Skatecation in the Pacific Northwest

Every year two epic skate battles go down outside of the great cities of Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. Push in the Woods is held outside of Portland while the Centennial Sk8 Festival is held just north of Seattle in Arlington, Washington. The Pacific Northwest skatecation started out with a nice long layover in San Francisco. Our friend, Skank, picked us up from the airport and we headed over to the beach. I jumped in right away, since the last time I had seen the Pacific was on a cross country road trip in 5th grade. The weather was great and we were wishing for a little more time there, but flights don’t wait so on to Portland we went.

Eric makes a joyous leap before plunging into the Pacific.

Eric makes a joyous leap before plunging into the Pacific.

Chillin in San Francisco.

Chillin in San Francisco.

The first weekend of longboarding kicked off with the Push in the Woods, where there was a 5K and 10K on a converted rail trail in Banks, Oregon. Tina raced in the 5k and I took part in both. The competition was fierce this year and Joe Mazzone really had a breakout performance. Our fellow plant eaters Will and Max Frank as well as Harrison Tucker also showed how much they had improved. Robin always puts on a great event, and everyone went home with a prize from the raffle.

Start of the 5k, getting ready to rock and roll!

Start of the 5k, getting ready to rock and roll!

After the race we went to one of Portland’s famous food cart locales, the Mississippi Marketplace. We ordered some tasty, soulful treats from the Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ Food Truck, and got a vegan deep dish. It was food heaven!  Portland is one of the Mecca’s of the vegan world. We made it to Vtopia, a vegan cheese shop and deli. We got an amazing cheese plate that rivaled its dairy counterpart. And a shoutout to Harvest at the Bindery for having such amazing, artful food for an incredible price.

Delectable vegan cheese!

Delectable vegan cheese!

While in PDX we had the pleasure of staying with my cousin and her awesome family. They were so accommodating, their kids are a blast and Charlie is always great for performance and nutrition tips.

Kieren future Piccasso and Iron Chef.

Kieren, future Picasso and Iron Chef.

On our way to Seattle, we made a pitstop at Mt. Rainier, an active volcano that may be overdue to erupt. The Grove of the Patriarchs trail led us through Rainier’s epic old growth forest of towering pines. We continued our journey and made camp near Sunrise. A nice little hike up Burroughs took us into the clouds for the bluest sunset I had ever seen. We ate at one of the glacier overlooks and then retired to our tent. We awoke to the somewhat unfortunate sound of rain. We had planned an epic sunrise hike but were met by a ranger who told us that over half an inch of rain was expected that day. We made the most of it though, having a lazy morning with pancakes made on the camp stove. Calling our camp trip a little early, we ventured north towards Seattle.

Campin in the rain. This tent kept us dry and the sound of rain was quite nice.

Campin in the rain. This tent kept us dry and the sound of rain was quite nice.

Backcountry cooking!

Backcountry cooking!

Leaving the mountains on our journey towards Seattle.

Leaving the mountains on our journey towards Seattle.

Our friend Hanna was living near Green Lake, the site of great LDP history. We explored the area and hit up a vegan diner. Our next host was the infamous Clark! We had some west coast tea ceremonies, took the motorcycle out for a ride while wearing a wetsuit, and did some boat wake surfing. It was a lot to handle before the Arlington races, but we were just there to have a good time.

About to go on a wild ride with laughter hiding my fear.

About to go on a wild ride with laughter hiding my fear.

The Centennial Sk8 Festival kicked off with a 5k and this year also featured  a Cape Race, Slide Jam and 90 second obstacle course. The main event though was the 1 mile race held that night under the city lights. The roads had just about dried when the heavens decided to make the race course a whole lot trickier. This race is one of a few push races that has a technical downhill section. There is a hard left at the bottom of a hill and this year there was a bit of a pile up with the slick conditions. There weren’t any hard feelings and we all hit up the pool for some shenanigans later. Over a dozen met up at the Best Western and we were having swim races and breath holding contests. A few people had gopros which made for some more antics. While we had all travelled hundreds of miles to race, it was awesome to just hang out with a bunch of cool people. The longboarding community is so down to earth and embracing and I think that’s what keeps us coming back.

Sunday was the half marathon and it was a pretty epic race. Will and I tried to break away a little before the turnaround point but were slowly reeled in by Joe and his draft train. Reunited with about 4 miles to go, the pace line got tight and I nicked Will’s wheel, sending me flying and Harrison and Joe in the carnage. Joe caught a bit of a break however as his board continued to roll along the path. I fared slightly worse with my board running a bit into the grass. Harrison kinda got screwed as his board ended up in a ditch. We all battled back though and Joe actually went on to win. It’s amazing how our times keep improving on these courses as we come back each year. It definitely shows the progression of the sport and our commitment to becoming true athletes.

Joe, already too fast for the camera and competition!

Joe, already too fast for the camera and competition!

This is one of my favorite trips to do year after year. The Pacific Northwest offers so much with well laid out bike lanes and rail trails as well as some pretty epic hiking. This is also where the distance scene started to take off and continues to grow. All and all, a very gnartastic trip…shralp on folks.

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