The cast: Dave Coyne, Chad Knight, Scott Pazelt, Chris Dobstaff, Adam Louder, Jerry Hsu, Cody Branin, Dave McKinney, Mark Delellis (video and ATM), Jimmy Kappel (video), Ed Dominick (photographer), and me.
Through my experiences with travel, I would've never thought you could get twelve people together on the road for ten days and have a successful trip. If you'd have said we'd be traveling almost 4,000 miles in a week and a half, I'd have laughed out loud: Everyone would want to do different things, someone would get hurt, others would get in fights with each other. There're a million things that could've gone wrong, but nothing did, and now that the trip is over, I can't believe we pulled it off. Even as I write this it seems impossible, but then I look at the list of skaters who went and think of how much I laughed in ten days, and I know we could do it for twenty or 30.
It reads like your typical tour. We left San Diego equipped with tons of product, stickers on the van, and everyone excited to go. Ed decided to gas up his trusty generator before we left so everyone could breath gas fumeson the way. Mark Dellelis was the acting team manager (ATM) even though he denied any responsibility, McKinney was behind the wheel, and Jimmy Kappel was in charge of keeping everyone entertained.
On our way to Houston, the first three days were spent in Phoenix. Even though our crew was just about perfect, we did run into one problem¿it's pretty hard to street skate with twelve people, especially in a city.
Somehow Jerry managed to grace the ledge before fat mounted cops came, and later he managed to destroy himself on a double-kink rail. It was one of the scariest things I'd ever seen, but Jerry got back up and tried again. "Kicked out of everywhere" is how the saying goes, though, and with the exception of one successful night session, we ended up at the famous Arizona skateparks for the best part of three days.
Of course it was grand, but who wants to hear about that? You want to hear about the great time we had with a scared pizza waitress who thought one of our group was a hero. We had a better time when Jimmy confessed to perversion and debauchery. We drank when it rained, and watched Ed tell the bowling-alley bartenders they were losers when they lit cigarettes. Security almost got "serious," Chad got hit in the face with ice, and Mark temporarily gave up his job as ATM. Ed and Mark decided to wrestle, and somehow the van got matching dents and a broken mirror.
Back to skating, right? Everyone killed it. Is that what I need to say? Chris almost made a trick you'll never understand, and Adam got pretty nuts on the park rails. Scott did some crazy flip tricks, too. You'll see all the footage at some point. Then we drove to Albuquerque. Point and fact: Albuquerque's park rules. It was so cold that Jerry needed to wrap up in a sleeping bag for a while, but again, this park rules. Go visit it. We skated there until the lights went out, did some neat tricks for the camera, and drove on into El Paso in the morning.
We figured we could find something to skate there. The guys at the local shop told us to wait until after five p.m., but we had to go. So the van moved on, more camera flashes went off, more nicknames were made up, a little more friendly violence went down, and most importantly, Jimmy became the centerpiece he was meant to be.
Jimmy Kappel, Hella Kappella, is an absolute must on any road trip. He made our journey complete and held it together at the seams. Firstly, he is impossible to bother¿you can't break his calm for even a moment. Then he starts talking, and every sentence he mutters could be a quote for any magazine. Four days in and we were all Kappels in the making. "Yeeaah, tight," as he would say.
Anyway, the rain hit us hard about three hours from San Antonio and didn't let up for the rest of the trip. It was impossible to drive at times, but we made it to Houston going aboutt 50 miles an hour. Our plans to murder San Antonio were canceled, and we didn't get to skate for two days. This was a bad thing for our group; we were getting edgy without any release. Jerry bought a bunch of disposable cameras to promote everyone making asses of themselves.
Eventually we hit SouthSide, the famous Houston skatepark, and we were dripping with sweat from the humidity before we got to the top of the ramps. So-and-so did this and that, and we did this and that in the hotel. Gambling keeps people up all night is all I need to say there. The trip was winding down.
Miraculously, as if planned ahead of time, we got a break in the rain on Saturday morning. It drizzled now and then, but downtown Houston was calling our names. Again, the group size hindered our progress, but we got lucky. There's this rail in a park in the middle of downtown¿you've probably seen it before, but now it has guys masturbating in the bushes nearby and pathetic-but-effective knobs on it.
However, our filmer/photographer crew wasn't going to let us get away without any footage. Mark and Ed went madly to work as we all stood around looking at rain clouds. The lesson here is that a filmer can't be stopped when he needs his footy. They prevailed and the whole lot of us started skating, but the price of any trick was landing in the mud.
I know this is starting to sound like a story of going uphill both ways, but it was beginning to feel like we were doomed on our last day. The photos show you otherwise, though, and the day ended with a high five from Muska to Coyne, and Mark trying to put the knobs back on the rail. It all worked out.
After the session, the group somewhat dispersed. One flew home because of some kind of crazy ear trauma, two joined up on another road trip, and a couple of us had to get back a day early. There were plenty of adventures on the 1,500-mile trek home, and we saw plenty of crazy characters en route. We looked like we were from the future most of the trip, but that's another story.
There's no way one article could tell you about a drive across the Southwest; I did the best I could. You can create your own trip on your own time, similar to ours or not. The Southwest is definitely the land of the lost, and everyone should see it. Just remember that there's a lot of space to cover, but with the right crew, the drive is half the fun. Skating is the other half.