(Texas Tube Tour 2020 crew!  Pic: C3picsandphotos)

2020 is the year that no one on the planet will ever forget.  The year of the Covid-19 pandemic left no one on earth unaffected.  Surf travel was no exception.  Reservations canceled, world-class waves going unridden, travel restrictions worldwide.  

In case you've been living in a cave, BSR (Barefoot Ski Ranch) Surf Resort is widely regarded as the premiere wave pool in the world.  Vicki and I typically take several surf trips throughout the year, and we were longing for warm water and barrels.  SoCal was bogging through a summer (after the epic July 4th swell) of paltry surf and cold water.  We had snuck off to Waco, Texas back in June to get some BSR Surf Resort reconnaissance work done on a trip with some friends as it was one of the few places we could travel, and frankly, air tickets were dirt-cheap.  The trip turned on a light bulb for us.  We had 3 successful Tavi Tube Tour trips under our belts hosting as many as 52 people on our annual trip to Fiji.  Taking a group to BSR should be a no-brainer.

We began planning and booked the pool for two half-day sessions featuring a mix of the public "expert" wave known as the "Trestles" setting, and the private "custom" waves.  We paid our deposit purely on a leap of faith hoping that once we launched the trip, people would sign up.  If not, we were going to have a VERY expensive 2-day surf trip and catch a LOT of waves to ourselves! 

Much to our delight, not only was the response overwhelming, but many of the guests that signed up were old friends! We were beyond stoked and the fact that air tickets were so cheap made it all the more enticing.  

The crew was set, reservations were sorted out, and all we had to do was wait until early September for our trip to happen.  There were two things that could potentially derail the trip- thunderstorms (they close the pool if that happens), or some sort of government or airline Covid-related shut down.  As we approached the departure date, the weather was looking good for Day One, but a bit dicey for Day Two with potential for thunderstorms that second afternoon, but our session was going to wrap up at 1pm, so we were confident we'd finish before that happened.  Covid numbers continued to improve through late August, so the fear of a shutdown began to melt away.  

Travel was non-eventful and everyone's flights got them there when they were supposed to be.  We organized a meet-and-greet at Rudy's BBQ in Waco for the evening before our first session.  Most of the crew showed up and chowed epic BBQ and reunited with old friends.  

(Can't go wrong with Rudy's. Pic:  Vicki Reale)

Day One-
We had the pool secured from 10am-6pm with two groups of 9 riders alternating back and forth.  Water temp was a balmy 82 degrees.  The first half of the day was reserved for the "Trestles" setting, which cranks out 3-wave sets 45 seconds apart at about 4 feet on the face with a couple of barrel sections on each wave, meaning each rider gets a wave roughly every 4 minutes.  Plus, if you "poach", you can get more than that.  Read more about that in my blog from our family trip in 2019.  So, by the end of an hour, a break is a good thing.  Not many surf trips can you snag 15-plus waves in a one-hour session!  

(Jason Doyle nabbing some shade during the Trestles setting.  Pic: C3picsandphotos)

The afternoon sesh was devoted to exploring the custom wave options!  After a couple of cracks at the Freak Peak, a wild wedge wave that pushes 4-foot high mound of water directly at you as you ride toward it, offering air (or injury) potential, most of us settled on the Wacko Wedge, which is just one of a list of about 20 options, but features a warping wedge from either direction (we got to choose and switch it up when we wanted).  The takeoff sends you into a lump of water that pitches in front of you.  You can either stall and get pitted and spit out, or speed through the pit and ramp it off the end of the barrel blasting any air move you can think of.  There's immediately a follow-up wave from the other direction that is a very short, intense barrel.   The only downer about the custom waves is there are less waves in these sessions as the wave machine has to reboot after every wave, rather than the 3-waves-in-a-row combo of the "Trestles" setting.

(Jeremiah Press threads the needle on the Wacko Wedge setting.  Pic: C3picsandphotos)

Our crew was made up of mostly...shall we say..."mature" riders (me being the oldest at 56),

(Me turtle-necking.  Pic: C3picsandphotos)

but we had some young guys in the mix too including Florida's Jadon Doyle, Cully Crawford and dropknee slayer Bob Kithcart. 

(Bob Kithcart put on a DK clinic! Pic: C3picsandphotos)

Lots of veterans, including some from our Tavi Tube Tour including Neysan Soleiman, Aden Watts and old buddy Dave Long as well as former HB ripper Terry McCord were all smiles.   East coast rippers Jason Doyle and Bob Hovey were in the mix holding it down for the right coast, and west coast shredders Nik Gero and Trevor Ellis were on board chucking moves like they were 16 again, and old-school ripper Greg Doss was finding tons of tube time as was west coaster Dan Camara. 

(NC's Bob Hovey.  Pic:  Tanya Hovey)

Bodyboarding legend Brian Press and his groms Jeremiah and Isaiah were killing both in the pool and behind the lens to shoot the video you see below.  Our warehouse manager Josh Wright was ripping like it was 1999 and Vicki...well...let's just say she should still be on Tour...if there was a tour in 2020!

(Vicki getting into the local spirit. Pic:  Tanya Hovey)  

But as BSR goes, like most surf trips, sometimes you gotta pay to play and a few of the crew, myself included, were leaving more skin on the concrete bottom than a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon's office. Knees and elbows, and even faces were connecting with the bottom as the ante continued to get upped.  Jason Doyle was knocked senseless briefly when his noggin took a closeup view of the bottom

(Skull vs. concrete.  Score:  0-1)

and warehouse manager Josh sustained the worst injury, cracking his kneecap.   What did everyone do?  Kept surfing of course. Deal with the damage later.  

(Josh Wright, eBodyboarding warehouse manager shot a lot of the clips in the video below, and got shacked off his nut! Pic:  Tanya Hovey)

Some riders took breaks, and had their family members jump in to their spot to sample the juice which proved to be inspirational and exciting. 

Few of our crew had the energy or will to tackle the Royal Flush Slides or wakeboard action that BSR offers.  

Day Two-
Most of the crew were moving a touch slower, but nonetheless, the show had to go on, and a 7am start time was rough for some, but the crew showed up and did it all over again.  We rode every lump that came out of that pool until early afternoon, and the crew left fully surfed out and satisfied, wondering when our next Texas Tube Tour will be!  For info on that, see our Bodyboarding Travel link where we'll have info as it become available.