Leaving Las Vegas

Pablo Gonzales, MVP of the trip. Nosepick in a ditch, Boulder City. Photo: Sam Milianta

I’ve heard it said that in times of recession, two industries thrive: alcohol and prostitution. Las Vegas is undoubtedly familiar with both these industries, but something else is thriving out there in the desert wasteland: skateboarding.

While the skateboard industry isn’t exactly thriving because of this recession, the amount of skateable spots certainly is. Las Vegas seems to be a shining example of this. The city is teeming with empty foreclosed pools and new, never-occupied construction left over from the boom that led up to the current economic state.

Having grown up in close proximity to Las Vegas, I skated there frequently. After moving to the Salt Lake Valley, however, I haven’t been to Vegas in four years. The strange thing is, I stopped going to Vegas about the same time one of my good friends moved there.

If you’ve been following skateboarding the last two years or so, you’ve probably seen lots of photos in magazines and footage in videos from Vegas. The man responsible for a lot of this is none other than Garrett Taylor. Taylor is the man behind the scenes in Vegas. While a lot of the footage and photos didn’t come directly from Taylor (who actually contributes a lot of footage even though he doesn’t always get credit), he has been slaving away, taking visiting pros to all his spots. Taylor has treated every team that has come through Las Vegas like royalty.

Having known Taylor since his days as a St. George local, I have been itching to go visit him in Vegas for years. I decided Memorial Day weekend would be a good time. I found out right before I planned the trip that Taylor would be moving to Bakersfield, Calif. soon after my visit. This would be the last weekend to use him as a tour guide and it was fitting that it was a weekend spent with the homies, rather than a random visiting skateboard team.

I drove into Vegas with James Atkin, Pablo Gonzalez and Spencer Byrd, all St. George locals and lifelong friends. The first thing we noticed when we got to Vegas was that it was ridiculously windy. In truth, it was probably too windy to skate.

We warmed up at a local park and headed out to Boulder City to check out some places Taylor had in mind. Boulder City was full of strange, untouched spots. It was also home to some of the best ditches I’ve ever seen. The ditches seemed to be a good place to get out of the wind, at least for a little bit, so that’s where we spent most of our time. Boulder City was also home to a lot of good street spots, and if you get to go there on a windless day, you should be stoked. Gonzalez got “trick of the trip” at one ditch, since he’s MVP of the trip, every trip.

We spent the night eating wings and hanging out at the bar at Sunset Station. The bartender was very interested in telling us his deer-hunting victory stories. Just like Gonzalez got “trick of the trip,” the bartender got “quote of the trip,” remarking, “I AM me, and I’m jealous of myself because I shot that deer.”

The next morning, we got up early to more wind and actual cold weather (it was the end of May in Vegas, mind you, hardly cold weather territory) and battled our way, trying to skate a few more spots before heading back to Utah. In terms of skating, the trip was not the greatest trip I’ve ever been on. In terms of having a good time with old friends, it couldn’t have been better. My only advice if you’re trying to skate in Las Vegas, now that Taylor won’t be around to hold your hand, is try out Boulder City and keep your eyes open—there are spots everywhere!

Pablo Gonzales, MVP of the trip.  Nosepick in a ditch, Boulder City. Photo: Sam Milianta Awesome ditch in Boulder City. Photo: Sam Milianta Good times at Sunset Station. Photo: Sam Milianta James Atkin, wallride fakie over the dirt gap. Photo: Sam Milianta