The monster wave approached. It had to be 20 or 30 feet. Undaunted, I paddled forward. Well, all right, maybe it's more like 2 or 3 feet. But does size really matter?I jumped onto the board, turned into the crest and caught it. And for three mind-numbing seconds, I stood up -- love handles dancing in the air.Dude, I'm surfin'.There are worse places to be in the summer than Carlsbad, Calif. About 35 miles north of San Diego, the beach town has bright sun, good bars and restaurants and oh-so-tasty waves. It doesn't get much more SoCal than this. The weather is about 75 degrees, the water temperature about 70. If you want to learn to surf, this is the place.This was an end-of-summer vacation with my wife and two teenagers. A four-day surf camp promised good weather, physical activity and maybe even a remedy for a midlife crisis. Surfing lessons are cheaper than a Mercedes convertible and safer than friending your recently divorced high school flame on Facebook. And it rocks. Just ask Rusty, Keenan or Evan.