There is no doubt about it: I live in one of the greatest cities on earth.
Los Angeles, while home to nearly four million, is actually a hidden gem within itself. I’m convinced that the people who give LA a lot of flak have either a) never visited, b) visited the wrong places, or c) believed the urban myths and reality shows that try to define this vast city. Sure, we have the Hollywood Walk of Fame and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but those are such tiny slivers of what LA is truly about.
We also have the South Bay, a beacon of SoCal surf culture, and the beautiful Palos Verdes Peninsula where I live, which many people in LA don’t even know exists. We have enormous peaks and sprawling sand dunes and Class V rivers just a few hours’ drive from the heart of the city. And perhaps most brag-worthy, we can surf and snowboard in the same day.
Surf and snowboard? All in one day? The topic is a favorite among local rippers, who banter about doing it someday and tell outsiders that this is what makes LA so great.
And while surfing and snowboarding in the same day sounds good on paper, I’ve never known anyone to actually do it in the 10-plus years I’ve lived here. Which got me to thinking… would anyone in their right mind do it?
So began the scheme to accomplish just that: carving turns in the morning and catching waves until sunset, all in a 12-hour period. And what better time to do so than on my wedding day — my second wedding day, that is, the legal ceremony for the State of California where we actually signed our marriage license.
Last weekend, my soon-to-be-but-technically-already-husband and I packed our snowboards, surfboards, and every piece of winter apparel from our snowboard boots to our wetsuits, and rallied our friends at sunrise for part one of our wedding: a mountaintop ceremony at our local resort, Snow Valley. Make that before sunrise… We left our house at six to make it to the mountain by eight. By nine, we were on the lifts and making our way to the back bowl.
We could not have lucked out more that Saturday — it was gloriously sunny, still, and a balmy 45°F atop Slide Peak, the highest point on the mountain. For weeks, a cold front in LA brought freezing temps all over the San Bernardino Range and the resort had registered a chilly 10°F just a few days prior! For us to be blessed with spring-like weather on our wedding day… well, I think the adventure gods were smiling down on us!
Hard-packed groomers gave way to soft and duffy snow as the morning warmed up, and despite being a holiday weekend, Snow Valley was relatively empty. Most Angelenos head further east to a more well-known resort, Big Bear, leaving the somewhat rustic Snow Valley to be a locals’ secret.
We took a few laps down the runs before assembling on top of Slide Peak. Up on top of the world, we had a beautiful view of the San Bernardinos in one direction and a fascinating view of the Los Angeles Basin in the other.
Our fantastic friend John (who I think may have found his new calling as an adventure minister) officiated the marriage ceremony before our 12 guests, all decked out in their boots and beanies.
As we sealed the deal with a kiss, our friends tossed snow flurries in the air and we spent the rest of the morning bombing down the hills — still in our wedding get-ups!
After a leisurely lunch at the resort, we left the mountain at two in the afternoon and made it to the coast by four. It was a perfect 70°F day on the Palos Verdes Peninsula with a hint of offshore winds and a building northwest swell. Part two of our wedding was becoming a grand reality!
In theory, I should’ve been dead tired after getting no sleep the night before and spending a day on the slopes, but what they say about the ocean is really true: the energy moves you.
As I waxed up my deck and looked out over the Southern California coast, visible all the way from Malibu to the Manhattan Beach smokestacks, I felt an electric charge come over me. I couldn’t believe that just earlier that day, I was romping in the snow at 8,000 feet above sea level… and here I was, about to paddle out in relatively warm 55°F water.
To go from a snowy mountain peak to a stunning glassy wave only two hours later is such a remarkable gift of where we live. LA will forever be one of my favorite places in the world because of this.
We ended the day with a spectacular sunset session in solid head-high waves with surprisingly few surfers out. As the sun dropped below the horizon and I paddled back to shore, I looked over my shoulder one last time. The silhouettes of my friends, sitting on their surfboards against a red-orange sky, was straight out of an Endless Summer poster.
By 6 that evening — exactly 12 hours after I’d left my house — I was dressed and shoving my wetsuit back in the car, right in between my snowboard and my surf booties. I was ecstatic, exhausted, and looking forward to a soak in my hot tub. (Does hot tubbing count as a third activity? I’m claiming it does!)
On that unforgettable day, January 19, 2013, I finally achieved what I’ve always wanted to do since moving to LA and learning how to snowboard and surf: I did both in the same day! And with my brand-new husband to boot!
Now that I’ve done it and lived to tell about it, allow me to impart a few words of advice:
- It is much easier to motivate if you have an energetic posse rolling with you. So many times I’ve snowboarded with friends and joked around lunchtime that we should head home for a surf. We all laugh, but no one truly takes it seriously. Find a friend who’s up for adventure; you’ll need that person for the carpool lane.
- If it weren’t for our wedding, we probably would’ve waited until spring when the days are longer, just to give ourselves more time in the water. Though in all honesty, I’m not sure I could’ve surfed for more than an hour.
- You could also do this day in reverse — surf at dawn, snowboard at night — but I have to say that ending any day with a picturesque Pacific sunset makes everything right in the world. How to decide? Whichever landscape you live closer to — the ocean or the mountains — make that your last activity of the day. Your body and brain will thank you for it.
If you are lucky enough to be an Angeleno and you love the snow and the surf, this is one thing you must add to your life list! Your life list, not your bucket list, because it’s not something you should do before you kick the bucket. It’s something you should do to experience life!