Tag Archives: Aliso Beach Story

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.

Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Park, Aliso Beach Surf, Aliso Beach Waves Also tagged , , |

Aliso Beach Yelp Review Bad Karma



Do you believe in karma? As for myself, I am not sure it works like that perfectly but a bee sting days after a particular review I made of people that made somewhat unflattering Yelp reviews of the Aliso Beach I love.  Those rants and complaints I thought were not fair or justified I chose to poke a little humor at.  Here is the review that I attribute the Aliso Beach Yelp Review Bad Karma too!

Aliso Beach Yelp Review 5

The trash is overflowing and obnoxious bees frequent the trash can and snack bar areas.

My Response:  There has been a lot of buzz around Aliso Beach this summer and it isn’t just the fact that Hurricane Waves have torn the beach up and caused a lot of damage. My first thought is given the loss of bees and the mysterious colony collapse disorder which threatens the insect most responsible for our blooming and food bearing plants, the presence of bees is a good thing.  While I respect the role bees play in food, I, like you, do not want to be on the wrong side of a stinger and when I throw trash away hope to get them to buzz off.  It is a little obnoxious and I would be concerned too if allergic to bees. As for the trash cans always overflowing I am going to chalk that up as a busy day at the beach and a rare occurrence. Maintenance at this beach is consistent and timely so I stand by my statement that the County of Orange does a great job keeping Aliso Beach nice!

It is important to note that I have never, ever been stung by a bee while in the water.  How on earth does that happen?  Having been in and around the coastal waters of Laguna Beach as a wave rider for decades I have experienced stinging like sensations from nettles that have broken away from jelly fish and have occasionally had something end up on me that bites that some have attributed to sea lice.  I have no idea if they are right on the sea lice thing but I can assure you that I have never been stung by a honey bee in the ocean.

So I am paddling through the blown out conditions at Salt Creek and I have this prick and stinging sensation to follow that immediately grabs my attention.  It was an immediate response of “Ouch!  That hurt”!  I look down and there is what appears to be a honey or Africanized Bee wiggling its behind and depositing it’s stinger in my left forearm.  I laughed at a friend who stepped on a bee on the hill walking back to the car a couple of weeks previously which probably only added to the Aliso Beach Yelp Review Bad Karma.  I quickly brushed away the bee whom I had wished made better use of its stinger.  As you may know, the stinger is a great deterrent for predators that understand buzzing to come with the risk of a sting but then ends the life of bees.  Perhaps the little fella was confused and when he found himself on a living being in the ocean the only instinct it could think of was to sting me.  So the bee dies and my arm swells up and itches for a couple of days.  To me, the bee was the loser in this interaction.  I would have carried the thing back to shore if I could have!  It seems to me we need all of those bees we can help survive.

Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach honey bee, aliso beach park, aliso creek beach

Aliso Beach Honey Bee

The Yelp Review above wasn’t bad really in any way but it did compel me to inject a little humor.  Beaches do tend to have yellow jacket and bee issues with trash cans that are open faced, missing lids or overflowing to the point of trash hanging out the lid of the can.  At Aliso Beach, the trash cans have a lid that is open and it contributes to the bee problem that the Yelp Reviewer objects to.  She is allergic and worries about the health of young family members that are also allergic.  The county may want to look into trash cans with a closing lid as well as having a second pick up for trash during busy summer days and weekends.  I have seen the problem and agree that it happens.

If there was a situation of Aliso Beach Yelp Review Bad Karma perhaps this is it.  I for one don’t think it is the case, but just as I found a little humor in the Yelp Reviews of Aliso Beach, I find humor in getting stung by a bee right after I poke a little fun at the review.  My recommendation to this beach goer providing the Aliso Beach Yelp Review is to come back to the beach she otherwise enjoys.  With summer crowds gone, less trash produced on the beach and delivered to the trash cans, and the Fall Season, this is a great time of year to enjoy Aliso Beach.


Posted in Salt Creek, South Laguna Beach, South Laguna Beach News Also tagged , , , |

Special Glasses Found


The AlisoBeach.Com is a fairly new website.  Although the ranking of the website is decent for the age of the website, it is still buried back on page 3 and not as easy to find as others.  I am not sure how a distressed mother found me but I got an interesting request for help Sunday August 3rd, 2014 which ended in special glasses found.  This is an awesome story that should put a smile on everyone who reads it.  This story will start with the note sent by the mother of a special needs boy pleading for help finding a medically important set of  prescription glasses.

Here is the email:

From: Nella <xxxxxxxxxxx@yahoo.com>
Subject: Baby glasses lost

Message Body:
My name is Nella. I visited Aliso beach on Monday this week. On Monday we lost my son’s glasses, they have a brown frame, baby size. I was hoping someone returned them to the cafe. I tried to call the cafe but was not able to find a number. If you could please please help me by contacting them I would really appreciate it, my son just had eye surgery so must wear his glasses so that the eyes won’t go back to crossing. Please help, my number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. Thank you!

I read through this email pretty quickly and was eager to help.  Catching the message on my IPhone, I may have somehow missed that the day that the special glasses were lost was the previous Monday.  I called Nella to tell her that I was heading to Laguna and that I would check with the lifeguards and the Snack Bar at Aliso Beach.  This is when I found out that her son Matthew had Cerebral Palsy and very special needs. He recently had a surgery to correct a condition that crossed his eyes and really needed those glasses. Sadly enough, neither the lifeguards nor the snack bar staff had seen the glasses.  Because I was thinking that the glasses were lost the day prior, I sifted through the sand where Nella indicated they sat on the beach on that day with an enthusiasm and belief that I would find them in the sand.  It turned up nothing.  Helping Nella and her son out was something I had hoped would produce a much happier result.  I called Nella to tell her that I came up empty. It saddened me.  I was determined to help her despite the lack of good news and offered to help her purchase a new pair of glasses.  Apparently the larger problem with the glasses is the time it takes to work through the insurance company to get a new pair made and delivered.  Thirty days is the wait time with the alternative to the glasses being the need to put eye patches over Matthew’s eyes.  The thought of a child in darkness and not able to see his mother and father tugs at the heart and I would not let this go.

I was down but was not out.  Having spent a lot of time in the water at Aliso Beach for nearly 3 decades, I decided to lean on friends that also spend time in the water at Aliso.  I tagged a bunch of Aliso Beach wave riders with a post asking for help and not surprisingly, there was willingness to try and help. Brennan Clarke, an Aliso Beach Surfer known for tackling the biggest waves this Laguna Beach produces, talked about going down to see maintenance on the beach. This was crucial because it helped crack the code of the different entities that work at Aliso Beach that could help in tracking down the glasses.  I see the trucks every time I am down there but had not given that any thought.

On Monday, I left several messages down at OC Parks the county organization responsible for overseeing and maintaining Aliso Beach.  I got no response although I think Monday is an off day for the office manager. On Tuesday after a second and third message I heard back from Supervisor Steve Bonhall who told me he would talk to his employees as well as De Soto which helps keep the beach clean with trash removal.

On that Tuesday I sent the following email to Steve:

Hi Steve,


Thank you kindly for getting back to me.  Matthew is my new friend and he needs our help! As I have indicated he has cerebral palsy and recently had a surgery to correct an eye issue that requires this pair of special glasses.  I know it may be a long shot but maybe a little extra effort on our part is all that we need.  I am hopeful anyways and appreciate your agreeing to help.


Matthew is pictured in the attachment with glasses!  Thank you very much!



Rob Brack

Website Founder

I included in the email an attachment of a picture of Matthew with his glasses so that I could humanize the glasses and story as well as  give more importance to the need to find the special glasses. Steve told me he would email me if he had any luck and email me he did.  He said that he thought he found them but needed to see a better picture of the glasses.  I gave him Nella’s number and as it turns out, the glasses belong to the little guy and I couldn’t have been happier.

Fletcher, OC Parks, Fletcher finds special glasses, Aliso Beach

OC Parks Fletcher Finds Young Boy’s Special Glasses!

I confirmed the good news with Nella and offered to drive them up to Alhambra as soon as I picked them up.  This morning I had the pleasure of shaking hands with Steve Bonhall after I rudely interrupted his meeting with staff down at OC Parks in Dana Point Harbor.   He explained to me that his guy Fletcher had them in his truck.  With glasses in hand, I drove Pacific Coast Highway and decided to stop off at Aliso Beach in search of Fletcher.  As I drove south in the coastal parking lot at Aliso Beach, I noticed a tall guy with a pony tail getting sand out of the parking lot.  In my mind I was thinking that this had to be the guy!  It was!  The facilities at Aliso Beach are always so neatly groomed and Fletcher is definitely a big part of the pride OC Parks works with in keeping Aliso Beach a desirable place to visit.  I shook his hand thanking him while explaining the importance of these glasses to this family and young boy.  Semi-reluctantly, he agreed to take a picture with the glasses he found that I am using in this story.  I did this because I wanted to put a face to the most important person in making this happen.  Humanizing a story is important in my opinion because the events that unfolded to get glasses back to Matthew involved real people that cared enough to help a family and a child.  It sends a powerful message!  Fletcher explained that the OC Parks has a policy for items found on the beach that appeared to be valuable.  He put them in the truck and the glasses slipped his mind.  He made sure that I knew that someone else played a role in this.  The glasses were placed by an unknown angel on the metal rail in the snack bar area so someone that could help would find them.

Today the glasses found their way into the hands of FedEx and will deliver to a family and young boy tomorrow.  The thought of eye patches and darkness for Matthew really gnawed at me.  I did not want that for Matthew and nor would I for any child.  I thank God for the opportunity to help and am deeply grateful to the parties that all offered to help to make this happen.  August 6th, 2014 is a very happy day for me personally and when Fed Ex rolls up to the family’s home in Alhambra, California with the glasses, it will be a relief and a very happy day for the them.  Thank you Steve, Janice, Brennan, Fletcher, OC Lifeguards, and OC Parks for your role in a very good thing!  I feel blessed to have been involved.

I would also like to thank Nella for the opportunity to help Matthew and her family.  Sometimes getting help is simply the result of asking for it. Sometimes being able to provide that help involves a little luck and wanting to actually provide it!  I am thrilled this worked out.  I don’t see this as an end to my relationship with this family.  Nella has told me that the gesture of wanting to help impacted her heart in a very memorable and meaningful way.  Nella and family love Aliso Beach and she has indicated she would reach out to me when they come down again!  I look forward to that very much.  She tells me that Matthew is quite the water enthusiast and that he could not get enough of the water.  We must be related I love that beach and water there as well.  I look forward to meeting them.



Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Events, Aliso Beach News, Laguna, Laguna Beach, Laguna News, South Laguna Beach, South Laguna Beach News Also tagged , , , |

Strange Men

 Strange Men

Aliso Beach is one of my favorite places.  There are things you expect to see when you come to Aliso Beach.  Skim boarders, surfers, body boarders, surf photographers, joggers, children playing at the water’s edge, and families with blankets and beach gear trying to fend off sea gulls looking for a free meal.  This is the normal stuff.  Every time you visit this is a part of the beach normal.  It is what you see.

Last weekend, I saw something I can’t explain and I will begin with this question.  Have you ever seen grown men filling up large  Sparklett’s Water Jugs with sea water and using a hand dolly to transport the jugs back to a truck where they poured the sea water into large plastic barrels?  I suspect not but what do I know?  If you are like me, this is something you haven’t ever seen and you were curious as to what the heck was going on.  To be honest, the dudes kind of looked like they were from a reality tv show in the south, and their activity on the beach was nothing short of strange to me.

I figured they were salt water aquarium business owners or a group that sold sea water to local, tropical fish stores.  I do have to mention that if that were the case, it would be funny to me because Aliso Beach has posted water warnings due to contamination more than other places.  Having had a salt water aquarium at one point in my life, I know that they bring in water from the Catalina Island area and would assume due to the presence of less human beings and urban development that the water would be cleaner.  So back and forth these guys went from the beach to the truck in the parking lot.  This went on for hours.  It was interesting to me that neither a lifeguard nor a police officer asked these guys what they were doing.  Aliso Beach is a marine protection zone so I am surprised that these two fine gentleman weren’t questioned for taking water.  They certainly stuck out like a sore thumb.

Two different friends asked them what they were doing and a shocking explanation was given.  One friend said they were working on a project and their answers, as reported, felt a little evasive.  When a second friend inquired as to what they were doing, he was told him that they extract the minerals from sea water and use them to grow wheat grass.  I drink wheat grass juice every morning so this had my attention.  If I knew that Aliso Beach sea water was being used to nurture the wheat grass that I drink daily for health benefits, I would not drink it.  Given their old school and technology-less collection process of sea water, my logical mind wants to call bullshit.  Aliso Beach ocean water would not be my first choice of local sea waters to extract minerals from if in fact wheat grass is fed minerals from ocean water.  Since Aliso Beach is fed by Aliso Creek which runs into the ocean daily while carrying urban runoff and pollutants, I wonder how these two guys are filtering out the toxins found in this water.  Brake dust, fertilizers, pesticides, oils, cleaning solvents, and fecal coliform bacteria are all a part of the toxic mix that runs into the ocean at Aliso Beach via the creek.  How are they removing these harmful agents from the minerals they claim to be extracting from the water and who is doing the work?  These are fair questions for these strange men who managed to fill large barrels of sea water and make off with them only to use them in their so called science experiments. They had me shaking my head, that is for sure.

Posted in Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Stories Also tagged , , , , |

The First Encounter


My name is Rob.  I grew up a jock in Pasadena, California.  Baseball was in my blood having grown up watching the Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Ron Cey and Reggie Smith led Dodgers and the Rod Carew, Don Baylor, Bobby Grich and Brian Downing led Angels.  I wanted to be a professional baseball player and then something snapped, and that dream began to fade for all of the right reasons.  As a kid, summer vacations to San Clemente and Main Beach Laguna were a part of my upbringing.  There is no question I loved the ocean, but it did not occur to me that being at the beach was a year long sport and lifestyle.  Maybe I just didn’t know that this was the lifestyle I wanted.  As I continued to make friends that had a passion for surfing and body boarding in the San Gabriel valley, I was spending much more time at the beach and I became torn.  I loved baseball and still do, but after meeting Paul Clare of Cartel Body Boards and eventually meeting Scotty Carter, Henry Long, Marty Bailen, Scott Rasmussen, Scotto and Derek McClain, I found the grip that the sport of baseball had on me loosening quickly.  This set the ball in motion for a change in what I wanted and an eventual end to the dream of playing pro baseball.

body boarding, Aliso Beach

Catching  a wave At Aliso Beach.  Photo Credit: Scotty Carter

I remember the first time I saw Aliso Beach. I had no clue about this beach, and if it wasn’t for a perfectly peeling wave as a friend and I drove by, the time I would have spent at Aliso Beach may have been cut in half.   It was my junior year of high school in 1987, and at that point, I was still living in the San Gabriel Valley almost an hour and a half from South Laguna Beach.  A good friend of mine wanted to get away for the weekend and we hatched this plan to throw the body boards and supplies into his car and camp out at the coast.  We were driving south on Pacific Coast Highway on our way to Salt Creek, and I don’t remember if there was supposed to surf  as big or as good as the wave I saw from the car.  We came down the hill passed Treasure Island (Now The Home Of Montage Laguna, Beach), and I caught a glimpse of a body boarder getting pitted and come out of an A-Frame left on the north side of the pier.  My jaw dropped, and I told my friend to make a u-turn.  We got up the hill and found a protected u-turn signal up the street headed back north.  The only other times I had been to Laguna were Main Beach to the north and Salt Creek to thw south.  I had never scouted between Main Beach and Salt Creek so this was a new adventure to me and the first encounter with Aliso Beach.

We drove into an Aliso Beach parking lot that I had never been in and I jumped out of the car to check this wave out.  It was glassy and warm with a consistent 5-6 foot wave pitching over a sand bar perfectly.  It wasn’t long before I ripped my board out of the trunk, grabbed my fins and paddled out.  The guys in the water were cool and didn’t seem too disturbed at someone they didn’t know showing up.  I was a foreigner at that point to local vibe anyways.  I scored wave after wave after wave and those that were out before me all got really good

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

Aliso Beach Pier before its removal in 1999.  Photo Credit: Scotty Carter

waves as well.  I will never forget it. The water had this mesmerizing color and the presence of the pier was  awe inspiring.  By comparison to other piers, being that close to the pier was something new.  Huntington Beach and San Clement Piers on the north side were dominated by surfers and the current on the south side of those piers forced you to paddle out a distance from them to keep from being pulled into the pier.  After a day of body boarding and meandering about the Aliso Beach Park area, we set up camp on one of the streets on the north side of Pacific Coast Highway above Aliso.  It had to be around 10th street but I can’t be for sure.  We had the running joke that sleeping in that old American Sedan was Camp Snoopy.  We didn’t care!  It was just nice to be down at the beach.

This experience among others, and the growing numbers of friends that were making the trek to the beach all the time from the San Gabriel Valley had me thinking about how to get down to the beach.  It was something I just could not get enough of.  For several years after that, Aliso Beach was among the first places I checked on the way down to Salt Creek.  Many times it was better than most of the other spots in the area and so I was blessed to have ridden incredible waves at Aliso Pier before it was torn down in 1998 for good.  In my opinion, the loss of the pier was a real tragedy.  It was something the body boarding community, among the many wave riding groups that frequented Aliso Beach, had a real appreciation of.  We always knew the pier had a lot to do with the waves.  Although the waves  still get really good at Aliso Beach, and I hate to be that guy who stares back in to time retrospectively with the claim that the waves were better in my day, that the years prior to the dismantling of the Aliso Beach Pier were all-time and that the waves were better than they are today by far, is not something this guy will budge an inch on.  It just isn’t the same, and it doesn’t need to be.  Time changes everything!  I just feel lucky to have been a part of an era that was so magical and am grateful for the first encounter that made this place so special to me.

Posted in Aliso Beach Stories Also tagged , , , , , , |