If you ignore all the cliché jokes about road trips, they really do refresh your outlook and generate stories that will be told long after everyone is out of jail and the tickets are paid off. It was high time that we got off our collective asses and hit the road for a weekend of skating and of course fine malted beverages. I successfully recruited three of my stalwart skating companions: Kevin, Jason and Cousin Dave, to accompany me on a return pilgrimage to lovely Fresno California. As luck would have it, we were also able to meet up with Rene from Sacrifice and Nick from Broken Magazine.
The ride to Fresno after work on Friday night was the usual joyride of loud music, refreshing road sodas and of course, getting lost. As usual, the 'new way' Kevin wanted to go had us missing the exit we needed and forced us to do the always annoying backtracking. Luckily David and I were there to serenade him with the soothing sounds of a Tenacious D sing-along, powered by Anheiser Busch.
We finally found our way to Fresno and the dive motel we had agreed upon as our base of operations. Rene and Nick were already there warming up the place and we wasted no time in breaking out every lie, half-truth and tall tale we could remember. Luckily I brought along my stash of videotapes to prove some of the more colorful events that were fortunately caught on tape. (Look for these in the first Poolrider video, if I ever get around to making it). The lights burned bright late into the night until we could take no more and finally called it quits.
The next morning saw our ragged crew extricating itself from the shabby motel room to face the bright summer sun. We rolled to Denny's for what would soon be known as 'a mistake'. The venerable Vagabond was our next stop to warm up and meet Peacock and Valerie, our generous tour guides. The session started with a head full of steam despite the punishment we had dealt to our livers the night before.
This is where my denny's mistake comes into play. I had been riding for about 30 minutes when a delayed reaction hangover struck with a vengeance. In retrospect all I can surmise is that the greasy food I had consumed earlier was causing a violent reaction both in my digestive tract and cranium. Even the cool, dirty concrete in the shade could not offer relief from the demons trying to kick their way out of my stomach and head. As I lay there contemplating my next move, the crew decided to saddle up and move on to Hogan's. I dragged myself to the car just as they were preparing to leave me behind.
Hogan's Blue Haven beauty is a sight to behold, except for today. The surface of this pool is one of the best ever, but it is also bright white. Add a generous dose of high noon sunshine and its like you are standing in a solar oven. Not wanting the toxic residual in my sweat to burst into flames from the heat and light I retreated to the comfortable looking hammock adjacent to the shallow. This sets the stage for mistake number two.
The hammock provided a great vantage point for watching the session while allowing me to lie down, perfect, or so I thought. About halfway through our stay, the rope holding the end of the hammock closest my aching head could no longer support my bloated carcass and broke. Down I crashed on to the cement, ass first, neck whip lashing followed by the hollow thud of my hard head making contact. Thanks to my supportive friends I was rewarded with a rousing burst of laughter as I lay immobile on the ground. I had slammed hard without even taking a run, wonderful. I congratulated myself with some ibuprofen and a cold beer on my aching neck, victory was mine, nobody could match that! The session continued until the sun had wreaked its vengeance on all foolish enough to scoff at its powers. We hit the road to the next pool.
The Okie bowl is a Blue Haven permission situated in the yard of some very accommodating hillbillies. Cigarettes and beer were the E tickets for this ride. Due to the heat, our friends from Deliverance had partially filled the pool to cool themselves. The pump was summoned and we got down to the business of telling more lies and further dehydrating ourselves with beer as the water was moved. At this point a gopher displaced by the flood of water into the yard caught the attention of aspiring Quarterback Peacock, who tried to engage him in a game of catch. Check Hessian Sessions to see Peacock's incredible form. By this time I was getting my second wind, or maybe it was just the soothing numbness of the Beechwood aging.
The pool dried quickly in the afternoon sun and we were soon sessioning. This pool had been resurfaced with a layer of fiberglass and it made for a surprisingly fast, sometimes slippery ride. On top of that it also produced a unique sound as someone rode, almost like a dull roar. Everyone started putting together the dots and soon the deathbox was the focus of the session. Josh whipped up a super fast backside line that Nick picked up on and Kevin got it frontside with me trailing way behind, determined to get it before leaving. As soon as I rode away clean I was assaulted with a barrage of beer cans and other debris as it signaled that it was time to go. We headed down the street for one of the many cheap and generous taco shops the central valley is known for, even more stoked to be able to provide our own beverages for the feast. We finished off the rest of the daylight at the Vagabond, enjoying a mellow session with some other locals before the ride home.