Collegiate Skate Tour and Tactics.com were having a meeting about doing a potential event at the brand new Eugene Skatepark - Washington Jefferson “WJ” Park - and I was so excited. Arriving at the airport, I accepted a ride to my hotel by the enthusiastic frat bro that sat next to me on the plane. Friendly Eugene natives from my first experience there. So far so good.
I get to the hotel and barely have time to do anything before time for sleep. Of course, I push the mile and a half to the skatepark to check that out - the 24-hr lights were so nice! The WJ Park in Eugene is actually the largest outdoor covered park in the US - it’s under the Washington-Jefferson freeway. And it’s one of the nicest skateparks I’ve ever skated. It was designed well, built well, had all the elements required for a good skatepark - and then some.
The stoke levels were high, and the breeze was that beautiful type of breeze that makes a a hot summer day back down for a perfectly cool moment. A solid hour of cruising was perfect; adjusting to the park, learning some of the lines, and meeting a couple of locals.
The next morning, I grab coffee with the guys with Tactics, and after a day of productive meetings, I have time to go skate in Eugene (the weather was beautiful, and you can never be too sure how long that will last in Oregon). They have an awesome mini-ramp at the HQ, a nice 3ft - with rollers, spine, gap to vert extension, pool block coping - all the necessities for all-around transition shredding. I have to get some more work done in their office, and when I’m wrapping up, I get several invites to a bar where all of the employees are going to celebrate a long-time co-worker’s “going away” to another area of Eugene and another job.
There’s a cool little bar across the street from the skatepark, called “Old Nick’s”, and we all stayed there until a band performing there that night started asking everyone for a cover. Because the majority of the crew wasn’t down for bluegrass (I would’ve been), we scoot out of there and onward to the next “stop of the night.” I then knew that people were really out to party at that point. We skate (some drive) to a bar called Blair Alley’s, where an arcade/restaurant transitions to a bar/club at night, playing the ultimate selection of 80s and 90s music for all of our enjoyment.
To make a really long story short, everyone has a blast on their boogie and drink. Skate nerds, parents, hippies, we were all having fun together. Many drinks over talking about snowboarding, Oregon, skateboarding, México, etc.
Waking up the next morning was a bit of a challenge, but after a good meal, I meet up with Benson, the good homie from Tactics, to throw an impromptu Tactics x Collegiate Skate Tour Best Trick Contest. All you need is a mega phone, an iPhone, and a couple of decks to get kids hyped, so we went out to see what would go down. Check out @collegiateskate on Instagram for coverage, reference the end of May 2015. Everyone charged it; a few dudes really left some jaws hanging; it was a phenomenal time!
I continued to skate afterward for a little while when I got the invite to go skate with some of the Tactics skate team. It was a real treat to go on a street spot session with the local crew in their own local element. Everyone was cool. Funny dudes just looking for spots to skate, beers to drink, and jokes to tell. After hitting a few different spots up, we decide to disperse for one the guys’ house to watch skate videos - predictable but totally enjoyable. We watch the Vans video. I’d already bought this video and had seen it several times before, but that didn’t change my excitement for it.
It’s funny to see the “grass is greener” effect amongst skate scenes when you travel the country. My friends and I are always watching footage of Oregon and California, thinking of what it would be like to hit that exotic terrain, beautiful concrete parks, southwest ditches, etc. And at the same time, the locals there in Eugene are so much more interested in the skateboarding present in New York City, Tampa, Washington, D.C., etc.
I guess, moving out from NC to CA, it makes me feel grateful for all of the experiences I’ve gotten to skate historic skate spots and parks along the eastern seaboard. There really are just as many skateboarding gems here as there are anywhere else in the world.
After nerding out on skate videos for hours, and a few 40 oz beverages later, I push downhill a few miles to downtown Eugene for a bite to eat before heading back to the hotel. The next day my roommate would be arriving from Portland on a bus. The next morning, after a full morning of doing work and reading my book, I go to the skateshop to hang out with my new friends once more and kill some time before heading to the bus station.
When Doug arrives, we skate down to the hotel,drop off our bags, drink a beer, and push down to the WJ Park (that he had yet to skate). Hours go by.
*One thing about skateboarding that I’ll always love is that feeling of being lost in the flow. It’s a meditating distraction, that unlike other sports, isn’t timed, regulated, or repeated. You rarely see the same exact run or exact trick executed twice identically. The flow of skateboarding makes for endless possibilities, endless permutations and combinations of tricks and runs. Not to mention the speed of it all, and the adrenaline you experience from pushing that limit! You can't copy skateboarding - there's nothing quite like it.*
The next day we both get on a bus to Portland. But that story is for another post.
**One of my favorite places in the world - Oregon, USA.**
- 7Ply Epic