Barneys in the Bay

As the drab, ash-coloured skies of another Pacific Northwest winter released their unceasing torrent of rain upon me, the prospect of escaping to a friendlier climate began to shift from a luxurious fantasy to an unavoidable imperative. Images of unimpeded sunshine, greasy, well-worn pool block and glistening beads of moisture running down the sides of cheap tall cans danced in my head, and a plan was hatched to make a break for the Bay Area, the global epicentre of hardcore skateboard culture. With a couch to stay on in Oakland and a whole universe of legendary, unknown and unclassifiable skate spots to explore, my thirst for skateboard adventure was sure to be sated. 

But nothing goes according to plan and, as my travelling partner Conlan and I touched down in California, we realised that we had somehow managed to bring the rains which we were so intent on escaping along with us. Like a stray dog that is fed once and clings to its beneficiary with a reverent loyalty, or the sexually-charged demon-spirit from It Follows, a deluge was always on our heels. Armed with a weather app and piloted by fellow Vancouverite Jeff Matheson in his $500 Honda Civic hatchback, we set out to make the most of moist situation. 

And despite the inclement weather, our trip was anything but a wash. We drank Coors Light out of bell peppers at Lower Bob’s on P-Stone’s birthday. We crunched the pool block in the deep end of the Potrero bowl. We had Peabody tour us around the city and got called Barneys by Jake Phelps. We skated the Lowcard miniramp and witnessed the mind-melting skills of Eli Williams. We were even lucky enough to skate a backyard pool in San Jose, with three-finger exposed coping that humbled our Canadian transition skills – a dude named Spaghetti showed up to the session and blessed us with a jar of homegrown weed. We bombed hills in the dark and I rode out the longest speed wobbles of my life. When you have three people with no other agenda but to skate as much as possible, you will make it happen. 

We went to the Bay to escape the rains, and though Mother Nature was not on our side, our determination and hunger for skating ensured we didn’t leave unsatisfied. An extra special thank you goes out to Lang Miller and Timmy Jak for being the most gracious hosts we could possibly ask for.  -Stepan Soroka