Once we’d passed downtown, we trudged through the stubborn traffic of Commerce, Buena Vista and the rest of the commercial & industrial expanse that covers southeast LA all the way in to Orange County. The destination was Oceanside, CA, a place where skateboarders and surfers oddly mix with the military presence of its nearby neighbor, Camp Pendleton. Beautiful coastline, as its name implies, meets desert landscapes of boulder, sand and backyard DIYs. A perfect place for a SoCal shredder.
We missed the exit for the “bomb" burrito spot in San Clemente, so we held out until Oceanside for a bite to eat. The gas station-attached Mexican restaurant was deceivingly delicious and provided exactly what we needed before making a bee-line for Alex Road Skatepark, better known as Prince Park.
The only other time I’d ever been to Prince Park, I was badly injured, enough to not be able to even push through the park. The design and build of that skatepark is one of the best I’ve skated in the US (and anywhere at all, for that matter). Beautifully flowing bowls, transitions mixed with banks, steel mixed with pool coping, spines, tombstones & loveseats all incorporated perfectly to create an easy ride, but with plenty of opportunities to get gnarly. There are four bowls (or bowl forms) in total, and a really fun street section that flows back and forth to the rear of the park.
One thing I noticed about the skaters at Prince Park - everyone rips! Everyone’s got something, whether it’s technical skill, the willingness (balls) to go big, undeniable style or all of the above - everyone’s got something going on. After eighteen years of skateboarding, I felt like a kook at Prince Park, but it’s better that way - everyone pushes everyone to try new stuff and improve on the regular! It was a warm and sunny day. That 75 in Oceanside would have been 86 in Highland Park, so we couldn’t complain. We did, however, make the decision to move forward (and save some energy for destination numero dos). We gathered our stoke, had a smoke and skated to the car for spot two of the day.
Following a quick and necessary gas station pit stop, we headed further inland to Escondido. As we ventured east, we made tracks upward in elevation, and landscapes began to change. The dry desert floor climbed sharply and transformed into huge round boulders. It seemed as though, at any moment, hundreds of gigantic rocks could come crashing down on the coastal population and end thousands of people’s plans for the day. But to avoid being down, we got hyped! A friend of Chris had a backyard DIY build that is still young but super impressive. At first, it was difficult to acclimate to, but after a little session vibe was initiated, everyone got to finding lines and landing tricks!
The coolest part of the this DIY was its unique boulders (similar to those that made up the desert mountainside any direction you looked). There were three boulders that stayed in the “park,” cement played around them on all sides so that a skater can “rock ride” over the top, ollie over or wallie off the side of each one, mid-line in runs of the course. It was unlike anything I’d eve skated. It was even cooler that this guy (who dropped skateboarding and picked it back up over a decade later) worked with an idea in his head, planned and developed it into reality. That’s what it’s all about, folks. Scrape some dollars, bring those dollars to the right places and people and put the work in. Before you know it, you’re skating custom spots in your own backyard.
It had long been dark, and I was finishing my tall boy to shining floodlights on the park. It had, after all, been quite a long day for Chris and I, and we decided to head back north to Los Angeles. No overnight trip for us this time around. But it wouldn’t be long until a return trip was in order.
I’m actually already overdue for another adventure southbound. Who wants to go skate?
- 7Ply Epic