Here in Southern California, we have some fairly predictable winds, and for the most part, we like it that way. We know what to expect, and prepare accordingly.
But once in a while we experience a shift. Normally the winds blow from the ocean, but when they start coming in from inland directions, everything changes.
Sailors call them "Santanas", most other folks know them as "Santa Ana winds".
Usually occurring in Fall or Winter, these winds bring warm, dry air, often fortified with dust, pollen, and everything else found in California's deserts.
I should have known they were coming when I awoke this morning and heard our windchimes getting beaten to death by the wind.
It doesn't usually get breezy until afternoon around here.
I should have known they were coming yesterday when my eyes were itchy and I couldn't stop sneezing.
I was pretty sure we had Santa Anas when I shoved off for my first cruise tonight and things just didn't seem right. When I saw a jet coming in to land at John Wayne Airport from the wrong direction, I knew.
I've said for years, that "when the planes are landing in the wrong direction, everything else is weird and backwards".
So tonight was one of those nights. I met up with my friendly competitor on the water tonight and we both said "did you order these winds?", then we both laughed.
When you're a gondolier in Newport Harbor, and you operate long enough, you get every single square foot of the harbor memorized. Most of our routing is based on winds, so when they shift in the opposite direction, it can really confuse things.
I've seen these winds for sixteen years, tonight was among the more extreme. It may not have been so in other parts of Southern California, but in Newport it was a "Bizarro Wind Night".
By "Bizarro" I'm referring to the term made popular by DC Comics where something is either twisted or opposite.
Tonight's winds were both.
Lance Armstrong once wrote:
"Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever"
and while you can't just quit when you're pushing a 36 foot gondola up a veritable wind-tunnel with a single oar, the frustration, muscle fatigue, and other negatives may make you want to quit.
No can do.
Gotta row - harder than ever.
I made it through the evening's cruises, got good tips, and became a better rower because of it.
Another quote I recently heard comes from Woody Harrelson in the movie "Zombieland"
And while it isn't nearly as eloquent as Lance Armstrong's, it was fitting tonight.
"Time to nut-up or shut-up!"