Taking flight under flaming skies. Backside flip, Bobbo. Photo: Swainston
Let’s flash back momentarily to a childhood nostalgic memory of tree houses, cardboard castles and forts built of scrap wood hidden in the thicket of an undeveloped field. It was a secret place with a secret password to get in. Not just any chump on a BMX bike could enter. You had to be in the crew for the privilege to venture inside. Places like this were a fantasia for my imagination to run wild, battling dragons, fabricating weapons out of sticks and stones, hunting small birds and sneaking through the tall grass to spy on the old angry landowner. It was an impenetrable fortress, an oasis of delectation and I was the king. Now let’s fast forward some 15 or so years. I’m 25 and supposed to be at the helm of adulthood. Another well-oiled cog in mother culture’s machine settling in, creating a nest and planting my homologous seed to carry on my lackluster legacy—but I’m not. I’m still holding on to a life of disport. Running in the streets with dirty hands and a bloodstained shirt causing a ruckus and loitering where I please. My imagination still runs rapid with creativity, only it’s no longer sticks and stones that I’m playing with, but ramps and rails. The clubhouse is still here—only it’s a bit more refined now and no longer hidden in the thicket. It’s nestled north of the city alongside an airstrip inside a garage built for airplanes and helicopters. I’m no longer the king of this castle, simply a convivial member. The keeper of this kingdom is Spencer England and behind the hanger doors lay the formations of his imagination, coined ‘Milk and Cookies.’
Before you go blabbering on about how your friend has a mini ramp too, let me set something straight—there is no other ramp out there as pristine and diverse as this one and I’m still just talking about the ramp. I haven’t even mentioned the big screen TV, climbing wall, man-sized BBQ grill, trail 90s and arcade games that also live at the Milk and Cookies clubhouse, and all of this has been put together with England’s bare hands. He is a quiet cat that finds refuge in the seclusion of his hanger elysium. He’ll spend hours alone manipulating and expanding the ramp just so the rest of us can bask in the fruits of enjoyment that it provides. “It’s the man cave,” he says, “I just built it so there is a fun place for people to go shred it up.” Most recently he has added a brick wall-ride and pool coping to the wave extension. A session up there is always a tasty treat, especially in the frozen winter months that keep us locked indoors unable to unleash our lust for skateboarding. If it weren’t for England and his ramp, our crew would probably die of cirrhosis by mid-February as we try to drown out our skate cravings with endless bottles of whisky and beer. As a matter of fact, that’s usually where the session starts with the lovely Kelly Sue pouring off a shot and a beer down at Johnny’s on Second.
We impatiently wait for everyone to show up and most importantly, one of the ramp’s code keepers, Rob Peterson—without him or England there is no session. As we trek north with stoked energies flaming inside us, that childhood nostalgia of racing to our secret hideout engulfs us. We know the destination by heart, not by address—around the corner off the free way, left at the spaghetti fork, past the old gas station, over the train tracks and right at the American Flag next to the beige buildings. It’s straight into the airfield from there and a labyrinth of airplane garages, left at the green power-box and a high-speed power-skid to the front door. Walking through the front door is like passing through the wardrobe and being whisked into Narnia. It’s a magical land that makes me completely forget about the outside world. The clank and slash of trucks on the coping blend together in harmony with the sound of urethane speeding across the masonite. Hours fly by without notice. If a break is needed, lounge out on the leather couches and watch a skate video for inspiration or take a climb to the top and nap out on the queen sized bed hidden behind the climbing wall. In the summer we can open up the hanger doors to skate a flat box and launch ramp while grilling up some burgers and watching airplanes fly in and out. The good times never die with Milk and Cookies, which in actuality would be a more appropriately nick named “beer and cigarettes,” but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Only with pure exhaustion will we ever think of leaving. We trek back towards home, our bodies weak with fatigue and our bellies gurgling with hunger. The only thing we’re thinking about now are the days of speeding home in a blood-stained shirt on our bmx bikes to the comforts of mom’s home cooked meal. There is no more meal, just an old onion and moldy piece of cheese in the fridge next to the empty bottle of Cholula. There are no clean clothes to change into. Just a heaping pile of yesterday’s bloodstained shirts.