No Hotels' "Paper Trails" Article

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Words and photos by Mike Heikkila

THE ROAD IS LONG AND THE VAN IS CRAMPED. Starting it off in Orlando, eight of us packed into Chris Blake’s Sprinter van that has no seats in the back. We tossed in an old couch, a video-game rocker chair and a storage box with blankets on it. We spent the next 14 days slowly making our way to California, skating every day and camping every night.

No Hotels photo2 750pxParty in the back

No Hotels photo3 750pxThe first stop was Tallahassee. Everyone was excited to get out and skate for the first time on the trip. Evan showed his patriotism with a backside 180 nosegrind under the stars, over the bars

No Hotels photo4 750pxWho needs hotels?

No Hotels photo5 750pxWe spent most of our first day in New Orleans at the Parisite DIY park—solid crew of people out there trying to make a better skatepark for the community. T-Funk, wallride

No Hotels photo5.5 750pxNiels in Nola

No Hotels photo6 750pxAfter a long night of partying on Bourbon Street, we found a spot on the bank of the Mississippi river at 4am to camp out

No Hotels photo7 750pxMan down!

No Hotels photo7.5 750pxEvan rolled his ankle at the first spot of the day in New Orleans. Noooooo!!!!

No Hotels photo8 750pxWe skated one more spot, then decided to head to Austin, TX. This super windy camping spot was right on the side of the highway. Evan slept tentless; Chris Blake's tent almost frisbee'd into the river

No Hotels photo9 750pxI spotted this gem on the side of the road outside of Austin. T-Funk handled the crooks popover, despite the truck sittin' on dubs in his way

No Hotels photo10 750pxWe had to talk Chad Poore into skating this rail because it was super crusty. He had no problem front blunting it once he warmed up to the idea

No Hotels photo11 750pxT-Funk, backside grab at the Westgate hips

No Hotels photo12 750pxWho says there's no waves in Austin?

No Hotels photo13 750pxThere used to be a skatepark in that building behind Chris Blake. It's gone now but the sessions are still raging. Frontside wallride over the dubba

No Hotels photo14 750pxMajor shout out to Jeff Rasp and Sloan Palder for letting us camp in their yard for two nights, charge our gear and get some ever-so-needed showers

No Hotels photo15 750pxNiels Bennett snuck his way down that skinny ledge to a quick 50-50 on the electrical box. I think he broke his board on the ride away, too. Who doesn’t love that?

No Hotels photo16 750pxRob Wootton goes over and out to finish a line up as the boys get kicked out of the spot. Not all are welcome here, apparently

No Hotels photo17 750pxT-Funk found this spot on our way out of Austin and rode the shit out of it, despite the narrow runway

No Hotels photo18 750pxThis is what it looked like every night trying to find a campsite. Just lurking/looking for the right patch of grass at 3am in the dark

No Hotels photo19 750pxWe ended up driving into a National Park on the edge of the Texas/New Mexico border to camp. After parking the van, we hiked in super far before finding this spot. In the morning, nobody could remember which direction to head in to find the van. An hour later, Chris found our parking spot, along with a ticket for leaving our vehicle there overnight. Nothing good in life is free

No Hotels photo20 750pxStill a good place to wake up and go for a swim/bath, though

No Hotels photo21 750pxNext stop: the Phoenix area. Our first stop was The Wedge. Niels, switch ollie to switch crooks

No Hotels photo22 750pxMeanwhile on the other side, T-Funk with the quickness—ollie the gap, kickflip onto the island. Mind the muck

No Hotels photo22.5 750pxHippies use the side door? Nah, use the side-view mirror

No Hotels photo23 750pxMost nights when it was time to camp, somebody would just jump on Google Maps, scroll until they found something off the beaten path and then we'd drive until something worked out

No Hotels photo24 750pxThis was a mini plateau we found not too far from the highway. We had to take the van over some rough terrain to get there, but it was worth it. There were some beer cans from the '70s littered around the campsite. Guess some other hippies found this spot back in the day, too

No Hotels photo25 750pxHad to pull up to the Grand Canyon. That shit is beautiful, yo

No Hotels photo26 750pxEvan got some tunes goin' up there

No Hotels photo26.5 750px"Don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge…"

No Hotels photo27 750pxHigh 8

No Hotels photo28 750pxAfter driving through the night from the Grand Canyon, we made it to the Pacific Ocean and found a beach spot to camp. It was insanely windy, but we found a little cove where we could pop up our tents

No Hotels photo29 750pxRob nosegrinds across a phat garbage can by the beach. Phreaking beautiful

No Hotels photo30 750pxEvan said he'd never rolled his ankle as bad as he did in New Orleans. He took good care of it, though. Ice—so nice.

No Hotels photo31 750pxUnlike the woman yelling at him, Chris's nose wheelie is totally real. Art imitates life Photo: Rob Wootton

No Hotels photo32 750pxRobDog, front board down some pipe in a narrow situation

No Hotels photo33 750pxThanks to everyone who held us down along the way! We will be out there again soon enough