The California coast, north of Marin, is foggy, cool, and lightly peopled. Although there are countless headlands and beaches where one can go surfing all alone, there are still secret spots that are fiercely guarded by the locals. These spots are seldom crowded and outsiders rare.
I was given instructions to one such place; a reef break that was on a point that stuck so far out from the nearest bit of land, that you had could get a 270 degree view of water. After ignoring the critical stares of the locals, I surfed for a few hours catching countless shoulder-high waves. As dusk approached, the waves calmed and the last surfers headed in, leaving me miles from the nearest person.
Save a few golden tendrils of kelp breaking the surface, the ocean was completely smooth. I sat for several minutes in the still and silent space between sea and sky, a rare treat on this stormy section of coast. As I scanned the horizon for any sign of a swell, that would carry me towards shore, a strange and enormous snuffling sound broke the silence, not twenty feet from me. My head instinctively turned in time to see a puff of spray and the lumpy, curved back of a gray whale descend beneath the surface.
It could have been a coincidence that two sentient beings on miles of empty water ended up in such close proximity, but I like to think it was no accident.