WORDS BY TOM KNOX
PHOTOS BY JEFF DUNCAN & JOHN CROUCH
I had been sitting around my house suffering through a heat wave that saw temperatures hit 113 degrees for two weeks straight, when I got a call from Santa Cruz Skateboards. Paul Merrill (Veteran’s division TM) was asking if I wanted to go on a mini tour of the Pacific Northwest. I said, ‘Yes’ before the words were even finished coming out of Paul’s mouth. I was informed that it would be Eric Dressen and me going to Portland, OR and Seattle, WA, for four days. I thought that sounded a little quick to hit all of the cement up there, but, hey, I was skating in 113 degrees and the weather report for Seattle’s high temps was 68 degrees. Four days of relief from the heat was welcome. I met up with filmer Jeff Duncan, and headed North. Eric D cruised up with filmer Bart Saric. Jeff and Bart were on hand to document the trip for the upcoming ‘V-Day’ video by Santa Cruz.
“We got into Portland about 10:30am, and John Crouch, our rep up there, promptly drove us to the hotel, which was about two blocks from Burnside. The first thing I noticed was that there was an abundance of strip bars in Portland.”
We got into Portland about 10:30am, and John Crouch, our rep up there, promptly drove us to the hotel, which was about two blocks from Burnside. The first thing I noticed was that there was an abundance of strip bars in Portland. In fact, there was one directly across the street from our hotel. Eric and Bart were crashed out at the hotel, so Jeff and I went to go street skate around Portland. We went about two blocks and figured out how rough the street was and then went straight to Burnside for a session. I’d not been to Burnside since ’95. I’d had a bad experience then, due to the fact that I was riding a 7 1/4 board with 47mm wheels, not exactly a Burnside shred stick. Well, this time I had my 8 1/2′ Santa Cruz deck with my 56 mm OJIII’s. I quickly noticed it made a huge difference.
Also, there were considerably more obstacles at Burnside now, and it was a lot smoother. The locals were there, like Ryan Wilburn, Danger, and Chaz Pineda who lives there now. The guys were shredding, and I had to get in the session. Dressen got there and the session was on. We skated for a few hours, and then decided to go out to West Linn for a session. West Linn looks insane in the photos and videos, and then you get there, and it’s way gnarlier. We skated there in a mild session with some local kids riding Razors and begging to be videotaped. All I can say is, that place is harder to skate than it looks. Then we went back to Burnside to finish up the night. It was now around 9:30pm and we hadn’t eaten, so we grabbed some food at a Japanese place. We had a great dinner, until some rapper dude that thought he knew us would not leave us alone, but we finally ditched him. This is when pro skaters are supposed to start the party and go to the strip clubs, but when you’re in your 30s, you go to the hotel and fall asleep watching ‘Seinfeld’ re-runs.
We awoke the next day and decided to hit Burnside one more time before we had to get on the road to Seattle. By this time, my friend from Fresno, Mike Barden, had arrived with a couple of shredders from Fresno. We hooked up a quick session, then got on the road to Seattle. I can definitely say that my trip to Burnside ten years later was a lot more fun than the first time.
In Seattle, John Crouch had a demo set up for us at the new Ballard Bowl. We arrived to a full-on session going down with the local rippers. It’s almost intimidating to have to jump into a fire like that, but it was on. Eric and I jumped in the session and tried to keep up with the likes of Jesse Nelson, Max, Vince, and a bunch of other Seattle rippers. There are so many good tranny skaters up there. We skated until dark, and then hunger set in and we had to find lodging. Luckily, the Snowboard Connection hooked us up with a five-star hotel right in downtown Seattle. Thanks. Even better was the fact that they had a sushi happy hour starting at 10pm. Once again, instead of going out to strip clubs, we fell asleep watching highlights of the Israel vs. Hezbollah fight.
The next day, we headed over to the Snowboard Connection to set up some new decks. Then we heard about a new project called Marginal Way being built under a bridge. This is another DIY thing that’s going to be sick when it’s done. They have a good portion finished, so we skated for a few hours until our next park destination. The guys that are building Marginal Way are super cool and could use some help with donations of time and money. Support them. Then we had another demo/ session lined up at Milton Skatepark. This is another mega park with clamshells, bowls, vert wall over gaps, etc. A lot of the same guys that were at the Ballard Bowl showed up and it was another intense session. The one thing I noticed about all these parks up here is that even though they have pool coping, it’s so sauced up they barely grind your trucks down. John BBQ’d some dogs and we skated until dark again. It was another full day and back to the hotel to eat happy hour sushi again. What a life. We skated rad parks all day and ate sushi for dinner every night.
The next day, Marginal Way was having a fundraiser jam, so we headed over there. The place was a full-on zoo. There were so many good skaters. We had a session and then let the locals bust loose in a best trick contest. These guys were hitting it hard. It came down to Jesse Nelson and Max. They both were busting on the vert wall (4-ft tranny, 4-ft vert). Jesse did a backside D and frontside rock. Max did the corner gap from vert wall to the other vert wall. It was insane. He got the award ($20) for best trick. It got late, so we said our goodbyes and headed to the airport.
We were really treated well in the Northwest by everybody. The locals rip harder than most pros, but don’t have any attitude. Our rep, John Crouch, did great getting us around, and we could not have had a better time. Look for a lot of this footage in the upcoming Santa Cruz Veterans Division video.