By Ryan Kingman

The majority of my early life was spent in Honolulu, Hawaii. My father was born and raised there, and I was, for the most part, raised in Hawaii. I can definitely say that all of my earlier and more formidable skateboarding years were spent combing the drainage ditches on the island of Oahu. I was most inspired by the music and culture that skateboarding had to offer, also deriving inspiration from friends, whom shared this passion for sidewalk surfing. I was fortunate enough to have fallen in with some of the best skateboarders from the islands. From the older scene builders such as Gary Owens, Kevin Konishi, Brian Boyle, Doug Githry, Johnee Kop, Bo Ikeda, Billy Deans, Stacy Gibo, to the younger guys (at that time) like Mark Oblow, Vince Krause, Robby Gaskell, Kevin Buchli, Kale Sandridge, Rene Matthysen, Rob Carlyon, and, well the list goes on and on.

Through my friendships with these guys, I had the profound honor of getting to skate and hang around all the visiting pros that came through town. Back in those days it was the likes of Christian Hosoi (and entourage), Gator, Natas Kaupas, Mark Gonzales, Jason Lee, and Andy Howell to name a few. I was always so impressed with the raw skate talent, coupled with the style (everything from music to fashion) that seemed to bleed from their pores. I often wondered what these guys thought of our little local island scene and how it compared to the always foreboding So Cal scene that seemed to sprout uber-talented pros form the rich California dirt surrounding every back yard ramp and pool. I hope not date myself too much, but at demos and contests back then, it was sticker tosses that we blackened each other’s eyes for, not product. If there was a shirt or board in the mix, someone was getting f-ked up. If only Hawaii had the same resources as California, we would’ve been a force to be reckoned with.

After graduating form High School, I had to see what the hype was all about. Packed up my stuff and moved to California …

Jump forward 15 years. After struggling through too many skateboarding and life situations to recount, I have somehow found myself in a position to go back and give back. I now hold a position at Element Skateboards that allows me to have some say in the goings-on of team and the travel related to them. This, in and off itself, is a dream come true. Sometimes, industry types get jaded and forget what it’s all about. Unfortunately, it’s all too often easy to do, with all the distractions that the corporate environment and life in general provide, we sometimes find ourselves caught up in the very rat race we all so were adamantly against in our youth. That’s what skateboarding was to me: f-k authority, against the grain, non-conformity. I sometimes have to punch myself to remember who I am and how I got here. Coincidentally, it was in one of those corporate boardroom meetings, that seem to suck the very life out of everyone involved, that I got the opportunity to take part in what I can only say is a revisit to my self-expressed past that helped make me who I am today. Chris Senn had been talking to photographer Chris Ortiz about coming out there for a visit and suggested we take a last minute trip to Hawaii. Since we had just welcomed Senn to the team, and were working on a video (out now, go buy!) it seemed like a no-brainer. I now have the gift of being able to plan a trip to the one place in the world I love more than any other, thanks to Senn’s persistent suggestion. It should be noted that Senn had recently moved his wife and two kids to Hawaii and currently resides on the Big Island of Hawaii.

In my previous years of team management, I have often dreamt that I would one day have the honor of being able to bring professional skateboarders to Hawaii. Just as I had often wondered how it all came to be when I was a young kid in the islands, I now had the power to make it happen-the opportunity is laid out in front of me just ri for the planning. First off, who can even go? Well, first off Senn, he lives there. Next? Tosh! Tosh is one of my favorite skaters and someone I can thankfully refer to as a close friend. Although he often drives me insane with his antics, I would be honored to have him accompany me on my homeland journey. Jake, ah yes, brother Rupp. I often reminisce with Jake about Hawaii, how much he would love the natural environment, the lifestyle and the culture. Now he will get to see it firsthand. In addition to this will be Brent Atchley, new Element am and all terrain vehicle. He’s new to the squad, but an addition we would have been bummed not have had with us. Now throw in some media guys and we’re all good. We brought much needed comedy relief/photo veteran, Chris Ortiz, Element video man Ricki ” The Dude” Bedenbaugh and last but not least, photo man John Bradford. John would unfortunately be the recipient of most of the much needed trip pranks and antics, only because we love him though. Oh yeah, how could I forget our Element Team Manager Ryan DeWitt? He’s the backbone of our team activity. In some strange chain of events he almost forgot the trip himself and missed his flight. To this day I question how someone could miss a flight to Hawaii for a two-week tour/vacation. DeWitt and I have traveled a lot together and I would have been really disappointed had he not gotten to see Hawaii.

All right, now everyone but DeWitt is on a plane bound for the Big Island of Hawaii, to a town called Kailua-Kona where Chris Senn calls home. There are eight Islands in the Hawaiian island chain, of which we’d be visiting two, the Big Island of Hawaii, and Oahu. The plan is to put everyone up at Senn’s house that he shares with his wife Michelle and two young sons, Anakin, 10, and Julien, 2. Upon arrival we see there is plenty of room at Chris’s place, but could be a bit more comfortable with a quick Wal-Mart run to procure some blow-up mattresses and, strangely enough, tents. Chris had set up one such tent at his house already and it looked so inviting we all decided we wanted on of our own. Now we’ve all got our own personal mini compound tents and mattress. Liken it to Anti Hero’s “Tent City,” only ours located indoors, are brand new, and are located on Chris’s living room and lanai (porch), not some open field. Now that we’ve established our own personal domiciles, we don’t really have much to do but acquaint ourselves with the local culture and go skate. There are a couple of very casual demos set up by Michelle, but other than that we quickly fell into “Hawaiian Style” living. The Big Island of Hawaii is very rural and slow, unlike Honolulu, where I grew up, so we basically just did anything we wanted, which is just the way I envisioned it. Rupp and I got up early every morning, waiting of the rest of the crew to rise so we could hit the beach, or go get a skate on. Tosh spent a healthy amount of time in the water surfing, just down the street from Senn’s house. Chris had recently built a small cement quarter in front of his house, which turned out to be the session spot for us to get warmed up every day. This casual introductory approach was perfect for me, because it was a nice slow intro to Hawaii for these guys, just like I wanted. For the most part when you travel to every exotic corner of the world, you’re usually hard pressed, due to pre-determined schedules you may not have any control over, to see much of what the area has to offer in culture, skate spots, et cetera. Although there would be a bunch we wouldn’t get to see on this trip, I know Hawaii would make a lasting impression on these guys, forcing them to one day soon come back. This has been a personal dilemma of mine for decades, just like Joe Strummer said so long ago, “Should I stay or should I go?” I’ve often wondered how I could maintain my existence in California, but not in California, and be in Hawaii instead.

Senn’s parents, who also reside in Kona, have a sailboat charter business in which they take out tourists for a day of sailing and diving. The Senn’s were nice enough to take us all out on one of these beautiful boat rides. We spent the day skipping along the water’s surface at pretty high speeds, basking in the sun like fat seals. Anchored above one of the better diving areas the island has to offer, all of us jumped in quite carelessly and started splashing about, not realizing what was going on below. All eleven of us in attendance were taking turns swimming through an underwater archway, when low and behold, a six-foot white tip reef shark had come out of a cave to see what all the fuss was about. The reef sharks are relatively harmless unless provoked, which is kinda what we were doing, but he swam away probably more scared of us than we were of him.

The next day we woke early and started our all-day venture to visit the still-active Volcano on the island. We spent a better part of the day driving the windy roads of the Hawaiian coast headed towards the volcano, stopping off at black sand beaches to take in the breathtaking beauty. It was AMAZING! Craters all round us, steam vents from the center of the earth, and incredible lava tubes you could walk down into. We started in on a lava tube that went 26 miles deep into a deep, black abyss. The only light we had was on Ricki’s camera and we weren’t too sure how long it would last, so the trip was relatively short lived.

The days passed and out time had come. We were sad to leave the Senn residence, and thankful for their kind hospitalities, vowing to come soon for another visit. Our sadness was short lived though, as we were excited to get to our next stop, the island of Oahu. Now I’m really back in my Element (completely intended pun), for this is where I grew up. A lot has changed in the past years, especially related to skateboarding. There are more parks now than I can name and the scene is alive and kicking. Right off the plane we jumped into a rained out puddle demo at the Mililani park. Good intro for the locals, even ran into a bunch of friends who helped put the demo together. Thanks to Blue Hawaii and Noel Marchan for letting us off easy, and doing a somewhat casually organized demo. This weather dodging was unfortunately going to set the pace for the rest of our stay on Oahu. I had a whole list of places and spots I wanted to take these guys, but first on the list was the legendary and infamous Wallos. Unfortunately Wallos has changed some over the years, mostly for the worse. The City and County Dept. of Water Management decided to cut an access road straight up through one of the most notorious spots Hawaii has ever offered. Just about everyone who has come to skate in Hawaii over the past 3 decades has homage to this mystical place. Access road or not, we were going to skate. Tosh and Senn brought justice to the echoing ghosts of the ditch and threw down some great lines. But as Senn said, you have to leave a little blood sacrifice if you visit Wallos, and he did.

Another buzz around the island scene was of the brand new bowl just built built in an un-named location on the island. Senn made short time of developing a more than intimate relationship with some of the bowls lovely and curvaceous curvy sections. The standout playboy that wooed her the most though, was our Burnside bad-boy, Brent Atchley, a.k.a. ‘Brother B.’ Strangely, Brent didn’t even give the lovely bowl any attention the first night, but rather played hard to get. He patiently watched and waited, I think it made the bowl yearn for his attention, and come the next day, did she ever get it. Their love affair was more like a torrid one-night stand; fast, furious and leaving everyone wondering what the f-k just happened? It seemed as if the two had met before, or maybe Brent just has a talent for adapting to whatever terrain you put in front of him. I might sound like I’m lending too much dramatics to what took place in that bowl. I gilboat charter business in which they take out tourists for a day of sailing and diving. The Senn’s were nice enough to take us all out on one of these beautiful boat rides. We spent the day skipping along the water’s surface at pretty high speeds, basking in the sun like fat seals. Anchored above one of the better diving areas the island has to offer, all of us jumped in quite carelessly and started splashing about, not realizing what was going on below. All eleven of us in attendance were taking turns swimming through an underwater archway, when low and behold, a six-foot white tip reef shark had come out of a cave to see what all the fuss was about. The reef sharks are relatively harmless unless provoked, which is kinda what we were doing, but he swam away probably more scared of us than we were of him.

The next day we woke early and started our all-day venture to visit the still-active Volcano on the island. We spent a better part of the day driving the windy roads of the Hawaiian coast headed towards the volcano, stopping off at black sand beaches to take in the breathtaking beauty. It was AMAZING! Craters all round us, steam vents from the center of the earth, and incredible lava tubes you could walk down into. We started in on a lava tube that went 26 miles deep into a deep, black abyss. The only light we had was on Ricki’s camera and we weren’t too sure how long it would last, so the trip was relatively short lived.

The days passed and out time had come. We were sad to leave the Senn residence, and thankful for their kind hospitalities, vowing to come soon for another visit. Our sadness was short lived though, as we were excited to get to our next stop, the island of Oahu. Now I’m really back in my Element (completely intended pun), for this is where I grew up. A lot has changed in the past years, especially related to skateboarding. There are more parks now than I can name and the scene is alive and kicking. Right off the plane we jumped into a rained out puddle demo at the Mililani park. Good intro for the locals, even ran into a bunch of friends who helped put the demo together. Thanks to Blue Hawaii and Noel Marchan for letting us off easy, and doing a somewhat casually organized demo. This weather dodging was unfortunately going to set the pace for the rest of our stay on Oahu. I had a whole list of places and spots I wanted to take these guys, but first on the list was the legendary and infamous Wallos. Unfortunately Wallos has changed some over the years, mostly for the worse. The City and County Dept. of Water Management decided to cut an access road straight up through one of the most notorious spots Hawaii has ever offered. Just about everyone who has come to skate in Hawaii over the past 3 decades has homage to this mystical place. Access road or not, we were going to skate. Tosh and Senn brought justice to the echoing ghosts of the ditch and threw down some great lines. But as Senn said, you have to leave a little blood sacrifice if you visit Wallos, and he did.

Another buzz around the island scene was of the brand new bowl just built built in an un-named location on the island. Senn made short time of developing a more than intimate relationship with some of the bowls lovely and curvaceous curvy sections. The standout playboy that wooed her the most though, was our Burnside bad-boy, Brent Atchley, a.k.a. ‘Brother B.’ Strangely, Brent didn’t even give the lovely bowl any attention the first night, but rather played hard to get. He patiently watched and waited, I think it made the bowl yearn for his attention, and come the next day, did she ever get it. Their love affair was more like a torrid one-night stand; fast, furious and leaving everyone wondering what the f-k just happened? It seemed as if the two had met before, or maybe Brent just has a talent for adapting to whatever terrain you put in front of him. I might sound like I’m lending too much dramatics to what took place in that bowl. I guess you had to be there, but let me tell you, it was really something else. I’ve got to send a big “Mahalos” out to the Cholo’s group for letting us skate their bowl.

We retreated back to our hotel in Waikiki, which by the way is the tourist epicenter of Oahu, to rest up before departing the next day on the journey back to Southern California. By some coincidence, or maybe by fate, the room I shared with Ortiz and Ricky had a balcony that looked directly over the finest watering hole in all of the South Pacific, The Hideaway. I had spent more time in this fine establishment than I can remember, or can’t remember. So many days and night hanging about the Hideaway that it seemed only right to I introduce my this visiting crew of friends to my local crew of friends. Nos, Johnny, and the “808 Hate” Brown Boy crew were all in attendance. I think we spent every night of the Oahu segment posted up in the corner of the bar, reminiscing the glory days of past and dreaming of new ones. Senn’s good friend Shaun Lovely even graced us with his presence a few times. If your not one for staying up late night, drinking or hanging about, it’s okay. You can visit the Hideaway early in the morning, as they open for business at 8 a.m. There might even be a line at the door.

There were two more special stops we had made during our trip that I didn’t mention, but have to now in order to do the story justice and give credit where credit is due. One stop was Jeff Hartsel’s art studio where we single handedly creates the art and philosophy of his clothing line ‘Poetree.’ Jeff is a legend in skateboarding and it was a treat for me to introduce him to some of the team. Jeff, Tosh and Jake share some common beliefs and I was glad to help orchestrate their meeting.

Another stop we made while in Hawaii was to see a good friend of mine Mike Ledger. Now for those of you that don’t know, Mike is recognized as one of the top 5 tattoo artists in the world, but you would never think it by meeting him. Mike’s an extremely humble, young New Yorker that grew up amidst the crazy NY scene that spawned such great bands as Murphy’s Law, Agnostic Front, Cro Mags, et cetera. Anyway, he had a dream of moving to Hawaii, starting a family, and opening a private tattoo studio. Well now he’s done just that. His studio is a second floor, 2-room, ultra clean homage to tattooing and art. Mike was gracious enough to let us stop by and even more gracious in tattooing a few of our crew. This was a treat indeed as Mike’s current client waiting list is booked for more than a year into the future, but he saw his way into letting us cut right to the front of the line. Many, many thanks Mike for making our visit a permanent memory.

There’s usually a sense of relief at the end of a trip like this. One that makes you glad it’s over and has you longing to return to the comforts of your home and it’s routine surroundings. But this time I found myself unusually torn, these are my comfortable surroundings, this is home. Once again I was thinking, “should I stay or should I go?” All in all, I felt like I had done a good job. I had brought the people that are in my life now, to a place that I hold in very close to me, and tried my best to share it with them and show them a good time in a part of the world that I think everyone should experience at least once in their life. I hope that Tosh, Jake, Brent, DeWitt, Ricky, Bradford and Ortiz feel like they have a more enriched understanding of Hawaii past that of just a tourist destination for sun-loving beach goers, because Hawaii is so much more. Look at Senn, he’s traveled to just about every corner of the world, and he chose Hawaii as the place to call home. Here I am, once again finding myself torn in what I want to do. I need to get home, back to the hectic business of skateboarding, always ready to engulf me. But I’m here, and want to stay, even if only for a bit longer. Thankfully I had taken upon myself, in hindsight, having haad good foresight, to book a flight for my girlfriend Mary to fly out and help me continue my reminiscent journey of life past, joining present. So I gathered up my friendly and relaxed Element crew and dropped them off at the departure gate at the Honolulu airport, bidding them a fond farewell, knowing I would be seeing them again very soon, and made haste toward the arrival gate, so I could continue my adventure if only for a few days more.

s you had to be there, but let me tell you, it was really something else. I’ve got to send a big “Mahalos” out to the Cholo’s group for letting us skate their bowl.

We retreated back to our hotel in Waikiki, which by the way is the tourist epicenter of Oahu, to rest up before departing the next day on the journey back to Southern California. By some coincidence, or maybe by fate, the room I shared with Ortiz and Ricky had a balcony that looked directly over the finest watering hole in all of the South Pacific, The Hideaway. I had spent more time in this fine establishment than I can remember, or can’t remember. So many days and night hanging about the Hideaway that it seemed only right to I introduce my this visiting crew of friends to my local crew of friends. Nos, Johnny, and the “808 Hate” Brown Boy crew were all in attendance. I think we spent every night of the Oahu segment posted up in the corner of the bar, reminiscing the glory days of past and dreaming of new ones. Senn’s good friend Shaun Lovely even graced us with his presence a few times. If your not one for staying up late night, drinking or hanging about, it’s okay. You can visit the Hideaway early in the morning, as they open for business at 8 a.m. There might even be a line at the door.

There were two more special stops we had made during our trip that I didn’t mention, but have to now in order to do the story justice and give credit where credit is due. One stop was Jeff Hartsel’s art studio where we single handedly creates the art and philosophy of his clothing line ‘Poetree.’ Jeff is a legend in skateboarding and it was a treat for me to introduce him to some of the team. Jeff, Tosh and Jake share some common beliefs and I was glad to help orchestrate their meeting.

Another stop we made while in Hawaii was to see a good friend of mine Mike Ledger. Now for those of you that don’t know, Mike is recognized as one of the top 5 tattoo artists in the world, but you would never think it by meeting him. Mike’s an extremely humble, young New Yorker that grew up amidst the crazy NY scene that spawned such great bands as Murphy’s Law, Agnostic Front, Cro Mags, et cetera. Anyway, he had a dream of moving to Hawaii, starting a family, and opening a private tattoo studio. Well now he’s done just that. His studio is a second floor, 2-room, ultra clean homage to tattooing and art. Mike was gracious enough to let us stop by and even more gracious in tattooing a few of our crew. This was a treat indeed as Mike’s current client waiting list is booked for more than a year into the future, but he saw his way into letting us cut right to the front of the line. Many, many thanks Mike for making our visit a permanent memory.

There’s usually a sense of relief at the end of a trip like this. One that makes you glad it’s over and has you longing to return to the comforts of your home and it’s routine surroundings. But this time I found myself unusually torn, these are my comfortable surroundings, this is home. Once again I was thinking, “should I stay or should I go?” All in all, I felt like I had done a good job. I had brought the people that are in my life now, to a place that I hold in very close to me, and tried my best to share it with them and show them a good time in a part of the world that I think everyone should experience at least once in their life. I hope that Tosh, Jake, Brent, DeWitt, Ricky, Bradford and Ortiz feel like they have a more enriched understanding of Hawaii past that of just a tourist destination for sun-loving beach goers, because Hawaii is so much more. Look at Senn, he’s traveled to just about every corner of the world, and he chose Hawaii as the place to call home. Here I am, once again finding myself torn in what I want to do. I need to get home, back to the hectic business of skateboarding, always ready to engulf me. But I’m here, and want to stay, even if only for a bit longer. Thankfully I had taken upon myself, in hindsight, having had good foresight, to book a flight for my girlfriend Mary to fly out and help me continue my reminiscent journey of life past, joining present. So I gathered up my friendly and relaxed Element crew and dropped them off at the departure gate at the Honolulu airport, bidding them a fond farewell, knowing I would be seeing them again very soon, and made haste toward the arrival gate, so I could continue my adventure if only for a few days more.

aving had good foresight, to book a flight for my girlfriend Mary to fly out and help me continue my reminiscent journey of life past, joining present. So I gathered up my friendly and relaxed Element crew and dropped them off at the departure gate at the Honolulu airport, bidding them a fond farewell, knowing I would be seeing them again very soon, and made haste toward the arrival gate, so I could continue my adventure if only for a few days more.