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'Kook': Life's Lessons Learned On A Surfboard

Jul 25, 2010 (All Things Considered)

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Travel writer Peter Heller has sailed the Antarctic Sea with eco-pirates in pursuit of an illegal Japanese whaling fleet, and traversed the deepest Tibetan gorge with kayakers bent on conquering the Tsangpo River.

But it was as a "kook," or beginner surfer, in Huntington Beach, Calif. that he caught a glimpse of his next great adventure: a trip down the West Coast in search of the perfect wave.

Despite an inauspicious start with surfing — Heller paddled his egg, or beginner board, directly into the path of a veteran surfer, who showered him with invectives — Heller soon took to surfing. In mere months, he grew from a complete novice to a capable surfer who didn't embarrass himself in front of the pros.

Kook is his story of his surfing and soul-searching journey — and what he learned along the way.

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