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by Brooke Geery
It had been raining for a week and a half, so the new concrete park had just been built in Nashua, NH, and the outdoor mini ramps were pretty much useless. It seemed the only way to skateboard would be to take a road trip to one of the indoor parks that were around the area. Sitting in Macroeconomics class on Wednesday, my friend Matt and I were discussing which parks were a possibility: Skater Island in RI, Tazmahal in Montreal, when he came up with what might have been the best idea yet, a road trip to Washington, D.C.
Only thirty minutes to the south of Washington lays the newest Vans Skateboard Park. One of only four in the country, this one is not only the biggest of the bunch, but the biggest in the world. My interest sparked, I rushed home after class to check it out on the Internet. Once I realized all the specifications of the park, I knew I had to go, and I’d only have to skate for twenty-one hours when I was there to make up for the driving distance.
This guy didn’t mind being stuck in traffic because he was Truckin’ for Jesus!
The next day I was in a car, internet directions and hotel reservations in hand, en route to the South East Coast. Matt had his video camera and was ready to film all the sick skaters who were sure to be at the Vans Park. However, we were still ten hours away, and three or so of those were to be spent on the New Jersey Turnpike, a stretch I wasn’t particularly looking forward to. As we left rural New Hampshire, the highway turned from two lanes, into three and then five. It seemed though, every time the highway got wider, the speed limit dropped, but I said, damn the man, and went 65 anyway.
Boston passed, as did Hartford, and New York. With only a slight detour in New York due to missing an exit, we were yet to hit any serious traffic, and things were going quite well as we drove across the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey. It had already been five hours, and we starting to get anxious. I entertained myself by pointing out random things for Matt to film, signs that said New Jersey and giant gas storage tanks on the side of the road, although he didn’t seem nearly as amused by these things as myself, so he just sat in the passenger seat reading his magazines. I began to play compulsively with the radio, searching for some Britney Spears, or anything I knew the words to. This seemed to pass the time well, and soon enough we were in Delaware. Maryland came with the dark, and after nine hours I was more than ready to be out of the car.
This would be when we hit traffic. Some night roadwork was congesting I-95 at the top of Virginia, and our hotel was just on the other side of the jam. You can see some pretty interesting things when you’re stuck in traffic, but not when it’s at a complete stand still. At just about the point when I thought another punk rock CD would kill me, the cars began to move again, and before I knew it we were getting off at the exit for Dumfries, VA. The Econo Lodge, which I had deftly made reservations for the previous night on the internet was right there, all I had to do was put down my credit card and a bed and cable television would be mine for the next two days.
Of course, things are never that simple, and it turned out you had to be twenty-one to rent a room. I am only nineteen, as is Matt, so it looked like we would be out of luck. As a last ditch effort, I threw down my fake ID, making me twenty-three. The only problem here was that now the name on my card and then name on my ID didn’t match, and the people at the hotel weren’t having it. However, they welcomed me to pay cash, which I did, and immediately realized I could do just about anything in the room. It wasn’t under my name, and they didn’t have my credit card, and if I wanted, I could leave it in shambles and never suffer any consequences. This was just a fleeting thought, because the only thing I really wanted to do was go to sleep.
The next morning I awoke to find it wasn’t raining, and it was actually quite warm out, a far cry from the North East. I shook Matt a few times to get him up, and pretty soon we were on our way to the first session of skating a few miles to the north in Woodbridge. The one aspect of the trip I failed to plan was getting accurate directions to the skateboard park, but I figured everything on the east coast is pretty close together, how hard could it be to find? Pretty hard actually, and it didn’t help that no one in the town of Woodbridge even knew the park existed.
One of the many pirate photos of the Vans Park.
Matt kept muttering something about the Potomac Mills, but I was too busy driving up and down route 1 to listen. Finally, we called the park for directions. Although the instructions we received we less than clear, we established that it was at the Mall, the Potomac Mills Mall. After that, we only had to ask twice more for directions, and the enormous sign that was clearly visible from 95 finally came into my view. After an extra 45 minutes in the car, we were finally in the parking lot.
We rolled up to the park mid-session. The way they have it set up is you pay per two-hour session, and you can only start and finish skating when the session does. So anxious to skate, we paid full price anyway. The cost was the park’s main downfall. It fluctuates slightly, but basically, you’re paying $14 per session. However, as soon as I laid eyes on the park, I didn’t really care about the money.
Before me was a massive conglomeration of ramps, rails, pools, and well, everything you could ever desire to skateboard on. The way the park was set up, there were four separate street courses. One was concrete, the others wood and Masonite. There was a four-foot mini ramp, and six foot and vert ramp, as well as two pools. If you couldn’t find a way to get your money’s worth here, you’re on crack.
The time limitations push you to skate harder than you probably you should, it’s hard to make your self stop when you know you’re getting kicked out in less than two hours, not to mention, you’re not about to get bored with the same crappy ramp. Matt took off to skate the street courses, while I opted for the mini ramp. Although I took some flack for driving ten hours to skate a mini ramp, I didn’t care; this was the best ramp I’d ever been on. Sufficiently sweaty, I figured I’d try to take a few pictures. There wasn’t really anyone that impressive skating, I think one of the rollerblade kids was sponsored, but who cares about that. I thought I could just get some pictures of the park for bragging rights. I was informed though that I was not allowed to take pictures or film without a press pass. This made me regret my half-hearted attempt at getting credentials that day before, but it also gave me a great excuse to not do any work and keep skating.
Pretty soon, the session was over. One of the kids that worked there offered to hook us up if we skated another session, but Matt and I agreed that we were ready to do something else for a little while. On our way our, we walked around the perimeter of the park and took some pirate photos, then we were on our way to D.C. to do “dumb tourist stuff.” This leg of the trip, however, ended up being the least exciting. My lack of city driving experience, coupled with no real plans made for little more than four hours of sitting in traffic. Satisfied that we’d done something with our trip other than just skateboard (my parents would be proud), we headed back to Woodbridge to skate another session.
It was 7:00 on Friday night, so I was prepared for the standard skate park snake session, but amazingly enough the park was not much more crowded than before. It also happened to be the “little kid” session, it seemed every one else there was under the age of 15, which is okay with me. At the end of these two hours, bed seemed even more enticing than the night before, and since this was only to be a weekend trip, we had another long drive in front of us.
Saturday morning came, as we went back to Vans for our final session. Again, the park proved to be completely entertaining, and I promised myself I’d go back at some point. On the way home we planned to stop in Philadelphia to check out FDR. The nice thing about the east coast is everything is pretty much in a strait line, and it’s all off I 95, so FDR wasn’t even out of the way. All I really knew was that the park was underneath 95, and somewhere near the sports complex, so I was prepared for a little while of being lost in downtown Philly, but it managed to be far easier to find than Vans, and pretty soon we pulled up to it.
The funny thing about concrete parks is that they are always far smaller than you’d think. FDR is tiny, but about 1000 times gnarlier than the Vans Park. None of the transitions were even, and concrete is far slipperier than Masonite, so after rolling around for a few minutes, I figured I better just get out my camera. There were a few really good skaters there, and by good I mean people who could make it up the quarterpipes. There were a ton of little kids getting in everyone’s way, if there’s one thing for sure about FDR it’s not a place to learn to skateboard. My camera was pretty useless at first, as no one was doing anything too spectacular, but pretty soon, an Audi with CKY2K license plates drove up. The driver was none other than Bam Margera, who had no trouble navigating the weird transitions.
Matt and I agreed that this was the most exciting thing to happen so far on our trip. I burned though tons of megabytes on my digital camera, and Matt got some sick footy to show everyone back home. After seeing Bam we had definitely had a successful trip, are were ready to brave the elements of the North East once again. Our detour in Pennsylvania got us on to the Jersey Turnpike much higher up, so our trip home included much less of my favorite state. With the exception of one rolled SUV, the ride was pretty uneventful, and pretty soon we were back in New Hampshire, eager to tell everyone of our adventure, after all, it was definitely way better than skating Nashua in the rain.