ALLIGATOR TALES

Chuck Hults explores his Florida roots…


CHUCK HULTS

I was born in FLA and spent most of my young life there, and although I had many good times there and made some life long friends, it’s not at the top of my " places I’d like to go" list.
Here’s my top reasons why.

It gets Really HOT in Florida….Crazy , Sweaty, Gill Grow’n, still 98 degrees at 2:00 am HOT! Winter can be measured in weeks or even days.

It Rains in Florida…. A Lot! Right when you get off work or get out of school to go skate it RAINS! And don’t think that cools things down, quite the opposite, the rain abruptly stops and scorching SUN causes the roads to steam, liquifying the last breaths of air.

Mosquitoes rule the Night in Florida. If the Sun goes down, you best not be outdoors or your blood cell count will drop as you slap yourself senseless in a vain attempt to kill the Evil insects. Speaking of insects, Roaches are Thumb size and can FLY!

Alligators! that’s right ALLIGATORS! I lost 4 Dogs to these prehistoric inhabitants of the local Golf course. Not to mention my favorite swim’n hole at Granny’s house was closed when they moved in.


We found out at the Alligator farm that the popular myth that Alligators can run fast is not true, But they make up for it by being able to jump 1/2 their huge body out of the water… scary stuff.


Kaylie and Ember enjoy a lollypop inches away from certain death, How cute.

So you can imagine that I was not too sure when my old skate Crew from Georgia ( whole n’other story ) wanted to get together at Lenny Byrd’s house in St Augustine………. wait for it………… Florida.
Sure, KONA skatepark is right up the road with a Sweet new pool and the Snake run…..I love the Snake run! A private pool in Jax Bch, Grindline park in Atlantic Beach, Treaty park in St Augustine and a Mystery spot referred to only as "the Property" were all on the skate menu.
But thoughts of my last FLA trip with record heat and a terrifying flight directly over "Katrina" that’s right, the HURRICANE! I’ll never forget sitting in the Atlanta airport looking at the large screen plasma image of the good ole USA, 2/3rds engulfed buy Ma Natures fury and hearing the boarding call for my flight over the very 2/3rds of the Heart Land I was seeing ravaged in High Definition Doppler Radar.

But friendship is not something to waste, And even Florida can’t stop us from sitting inside in the A/C drinking eating and laughing. So why not bring the Wife and kid too!
We arrive in Florida and it’s not hot… Actually it’s kinda cool out and the Mosquitoes are nowhere to bee seen in the crisp night air. The next day dawns to more perfect weather and a touristy family day spent at the Old Spanish fort, Lighthouse and Alligator farm. No dogs were lost to the gators, but quite a few Quail and a few bags of Purina Alligator Chow were consumed buy the mostly motionless, cold blooded, sun bathing killing machines. My Daughter and friends love the place and have to go back twice to see MAXIMO the mind blowingly huge saltwater Croc that lives in his own see through tank.
Day three is breezy and overcast but still not hot, Deckcrafters Unprofessional Lenny Byrd takes the day off work and we head to KONA.


Lenny caresses the smooth hip of KONA’s new Team Pain bean.


Mr Smith airs one out over a much more forgiving hip than the one at Dave’s pool.


Mark Smith drove over 5 hours each way to lay down this speedy frotntside rail locker with some old friends.

The park is near empty and we shoot the snake many times and carve the very fun to ride new Team Pain built pool then high tail it to meet fellow Deckcrafters Unprofessional Buck Smith at the Atlantic Bch GrindLine park.


Mr Byrd knows that if your back foot’s still touching when your tail hits, your sweepers are weak. Atlantic Beach.

I at a loss for words to describe this place, Buck and Lenny showed that it’s very rideable and I manage a few axle scratches but leave mostly bewildered buy the Dali’esque cement. Next we hit Dave Libhardt’s pool, Dave’s a home owner, pool builder and a pool skater. So naturally when he built his family a pool he made sure it was skateable, but like Buck told me "it looks like a nice little pool but it’s kinda mean". During the hot summer months the pool is full, but when the clocks get set back the skaters come out. Unlike it’s SoCal counterparts this pool has not one drop of SALBA Sause on the coping, yet local boy Squirrel barked out some gritty 50/50’s over the box even after getting served repeatedly. Long R&R slides over the wedding cake were no problem for Nick Tag another solid local ripper.


I love my new camera, but i have a hard time stopping skating long enough to get it dialed sorry. Dave’s pool portrait with Squirrel over the stairs, taken late and cutting out the death box…. sweet.


Pool Owner Dave Libhardt grabs a slice of his own personal wedding cake as he barks some dry coping.


Buck Smith falls victim to the point shoot and go skate photo style. Shallow slap and lapper.


Diving an Backside Air where others fear to shred, Buck Smith.


A fraction of a second before I took this photo Lenny was grinding and wasn’t missing any fingers.

While most riders chose to start their runs by dropping into the very tight radius of the shallow end, Buck Smith preferred the 5 push frontside or backside roll in (deep or shallow end) followed by dive bomb airs into the pointy hip, lip slides over the wedding cake, frontside airs & lein to tails in the shallow end and generally destroying every block of coping in site. The scene and Dave’s pool was the epitome of southern hospitality, the jokes and beer after the session were rivaled only by the from the heart ripping I witnessed there. Thanks to everyone.

Day 4 and the weather is perfect! I’m baffled by this but loving it. We head out early to meet the Rancheros* who are converging from all over the state on "the Property" a private skateboard oasis deep in the palmetto thickets of FLA. This place has a lot to skate. A vert ramp, a mid ramp, a mini ramp, a vintage Fiber-Rider and a very large cement triple bowl with perfect cement blocks all round. The bowl will intimidate you at first but soon becomes your friend only to leave you exhausted in the end. The usual inhabitants of "the Property" don’t usually skate at our early arrival time but Kurt Baker and frequent visitor Lenny school us on the lines and Mark Smith shows up after a 5 hour trek from Naples. The required Fiber-Rider grind session soon ensues.


Kurt and Lenny are happy to school you on the large contours or "the Property"


Fiber Rider fun.


This is hard to do.

This 70’s pre-fab survivor is fun-fun-fun but watch yourself or you’ll get a quick reminder why they stopped making the things. Once again I’m blown away by the skate scene here. Greg Hiler the Arch Druid of this pagan skate temple appeared just as our departure time grew near. Traditional greetings were exchanged, and we thanked him for the privilege of entering his domain, then local Shaman used magic elixirs to erase our memories of "the Property’s" location.


Mike Smith would be proud, Kurt Baker.


Kurt pops a flying kickturn off the pointy hip of death.


Lenny with a picturesque frontside tap.

When we emerged from the BoonDocks after using tree moss to find true North. The convoy headed to Treaty Park in St Augustine. This park has "Chicken’s" shaped bowl with steel pipe lip and big smooth contours. But it’s the flow course makes the place, even though it was crowded this wide open expanse of concrete butter could handle it. Buck and the Dave’s pool Gang showed up as the session threatened to open a worm hole in Space/Time. Gracious Hostess and smooth bowl carver Valerie Byrd stopped by to join the skateboard festival then zipped off to retrieve the animal sacrifice for the evenings feast. When the last drops of skate energy was drained from every last skater we headed to Mr and Mrs Byrd’s 120 year old home to eat. As I sat surrounded by some of my closest friends and their family’s, in an ideal setting, after 3 near perfect days of Friends, Family and Skateboarding, I realized you should never pass up a chance to do the things you love with the people you love, cuz you just might pull it off, even in Florida.


Treaty Park Flow zone.


Valerie Byrd hits the side wall on the way back up from the deep end at Treaty park.


Hults ghostly frontside 180 up the Euro gap as the session fades into history.

CHECK OUT THE FLORIDA VIDEO HERE:

HULTS’ FLORIDA FOOTAGE

* the Rancheros: Underground group of skaters from GA. Around 1979/80 they built the first modern super ramp. A full 36′ wide (unheard of at the time) complete with 4′ wide "canyon" roll in, flatbottom, cement pool coping and 8′ deep decks. They set the standard for DIY skateboarding. Mike Lander, Jay Lanier, Lenny Byrd, Tim Humphreys, Stevo Kuhn, Debbie and David "the Joker" McAdoo. You may not see a Hollywood movie about them anytime soon but they definitely added something to the skateboarding landscape, and I thank them.

-Chuck Hults