We packed our longboards and blankets and a lighter and headed down to the Hideaway, a little bamboo hut on an ignored stretch of coastline right in the middle of Southern California—Los Angeles to the north and San Diego to the south, but not a soul in sight for miles.

Ask the authorities and they’ll tell you there are times when the beach is open and times when it’s closed. We’ve been up to all kinds of things on the beach at night for years and I’ve never seen it closed….in fact I never even noticed that there was a door. The idea that there’s a beach curfew is a stretch of the imagination, or maybe it’s something believed by those will no imagination.

I recently attended a lecture from an old timer who surfed and camped along this coast back when there was no beach curfew, no rangers, and no rules. The crowd was glued to his every word like grown children learning what it was like back when life was somehow a little bit more real and uncontrolled. Stories of little bamboo shacks on the sand. Surfers and their girls piling into classic cars, cruising the Pacific Coast Highway down to deserted beaches. They would pretend they were in the islands, build bamboo shacks, pass around wine jugs, make up songs next to beach bonfires, and surf in the moonlight. The last thing the old timer said, with a sigh, he said, “But you can’t do that anymore.” No, you most certainly can’t—*ahem!*

We had invited a lot of friends. One by one, they cancelled ’til it was just the three of us: Nate, Kaitlyn, and I. We humans have a tendency to pretend that we want to do things—we want to want them—it’s a nice thought. But it’s a different thing to pursue the reality.

People ask how we learned how to camp down here. It was a learning process. The first time Nate and I camped down here we were followed by nuclear power plant security with AK47s and a spotlight. But that’s another story.

Nate swam out to bathe in the afterglow of the sunset. Watching him slash in the magenta water was a reminder that paradise is a choice and a state of mind.

A fun thing to do on the beach at night is to make a torch and explore the tide pools and nighttime creatures by torch light. We found someone’s old pair of underwear in a trash can and lit it up. If you’re not even a little bit of a pyro, then you’re a liar.

The next morning we woke up to glassy waves. The swell had picked up overnight and we were in it. It’s a miracle that we have any footage cause when there’s surf no one wants to film.

We packed our gear up and left behind the reality of the Hideaway back into the make-believe of civilization.