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indiana

Circa 2000 (no pay at the pump!)

Ahh the Midwest. It’s really a hard place to avoid if you want to get to one coast from another by car, so it’s fitting I would hit all these states on my first cross-country trip in 2000, and have been back many times since.

21. Ohio

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Cleveland rocks!

For a long time Ohio was a drive thru state, but during my two-month stint in Chicago, I ended up in Kent for a video premiere. I ended up making friends there, and subsequently spending a decent amount of time in Akron and Ravenna. Random.

22.    Indiana

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Definitely a drive-thru state, in fact, it’s pretty hard to avoid, but there are a few notable things for me here. The first would be the Whiting skatepark, which we hit up while I was living in Chicago. Second, and more importantly, would be the marquee sign in Gary that still reads, “Jackson Five Appearing Tonight.” I’ve actually stopped on multiple occasions to photograph it.

23.    Illinois

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I was an Illinois resident for two months, living on the west side of Chicago, right off the blue line. My bedroom was tiny and parking was a pain; needless to say I didn’t last long. But Chicago still has some of my favorite food in the country, including Sultan’s Market (incredible falafel), Margie’s Candies, and Cold Comfort, an incredible Jewish deli with the best latkes, ever.

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Circa 2000

My first cross country road trip, right after my Freshman year of college at PSC in the year 2000, took me to a ton of new states, so many in fact, I am breaking them into two posts. I’ve also been back to each of these states many times and they are big, and unavoidable (also CO has good snowboarding.)

24. Iowa

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Dexter, IA. Circa 2006

I spent a night in Ames, a college town USA, a college town that could have been anywhere, but just happened to be in the middle of Iowa. On the same trip I skated the Council Bluffs skatepark where I found it highly entertaining to ask people if there were in emo bands and sing Bright Eyes songs at the top of my lungs.

25. Nebraska

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Omaha City Center. Circa 2005

On my first ever cross-country trip, some friends had done the trek a week before us. They left us a “present” in Kearny, NB, a nothing town right off I-80. Behind the “welcome to Kearny sign” we found leftover pizza from Chicago with our names on it. Since then I’ve stopped in Omaha and realized there was nothing there, and mostly just driven straight across.

26. Colorado

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The money shot. Vail. Circa 2007

On my first cross-country voyage we attempted to drive straight to Denver from Vermont. We almost made it too (minus a few hours sleeping during a torrential downpour in Iowa.) Colorado is cool, although the altitude kills me and I have a constant headache. But there is a Wahoo’s in Denver, and fun riding at Breck, Aspen and Vail. Nice place to visit for sure.

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I know, I know, these two states are NOT TOUCHING, and technically I think I drove though one of them on a different trip first, but it was my cross country drive in 2001 when I first stopped to skateboard in them each. I went back to Wisconsin a few years later while living in Chicago to skateboard, and went back on an epic South Dakota adventure with Sarah Morrison in February 2006, but as far as the order of initial visit, this is where they’ve ended up.

#28 South Dakota


I love South Dakota. Maybe I just have a thing for states with South in the name, but it’s honestly my favorite state to drive through. The black hills are insane; there are caves, presidents carved in mountains, and the Badlands. Oh and the signs for Wall Drug never get old (ok, they do.) But my best SD memory was the night Sarah and I stayed in Wall. It was Superbowl Sunday and we went to one of the two bars in town where everyone thought we were the greatest thing ever. The owner was pouring us free drinks and the locals were inviting us to party, and stay, at their houses. We ended up staying at a Days Inn right off the freeway, but it was definitely a highlight of that trip.

# 29 Wisconsin

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Racine Skatepark. Circa 2001

There is an amazing outlet mall here, and gas stations sell delicious cheese curds. I guess other than roadside attractions, Wisconsin is memorable for me because of the skateparks: Four Seasons in Milwaukee and a few in Podunk little towns alongside lake Michigan.

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Circa 2001

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Cow skull lawn ornament

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Roadway Not Maintained

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skatepark-map

Before I got bored with driving cross country, I managed to take just about every route possible, mostly to hit various skateparks for the above map. The first trip that took me through the states of MI, MN and ND in 2002 also involved Canada for a trip to the Millennium skatepark in Calgary, a passenger who learned to drive standard a few days before and had brought $17 total with him (but he had some Canadian money too!) It didn’t, however, involve many photos (or it did and I just can’t find them), so for this installment, you’ll just have to enjoy my exciting tales about each state. Don’t worry, you’re not missing much visually.

State # 30: Michigan

I’ve never made it to the UP, but I did spend a night in Ann Arbor, where I wasn’t allowed to go to the bars. You see, my friend Erica used my ID, and this was her college town, so she didn’t want to risk it by letting the real me try to drink anywhere. I think we ate at Pita Pit that night.

State #31: Minnesota

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I’ll admit it; the main reason I went to Minnesota was to go to the Mall of America. Twice. On this trip though, we also skated a park in downtown Minneapolis, which was mediocre at best (but they were in the process of moving it.) MOA is totally not that exciting, just a huge building with an indoor Ferris wheel and really big versions of the same stores you find everywhere else.

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MOA trip # 2 in 2005 with the Internet’s Sarah Morrison

State # 32: North Dakota

The first thing I did in North Dakota was eat at the Mcdonald’s in Fargo. They really do have those accents like the movie, as well as the least extensive Mcdonald’s menu I’ve ever seen. We headed north from I-94 to cross the Canadian border and were searched for a solid hour by people who didn’t understand why we’d be at that desolate crossing at 2 am, headed to Calgary. On a side note, I have never seen more hunting magazines on a single newsstand than in ND.

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Circa 2002

I hit the I-70 stretch on a road trip from Bellingham to Vermont for summer vacation. I recruited Orion to make it an epic skate mission, and then Malcolm signed on because he needed a ride to Boston. This was during my artsy black and white phase, so you’ll have to excuse these photos as they were scanned from a contact sheet as no one owns a film scanner anymore apparently.

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Kansas

We skated a couple parks in Kansas on the way across I-70. I honestly don’t remember the names, but I do remember bonding with a boy from Kansas years later over the fact that I had been to one of them.

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Missouri

On this trip we only did a quick tourist stop in St. Louis, but I actually spent the night in Kansas City years later. On that trip we ended up at Bucca di Beppo in downtown KC, which really could have been any city. But it wasn’t, it was in Missouri! Oh, I also was floored by the Columbia skatepark and can add Columbia to my list of college towns USA, which we skated on our 2002 odyssey.

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Kentucky

I rerouted our drive several hundred miles to hit the Louisville skatepark, only to have it rain shortly after we got there. But I made it back years later when I was living in Chicago. We decided to drive there at 5 PM one night, got there at midnight, skated until 5 am, slept for a few hours and then skated again until we were almost dead. If I ever wanted to be a skate bum. Louisville would be on the top of my list.

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Circa: 2004

I made it to AZ with skateboarding in mind. It was February, I had little to do with my life, and a friend living in Flagstaff. As it turns out, it’s freezing in Flag in February, but we did make it to Phoenix to skate some of the perfect concrete parks. I later hit Flagstaff in the summer, another notch on my list of random college towns that could be anywhere list.

Please note: At this point in the story I was still shooting this weird stuff called film so photos are somewhat limited.

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Jeff, my host and fellow nerd.

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The have this Canyon there, it’s somewhat grand.

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Roadside attractions

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circa 2005

State #37: North Carolina

My time here was spent on the Outer Banks, a hurricane-ravaged strip of beach with tons of random mini ramps and bowls. We stayed in a 4-story rental house and skated Wanchese, as well as some other sand covered mini ramps as part of an SG trip.

State # 38: South Carolina

I love South Carolina. I’m not talking about South of the Border, but real SC. I was somewhat over my hellacious trip for SG when we rolled into John’s Island, a small town outside of Charleston. This is the home of the legendary hanger bowl, which we skated as well as the clamshell bowl in the middle of the woods and an indoor birch mini. We stayed in Folly Beach in a really nice Holiday Inn right on the ocean, and I am pretty sure this is where I developed my affinity for staying in nice hotels. My time in SC also saved the trip.

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circa 2005

Yes, you are right, these two states are no where near each other. But I hit them both on the same road trip, so deal with it.

State #39: West Virginia

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West Virginia is one state I sort of feel like I didn’t experience. I have only been there once, and only to the little skinny top part. I think we stopped for gas, just so I felt ok about checking it off the list, but no amazing moonshine stories or anything to share here.

State # 40: New Mexico

My cousin lives in NM, so when Sarah Morrison was moving back to California for the 2nd time, we made it a point to drive through and stay there. She lived in Taos, in a small adobe shack with plants growing through the walls. We learned about the difference between “red” and “green” chilies, but more importantly partied with a frightening sub-sect of people Sarah dubbed “whippies,” a.k.a. White Trash Hippies.


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Circa 2006

For a while I claimed I’d been to Texas when I’d really only been to the airport. But then I started having to go there for work and I’ve since been to Austin, San Antonio and Dallas. I don’t hate it as much as I think I should, as it is the home of Dubyah. In fact, I sort of like Texas, spare the weird frontage roads and the chiggers.