The Road To Nowhere Also Starts With One Push
Words by Steve Berra

The main objective was to find the perfect spot. Our other objective was to bowl the perfect the game.

What he wanted was a photo of Heath-what he got was his body falling to the bottom of the bowl as he backed up a millimeter too far.

Halfway between nowhere and somewhere dark in the state of Illinois, we ran out of gas.

For the next half an hour, I heard a lot of pain, a lot of obscenities, and a lot of yelling.

Intro

The trip was originally going to be called Strike Club. It started out as an idea between Heath Kirchart and me. We both have two videos to film for, so we thought going on a road trip for an entire month looking for spots across America would be a good way to rack up fresh footage at even fresher spots. No Wilshire rails, El Toro, or Love Park. These would be new spots-unseen territory-like when Christopher Colombus set sail for the new world. All there would be to do the entire month was skate and concentrate on filming for videos. Those videos being the new Alien Workshop video (our present semi-new sponsor), the Emerica video (Heath’s shoe sponsor), and the DVS video (my shoe sponsor).We set sail on May 1, 2002 with Heath, Colin Kennedy (the filmer), Brayden Knell (the photographer), and me. The main objective was to find the perfect spot. Our other objective was to bowl the perfect the game. That’s where we got the name Strike Club.

Chapter One: Welcome To Smash Skates, Kid

Denver, Colorado was the first place we drove to. There were these thirteen-stair ledges there that Heath wanted to skate. Instead of going straight to the ledges, we decided to stop by the Denver skatepark to warm up. This would be our first mistake. The park is bigger than a football field with various snakeruns and bowls that sit flush with the ground so there’s no climbing steps or walking up platforms to get to them. You can do a noseslide on a ledge, and a few yards down the line, drop right into a ten-foot bowl. Brayden wanted to get some preliminary shots of Heath skating one of the hips in the park. (He didn’t have the right angle where he was standing, so he backed up a few feet and looked through his eyepiece.) It still wasn’t quite right, so he backed up a few more feet to find that it still wasn’t the perfect spot, but it was closer. Then Brayden decided to keep his eye in the eyepiece and inch his way back to find exactly the perfect angle for the photo. Where he wanted to be and where he ended up were two completely different locations. What he wanted was a photo of Heath-what he got was his body falling to the bottom of the bowl as he backed up a millimeter too far. What he also got was a smashed lens before he had taken even one photo on a month-long tour and (what he didn’t know until the end of the trip when the photos came back) a crooked lens mount that put his camera slightly out of focus for the rest of the trip. What we got were photos that weren’t usable because the circumstance just didn’t permit it. What you’re getting is a few salvaged photos and one that was taken after Brayden fixed his camera.

Chapter Two: Eighty-Sixed

Halfway between nowhere and somewhere dark in the state of Illinois, we ran out of gas. I didn’t see a gas station for a hundred miles, I swear. In 2002, it’s a little easier to remedy these kinds of situations when you’re packin’ a cell phone and a two-way pager. In the early 90s when our van blew up on a Foundation tour, we weren’t quite so fortunate, but that’s another story. Like I said, when you’re packing a cell phone and a two-way pager, sticky situations are easier, that is if your 700-dollar cell phone and two-way pager work-which mine didn’t. Luckily, everyone else in the car was packin’, but it ended up being Heath’s phone that had the only bar of reception. I made the call to AAA, and they asked me where we were located. I told them we were at the -mile marker on “Freeway Whatever,” I couldn’t remember. They told us to sit tight and the tow truck would come by and drop off five gallons of gas within the next 45 minutes, which was fine with me because it was 2:30 a.m. and I was tired. Heath wasn’t. To get an idea of why, all you need to know is that Heath’s diet consisted of a box of Hot Tamales, a Hostess crumb cake, a few Cokes, a Butterfinger, and some crunchy Snickers bars. I can only assume that having such high amounts of sugar in your system and having to wait inside a truck for 45 minutes only made Heath feel like Houdini bound in a straight jacket, underwater, and running out of breath. Heath had to break free, and with that freedom would come a brilliant idea. So he thought. The idea was to push the truck and the U-Haul to the next mile marker. His method of persuasion was to scream, jump, laugh, and taunt me with how much joy I’d feel if I just got out and started pushing. For some reason, I couldn’t believe him-at 2:30 in the morning I just couldn’t be convinced. Apparently, Colin and Brayden could, and within minutes they both got out behind the U-Haul and dug their heels into the concrete. For the next half an hour, I heard a lot of pain, a lot of obscenities, and a lot of yelling. But what I heard most as I navigated the three-human-powered truck traveling at ten miles per hour was laughter. How they thought that was fun I have no idea, but I’m glad they did.

Chapter Three: Nothing Here, Move On

Here’s our itinerary: after Denver, we drove straight to Lincoln, Nebraska-nothing to skate there. Omaha, Nebraska-nothing and windy. Kansas City, Missouri-we set up three times at three different spots to take a photo, and each time, right when the trigger was about to be pulled, the cops showed up. So we left. St. Louis, Missouri-it was my birthday, and we were in the place I was born exactly 29 years prior. Because I grew up there until I was fourteen, I still remembered some spots. None of them were skateable anymore, though. Guy Grey, our St. Louis tour guide, showed us the only spot that panned out. It was a ten-stair handrail, and we didn’t have anything for it. So we left. Indianapolis, Indiana-nothing. Colombus, Indiana-Heath backside tailslid a rail, thanks to Buddy Best who catered to our every picky need. Cincinnati, Ohio-Heath ollied out over a double-set to noseslide down a chest-high brick ledge. Too bad the photo didn’t turn out. Colin flew home, and Templeton Elliott replaced him. We headed back to Colombus, Indiana to skate the rail Heath backside tailslid. I did a frontside noseslide. Hopefully, the photo’s good enough to use. Louisville, Kentucky-no offense to the locals, it’s not their fault, but what a waste of space. The money spent on that park could’ve gone to building five Love Parks. Instead of building the best skatepark in the world, they decided to put in a 30-foot-high full pipe, which not one kid there will skate. Nashville, Tennessee-if there are spots there, we didn’t find them. Our morale at this point was pretty low because there hadn’t been a huge amount of production. Part of the reason being that we were picky little girls, and the other part is that there really weren’t a lot of spots that hadn’t been skate-proofed or we didn’t get kicked out of. We then headed to Atlanta, Georgia because we knew about some spots there.

Chapter Four: The Curve

The original 50-dollar bet was between Heath and me for the best bowling average on the tour. After all, at this point, the tour was still called Strike Club. The first night we bowled, Heath agreed to give me a 30-pin handicap because I really haven’t bowled a whole lot. For the whole month before our trip, he spent-on average-about fifteen hours a week in the bowling alley. The difference between bowling like your mom and bowling like Heath is the way you throw the ball down the lane. Straight bowlers are never consistent, so I’m told. The curve is where all the bowlers you see on ESPN are at. Heath bowls with the curve. Brayden bowls straight. Templeton bettered his game from 60 to 135 by learning how to bowl with the curve. The first night we bowled in Denver, Heath taught me how to bowl with the curve as well. After that night, I no longer needed the 30-pin handicap-I topped out that night with a 198. From then on, it was mostly pin for pin. On occasion, he’d give me five or ten pins as a handicap when I wasn’t doing so well. It became apparent after the first game in Denver that my 198 was a fluke, because I soon sank back down to the low 120s. By the end of the tour, I told Heath that he should add 30 pins to every game I bowled the entire month. He said no. When the trip was over, we added up our scores. At the beginning, we asked Brayden if he wanted to be involved in the bet, and he said no. After we added everything up, it turned out the straight bowler, Brayden, had actually bowled better than all of us. Isn’t that sooo ironic? Heath had come in second, which was really first because what really mattered was the bet and the money-the money I didn’t win.

Chapter Five: Pinheads

I had to leave the trip for about four days and fly to New York to see my wife. Then I had to fly from New York to Los Angeles because I had agreed to be a presenter at the TransWorld SKATEboarding awards. Really, I was just homesick and felt terrible because I hadn’t really gotten any footage. During those four days I was gone, Templeton stayed at Brayden’s house, and Heath got picked up by his girlfriend Ashleigh who was living in Birmingham, Alabama at the time. I didn’t want to leave Templeton at Brayden’s house without any means of transportation, so I left him the keys to the truck. He was a little hesitant to drive the truck with the U-Haul attached, so we decided to detach it and push it on the side of Brayden’s house until Heath and I returned. When I returned to Atlanta, the U-Haul had been reattached to the truck and we were back to the same routine. But not for long. That night, we were driving down the road that leads to Brayden’s house, and suddenly from the rear, we heard a large crash and felt the truck being pulled to one side. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw sparks flying ten-feet high behind the truck. I turned to look through the back window and saw that the trailer had become unhitched. It was waving from side to side, sparks were flying, and Brayden was filling his pants with something he should’ve been filling a toilet with because he was the one driving. He sped up, trying to avoid the impact he thought the truck would suffer from the trailer. Brayden forgot that the trailer was also chained to the truck, so when he went faster, the trailer went faster and the sparks got bigger. I turned to him and told him it was all right and that he should slow down. So he hit the brakes, and the trailer came smashing into the back of the truck. There was a bang, a jolt, and then we rolled to a stop. We got out and saw that the right side of the truck was smashed from the impact. In thirteen years of tours, I’ve never rented a car without getting insurance, and in all those years, not one thing has ever happened to the rental. This was the first time anything happened, and also the first time I didn’t get any insurance. I got out of the car, trying to figure out how in the hell the trailer became unhitched from the truck. I looked at where the trailer fit into the hitch and saw that the pin used to keep the trailer from slipping out of the hitch had come out. That’s what I thought until Templeton informed me that when they reattached the trailer to the truck that there was no pin. You can imagine the contempt I felt for whoever the genius was who reattached the trailer and didn’t realize that the trailer would slip from the hitch if there wasn’t a pin to keep it in place. That little oversight was going to cost me. After that, I decided ite is where all the bowlers you see on ESPN are at. Heath bowls with the curve. Brayden bowls straight. Templeton bettered his game from 60 to 135 by learning how to bowl with the curve. The first night we bowled in Denver, Heath taught me how to bowl with the curve as well. After that night, I no longer needed the 30-pin handicap-I topped out that night with a 198. From then on, it was mostly pin for pin. On occasion, he’d give me five or ten pins as a handicap when I wasn’t doing so well. It became apparent after the first game in Denver that my 198 was a fluke, because I soon sank back down to the low 120s. By the end of the tour, I told Heath that he should add 30 pins to every game I bowled the entire month. He said no. When the trip was over, we added up our scores. At the beginning, we asked Brayden if he wanted to be involved in the bet, and he said no. After we added everything up, it turned out the straight bowler, Brayden, had actually bowled better than all of us. Isn’t that sooo ironic? Heath had come in second, which was really first because what really mattered was the bet and the money-the money I didn’t win.

Chapter Five: Pinheads

I had to leave the trip for about four days and fly to New York to see my wife. Then I had to fly from New York to Los Angeles because I had agreed to be a presenter at the TransWorld SKATEboarding awards. Really, I was just homesick and felt terrible because I hadn’t really gotten any footage. During those four days I was gone, Templeton stayed at Brayden’s house, and Heath got picked up by his girlfriend Ashleigh who was living in Birmingham, Alabama at the time. I didn’t want to leave Templeton at Brayden’s house without any means of transportation, so I left him the keys to the truck. He was a little hesitant to drive the truck with the U-Haul attached, so we decided to detach it and push it on the side of Brayden’s house until Heath and I returned. When I returned to Atlanta, the U-Haul had been reattached to the truck and we were back to the same routine. But not for long. That night, we were driving down the road that leads to Brayden’s house, and suddenly from the rear, we heard a large crash and felt the truck being pulled to one side. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw sparks flying ten-feet high behind the truck. I turned to look through the back window and saw that the trailer had become unhitched. It was waving from side to side, sparks were flying, and Brayden was filling his pants with something he should’ve been filling a toilet with because he was the one driving. He sped up, trying to avoid the impact he thought the truck would suffer from the trailer. Brayden forgot that the trailer was also chained to the truck, so when he went faster, the trailer went faster and the sparks got bigger. I turned to him and told him it was all right and that he should slow down. So he hit the brakes, and the trailer came smashing into the back of the truck. There was a bang, a jolt, and then we rolled to a stop. We got out and saw that the right side of the truck was smashed from the impact. In thirteen years of tours, I’ve never rented a car without getting insurance, and in all those years, not one thing has ever happened to the rental. This was the first time anything happened, and also the first time I didn’t get any insurance. I got out of the car, trying to figure out how in the hell the trailer became unhitched from the truck. I looked at where the trailer fit into the hitch and saw that the pin used to keep the trailer from slipping out of the hitch had come out. That’s what I thought until Templeton informed me that when they reattached the trailer to the truck that there was no pin. You can imagine the contempt I felt for whoever the genius was who reattached the trailer and didn’t realize that the trailer would slip from the hitch if there wasn’t a pin to keep it in place. That little oversight was going to cost me. After that, I decided it was time for me to leave. The next day, I got a flight back home. We threw away what we could from the U-Haul and returned it. We gave Brayden anything he could use, and then packed up the rest of what we had inside the truck. As I headed to the airport, Heath and Templeton were off to North Carolina to check out a handrail Templeton knew of. It cost me 800 dollars to fix the back of the truck when Heath returned home with it. The 50 dollars I owed Heath for bowling was forfeited toward fixing the truck. So not only did I lose on the bowling, I kind of lost altogether. No footage, no photos, and no morale. And it had only cost me a month of my time and nearly 7,000 dollars.

Chapter Six: Catch-22

I’m writing this now six weeks after our return, which will get to you somewhere between three to six months after the first mile we drove on May 1, 2002. Strike Club is what it was supposed to be called. What it ended up becoming was some Kmart version of a Zero tour gone bad, but it didn’t even go that well. “Horrible” isn’t what you’d call it, that wouldn’t be accurate enough. “Disaster” is more than dead on, and “failure” would be its kissing cousin. Why? Because the main thing to do was film for the videos we’re working on, and with that goal there were very little fruits of our labor. The Alien Workshop/Habitat video, the Emerica video, and the DVS video will most likely still be in production when you read this, and will more than likely be in production a lot longer than that. What’s the hold up? What have we deduced from our month-long tour across America? IT’S HARD FILMING FOR A SKATEBOARD VIDEO. Zero, Flip, Girl, Birdhouse, DC-have you seen any one of their videos lately? I guess the Flip video finally arrived, but it took the span of a high school career before you got the chance to push that tape deep into your VCR. Why did it take so long? Why is it taking so long for the others? BECAUSE IT’S HARD FILMING FOR A SKATEBOARD VIDEO. And to tell you the truth, it’s even harder when you’ve been filming skateboard videos for at least ten years like most of the guys on those companies have. Not because you can’t do anything, it’s just figuring out what you want to do that you haven’t already. Right now, the skate magazines are filled with guys doing Smith grinds, lipslides, and kickflips on and over ten-stair rails. If Heath and I (or any of the riders of the aforementioned companies) were to be seen feeding magazines the same fodder, the general consensus would be, “Man, they’re slipping.” So it’s kind of a Catch-22. The bar that many of us feel like we have to rise above is already about three stories too high. We made it that way. It seems as if Heath just had a video part in Sight Unseen, but to many of you, that was last year-ages ago. To us, it feels as if it’s only been a few weeks. To recover from some of the slams we take these days could be anywhere from a week, a month, to a whole school semester. We’ll call professional skateboarding what it is-hard and excruciatingly painful. Even hell, sometimes. That’s not complaining, it’s facing the bitter but challenging truth. It doesn’t mean we’re not up for the challenge, it just means that sometimes we’re not sure what to do. We care so much about what we’re doing and what we put out there that it gets a little trying at times. Even if Heath and I aren’t your favorite skaters, I can guarantee that your favorite skaters go through the same trying times. Why are some of us killing ourselves for skateboarding footage? It stresses us out to the point of madness, but at the same time, it elevates us to the peak of elation when we finally do get footage that we’d use in this quest for our opus, our legacy, our video part. There isn’t a better feeling than landing a trick you’ve been working on for two hours, or in some cases, two months. On a planet where gravity keeps you glued to the ground, we need to take one battle at a time with the physical universe. That”s what it is, a battle. And with each piece of footage we get, it’s just that much more of the physical universe we’ve been able to conquer. It’s just that much more of ourselves we’ve been able to elevate. It’s just that much more advantage we have on a world that doesn’t want us or you to do what we’re doing or to be here in the first place. But we are here, and we’ve all got to find a purpose. And within that purpose, there might be some battles. So be it. Looking over some of the photos, despite many of them being out of focus and unusable, I can say that the trip wasn’t a total failure like I’d said before. It was fun, memorable, and at the same time, a battle with a purpose. Originally called Strike Club, our purpose was to get some footage and bowl a lot of strikes. Good thing our purpose wasn’t trying to save the world, because we’d be goners.

s time for me to leave. The next day, I got a flight back home. We threw away what we could from the U-Haul and returned it. We gave Brayden anything he could use, and then packed up the rest of what we had inside the truck. As I headed to the airport, Heath and Templeton were off to North Carolina to check out a handrail Templeton knew of. It cost me 800 dollars to fix the back of the truck when Heath returned home with it. The 50 dollars I owed Heath for bowling was forfeited toward fixing the truck. So not only did I lose on the bowling, I kind of lost altogether. No footage, no photos, and no morale. And it had only cost me a month of my time and nearly 7,000 dollars.

Chapter Six: Catch-22

I’m writing this now six weeks after our return, which will get to you somewhere between three to six months after the first mile we drove on May 1, 2002. Strike Club is what it was supposed to be called. What it ended up becoming was some Kmart version of a Zero tour gone bad, but it didn’t even go that well. “Horrible” isn’t what you’d call it, that wouldn’t be accurate enough. “Disaster” is more than dead on, and “failure” would be its kissing cousin. Why? Because the main thing to do was film for the videos we’re working on, and with that goal there were very little fruits of our labor. The Alien Workshop/Habitat video, the Emerica video, and the DVS video will most likely still be in production when you read this, and will more than likely be in production a lot longer than that. What’s the hold up? What have we deduced from our month-long tour across America? IT’S HARD FILMING FOR A SKATEBOARD VIDEO. Zero, Flip, Girl, Birdhouse, DC-have you seen any one of their videos lately? I guess the Flip video finally arrived, but it took the span of a high school career before you got the chance to push that tape deep into your VCR. Why did it take so long? Why is it taking so long for the others? BECAUSE IT’S HARD FILMING FOR A SKATEBOARD VIDEO. And to tell you the truth, it’s even harder when you’ve been filming skateboard videos for at least ten years like most of the guys on those companies have. Not because you can’t do anything, it’s just figuring out what you want to do that you haven’t already. Right now, the skate magazines are filled with guys doing Smith grinds, lipslides, and kickflips on and over ten-stair rails. If Heath and I (or any of the riders of the aforementioned companies) were to be seen feeding magazines the same fodder, the general consensus would be, “Man, they’re slipping.” So it’s kind of a Catch-22. The bar that many of us feel like we have to rise above is already about three stories too high. We made it that way. It seems as if Heath just had a video part in Sight Unseen, but to many of you, that was last year-ages ago. To us, it feels as if it’s only been a few weeks. To recover from some of the slams we take these days could be anywhere from a week, a month, to a whole school semester. We’ll call professional skateboarding what it is-hard and excruciatingly painful. Even hell, sometimes. That’s not complaining, it’s facing the bitter but challenging truth. It doesn’t mean we’re not up for the challenge, it just means that sometimes we’re not sure what to do. We care so much about what we’re doing and what we put out there that it gets a little trying at times. Even if Heath and I aren’t your favorite skaters, I can guarantee that your favorite skaters go through the same trying times. Why are some of us killing ourselves for skateboarding footage? It stresses us out to the point of madness, but at the same time, it elevates us to the peak of elation when we finally do get footage that we’d use in this quest for our opus, our legacy, our video part. There isn’t a better feeling than landing a trick you’ve been working on for two hours, or in some cases, two months. On a planet where gravity keeps you glued to the ground, we need to take one battle at a time with the physical universe. That’s what it is, a battle. And with each piece of footage we get, it’s just that much more of the physical universe we’ve been able to conquer. It’s just that much more of ourselves we’ve been able to elevate. It’s just that much more advantage we have on a world that doesn’t want us or you to do what we’re doing or to be here in the first place. But we are here, and we’ve all got to find a purpose. And within that purpose, there might be some battles. So be it. Looking over some of the photos, despite many of them being out of focus and unusable, I can say that the trip wasn’t a total failure like I’d said before. It was fun, memorable, and at the same time, a battle with a purpose. Originally called Strike Club, our purpose was to get some footage and bowl a lot of strikes. Good thing our purpose wasn’t trying to save the world, because we’d be goners.

e. That’s what it is, a battle. And with each piece of footage we get, it’s just that much more of the physical universe we’ve been able to conquer. It’s just that much more of ourselves we’ve been able to elevate. It’s just that much more advantage we have on a world that doesn’t want us or you to do what we’re doing or to be here in the first place. But we are here, and we’ve all got to find a purpose. And within that purpose, there might be some battles. So be it. Looking over some of the photos, despite many of them being out of focus and unusable, I can say that the trip wasn’t a total failure like I’d said before. It was fun, memorable, and at the same time, a battle with a purpose. Originally called Strike Club, our purpose was to get some footage and bowl a lot of strikes. Good thing our purpose wasn’t trying to save the world, because we’d be goners.