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Get in the Van 2 – The Road to Albuquerque w/Stephen Vaughn

Words: Stephen Vaughn —- Photos: Kevin Carlton

The middle of February is not exactly a time when Vancouver is blessed with a mild climate. In order to escape the unrelenting snow storms, The Eh Team loaded up the van in search of sunnier pastures. In the van was Billy Bones, Nick “Peanut Butter” Hurley, Troy Grenier, Nick “Landyachtz Bad Boy” Breton, and team filmers Guff and Dan. On the cruise down the coast, they picked up the photographer for the trip, Kevin Carlton. Those guys boogied all the way down the West Coast until they hit LA, where Steven Vera and myself hopped in the van.

We spent the next couple of days filming around Los Angeles, stacking clips for Get In The Van 2. On the first day, we went deep into the San Gabriel mountains to session a beautiful downhill bank. Lots of tricks were landed, and fun was had by all.

The next day was a classic Malibu Sunday where we sessioned various steep hairpin corners and hit some classic Malibu canyon runs. The dry roads offering a well-earned reprieve from the Canadian Winter.

On Monday, we decided to have a beach day with the new ATV series boards. We took the crew down to Manhattan Beach to slash some steep alleys and pathways. We all took some hard slams, but somehow mustered up the energy to head back to the Landyachtz Warehouse for some beers and a mini ramp session.

The mini ramp that now calls the Landyachtz warehouse home spent its first 5 years of life at Skate House Media. Since the skatehouse landlord finally decided to give the boys the boot, we moved the ramp to Landyachtz, where it lives a good life of getting shredded each and every day, without any neighbors to spoil the fun.

The session lasted well into the night, which looking back, was a terrible idea considering the 12 hour drive to Albuquerque we would be making the next day.

Still stiff and sore from the day before, we loaded up the van as full as we could and took off for Albuquerque at 7AM sharp.

Of course, what is normally a 12 hour trip is only compounded by a phenomenon known as “Van Time,” in which the time it takes to complete a road-based journey is grown exponentially in relation to how many people are in the vehicle, and how long the drive is.

Considering that we had 8 people in the van for what is normally a 12 hour drive, it’s safe to say that it took much, much longer

To stretch the legs, we stopped about 2 hours into our trip to skate an abandoned water park “Rock-A-Hula” a skateboard Oasis in the middle of a literal desert.

While Dan got the crucial drone shots of the area, Kevin, Steven, and myself went Chasing Rooftops on an old water tower and got a good look of what we would soon be skating.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much when we pulled up to this place. It looked more like a bombed-out nuclear test facility than a place we would find good skate terrain. But of course, I was dead wrong. The park was absolutely FILLED with unique features and discarded water slides that we could move around to create our own spots. Let me tell ya, you haven’t lived until you’ve 50-50’d down the edge of a water slide into the flatbottom of a drained pool.

For the next 3 hours we got our fill of tricks, and slams. Stair gaps, and water slide create-a-spots. As fun as it was, it really made the rest of the trip that much worse, as we sat in the back of the van cramping up while listening to Peanut Butters terrible freestyling.

One-by-one we all fell asleep until finally, we pulled into our Albuquerque hotel at 5 in the morning. What is normally a 12 hour trip, turned into a 22 hour one. Yep, that’s van-time for ya. MAJOR shoutout to Billy, he handled that drive like a boss.

After resting up for a few hours, we met up with ABQ locals, James West and Ross Porter at the top of our first ditch. We spent the rest of the day shuttling runs via Uber, taking it REAL chill. This was our recovery and spot scouting day. Tomorrow we’d be really jumping in and getting things started.

Only about half of the van had ever been to Albuquerque before. I myself had never been. I had only heard tales of the glory that is ABQ ditches. A dozen of them, scattered across the city, all of them being 3 miles of downhill bank perfection with multiple skate spots littered along the length.

Even after hearing all the stories, I had no idea just how drastically my worldview of skateboarding was about to be shifted. For a person like me, who grew up street skating but has since learned how amazing skating downhill is, ABQ offered up the perfect blending of those two worlds.

It is where street and downhill meet up to create the holy grail of skateboarding. The city engineers of Albuquerque unknowingly made the best skatepark in the world, and we had it all to ourselves.

We woke up the next morning, feeling pretty refreshed, but what really got us pumped and ready to lay it down was the breakfast burritos we had, which for most of the van was about the 10th one of the trip. As quality Mexican food is hard to come by in Vancouver, it became a bit of a mission to see if was possible to eat burritos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the entire trip.

We spent the day hitting all kinds of classic ABQ Ditches. With each new ditch I reached a new level of awe, finding it hard to process just how amazing it all was. So many ditches, all unique in their own way. Miles and miles of skateable terrain with rides back to the top. It truly is a skateboard mecca.

With the sun setting you think we would call it a day, but the Landyachtz van never sleeps, so we headed back out to the ditches for a night time session. We cracked open about 100 glow sticks and had a rave party in the arroyo. At least we got a sick long exposure out of it. The glow sticks died pretty fast, but luckily we had some super powerful spotlights, so we kept the session going, even getting the drone up in the air for it. I’m pretty excited to see how all those turned out.

The last day of skating saw us get warmed up in The Bear. If you’ve ever been to the Bear, you know it’s not exactly the type of ditch to get warmed up in. Its 20 foot high walls and awkwardly steep transitions can serve up a SLAP before you know what happened. Luckily we all made it out alive though, and stacked some good clips to boot. We spent most of the afternoon at a ditch called “Spaghetti” and half of the van had probably the most memorable Uber ride of their lives.

You’ll have to wait on the footage for that one.

To cap off our skating adventure in Albuqueque we did an Instagram Live group run down Indian School, which I’ll be remembering for a long, long time. After that, we grabbed some BBQ supplies and hit up the local skate shop, Haven. The crew there are holding it DOWN, creating an awesome space to hang out, play video games, and buy Landyachtz boards!

The locals showed us the best garages in the area to skate and we had a pretty intense curb session going for a while.

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, and we had to bid our farewells. So we set out to traverse the long desert that stretched out before us, and even made a pit stop at an abandoned pool that had lots of water in the deep end. Billy and I got some tricks, and I sacrificed my board to the pool monster. Knowing how long the drive was on the way out, we made a group decision to spend a night in Las Vegas first. I’ll leave most of those details out, but Vera unleashed his inner Rain Man and came up on a couple hundred bucks.

Knowing that we only had about 5 ours to drive back to LA on the last day, we stopped by the local pump track for a bit and had a fun time dodging the toddlers on scooters and bicycles. Everyone was feeling pretty haggard after the night before, but we put in work regardless. It was finally time to head home. After a quick stop for beverages and a couple rounds of virtual blackjack at the gas station, we got the show on the road. This time, we decided to create the Eh Team Lounge and managed to turn around a bench seat around and relax in some limo vibes. Shout out to Billy again, chauffer extraordinaire.

Before we knew it, we were back in LA topping off the trip at an Angelino staple, Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. We returned to skatehouse and bid our farewells. The van still had a long drive back to Vancouver, but I got to sleep in my own bed that night, and what a glorious sleep it was. Another Eh Team trip was in the books, and I was already making plans for the next one.

Check out the full feature right here to see what else the van crew got up to on their trip to New Mexico.

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