It's All Downhill From Here
Creature and Santa Cruz take it down the I-95
The Creature and Santa Cruz teams took it from Ol’ Dirty Jersey down the Eastern Seaboard to Miami, FL. It was a heavy lineup: Navarrette, Dressen, Hitz, Guzman, Partanen, Whaley, Sid Melvin, Strubing, Gravette, Mikey Curtis, Heddings, Hooker, Appelo, Cranston, Silent Mike, Mallory, Bingaman, Conover, and Raven Tershy. And why not bring a few extra special guests to spice it up, like Sammy Baca and Peter Hewitt? It was a total of 21 skaters—not to mention two filmers, one team manager, and a photographer. Some say too many; some say the more the merrier. You decide.
"Some say the more the merrier"
Conover gets a big flat gap kickflip with heavy background lurk. Click image to enlarge.
Every once in awhile, straight out of the gates, the trip starts off on the wrong foot. Emmanuel and Mikey Curtis were partying on the flight to New Jersey, which turned into a full-on brawl when they got off the plane. The police broke it up, and Preston had to vouch that they were actually just two good friends wrestling. Get it out of the way the first day and everything else will run smoothly. We had lots of miles to cover and a short time to get there. Kind of like Smokey and the Bandit, in three vans, trying to stay under the radar. Which is hard to do driving down Interstate 95.
Silent Mike, big snaps into a steep bank
We kicked it off with a signing at NJ Skateshop, a demo at the park, and a bbq at Nieratko’s house with burgers and a keg of beer to hype the crew up. The next day, Fred Gall took us to an abandoned pool out in the cuts of Jersey. FDR skatepark? Let’s go! A full day there keeps everybody happy. Night came soon, and a session at the new indoor key holder spot was on. We ended the evening taste-testing Geno’s cheesesteaks against its rival, Pat’s, across the street. After two stomach bombs, Pat’s came up the winner.
"We ended the evening taste-testing"
Backside tailslide. Mikey Curtis. Click image to enlarge.
Back in the vans, down the 95. We skated the Currituck Park in Virginia, then headed over to Raleigh, NC, the East Coast hot-spot for street skating. After getting harassed by the man, we ventured out about an hour and skated a backyard vert ramp and wooden bowl. The underground backyard scene’s still going strong.
Ron Whaley in the ATL with a wallie backside grab
The road then took us to Charleston, SC, to skate the infamous Hangar Bowl. The session was already heated when we arrived, with both seasoned swamp trogs and younger kids getting some. Most of the crew were in awe of the large wooden contraption—Gravette ollied off the deck and into the back bowl, and Raven blew minds with lines and style during his first time there.
"We participated in their dance"
Always looking at spots differently, Gravette poole jams his way into a Dirty Jersey water fall
Before we knew it, we were in Atlanta, and hot and humid was the scenario. We skated the usual concrete slab spots and bank to ledges. Atlanta’s a party town, and that’s what went down. From there everyone was thinking Florida. Concrete skateparks? Beaches? Miami? A dead end…or the Fountain of Youth?
Guzman attacked this spot late at night. Front board down, across, and down. Click image to enlarge.
"Oh yeah, I got this pool"
We’d been in New Jersey for less than a day when Fred Gall hunted us down. Freddy’s a blast to hang out with, and he always has some Jersey scum spots lined up. You never know with Freddy: Strip clubs before noon, whiskey for breakfast, stories of wrecking his car the night before, and, “Oh yeah, I got this pool about an hour from my house that you guys’ll destroy!” And he did—an old, abandoned square pool, with the local kids already draining and cleaning it out before we arrived. An East Coast spot hunter who doesn’t hold out on them. If you’re ever in Jersey, call Freddy up. It’ll be the best time you ever had.
By Sam Hitz
Getting to Kona this time around was more like an archeological expedition for myself and most of the other riders involved. Upon closer examination of the sites, I began to see temples and altars everywhere. The inhabitants maintain these ruins, only to perform this sacred dance to appease the gods. Maneuvers became accurate, ritualistic lines—if they’re not performed correctly, blood offerings will surely spill. As my dig continued I discovered various sun dials, and even a marketplace. But the most important find was the Pillar of Buck Smith and the Flight of Mike Peterson. Most of my colleagues and I believe that, after the sands of time cover this site and it’s rediscovered hundreds of years from now, those future scientists and theorists will observe it in the same way that we view Puma Punku or Machu Picchu today! In other words, it’s gonna be confused for some ancient alien shit, and those dudes will be scratching their heads.
Neil Heddings, lein air
"Our vans became chariots of fire"
Deep to shallow sidewall, Bingaman backside lipslide
Florida’s filled with historic sites, and has had explorers trippin’ since before Columbus. The expedition headed south, unknowingly searching for the Fountain of Youth. We passed through Orlando and revisited the sun-baked brick transitions and newly-poured concrete. Again, the locations become greater than what they visually appeared to be. We participated in their dance, and accepted the local customs and offerings of brew and weed before leaving in peace and heading south to Miami.
Vert's still dead. Navs, tweaked indy air
Most of us had never reached Miami before. Rumors and stories circulated in the van of past explorers on similar quests, for example: The Meinholz expedition. He abandoned his ship home to conquer sun-temple obstacles and neon lights of the night. And there were blurred accounts of “Ponce de Le Gerwer,” who barely made it back to his homeland after fleeing his vessel and indulging in local traditions. Local guides Adam “Scizzors” Efforts and tribal elder Mark Lake had established points of interest for us following the morn’ of our arrival. Our crew broke in different directions, with various groups exploring the stone plazas and vertical wooden delicacies that the land had to offer. Rain was dodged, and sometimes welcomed. Our vans became chariots of fire as the individuals making up our team of archeologists became more aware of the purpose in our voyage. The Fountain of Youth still hasn’t been found… Or has it?
High-profile spot, Sid Melvin, frontside noseslide
Dressen deep end grinder, NJ
What was the last skate tour you were on?
I’ve been on a bunch of road trips, but I haven’t been on an official tour since ’92.
Back in the day it would just be a couple teammates, and we’d get flown in and out quickly. This tour had a gang of skaters, filmers, and a photographer, and the events were spread out so we could skate wherever and do whatever we wanted. Eman talked me into going. I thought it was going to be a drunken party tour, but it was nothing like that. It was so awesome to see everyone on a mission, handling business, and busting shit out. I was super stoked to be on tour with the crew from the first day in New Jersey on.
You had to leave, to get back to work at the tattoo shop. Would you have rather stayed?
I originally agreed to go for the first week. Plus, I had to go home for my girl’s birthday. I was bummed when I got to the airport to go home, and with Sam Hitz and Ron Whaley showing up the next day, I knew I was going to miss out on some rad shit.
"I thought it was going to be a drunken party tour"
When was the last time you skated on the East Coast?
I can’t remember. I was really looking forward to going to New Jersey and Philly, and we ended up having the best time there, especially at our first demo at the concrete skatepark for NJ Skateshop. FDR is just gnarly, and the indoor bowl in Philly was awesome—I just wish we could have spent more time to get used to it. The skatepark on the way to the Outer Banks, NC was rad too. The hospitality of the locals was awesome. I was really pissed after I got home and read about all the rad shit they were skating the day after I left on the blog.
I noticed a lot of Dressen fans bringing old Santa Cruz decks for you to sign. How does that feel?
I feel really honored that they picked up my board back in the day and then saved it, plus they took the time to come meet me. Swapping old skate stories…that shit is the coolest.
Favorite skater to watch on this tour?
Al Partanen is hands-down the gnarliest skateboarder I’ve ever seen. He destroyed every spot we went to. The frontside blunt in the FDR pool was insane, plus he was busting crazy shit in the dark on the big-ass face wall. He rules.
Best thing that you saw go down?
Raven Tershy’s one-man vert demo at the FDR metal ramp. Everyone stopped to watch him at every spot we went to. Dan Tag’s back-to-back invert combinations on the FDR vert ramp. David Gravette’s pole-jam into the old pool in Jersey was insane. And the way Eman and Mikey Curtis skate reminds me of the old Dog Town days. They show up at every spot and rip the shit out of it. I’d gladly travel to the ends of the earth with this crew.
Currituck VA? Where? Raven tershy hucks one over the chan-chan. Click image to enlarge.
Pros and Cons of 21 Skaters on Tour
• Special guests: Hewitt and Baca
• If someone starts shit with any one person from the crew at a bar, they’re gonna get served
• Some companies don’t go on trips. At least you’re invited on this one
• At least one person will always have a skate tool or a razor blade
• Chances are there’ll be one designated driver who doesn’t drink
• The tour vid on the web will have plenty of footage to choose from
• Lots of product in the vans to trade for weed
"Any spot you go to, it's getting tore up"
• Three-van caravan at all times
• Twenty people means not getting out of the hotel until at least 1:00pm
• Gas station stops take 45 minutes. Or more
• Chances of picking up that one chick at the skatepark? Not so good when 15 guys are hitting on her
• Two cases of beer, gone in 15 minutes
• Every spot turns into a snake session
• The yearly travel budget is getting blown out by one trip
• Not everybody gets a photo in the article
• A soccer ball while someone’s trying to skate will ruin the session when 20 people are kicking the ball around the spot
Saints & Sinners II
P-Stone's edit from the trip.
6/27/2017Watch the boys get cuffed and stuffed in this raw-dog version of the KOTR series. Everybody's a winner!
6/26/2017The Born Free Motorcycle Show asked Jeff Grosso and Vans to round up a vert ramp and a crew of rippers to session throughout the weekend. Check out some photos here.
6/23/2017Lizard and Foy, Louie and Enzo, Gravette and Willis – who will survive 24 hours handcuffed together? Watch episode 3 "Handcuffed in Hell Paso" now (free for one week, U.S. only.) Classic webisodes every Tuesday worldwide!
6/23/2017Gardner, Partanen, Gravette and Kimbel wade through the cans and broken glass to get some quick licks at Shorty's.
6/20/2017All kill, no fill – watch enjoi, Deathwish and Creature get raw in the ABQ! New webisodes every Tuesday worldwide.