The repair man walked into our living room this morning to fix our refrigerator. It was Thursday and our first day back from our annual Wavehog Central Coast beach camping trip. Ice chest, camping chairs and canopies littered our entryway and living room. I asked him to please be careful and to excuse our mess. I explained we had just returned from Morro Bay. Without skipping a beat he dryly asked, “Why did you come back?”

He is the best comedian/repairman I have ever met. He did make an excellent point.

Wednesday morning as we loaded our vehicles with our camping gear at Morro Strand Beach to head back to Bakersfield, it was 61 degrees. As we headed home, the outside car temperature on my vehicle appeared to rise with each mile. Two hours later, in my front yard and under the shade of my 73-year-old oak tree, we unloaded all our camping gear. It was 101 degrees.

You do the psychological math.

It was good to be home, but I am already missing the ocean and the evening’s full moon peeking through the patchy and lingering coastal fog. The gentle sea breeze was a constant reminder that we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Although only 137 miles apart, we seemed light years away from the Central Valley, where Bakersfield’s low doesn’t even reach Morro Bay’s high. The last evening was a cool 53 degrees and had many of us wearing our sweats, caps and windbreaker jackets.

On our last evening, and as the sun was setting, I watched 20-plus Wavehog children doing their best to safely enjoy the last rays of sun light. They were all playing baseball, riding their scooters, throwing Cornhole sacks and enjoying each other’s company. Not a single cell phone or iPad was in sight. No one was complaining about whose turn it was to play Fortnite or Candy Crush on their electronic devices. The children were all first cousins or family of the heart.

As the children played, Wavehog adults cleaned, straightened up the campsites and started grabbing all essential items for the traditional campfire gathering. They toted camping chairs, blankets and ice chests filled with beverages to the Wavehog campfire, which had the largest blaze in view.

All the adult beverages have been scientifically tested with years of Wavehog beach research and training to ensure warmth … even if the beverage in question is served in an ice-cold glass lightly rimmed with salt, and a lime wedge stuffed into the opening. Other choices that tend to increase body warmth may have included fermented grape juice served in a shatter-proof wine glass.

All the while, the children enjoyed hot cocoa with marshmallows while they were getting ready for the toasting of the traditional s'mores and the sharing of their beach adventures that day.

Over the past 34 years, the Wavehog population has increased to now include about 120 family and friends. Wavehogs now travel from as far away as Hawaii and Yuma, Ariz., to join the family tradition at either Morro Bay or San Clemente state beach. Wavehog beach trips have become almost as important as other holidays to our children.

Because our Wavehog group has grown so large, we now have unofficial Central California and Southern Californian Wavehog chapters.

Each year, families return to the San Clemente Beach, the birthplace of the Wavehogs, where our core values of family, respect, surf and music are proudly on display -- and hopefully built into the DNA of our young children.

Depending on what time of day you are reading this column (assuming it's Monday), I will either be heading out to sea on a Wavehog charter deep sea fishing boat to catch our dinner or, if it's the afternoon, stopping at a local fish market to hide the shame of coming back empty handed.

Either way, I know I will be coming back to Bakersfield with stories of family, friendship and respect to share.

So, Mr. Repairman, maybe that’s why I come back … to brag about my family of Wavehogs.

It’s certainly not because of the dreaded heat, but thanks for asking.

Email contributing columnist Steve Flores at floressteve32@yahoo.com. His work appears here every third Monday; the views expressed are his own.

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