Nightmares and claustrophobia plague World War II veteran Eric Stone. His German twin brother died in his arms and that later led to him being imprisoned.
Troubled and restless, Eric leaves his relatives in Colorado and rides a motorcycle to the California coast. Is he searching for happiness, a place he can really call home, or trying to fulfill a promise to his dying Hawaiian friend who wanted to teach him how to ride a surfboard? Eric told him he would somehow learn.
Eric only knows his uncle, Colonel James Stone, will be home soon, and right now he's too angry to confront him. Near the coast, a car runs Eric off the road then rams the Arroyo Grande high school bus. Though injured, Eric hobbles to the site. His assistance to the injured students endears him to families in the coastal town. He stays all summer, manages to fulfill his promise, makes many good friends, and falls in love with Kathy Ryan, but almost loses, all he gains.