Before launching this road trip, I consulted with a few skaters back in Seattle, looking for tips on how to find the best skate parks and skate shops. I met one day at Innerspace (an indoor park in Seattle), with Marshall Reid, who organizes skate events and coaches young skaters and, until recently, ran a skateboard company called Manik. He had done a few cross-country tours himself, and gave me some great advice. Although, I fretted a little when he told how “we lost one kid in Flagstaff.”

In Chicago, after the boys skated at Logan Boulevard Skate Park in Logan Square (where Sean talked me into “rolling in” from a ramp, which I did like a dork), we visited Uprise, a really nice skate shop on Milwaukee Avenue. The boys went ga-ga, fondling and caressing the skate shoes (“dude, these are sick”) and appraising the racks of skate decks like art experts at a museum.

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img 0337 The Skating Community: A Small World

We spent an hour there, trying on shoes (I bought a pair of Converse that Sean and Leo picked out for me) and talking to the shop managers, Stu and Ken.

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Ken & Stu @ Uprise skate shop

Stu told me how they’d lobbied for years to get the Logan Boulevard Skate Park built. “That park has saved so many kids from gang life,” he said.

When he and Ken learned about our road trip, and that most of us were from Seattle, they gave each of the boys a T-shirt and a DVD of Chicago skaters. We asked if they knew any Seattle skaters or shops, and it turns out they both knew Marshall. “Oh yeah, we know Marshall,” he said.

It was the first time I felt like our all-too-speedy road trip, with our brief visits to skate parks and lack of lingering – sometimes spending only an hour at a park before getting back on the road – had finally connected itself to the broader skate community, which is smaller and more intimate than you’d think.

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Outside Uprise

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