East Coast/Woodward Road Trip 2004
Posted on Thursday, July 08, 2004 by Rob Meronek
East Coast/Woodward Road Trip 2004Words by Ryan Clements
Photos and captions by Rob Meronek
Tuesday, July 6, 2004 @ 7:15am – Motel 6 in Florence, SC
Driving up the east coast is relatively easy compared to going to the mid-west, but the traffic was horrible in Orlando and just outside of Jacksonville. It took over five hours just to get the hell out of Florida. Due to work, we couldn’t leave until about noon yesterday, so we only made it as far as northern South Carolina. We’re pretty close to that ‘South of the Border’ place, which Scotty is insisting that we stop at. I’ve done that once and it will never happen again.
Our plans today are to drive straight to Philly, with a quick stop in D.C. We’re staying with Sean’s grandmother in N.J., which is just over the bridge from the City of Brotherly Love. This ain’t no Thrasher King of the Road, but the Philly challenges are as follows:
1. Visit Kerry Getz’s skate shop, Nocturnal
2. Have a drink at Tattooed Mom
3. Eat a cheesesteak at Pat’s
4. Skate FDR
5. Check out LOVE
6. Surprise Cousin Mike and take him to Cheerleaders
Wednesday, July 7, 2004 @ 9:48am – Thelma’s house in Pennsauken, NJ (Sean’s grandmother’s house)
When we hit the road yesterday morning, I realized that I forgot to write about the epic session that we had next door to Motel 6 last night. Scotty was on a mission and found a spot – it was a real long, mellow embankment with a curb on top that didn’t slide. I’ve always said that wherever there are hills, there are spots. I believe that statement generally holds true.
But as we were driving through Wilmington, DE, I remembered this spot that I used to skate off of Concord Pike. The last time I skated this place was in 1991 – damn, we’re talking 15 years. The ditch was a bit under the weather. I don’t think that the local skaters there are doing that good of a job keeping the ditch clean, but the bank next to it looked like it was getting ridden pretty regularly. Once again, Scotty was the ripper of the session – check the photos. Those moments composed a particularly good time for me based on the reminiscence factor. Damn, I’ve been doing this for a long time…
Next stop: Sean’s grandmother’s house. Her home is in a small town that’s only about 15 minutes outside of Philly, just over the bridge into NJ. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s so “New Jersey.” You either have to have lived there or have to be very familiar with the place to understand what I’m saying, but believe me, it’s very “New Jersey.”
Culture shock really kicked in when we went back to Philly and picked up Aunt Carol and Cousin Mike, who didn’t have any idea we were coming until about 5pm when I called and told them we’d be in the area. The streets of South Philly are definitely not designed to accommodate a Ford F-350. Scotty and Rob were tripping on the cars everywhere and the people sitting on the porches. When I say “cars everywhere,” I really, really mean it. People are double, and even triple parked so bad that a couple of times I had to do three-point-turns just to go left or right at a stop sign.
Dinner was had at an authentic Italian joint called Marra’s…it was good and cheap. Then we dropped off Aunt Carol and went to one of my favorite Philly spots, Cheerleaders. Mission #5: Accomplished. That’s all I’m saying about that.
Thelma just cooked breakfast and then we’re meeting Andrew Cannon at FDR for an early gnar session. Hopefully we have time to sightsee a bit, too…Philadelphia represent!
Thursday, July 08, 2004 @ 7:10pm – Bud’s Barn at Woodward Camp, PA
Once again, Scotty managed to be the shredder of the session. He flew around that place like there was no tomorrow. Also, we got to shred with Damn Am Minneapolis winner, Andrew Cannon, and Mike Mazur from Resolve. Much thanks and respect to the guys that built the stuff at FDR – that spot will put you in your place.
Mike was our tour guide for the morning and took us to Pat’s – King of Steaks, right there on Pasyunk St. Pat’s is a world famous steak joint and it’s right there in dirty-ass South Philly. Rob wasn’t feeling it, but my cheesesteak with onions was choice. But you know what’s weird? They use Cheese Whiz for the cheese. Although I would have preferred Provolone, I kept it authentic and went for the Whiz. We said our goodbyes and made our way to Woodward. Although we didn’t get to visit Nocturnal, LOVE, or Tattooed Mom, the Philly portion of the trip was still considered a success.
The drive to Camp went fast – everyone was still super-hyped on FDR and ready to skate Woodward. Central Pennsylvania has some nice scenery to check out…tons and tons of trees, hills, and mountains. Considering that Woodward is literally out in the middle of nowhere, you get to travel down some cool roads. The interstate turns into a two-lane highway and then the highway basically turns into a street with people’s homes on it and 25 M.P.H. speed limits.
Rob and I couldn’t wait to skate, but Scotty chilled – he wanted to save his energy for the next day. We had just made it over to the mellow, warm-up bowl and it started to rain. And then it started to really dump, Florida style. Man, that’s the hardest rain that I’ve seen in a long time. So we just skated in what’s called The School. They built this new, really tight quarter in there since last year. The session lasted for an hour or so, and we conceded that it was time to hit the bar.
Drinks are cheap at the local watering hole – Brownies in Milheim is the spot and the vodka-tonics are only $2. We didn’t stay long for we had to rip the next morning.
It didn’t really hit me until right now, but this time at Woodward is the best. All I did today was eat, hang out, talk crap, eat, answer emails, write, hang out, and oh yeah…skate. I just finished a great session at The Rock with Matt Milligan, Scotty, Allen Russell, and a whole bunch of really cool, young guys. Rob was over it, so he just shot the photos. He told me that since the internet connection is so slow here that we’re going to have to wait until we get to a faster one to upload the pics…bummer.
I’m looking out the door here in Bud’s Barn where I’m staying. We have our own private rooms and baths and the amenities include ping pong, pool, foosball, firepole, a big-screen TV, and a great view. Time to clean up and head back to Brownies.
Friday, July 09, 2004 @ 11:13am – Bud’s Barn at Woodward Camp, PA
We skipped Brownies last night and drove straight to State College. Does anyone know what the hell a Nittnay Lion is? I’m assuming that it’s some type of cougar or something, but let me tell you…Penn State is one happening place. College Ave. is an Yborish-type scene, with tons of bars, restaurants, and clubs. But there’s one exception – it’s cheap as hell since it’s a college town. We ended up at Crowbar and rocked out to some 80’s cover band and enjoyed nickel drinks. Another thing – if you’re a single guy and you couldn’t pick up a chick in that joint, there’s something wrong with you. I swear that there were two girls to every one guy. Considering I was literally the oldest looking person in there, I wasn’t getting too many looks, except maybe some 21-year-old girls wondering what’s up with the guy with gray hair.
Crowbar got peaced-out at about midnight and the search for diesel fuel was on. After driving around State College for about 15 minutes and finding no diesel, I thought that we could make it back to Camp and worry about it in the morning. On the way back to camp, we stopped in Millheim and had a couple of beers right there in the street with a rowdy crew of BMXers. When we finally arrived back at Camp, the truck read “2 Miles to Empty.” Yikes. Running out of diesel is a big deal. Apparently you have a mechanic do something to it. Sean manned-up and got some fuel for the F-350 this morning.
The crew is super-mellow today. I’m trying to get everyone together for a ‘ropes course’ session. It’s this crazy obstacle course that’s like 40ft. in the air where you do a bunch of crazy climbing.
Saturday, July 10, 2004 @ 12:22pm – Bud’s Barn at Woodward Camp, PA
Yesterday was what I would call the ‘full Woodward experience.’ The ropes course was pretty damn intimidating. It’s basically a bunch of rope-swing type obstacles that go from tree to tree. You’re completely strapped in with harnesses and safety lines, but it’s still scary as hell. At the highest point you’re about 50ft. above the forest floor. Scotty and I did all of the obstacles while Rob took the short cut. Milligan went over two of them and then turned right around and peaced out. He watched the rest of us from the ground.
You have to use a lot of upper-body strength to get through the course, so my arms are a bit sore today. From there we grabbed some food and then it was off to ride horses. Sean said, “It’s like we’re filming City Slickers, Part 3!” It was the first time on a horse for the entire crew – we looked about as dumb as kids at a skate park on razor scooters…totally clueless. Horses are huge, but I couldn’t help but think, “I feel bad for this poor dude with my fat ass sitting on him and telling him what to do.” My horse’s name was Ebony, and he had a cool personality. I was at the end of the pack and had to continuously steer him or else he had the tendency to walk into the woods and smash my legs into trees. I thought I had it all under control, but when we started trotting it got gnar. The next time I ride I’m going to wear some whitey-tighties and jeans for increased “protection.” How much does it cost to buy a horse?
We put up the horses and grabbed our shred sticks. The session went down at The Rock for nearly two hours. Milligan was ripping the bank to picnic table with fs pop-shuvs to manuals and the barricade with 180’s to switch crooks. Scotty threw down some great airs out of the bowl that had the kids psyched. I opted for the tight quarter and clocked in about 10 good slams during the session. The majority of the skaters were in Lot 8 for the street contest, so The Rock had just the right number of riders. Good times…
At about 9:30pm we headed into town to go to Brownies, the local pub. It must have been ‘locals only night’ or something, because we were getting vibed pretty bad. One guy asked Scotty, “Are you from Camp?” Scotty said, “Yes, my name is Scotty. What’s yours?” and put his hand out. The reply was, “I can’t shake your hand.” In addition, the bartender did all but refuse to fill my drink order.
Since the Heartbreakers was open, we bailed on Brownies. Heartbreakers is a gentleman’s establishment. To get a good picture of what the three dancers looked like, imagine a town out in the middle of nowhere with a population of about 2000. Then, think of the female workers in the local convenient store in that town. That’s what the girls looked like.
Camp is dead as hell today. All of the kids get shipped out on Saturday and the new pack comes in on Sunday. Allen Russell just told me that there’s a session going down at some ditch down the road, so we’re going to check that out.
Saturday, July 10, 2004 @ 10:44pm – Bud’s Barn at Woodward Camp, PA
It was about a 30-minute drive to the ditch. The ditch is located in the now-infamous State College. It seems that a lot of stuff that we’ve skated on the trip has been gnar, and the ditch ranked at the top of the list. When we first got there I was thinking, “Whatever. No one is going to do anything on this piece.” Big Al Russell soon showed us what’s up with the tail-drop in off the ledge, to ride the top of the wall, to ollie into the steepest part of the ditch. Whoa…he broke it off. Milligan ollied up to bs 50-50 on the cinder blocks that were barely being held on there by some weak-ass Quickcrete. And Seanie did some crazy alley-oop ish on the BMX bike.
Big Al was on the phone and asked if we were interested in going to a rope swing. I agreed, and the session ended. We met Dave Malinsky and he led the way. Dave claimed that it was a 15-20 minute drive. After about 45 minutes of cruising some serious PA roads about 30 miles over the speed limit, we arrived at the hugest rope swing into some river that I have ever seen. The entire mission was completely stealth…we were driving down the sides of railroad tracks and the whole deal. During our two-hour visit, there must have been six trains barging by…it was total American industrial power at its finest. I have a squashed quarter to prove it, too.
Scotty killed the rope swing with a back-flip dismount on his first try. Milligan, Russell, Albright, and myself were the cool guys…we just hung out and drank beer. Some of the locals were there on 4x4 Polaris vehicles – it was super-cool when they drove them straight through the river.
We busted out of there at about 6pm and headed back to State College to meet Darin Hazel, one of the Woodward directors, for dinner. After arriving about 40 minutes late, we were finally able to track down Darin. Dinner at The Tavern was choice, and the chicks in State College were once again kicking. I’m so lame in my shorts and black socks that chicks that I wasn’t even looking at were hating on me. Whatever…I’m used to it by now. We’re back at Camp now and we’re heading out in the morning.
I can’t even express my gratitude to the folks at Woodward. We’ve all agreed several times that his has been by far the best time that we’ve ever had on this type of trip. Props goes out to Woodward for letting us be skateboarders and allowing us to participate this summer. We hope to come back ASAP.
Look out, Aunt Ro…we’ll be knocking at your door by noon on Sunday. I’m waking up, driving the crazy-ass, rural PA roads, and team managing, so I’m going to bed, but Sean, Scotty, and Rob are heading back to State College. May the force be with you, my friends…
Sunday, July 11, 2004 – Aunt Ro’s house in Wilmington, DE
The Amish were out in force this morning. The drive to Aunt Ro’s was great – I specifically enjoyed the scenery of the Susquehanna River. We surprised Aunt Ro with a knock on her door and now we’re just hanging out. We’re going to a BBQ at my cousin’s house in about an hour and then it’s off to check out some memorial in D.C.
Thursday, July 15, 2004 – My Office at Skatepark of Tampa
It was great to be able to stop by and see my family while on a skate trip. Much thanks to Scotty, Sean, and Rob for taking their time to hang with The Perrinos – it’s my little version of The Sopranos. My young, female cousins are even beginning to resemble Adriana from the infamous HBO series.
D.C. was great. It never fails…every time I go to the Vietnam Memorial I get a bit choked up. I’m not talking about all out crying, but something awkward happens at that place. When you’re walking up, everyone is talking about whatever at a normal tone of voice, but when you actually get to the wall, no one really has anything to say. I guess knowing the fact that all of the names on the wall belong to kids that fought – and died – for our country, hits home to most Americans. We also checked out the Lincoln as well as the Korean War Memorial. “Freedom is not free,” Baby!