Dreaming of Warm Summer Nights: An Escape to Arizona

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Wintertime can be quite depressing unless you are an avid snowboarder/skier, have an extremely attractive mate to fool around with or just plain enjoy the cold, wet holiday season. Since I possess none of the previously mentioned attributes, I decided to talk to Kendall Johnson, a colleague and one of the newest Odeus Apparel riders, who was also feeling the same way about taking a week long adventure to the land of sun: Arizona. He used to live there, so finding our way around would be no problem and there was no better time than the present, so we packed up and headed out. We woke up early in the morning to get on the road, knowing that if we straight-lined it we could easily be there by sundown. After a little over eleven hours, a few pit stops and directions from a nine-year-old on rollerblades, we had arrived. With a Bud Light Lime down the hatch to shake the road legs off, we began to skate. Peoria Park was a little crowded and we could feel the locals’ watchful eyes on the two new strangers navigating the obstacles inside the park, but there was no stopping
us journeymen from getting some sort of reward for the long drive.

There was a sort of tension in the air as we skated, giving the locals a taste of what we were capable of. But as soon as the alpha male of the park gave us kudos on a landed trick the tension broke and it felt like we were back home in Utah. The warmth of the desert night mixed with the hefty drive eventually took its toll on our bodies and we decided to be on our way to find shelter and spirits. After getting lost in the Arizona highway system for a little over an hour, we were finally greeted by friendly faces and good cheer. Sam Gerhard (of My Feral Kin) was kind enough to let us stay on his backyard cement patio in a tent. The rest of the night consisted of storytelling, chain smoking and trying to drink the rest of our disgusting lime flavored beer. Soon everyone was off to bed, which meant it was time for some urban camping. The sound of the distant sirens, drag racers and bar hoppers lulled us to sleep within minutes.

We rose with the sun and got ready for the time ahead of us. Raspberry pancakes and coffee filled our bodies with the strength they needed to venture out, so once again we got some directions to the local park to get loose before skating the city streets. This time we were early enough to miss the hordes of people and we were able to roam freely and fluidly throughout the park. Kendall ended up snapping his board and the park was beginning to look smaller and smaller by the moment, so after a quick grip job we left to go get in some street skating. The sun was blazing as we skated through Arizona State University, randomly coming up on all sorts of good things to skate. The campus was packed, which made it a little difficult to remain unnoticed to the campus police. Instead of skating, we had to turn the day into a reconnaissance mission, scouting possible spots for another day. Satisfied with the spots we found, we returned home around sunset. Dillon Dorsey informed us about a local hip hop show that was going to be happening later that night, so we hung out at the house ‘til it started, pondering all the cool spots we had yet to uncover and skate. The location of the show was about two miles away so I made the call to Dillon to get directions, and a three-dollar cover later we were exposed to the local talent. The music was well written and enjoyable, but Kendall and I decided that going out to find more spots would be better than getting too drunk to skate the next day. Buzzed and slightly stoned, we drove around the city searching high and low for spots to go skate in the morning. The next day was a relaxing day, complete with an afternoon swimming session, and on the way to the pool we found this incredible sculpture of a road shaped like a halfpipe at a car dealership. The day seemed to go by extremely quickly, so after the sun went down it was back to ASU to hit some of the spots we had found the day prior. We both ended up getting some filming done, and cold beers were definitely in order to reward ourselves. There is nothing like getting a trick or two and coming home to watch the footage on the big screen shortly after. While watching the footage, we planned for the day ahead and then went to sleep.

Photo: Kendall Johnson

Monday was the first day we really slept in, and by the time we went skating it was already hot. We journeyed to the spot found the night of the hip hop show and began our trickery. Nobody was there, but as soon as the camera came out the crowds showed up. Skating across a basketball court while there are games going on each side of the court isn’t the best situation for skateboarding, but Kendall made the best out of it and stomped a backside flip across the flat gap in no time at all. Later that evening we went back to the metal halfpipe and continued to film. I thought for sure we were going to get kicked out, but we didn’t. We stayed there for quite some time before getting back on the road to go to Sam’s. The next few days were extremely frustrating, getting kicked out of every spot before doing any skateboarding. Phoenix is over policed for sure, and it seems like you don’t go two minutes before seeing another cop somewhere. We tried to hang with the heavy enforcement, but it finally took its toll and we decided to head back to Utah. So we packed up, said our goodbyes, and we were northbound. We stopped for a snack in Flagstaff, and luckily we noticed the tire was leaking air rapidly, so we stopped at a tire shop to get it repaired. While we were waiting for it to be pulled in to the garage to be mended, Kendall broke his driver-side window. This was the last straw for Kendall, the first being not being able to skate with no hassles, and then leaving warm weather only to find out the tire was going flat, and then having to fix his window while the grease monkeys came out to grab our car to fix the tire. We laughed it off and eventually we were on our way. It was great to be back in Salt Lake, and we ended up being more productive filming here in the few days back than we had been the whole entire time in Arizona. So much for finding a winter wonderland for skateboarding anywhere but in SLC.