Our sleep was disturbed by trucks flying by our trailer, probably to go fishing, pretty damn early in the morning. Still, that wasn’t enough to keep us from getting our full rest and after a while we just totally ignored it. After the long day before we all needed full shuteye, trucks ripping up the dirt road we slept next to or not. Once the sun reached a high point and temperatures in the trailer peaked, we all groggily got up, tore down camp and headed to Medford to check out their park and Jacks Boardshop. This would be the most rushed day of the trip. We had to make it from Medford, Or to Ukiah, Ca in order to meet up with good buddy Justin Capri of Freedom Skateshop. He had us lined up to meet up at a party going on at a secret bowl in the hills of the famed Emerald Triangle. With a few too many stops in between our start and our destination, we hit the road ready to destroy everything in our path.
Once we got to Jacks we were greeted with open arms by the owners and got shown around a truly awesome shop that tries as hard as it can to get kids skating and keep them out of trouble. We were, after all deep in the heart of meth country, a fact that the crew at the shop knew full well and also knew that skateboarding was a welcome diversion to the other offering of Medford. Frank Shaw, who we skated with at Burnside, rides for Jack’s and grew up in Medford, as did other notable skaters such as Johnny Turgeson and Steven Reeves; all showing that if you have the passion, skating can take you away from any problems you might be surrounded by.
After we left Jacks we headed right down the street to the skatepark which had seen better days, but still has the potential to be completely torn apart by any hungry shredder. It’s no surprise that the aforementioned skaters honed their craft here and I’m sure there will be many more to come with the perfect combination of the park and the good people at Jacks Boardshop.
Next up on the list was Mt. Shasta Skatepark and The Sportsmen’s Den in the same town. The park in Shasta is as good as it gets. Super creative design with rocks from the area built in, pool coping and everything else you could want, right under the shadow of majestic Mt.Shasta. Sportsmen’s Den sent out a couple of their riders to rip around with us and they quickly showed us the lines and their prowess over the fairly new park.
Shasta park all to our selves.
Shasta local locking into a proper smith grind
The heat was building and we were itching to get to Willits so we reluctantly left the amazing park heading towards the Boardmart in Redding. The guys at Boardmart were rad and there were even a few kids waiting there for us in hopes of getting some stickers, swag and whatever else we could pass along. Pumped up to skate with the kids, we filled them up with Heckler product and set off to meet them at the park. Either we went to the wrong park or the kids got what they wanted and ran, but once we got there, we were surprised to find it full of bikers, not a skater in sight. Though the park could have been fun, it wasn’t. A certified 80’s shitter of a park, it was definitely one of the worst of the trip. Rough concrete, lumpy transitions and almost no coping made the park almost unrideable. Hopefully the kids of Redding get a new park soon because anyone that stoked should not have to try to learn on such archaic facilities. The kids never showed up so we hit the road and hightailed it towards Ukiah, our final destination for the night.
Redding skate park
None of us had ever been up there before and didn’t know what to expect, but we knew Capri was the man and we had a party at a newly poured backyard bowl waiting for us. Justin was at the skatepark in Willits, just a few miles north of Ukiah, skating around with his son Taj and his buddy Zion. Taj and Z-Boy turned our to be our best buddies up there and they skated harder and longer than any of us “adults.” We rolled around Willits for a little bit, feeling out the park and getting our legs beneath us after the long day crammed into the truck. The park was good, but we had our eyes on the prize, “Adam’s Bowl,” a private backyard bowl in the hill that was promised to be stocked with BBQ, beer and a heated session.
Taj and Z-boy
Caprie is the man
We rolled the trucks into the hills as the sun began to dip beyond the horizon. Finally pulling into the driveway of the lawless countryside, we peered down the hill to see a perfectly lit amoeba, surrounded by skaters, chicks, BBQ smoke and the ever present scent of the Northern Cali homegrown, an all too common aroma in these parts. We wasted no time in heading down the hill, grabbing beers and trying our luck at the bowls tight transitions, almost impassable shallow end stairs and the mini fun track built up on the deck.
Adams bowl in all its glory.
The session was heated as the locals drew out the lines making it look way too easy. Any backyard pit shouldn’t be easy to skate like a skatepark and Adam’s was no exception. We also got to meet Adam and his wife, who were awesome enough to build the bowl and let everyone come up and have fun with them, for that we thank you both. Adam was no stranger to the bowl as he painted smooth, carving lines in every pocket with a giant smile on his face the whole time.
That girl probably can’t skate but she can heckle.
We also got to meet a few of the guys from Skidmark Magazine and Weirdo Skateboards, two awesome grassroots skate companies from the East Bay that are doing things right. They also came up to the area not knowing what to expect, but fit in right away. Everyone up there was super nice and accommodating, instantly making everyone feel at home while making sure everyone had a good time, regardless if your poison was beer, skating or the potent local greenery. Everyone from the group got their licks in the bowl, including Taj and Zion, who skated non stop, rotating back and forth from the quarterpipes on the deck to the bowl, getting theirs when they could. Thanks to Adam and everyone there, can’t wait to come back and do it again.
Adam stoked that we came out.
Once the session wound down and no one could walk straight for one reason or another we headed down the hill to the Compound De Capri. Complete with a ramp, pool, garden, countless dogs and seemingly even more kids, we knew we were in for a good time. Justin’s wife Valerie already had a few friends over so once a babysitter was procured for the underagers, we packed up in the family wagon, picked up the homie Smith and headed over to Vic’s Place, a timeless watering hole that would be our spot for the night, and probably the only spot in Capri’s rural neighborhood.
Willits local frontside slash up on the coping.
The eight of us walked in, instantly changing the vibe in the bar which previously housed about four people including the bartender. The shots were big and the beers were cold, immediately upping the level of party in everyone. There’s something about getting drunk surrounded by taxidermy and dusty beer signs that really brings a warm feeling to my heart and Vic’s did just that. Smith lived up to our single name theory, instantly becoming the life of the party, which as soon as last call came and went and the lights turned on, headed right back to the Capri’s. This is where things got real hazy. We definitely partied with the kids, at least Taj and Zion, who probably had more sodas than we had adult sodas and were just as pumped as we were on having a good time. Our camp was hastily set up while we still had the motor skills to do so and the party went on, Dan choosing to set up his bedroll in the garden under the stars.
D-con feeling er out.
The night went on, the kids went to sleep and the last thing anyone remembers was Smith and Dan singing karaoke to David Allan Coe on the back porch. After all, Smith’s “Long hair just couldn’t cover up his redneck…..” There was talk of possible friendly fistfights and running through the adjacent vineyard, but both those happenings were mysteries of the night and the next thing we know day 7 was a wrap as it ran into the morning of Day 8. With everyone asleep in their spots, chosen on purpose or by instinct, it was a perfect end to an awesome day and a great welcome back to California.
Words by: D-con
Photos by: Jp Lagos