An overview of the session while Dorobiala throws a backside flip. Photo: Milianta
There are very few things that make for an epic day trip. The crew (one), the vibe (two) and location (three) can make or break a day trip much like a sharp sword can easily slice through skin. Mike Murdock, Sam Milianta, Mark Judd, Adam Dorobiala, Josh Joye, Conor Provenzano, Willy Nevins and myself recently traveled to the west desert to ride the Tree of Life’s (Sculpture by artist Karl Momen) outer wedges just off of I-80. With the first step of a great day trip locked down, it was time to move to the second step: setting the vibe. Morale was high during our ride out, even though we couldn’t match the fast and furious lifestyle of the highway. Nevins’ “Silver Tooth” van managed to careen us safely into the desert at no more than 60 mph at any given time. We shared stories, ideas and thoughts about future trips and projects that fused us with the proper mindset for the trip. I knew the day trip was going to be fantastic because the location (third step in the guidelines) is such a commodity for us folk, there could be no way of messing up our plans for skating this photogenic sculpture in the middle of nowhere.
After an hour or so, we arrived at the Tree of Life to find mass amounts of water surrounding the entire obstacle we came to skate. There was approximately two inches of standing salt water surrounding the orange-like wedge of concrete, which added another step in the “day trip epicness guidelines,” the danger/awesomeness factor. Once you make that fourth step happen, there is no denying that if you missed out on a day like this one, you should be kicking yourself in the shins. As we piled out of the van, stiff and groggy from the early start and late night, it was apparent that the day trip would be considered a success even if we left without skating the sculpture at all. Due to the bad/good fortune of the spot being in the condition it was, it’s safe to say that we had both feet planted firmly on the fourth step.
Milianta and Joye were already there when the Silver Tooth arrived, setting up cameras and getting ready for some transition trickery by the rest of the crew. On top of the surrounding water, the inside of the wedge we came to skate was filled with six to eight inches of stagnant salty water as well, so we had to get to work cleaning it out. Dorobiala hopped in and went to work with the shovel Milianta brought, followed by Nevins and then Murdock. Judd brought some old unwanted t-shirts that ended up coming in handy for that last wipe away of wetness in the bottom of the wedge. It dried up in about ten minutes or so and the skating commenced shortly thereafter.
The first few runs by everyone were a little sketchy. Riding in a car for an hour plus and then going straight into skating a six-foot full pipe surrounded by skateboard-destroying saltwater takes nerves of steel. After the first run by everyone, it seemed they had forgotten about the water altogether and were at full ripping power by run two. The wedge is a super physical obstacle to skate because of the lack of flatness to get ready for the next trick, divots in the cement in the lower part that hinder speed and focus, and the fact that once you start to pump the transition you aren’t stopping unless you fall or decide you absolutely have no more energy to keep going. Dorobiala was the first to lose his board to the briny, stale water, and during his attempt to get it out he managed to slice his heel on a piece of glass lurking in the muddy mist near his board. After a quick patch up and dry up of the board he was back in action, and it seemed as if he fed off the pain. Eventually everyone lost their board at least once in the salt (besides Judd who caught his board right before falling in the small lake) but it didn’t seem to stop any of them from skating it until they couldn’t breathe. It almost seemed as if they skated better after their boards became one with the salty mixture that kept us company that day.
Murdock mixed it up with nonstop trick choices and changeups without holding back everytime he went, and Judd shredded it with the power of a thousand Vikings at his back. Nevins pushed it harder than anyone in my opinion, doing tricks that were completely unique. Everybody got some sweet skate action in the wedge no matter what they did. That place is fun and challenging just like any and every spot should be. Milianta was the only one who wasn’t able to skate due to the fresh tattoo of Ol’ Dirty Bastard on his leg, but he sure did a fantastic job with his cameras. It was a round robin affair for sure: if someone wasn’t skating, they were filming or taking photos and it made for double angles and overall awesome coverage of everything landed. Even though we were tired and probably semi-dehydrated from the desert sun beaming down on us all day while we skated hard, our boards salty as the land around us, everybody was skating to their maximum potential throughout the stay there.
Reflecting back on this day I feel that everyone and every crew should have the time and the resources to make things like this happen on a much more consistent basis. Much akin to the feeling of Go Skate Day (coming up on the 21st of June), we all should find reasons to go out and experience the feeling of quasi-trips—even if that means a day trip to the desert with all odds against/for you to spend some time doing what you love with people who share that same love.