After recent events and national attention brought to Charleston, I was reminded of what I wrote back in October when I returned from the journey. My experience with the people of Charleston was incredible; they were incredibly hospitable, down-to-earth, and genuinely stoked for their fellow humans & skaters. Read on:
I leave Raleigh in a bustle, with all my prize product, audio/electrical needs, table, banners, and personal bags/skateboard. It always feels good departing on an adventure. Even before starting my journey(s) with Collegiate Skate Tour, I knew the feeling of leaving the driveway for epic skate trips up and down the east coast. The trips that are completely and purely for the purpose of exploration. Meeting people you didn’t know before, and skating spots you’ve seen in mags and videos for decades. Stoking out on the spots, parks, bars, and the road itself.
I stop in Wilmington for one night. It only adds one hour onto my trip south to Charleston, and I don’t visit my Mom enough. Got to chill with the Moms and pit stop in a nice bed for one more night. Then further south to Chucktown for business. First stop, Parrot Surf & Skate, the main partner shop for this event. I meet up with the guy there, because we hadn’t yet met in person. Good people. Unfortunately, he was bound to his workplace for the day, and I went skating solo. I head to the location of the contest to check the spot.
Unfortunately, due to some conflict of interest, the original DIY spot fell through as an option for our contest in Chucktown. Some of the local builders had planned a build day for the same Saturday as our contest, and I get it. I’ve been involved in real DIY projects. Whether or not there’s a level of ignorant pride attached to the initiative, the guys need to make sure: 1) work gets done and 2) the spot doesn’t get blown out. That said, we were on to the next location, “The Wastelands.” The Wastelands is the old DIY spot in Charleston that had been wrecked by the property owners a year or so back. The new DIY was the newest attempt, but the Wastelands were still technically skateable. It was a good photo spot. What was once a concrete transition heaven had been reduced to some skateable pieces of those transitions, surrounded by gnarly rubble and creative graffiti tags.
As I roll up to the spot, I think, “Wow, this looks sick,” but as soon as I drop my board and roll around for five minutes, I think, “This shit is fuckedddd.” Immediately, I start thinking of how the event will go, logistically. We’ll need brooms, leaf blowers just to clear gravel and stones. Then, there’s the power issue… There are so many things to think of. But at the end of the day, I know that skaters make shit happen. And Collegiate Skate Tour was about to make some shit happen that Saturday. I leave the spot to visit the downtown skateshop, Continuum, where I know the DIY builders frequent more often than Parrot (which is technically in Mt. Pleasant, SC). Sick, small shop, within skating distance to a lot of cool places, even with the incredibly rough streets. Talked with those dudes for a while. One of their employees Aaron, that I actually recognized from skating in NC, and the owner Jack. Really nice dudes that are looking out for skating and skaters in the Charleston area.
They direct me to the original DIY, where I go to push and do a few boardslides while keeping an eye out for the under-the-bridge druggies that they gave me fair warning of. Funny how skateboarders can become so used to things like that. Typing that out sounds funny to me, but being on the look-out for drugged out crazies in places where neither of us are supposed to be, is quite normal as a skater who likes to make stuff happen for local skate communities. After about 30 minutes at the spot, I decide to move onward. But as soon as I arrive at the car, the rain starts to come down. My only option now: the indoor skatepark in North Charleston. I drive there to find a skatepark that reminds me of my childhood. A large warehouse with concrete slab and an assortment of masonite-layered ramps. Basic stuff: flatbars, ledges, down-rails, hubbas, banks, quarters, straight flyboxes, big gap, small gap, and a 4 or 5 ft-tall mini ramp. I met some dudes there whom I told about my event the next day. Some of the kids were younger and a bit cocky, but hey, they ripped. After a cig and an hour or two of ripping, I was ready to head toward the crash spot.
Alex, my contact with Parrot, offered up his couch, so I took it. He was at the local Wild Wing Café in Mt. Pleasant, so we met up there, where I got some good food and a few drinks. Met his girlfriend and his roommate, both attractive females and good people. His roommate skated as well, and from what I’d heard, she’s a ripper. They had all been drinking already, and I didn’t even have the motivation to catch up. Fun times nonetheless; they got drunk and I got buzzed. Headed back to their place afterward, and chilled for a bit longer. Met the dogs, blah blah blah. Woke up in the AM on a couch with severe dog-hair odor. Yummy. Also something that wouldn’t phase a skater too much.
We head out to go to the spot. Today’s the big day. We stop at the bank, at Alex’s friend’s place to pick up some extra help, and the shop to pick up some last-minute supplies. After a quick bite to eat, we depart for the DIY. People are already there when we arrive! Which is nice but stressful. We hadn’t swept out any of the place. So we get directly to business. We fire up the generator and plug in the high-powered leaf blower, removing all small debris that would cause unexpected slams for the day. The music goes on as we set up the tent, table, and banners. Registration opens. Check out the video HERE for more in the event, but it went great! Local kids came out in good numbers, despite the last-minute location change, and talent was fun to watch. My friends from NC who came down for the event ended up taking first place in each division, and that’s cool. It’s nice to see the homies come out and kill it, but it would have been just as nice to see the locals take it. Everyone had fun and murdered the spot on their boards. The non-skating locals got sort of rowdy, but that added to the hype and seemed to add local reputation to the event. Everyone had fun. IT WAS AN AMAZING DAY.
As we were cleaning up after the contest, I got offered beers from almost everyone, offered money in exchange for certain apparel, and invites to several parties in the area. The younger kids all had sincere thank-yous and pure stoke for me. All of this is why I continue doing what I’m doing. You know the feeling, as a skateboarder, of a really fun event, where everyone benefits and the community feels better for it. The feeling of giving back is rad. I know that I’m never going to have the talent to be a part of skateboarding in the way that I wanted when I was a kid, but the Tour has found a way for me to work toward something in skateboarding and give hype to the next generation.
I proceed to head out with a new friend, Swivv. We’d actually met the previous night at the North Charleston park, and he showed up that day to rip, ollieing a huge water gap to win a Cliché Sammy Winter pro deck. Turns out it was perfect, because the graphic was of a girl giving birth, and he was less than a month away from the birth of his third child. Much respect to Swivv and what he’s accomplished in life. We go back to his place, and he offers some party favors that are much appreciated. We then leave for a local biker party/benefit. I did not know until we got there: those people had been drinking all day. I had a few beers before I realized that I hadn’t eaten since before the event. Being surrounded by wasted people did not help in acquiring sustenance, so I decided to try to get out of there. The party favors were kicking in anyway. The mom of Swivv’s new child, Ashley, came through to pick us up from the get-together, and we head back to his place, where we eat some food. We just chill, talk, and hang out for a while. He offered me a place to stay with them, and it was nice to get to know them a bit. Good people. Good people just seem to show up when you put good energy out there. The skateboarding family showing love for those on the road. After a few more brews, we head to bed and in the AM, we wake up.
Breakfast, more conversation, and then we’re off. One of the things I wanted to do that weekend was give back some of the proceeds to local efforts. John, a local guy who’d been building ramps in the area for many years and had a ramp project of his own now, seemed to be a good recipient. So we went to his place to check out his set-up. He wasn’t home, so we measured for what type of wood he needed and left for Home Depot. Couldn’t find 3/8” treated plywood anywhere in that town on a Sunday. Checked many different places. So I got him a gift card to Home Depot. Hope it was received well - the building must go on!
We dropped off the gift and visited another local ramp spot, where a guy named Bob owns an AMAZING ramp - an entire backyard filled to the walls with transitions, bowl corners, transfers, and coping of all types. We helped move some things around, build and clean a bit. Then, we head toward John’s Island, a coastal Charleston-area community, where we skate the Hangar (or Hank’s bowl). Google this for more, but this property is really amazing. A 5-8’ bowl with one great hip and shallow pocket atop one of the decks. Also, a keyhole bowl with an 8’ shallow and 13’ deep section. Knee pads required for sure – unless you got it like that. Two beers and a few bangers later, we’re outta there. Met some great people there as well.
Swivv and I decide to hit up the local skater bar at 7 pm on a Sunday, and there are actually a lot of skaters from the contest there. They’d obviously been drinking all day long. We have a few great conversations that they may not remember, a few drinks, and two quick games of pool. Although I didn’t want to accept it, I needed to get ready to hit the road again in the morning early. And Swivv needed to wake up very early for work the next morning. We go back to his place, where we meet up with his lady again. After chilling a little bit longer, relaxing on the back porch, we call it a night, say our good-byes, and head to bed for the night. The next morning, driving back to Raleigh was pleasant. Another good trip under the belt.
I am so grateful for the opportunities happening through Collegiate Skate Tour and all the great people I get to meet and spend time with in different areas of the US. Skaters truly look out for each other – at least some still do. Stoked on the stoke. Hyped on hype.
Keep skating. Keep traveling. Don’t be too content. Everything out there is out THERE. Get it.
Many more where that came from, and many more to come.