Florida Cracker Tour – Two Days in Jacksonville
Posted on Monday, March 21, 2005 by Rob Meronek
"Florida Cracker" Tour - Two Days in JacksonvilleWords by Ryan Clements, Photos and Captions by Rob Meronek
Here's the breakdown on the crew and their Florida Cracker authenticity:
Chris Lehman: Florida Cracker all the way. I bet both of his parents were born here, too.
Matt Giles: Matt is such a redneck that he was not only born in Florida, but he popped out-the-womb with a shovel in hand.
Allen Russell: Yep, Big Al was born in The Sunshine State, too.
Rob Meronek: Rob is half Phlip/half Pollock and was actually born in the Phillipines. But he makes fun of Asians more than anyone, which means his Polish side is shining brightly.
Scotty Conley: Scotty was born in Rhode Island or somewhere up there in the northeast, but he could definitely pass for a Florida Cracker.
Ryan Clements: I was born a Yankee, but no one in the north really cares about that, so I claim, "American by birth, Southern by the grace of God!"
We left Skatepark on Saturday morning at 10:30am, but not before we taught Lessons to the kiddies. The traffic to Jax was nearly unbearable. I-4 is completely out of control. The four hour drive took 5.5 hours due to the roads, so we made it to the parking lot of Skatelab at around 4pm, but we immediately went to the local pool.
Dave Swade's Pool
We pulled up, grabbed our sticks, and were messing around out front on the street. I remember Allen saying, "You'd better stop skating flatground before you get made fun of. Good luck in there." I was thinking, "What do I care? I feel comfortable anywhere, so how is this any different?"
Lehman, Giles, and I made our way through the gate, past the dog, and into the pool area. It was one of those pretty uncomfortable moments that every one of us experiences at some point in our lives. There were about 40 people back there, obviously all friends, and then just us. No one really said anything to us…they just looked us up and down as we made our way in.
It seemed like anyone that was skating was open game to anyone that was drinking beer on the sidelines. Giles noticed that pretty much everyone was wearing helmets except for us and said, "Maybe there is a helmet rule or something. Should we get helmets?" I was thinking, "There is no way that there are ANY rules at this place," and right at that point, I finally saw someone I knew, Kevin Graver, who happened to be skating without a helmet. Kevin saw me and said hello, and at that point a couple guys started being friendly.
The next couple of hours was spent skating (and I'll speak for myself), looking pretty much like a complete fool in that pool compared to the crew in attendance. To make my situation worse, of all things that I could have done, I shot my board out on a frontside grind attempt and hit the damn dog in the mouth as he was barking at me. At that point I figured that I was going to get lynched, but I apologized and everything was cool.
Those guys absolutely destroyed that pit, with Buck Smith sticking out as my favorite. I hadn't seen Buck skate in person ever in a real pool, and damn, but there's no reason that he should be swinging a hammer for a living. He's definitely one of the best pool riders there is.
Jax has a really gnarly scene. These guys are a motley group of beer drinking, real-ass skateboarders looking for a fun time. That was one of the tightest scenes that I've ever experienced - I wish we had that type of solidarity in Tampa. Maybe I'll be the one to build a pool in my backyard. Many thanks and much respect to Dave Swade and the rest of the crew there that day.
Old Mil Bowl Jam at Skatelab
The contest was actually sponsored by Old Milwaukee Beer, and they had free beer for everyone 21 and up. You got two runs and then there was a 20-minute jam. Here are the results:
21-29 Results1st - Joe "Joehio" Marrara - I've never seen this guy before, but he totally nailed 1st with a gigantic bag of moves
2nd - Tim Johnson does higher airs on small tranny than anyone
3rd - Chris Lehman was a crowd favorite, but the bs boneless revert over the hip was the killer
30+ Results1st - Buck Smith ruled it. He did a wallride from the deck into the vert wall…you have to go there to see how gnarly it is
2nd - Schmitty had killer lines and rad smith grinds
3rd - Carl Naegele can do ever trick that you've never seen before
Worst Slam went to Buck for his collision-shoulder-clip-somersault into the shallow end, but I think that it should have gone to the girl that actually fell into the bowl when trying to walk around it, courtesy of Old Mil.
Click here to see video footage of the chick falling into the bowl.
Our hotel was literally right down the road, and so was Vixen's. I heard that Vixen's wasn't too hot, but since we could walk there and I didn't want to drive, that's where we ended up. The three girls dancing were entertaining, but I wouldn't say that I'm going back again.
Carl Naegele's RampThe next morning came quick and we started with a sidewalk session in The Best Inn parking lot. We got an invite from a friend of mine to head off I-95 on the way home for a pit-stop at his ramp.
If you follow the site, then you know that we visited the Banana Ramp last November in Austin, Texas. I didn't know that the mini version of the Banana Ramp was a few hours from my house, just outside Jacksonville. It's built, owned, and maintained by straight-up Florida Cracker and professional skateboarder, Carl Naegele. When the directions ended with, "It's the first trailer on the right," then I knew it was going to be rad.
Amongst the broken-down cars, half-built sheds, outdated A/C units, 55-gallon drums, and shadowed by a forest of gigantic pine trees is a gnarly little slice of Floridian skateboarding heaven. This mini-ramp is one-of-a-kind, with a spine, hip, multiple bowl corners, and some of the weirdest extensions that I've ever ridden.
Carl is absolutely the most amazing skateboarder. If we gave skaters paychecks based on strictly ability, and not coolness, then Carl would be banking! I'm not saying that Carl isn't cool, but he's just not marketable as far as skateboarding business goes. Just go skate his place with him and you'll see what I mean.
Carl was born and raised on that very piece of property, and as far as I can see it, there's no reason for him to ever leave. How he discovered skateboarding with no paved roads is beyond me, but he's an inspiration.
The drive home was just as brutal as the drive there. At one point the traffic was completely stopped, so I turned off the truck and we busted out our sticks for a session on I-4. If you read this far…thanks. I could write more and give you more details, but you still wouldn't get the Florida Cracker experience for yourself. So why don't you hop in your car this weekend and go skate somewhere new?