words – Mark Takahashi : photos – Takahashi, Greenwood, Culp, Harrell
The state of Oregon is known for many of the finer things in life: clean, crisp air; Coho salmon; sky blue streams and rivers; endless acres of green trees; PBR on tap; and some of the best skateparks on the planet. Oregon (and the Great Northwest in general) is also the stomping ground of the mythical creature known as Bigfoot or Sasquatch, seen in this vidcap from the famous Patterson film.
Bigfoot believers have tried in vain to document Bigfoot’s distant cousin, Seffsquatch, but Seffsquatch sightings are extremely rare. By all reports, Seffsquatch is a shorter version of Bigfoot with less hair, he has an appetite for raw pool coping and rare steaks, and he has a distinctive fart-like mating call. According to legend, Seffsquatch is hard of hearing in one ear, which makes it easy to sneak up on him if you approach him on his bad side. Seffsquatch sightings have occurred near campfires or other smoky environments, suggesting that Seffsquatch is attracted to smoke. Taking up the challenge, a group of amateur anthropologist-skaters gathered in the summer of 2004 (July 9 to July 18 to be exact) in search of Seffsquatch and other mythical creatures, tasty meat, and concrete heaven. The crew consisted of Roger Harrell (master outdoorsman and professional woodchopper), Mark Takahashi (master of the oververt slam), Seff Nieto (deaf chef extraordinaire), and Jeff Greenwood (wildlife photographer). This is their story.
Friday (July 9) – Mark arrives in Portland with a 103-degree fever, full body muscle aches and joint pain, and a jacked up knee caused by some extreme stroller pushing. Jeff arrives next, the expedition vehicle – OK, it was a rented minivan – was procured, and they decided to kill some time at Burnside before picking up the rest of the adventure team. Jeff skated like a champ while Mark spent the time shivering, cold sweating, complaining about his bum knee, and huddling like a junkie on the deck. Great way to spend your first day in Oregon, Mark! After a quick, mellow session, Jeff and Mark returned to PDX for Roger and Seff. Not wasting any time, the crew returns directly to Burnside for more skating and shivering. Roger, fully amped up to skate Burnside, pays his dues by promptly slamming while carve grinding the blue bowl. Top to bottom. Directly onto his padless left knee. Ouch. The condition of Roger’s knee – different sizes, colors, hardness, and shapes – would provide entertainment for a week. Any mortal skater would sit out the rest of the trip with an injury like that, but Roger wouldn’t let a little swellknee get in his way. By the way, do yourself a favor and skate Burnside before you die.
Saturday (July 10) – Saturday morning began with what appeared to be a definite score: one dollar travel coffee cups adorned with “WOW” stickers! The coffee drinkers quickly realized “WOW, these cups leak!” Whatever, a dollar doesn’t buy you much these days and defective cups were better than no cups. With Mark feeling slightly better, all four of them rolled around at Burnside that morning. The session included Arizona Steve, who had recently transplanted to the Northwest, the Brothers Culp (Peter, Patrick, and Philip), Cold War Steve, and Arizona Josh, who was ripping the place apart. Seff settled in and threw up some nice backside and frontside Smith grinds all over the place, and Roger got some payback in the blue bowl by grinding the shit out of the coping. Some dude from Ohio did a butt board drop in from the tall banked wall, carved the shallow parking block wall, and flew in and around the blue bowl. Crazy line, bro.
After getting full of Burnside crete, the boys headed over to Newberg Skatepark, where they hooked up with Tom Miller of www.pdxskaters.org (thanks for the shirts, Tom), Tacoma Brock, and Arizona Josh. Mark, still nursing a 100+ degree fever, joint pain, and weak muscles, quickly became PussBoy after twisting his never-to-heal left knee after skating for only 20 minutes. At least the price for lunch was good: $2.50 for a burrito, a bag of chips, and a soda. Some good skating also went down as the big bowl accommodated the big frontside air assault of Jeff and Peter (vert jocks). Jeff also spit out some inverts, Madonnas, tailslides, and backside 5-0 grinds in the deep bowl. Tom Miller is a local and it shows – that guy has all of the flow lines around the park. Newberg is rad, period. Wear your helmet, flow forever, and support the Newberg snack shack. Newberg is a mythical place.
Speaking of myths, have you heard of Santa Claus? Of course you have. Have you heard of his distant cousin, Skater Claus? Of course you haven’t, jackass! Skater Claus travels the Northwest during the summer with a couple of short, brown-skinned elves. Like his famous cousin, Skater Claus is on the portly side, and he sports facial hair. Skater Claus is often seen wearing a red mesh trucker cap and black Vans. Skater Claus targets needy skaters who have been good boys and girls over the last year, and hooks them up with new decks, wheels, trucks, shirts, and/or stickers. Skater Claus rules! Who the fuck cares? You should, because Skater Claus is an ambassador of skate and he spreads skateboard love all over the place! Do you believe in Skater Claus? Arizona Josh does: Skater Claus paid a visit to Arizona Josh while the crew was skating Newberg.
Back to the story: after a quick pitstop at Subway (still searching for some good meat, and Subway didn’t satisfy the craving), the three crews headed to the Donald skatepark, the definition of “quality over quantity.” Donald sports a killer backyard style kidney with a tight shallow end, shallow steps, and pool coping. Oh yeah, a concrete mini ramp, too. Tom Miller, Arizona Josh, and Luis from www.oregonskateboards.com served as tour guides for the adventure team and the Brothers Culp. With this combined crew in town, the population of Donald was increased by more than 1%. Nice. Tom was ripping (crailslide in the shallow – yikes!), it was a great session for all, and everyone met the challenge of the stairs. People swore they saw a Seffsquatch attacking Donald’s coping, Smith grinding the shallow, and killing the hip. Arizona Steve took a nasty shallow end slam to the back of his head, but kept on charging. Skater Claus gave away some stickers and stoked out a little girl with some pink Black Label stickers. The girl told Skater Claus: “you’re a real nice man.” Check out the real nice first rule on Donald’s sign.
A little miscommunication sent the Brothers Culp to West Linn while the remaining troops hit Aumsville for the final session of the day. Aumsville is a rad flow park that has a curved spine, many hips, a flat bank wall, a vert section, and walls of different heights. Look up the word “flow” in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of Aumsville. Tired legs, blinding sun in the eyes, and Nazi-like cops digging in the trash cans for the slightest trace of empty beer cans really bummed out this session. Pennsylvania Matt was absolutely ripping the park with huge airs, inverts, and transfers. Not bad for an old fucker. Unfortunately, Roger had to sit out this session due to his swellknee, which now resembled a mutilated cantaloupe. Only two days in the books and everyone is wrecked: Swellknee, Fever Boy, Deaf Chef Seff, and Tweaked Wrist Jeff. Skateboarding rules, baby.
Sunday (July 11) – The minivan crew hit Denny’s for breakfast and caught a glimpse of the sickest move of the trip: the cashier chick’s thong trying to escape the confines of her hip huggers. God bless America and God bless Oregon chicks. Onward to the ritzy suburb of West Linn. The West Linn skatepark is a pool coping paradise that forces skaters to maintain constant awareness due to its tight layout. West Linn boasts a bona fide deep end, intermediate walls, plenty of hips, and a nice oververt pocket. The massive amount of pool coping at West Linn attracted Seffsquatch out of the hills and he was seen killing the pool coping in the oververt pocket and throughout the bowl complex. The Brothers Culp and a crew from Fresno also participated in the coping assault. Everyone with healthy knees grinded the oververt pocket during the two-hour session. Fun for all!
Knowing that Seffsquatch dislikes the hustle and bustle of the city, the adventure team hit the road toward the Oregon coast. Lunch and beers were had at the Golden Valley Brewery in McMinnville. The 10-beer sampler was pretty good, aside from the orange blossom flavored ass ale – yuck! While searching for a swimming hole, the team stumbled across the McMinnville shitpark, which sports a sign that reads something like: “Welcome skateboarders. Please walk your skateboards to the skatepark.” Classic. In lieu of skating this piece of crap, several crewmembers jumped in the river for a cool down. Roger took a shot at some extreme rope swinging but didn’t jump for fear of slamming in the shallow end. A little more driving, then the crew got settled in at the Devils Lake campground in Lincoln City, headed to the LC2 park for a quick session, and returned to the campsite to feast on some gourmet fire grilled carne asada tacos prepared by Deaf Chef Seff. Oh yeah, the LC2 park is sick as can be: a cradle, two shallow end pockets, a shallow U-channel that spines into the cradle side, a vert deep end with pool coping, and a vert wall with pool coping that opposes the back side of the cradle. I want LC2 in my backyard.
Monday (July 12) – Mother Earth treated the crew to a 30 second earthquake on Monday morning. That was a nice touch. After downing some coffee, the adventure team headed down the coast and skated the Newport skatepark. Although substandard compared to the other stellar Oregon parks, Newport is still a fun cruise and would be a welcome sight in SoCal. The crew rolled around a bit, and Street Dog Mark posed for some good rail tricks.
The minivan cruised down the coast a little further and stopped at the funky Waldport park. There are a lot of “PORT” cities in Oregon, why is that? The Waldport park has a freaky parabola dish oververt thing in an otherwise shallow clover bowl. Strange tranny in the dish makes it very difficult to skate. The race track line around the dish was fun, and the crew formed a skate train with some of the local kids. The park is located in a beautiful setting among the pine trees . . . a perfect place for Skater Claus and his elves. Speaking of which, Skater Claus hooked up a couple of good kids with new decks. One kid had a hole all the way through the middle of his crusty deck, and the other kid was rocking a dilapidated Walmart special with a custom hand painted “BIRDHOUSE” logo on it. Sad. These kids were very deserving and very happy to see Skater Claus.
Heading back up the coast, the adventure crew ate the mandatory clam chowder for lunch, sighted the “world’s smallest harbor” near Newport, sighted the “world’s shortest river” near Lincoln City, and skated one of the world’s best skateparks (LC1 + LC2). The LC1 section is a great design, although the concrete is a little rough. The flow from the shallow section, into the intermediate section, and into the deep bowl is superb. In contrast, the concrete finish at LC2 is butter smooth and flawless – thanks, Dreamland! Local ripper Justin joined in the LC2 session – did he land the frontside tailslide on the vert extension? It doesn’t matter, Justin gets the gnar vote just for trying that one. The boys succumbed to the craving for meat and grilled some choice cuts of filet mignon over the campfire for dinner. Burgers and franks for this crew? No fucking way, steak or die! The Brothers Culp joined the minivan crew at the campsite and hooked the crew up with tasty smores (a fine accompaniment to filet mignon and beer). The evening ended with a couple of rounds of the “Left Right Center” dice game, during which Mark made everyone his bitches.
Tuesday (July 13) – Tuesday began with another session at Lincoln City. Everyone got upside down in the cradle. Everybody loves cradles. Mark slammed in the cradle. Now, getting upside down in a cradle is very invigorating to say the least. Even more invigorating is traveling from an upside down position in a cradle onto the cold, hard, uninviting concrete below. Invigorating to say the least. Phillip Culp tried to land a big frontside air in the deep end, but couldn’t seal the deal. He gets the “100 Attempts” award. Prior to campsite checkout, some of the folks took advantage of what would be the only shower of the week, thank God. The minivan traveled south for a scenic drive down the coast, with the Brothers Culp following close behind. Oregon is beautiful in the summer, no doubt.
Rumors have been flying about a new Airspeed park going up in Florence, so the traveling skatesmen decided to pay Geth, Stephanie, and the Airspeed crew a visit in their hometown. Although a little premature for a full report, let’s just say that this park is going to be off the hook. Maybe Jeff will insert a nice picture here to show the progress of the park. If not, get over it. A little further down the coast is a little gem in Reedsport. Reedsport was sessioned for awhile; highlights included Jeff’s backside disaster transfer off the side of the tunnel and Seff’s destruction of all the pool coping. Skater Claus emerged from his sled and gave a young girl a pink Black Label deck – he’s a very nice man.
The adventure team parted ways with the Brothers Culp and hit the road to get a jump start on their journey to Skateboarder Heaven aka Klamath Falls. A sign on the road said “Wildlife Viewing Area” and the crew couldn’t pass up the opportunity! Wild elk sighting! Rad! Where’s the rifle? As dusk fell upon the crew, they lucked into an epic campsite near Tyee. The regular campsite was full, but Skater Claus sweet talked the camp host into letting the crew barge the neighboring “group reservation” site. Four skaters alone in a campsite with a cooler full of red meat, beer, and other essential items. Nice score. Mark loaded up a skateboard with some firewood logs and rode the logboard down the hill into the campsite. That would be Mark’s best move of the trip, by far. The boys settled in to an evening of beers and more killer carne asada tacos courtesy of Seff the Deaf Chef.
Wednesday (July 14) – Roger prepared an awesome breakfast of bacon, egg, and cheese burritos, garnished with Tapatio hot sauce, and fresh coffee prepared in the French press. No fucking around during breakfast time. The crew took a refreshing morning dip in the warm Umpquah river near the campgrounds. If not for the ultimate destination of Klamath Falls, this might have been the end of the road trip. The river was a perfect temperature, had a mild current, and was crystal clear. The crew discovered a river rock with a submerged swim-through hole, and the challenge was on! Fortunately, everyone made it through the hole unscathed. This was also the scene of a bona fide Seffsquatch sighting in the bushes near the river. Resourceful Roger clicked on his video camera and tried to capture the rare event on film, but only caught a glimpse of the elusive creature known as Seffsquatch. The sighting left the crew amped to skate, and they packed up and left for the arid region of the state.
Along the way, the adventure crew decided to stretch their legs at the small park in Roseburg. It was hot. It was dry. It was fun watching the pond geese fighting in the parking lot. Roseburg is actually a fun little park that has a nice bowl with blastable hips and some obstacles for the street oriented skater. A kid named Lance was ripping the bowl apart, landing rodeo fly outs, variels, and all sorts of hip transfers. Lance made Mark’s frontside scratch grinds look like a big green booger.
The next spot on the way to Klamath falls was Grants Pass. The crew grabbed some meat-laden sandwiches and feasted in a shadowy park by the Rogue river. The skatepark is pretty good: fun pump bumps, a punk wall, a shallow end section, and a vert bowl complex. Good flow at this park, too. Mark took advantage of the great design and immediately flowed into a top-to-bottom slam in the shallow end, taking him out for the remainder of the session. Jeff nosepicked the deep bowl, and Roger impressed the kids with his bloody swollen purple knee. In an ultimate showing of punk rock behavior, Roger scribbled his name in blood. Rad. No trace of Seffsquatch in Grants Pass, probably due to the dry climate and high temperature. Skater Claus made his rounds and gave a kid named Tyler a Black Label deck. By the way, Tyler is a ripper.
On the way out of Grants Pass, the minivan cruised by the house that Jeff’s grandpa used to own. Jeff got the group all teary eyed with his childhood stories of summers in Grants Pass – it was beautiful, man! After checking out grandpa’s house, the crew went in search of the Medford skatepark. The park is huge and it contains lots of tranny elements, a pillar with about 6 feet of vert, and a giant bowl. Unfortunately, the bowl is rough, lumpy, and designed with poorly placed waterfalls. It’s still better than most of the crap bowls in SoCal! The minivan dwellers challenged a local kid to stick some tricks, and paid him a little cash for his efforts. Skater Claus hooked the kid up with some new Destructo trucks as a reward for grinding some pool coping. Teach the kids the joy of pool coping and get them grinding at an early age!
The crew finally made it to Klamath Falls, headed straight to the skatepark, hooked up with Mark from Bend, and skated until it got close to dusk. The adventure team and Mark from Bend located the Topsy campground, cooked up some teriyaki steaks, and had a feast that included fresh salad and corn. Skate, eat, drink beer, sleep, eat, skate, drink beer, eat, skate, drink beer, sleep, repeat. America: what a country!
Thursday (July 15) – Something (it could have been Seffsquatch) bit Mark in the eye overnight, leaving Mark with a bad case of swelleye. Yo Adrian, cut me Mick! Coffee, sweet rolls, and SpiderBerry Pop Tarts for breakfast got the crew in the mood for the Klamath Falls pool coping. This park is great because it can accommodate several simultaneous sessions in the different sections: the gummi bear bowl, the square bowl, the penis bowl, the catcher’s mitt run, and the mini area. A fun session was had in the penis bowl, Jeff got to work on some backside Smith grinds on the sidewall, and most of the crew got some oververt coping. That bowl is a fun ride, but climbing out of it is a complete pain in the ass. If you skate it, don’t fall. The adventure team hooked up with Joaquin from Mammoth after the morning session, and the group headed about 30 miles out of town for a breather in the Jackson Kimball Recreation Site. This site is located at the headwaters of the Wood river, and the water is crystal clear, fresh, and extremely cold. After hearing several shouts of “it’s fucking cold” and “my balls are frozen,” Mark decided to stay dry and feed the local mosquitoes. The afternoon back at the park was highlighted by the session in the big catcher’s mitt. The Klamath Kids were ripping and the Ride On Skate Shop was well represented here.
The four man crew parted ways with Mark from Bend and Mammoth Joaquin, then headed out in search of a campsite. As dusk approached, they stumbled across a primitive site tucked away next to a dirt road in the forest. The price was right, so the hungry and weary decided to park it for the night. Hungry bats devouring flying bugs provided entertainment for the evening. No shit, this was an epic show that could have been a feature on the Animal Channel. Seff and Roger invented a great bat watching system: using a flashlight as a spotlight, Seff tracked an unsuspecting flying insect while Roger sat poised with the camera. Eventually, a bat would flutter down to scoop up the bug, coming within a foot of the camera at times. Bats are cool.
Friday (July 16) – The Batmen got a very early start, and left camp at about 7:00 AM. An early morning session at the Ashland skatepark got the blood rolling a bit. The park is a little rough at spots and the coping is sticky in places . . . just ask Jeff, who got served up in the mini bowl and slammed onto his bad wrist. Not too much action to speak of in Ashland other than the hot local skater chick sporting the standard issue skater chick uniform: belly shirt, pierced body parts, chain wallet, and hip huggers. Three cheers for Oregon skate chicks! No Seffsquatch sighting here, probably due to the early hour.
Right around the corner from Ashland is the Talent skatepark. Talent is one of the older southern Oregon parks, and it shows its age. The OG kidney bowl is poorly designed and has cancer in the bottom. The rest of the park is a fun ride, with plenty of flow lines. Jeff and Mark rolled around a bit so that they could say “we skated Talent,” but Roger decided to rest his deformed knee/leg/foot combo. Surprisingly, there was no Seffsquatch sighting here, probably due to the lack of meat and smoke.
The Oregon coast beckoned the minivan once again, and the road led the crew into the California redwood forest for some nice scenery. Along the way, the middle fork of the Smith river served as a refreshing swimming spot. After a quick dip, the minivan hit the road again, entered Oregon, and eventually rolled into foggy Brookings in time for a less than perfect lunch of tasteless frozen fish product and salt water taffy. After lunch, the crew hit the Brookings skatepark, which is essentially a bowl within a bowl. The center bowl is a tight backyard style pool with real coping, and the outer bowl has plenty of hips and walls of varying heights. Brookings is an Indy 500 race track for skateboarders – get your 63s on and you’ll fly around that outer bowl like Superman. The signature feature of the Brookings park is the Evel Knievel bowl jump line. Jeff tried to muster up the courage to attempt the line, but no amount of egging by Mark could convince Jeff to hit the launch ramp. Jeff said that he was saving his heroics for the Reedsport Loop Challenge. According to the Brookings kids, some British chap was sticking the jump earlier in the day! Rad! The local Brookings kids were a real treat . . . they were relentlessly tormenting one of their own, who didn’t have a skate, and kept calling him strange names like “donut dingy.” His “friends” at the park wouldn’t let him take a run on their skateboards because he owns rollerblades. Mark broke down and let the poor bastard take a few runs on his board. Meanwhile, Suffering Seff remained in the van due to the intense pain in his ear, and the other crewmembers told the Brookings kids that they had bagged a Seffsquatch. The kids were told not to disturb a sleeping Seffsquatch or they would have to suffer the consequences. “What’s a Seffsquatch,” asked the donut dingy kid. “We got one in the van, check it out.” Ah, priceless moments like these really make road trips memorable. While donut dingy was trying to sneak up on Seffsquatch, Skater Claus made his rounds and hooked up one kid with a man sized Black Label deck and distributed stickers to the other Brookings kids.
After getting their dose of Brookings fog, the team headed up the coast to what would be their final session of the tour: Port Orford. Tucked away and hidden behind some trees, Port Orford, like the Donald park, packs a mean punch in a compact footprint. Cradle + vert bowl + hips + shallow end + skating on the back side of the cradle = fun. For Mark, cradle + “one more run” + no skills = slam. Mark gets the Cradle Slam Award for getting served up in the LC2 and Port Orford cradles. Nice job, Mark! The session at Port Orford was epic: Jeff and Roger getting way upside down in the cradle; Roger with his patented pretzel carve grinds in the deep; Jeff breaking out an assortment of hip transfers and showing off his vert skills in the deep. Unfortunately, there was no Seffsquatch sighting here. The crew had the pleasure of skating with Arizona Jeremiah, who was road tripping with the legendary Brookings Brit! The adventure team was stoked beyond belief to meet someone who had conquered the Brookings jump. Well, it turns out that those Brooking kids are a bunch of fucking liars. The Brit admitted to skating Brookings, but confirmed that he didn’t make the jump. What a downer. By the way, check out the cool artwork on the cradle, which had just been completed that day.
As the sun began to set, the crew headed out in search of a decent campsite. Just a few miles up the coast was the Edson campsite. The gang settled into a nice site near the river, set up camp, and cooked some teriyaki steaks over the fire. Nothing wrong with an outdoor feast of teriyaki steak tacos, is there?
Saturday (July 17) – The crew enjoyed a nice relaxing morning at the Edson campsite. Two pots of coffee, some Pop Tarts, and another round of bacon, egg, cheese, and avocado burritos (thanks, Roger!) were a perfect way to begin the last day of the trip – although some dancing girls or at least a dancing Seffsquatch would have been pretty cool, too.
After breakfast, the minivan hit the road with Reedsport as its final destination. Reedsport was hosting an amateur skate contest and the Loop Challenge. Reedsport was a fitting culmination for the road trip, as the crew had a chance to see a number of the kids and skaters they had met during their travels. Roseburg Lance, Grants Pass Tyler, Cold War Steve, and the Klamath kids were all competing. LC Justin was seen skating (nice frontside crail to fat chick’s tail on the extension), Jeff skated a bit and stuck his backside D on the edge of the pipe for all to see, and AZ Jeremiah was shooting photos (good luck in photography school, bro!). To make a long story short, no skater conquered the loop that day. Sage Bolyard’s first run of the day ended in a drop from 12:00 and an injured foot. Some other dude took a couple of shots at the loop, but quickly pulled out. That left two ballsy superhero skaters: Chris and Joesf. Joesf almost made it all the way, but slid out at the bottom and took a nasty slam to the head. He walked away to a standing ovation. Balls.
Reluctantly, the crew headed east to I5 for the trek back to Portland. Not yet full of meat, they stopped in the fine city of Eugene to partake in some Texas style BBQ. “Gimmie the two meat platter, with extra meat!” Meat is good. Two meats are better. A fitting end to the long trip. The minivan rolled into Portland at about 10:00 PM (too dark to skate Burnside, unfortunately), and Tracy’s house and shower were a welcome sight.
Sunday (July 19) – Back to reality. Back to SoCal. Recap: 1800 miles; 17 skateparks; one skatepark under construction; one shower; two cradles; two oververt pockets; one funnel tunnel; one swim-through rock; one flying bat show; lots of meat; numerous sightings of Seffsquatch and Skater Claus; and too many good people to mention. Thank you, Oregon!