Depending when you are reading this, we will have either just started to head out on a Wavehog chartered deep sea fishing boat from Dana Point in Southern California, or already stopped at our first fishing spot with our poles in the deep Pacific Ocean waters, or headed back to our San Clemente campsite to celebrate the day's catch and prepare it for a communal fresh fish dinner.
Or, to hide our shame, we will stop at Albertson's fish section to meet the camp’s expectations of a fish fry.
The Wavehogs, started 33 years ago when my brother Ralph (Big Foot) and his wife, Dora “Doheny Dora,” and their children joined my wife, Susie “Shoppin’ Sue," my children and me, the “Big Kahuna,” for a few nights of camping at San Clemente State Beach.
Over the next 33 years, the Wavehogs have grown to include more than 80 family members and family of the heart who would camp with us at the San Clemente State Beach group site on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
The Wavehogs are now too many for one state beach park. San Clemente will always be our summer home but it has also grown to become one of California’s most popular state beaches, making it nearly impossible to reserve the cherished group camp site.
So with trepidation, about 40 plus Wavehogs will be at San Clemente this week and about the same amount were at Morro Strand State Beach on the Central Coast last week.
I remember when my dad used to take us to Morro Bay as a child. I always thought Morro Bay was just for old people. At the ripe old age of 68, I can now officially say I was right. But the grandkids do also enjoy Morro Bay.
Each year our families return to the birthplace of the Wavehogs where our core values of family, surf, food, music and respect for each other are proudly on display and reach beyond any campfires. Wavehogs from as far away as Hawaii and Yuma, Ariz., will make the annual trek to San Clemente this year.
And even though the Wavehogs’ campgrounds are now separated by 300 miles, our traditions remain firmly intact. It is now the Wavehog juniors who take on the majority of the camping trip logistics. It was something “Shoppin' Sue” and I prayed would eventually happen.
“Shoppin’ Sue” was the core spirit of the Wavehogs and the heart of my family. Her life example of giving without remembering and humbling receiving without forgetting will be celebrated.
“Shoppin’ Sue” seemed to always be the go-to person at the campsites. When someone forgot an item, they knew they could count on “Shoppin’ Sue.” Need a herb razor? No problem, “Shoppin’ Sue” had one. How about avocado huggers? Yep, she had one. I know it’s not true, but “Shoppin' Sue” seemed to have everything anyone ever needed at the campsite.
Cancer took “Shoppin’ Sue” from us several years ago. Without her, I sometimes feel more like a “Broken Kahuna” than the “Big Kahuna.” Returning to our summer home at San Clemente without her has proven emotionally difficult for me. My brother Andy, aka “Cookie Monster," who has also been gone several years, will be one of the original Wavehog elders we also remember during our evening Wavehog ritual at the campfire ceremony.
I try to return every summer to San Clemente and now also Morro Bay where the smell of the BBQs, the sound of the kids having fun riding their bikes, hearing a Ramon Ayala song playing off in the distance, is intoxicating. Although not official, it’s like we now have a Central Coast chapter and a Southern Californian Chapter of the Wavehogs.
So be on the lookout for the Wavehogs this summer. We should be very easy to spot. There may be a new chapter coming near you.
By the way, I just checked and the San Clemente Albertsons has fresh Rockfish and Salmon for $6.99 a pound. Not that we are going to need it at the end of our fishing trip, but I thought I would check, just in case.
Email contributing columnist Steve Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org. His work normally appears here every third Monday; the views expressed are his own.