first one is called Divine Light and the second is called Green Back!  If you love Aliso Beach and you are aware of the damage at this beach as a result of high surf driven by Hurricane Marie, these new Aliso Beach phone cases might just be a better way to remember one of your favorite Laguna Beaches.

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Hurricane Marie Waves Trash Aliso Beach


3 days of incredible hurricane driven waves trash Aliso Beach with heavy surf and higher tides.  This is so much the case that some of the South Orange County Beaches in the Laguna area including Aliso Beach, have significantly changed.  With Hurricane Marie waves in the 8-15 foot range and sometimes bigger for 3 days, the beach erosion has been significant, and the damage to Aliso Beach is quite a spectacle.  In all my years chasing waves in this area, I have never seen the kind of damage that Hurricane Marie has provided.  As I stared at the beach and noticed the drastic changes to the beach I was left speechless.  They are calling Hurricane Marie waves the South Swell of the decade.  You won’t get any argument from me there.

One of the most notable differences to Aliso Beach post high surf from Hurricane Marie is the loss of sand.  The beach has been beaten back by the powerful waves with tons of sand leaving Aliso and pulled out to sea.  Left standing is a 4 foot sand cliff that stretches a couple of feet from the sidewalk that borders the beach.  A fire ring fell victim to the pounding waves sliding down the remaining beach sand and into the water.  Most of the south end of the beach is now rocky and again, these are rocks I have never seen in my years enjoying Aliso Beach.

The most alarming part of the damage caused by Hurricane Marie Waves at Aliso Beach is the exposure of pilings from the old pier.  One particular hacked off pier piling has a piece of metal rebar protruding from the old pier stump that looks like it could impale someone.  No joke, it is that concerning.  Many years back the County of Orange decided a complete rebuild was unnecessary because the beach was better without a pier.  This was amid a Bankruptcy for Orange County and they had just found out from a consulting company that the pier would have to be rebuilt from scratch rather than the Coastal Commission Approved renovation that would cost millions less.

At the end of the day, if there wasn’t the money to rebuild the pier so be it.  My question is why didn’t the pier get fully removed.  As a wave rider at Aliso Beach, I now have to be concerned about where those pilings are.  That is pretty scary to be honest.  Hurricane Marie Waves have revealed a few skeletons in the closet for those responsible for the take down of the pier.  Rumor has it there is no plan to do anything to remove the newly exposed pilings from a time gone by long ago.  It now presents a danger and safety issue for skimmers, surfers, body boarders and swimmers.  Perhaps the beach will use natural movements of sand to bury the past once again.  For now, the eye sore and the danger is one of many issues facing Aliso Beach post Hurricane Marie Waves and we are all left to wonder how long it will be until this beautiful Laguna Beach heals itself and returns to normal.


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Aliso Beach High Surf


As predicted, Aliso Beach in Laguna, California had double overhead waves today and despite the fact that two brave souls paddled out and were surfing the mean shore break, that wasn’t the most interesting thing that I saw.  Don’t get me wrong, those two guys have some serious stones to paddle out and both were well above average surfers, but the state that waves driven by Hurricane Marie overnight left the beach in was nothing short of astounding.

With the Aliso Beach High Surf, the beach has been reduced to a shell of itself.  The sand is either sucked off the beach and out into the water or in the parking lot from the higher tides.  It is interesting to note that I have seen big waves at Aliso Beach but I have never seen the beach more torn up than I saw it this morning.  The south end of the beach was reduced to rocks.  Sand, debris and water pushed into the coastal lot at the beach.  Perhaps most shocking was the exposure of old pier pilings from the pier that was removed in 1998.  I have not seen those in decades so I was completely taken aback when I saw the cement pilings with exposed metal coming out of them.  Those could leave a mark!  Fletcher of OC Parks was down there photographing them so that they could note the location of the now dangerously exposed pilings.  I don’t know how far under the sand they were buried and am curious as to how long it will take for the sand to swallow them up and bury them to levels that makes wave riding in that area safe.  Yes, those things may be a legitimate safety hazard moving forward.

Aliso Beach high surf is predicted to stick around for a couple of days amid varying reports as to the peak of this massive hurricane swell.  Waves are being reported in the 8-15 foot range with the Wedge said to be topping out above 30 feet. Rumor has it that some of the surfers braving wedge had flotation devices in case they were to become exhausted or injured in the pounding waves.  One thing is for certain, it will take the natural ocean processes to restore Aliso Beach back to the way it was and that may take a little while.  With another couple of days of massive waves predicted, Aliso Beach High Surf will continue to wreak havoc on the beach and be dangerous to wave riders and casual observers that venture to close to the water’s edge.

You may check out the pics I took this morning from the beach in the slideshow in this piece.


aliso high surf Marie 1.JPGAliso High Surf Marie 2.jpgAliso High Surf Marie 3.jpgAliso High Surf Marie 4.jpgAliso High Surf Marie 5.jpg


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