Sunday, May 29, 2011

looks like a ditch, skates like a skatepark

NEW MEXICO - landed of the enchanted ditches!
 I don't know if I'd ever really dreamt about the ditches in Las Cruces, but I have been hearing about them since the mid 80's. Thrasher seemed to always be hyping the city up, talking about this DITCH JAM or that one. Back in 1993 Mike, Marcus, Sessions, Than, and I took a road trip to Texas and the theme of the trip boiled down to COW BOWLS also known as ditches. Being in Las Cruces and thankfully finding these OG ditches, had me thinking back to that TEXAS road trip in the mid 90's.  As I was exploring more parts of this ditch, a 35 year old skater parked in the dirt and joined me for a quick session. He laid out a bit of the history of the spot.
This spills down to a huge SAND LOT that could be dug out!
Opening spread from the THRASHER tour article! p:burnett

Rhino helped me out with directions to a spot I'd seen on the thrasher site in an INDY clip late last year.  Then more recently Mike Burnett went through with TOY and it's featured in the SUBHUMANS clip on the thrasher site. Check time code 7:00 to 7:22 to see the toy machine team tear up what I found is called the EDGEMONT ditch. The city built the spillway with the intention of having it be a skatepark as well. It's technically in Santa Theresa, NM, but essentially in El Paso.
too bad it was sooooo WINDY. she's a beauty. bring a broom.
Josh sweeps the steepest pocket. p:burnett
they grow some of their own food out front.
The drive from El Paso to San Antonio was my longest drive to date, about 7 hours. After such a long and grueling drive, I went straight to the GREEN.
Veggie Enchilada plate with Daiya
Too much Daiya puts me in a dark place..... so I had to order something else. And I DID overeat!
quinoa, kale, and beans from the GREEN

the ALAMO - love you OZZY
The San Antonio River Walk was cool to finally see in person!

San Marcos Skatepark
The good fellas at Goodtimes Skateboards  told me about this new park in San Marcos. And I'd seen a sick photo of Nolan Johnson at the Lockhart park so I stopped by there to see for myself.
Lockhart, TX skatepark is sick!
next stop - AUSTIN!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tombstone and Gila River

While I was studying the map trying to find PATAGONIA, I saw that Tombstone, AZ, wasn't too far out of my way as I planned to head out towards New Mexico. I sorted my route out and landed right next to the OK CORRAL.
a major gun fight went down here back in the day
Allen Street in Tombstone... OG transportation
I did see a Wyatt Earp impersonator, but felt disappointed that there were no references to YOUNG GUNS or YOUNG GUNS II... No Lou Diamond Phillips or Emilio Estevez impersonators... Come to think of it, I don't believe that the movie Young Guns was set in Tombstone, but I still felt cheated.

Then it was back on the open road. Next stop was a cluster of hot springs along the Gila River in SW New Mexico and a cliff dwelling site.
Road shot outside of Tombstone - lonesome highway

Gila cliff dwellings
The road into the Gila National Forest was windy as could be. Signs stated that the 28 mile trip would take 2hours. I made it in an hour and just in time to run up the path and get the last tour of the Gila Cliff Dwellings.
I went to Bandelier cliff dwellings in 1978
lightfeather or middlefork hot spring
After walking down with the volunteer staff and discussing the hot springs in the area, I made the short drive to the trailhead for the above hot spring.. I know it doesn't look like much, but it was refreshing to dig out a bigger spot and I was able to find the right mix of cold river water to scalding hot spring water. The birds were out and my head had a marvelous view right at river level. Driving back to town I realized that the next 3 spots were all within a half a mile from each other.

wildwood retreat & hot springs
the wilderness lodge hot springs
Both Wildwood and Wilderness cost a few bucks to soak. Wildwood is by far the best of the two. I wish I would have stayed longer at Wildwood but was anxious to squeeze in all 3 that evening.
And closest to the river was the 3 pools at the Gila River Campground. It's $4 to soak or $5 to camp and soak. I got the last camping spot in the joint.

the hottest - aka too hot for me
the least hot - aka not hot enough for me
It turned out that the only CLOTHING OPTIONAL pool was the one with the best temperature. I spent all my time in this one. Evening and early morning. Plus that morning I had a great conversation with a Japanese traveler named Masa. It would have been a great op to get out the FREE BOX, but I had to hike to their camp spot and it just wasn't in the cards.
the clothing optional pool was just right!

I drove out of the region mid morning in search of Faywood Hot Springs. On route I came across one of the largest copper mines in the SW. Santa Rita Mine.
the scar on the earth
When I got to Faywood, I was bummed to see that it was closed. I drove a little further to ROCK CITY and the ranger told me that since the owner died a few years ago, the hot springs have been closed ever since. I pushed on to Las Cruces in search of ditches. Since the 1980's I've been hearing about the legendary spillways in Las Cruces and was hopeful I could sniff some out!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Tree of Life

I told people I was heading to Patagonia and they freaked out.....  "I thought you were staying in the country this year?", they said.  Like most folks they didn't realize that deep in the south of Arizona is the small town of Patagonia, home of Gabriel Cousins' Tree of Life. It's a rejuvenation center that centers on healing through a vegan RAW foods diet, low in natural sugars.
the sign that greets you
I arrived in the morning and found my way up the hill to the cafe area. It was in between meals so I took a self guided walking tour.
1st stop: the sprout house
They grow all their sprouts and wheatgrass on site in greenhouses. Sunflower sprouts are my favorite!
wheel of life?
The grounds are sparse but do have a few unique features. This spot, a meditation temple, an IR sauna, 2 salt water jacuzzi's, solar arrays, and nude his and her sundecks.

take the plunge garden
This gorgeous garden had a small pool that could be filled and used for cleansing ceremonies.

the LUNCH line
I was so thrilled with lunch. RAW pasta and meatballs was the specialty and then all you can eat sprouts, salad, and coleslaw. And two types of lemonade. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. Attendees were from all walks of life and all parts of the country.
the salad dressings were heavenly
I spent most of my afternoon in the INFRARED sauna, then would switch up to the jacuzzi, then back to the sauna. I wasn't sure if I would stay for dinner, but after several people insisted, I went with the flow and stayed for another next level meal. More soaking after dinner and I was treated to an out of this world sunset from the tub!
the free box interrupts Pictionary
Several of the cooks from the cafe enjoyed the FREE BOX.
Gina on the left gave me my first HUG for the box.
The next morning I was up early as per my usual and was out working on the computer at a table near the cafe... To my surprise I thought a small dog was approaching...

a lone javelina
Nope it was javelina, a native desert pig. Not as large as a boar, but close. He came right up to me looking for a handout and with in a few minutes there were close to 20 of them snorting about. I had a RAMBO moment from FIRST BLOOD, but no javelina's were harmed...
how cute is this......?

next stop TOMBSTONE, AZ.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I'm kicking myself that I didn't get any pictures of my first stop in TUCSON.....what a great name for a co op!

I filled my 5 gallon bottle and had a sandwich and sat out on the sidewalk  - half in the van, half on their table enjoying the view.... all sorts of weirdo's kept walking in and out of the Food Conspiracy. It didn't take being in Tucson more than 10 minutes before I came to the conclusion that TUCSON is my kind of town. After soaking in the local culture I motored over to STARR SKATES.
SUSKI rides for Starr!
I've talked to SAM at Starr on the phone for years and today was the first time we met face to face.... Traded some dvds and got the word on some skate spots.
Tucson's Santa Rita Skatepark
I'd just missed a session with Kevin Staab and Tony Hawk at this park by a day. Apparently the HAWK FOUNDATION had given money to help fund the new BIG BOWL at the park and Tony and his crew came out for a demo.  I steered clear of the biggest bowl but had fun in all the other elements the park had to offer.

           A Tasteful Kitchen prepared me an epic 4 course RAW meal.
ROUND 1 - Sushi
ROUND 2 - pesto pasta & tomato pasta
Seigret the chef brings out ROUND 3 - lasagna
Round 4 - desert - strawberry shortcake
As I ate the desert, I got the text to meet SAM at a private backyard pool.
There is a spined mini ramp as well as this bowl tucked away in Tucson!
Thanks for having me out, SAM.

I slept in van outside this house and was up bright and early on the search for more spots...

the bike path vigilante tranny spot
It was 7am when I located this rugged spot. Dan Drehobl is a maniac. He pivoted to fakie the top and I couldn't muster a rock n roll. 

I'd seen epic photos of the airplane graveyards outside Tucson and went in search of them.
aiplane graveyard
It didn't take long to realize that all the amazing photos I'd seen of the graveyards were aerial views. There were no high vantage points to take pics from the van so this is the best I could muster. Miles upon miles of decommissioned airplanes out on the desert representing BILLIONS of our tax dollars......

next stop - the tree of life!!!!

Monday, May 16, 2011


GREEN - excellent all vegan spot in Scottsdale!
Can you see the lovely lady in the window reflection? She was kind enough to give me a hot tip on what to order. I've been here before so I know all about the TSOY-nami's, but wasn't sure what to order off the normal menu.  This gal suggested the Thai noodle dish with extra veggies! I'm a sucker for a noodle dish! I always have to get to GREEN when in PHX. I visited a few shops and actually saw TRENT one more time at the COWTOWN - tempe location.  Then I met up with my long lost pal, MEG WATJEN!

Meg and her carrot.
Many years ago in Seattle, Brodie was excited to introduce me to his friend, Meg! We all hung out and went to see the JIM ROSE circus side show at her club, the Velvet Elvis. MEG is one of a handful of RADICAL women in my life. {editor's note [Laura Martin is another one.]} Strong, assertive, unique, and often wearing short hair, she worked in the music industry in Seattle for a few years....  any guesses who she worked for??   anyone?    yes, you are correct...SUBPOP.
To this day I can't thank her enough for turning me onto AT THE DRIVE IN. Not sure what year that was, but that same year I got to see ATDI play live a handful of times in southern california. Each performance got better and better. I don't know about you, but I don't get many solid tips that I really connect with and enjoy for long periods of time. So Meg... I thank you again for such a touching introduction.

Meg moved to the east coast for a bit and before I knew it, she was married to a legendary skateboard personality from Seattle. The lucky fella's name is Chris Lundry, but most skateboarders simply know him as Wez - the man behind POOL DUST zine and more recently the zine review section in Thrasher. The lovely couple has settled in Tempe and I do my best to visit them whenever I'm in town. And sometimes I get lucky and see them in San Diego!

I met Meg at their new home and got the tour. Saw the garden and ate a carrot fresh out of the dirt, got the story on the pool... Couldn't swim this time, but next time, it's a cannonball challenge as it's only six feet deep. We took the cover off Wez' convertible and cruised over to Udupi.
My first ever Dosai!
I've eaten my share of Indian cuisine before, but Udupi offers a long list of Dosai. We got 2 varieties and they went down quickly...3 dipping sauces to choose from.... Think of a crispy extra wide pancake with veggies inside then folded over...!

Meg & Wez with the Traveling Free Box
After dinner we got back to the house and Wez was home from work. They both took and gave to the BOX. Wez' donation was sweet...a condensed towel with a skateboard on it.... I drove out to the TEMPE skatepark for a few turns and saw Mango and Jonathan Pierce from the BOYISH dvd tearing it up. Slept in the parking lot and woke up and skated some more with a contingent of old dogs like myself. I'm half way used to skating by myself at 7am, but it sure was refreshing to skate with some other guys that early!

next stop TUCSON.........

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Do you have any good friends who live out of town and run their own business and are married and have two kids and four chickens?  I do and if I dwell on the thought, it starts to bum me out that I don't get to see them as much as I would like. Or as much as I used to when I was a younger man. Trent Martin and I talk on the phone from time to time, but it's become rarer and rarer that we get to see each other.... and truly RARE that we really get to HANG OUT and seriously bro down. If there was ever a time to do so, that time was now.  I stayed the night with the MARTIN's and slept in the van in front of their house in central Phoenix. I was hoping to get the whole MARTIN clan to be able to go up to the VERDE HOT SPRINGS while I was there. As the next morning progressed, it was Trent and I on a solo mission. Laura got the kids off to school and Trent and I caught up on a little work before I rallied him onto the road. I'd been to Verde Hot Springs once before with my long time pal, LAUREN.  If I had to guess that would have been close to 10 years ago and we had a great time, but there was an element of the unknown!  In order to get to the SPRINGS you have to ford the VERDE river....this time of year the river level can fluctuate wildly. We  took the gamble and made the long bumpy drive into the springs.... total drive time ended up being close to 3hours.  hike a mile and ford the river and BAM!    naked people....

TRENT has a moment of reflection over the Verde.

 As we forded the river upstream we could hear dogs barking.... I queried to Trent, "How many people do you think are at the springs?"  His answer, 2. My answer 4 people, 2 dogs. I was right. This springs were fortified and managed by an old hotel on the property that burned down many moons ago. Now it's a seeker's destination. Clothing optional good times. I followed a local's initiative and jumped into the river to cool off after soaking for 30 minutes. Did that Twice as I recall.

Trent fords his way back across the VERDE. Totally manageable

The night before I'd gotten a hot tip about a swimming hole called FOSSIL CREEK from one of Trent's employees. Turns out we'd driven along a creek to get to the springs... so on the way out we checked that creek and were amazed at the clarity of the water....

The water was cool and crystal clear.

 So we swam at this spot for a bit then pushed on. and came to this SPOT.....

then we came to this  spot.....
Trent overlooks the deepest part of the creek that we found.
and I tried my best on the rope swing..........

and there was even a better spot further up the creek that were failed to document......needless to say this two mile stretch of creek is epic and worthy of your investigation.......Trent vows to take the family back for a camping excursion.

 It was hard to leave such refreshing beauty, but we had a meal on the make for us back in PHX and there was a wife, 2 boys, and 4 chickens awaiting our return.
Laura handled the kitchen and Trent was on grill detail.
1st home cooked meal of the TRIP! taco night at the MARTIN's!
 After the glorious meal, I brought in the Traveling Free Box. It was nice to see how generous and giving Asher and Shiloh were to the BOX.
Martin's and the BOX

The next morning I foraged a box of oranges and grapefruits then took the kids to school with LAURA then we went to the local farmer's market and loaded up! I visited Trent at work and then it was time to say so long.

{editor's note}YEARS ago when I was first getting to know Trent, I worked at a skateboard company called TUM YETO. Chad Muska used to always call Jamie Thomas, J ROCK. So for some reason, I began to call Trent, T ROCK. I don't do it as much in this day and age, but I still like to throw it out there for old times sake.