I'm diving in to the blogosphere...or maybe I should say that I'm taking my first "drop in" into the world of blogging and I'm hoping to drop in from the parent lounge whenever I take my son, Sk8terdude, to different skateparks around the country.
A drop-in, for those of you who don't skate (or don't have kids who skate), starts with the skater perched over the edge of a quarter- or half-pipe. The skater puts his/her weight on the back of the board, back wheels against the downward slope, the front of the board suspended in mid-air. Slamming the front foot down onto the board (and, hence, the board onto the slope), the skater drops onto the pipe and skates.
Here's a youtube video that shows exactly how to drop in on a skateboard (parents, don't try this at home!). And, no, that's NOT Sk8terdude. He's in the photo at the top of this blog.
It's an apt metaphor. Sitting in front of the screen, I do feel like I'm suspended in mid-air. If I succeed, plenty of skateboarding parents will find and read this blog. And if no one finds it, reads it, and enjoys it, well, then I guess I'm the skater who failed miserably and landed on my rear.
Today is February 6th and I'm writing from the parent lounge at Drop In Skatepark in Hillburn, New York. If you've never heard of Hillburn before this, join the club. It's located near (in?) Suffern - at the northern New Jersey border where it meets New York. Like so many others, this skatepark is warehoused in an industrial park near a highway - not exactly a tourist destination - and it is colder and dingier inside than most. This is our second trip to Drop In, more than an hour from our Connecticut home, but our former winter favorite, Vertigo Skatepark in Brookfield, Connecticut, closed its doors for good a few months ago. Today our choices were limited: drive here and skate for the afternoon, or wait until evening and skate in North Haven. Since tomorrow's a school day for Sk8terdude, the trip to Hillburn won the toss based on time slot. I didn't want him to begin skating at 4:30 p.m. and at Haven the BMX bikers rule the park on Sunday afternoons.
The parent lounge here is larger than most. Painted an interesting shade of green, with bright blue trim, it holds a motley collection of discarded sofas, tables, and armchairs, a dirty carpet, and a television which seems to be set permanently on "1000 Ways to Die." In other words, a decorating choice based primarily on what would appeal most to a group of teenage boys. The promised free-wifi is not working properly. Fortunately for me a skater-dad (not to be confused with Sk8terdad, the father of Sk8terdude, who managed to avoid this trip by volunteering to stay home with OlderBrother) graciously allowed me to join an ad hoc network he created by tethering his laptop to his iPhone. (Okay, I don't really know what that means, except that thanks to him I have internet access!)
The highlight of my first trip to Drop In (and yes, this is tongue-in-cheek) had to be the bathroom. Most skatepark bathrooms are, well, nasty. Let's face it - a bunch of sweaty (mostly) boys racing in and out of the bathroom doesn't lend itself to sparkling clean. Some skateparks have a second bathroom for women or for parents. At Drop In, the guy at the front desk was nice enough to offer me the use of the employee bathroom....and then he apologized for the soft-porn decorations on the walls! It was certainly eye-opening...not sure if I'll revisit the experience this time around.
One of the nicer (for real) features at Drop In are the three large windows (6' x 3' or so) that look out over the park. Except for one small corner in the back, most of the park floor is visible from the windows, so parents can keep an eye on younger skaters. The park is set up like a street course - ramps, rails, stair sets, etc. - with no bowl. During the skate session the park is a mix of skateboarders, inline skaters, and scooters. Most of the skaters are teens or older. Sk8terdude is one of the younger boys out there today.
BTW - Sk8terdude is skating on a Creature board with hollow Thunder trucks and Speed Demons wheels. He's in DC shoes. He thinks he looks pretty darn awesome! (Of course, I agree.)
On the television, we've just reached "way to die #435" and I'm wondering if dying of boredom in a skatepark parent lounge is one of the 434 they haven't yet covered....
Guess that's my cue to end this post.
Next stop - either Skater's Edge in Taunton, MA or Greenside Skatepark in Middletown, RI. I've promised Sk8terdude a road trip during February break, and the Elemental Awareness tour will be in RI that week, so we're debating the pros and cons of both trips...
[postscript: After I logged off my laptop but before we left Drop In, I decided to use the bathroom. After all, it's a long ride home! I was pleasantly surprised to note that there is a new staff restroom and it does not include the previous wall-candy. It may not have been clean, but at least it wasn't "dirty" - if you get my drift! And for those of you who read the earlier paragraph and immediately decided that therefore Drop In would have to be on your to-do list, I guess you'll have to bring your own "reading material." I hear the articles in Playboy are quite well-written...]