Department Of Skate Tourism
An unofficial tour guide to Phoenix.
Story and photos Jody Morris
Rolling into unfamiliar cities can be a daunting task. The tourism board will happily fill your arms with maps to local merchants, amusements, and the like, but that’s hardly going to get you where you need to go skate. Unfortunately, even with skating as widespread as it currently is, there remains no tourism board for the traveling skater. Well, wait a minute—that’s not exactly true, now is it?
The photos in these pages were from a couple trips to Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona—guided tours provided by Phoenix’s Department Of Skate Tourism representatives Aaron and Josh. Aaron’s become somewhat of the unofficial tour guide for the Phoenix area, whether or not becoming this was his intention is unclear, but the task has fallen upon him, and he accomplishes it with great skill.
Our crew was out to find some new stuff after skating the same stuff day in and day out. A change of local scenery is always refreshing. We came upon Aaron through a referral from Caine Gayle who’d previously used his services and recommended we call him up when we arrived. As luck would have it, our hotel was mere blocks from not only Aaron’s home but also a number of prime spots.
If you tried to explain to someone with no grasp on skateboarding how we can just call up a stranger to play tourist guide for a group of people he’s never met before, they’d stare at you dumbfounded and confused. “We’re in town for the biannual quilting convention, could you take four days to give us a comprehensive tour of the area’s Yarn Barns? Hello? Are you still on the line? Hello … ?”
Luckily, skateboarders are a different animal than the Sunday quilter or we would’ve been standing on the corner for a long time.
Aaron knows Phoenix the way a good guide should—he knows all the spots along with the hours they’re available to skate. Guides, take note: spots are always there, but taking a crew there when you know they’ll get kicked out is a waste of everyone’s time. If you know you wouldn’t skate there at two on a Thursday afternoon, then prevailing logic would say that just because your visitors are from out of town doesn’t mean their luck will be any different.
So what makes a good guide? And how do you find one? Most guides fill out applications and have résumés on file at skatetourismguideservices.com. If they aren’t officially recognized and have at least a four-star rating by the site, chances are you’re putting your trip on the line. The Web site maintains an extensive database of Aarons in every city in all parts of the country. If you don’t already have a personal link to a guide, then you can use its services for a nominal fee—membership is required, however.
If you’re in the Phoenix area, give Aaron a call. His number is … just kidding, Aaron. We wouldn’t do that. Sorry, you’ll have to get off your ass and find your own Aaron.