Russ Milligan, Antoine Asselin, Riley Boland, Joey Larock, Kyle MacDonald, Dustin Henry, and Ben Blundell head to Boston, New York, and Philadelphia with Vans. Read about their skate adventure and a chance meeting with the Backstreet Boys.

Dustin Henry and Ben Blundell.

Boston’s Finest, Dank Bars, and Philly Cheesesteaks

Vans Canada in the American Northeast

Words by Kyle MacDonald

Photos by Gordon Nicholas

It’s been years since we wanted to do a Vans Canada trip but for many reasons it only finally happened last fall. After asking everyone, stops in Boston, NYC and Philly were decided as our plan. I lined up Russ Milligan, Antoine Asselin, Riley Boland, Joey Larock, Kyle Macdonald, Dustin Henry and Ben Blundell to hit the road for two weeks. Most of us had already skated or visited at least one of these cities but there was at least one of them that was still virgin to someone eyes. That keeps the stoke factor high the whole trip. It was my first time in Philly and I wasn’t disappointed. The city, the spots, the Philly cheese steak and Love Park were all on point! I can even say that the medicine they give you at the Philadelphia Jefferson Methodist Hospital his also on point but that’s another story. -Alex Forbes, Vans Canada TM

Ben Blundell, Noseblunt Slide.

Meeting Boston’s Finest
Once we arrived in Boston, Ben, Dustin, Riley, and Gordon set off to the hotel to change their t-shirts while we decided to wait for Russ and Antoine’s flights to arrive. Since we had an hour to kill before they landed we decided to drive around the east side of Boston and came across an amazing view with some waxed ledges, so we sat back and took in the view. Within 5 minutes of being there we saw a cop car creep by followed by a suspicious SUV. Before we knew it, the sheriff was out of his car and had us sitting on a ledge, identification in hands. The film crew kept their distance while the cop started asking all these wack questions and cracking Canadian stereotypes. He then went on about how there was a murder at this park the day before and the type of neighborhood that it was. Back up came while he was searching us in his computer, and we started to talk about the TV show Boston’s Finest with them.

Antoine Asselin, Frontside Heelflip.

As it turned out we were in the middle of the set, which was pretty fucking lame. I didn’t want to be apart of a show about cops and neither did Forbes. The sheriff came out and said we were free to go which was somewhat of a relief since we didn’t know what would come of the situation, all the while being set up to be on a TNT drama “reality show”. Once we headed to the car we were asked to sign release forms, but only B-Shans and Joey signed them because they’re idiots.

Kyle MacDonald will not be appearing on Boston’s Finest.

I Want It My Way
It was another typical late summer day in Boston, 35-degrees Celsius and full of traffic, but something was different about this day. It was our last day in Boston and the traffic seemed to be controlled by cops for some reason. We had been sitting in a sea of cars for around an hour, trying to hit one more spot with daylight before we scurried off to New York. As the traffic eased, the sound of screaming middle-aged women became more apparent. Within minutes we were in the middle of a block party with about 20,000 screaming fans for a Backstreet Boys concert. If I remember correctly it was just the start of “I Want It My Way”. It was pretty ridiculous; we could make out their faces and everything. Nick, Howie and that other guy with the hair were all in the flesh. Needless to say Boston was starting to get weird, and we had the craving for a sloppy New York deli sandwich washed down with a St. Ides.

Dustin Henry, Backtail with an overpowering exit.

So we hit the road, but not before checking out the RAW store. Steve at RAW hooked us all up, and then we had just enough time to skate a sketchy bump to bar with a narrow ride away, with just enough light left to pop some Ollies. It’s the one that Nick Moore did a Varial Heel over a few issues back. We hit a burrito joint, got a healthy dose of wifi, and were on our way to New York. “Jeff” Gordon Nicholas flew past us on the freeway but that’s cool cause he’s got a few Daytona 500’s under his belt. Russ kept on getting confused in our car and burned threw a couple of Nexus tollbooths. I wonder if Vans and Forbes ever got the bills?

Krooked eyes and dollar bills.

Like Dogs in Heat
Checking into the hotel in Brooklyn was somewhat laughable. Our hotel rooms were the size of a high school bathroom stall. We found the deli but food was not an option, so St. Ides it was. The next morning we woke up to the lady across the hall screaming at the hotel manager and two police officers about how she had been robbed, while I was getting the grimey continental breakfast of powdered eggs and hot dogs I overheard her saying the robbery took place when she was in the shower while her toddler was watching cartoons. Needless to say we felt out of place and thought about whether our valuables where safe. I’m pretty sure everyone put the do not disturb sign on their doors and hid their laptops under the mattress that first day.

Riley Boland.

A few hours later we embarked on our drive across the Brooklyn Bridge to the great city of New York. The kids were hanging out the widows like dogs in heat, craving to see a metal grate or spot that was documented in Photosynthesis, this being their first time in the Big Apple.

Riley Boland, Gap to Nosegrind.

After some tiring days of skating all day and the private session at House Of Vans we felt like some good home style cooking and Russ knew a good place called Sylvia’s, a southern style family-owned restaurant. Pumped up, Russ figured he would hit one more spot. He must have been feeling shralpy, because he totally pole jammed the rental car trying to park at the hotel.

The boy loves his board.

Dank Bars and Trailer Park Boys
Our stay in NYC was over and we were now driving through a small town in New Jersey. It was fast approaching the legal last call for alcohol. After several attempts trying to get beer at the old faithful gas stations along the highway we were directed to a bar across the parking lot by the guy working the night shift at Pilot. We walked into the joint and were immediately greeted by a girl sitting at the bar who started asking us the 20 questions. Not being a frequenter to this dank bar, regulars were quick to ask where we came from. As I replied, the girl could only relate by asking about the Trailer Park Boys. It turned out she’s super down for the show. She was super hyped by the fact I went to school with a couple of them and knew all about the show. Needless to say we bought the cheapest beer, skidded out of this weird dank, and headed back on the road. The hotel in Philly was a major step up from the one we had stayed at in Brooklyn, and Love Park was just around the corner.

Joey Larock, Back Lip.

Love Hurts
Philly is a great place for skating but of course we are not the first to discover that. The locals have destroyed every spot you would ever think of skating, which makes it very difficult to do something new but fun nevertheless. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Love Park and Photosynthesis era, so going there was a sick experience for me and I think all of the others also plus it seems that there’s some sort of spot around every other corner throughout the city.

Kyle and Ben.

One of the last days we were in Philly, we decided that we would go skate FDR, a DIY park kind of near where all the Philadelphia sports stadiums are. We had only been there a few minutes and Riley was already spotting lines and filming stuff, but that’s when things went sour. Forbes dropped into these double steep banks and after the second one he sort of powerslid in a loss of control and fell forward into what seemed to be a gnarly slam. I went down to check on him and saw that his bone was sticking out of his arm. Both of us were in shock; I yelled to the others and we found a way to get him into the car and to the hospital.     

Russ Milligan, Switch Flip.

Aside from what happen to Forbes the rest of the trip was nothing but good times.

Ben and Russ.


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