(Photo above: Ishod Wair, kickflip crooked grind. Waterboro, SC.)
The trip started off the morning after Tampa Pro  loading the vans, figuring out seating, where the hell all the shoes and luggage were going to go, and listening to stories about the weekend. Youness was sitting outside, awaiting his flight to L.A. looking a bit jealous of our crew so I half-jokingly said he should come with us (like I have the power to invite someone). 10 minutes later he was loading his crap into the van. It wouldn't be until the next day or two that we would find out that his knee was jacked and he wouldn't be able to skate the whole trip. Youness knowingly hopped into a van set for Jacksonville, Savannah, Columbia, Charlotte, and Atlanta just for fun. He's the best. Another sub was Blake Carpenter since Justin Brock messed up his knee in the contest and couldn't make it on the trip.
Words and Photography by Ryan Flynn
"I now have a confession to make: Cory's switch backside tail slide was completely insane and amazing and I blew it. There, I said it, it's done, I'm sorry." -Ryan Flynn
Of the two passenger vans, one was loaded with 13 people and the other with bags, shoes, and three bodies (soon to double). First stop Whole Foods for lunch, snacks for the van, and a damn bird. This stop set the tone a lot more than any of us would have thought. Health food, plant-based diets, dates, Scuba's almond butter and jelly sandwiches, and a damn bird. Everyone had their Whole Foods bags of lunch and snacks for the day, which would be repeated every single day until the last stop in Atlanta. And Cory had a damn bird.
Next door to Whole Foods was a pet store where we lost Cory for most of the stop when he reappeared to the parking garage with a big cage and a damn bird. Welcome "Scott" to the van everyone. Somehow, straight out the gate, Scott was designated to hang from the air vents in between Johnny Wilson and myself. At our first rest stop we had a random extra person temporarily join us. A girl locked herself out of her car next to our van and needed "one of you to take me to work". Ha, one... all 13 of us, and a bird dropped her off a few miles away at the retirement home she worked at.
The next day Scott was moved to the bench seat in between us when Cory bought a shell chandelier. A shell chandelier was now swinging around in circles in front of our faces, banging on poor Scott's cage. I think Bobby Worrest was over it right away since he promptly jumped in the other van as soon as he had the chance. A couple days in we realized there was an open seat next to Ishod and put Scott's cage in it. Do not get it twisted though; Ishod "does not fuck with Scott."
In Jacksonville, FL, the first morning of the trip, people were moving around going to get coffee after jumping in the ocean and we saw a bump over bar. Cyrus Ollied it to test it out and his board shot right at me but somehow I was saved by my Jordan slides.
The weather was beautiful, we were at a sick spot by the beach, 20 people hanging around, Cory DJ'ing, this trip was going to be sick. We followed that up with Whole Foods, a session at a not-open-yet Team Pain skate park, which was insanely fun, a stop at Sunrise Surf Shop to say hello, and the obligatory session at Kona. By the time we reached Kona, Ishod had only skated the park earlier that day, and no skating the day before, so we practically had to pull him out of there. And with that we were on our way to Savannah, GA.
We arrived in Savannah really late and while Scuba was checking everyone in, we waited outside for Sinclair's van listening to the hotel concierge tell us which rooms were haunted and what the story behind them was. Bobby and I were instructed to not put electronics on the toilet seat. No problem. Do not get it twisted though; Ishod "does not fuck with ghosts." He was not stoked AT ALL. I thought he was going to check himself out of Savannah when the guy started telling him about which houses in the neighborhood were haunted and then an open roof hearse pulled up to our hotel right next to us on a ghost tour. His anger was finally dispersed when the Ghostbusters theme song came out blasting out of Cory's speaker. Even the tour guide liked that one.
Savannah is beautiful, and is a pretty big party city in certain areas, but man is it hard to skate at times. We were even snitched on by a driver of one of those trucks with the big flashing arrow on it used for road construction. They also have "ambassadors" in certain parts of town that give you directions and love to snitch to the cops. At one spot the cops were called (maybe because someone was trying to dropkick a gate in a fence) and surrounded us. They had us in two different groups, asked the same dumb questions, ran everyone's ID, gave us a lecture about being athletes and acting properly, then told us we should come back next week for the Saint Patrick's Day party. Who knows what they would have thought had Scott been with us but since we were staying the night again we left him in the hotel for the day. We swung by Clockwork skate shop to say hi before going to dinner at an Irish bar that served Thai food. Hmmm. Later that night out on the streets, Cory got some folks hyped up by Ollieing a sign on the sidewalk. He got them hyped enough that they thought they could jump it. The first guy just straight sacked it. The sign was then turned on its side for the next guy and before taking the leap he straight jacked his knee. His knee just bent the complete wrong way for a knee to bend and the video of it became a viral hit in our vans. The stupid face the guy made after was an even bigger hit.
The next day we skated a bit more before heading to Columbia, SC. We got to Blue Tile just after dark and waiting inside for us, along with a packed shop of people, were three kinds of stuffed chicken wings all slightly different inside and out. One had jambalaya in it, another macaroni and cheese, and the third rice. Honestly insane and also so damn good. We played the new Loud Pack video of Cory, Ishod, and GT and then headed out for night skating. We were wrapping it up at a spot when someone mentioned a gnarly roof into bank was just around the corner so we decided to check it out. A parking lot party ensued once Cyrus climbed up the awning to check it out and within 30 minutes the generator was set up, Cyrus had Ollied into the bank, and we were driving away with security coming around the corner towards us. With that high on us we were back on the road on our way to Charlotte, NC.
About an hour before arriving in Charlotte, Scott got out of his cage. The rear of the van insisted he did it by himself. With no human assistance Scott was free in the van (again) and quickly burrowed himself under the passenger side dash for the rest of the drive, at which point he had to be coaxed out of his position and recaptured so the valet could park the van. By the way, Scott is a parakeet or something; a sort of small bird so there is no reason to be afraid of him, his "talons," or his beak. For some reason though, people (Cory) were afraid.
After stopping in Black Sheep skate shop we went skating around Charlotte where I now have a confession to make: Cory's switch backside tail slide was completely insane and amazing and I blew it. There, I said it, it's done, I'm sorry. Shooting sequences of three people destroying a rail and then trying to set up lights in between tries got me. Sorry Cory and sorry to all of you looking at the shitty photo of his insane maneuver. It honestly ruined my day. We finished off our night in Charlotte at a bar/theater for the premiere of Black Sheep's new video, which you're going to want to see. Good damn job guys!
One morning, a pissed off Ishod, eating a pastry from Whole Foods--powdered sugar flying everywhere out of his mouth--declared breakfast his favorite meal of the day. Ishod does fuck with breakfast and after not getting a proper one in a few days he had enough of our 11 .a.m. Whole Foods missions. Scuba got a round of breakfast sandwiches, which made people happy and after our obligatory Whole Foods stop (yes we still went) we stopped at a spot on the way out of town. That spot turned into about four hours or more, then we were late to our whole hog dinner planned in Atlanta. The three and half-hour drive to Atlanta was easily five and a half in our van. Everyone was having fun, what are you gonna do? Word got to the Wrecking Bar where we were having our dinner that a lot of people on the trip were vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based so they graciously made veggie options for us too. For the record, Sinclair's van was not plant-based. Those dudes seemed to have had Bojangles, Krispy Kreme, and IHOP in there at all times.
We spent our last day of the trip there in Atlanta, skating a few spots, having a sick ramp jam at Stratosphere, which included skating Nick P's car, Donovon smacking his knee violently on the ground, and then plant-based (no cheese) pizza in the parking lot. Scuba was taking this sober, plant-based life very serious. Before finishing up the trip by bowling we all said our good bye's to Scott and forcefully left him with Kurt at Stratosphere. We have since learned that he has found a good home in Atlanta with Sam Buxton. I wish we could say we missed him but honestly nobody really liked him.