Make-A-Wish Road Trip 2004

Posted on Thursday, November 04, 2004 by Ryan

Make-A-Wish Road Trip 2004
Words by Ryan Clements, Photos and Captions by Rob Meronek

Wednesday, November 3, 2004 @ 7:51am CT at Super 8 Inn in Mobile, Alabama
We got started a bit late yesterday, but it really didn’t matter. The plan was to leave Skatepark at 9am, but Scotty called and said that he was still waiting in the voting lines. I thought that was a legitimate excuse enough to not leave him, so we waited on The Body. It was only Tuesday and we have until Friday to get to Southside Skatepark in Houston, Texas. When Scotty arrived at nearly 10am, the trek began. I don’t know how he managed to do it, but Jim went the wrong way from the Skatepark. That put Jim’s car about 30 minutes behind ours, but when we arrived at Tallahassee Skate Park in mid-afternoon, Jim pulled up next to the F-350 less than 10 minutes later.

Tallahassee Skate Park
I never pass Tallahassee without hitting up their free, cement, and public skate park. Did I also mention that there are no pad rules? Thanks once again to the City of Tallahassee for creating a spot where skateboarders feel welcome. The session went down for about two hours. We brought Svenson to film this entire mission, so I think that extended the session a bit because everyone wanted to get their stuff on tape. If you like cement parks that aren’t too huge, then this is the place for you. The quarter-pipes range from about 5’ – 9’ tall and all have perfect steel coping. There’s also a pyramid area and a bigger bowl. In addition, there are a couple of benches and ledges that you can prop down in various spots.

Everything went great except for one unfortunate incident. Ian Gow folded his ankle and is yet to skate again. Hopefully it will be healed by Saturday for the demo at Southside Skatepark in Houston.

Thursday, November 4, 2004 @ 9:47am at Wellesley Inn & Suites in Austin, Texas
We were on the road by 8:30am yesterday morning, with a long-ass drive ahead of us. Having Rob Meronek along for the ride always makes the time pass more quickly. He hooks up the laptop and we watch movies. Yesterday’s feature presentations were Kill Bill and Super Troopers. As the sun set and the temperature dropped, we arrived at Skatepark of Austin. Ironically, the Think team was scheduled to do a demo, so we got to skate with Terrell Robinson, Daryl Angel, and Jake Nunn, with surprise guest, Neal Mims. The team was headed by none other than Justin “Ears” Williams.

Skatepark of Austin
Skatepark of Austin has an amazing bowl...one of the best ever. It goes from 6’ – 9’ deep with a waterfall and both ends are layered perfectly in masonite. The flat walls are wide and the corners have large radii, which makes them easier to grind through. The street course has larger obstacles, but if you rip, then you’ll have no problem on it. The best things there are the locals and hospitality, who were all extremely friendly. Yann and Jamie are a couple of the coolest and most mellow owners that I have ever met. They took care of the entire crew and today they’re going to take us to some local spots. In addition, they reserved rooms for us at the local hotel – they’re suites with kitchens and separate bedrooms. Time to go skate.

Friday, November 05, 2004 @ 9:03am at Wellesley Inn & Suites in Austin, Texas
Yesterday was full on skateboarding at its finest. The first stop was this hip under an office building. It’s one of those buildings where the parking is actually on the ground level under the building and the offices begin on the 2nd floor. To make the situation even better, it’s completely vacant. The way that the parking lot is paved forms a perfect hip, basically a mellow mold of what you have at your local skate park. There was a lawn service guy parked right in front of it when we drove up and it took some coercing to get him to move, but he finally conceded. Then, the owner of the property arrived to give us permission to skate and had some of the locals take a look at a few photos. Apparently some kids had spray painted a bunch of graffiti on the brick walls. That’s a super-lame move to pull and a great way to ruin a perfect skate spot. Fortunately, the owner is cool...a lot cooler than most people out there, especially considering that his property got disrespected. From the hip the caravan headed to the Banana Ramp.

The Banana Ramp
Thanks once again to Yann and Jamie from Skatepark of Austin. They were our personal tour guides yesterday. We cruised through an average looking neighborhood and then came upon a not-so-average looking ramp. The Banana Ramp is the original reason that we are in Austin in the first place. I saw a photo of it in Thrasher a few months back and then Jon Comer was telling me about it. After hearing how gnarly it was, I figured that we had to go. The ramp is definitely one-of-a-kind. The photos won’t do it any justice at all. It goes from about 5’ – 10’ in varying heights and 80% of it has custom-molded and poured pool coping. What I’m trying to say is that they designed and made their own pool coping, and it’s really, really good. There are three corners and two hips, with quarter-pipes all over the decks. Normally I hate skating metal, but they did such a great job with it that the metal didn’t even bother me. It has a totally ghetto look to it, but it’s not ghetto at all. In fact, the ghetto look is what gives it its character. Thanks to Ron and Mike for letting us skate.

The Banana Ramp session went on and on and eventually wore everyone out, except for Chris Lehman. He was still skating when we were all packed in the truck and ready to go. We grubbed back at the hotel and some of us went out for a mellow evening session at Skatepark of Austin. Texas hold-em was the game of choice later in the hotel room, and then we were off to sleep. Now we’re packing up and heading to Houston for the Jam. Our time spent here has been great and the scene in Austin is cool. From what I can tell, no one is ‘too cool.’ Every single skateboarder that I spoke to was friendly and totally down to skate. It’s been a great experience – thanks for the good times.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004 @ 8:01am at My Office at Skatepark of Tampa

The Most Unique Pool I’ve Ever Skated
Yann gave us some directions to a pool out in the middle of nowhere. And when I say “out in the middle of nowhere,” I really mean it. We drove on these two-lane state roads for miles and miles until we saw a state prison. It was weird seeing a state prison out in the cut, but it was there. Then it was right at Road X and left at Avenue Y and so on, and then get this...the last bit of the directions was, “Take a left at the gravel road, drive until you see a slab of cement, and then get out of your truck and follow the path. It will be self-explanatory from there.” We took a couple of wrong turns, and at that point I know the kids were thinking, “What the hell is Clements doing?” Finally we came upon this old pit back in the woods. It was graffiti-ridden and rumor has it that the pool was once part of a country club for people in the Army (or something like that).

At first no one even grabbed their skateboards. Everyone just kind of walked around the pool saying, “No way. I can’t believe this. What is this doing here?” I think we were all in some type of shock or something. Then the excitement hit. I think that the crew realized that we were about to skate a spot unlike any other we ever have. The pool was most unique because it was more street-like than anything – you really didn’t need too much pool-riding skill to skate it. The deep end was primarily banks, and the top of the banks had a really, really tight tranny to grindable lip at the top. You could grind the face-wall or the sides where it was a bit more gnar. And then where it transitioned from deep to shallow it went to straight banks-to-wall that were it was total street-style wall rides. The shallow end was scattered with cement quarter-pipes and a crappy pyramid (but still fun), apparently constructed more recently by skateboarders. My favorite quarter was the one in the shallow end of the pool that had about a 3ft. transitions and went straight up to where you could grind the half-century old tile. They don’t make them like they used to.

Grinds were thrown and lines were filmed. Abdias aired out of the deep end bank all the way to the lip, landed fs 50/50, and did a fs grab in. The skating went down in the middle of the day, but the fall temperature was perfect and the humidity was low. That session will be one of the most memorable times in my life, except for when I go back next year.

8th Annual Make-A-Wish Texas Skate Jam
The drive from the pool in the middle of nowhere to Houston was a little over two hours. Jeffrey Marshall was waiting for us at Hobby Airport when we drove into S. Houston, so we grabbed him and headed over to Southside Skatepark. The park was packed and the skating was going off. There was a full-on snake session in the bowl and the street course was busy. You could just tell that something good was going down really soon. This year Brian Schaefer and I got a bit more involved with helping plan and organize the event and it seemed to work out better than ever. Instead of a two-day affair, the Jam was limited to one. It completely sold out to over 700 spectators well before the event and all of the preparations were properly made.

I tried to skate after we had our little meeting, but things didn’t quite work out too well. I’m sure that I was worn out from the previous days’ excitement, although at the time I was ignoring my lack of energy. My physical condition combined with my brand new wheels was a recipe for slamming, and that I did...right on my tailbone, just like the night before at Skatepark of Austin. Damn, I was over skating for the meantime, so I joined some fellow skateboarders at the strip bar next to our hotel. The only reason that I’m mentioning a strip bar is because it’s B.Y.O.B. – that’s worth a mention, right? Thanks to Flatline for the hospitality.

The next morning came soon and I had to be at Southside early. Jeffrey Marshall was like, “Hey Ryan, can I go with you?” I was like, “To skate? At 8am?” He said, “Yes.” I don’t hang around 12-year-olds too often. So it was Schaefer, Jeffrey, and I and of course Jeffrey was the only one skating the course. I think that he skated from about 9am – 6pm that day...must be a great feeling.

The Make-A-Wish Jam is a completely volunteer event for everyone. No one gets paid. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Everyone gives money to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. If you haven’t ever heard of MAW, then here’s the deal: What they basically do is fulfill wishes for really sick and dying kids. If you’re 11-years-old and you have cancer and all you want to do is meet Tony Hawk, then Make-A-Wish makes that possible. From flying a little boy around the world to a simple trip to Wal Mart, MAW is making dreams possible. Good stuff and this Jam rose about $30k dollars for the Foundation.

The Bowl Jam
The Bowl Jam was first. Kyle Berard was killing it along with Mike Peterson. Chris Lehman aired out to 50/50 on an 8ft. ledge and jumped back fs grab into the bowl...super-gnar. Stew Graham from Scotland was on fire, too. Chaz Pineda from Black Label always catches my attention. He skates like a complete maniac and I think he’s only like 15. Mike V. showed up late because he was signing autographs out front. When it was all said and done, first place went to Tony Trujillo who did a backside boneless about 7ft. out on the wall and threw down a bs air that was seriously 8ft. over the hip. The contest was over, but the skating went on all day.

Best Trick Contest #1
In between the video game contests, a poker game, and boxing matches were a couple of best trick contests. The winner of each one received a $5000 donation made to Make-A-Wish in their name (that’s a good tax write-off). The first one took place on the big rail with a flat bar on top of it. As for the Honorable Mentions, Marius Syvanen did a kf back tail and Carlos de Andrade pulled a kf bs overcrooks (first try) up it while Alex Safier nailed a bs smith and Sean Connifer locked a kf feeble down it. Here’s out the top three went down:

3. George Evans – Flatline – kf boardslide down
2. Dominique Johnson – Adio – kf crooks down
1. Terrell Robinson – Venture – bs overcrooks down and nollie heel back lip and nollie bigspin back lip up...whoa!

Best Trick Contest #2
The second best trick was on the center-piece area that consisted of a bank-to-bank next to an A-frame ledge – they were permitted to skate more of the obstacle in the contest, but no one really did. Tobee Parkhurst got an Honorable Mention for a tailslide 270 out on the A-frame. Joey Corey did a bs 180 to flat from the bank while Rodrigo Peterson spun a switch fs bigspin after time. Top three are as follows:

3. Nick Dom Pierre – Real – kf late shove-it (perfect) from the bank-to-bank
2. Ernie Torres – Real/Adio – nollie heelflip bs 360...damn
1. Jamie Thomas – Yep, The Chief himself was there...and killing it with a textbook kf bs 5-0 down the A-frame and a bs lip up to 5-0 down it. He also threw in a couple of nosegrinds in between.

Thanks - And Now It’s All Over
Damian Hebert from South Shore Distributing is the main man behind the event every year, so he deserves top recognition. Second in line for props is Jeff Taylor from Paul Rodriguez...bummed that he didn’t make it? Special thanks to every single am and pro skateboarder that came out and skated just for the hell of it.

The drive home was long and the stop in Biloxi made it even longer. The Isle of Capri had rooms for only $49 and free drinks. Yes, free drinks of anything that you want. I’m blaming the free drinks on why I stayed up ‘til 4am at the same Blackjack table. Considering that the Isle got 200 of my dollars, I guess the drinks weren’t that free after all.

Overall, the trip was absolutely amazing. The terrain we skated was remarkable and the friends we hung with were irreplaceable. Thanks to everyone for the great times...

Ryan
Abdias Rivera - frontside feeble at the Tranquility rail in Houston
Abdias Rivera - frontside salad grind to backside 180 out at the Tranquility rail in Houston
Jake Nunn - back tail down the big rail at Southside Skatepark
This is why there aren't many photos from the actual event - I spent too much time in the parking lot and was wasted by 2pm
Chris Lehman - frontside axle stall in the bowl at Southside Skatepark
Kenny Anderson - back smith at Southside Skatepark
Ryan Clements - fakie wallride slide somewhere in Houston
Mike Svenson - fakie wallride slide somewhere in Houston
Mike Svenson - frontside ollie at those brick quarters in Baton Rouge
Abdias Rivera - long front smith at some round bar somewhere in Texas
Pat Stiener - ollie into some bank in Houston
Abdias Rivera - varial flip at some banks in Houston
Abdias Rivera - ollie out over the steps at some banks in Houston
Jason Fintel - one foot at some banks in Houston
The crew during the Abdias Rivera demo at the Tranquility rail
Andre Genovesi - switch 360 flip up the step up
Steve Nesser - nollie heel up the step up
Kyle Berard - lein to tail over the hip
Brian Delatore - nollie frontside nosegrind
Chris Lehman - frontside tuck over the hip
Jason Rothmeyer - 360 flip in some ditch near Southside Skatepark in Houston
Abdias Rivera - overcrook at the Tranquility rail in Houston
A wide view of a ditch we skated near Southside Skatepark in Houston
Mike Peterson - huge frontside melon over the hip
Danny Montoya - frontside flip up the step up
Justin Williams' new spikes
Chris Lehman - backside 360 over the bowl hip
Those aren't two lesbians. That's Matt Giles with Day that we met at Make-A-Wish. If you're a fiend like that, click here to zoom in
Scotty Conley and Ian Gow somewhere in Texas...
Joey Brezinski is hyped
Hot kickflip in Texas
As usual, ZOOM IN!
Abdias Rivera - blunt fakie at that Austin Pool
Pat Stiener - frontside tailslide into the drop at that Austin Pool
Mike Svenson - wallride at that Austin Pool
Abdias Rivera tech dawg and pool hog at that Austin Pool - frontside ollie up to 50-50 gnar-in
Don't know if Robbie Kirkland ever made this crook at that Austin Pool, but the photo's pretty nice
Ryan Clements wall rides in that Austin Pool
Scotty Conley - tag up that Austin Pool
Pat Stiener - ollie into that Austin Pool
Jason Fintel reps Palmetto with a frontside grind at that Austin Pool
Wide view of that Austin Pool
Ryan Clements frontside grinds the lip at that Austin Pool
Road trip rookie Jason Fintel gets the sleeping sabatoge
Chris Lehman - iceplant fakie at the Banana Ramp
Robbie Kirkland - switch flip on the tranny art at the Banana Ramp
Matt Giles supports Bush
Ryan Clements pivots to fakie right near a "The Dumpster Was Here" tag
Abdias Rivera - high five at the Banana Ramp
Mike - frontside hurricane at the Banana Ramp
Chris Lehman - backside 360 at the Banana Ramp
Matt Giles - alley oop front rock the Banana Ramp
Jason Fintel contemplating something at the chill area of the Banana Ramp
Ryan Clements - melon transfer at the Banana Ramp
David frontside ollies a hip at the Banana Ramp
Abdias Rivera - frontside air at the Banana Ramp
Mike Svenson - kickflip at the Austin hip
The crew at the Austin hip
David - frontside half cab flip at the Austin hip
Matt Giles - frontside 360 boneless at the Austin hip
Chris Lehman - kickflip at the Austin hip
Abdias Rivera - frontside flip at the Austin hip
Abdias Rivera slid this backside crail at least six feet
Abdias Rivera - frontside feeble grind in the bowl at Skatepark of Austin
Jason Fintel - lipslide at Skatepark of Austin
Chris Lehman - back smith at Tallahassee Skatepark
Chris Lehman - cab melon at Tallahassee Skatepark
Ryan Clements - backside disaster at Tallahassee Skatepark
Ryan Clements - pivot fakie at Tallahassee Skatepark
Matt Giles - feeble grind at Tallahassee Skatepark

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