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A Bruin Guide to a Great Summer

By Mark Davis

Published Jul 1, 2007 8:00 AM

Bruins are a multifaceted breed, so it's only natural that they develop expertise far from what they studied in college. We caught up with some alumni experts and convinced them to share their secrets for making summer sizzle.

Photos by Hugh Hamilton

Save Your Skin: Elaine Youngs '93

Native Southern Californian Elaine Youngs grew up in the sun, and for the last 13 years she's played professional volleyball, both on and off the beach. She's won more than 30 tournaments, was an MVP in 2002, and won an Olympic medal with fellow Bruin and AVP competitor Holly McPeak. Here are her tips for enjoying the summer without risking your skin.

Skin care is not pretty

Skin care was once about vanity. These days, it's about health. "Sure, we risk looking much older than we actually are at a younger age," Youngs says, "but we also risk skin cancer and other permanent damage."

Top it off and smear it on

"First, wear a hat. You can never have too much coverage for your face. Second, I apply Ocean Potion sunscreen every day before I head to the beach, and I use a higher quality product on my face. I reapply often." How often? Every couple of hours, she says, and especially after going into the water. Waterproof sun block helps, especially with perspiration. Always test sun blocks on a small patch of your own skin before heading out, to avoid allergic reactions.

Save the tat

Skin art needs special attention. When left exposed to sun, tattoo ink can change color drastically, turning a pricey piece of art into a murky mess. "I have a tattoo on my left wrist. It always has sunscreen on it. During tournaments I give it extra protection by wrapping athletic tape around it."

Limit your exposure

"I try to stay in the shade and wear something that covers my body if I have to be on the beach all day," Youngs says. And while you're dressing, don't forget the eyes, since exposure to ultraviolet rays can take a toll on your vision. "Protecting our eyes is very important. I wear Oakley sunglasses [with UV protection]. I never go into the sun without them."

Get wet

Once you're out of the sun, remember to moisturize, Youngs says. A regular regime will help repair and protect the skin. "I use moisturizer in the mornings and after showering, and I use a more expensive moisturizer on my face. I loofah my whole body a few times a week to get rid of dry skin and to allow my skin to replenish itself ... No one wants to look like a leather handbag, especially at a young age."

The Art of the Barbecue: Hayward Harris Jr. '74

During the week, he's a risk manager with the County of Los Angeles. But come the weekend, Hayward Harris Jr. transforms into The Rib Doctor, taking his old-school, custom-built smoker, Big Bertha, and his barbecuing skills to competitions around the country. Sometimes he judges, sometimes he competes, and often he wins.

Flavor guide

The Rib Doctor explains it all: how wood smoke and sauce combine to create unique regional flavors

Name that flavor

Charcoal or propane?

"That's a heated battle right now," Harris says slyly. "Propane is cleaner and convenient. But those of us who believe in true traditional barbecue don't use gas. It doesn't give you the same taste or experience."

Smoke signals

Charcoal alone isn't enough. Indirect cooking with smoke from hardwood is the key to flavor, Harris says. He is an expert on smoke-and- meat combinations.

Poultry and fish need a lighter smoke. Harris recommends a blend of apple and oak.Thicker cuts of meat need a heavier smoke. In Southern California, that is usually a blend of mesquite and oak. Add hickory, if you can find it.

Finding flavor

Most big box stores carry wood chips or chunks in the barbecue section. Harris also recommends California Charcoal & Firewood, in Commerce, Calif. Just don't shop in the lumber yard, he warns. You can't trust age or labeling or know if the wood's been treated with potentially harmful chemicals.

For adding flavor, Harris suggests transforming your regular kettle grill into a smoky slow-cooker. (Even without smoke, the technique can help you avoid meat that's burnt on the outside and raw in the middle.) Start with soaking the wood chips or chunks in water. Most packaging will give specific directions.

Location is everything

Build a fire on only one side of your grill to give you hot and cool zones. When the coals are hot, add the wood to create the smoke.

When cooking, move the meat between the hot and cool sides. Give yourself plenty of time to leave the cuts on the cool side. Keep the lid on so the smoke can heat the meat and infuse it with flavor. Move it to the hot side toward the end to make it hot and crispy.

Cook smart

"Always cook poultry with the skin on," Harris cautions. "It keeps the meat moist and succulent, and you can always pull the skin off after cooking."

Harris also recommends using probe or quick-read thermometers to take the guesswork out of knowing when the meat is safe for the serving platter.

What about sauce?

"I'm not a sauce fan," Harris says. "If you've seasoned and cooked the meat properly, the flavor will be there." If you like sauce, serve it on the side, he says. Never add it during cooking. For competitions, Harris developed his own sauce recipe in 1989, and, except for a few minor adjustments, it's the sauce he still uses.

"It meets you with a sweet, goes to a tang and there's a kiss of heat at the end," says The Rib Doctor. For now, the sauce recipe is top secret as he preps the product for commercial release.

For Harris' list of wood blends, regions and flavors, see the "Flavor guide" (above).

Quiet Rides: Tee Bosustow '60

Though he toiled in the entertainment industry for years, the job title of which Tee Bosustow is proudest is "father." For more than 20 years and countless road trips between Los Angeles and San Francisco, he developed a game to keep daughter Sylvie and himself entertained and connected. This summer, switch off the iPods, Game Boys and in-dash DVD players, he suggests, and try his lo-tech approach to peace on the road.

Game time

"When Sylvie was little, we had a long-drive game," Bosustow says. "It came out of reading her bedtime stories. I found it tedious to read the same books over and over." One night, he suggested that they create their own story together. The game had two rules: Sylvie had to invent three characters; her father had to make up a story that included all three. "Sylvie came up with some really wacko characters, not easy to weave together into one cohesive narrative." He ticks off some of the oddballs, such as Gunz Bunny, Rocky Rock and Tommy Toilet.

Nap time

"To her apparent delight, I somehow managed to make them all friends and come up with an exciting adventure," he says. "I would try to incorporate a moral from her day's activities, and I'd always end with the three of them going to sleep, in hopes it would help her fall asleep."

Go longer

For really long drives, the rules changed. Bosustow invented the characters, which allowed him to watch the road, and Sylvie was kept occupied dreaming up the stories. "We were utterly captivated by the ideas she weaved into her stories. If you give kids half a chance, they take us on some remarkable journeys. Her stories made the most boring drive a journey that was something extra special."

What goes around comes around

All these years later, it's clear that both father and daughter got more than peaceful car rides from their mutual storytelling. This past spring, Bosustow and Sylvie, now 21, made another run between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

"The tables have turned considerably," he says. "She is driving, we are in her car, and she has decided which route to take — the much faster 5, not my favorite, which is the slower, more scenic 101. She kept me entertained the entire trip."

Life in the Raft Lane: Tessa Sibbet '04

Tessa Sibbet began river-guiding after her sophomore year at UCLA. Six summers later, she's guiding in Idaho and California for All-Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting. Sibbet also does the company's Web marketing with fellow guide Robyn Suddeth '04. Here, Sibbet explains how to run the rapids without getting in too deep.

Clothes make the rafter

"Flip-flop sandals are a sure sign that you've never been rafting before," Sibbet says. What happens to the unfortunates who wear them? "We have to duct-tape the flip-flops to their feet." So, best to wear footgear that will stay on your feet, sans tape, like Keens, Chacos, neoprene booties or running shoes.

Dress for the weather, but remember that it's cooler in the mountains. "In the summer, gear should be simple. A hat, quick-dry water sports shorts, and a swimsuit. In the spring, it's all about staying warm by wearing layers. Don't wear cotton on the river, especially if it's cold." She suggests synthetic fabrics. Most companies will rent wetsuits and splash tops for when the weather is cool.

Water falling

Once you hit the water, she says, don't worry too much about falling out. Novices want to duck and lean into the boat, which is a mistake. "It helps to have a paddle in the water going through the meat of the rapids, because it's another point of contact and adds stability," she says. "Also, it will help ensure that the boat gets through the rapid."

Experienced rafters, however, may get overly confident. "They forget to work as a team, or they stop respecting the smaller rapids. They are often the ones to fall out."

Enjoy the ride

If you're rafting with friends, you'll bond over the experience. If you're rafting with strangers, expect to exchange e-mails by the end of the trip. Finally, Sibbet says to challenge yourself with a multiday experience. "You become a close-knit group. And you get to explore the canyons more intimately; relax in side creeks with pools, waterfalls and jumping rocks; spend the night under the stars and eat gourmet meals on the river. It is one of the most relaxing and fun ways to spend a vacation."

A Better Backpack: Kristin Richter '06

A year ago, Kristin Richter had barely been beyond the U.S. border. That changed with a two-month, 10-country European adventure. After eight weeks of hauling her own load, Richter mastered the art of backpack living. For those with a strong sense of wanderlust, she's happy to pass along the tips she picked up along the way.

Pack perfect

It starts with choosing the perfect backpack. "Look for a backpack with a few separate compartments [to keep liquids away from clothing], hefty straps [including the around-the-waist clip] and one that feels comfortable to carry. Wheels are a big no-no, unless it's a convertible version with backpack straps attached; cobblestone streets and rolling suitcases are a bad combination."

Keep it light

Always think light and versatile; the less stuff you have to lug, the happier you will be. The necessities, according to Richter, include one pair of comfortable shoes, up to seven shirts, two pairs of jeans, two pairs of shorts or skirts, one sweatshirt or jacket, seven pairs of socks, one swimsuit and lots of underwear. Buy toiletries at your destination, she says, but for emergencies, pack a shampoo/conditioner 2-in-1, cologne or perfume (for long, shower-free train rides), bar soap and one washcloth and towel. "Bring plenty of Ziploc bags for packing," she adds.

Limit the gadgets but bring a Swiss Army knife, a few paperbacks, a journal, MP3 player, granola and energy bars, copies of important travel documents (passport, plane tickets), digital camera (and batteries or a charger), an outlet converter and a small first-aid kit. "Typically, hostels provide linens either for free or for a small fee," Richter says, "so unless you're planning on camping, you can forgo the sleeping bag."

Fitting in

"Always fold clothes. Pack the items you use less near the bottom and put more important items where they are accessible. Pack toiletries in the bottom compartment, so they're separate from clothing and electronics. Leave some extra space for souvenirs." As for valuables, Richter says, "Don't bring anything that would upset you to lose. For iPods and travel documents, most hostels in Europe provide free or inexpensive lockers, but you may have to provide your own lock."

Look, listen and learn

"Can you get your backpack on without giving yourself a hernia?" Richter asks. If you're struggling, reexamine the contents and eliminate. "Ask if you really need to bring your hair-dryer or security blanket." Before you travel, Richter suggests, "Try to book your hostel ahead of time because of the high volume of tourists." That can vary from a few days to a month before your arrival. Finally, glean information from your fellow travelers. "I looked for hostels that had a bar, common room or a social atmosphere in order to meet people. I learned a lot, made some amazing friends. Often the best travel advice came not from a guidebook, but from the person who just came from my next destination."