Hillbilly Roller LA Tour 2010

  Click for Larger image
  I'm Ernest T!!!!
  Hillbillys in Radams backyard
  Jimmy finds something Orange
  The “Test of the Challenges”
  Radam Suits up at Vencie
  Vencie Hillbilliys
  Vencie Snake Run
  We get dissed at The Cove
  Belevedere pool
  Culver City Pool
  Radam gettin it at Culver City
  Culver City Pool
  Culver City Street area
  Jimmy Carves at Culver City
  Nate Culver Ollie
  Just another day in LA
  Humng ripping up Costa Mesa
  The Pool deck at Bunny land
  A Pro skater signed my Barbie
  How can I Get back at these Old Men?
  Mustasches and Sorry
  Are they always that loud?
  Nate R-n-R at MontClair
  Radam at MontClair
  Natte F-side RnR at montClair
  Jcab At MontClair
  Fontana II pool
  Fonatana II Giant Flow Bowl
  Fontana II Pool 2
  Radam at Chino
  Nate Sweeping up Chino
  Nate Ollie at Hirata
  Jimmy plays Photog at Hirata
  Gnat and Radam at Hirata
  Hirata Panorama
  Costa Mesa U Bowl
  MontClair Panorama
  Belevedere Street Panorama
  Chino Pool
  Chino Panorama
  Costa Mesa U Bowl
  Costa Mesa Small Bowl.


            It had been a few years, and I had been talking up my pervious trips out to La-La land to the boys, and the consensus was that we should all go out there. I had a work trip to go to LA, so I figured that I would stay over a few days and get the other guys to come out and met me after my work was done. Nate had a free airline ticket left over from a cancelled work trip the year before, and Jimmy had a bit of money saved up, so we decided that we should all go and see what was up with the plethora of new parks that had popped up. Of course, once my crazy boss got wind of my plans, she decided that I didn’t need to go to LA. Well there went the free ticket to fly, but I was not gonna let that stop me. So we booked tickets, and we were ready.

            After weeks of waiting, everything was a go, and we climbed on a plane and headed west. As we got to our connecting flight in Chicago, while walking from one concourse to another, who do we run into, but our old Knoxvegas friend, Vandy Vance, who happened to be on her way to the Horse races in KY. We were all pleasantly surprised, and the trip was starting out with a good omen. We made our way to lunch and then straight onto our flight with no delay. We arrived, secured out Pontiac GT and away we went to Radam’s house.

            We pulled into Radam’s driveway in full Tennessee style, honking the horn and getting out yelling “Yahoo!!!” Adam, came out and immediately told us to “Quiet Down!”. Seeing as he had been living the quiet domestic life for the last couple of years, he was unaccustomed to our hillbilly rowdiness. We got things under control (for the moment), and changed clothes and headed off to our first skatepark on the tour, Adam’s home turf, Pedlow. Adam had lined us up a session with all his locals, and we were pumped and ready to ride.

            I started off my first run by dropping into the waterfall of the Pedlow pool, which is a pretty nice pool with a waterfall roll-in, and small shallow end that is more like a mini half, and a steeper waterfall into the deep end. We were having a good session and the local old men seemed to be a bit surprised that these backwoods hillbillies from Tenn actually wore shoes and could even skate their pool. They were all ripping, and we did our best to try and impress the locals. I don’t remember most of the names, but I do remember that Carlos was slashing around the pool with crazy abandon, and Craig was doing loooooong 50-50’s around the deep end. Some young kid showed up and put us all to shame with a grab bag of tricks that had us all in awe. Carlos proclaimed “I am gonna do Adam’s line” to which Jimmy replied, “That sounds good, ya’ll should hold hands”, this got a chorus of chortles and giggles from the Local LA boys.

            Soon we moved the session to the little snake run and the flow area, which proved to be a blast. Nate continued skating the pool, doing 50-50’s and multiple rock and rolls. Then on his last 50-50, he came off the coping and caught a good bit of air on the reentry, sketched a bit across the flat bottom and slammed shoulder first into the opposite side of the pool. Coming up with a look of hurt disgust on his face, he threw down his board and declared “That’s it, my trip is over” as he clutched his shoulder that he had injured just a week before at the Tony Hawk demo in K-town. “Ahhh, bummer” I said, hoping it would not be a revisit of the last rip that I had taken with Nate to Cali, where he was not able to skate the rest of the trip. “Shake it off I said, nothing a few beers and a good nights sleep won’t cure”. We continued to session for a bit, but soon we grew tired and decided to head back to Radam’s pad for some much needed beers.

            We got home and Adam and Rachel took us out to their favorite Mexican place down the street, where we were served Modelo Negro in large pitchers that were actually super large Budwiser bottles. Jimmy was most impressed with this set up. We called another Knoxville Ex-pat, MadDon Rutherford, who came to join us for a bit of Mex food. If there is one thing you can say about LA, the Mexican food is good, and there is a lot of it. We finished dinner and headed back to Radam’s for an easy night of couch surfing and cold beverages. MadDog, now renamed HappyDog, due to his new found sobriety and wide variety of blended health drinks, decided to join us and away we went. We returned to the Radam pad and HappyDog entertained us with an “all request” guitar jam. As we began to relax and come down from along day of traveling and skating the beer began to kick in, and we moved our loud hillbilly asses the outside garage as Adam’s wife Rachel, drug him aside and asked in hushed tones “Are they always this loud?” of her husband.

            I stayed inside to talk to the homeowners for a few, but soon we made our way to the garage to find out how the rest of the hillbillies were doing. As I entered the garage, Nate and Jimmy were taking turns on the punching bag that Adam had hanging from the rafters. This soon escalated into a full on wrestling match between the boys. This lasted until someone got tapped in the family jewels and Nate and Adam took a break and headed back in the house. I turned to Jimmy, and he jumped up onto the punching bag, grabbing it in a bear hug and swinging back and forth, loudly proclaiming “I’m Ernest T. Bass!!!” Of course, this had to be documented so I started furiously snapping pictures. Next was the “Test of the Challenges” which was, in my opinion, was won by Rachel, although Jimmy did put up a fine showing. Soon the mayhem subsided to a quite roar and we bedded down for the evening, dreaming of the parks that we would skate the next day.

            The next day, we all got up early, since we were still on Right Coast time, and decided to head down to the beach and to the new Venice skatepark. We parked and headed up to the park, and even though it was early in the morning, the park was already alive with a few local skaters and plenty of tourists checking it all out. Jason Oaks, his wife Misty and their kids Cal and Gillian met up with us there, and the Hillbilly skate session got into full swing. This was a really nice skatepark with a killer pool, and an excellent snake run that looked like it had come right out of the 70’s. Located in a picturesque setting, with the boardwalk on one side, and the beach on the other, surrounded by palm trees, it really bring to mind all the pictures that you see of sunny SoCal. At some point Misty asked if we were “going to go to the beach?” while we were in Cali. I simply turned around and pointed at the sand only a few yards away and said “I think we are already there”.


Vencie Panorama (Click for Larger image)

            I started off in the pool, which proved to be as nice as it looked. Although one of the small shallow end pockets was a bit kinky, the rest of the pool was great. We all sessioned  it for a bit, Nate, after recovering from his slam the day before was getting back in the grove with some grinds and Rock and Rolls, Cal was ripping around with great speed and riding the pool like a man, Adam was ripping some mean grinds, Jimmy was hitting some nice three wheelers in the deep end, Jason was carving around with mad abandon, and I was enjoying some fun grinds and cess sliders, and even Gillian was ripping around the street area.

            Venice is full of interesting characters and we met a few of the locals that were ripping when we arrived. As is typical with the mythology of the Dogtown area, these locals tired to impress us yahoos with their hardcore styling. One guy with a skinhead and combat boots was telling us the lines and how his boots worked great for skating in. There were a couple of people craving through the snake run at high speed. This one chick, was cruising around the whole park at high speed, pushing around the rollout decks and dropping into the bowls at mach speed. At one point, I saw her heading toward our group on the rollout deck of the pool, and being the southern gentleman I am, I stepped back to get out of her line. Unfortunately, I misjudged, maybe it had something to do with the festivities from the night before, but I stepped back and she ran into me, giving me a slight shove with her hands. “Pardon Me” I said, once again being polite and thinking it was no big deal. Little did I know that even the chicks are hard in Venice Beach. For the remainder of the time we were there, the same chick kept screaming by me, a crazy, Linda Blair in the exorcist psycho look in her eyes, speeding and sliding, trying to run me down. At one point as I popped out of the pool after a run, she came blazing up to do a full wheel squealing bert right at my feet as her front trucks went over the lip of the pool and she continued with a woolly mammoth drop-in to the shallow pocket. I had to jump back to keep from getting hit. ”DAMN” I thought, “These Cali Beach Bitches have an attitude!”.  Definitely no Gidget beach bunnies here. More like Annette Funicello with a meth problem. After a while the sun began to get a bit warm, the park was filling up, the parking meter was running low, and we were getting a bit tired, so it was to take a break and head to the next park in our tour.

            The next park was another of Adam’s home parks, Belvedere. This proved to be another really nice park. Belvedere has a really nice and fun flow area with a lot of lines, and this is where Jimmy, Nate, and Adam spent most of their time, and while I took a few runs there, I spent most of my time in the pool. The pool was a bit weird, with a really big deep end and a nice little shallow that was a bit like a mini-half. The best (or some may think the worst) part was the coping. Although nice with a good chewy grind, it was a bit old and the seams between the blocks were missing large pieces which made grinding it a bit like riding down a really cracked up sidewalk. But I liked it, as it was a challenge for me, and made my slash style grinds extra tough. As I would be grinding along, suddenly my board would CATCH and JOLT which would cause my feet to almost come off the board, but I found this very entertaining and a real test of my grinding abilities. We once again got to skate with a group of Adam’s home boys, who were all pretty nice fellas, and for old men, a couple of them were ripping up the pool. It was a really fun park, but once again, us old has beens were wearing down and in need of a break, so it was time to move on to the next park.

            We tried to hit The Cove in Santa Monica next, but they were still closed, so we opted for one of my favorite SoCal skateparks, Culver City. Although the city of Culver can be a bit weird about when the park opens and closes, we got lucky and it happened to be open. We had stopped by there earlier in the day, and the park had been closed, but regardless we still saw some interesting sites. While cruising through the park and checking it out, I notice a man standing around doing some form of exercise or something in a grassy field next to the skatepark. I assumed he was doing Tai-Chi or some kinda hippy shit (we were in LaLa land after all) but on closer inspection, I noticed that he was wandering around aimlessly, WEARING A FUCKING BLINDFOLD!  I was truly amazed by this, and truly at a lost to understand why this gentleman was wondering around in a public park wearing a blindfold. Was he trying to experience what it was like to be blind? Was this some new hippy therapy? Was he training to become a Jedi Master? Not one of us could figure it out. This of course led back into an ongoing discussion that we had been having ever since arriving in the land of Surf, Sand and liberal hippy types.

            Being as this was the first time that our man Jimmy had ever been to beautiful sunny SoCal, he was being constantly intrigued by just about everything he saw. The traffic, the masses of humanity, the idiots wandering around blindfolded in the park, all promoted a constant since of wonder in our backwoods friend. His mantra during the first few days was a constant stream of “Look at that! That’s CRAZY!” Soon this began to grate on Adam, who after quite a few years since moving from Tennessee, had acclimated himself to the land of the LaLa’s. “LA is no different from Knoxville, stores, people, buildings, it is all the same” he pontificated. Of course, not being used to the ways of the big city, the three hillbillies’ in the car began to whole heartedly argue against this statement, and to point out the vast differences between our quiet little hometown and the vast metropolis of Los Angeles.  As we continued our discussion on the differences between a small town in Tennessee and the megasprawl of LA, once again our local guide stated “LA is just like Knoxville” and not more than 10 seconds after these words had come out of his mouth, we passed a movie prop house that was loading two ‘67 Lincoln Continentals onto a semi trailer. These particular cars, unlike the ’67 Continentals that I see on a daily basis in Knoxville, were sporting two 50 cal machine guns sprouting from the hoods of each car. “Yep, see that all the time in Knoxville” I quipped. This or course won the argument for the next 20 minutes, but it did not take long for the statement “Just like Knoxville” to seep into the daily vernacular of our visit. By the end of the trip I had heard “That’s CRAZY” and “Just like Knoxville” so many times that I was ready to get back to someplace that “Really is Knoxville” and was much less “CRAZY”.

            We re-arrived back in Culver City, suited up and immediately made our way to the pool. The CC pool is one of the finest skate pools that I have ever ridden and although sore and tired, I was still ready for a little fun. The pool is a 3 leaf clover configuration with 2 shallow pockets that are about 8’ deep and a nice deep end that is around 10.5’-11’ deep and smooth as a baby’s butt. We sessioned the pool for a bit, until our poor legs could handle no more of the large walls, and then we moved to the street/flow area for a  bit of park cruising around the various banks and small walls. Soon this became even to much of a strain to accomplish, so we all decided that it was time for food and a few of our favorite beverages to end up this day of skating. We piled into the car, and Adam consulted the GePuS, which directed us to a nearby eatery, which we came to refer to as “The Dark Bar”.

            The Dark Bar just that, very dark. The entire place was low lit, with wood panel walls and chairs and booths covered in red vinyl. Walking in, I felt as if I had been transported into a real life Bukowski novel set in the late 50’s. I felt comfortable, and right at home. The food was excellent, the beer cold and the waitress cute. After a long day of skating, we could not ask for much more. Once our Hunger and thirst had been sated, we headed back to the Casa de Radam for another night of hanging around the house. As we were headed back, Rachel called and asked Adam if “a 30 pack of bud would be enough for the boys.” Of course, we all confirmed that this would be a very good idea. That Radam boy sure picked a good woman. Somewhere along the line, Radam also decided that it would be a good idea to purchase a large container of one of Tennessee’s finest products, a fifth of Gentleman Jack, and for once, this did prove to be a good idea.


            The next morning we were all up early and ready for the next round of the skate tour. The first destination for today’s excursion was to be the Etines skatepark in Forest Lake. This is a great park that the Etines shoe company built and is overlooked by their headquarters that is located across the street. Although it was one of the few “pay-to-play” skateparks that we went to, it is definitely one of the best skateparks in SoCal. They have a large Street area, which I never even got near, a really large and nice flow area, a great mid-bowl, and a keyhole pool. I did spend a bit of time in the flow area, but they had just been teaching skate lessons to a group of little Cali skate groms, so it was still a bit crowded, but I was able to get a few unmolested runs in. The “local pro” who had been teaching the skate lessons then got in and proceeded to rip every wall of the entire flow area as if he taught lessons there or something. I next ventured over to the mid-size “Dick” bowl, so named by the locals as it has a shape similar to a certain area of the male anatomy. This bowl consisted of a kidney shaped deep end that was about 8.5’ deep and connected to a long square shaped shallow end. This bowl seemed to be were the locals, and us hillbillys, spent most of our time. This bowl was really nice and contained endless lines that would allow you to continue pumping around it until you could pump no longer. Once again, a group of Adam’s old timey skater friends showed up to skate with us, and everyone was ripping it, even a wife of one of Adam’s homies. Carves, wheelers, grinds, 50-50’s, and rock and rolls were the order of the day. Soon the sun began to creep higher, and it began to get a bit warm, so it was time for a little break and to move on to the next park on the tour.

            Next stop was Coasta Mesa. This was a really nice parks. I really liked the landscaping, which was all artificial grass between the bowls, giving the place a really nice athletic feel. Although there was a nice little bowl and same various street stuff, the standout was the big bowl. This was a kind of U shaped bowl, with two 6-7’ pockets and a large wall connecting the two, so that from an aerial view, the entire thing was shaped like a giant “U”. By this time in the trip, I was beginning to feel the drain on my body from the last few days of travel, skate, and drink, and my power was beginning to ebb, but I knew that I was only half done, so it was time to man up and get to skating. When we arrived, Radam met up with a couple of guys that he had not seen in a while, and I can’t remember their names, but there were RIPPING!!  These two guys were probably the two best older skaters that I saw during the entire trip. They were both doing long feeble-to-fakie grinds, ollies and a vast array of lip tricks. One even did 50-50 around the hip corner, and exceptionally hard way of performing this maneuver. Although we were running down, we did our best to skate with the locals, but we didn’t last too long. Soon, I quit due to lack of muscle control and Radam and Nate opted to go skate the little mini flow area while I shot some still picts. Soon, they were wore out as well, and it was time to jump in the car and head to the next stop on the tour.

            The next park was one that we had visited earlier, but had been closed, The Cove in Santa Monica. This time it was open. A couple of Radam’s local buddies told us that you had to sign in and pay a $15 fee to ride, unless you were a local, then you just walked in and signed your name and give a phone number and you were in. Of course we opted for the later strategy. After securing a list of local area codes that we could use with a fake phone number, we were on our way. We arrived at The Cove, and walked in like we owned the place, signed our fake names and numbers and we were ready to skate. Since it had been about a 30 minute drive (everything in LA takes at least 30 minutes to get to, even if it is only a mile away), we were recharged and ready for more skate fun. The Cove is a really nice park, designed by the same guy, Wally Hollyday, that had designed the Knoxville skatepark, so the terrain and the lines seemed a bit familiar to us already. First we headed over to the flow area. Although the flow area at Santa Monica consisted of the same elements that the Knoxville Skatpark does, namely a square bowl, a round bowl, and a ¾ pocket, every thing at The Cove was on a much larger scale. The ¾ pocket alone must be at least 4’-6’ taller and wider than our home stomping grounds back in Tennessee. We immediately dropped in and once again proved that we could hold our own against most of the skaters types in Cali. If it was not for the fact that people looked at us like we were from Mars every time we opened our mouths and out came the hillbilly accents, you would have not been able to tell us apart from any Cali skatepark local. We had a great time sessioning the flow bowl, which had recently been adorned with blue tape to show where the lines in the bowl were (someone said they had been doing timed runs in the bowl, using the tape to indicate the line to be taken), and we did our best to follow the provided instructions. Soon we moved over to the nice 11’ right hand kidney pool next to the flow bowl for a few runs. I don’t believe that any of us lived up to our potential in that pool as we were all once again fading quickly. I know that I didn’t skate it as well as I had a couple of years before. Once we had taken a few runs to show that we could, we moved to the smaller flow bowl for a wrap-up session before calling it a full day of skating. The smaller flow bowl at Santa Monica is a lot of fun to cruse around in, every part of it is 5’ deep or less and very easy to generate a lot of good, fun, easy speed lines. And that is what we did, until we once again ran out of steam. So we packed up and headed back to Casa de Radam.

            Once we returned to home base, we received a call from the vaulted Oaks family, Knoxville expats now relocated to Pasadena. They had invited us earlier in the week to come and spend the night at their new abode, and we had said that we would, but after a hard day of skating, we were having a tough time moving from the couches that we so readily fell onto once arriving home. We pleaded our lazy case to Jason, but soon he turned the phone over to the master of the house, his wife Misty. Misty was not taking no for an answer and told us that she “Had just changed all the sheet, now get over here!!!” Seeing there was now no option, we all did a hit of what was left of the Gentleman Jack, and split a last beer left from the night before, packed up our stuff and headed out of another 30 minute drive, this time to Pasadena.

            Upon arriving in Pasadena, Jason came out to met us and lead us into his parking lot. This turned out to be a garage located about 3 stories BELOW his building. He kept saying, “One level further, keep going, one level further, turn here, no wait, hold on, OK, keep going, turn here…” until we were so lost and so far underground that we had no idea how we would be getting out in the morning. Finally we arrived in the parking bunker, safe in the fact that is Pasadena got nuked overnight, that the rental Pontiac would be safe and sound in an underground structure that could have kept Saddam safe from the Coalition Forces.

            Jason showed us to the elevator and then into his new abode which was very California swank. After saying our hellos to Misty, his son Cal, and daughter Gillian, Jason took us across the metro train tracks that run through the middle of his apartment complex, to the rooftop pool and patio to watch the beautiful California sunset. The sunset was lovely, all pastel reds, oranges and purples, and soon we were in a California state of mind. Soon it became dark, and we were getting a bit hungry and so we headed back down to the apt to gather up the rest of the family and head out for some food. Jason had been talking about “Colorado St.” so off we went.

            Colorado St. turned out to be a really nice area, lined with restaurants, shops, bars and apt. buildings. We wandered around for a bit, looking in the windows of upscale stores and going to shi-shi restaurants that were very expensive and had long waits, until we made it to a little, yeah you guessed it, Mexican Restaurant. It was a Mom and Pop establishment, and the atmosphere and food were great, but the bathroom, which was shared by several of the establishments, was located in the alley out back. In order to take a wee, you had to go out though the kitchen and ask the non-English speaking cook for the restroom key. Just like Knoxville. Soon we were done with a fantastic diner and we made our way back out into the crowd of trendy California people out for a Saturday evening walk down the Colorado. At one point we were passed by a very short man, who, although not a real midget, caught Jimmy’s eye, and he began to follow the man of short stature. Did I mention that Jimmy has a thing about midgets?  Lucky, this didn’t last long enough for things to go bad, and we were on our stroll again. The next stop was the “Rocket Fizz” store, an outrageous candy shop that had a little bit off every kind of candy and kiddy fun that you could imagine. Jimmy was kind enough to give Cal and Googie a bit of b-day money which was promptly spent on candy and fake mustaches, both of which would be highlights of entertainment later that night.

            We made our way back to the Oak’s pad and settled down for a quiet evening and a few cold beverages. Or so I thought. Jimmy and Googie started off playing some game while Cal worked on video editing on his computer, while Jason and Misty ran out for some party supplies, leaving the hillbillies in charge of the kids. After a while, Gillian pulled out the fake mustaches that she had purchased and we all had a good time wearing the mustaches and watching Googie do her Snoop-Dog impersonation. Gillian asked Jimmy “Do you like board games?” to which he answered “Yes!” So they pulled out a game of Sorry and began. Little did we know where this would lead. Soon as they were a few minutes into the game, a rather loud and slightly buzzed (did I say “slightly?”) Gnatbite decided that he needed to join the game. “No you have to start at the beginning” instructed little miss 9 year old. “Nuh-uh” said The Gnat, who was then verbally beat down until he acquiesced. I was watching TV not paying any mind to the goings on of the Sorry game, until the volume level became so loud a few feet behind me that I had to investigate. The drunken Gnat keep trying to pull fast ones on the poor little girl, miscounting spaces and generally trying to bend the rules to his favor, but Googie would have none of it, considering that she claimed “I have never been beaten at Sorry”. Of course this was all the more reason to become more nefarious in the part of The Gnat, and soon a full shouting match between a 35 year old man and a 9 year old girl ensued, and it seemed that the 9 year old was getting the best of the drunken old man. Soon the game came to a conclusion, with The Gnat claiming victory, loudly and obnoxiously proclaiming his masterfulness at Sorry by yelling and getting Jimmy to high-five him and screaming “IN YOUR FACE” to the sweetest little 9 year old girl you have ever seen. The next thing we all know, the poor girl appears to be crying, which immediately shut both Jimmy and The Gnat up. “WAAAAAAHHHHH, DADDY!!!” She cried, the drunken Gnat realizing that he had just had committed a major faux pas.  “DADDY!! THEY BEAT ME!!” Googie cried as she bent over the sofa and yelled to her father “THEY BEAT ME!! GET THE BELT!! “ she screamed. It was at this point we all realized that they were crocodile tears, and that the little 9 year old was having a good laugh at the expense of the shocked men.  We all got a good laugh out of it, and The Gnat realized that although he may have won the game, that Googie won the war. Soon the excitement was over and we all bedded down on the clean sheets for a good nights rest.

            The next morning came early, and as usual we were all hungover and very sore from the previous day’s activities. Misty was up fixing us a huge breakfast of gluten free pancakes, bacon, eggs and more. I stepped out on to the small patio outside their apartment, which was right on the sidewalk, and witnessed a full on California street drug deal take place, not more than 10 feet away. Both the subjects involved in the transaction gave me a strong glare of “What the fuck you looking at?”

            As soon as we were fuelled up for the day, we descended into the bowels of the complex to retrieve our car, only to be greeted on the third level of hell by flashing emergency lights and smoke. Apparently, there was a dumpster fire, which Jason immediately blamed on us, the smokers. We made our way out of the automobile dungeon and we were off of our first park of the day, Glendale.

            I had been to Glendale in the past. It was designed by Ben Schroder and is one of the premier parks in SoCal, and was looking forward to hitting it again. We arrived a bit early, and as with a couple of the other parks we had gone to, they were having skateboard lessons for the grommets, so we hung out for a few minutes until they would let us old farts in. Once we were in, we were surrounded by a sea of youngsters, none of which could be more than 8 and who certainly did not know the skater courtesy of not taking every run. It was quite hazardous, tying to get a good line in, while dodging kids, who we all outweighed by 100+ pounds and if we hit them, would ruin their little grommet day. So we opted for riding the bigger bowls until the kiddies cleared out and we could ride the snake run unimpeded.

            After a while, the snake run cleared of the skate toddlers, and we were able to get a good session in with Jason, Cal and Gillian joining in on the session. We then moved over to the kidney pool for a bit, and then rounded out the session with a few runs in the 3 pocket bowl with it’s oververt ¾ pocket. But soon we were once again running out of pep and decided it was time for a break, a drive, and the next park. We said our goodbyes to the Oaks family and thanked them for their hospitality and it was off the next park.

            We met back up with our Cali tour guide Radam once again, and we were off to Moorpark. When we arrived at Moorpark, it was early Sunday morning and the park was pretty much deserted, with the biggest crowd being inside the skatepark fence. I was in desperate need of having to relieve myself after the long drive and a large cup o’ Joe, so I headed off toward the park bathroom, located about 100 yards away from the skatepark in the middle of the deserted city park.  It was a quite Sunday morning, the sun just warming things up and the birds chirping on a lovely SoCal day. I entered the bathroom and began my business, when from the concrete stall located next to the urinal that was accommodating me, came a noise. Then I heard a grunt. Then a sigh, and an exclamation of “Oh, man.” Followed by an “Oh baby” and another grunt and a gasp. “Wow” I thought, “that guy is having a tough time with his morning movement..” Then I heard a distinctly feminine voice say something in Spanish. I am not sure what was said, or if a man or a woman said it, but I did get the impression that something was happening in the stall next to me that I really didn’t want to know any more about. So I quickly finished my business and walked out, no hand washing or anything, just a quick exit. Welcome to California, it’s just like Knoxville!

            I picked up my board and pads and walked across the ball field and playground to the skatepark. As I walked up to the guys, who were suiting up for the second session of the day, I exclaimed “I think George Michaels is in that bathroom!” “What makes you say that?” asked Adam. I related to them the story of my last few minutes in the wonderful state of California, and everyone got a big laugh out of it. Little did we know, that it would not be the last encounter with the oddities of left coast society before we would leave Moorpark.

            We began to session the lovely Moorpark skatepark, which consisted of a small street area, a nice flow bowl that runs into a big 11’ bowl, with a large tombstone in the shape of an “M” (for Moorpark) and a really tight pool complete with stairs in the shallow end, hips, a deathbox and a set of recessed stairs in the deep end. We were all having a great time, riding the flow bowl all the way to the end and working our way back. Nate and Adam were starting at the top of the street course, all the way down the flow area, into the big bowl and back to the top again. Nate was ripping it up, getting way high on the tombstone.

            As I was filming, I noticed that Nate and Adam were having a tough time negotiating their way through a pack of about 20 little kids, ages 8-13 riding scooters of all things. But these were not ordinary scooters, and no ordinary kids. The kids would line up on their high tech scooters, and form a train that would go from one end of the street area and back again. By the time the last kid had taken off, the first kid was already back to the starting point, forming an endless loop of mini-punks taking up the entire area. After one run, Nate stops and asks me “Have you heard what those kids are saying?” “Nope” I replied. He then began to inform me that the kids were “cussing like sailors” and “screaming stuff about Jews.” He had left Adam at the top of the run, waiting until he could go. Adam looked at the gang of delinquents and asks “Hey aren’t you kids a little old to be riding scooters? You should graduate to skateboards!” To which the kids replied “Fuck you old man, skateboards are for faggots!”. Of course this took Adam back a bit, such disrespect from a group of youngsters toward their elders. I had visions of Adam lying on the ground, an angry pack of blood crazed punk kids beating him to death with scooters. We had been hassled at Venice by a crazy chick, and now it was a Scooter Gang that was after us. “What’s next?” I asked, “A pack of pissed off midgets?” Apparently, the hillbillies were a very intimidating force in LaLa land. We soon finished up our session and decided to call it an early day and head back to the Radam pad. The rest of the night we sat around and watched football and eventually dropped off to sleep, dreaming of the parks that we would skate the next day.

            It was Monday, and our last day to skate in sunny SoCal, so we got up early, full of energy and ready to head towards the east and few more skateparks. The first park on the day’s agenda was Montclair. Montclair is a “skate when you want” type park with no attendant, just walk up and skate. We arrived around 10:00 in the morning and were the only ones in the entire place. Montclair is a nice little park with a nice 10’ round bowl, a 10’ square bowl, and a nice little street/flow area. Before w arrived, Adam had warned us to “mind the Red Stripe”. I thought he was making some kind of obscure reference to Jamaican beer, but instead he was warning us that the round and square bowls were connected by a large spine, that was denoted in each bowl by a red stripe that was set below the coping of where the two bowls met to form the spine. You would not want to pop out of the bowls in those areas, where instead of finding a nice roll out deck to land on, you would find yourself in mid air, above the transition of the connected bowl, which could ruin a good skate day if one was not careful. We sessioned the big bowls for a while, with Adam having a few outstanding runs in the round bowl, and Jimmy pumping a backside edge-air (edger wheeler to unintentional aerial) in the square bowl. After a while we moved over to the flow area, where we spent our time shooting a bit of video of us playing follow the leader around and around at high speeds. Soon we were done with the morning energy, the coffee was wearing off and it was time to move on to the next park.

            The next park on the tour schedule was another new one, Fonatana II. As we arrived we noticed that it was all locked up tight as a jail house. Radam had informed us that it was a “pay-to-play” situation, so we wandered up to the main office to see if we could find an opening time. After a bit of searching, we ascertained that the park would be opening at 12:00 and we were just a few minutes early, so we decided to hang out and wait. We wandered around outside the fence and checked out a couple of the sweetest pools that we had seen yet on our little tour. As we made our way further around the park, we came up on the flow bowl, which turned out to be a monster I had never seen the likes of before. Starting with a small 5’ bowl, it emptied into a monster 12’-13’ bowl with a attached 20’-22’ capsule/cradle, a kind of bowl set on it’s edge or like the round end of a pill capsule, only MUCH MUCH larger. Across from the cradle was a waterfall roll-in that must have been a good 15’ tall, dropping almost straight down into the bowl. I was beginning to have second thoughts about this place because of the size. “Who the hell is supposed to skate this thing?” one of the boys exclaimed, “Giants?” We were getting a bit trepidatious about the whole thing, and the clock had reached 12 and there was still no attendant showing up. We drove back around the park to the entrance, just as a car, with what we assumed would be the tardy attendant, was pulling in. We pulled up next to the car and rolled down our window, only to be greeted by a couple of young skater types. We motioned for them to roll down their window, to which they obliged. “Hey we from Tennessee, ya’ll know if this place is gonna open up or what???” Jimmy slurred out in his finest hillbilly drawl. The two Cali kids looked at us like we had just climbed out of a spaceship from Mars. “uhh….no?” said the kids. “Well hell!!” replied Jimmy. We got back out of the car, walked to the booth and further scanned the posters, and then we found it. The week before, the park had cut back its hours, and now they would not be opening until 2 o’clock. Not wanting to wait in the parking lot for two hours, we decided to head on and came up with an alternative plan. We would head for Chino.

            We arrived at Chino, a park that I had skated on both my other trips to Cali, and was looking forward to skating it again. Chino is a really fun park with a flow run that goes for almost 100 yards that can be worked all the way down and then all the way back to your starting point. There is also a funky square bowl and a nice little 3-leaf clover pool there as well. We started out taking runs back and forth/up and down the flow run, having a great time, and although it is a lot of fun, this long run can take a lot out of a man after just a few runs. I finally got tired and sketchy, and took a nice slam. I then decided that it was time to move over to the pool for a few runs. I had a lot of fun dong slashback grinds in the pool and soon Radam joined me for a few runs, but before long we once again began to wear down, all the long days of skating getting to us. We finished up our last few runs, just as a bunch of biker types were showing up, and we were off to the next park.

            The final park we would hit on our tour of LaLa land skateparks would be Hirata. Hirata is located in the far east, surrounded by mega dairy cow farms, but it least it seemed that they had cleaned up the lakes of cow poo that I remember so fondly from the last time I was there. Nate was itching to get back to the park to redeem himself from getting hurt there and ending his trip two years before. Hirata is a small park compared to the ones we had been to, but still a lot of fun, with a couple of bowls that are OK, the main attraction is the snake run that dumps into a double bowl at the bottom. We warmed up a bit and then we rode the snake run over and over again for about an hour until we could walk no more. Everyone was ripping, and I was able to grind every wall down and back in a single run. Finally we had had enough, so we packed back into the car and headed west to Van Nuys and back to Radam’s house.

We arrived back at Radam’s and took it easy for the rest of the day, we watched a bit of Monday Night Football and then all got to bed early, knowing that we would have to arise before dawn for our flight home. After a good night of sleep we got up around 5:00 so that we could beat the traffic to LAX. Of course, this proved to be a waste of time, considering that we were to find out that in LA, traffic never sleeps. We got on the 101 and headed south, only to come to a complete stop, just minutes from entering the highway. After a good bit of stop and go, we finally made it to the rental car drop off and then to the airport. After going through the prescribed 2-3 hours of pat downs, scanners, metal detectors and more dictated by the TSA, we were finally on our way back to the hills of Tennessee. We met up with Happydog/Maddog Don at the gate, as he happened to be flying back to TN to visit the family and hang out.  I was tired and exhausted, but in a good way, and I had, after 3 tries, finally the experienced the sunny Los Angles that I had never experienced before (because of the cold and rain on all the other trips). Now I finally knew what they meant when they say “Sunny Southern California”.  Maybe I will go back one day to make sure it was all real.