This was "Go skateboarding day" and well, we were going, and I planned to skateboard, just not today...
We headed out at about 3:15 PM (after I got home from work) and we were fortunate enough to have missed most of the traffic in both Seattle and Portland. It's the worst when you get stuck in traffic, and all you want to do is blow through town.
We arrived in Veneta, Oregon about 5 hours later.
My wife's brother lives there (Kenny). We called to let him know we were close and Charlene told him we were nearby a lake. Kenny asked "Which lake?"
to which my wife replied, "Oh, the lake of shinny waters..."
The sun was setting at that time and causing a brilliant glare off the water as we passed by. The lake is just west of Eugene, on the way to Veneta. Kenny, of course, knew which lake we were talking about and said, "Oh that one..." (this was an inside joke for them, due to their native heritage).
We transported some authentic cedar wood for Kenny to carve. He's quite the artist when it comes to carving wood or drawing .
After visited with Kenny for a couple hours we were all tired and went to sleep. But, Charlene couldn't sleep.
At 2 AM Charlene text messages Jeremy (Hey kid I can't sleep...or something like that). Jeremy is probably regretting the day he taught us all to text message him using the cell phone.
Charlene has been really looking forward to see her son. She was like a kid trying to sleep the night before Christmas day or something. Just restless and couldn't sleep. So, she's text messaging Jeremy at 2 AM.
She elbows me. "You awake?" (Ah, no....)
"I can't sleep, can you sleep?" She says...(Uh, I was yeah...I'm thinking).
So, I get up.
Charlene can't sleep, and Jeremy has told her that at noon the next day (well technically later that day since it's past midnight) in San Jose there's a little "party" and the parents are invited....(Great).
She's all excited, and says to me, "If we leave now, could we get there in time to attend this party?" (Half-asleep I'm thinking, well I guess so.) I nod...(wanting to go back to sleep, hoping she's not serious... She was.)
We were on the road by 2:10 AM, I'm still not sure if Kenny understood what Charlene was trying to tell him as we left. He was sound asleep too.
We filled up the gas tank in the Eugene area, and headed out. I told Charlene she would have to drive. I was too tired...In fact, it's probably one of the rare occasions where I actually slept while someone else was driving.
We arrived in San Jose at noon, and had time to track Jeremy down and hang out for a few minutes. We then went to this party thing, the City Year group is a great group of kids. They volunteer their time and effort to help kids who often can't help themselves. This little party was for them. To give each other a chance to honor the other. Jeremy rode down to San Jose from Renton, having never been there before, with Joe.
Joe and Jeremy hit it off, and became best buddies. Joe came from the Seattle area also, but had relatives down there, and decided he was simply going to move down there. But, they all rented an apartment for the duration of Jeremy's stay down there.
We enjoyed the party, but for some reason they didn't choose a venue with air conditioning. Couple that with it feeling like the hottest day of the year, and we were getting too hot, Charlene started to feel over heated. I looked over at her and she looked like she was going to pass out. So, unfortunately we had to leave the party early and check into the air conditioned hotel. For some reason also, we were a bit exhausted (don't know why, hmmm... driving all night... hmmm?).
My parents rolled in around 5 PM, they left before us and were a bit surprised to hear we were in San Jose already. They called, and woke us up from our nap. We all decided to go out to eat at an "IN and OUT BURGER" joint. This place reminded me of that old Saturday Night Live skit (Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger...) because all they have on the menu are burgers and sodas... (Anyway, I was laughing). It was nice place to eat, and Jeremy and his buddies all showed up too. It was interesting, I think his buddies were in a bit of a shock that he was seriously leaving SJ for good. I guess he'd been telling them for weeks that he's leaving on the last day of service, but now that it was actually happening, and it became all too real for them. They didn't want him to go.
All four of them have been living in a 2 bedroom apartment for the year, and have grown quite close, I'm sure.
I learned that every Thursday night they would all go to this very burger joint, and Tuesdays they would all go out for Pizza. Now, this is particularly interesting, and probably a bachlor type of thing. But, on Tuesday nights they would order like 3 large pizzas, and put the left overs in the fridge. And these pizzas would last them for the whole week, until the next "Pizza night" (feeling like having some old pizza?).
Friday morning at 10 AM was the graduation ceremony, which was fun, and in an air conditioned venue this time. Much better. We watched with appreciation all the presentations, and were very proud of our son, who made it through another whole year of service (this was his second year). After some long good-bye's and many photos, we headed out, my parents took some of Jeremy stuff in their Lexus, and some was packed in a suit case with Charlene, and the rest was packed in the back of the Honda.
Charlene didn't want to go on another (sigh) skate trip. So, we got her a one way ticket home on an airplane. But, her flight didn't leave until 9 PM, so we hung around San Jose for a bit.
After dropping Charlene off, Jeremy and I finished picking his stuff up at his appartment. He dropped off his keys and says his last good-byes.
Then we head out to skate the first skatepark of the day, Menlo Park where Jeremy says that he's out of "skateboard shape" and doesn't know how much skating he's interested in doing.
Jeremy hits his hip at this first park, and that pretty much set's the tone for him for the rest of the trip. Menlo park was ok. It was interesting, we happened to barge in on the Friday night "old guy" session (impromptu, nothing offical). So, I fit right in, and that made it fun for sure. However, I really wanted to get to Pacifica before dark, so we left sort of early from there.
A buddy of mine, Tony, met us at Menlo Park and then showed us the way to Pacifica. Next stop was Pacifica, California. The skatepark in Pacifica is similar to many in the Northwest, and we felt right at home here. Not only that, the heat wave was suddenly turned off. Pacifica is a nice coastal town, with a reasonable climate.
We skated here until it got dark, and the cops actually told us to leave. We said good-bye to Tony and headed out to the next park.
I had seen photos of this park in a small town near Sacramento, called Ione, California. I wasn't sure what to expect, but from what I've seen it looked like a fun bowl. So, we headed out that way, and drove over the longest bridge I've ever been on, over the San Fransico Bay, which was quite an experience in and of itself. Jeremy and I commented on how a bridge this long could extend out to any of San Juan Islands, and eliminate the dependance on ferries (like that's ever going to happen).
At about Midnight we rolled into this small town in the middle of nowwhere, and I guess I looked suspicious as I pulled over near the skatepark, the gate was closed, by the way. A cop pulled in behind me telling me that I swerved a couple of times (yeah right). He was wondering what I was up to. He also was looking for drunk drivers. Well, I was just tired, and since I don't drink, I explained to him how we were traveling up here just to skate the park in the morning. He must have believed my story, because he let us go without too much hassle.
We found a quiet place to park and slept in the car. I was tired, I slept pretty easily.
I had heard that the forcast for the greater Sacramento area was going to be hot (like 108 later that day). So, I was determined to skate Ione at 6 AM. And I was awakened by the sun in my eyes at about 5:30 AM, right on time. At 6 AM I'm parked in front of that locked gate, again. Which was opened shortly thereafter. Jeremy isn't a morning person, at least not at this stage in his life. So, I padded up and skated the bowl by myself for an hour and a half. This bowl was a huge surprise. (Download the Ione movie here)
It was so much fun, I couldn't believe how I hadn't heard much about it before. It has tile near the top lip, just like a real pool. And it was completely shaded in the morning. After skating, and feeling totally stoked on this bowl, and totally tired out, I drove off to the next park, Jeremy was still sleeping.
My main goal after picking Jeremy up was skating the new Grindline park up in Mammoth Lakes California. So off to Mammoth we went. Now, if I had been thinking, I would have filled up the gas tank in San Jose.
I noticed some prices were in the 2.98 range in San Jose. A reasonable price for the inflated times we were traveling in. But I wasn't thinking. I just wanted to make tracks and go. Well, that would bite me later, when I was running on fumes and needed gas, and had to pay 3.95 a gallon. Well, despite that we had fun. Heading to Mammoth we went over a pass that was 9,000 feet in elevation. And we saw snow. So, we had to stop and play in the snow. Just a day before we were in sweltering heat, and now we were playing in the snow. That was refreshing to say the least. I think Jeremy was in a little bit of shock. Here he spent 10 months not traveling more than a few miles in any direction, and now we were up in the mountains far away from the city life.
We arrived in Mammoth about noon or so, and I had no idea where the skatepark was, so I asked at the local snowboard shop, and they directed me. I was stoked. This place doesn't disappoint. It's so different from any skatepark I've ever seen or skated. It almost appears like the concrete fell from the sky like snow. It's formed around rocks and has this organic shape to it.
Mammoth is a ski resort town, and the kids here snowboard, and they like to go big and fast. So, the skate park reflects that style of skating. It's mostly a big and fast transition oriented park. I don't think I was able to skate everything in my couple of hours there, when we left, I kept thinking of pockets and things that I didn't skate. Jeremy rolled around a little, but was really wanting to go home. He said he felt a little out of his element. So, I took some photos, skated a little more and we headed out at about 5 PM. (Download the movie of Mammoth here)
We stopped in Carson City, NV for some cheap gas (2.86 a gallon), then rolled into Klamath Falls late. I think it was 1 AM. We slept in the car again. I was tired, and since Jeremy just wanted to head home, we didn't skate Klamath. I got to skate Mammoth, which has been on my "list" for a while so I was stoked, and he was happy to not be in San Jose anymore.
We left Klamath Falls early and headed north to home. I offered to stop at Newberg or Donald for a quick stop at some nice parks. But, Jeremy just wanted to blaze a trail for home, so that's what we did. I filled up the gas in Albany, Oregon and of all places, this was the cheapest price for gas I found (2.67 a gal) We got back around 3 PM.
Over 2,000 miles of driving later. Jeremy is home once again.