Thursday, February 23, 2012

SkatePark of Tampa - Day 3

It's almost a wrap.

With one afternoon left before our flight home, we are back at SPoT for a final session, despite Sk8terdude's hacking cough, possible low fever, and probable ear infection.  ("No, really, Mom!  I swear I'm - hack, hack, cough, cough - just fine to skate.)

I'm sure Sk8terdude has a headache and I know I do.  After two days with the music turned down (thank you, thank you, Alex), today I am cursed not only with loud music but also with an interminable soundcheck.  (Dude, the speakers are working.  You can stop shouting "check, check, check, 1-2, check, check, check" into the microphone!)

We're only going to be here for two more hours.  Can't this wait?  (Okay, I know the world - especially the skateboarding world - doesn't revolve around me.  But wouldn't it be great for me if it did???)  Even the guy delivering Red Bull looked annoyed...

Admittedly, I'm a little cranky.  Not only was I up half the night thanks to Sk8terdude's coughing, just as he settled down, the guy in the NEXT room started snoring and, no joke, I couldn't sleep because it was so loud!  As a result, I've given up on getting any work done today, but I thought I would make an attempt at a wrap-up post about lessons we've learned in Tampa.

1.  When calling ahead to ask if there is a parent lounge, be specific.  I should have asked if there are actual CHAIRS, rather than a picnic table.  My back is killing me!  (Yeah, I'm getting old.)

2.  When calling ahead to ask if there is a parent lounge, ask if it's temperature controlled.  (You would think I had learned that lesson after freezing my *(Y&(*^ off in New Jersey, which I wrote about here, but apparently I didn't.)  Fortunately, the weather has been wonderful and the fans, noisy as they are, keep this room reasonably comfortable.  But if it were another 5° warmer, I would have been in trouble.

OMG - I JUST REMEMBERED THAT I HAVE A PAIR OF FLENTS (those little squishy purple earplugs) IN MY PURSE.  It's still really loud in here, but that's MUCH better!!!

3.  Always carry earplugs!

4.  Rely on sources other than the skatepark when looking for lodging.  SPoT has a great list of hotels in the area on their website.  And if I were a 20-something guy looking to spend a few days in the area, I might have been happy to stay in any of those hotels.  Fortunately, I logged into TripAdvisor and asked on the Tampa forum and was warned that this might not be the neighborhood to stay in as a mom travelling with a child.  I'm glad I listened.  We stayed out in Brandon, which was an easy 15 minute drive and a world away from SPoT:  lots of restaurants, shopping, and a Starbucks all around the corner from our hotel!

5.  Always ask about the ingredients in the sandwich bread before ordering lunch.  (Okay, that one might not help the rest of you.)

6.  Be prepared to spend money.  Sk8terdude is going home with a SPoT deck and hat to add to his collection:

Thanks for everything, Tampa!  We had a great trip.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

SkatePark of Tampa - Day 2

Another day, another dollar - spent in Tampa, that is...

Since the skatepark STILL isn't open before noon (don't they read this blog????  lol), we started our morning at the Florida Aquarium.  They open at 9:30 a.m., so we arrived at the parking lot at 9:20, ready to park and walk over to the building, only to learn that even the parking lot doesn't open before 9:30!  (Really?  Yes, really.)

Several shark sightings later

we were on our way to the skatepark, with a quick stop for lunch at The Bricks, the SPoT-owned cafe/bar in Ybor City (check out the awesome pressed-tin ceiling if you go).

Delicious lunch, despite the near-death experience (okay, not their fault I have a fatal allergy and, fortunately, I asked to see the ingredients in the whole grain bread before I actually bit into my sandwich).  Sk8terdude enjoyed the hummus, pita, and veggies and took a PB&J to go in case he got hungry this afternoon.  I loved my "Elvis" sandwich (after they switched things up and gave it to me on bread I could eat without dying):  peanut butter, banana, honey, and bacon.  Yeah, it sounds awful.  But that Elvis sure knew what he was doing!

The owners of SPoT and The Bricks, ought to do a better job (IMHO) of cross-promotion.  Since they don't have any food at SPoT, except when the snack shop is open for special events and not counting the vending machine, why not post a Bricks menu at SPoT, and hire a "runner" to bring food over from the cafe for hungry skaters.  Believe me, I would gladly have paid a small delivery fee to get something healthy to eat yesterday afternoon.  Or, if that seems like too much trouble, print up a small map with a coupon ($2 off any entree?) and hand them out to skaters who ask about food options nearby.  Yesterday I heard someone ask about food and the guy working the register at SPoT sent him around the corner to 50th Street to find something.  Really?  It's called marketing, people!  Sending skaters to competing restaurants makes no sense to me!

But I digress...

It's Wednesday, which means BMX-day at SPoT.  Mid-afternoon a handful of teenage boys have arrived with their bikes (as usual, there are no girls to be seen).  While they work the street course in the beginner room (the one I can see from the picnic table), Sk8terdude is working the half-pipe just outside.  He's determined to drop in from the top....14 feet!...before the day is over, alhtough it looks to me like he's not quite there.  Yesterday one of the guys here told him he needs to be able to get himself as high as the Red Bull logo before he can try dropping in.

He's just about there, and if we were staying in Tampa a few more days I think he would make it, but I'm not sorry we're heading home tomorrow.  I don't think my stomach could take it!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

SkatePark of Tampa - Day 1

We flew into Tampa last night.  Although it's been a relatively mild winter at home, we were delighted to walk out of the terminal into a glorious evening:  sun setting over the gulf (no, we couldn't see it, just knew it was out there somewhere to the west) and clear skies at a balmy 63°F or so.  With the hotel directions set in the phone app, we picked up our economy car ("Mom, it's so small!) and headed onto the highway.  One wrong hotel later (phone app sent us to the right chain in the wrong location), we arrived, checked in, and headed back out for a fabulous Thai dinner at a local restaurant.  Sk8terdude was begging to head to SPoT to start skating, but I reminded him that he was still on restricted activities and he would just have to wait one more day...

This morning he was up bright and early and eager to get a start.  Unfortunately for him, SPoT opens at noon during the week except during school vacations and, although it is our school vacation time, Florida operates on a different schedule.

So we took a side trip to the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach where we saw manatees.  Or, should I say we saw PARTS of manatees.  A flipper here, a tail there, an occasional snout or back cresting above the no point was it possible to see a manatee in its entirety.  But that's okay.  We had a great time, enjoyed an hour or so in incredibly beautiful weather, and then turned back north to find our way to SPoT.

With five minutes to spare before they opened, we were here.

And precisely at noon, the magic door opened wide.  After one signed waiver and a swipe of the credit card, Sk8terdude was skating and I was settled, not so happily, in the parent lounge - by which I mean at the picnic table:

Don't get me wrong, it's a perfectly lovely picnic table.  It's in the shade.  It's near a working outlet.  It's conveniently located next to the vending machine.  The free wifi is working.  And from the table I have views of one part of the skatepark

and (looking outside) part of the giant half-pipe.

And now that they've turned down the music (at my request), I can almost hear myself think.  Almost.  But with that big garage door open to the outside, it's a little toasty in here - even with the giant fans that add to the cacophony...

It could be worse.  It could be snowing.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Well-founded Worry

Last week I talked about Sk8terdude and his friend and my concern that their typical boy banter would turn into trouble at the skatepark.  Turns out my concern was well-founded (although, admittedly, this could have happened even if he had been skating on his own).

Sk8terdude was working on the wall ride at Second Nature when the wall "rode him" instead of the other way around.  Thankfully he was - as always - wearing a helmet.  But even with the helmet, he came home with a mild concussion, and our plan to head to SkatePark of Tampa next week was in serious jeopardy.

The good news is that yesterday we were given clearance (by the doctor) to go to Tampa.

Look out we come!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Double the Trouble and Double the Fun at 2nd Nature

This morning Sk8terdude and I picked up one of his friends and we took the drive - the long drive - back to 2nd Nature in Peekskill, reminding me why we need an indoor skatepark closer to home!  It's 31°F and snow flurries are blowing on this blustery day, so I am thankful for somewhere warm to sit while they skate, but, SERIOUSLY, the distance is really getting to me.

I was glad to have Sk8terbuddy along for the ride.  The boys are the same age and share a similar obsession with skateboarding, skateboarders, and skateboarding videos.  They are equally determined to get sponsored (the ultimate prize for tween skateboarders everywhere) and their discussion in the car was amusing in its own mind-numbing way:

Sk8terdude:  "Hey, did you see skater x do trick y at skatepark z?"

Sk8terbuddy:  "Yeah!  That was sick.  Did you see skater a do trick b and skatepark c?"

Sk8terdude:  "Yeah!  That was cool."

Sk8terbuddy:  "How much longer until we're there?"

This was repeated - ad nauseum - for most of the ride.  But at one point the boys started talking about their own tricks, and I must admit I started paying a little more attention.  What began as a fairly benign cataloguing of their recent accomplishments (hey, I landed the wall-ride - me, too) slowly started to sound like the competitive one-upmanship that frequently occurs between any two boys (can you backside/tailslide the quarter-pipe? - yeah, can you?) and quickly that deteriorated into the type of challenge (you should try this - yeah, you should try that) that, in my experience, often leads to someone getting hurt...and that someone is, more often than not, MY someone.

I tried to step in with some motherly advice.

"Boys, you know, today isn't a competition.  The idea is to go have fun together at the skatepark.  You're each going to learn different tricks at different times, and that's fine.  You don't have to try something just because someone else says so...and you don't have to try anything you're not ready to do."

The disdainful silent response from the back seat was palpable.

So here we are, at 2nd Nature, again.  I'm typing in the parent lounge.  The boys are skating in the park.  I'm afraid to look!