Went to KONA
It was FUN
Everyone should go
It was HOT!!
Just kidding Nick . . .
Kona Kona KoooooooonnnAAAAAAAAAAA . . . What to say about Kona . . . I had 3 of THE BEST days of my life at this place.
So anyway, I fly into Jacksonville on the 7th and meet my long-lost, separated at birth twin brother Ryan (ok so he doesn't look exactly like me and he is 8 years younger) who is just pure awesomeness. We proceed to kick into gear one of the greatest weeks ever. I remind him of my need to hit KONA while I'm in town (so I don't get a blanket party thrown in my honor when I get home). "Yeah, I was thinking we should hit KONA tomorrow", he says. I like this kid.
My Bro and I set out the next morning. He thinks he remembers how to get there since he rollerbladed there back in the day (don't hate, cuz he will assassinate you with a homemade paper shank). After some construction detours, directions from a sketchy Quickie Mart & the aid of website directions we are making a right, staring at the KONA monument to our right & the park to our left. Ryan is tripping on all the ramps they have added since the last time he was there (about 8 years ago). We park and are the only car in the parking lot. The original plan was for me to skate and Ryan would hang out and film & dork around on my board when I am near heat stroke or something. That sucks. F that. I tell him I read on the website that they rent inline skates here. He is stoked. It's ON.
The little girl at the counter inside looks at Ryan like he has 3 heads when he says, "wow, 24 dollars, that's cheap!". The advantages of skating as an adult. We gear up and step out the door into the paradise that is KONA skatepark. It is pretty surreal to see in person all the terrain that I have seen for years in magazines, videos, and even video games. Ryan is nervous to even drop into the freestyle area as he has not skated in many years. Pretty funny considering that in a couple hours he will be trying to launch the same transfer into the snake run that D. Way 360'd in THGSPT. He nuts up and manages to get it done.
We make our way to the gianormous "street area" to warm up a little. The street course alone is bigger than many entire skateparks out there. Ryan hits a few rails & I spot a sweet mini approx. 4' high 28' wide with a spine. Heaven. After skating for a few mins. in the before-noon 90 degrees and rising heat and humidity it is obvious that this is a place u need to skate at night to really take full advantage (unless you're a 12 and under testosterone-fueled, nonstop energy having little punk; which pretty much everyone present seems to be, except for us). Luckily the "clubhouse" or whatever u want to call it has AC blasting & videos to watch as well as pizza, pretzels, nachos and drinks. After skating the mini for a while we head inside to cool off one of many times during the day.
After cooling off we go up the hill to check out the kidney bowl that Team Pain recently resurfaced. It's tiled out and smoooth as butter. I take a few runs, get a little footage and head back to the mini spine again. Yup, I like this thing. We session it again for a while.
By now Ryan is getting a bit more comfortable on his skates (180's over the spine being a good indicator), so naturally it is time to hit up the famous KONA Snake. We both decline the wedge ramp roll-in at the top and sort of just let gravity suck us in and past the point of no return. In no time at all you are high-speed surfing. We finish with smiles on our faces & run back up for more.
We get to the top of the snake and notice a kid next to a curved rail, lying on his back on the ground w/ his knees bent, lounging, talking to someone. Apparently taking a break. We take another run with a little more confidence this time and when we get back to the top we see a growing crowd gathering around the dude laying on the ground. A kid comes over and tells us the dude was doing the rail and ate it and one of his kneecaps looks like it's split in half. He is in agony when they lift him onto the stretcher to take him to the ER. Lame.
Now having supreme confidence in our snake abilities we bust out the cam and get some follow footage down the beast. Where it drains out at the bottom there is a bank at the end that goes up to a sidewalk and beyond the sidewalk is the wall of the clubhouse. Ryan has begun to finish his runs by launching off the bank, over the sidewalk to wallplant on the clubhouse, and then back into the bank. Sickness. What's 8 years anyway??
This cool little rollerblader kid shows Ryan another bank to wallplant spot and pretty soon he's got it wired and bringing them in fakie. I'm still caught up in the novelty of jamming down the snakerun between filming and resting.
Ok so now after skating for a mere couple of hours after not skating for several years, Ryan wants to transfer from the tombstone bowl into the snakerun. He tries to hit it over the wide part where Danny Way 360'd but that's a little too far. So he attempts it on the other side of the tombstone and after a few tries he's making it. A bit sketchy but making it. Dude is an animal.
I spot an older beat-up looking snake run in the back near the vert ramp & take a ride down it. It empties into a big chunked out & cracked bank to wall type thing that needs either a lot of work or something to replace it. I get out of there and head to the KONA halpipe. It's cool how little kids get all psyched when they see someone drop into a vert ramp cuz that's all I have to offer on those things. The KONA half is similar in height and transition to the Louisville ramp, only much much wider and it has an escalator up to the extension and a channel with two roll-ins (one about 4' higher than the coping and the other a couple feet higher than that). I climb up to the smaller roll-in and almost nut up to drop in but end up with only a vaginal flare-up. I go and drop in off the extension to try to make myself feel better.
I decide to get out of the heat before I collapse and go and find a nice piece of shade. I sit and watch my Bro working on a quarterpipe to quarterpipe step-up launch on the street course. He makes it of course. He attempts another & bites it on the landing and he's over it. 5 hours after we arrived we're outta there with smiles on our faces. Stoked. The only question is when do we go back . . . ?
Monday, KONA day 2:
We didn't learn our lesson the first time & showed up a bit before noon again. We planned on getting there right at 10 when they opened but Guitar Hero had other plans. Plus we had to wait for the lawn care aliens to leave. We roll past the monument again and see about 10 little skate rats on our beloved mini spine. there is a skate camp every morning from 9 am - 10 am and this is the aftermath. No big deal, there is a lot of park here. Ryan rents his gear again and it's $1.00 cheaper than the last time. Bonus. I leave the video cam in my bag cuz I just wanna skate untethered. Ryan is definitely not timid about rolling into the freestyle area today. We head to skate the mini spine as the kids have moved on. Squid-dick (my Bro is in the Navy) is looking real comfortable today and even jumps into a game of SKATE with some inline grommets. He thinks twice when he sees the first trick he has to do. He ends up jacking up his wrist and tells me he's done. As in done for the day. F.
We go inside and get a bag of ice for his wrist and sit on the disgusting ass-sweat saturated couch and drink fluids (no, not ass-sweat Dave) and watch the new Girl tour video. Awesome. We watch it again and then they throw in Almost Round 3. Ryan is floored by Mullen of course. He stands up and asks me if I'm ready to skate, cuz he is. I think he is joking. He's not. It's ON.
We go out to the street course and he starts hitting the quarterpipe step-up from the other day and gets it wired. I'm working on a bank to wall and ollieing a little pyramid. Squid-dick and our little rollerblade buddy decide they have to cruise up the bank and launch OVER the wall and land on the bank on the other side. It's Gnarly. The kid does it and I'm nervous for Bro about this one, but I have faith cuz he is gnarballs. He made it.
Ok time to get the video cam. I want to get him doing the step-up first and he nails it. Then he says he's going to try to 360 the step-up. I'm doubtful about him making it, but I KNOW he'll try it. He'll try damn near anything. He launches the 360 and comes into the landing ramp smooth as a newborn baby's ass. He tries it again. Same result. Perfect. As he's going for nbr 3 it starts to sprinkle, so we run up to the bowl as they're calling everyone into the clubhouse over the loudspeaker. We wanted to get some footage from inside the bowl before we left. I drop in but it's too late. On the 3rd wall my board shoots out from under me and I'm knee sliding down slippery tranny. We call it a day.
Tuesday, KONA day 3:
We decide we gotta hit the park again Tuesday morning before we drive down to Cocoa Beach to visit my parents. The weather has other plans, as the sky is filled with ominous clouds and the rain starts to fall. We dork around for most of the day and decide at last minute to drive to Cocoa the following day cuz the sun is shining and we gotta go back to KONA for a night sesh.
Squid-dick rents his gear again and is charged $1.00 less than the last time which was $1.00 less than the last time. Pretty soon it will be free. We head to the street area and Ryan goes off to hit his step-up jump and I go to the mini spine of course. On one of his attempts a skater had started toward the ramp Ryan was launching into from the opposite end of the street course. Two trains on a collision course. Ryan makes the landing and they just avoid each other. As Ryan is skating away the dude yells: "Hey, why don't u watch where the Fuck you're going!!". Ryan laughs and yells back: "Why don't YOU watch where the Fuck YOU'RE going!!". This guy actually argues that NOBODY does what Ryan just did so therefore he's wrong. What a dipshit. What do you mean nobody does that? He just did it. The kid (he's probably about 20) skates away grumbling. WTF??? We proceed to skate the mini and every time I take a run I run into Ryan on the deck and yell that he needs to watch where the F he's going. After doing this a couple times we start play-fighting and Bad Attitude Guy can't take this mocking behavior anymore. He skates over to us while we're fighting and he is livid. He actually launches his board at us but I don't see it because Bro's got me in a headlock punching me. Luckily his board misses us. Childish back and forth banter ensues and BAG says, "I'll kick both of your asses!". "YEAH???". We stare at each other and he goes away. Sheeesh. What a dork.
That was the only negative experience at KONA. We get our skate on, on the mini, and then head up to the Team Pain Butter Bowl for the footage we missed the day before. Then we hit the snake again of course.
While over in that area I realize I cannot leave this place without hitting what is probably the most recognizable KONA feature: The Tombstone. Essentially a huge bank to several feet of vert wall. It looks sketchy. I test it out and it definitely feels a bit sketchy at first to make a turn on it. After several attempts I'm feeling it and manage to get near grinding territory. No thanks. Not this day.
We meet a couple of cool skater kids who are watching us filming and want me to take some footage with their camera of Ryan launching over me into the snake run. Pretty soon they nut up and are laying on the ground so he can jump over them too. Oh, and Bad Attitude Guy came up and apologized about the "incident" earlier. He is not Bad Attitude Guy any longer. We shake and it's all good. Nice to leave w/ no bad vibes.
Ok the bottom line is KONA is just awesome. I thought about all you guys while I was skating and how you would be as stoked as I was to be at this place. It's a Legend. We didn't run into Buck Smith or see anyone tearing the place apart, but we did meet & skate with a bunch of cool kids and had a blast in the Florida oven. We absolutely have to take a Concretins trip here at some point. You won't be sorry. Florida is LOADED with killer parks.
The next day we head to Cocoa to meet up with my parents and overshoot our exit by about 40 miles cuz we're too busy running our mouths. Whatever, more time to rap. We finally arrive and Squid-dick jumps on the horn and is calling around to see where he can buy some decent skates cuz he's hooked again. We find him some killer skates and find a park called Paradise in Merritt Island that has indoor and outdoor areas as it has been raining. We get there and have about an hour a half to skate before they shut down for the night. We head to the indoor section and it really isn't my bag or Ryan's either, but it turns out to be a lot of fun. Wait a minute, what bag?? Skate everything right? We check out the outdoor area and it is huge, but puddled up. This place was also in the THGSPT. They got rained out here as well. Ryan is able to skate the outdoors a bit but we end up going back inside. We start to find a couple lines and get some footy until the cool manager has to kill the lights.
Friday, Cocoa Beach Skatepark:
Ok, I came here twice a couple years ago at Christmas time while visiting my parents and it was closed both days I tried to skate it (crazy winter and holiday hours). That's too bad, cuz as it turns out, this is definitely one of my favorite parks ever. Team Pain butter-crete. I love the way this place is laid out. Lots of possibilities here. The main "feature" is the Cradle which unfortunately I didn't spend enough time in it to get it wired. This place was semi-crowded with a lot of older rippers and some young guns as well who were fun to watch. You've probably heard the name Mark Lake before, as in Lake Skateboards. Well, I didn't see Mark there but his brother Mike was there skating. 55 years old and still going strong. Awesome.
I started getting some footage of these guys and my Bro says he wants to try out my board. Go for it. I watch him skate sketchily down the sidewalk, smile on my face. I continue filming and look over after a while to see Ryan getting a skate class from some little 10 year old looking kid who is teaching him to roll down flat banks. Alright! I go over to film his baby steps. Pretty soon he is skating down a pretty sizeable bank, kickturning on the banks and he even pulls his first "trick", a rock fakie on a berm bump. I'm stoked and so is he. He can't stop smiling and he's got "the look" in his eyes. Shouldn't have bought them rollerblades. I take him over to the 4' mini to teach him how to pump which he picks right up and soon he's trying to tail tap the coping. I give him my vans as he is doing all this in Crocs. He wants to drop in. Ruh Roh. Myself and some little skate rats give him some instruction and he goes for it. He doesn't stomp it and ends up going down the transition in a manual. He hits the flat and the board shoots out from underneath him and he falls backward onto his back and head. I'm freaked out cuz it looked BAD, but he seems to be ok. Just a bit shaken up and a possible fractured wrist. No big deal. He goes back to pumping. He's gonna be ripping.
It's getting dark and the place has pretty much cleared out as it's getting near closing time. We've been there close to 4 hours and now have the place pretty much to ourselves except for a couple other kids. I figure out a line to work on so I can get some footage from this place. It takes about 20 tries but I finally get it done. Even though it's past closing, the cats who run the place are cool enough to let us finish what we started. I love this place.
That's a wrap. That's the skating portion of what was without a doubt one of THE BEST weeks of my life. My Bro and I did a ton of other cool stuff as well, but it would take a year to write about all that and you've probably already fallen asleep trying to make it thru this novel anyway.
I'm gonna say it again (and again and again when I see you all). We GOTTA take a Florida trip.