It's been a year since my first Dawn Patrol Column, and I've never witnessed a better one for consistent surf and good conditions.

The U.S. Open coincided with one of the biggest south swells in recent years, we had warm sunshine all summer, El Niño kept the water warm well into fall, Hawaii's North Shore fired all season and hit 35 feet plus several times and that meant an outstanding winter here as well.

We had surfing film premiers, book releases, a museum opening and a surf music symposium — all the work of local surfers. We saw the explosion of stand-up paddling. We lost a few friends while others had some bad luck, and I saw the surfing community pull together in support.

During this special year I was able to be a full-time surf bum. As The Beatles wrote, "Oh that magic feeling, nowhere to go."

I had the time to travel for waves, run down stories, and stumble upon things I'd normally never see. I had a lot of fun sharing these experiences with you.

Now I'm back to being an 8 to 5 workin' Joe so this will be my last column, for a while anyway.

I won't say "goodbye" because I'll still be covering special events and submitting articles from time to time, but I do want to say thank you for all your kind words of encouragement and making this a year I'll cherish.

I met some legends, some young high school and college surfers, and some senior surfers who are just as young in spirit and enthusiasm. I made some new friends, Paul Burnett, Dr. Laird Hayes, The Three Wise Men, the kind people at Almond, Foam E-Z, and many others who helped me.

I'd like to thank (former city editor) Paul Anderson for giving me the opportunity, sports editor Steve Virgen, Nancy Clark, who inspired me to take on the challenge, and my buddy Rat Jr., who accompanied me on some of my escapades and always had some choice words of wisdom.

If I don't see you in the lineup you might catch my alter ego at a summer concert as I portray bassist Bill Wyman in our Rolling Stones show "Jumping Jack Flash" ( www.jjflash.biz) — a shameless plug, I realize.

I'll leave you with a last piece of surf news – tickets are already available for the second annual Surf Fest, July 17, hosted by the Sons of the American Legion Post 291 at 15th and the bay, Newport Beach. This is a day of surf bands, surf chicks, vintage cars, chili cook-off and more. Last year the event sold out quickly and a lot of people were scrambling for tickets.

I didn't see it on their web site yet ( www.al291.com/sites/sal) but it'll probably be up after the Dave Mason concert tomorrow night. In the meantime you can get tickets at Post 291.