Category Archives: In The Hammock

The personal blog, opinions and thoughts while hanging out in the hammock, from the beach blogger.

Shocked By The High Price Of Flip Flops

Flipping Out Over $70 Beach Footwear

Flip Flop Prices
Yes, that is indeed a $70 price tag on a pair of flip flops.

I blew out my flip flops the other day.

They were flopping around as the bottoms began to unravel and already I was holding in the toe piece with duct tape (hey, I’m from the South!).

Finally, even the duct tape could no longer hold and the toe “assembly” for lack of a better word, came out of the socket. Done.

The flip flops’ last moments were spent at the San Diego OTL, so if they had to go out, that was a fitting ending to a fitting place for a piece of footwear that defines the casual beach lifestyle.

So the next week – dressed in tennis shoes – I went to the local beach stores looking for new flip flops.

And I was stunned at the prices.

Flip Flop Prices
A price of $60 is not uncommon for a pair of flip flops.

The first price tag I flipped over stated $55. Fifth-five dollars for flip flops!

But that was only the beginning. Still others were $60 and it didn’t take long to find some costing $70.

Eventually, store employee to come over to me but they should have sent a paramedic, because I was having a sticker shock heart attack.

After all, what’s a pair of flip flops anyway – just a simple, basic piece of plastic with a thin layer of cloth, between you and the ground.   The markup on these things has to be astronomical, even factoring in the manufacturing, labor, distribution and a cut for the retail outlet.

The best you can hope to get out for is $35 for a good pair that will last a few years. Fortunately, our local stores are also selling cheapo flip flops in the $20 range.

Since I need a pair immediately for the big beach bash known as Smackfest, the cheapos is probably the route I’ll go for now. This will give me time to mentally adjust to the cost of the good flip flops.

Then again, by that time, maybe even 70 bucks will seem like a bargain.

10 Rules For Tourists Going To The Beach This Summer

How To Make For A Perfect Summertime Coastal Vacation

Hermosa Beach activities
People enjoy spending time on the beach, especially in the summertime.

In the USA, the arrival of the good ‘ol summertime means vacations at the beach.

Americans head to the beaches across the country by the millions, packing the shores, hotels, shops, restaurants and bars (good for them on that last one!).

And to make it a pleasurable experience for everyone, Surfside Sam proposes these 10 rules every town should immediately enact for people who go to the beach.

1.) Men Are Not Allowed To Take Off Their Shirts Unless They Are Actually On The Beach Or Within 5 Feet Of The Water

The biggest eyesore at the beach is men who walk around town without their shirts. Many of these men are older, have gray hairy chests, big beer bellies and other physical traits that are best kept hidden under a shirt.

Others have chests pumped up by a mentality of lifting lots of weighs (and possibly digesting several illegal “pump up” pills), often covered with tattoos. These men like to show off their pecs but it’s an ugly sight.

From this point forward, men are required to be wearing a shirt at all times unless they are standing on the sand or are in the water. This includes hotel pools.

Those who violate this rule are required to go immediately to the nearest t-shirt shop. Repeated violations will result in having to sit in a dark movie theater on a perfectly sunny beach day.

2.) Women Must Disrobe At The Beach In Less Than 1 Minute

Women are, from this point forward, required to be undressed down to their bikini in one minute from the time they set foot on the sand.

No more of this procedure that takes 20 minutes, leaving us men when we see a particularly attractive female screaming “Just take off your danged shirt for cryin’ out loud!!!

When women get to the beach, they make a production of it. They put their towel down on the sand and continually adjust it so that it’s just so perfect.

Then they stand in one place staring into space for at least 10 minutes before finally reaching down to wiggle out of their shorts. This takes another five minutes. Then they seem to be waiting for a band to be playing before they FINALLY reach up and – always cross-armed – remove the shirt covering the bikini top.

Any women (well, the attractive ones anyway) taking more than one minute to strip down to her bikini is now ordered straight to the bar where she will have drinks with Surfside Sam.

3.) Kids Must Stay Within 10 Feet Of Their Parents At All Times

Kids are no longer allowed to run freely along the beach, bumping wildly into other beach visitors and otherwise annoying those visitors. This rule particularly applies while the kids are in the town.

Parents who let their kids run wildly and unsupervised along the beach or in the town are required to spend their afternoons listening to condo sales presentations.

4.) People Playing Games On The Beach Must Keep Those Games To Themselves

It will no longer be allowed for people who are playing games at the beach to yell at the top of their lungs, fling objects into the path of strangers or otherwise disrupt the peaceful beach activities of others on the beach.

This rule is to be particularly enforced when Surfside Sam is taking a power nap.

Violators will have their toys taken away from them and ordered to take a “time out.”

5.) Anyone Who Is Caught Littering Or Leaving Trash On The Beach Is Expelled For The Entire Summer

Not much else needs to be said on this matter.

6.) Anyone Over The Age Of 16 Is Not Allowed To Be On A Skateboard

This is punishable by taking the skateboard away from the adult followed by a lecture that includes these words: “it’s time to grow up, son.”

7.) The Tour de France Wanna-Be Bicyclists Must Switch To Strand Cruisers While At The Beach

Those riders in the sponsor-covered outfits and helmets speeding through town on expensive lightweight mountain bikes who think they are in the Tour de France are required to put on beach clothes – down to the flip flops – and switch to a beach cruiser while in beach towns.

Failure to do so will result in the city running over the expensive lightweight mountain bike and person’s riding clothes with a garbage truck.

8.) Every Beach City Is Required To Have A Least One Bar On The Sand – Ideally With a Thatched Roof

I’m talking  to you to, LA Beach Cities!

Failure to have this will result in the city buying one round of drinks for every beach-goer every sunny Saturday afternoon at the city’s existing bars.

9.) Motorcyclists And Drivers Who Gun Their Engines Are To Be Punished

They will be made to sit on a kiddy ride for one hour for each infraction.

10). These Things Are Immediately Illegal At The Beach

Men in Speedo and thong-type bathing suits, overweight women in bikinis, super-pale people walking on the beach with no shirt (they must be required to get some semblance of a tan before going out in public), dogs that pee on sidewalks and walls and especially – especially – dog owners who do not pick up after their pets.

Violators of any of the rules of #10 will be banished from every beach and beach town on the planet for life.

Trying To Fix An Annoying Chirping Smoke Alarm

Frustrations With Manufacturers, 9-Volt Batteries & The 5:30 Wakup Call

Smoke detector alarm
The non-mechanical blogger is at the port of indecision with a beeping smoke detector.

I  recently used space in this blog to cover my mechanical fix-it shortcomings when it came to replacing a door lock in an old rented beach house.

Well here’s another one for you: the annoying chirping smoke detector.

It is a fact that a smoke alarm’s battery will always go out in the middle of the night and only when you are in one of those super-deep sleeps you’ve not had in weeks.

For me, this happened at 5:30 in the morning.

I was startled by a loud beeping sound, so I did what every American does when this occurs: I looked around confused until I got my bearings, got out of bed to try and locate the source of the annoying noise,  then discovered with dismay tho hardly surprise that it was located on the ceiling in a far corner of the room.

So I had to stumble out in the darkness to another part of the house until I literally tripped over something I could stand on to barely reach the detector.

On my tip-toes, I reached up, yanked out the battery and crawled back into bed. Thirty seconds later the dang thing beeped again.

How did it beep without a battery? Furthermore, the battery these things use are 9-volts!

So I stumbled back through the dark and located a junk drawer where my roommate has the world’s largest collection of AA batteries. But not one 9-volt. Who the heck has 9-volt batteries anyway!?

No  American device has used 9-volt batteries since the transistor radio.  Yet the manufacturers of smoke alarms use them for the exact purpose of frustrating people like me, and ideally at 5:30 in the morning.

I then recalled we have another required detector device – this one is for chemical detection, I believe, even tho we live nowhere near a chemical plant – because it recently fell off the wall (it was held on by adhesive stickers). So I pulled out its battery– yeah, a 9-volt! – installed it and crawled back into bed.

I cracked a small smile at my ingenuity until, 30 second later, the smoke detector beeped again.

So I got back up on the stool, ready to yank the alarm from its moorings, only to discover there were half a dozen wires attached to it going up into some mysterious place in the ceiling. WHAT!?!?

By this time it was 6:30 in the morning. I crawled back into bed and put a pillow over my head. Although as anyone knows who has tried the pillow sandwich, this never works for getting back to sleep.

I thought about calling my wonderful ex-girlfriend who is good at fixing things (and whom was mentioned in the story about the door knob) in the hope that, after giving me a brief but spirited lecture on my mechanical shortcomings, she would be able to walk me through a process to get the alarm to stop beeping.

But without her physically here I figured it was doubtful even she would be able to help, so all I would likely receive for my efforts would be a brief but spirited lecture on my mechanical shortcomings.

Then I came up with a brilliant idea – call the fire department! Surely they deal with this issue all the time. Maybe they would even dispatch someone over to fix it because, well, it’s in their best interest to have working smoke alarms in the community.

Alas, all the guy could do was tell me that the battery I put in is likely also bad and if that doesn’t work then the detector is faulty and if that’s the case we will have to get an electrician to cap all those wires.

What I would LIKE to do is rip the danged thing off the ceiling and take a hammer to it. It’s not like we need it; this is a small house, the hallway alarm is two feet away and so loud it rattles our neighbor’s wine glasses. (I know this because it’s as sensitive as a mother’s hearing and goes off whenever we turn on the oven.)

Yet in America, it is the law that every room must have a smoke detector, and it is also law that the battery in them must go out sometime at around 5:30 in the morning.

Furthermore, the manufacturers of smoke alarms are required to make sure the devices use batteries that are 30 years old and impossible to find, and that any instructions are in tiny print, white paint on white paint (why not put the wording in black for cryin’ out loud!?), therefore rendering any information it may provide useless.

If I ever meet someone who works at a smoke detector company, I’m going to yank them by the ear to my place, have them put in a brand new battery and disconnect any wires attached to it.

And then, maybe I can get a good night’s sleep.

Big Waves Can Make Standing On A Seawall Dangerous (And Deadly)

Four Rescued And One Person Perishes At Redondo Beach Jetty

Redondo Beach big waves
Spectators watch from rocks by the Chart House.

Nature can be beautiful, peaceful yet also powerful and awe-inspiring to the soul.

And it can also be dangerous.

Four people found out about the latter while watching the former, and it’s a waning to those who want to see nature up close: don’t get too close to it.

A swell of waves were crashing into a jetty in Redondo Beach, CA, on a late February night and those four people got too close to it; they needed to be rescued while one– sadly – died.

Surfside Sam was in the vicinity but was watching from beyond the beach; apparently those people were actually on the jetty. And this is a warning to everyone – respect the awesome power of Mother Nature!

Don’t go climbing on a jetty when big waves are crashing onto it. Don’t stand on the edge of a rocky cliff that’s unstable, don’t walk out onto a frozen pond or lake just to test the thickness of the ice, or do other foolish things because they can be dangerous and even deadly.

Big waves can be particularly deceiving because initially they may not appear to be a threat to where you are standing.

But then suddenly, a much bigger swell can hit without warning and suddenly you are swept up in a rush of water and sometimes out to sea. Then there’s a huge current pulling you away from the shore and you’re overwhelmed by the situation.

So when you go observe nature, do so from a safe distance.  Get close enough to see and admire, but not so close that you’re literally caught up in it.


Living At The Beach Is Not Always Fun In The Sun

It’s Not All Beachy When Something Breaks At A Beach House

Hermosa Beach Strand beach houses
Beach houses are a great place to live, even with their quirks.

Not every day at the beach is, well, a day at the beach.

Sometimes, those of us fortunate to live by the sand and water have normal issues like everyone else, things that break and need to be fixed just like any other place on the planet.

Take today for instance. I came back from a run and was locked out of the house. No, I did not forget my keys, but the lock on the door would not work. The knob turned but the door remained locked.

I managed to get inside by prying open a door through another entrance and went to see if I could figure out why the other lock did not work.  Some of these old beach town houses are pretty worn down, you see, by both weather and neglect.

Now let it be stated here that I am not very mechanical. I once had a girlfriend who asked my father, “how could you let your son out of the house without him being able to fix anything!? Whenever something breaks, I’m the one who fixes it.”

Indeed she did, too; whenever I picked up a screwdriver or a hammer she would come running over and grab it out of my hand, and then proceeded to make loud noises with that device while making a repair. While she did this, I made margaritas.

It was the perfect arrangement and you can indeed criticize me for not realizing what I had when I had it.

And so, the gal was not here on this day and I looked curiously at the doorknob. Surely it can’t be too hard to fix this thing, I thought, so I unscrewed the two screws.

Then I noticed the problem; the locking mechanism – the little metal part that goes in and out of the door frame mount when you turn the key – was stuck. I could not get it to budge. I was proud of myself that I had found the problem but frustrated that I  could not actually fix it.

So I went to the local hardware store and bought an exact replica lock for 20 bucks. On my way out I asked if it was easy to install. “It depends,” the guy deadpanned, “if you can use a screwdriver.”

Okay, but herein lies the problem. The people who make these mechanical things always add in one or two little quirks that make it frustrating for anyone who is not mechanical to get it to work.

In this case, it was with getting the two sides of the knobs to line up; they have to be in EXACTLY the right position, yet there are no arrows indicating which way they go, so you’re left twisting, turning, cussing and taking a beer break before you suddenly chance upon it.

Once I got this together and the lock reassembled, the door would not shut. The little device kept banging against the door frame. After a few “what the ???” moments, I realized I had put the darned thing in upside down.

Again, there were no arrows or instructions indicating it needed to be installed in a particular direction. Mechanical people, I assume, just somehow know these things.

So I had to start all over again, including spending another half an hour twisting the knobs to get them lined up correctly.

I don’t know the point in all this except to say that when you live in an old beach house, things  break fairly frequently and it’s a frustrating experience to fix them if you are not mechanically savvy.

Or you no longer have a girlfriend willing to fix something anytime it breaks so you can get back to making margaritas.

How To Spot Rip Currents In The Ocean From The Beach

Angle Of Waves Hitting The Shore Is A Good Visual Clue

Rip tide conditions
For rip tide conditions, check the angle the waves are hitting the beach.


If you’re at the ocean and worried about rip currents, here’s an easy tip on how to spot them from the beach.

Look at the direction of the waves. If they are coming into shore at a sideways angle, then that’s a rip current.

Do not enter the water in this area. The water will pull you out, you’ll wind up fighting your way to try and get back to shore, will wear yourself out and hopefully will be rescued by a lifeguard.

I know this because it happened to me. I was rescued. He dropped me to the beach where I lay down exhausted for several minutes, and before I had the chance to thank him, sprinted back in the water to save another person.

To say I was – and remain – impressed is an understatement.

Later, I consulted a friend who knows the water the way I know college football, and he told me about the sideways break.

Another visual is to see if there are a bunch of lifeguards are in the water pulling out swimmers. That may seem obvious but it’s easy to convince yourself “it won’t happen to me.”

Well, it happened to me and I am grateful to the lifeguards. So do them a favor and enter the water away from any trouble.

10 Best Cheap Beach Souvenirs To Get While On Vacation

Bar Cups, Beer Coozies & Destination T-Shirts

Dockside Tropical Cafe in the Florida Keys
Cups from bars, like this one from Dockside Tropical Cafe in the Florida Keys, are great souvenir items.


One of the coolest things about going to the beach on vacation is that the towns always have the coolest souvenirs.

Many of these are inexpensive items that cost only a few dollars. Some you get from bars are even free. And once you get them back home, the memories of that beach, that vacation and the places you visited will be frequently replayed in your mind.

Plus, your friends will see them and you’ll be able to brag about your vacation all over again to them.

So here’s Surfside Sam’s Top 10 Inexpensive Beach Vacation Souvenirs:

1.) Beer coozies.

2.) Beach t-shirts/tank tops/cute girlie shirts.

3.) Hat.

4.) Sunglasses gator (this is the item that attaches to the back of your sunglasses so you don’t lose them. Until, of course, you set them down and forget where you put them).

5.) Painted surfboard-shaped wall hanger or other distinctive item to put up in your house with the name of the beach on it.

6.) Logo glass from your favorite bar.

7.) Plastic cups with the name of the beach or with the logo and funny saying from your favorite bar(s).

8.) Bar coasters with the names of the bars you frequented while on vacation.

9.) Cheap, plastic framed sunglasses (look for ones with the name of the beach).

10.) Anything inexpensive and slightly tacky you find in a beach shop with the destination’s name on it.


10 Things You Don’t Need To Pack For A Beach Vacation