Caley Vanular, Trevor Gordon

PHOTOS: Foster Huntington and Trevor Gordon

LOCATION: Bigfoot Country

Your wet suit doesn’t dry out there so you have to deal with a freezing cold suit every time. I would get all physco-warrior status just to hype myself up to put on my wetsuit as quick as possible.

Trevor Gordon grew up in Santa Barbara, surfing everyday on short or longboards at the leadbetter break. Taught to surf by his father at age seven, he was obsessed by the time he hit his teens and competed throughout high school. After the high school circuit ended, he was faced with the decision to go after the juniors or to go his own way. Luckily, that was about the same time he was presented the opportunity to surf for Patagonia. Instead of contest circuits, traveling soon became his job, going to exotic places to surf like Kamchatka, Russia, Islands off the West Coast of India and Alaska. I had the chance to sit down with Trevor to talk about his most recent trip from Santa Barbara to Canada to film his two-part video ‘Bigfoot Country’.

Trevor, where is the wildest spot surfing has brought you?

Kamchatka, Russia [with Keith Malloy, Cyrus Sutton, Foster Huntington, Dane Gudauskas, Ben Weiland and Chris Burkard] was definitely the wildest. Being in a country that opened its doors up to westerners only 10 years ago, and is still coming out of a post-war era made the trip very unique. Locals in Kamchatka were a bit hostile, and there were people everywhere wearing camo and holding machine guns. We couldn’t even surf some spots because they turned out to be full on military bases. It was trippy being out there in the first place, let alone surfing.

Why did you want to film your next surf video in Canada?

Canada was the coolest place I could think to drive to. Haida Gwaii seemed rad to travel to; driving your camper onto all the ferries and the really good waves are another draw. I prefer the culture in cold surf spots, it feels more natural. Warm places are usually dirty and muggy, and make me feel lethargic.

What gave you the idea to build your own truck camper? Did anyone help you build it?

Jay Nelson got me stoked on the building your own camper thing. His was really creative and spacious. I had a VW van and decided to sell it to get a 4×4 Jeep and build a camper. I didn’t have much help building it, I did almost everything myself. When I needed help lifting pieces I would call over friends, and my Dad came over to help with the hinges. The pop-up design came from looking at how the Westfalia pop-ups worked. I had to use a lot of common sense and basic building skills to put everything together; there wasn’t much on the Internet to learn from. Jay Nelson had warned me that using polyester resin gets hazy in the sun. He did a sanded finish on his resin which created air bubbles that dirt and sand can get stuck in. I decided to use an epoxy which is lighter and stronger and ˆdidn’t sand it.

Where and when did you go on your trip? Did you have a guide?

I left for the trip in October, driving solo from Carpenteria to San Francisco then straight to Tofino. I picked up Jeremy Korenski in Tofino and we headed out to Haida Gwaii. Jeremy had been to Haida Gwaii a couple times so he knew how to navigate the town. It was his first time camping out there though; we were about 45 minutes out of town for over a week with no heaters just 0 degree sleeping bags. We made it all the way up to Prince Rupert and Port Harvey. The ferries were long restless nights sleeping on the floor under public benches. Once we got back to Vancouver Island, I headed straight to Portland and went to the Oregon Coast to surf and camp at Pacific City. From there, I drove back solo to San Francisco and through Big Sur to Carpentaria. The entire trip was about 4500 miles and about a month in total.

How was the surf?

Drop Box was the best I’ve ever seen. We ran into some bad wind in Tofino, and weren’t even sure if we could make it out to Haida Gwaii. We were lucky enough to get a window and made it out to Haida Gwaii for some fun waves with nobody around. It was freezing out there, around 40 Fahrenheit during the day. Camping was gnarly; we would get a pre-fire going on the beach before we went out for a surf so we could stay warm when we got in from the water. Some days we would just drink tons of coffee, go surf, then get in the car and drive to the next spot with the heater blasting. Your wetsuit doesn’t dry out there so you have to deal with a freezing cold suit every time. I would get all psycho-warrior status to hype myself up just to put on my wetsuit as quick as possible.

Can you tell us a bit about working with Ian Durkin, Jeremy Koreski and Erin Feinblatt to make ‘BIGFOOT COUNTRY’? How did you align with such a good group of people?

Nobody even knew each other. Erin is older and handy with tools, so it was awesome while he was filming me build the camper in Carpenteria. He would give me some tips and tricks. Jeremy and I met when I was 19, and we have been on about six trips since. He is super creative and motivated, which is always great to be around. Ian is smart with the movies. It was impressive having him direct something without filming it; he is a real idea man. We all did our part in directing it, but Ian had some specific shots he wanted us to get and an overall idea for editing. Despite being all over the map, I think it came together quite well.

What kind of role or influence do trips like this have on your art?

I did a boat trip to the “great bear rainforest” in Northern BC about 3 years ago where I got a ton of inspiration for my art that still continues today. We were a crew of about 10 or so and one of the girls would cook meals for us all. She saw me drawing one evening and noticed some similarities between my art and Inuit Canadian art from the 70’s. I’d never heard of it before. As soon as we got back I did some research and I absolutely fell in love.

During that same trip the captain would tell stories. He was an awesome storyteller… totally cliche captain … He’d tell stories of bigfoot sightings he’d heard about in the area. That spawned a whole series of bigfoot art for me. This trip had a really big impact on me and my art for some reason… to be honest surf trips usually don’t have any influence on my art at all.

Why did you choose to live the life that you do and what has held you back?

I’m not sure exactly… I suppose its because if I ever want anything I usually obsess over getting it. That’s not always a good thing.

Living the way I do is the only way I can think how to. I weigh other options or think about living differently and it just doesn’t excite me as much. I’m pretty darn content with my path but like anyone I definitely have goals and improvements I’m shooting for. Nothing has really held me back…

I guess not having an insane amount of money has held me back in particular departments, but even then wouldn’t change much. I live on a sailboat, so I’d just have a bigger nicer boat I guess?

Thanks to…

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