Scholastic News

See All Special Reports
Charting the West with Skatepark Guide
By Sky Siljeg

(Photo: Courtesy of Sky Siljeg)
In the early days of this country, there were the brave, adventurous explorers who traveled across the land, charting and mapping the rivers, mountain passes, lakes and ocean shores. During the summer of 2004, I got to ride along in the RV of a modern-day explorer named Bill Hensley. Bill—called "Electric Bill" because he is an electrician by trade—set out to document all the great skate parks in one guidebook to help skaters to find their way across the west.

I first met Bill (and his dog, Smoky) in Oregon while I was on an "All Star Adventure Camp" trip that summer. The plan for our tour was to skate 16 of Oregon's best skate parks. Bill and the crew in his RV would be traveling with us—documenting, shooting photos, and noting the features of each park—as we went. All this information, plus Bill's research on parks in Washington, Arizona, and California, would be included in The Best of the West Skatepark Guide, being published by Concrete Wave Editions.

When Bill mentioned that he would be moving north into Washington, my home state, I was excited and asked my mom if we could take him on a tour of some of our favorite parks. She was as happy to do it as I was. By the time Bill and his RV rolled into town, bringing along some of the best park riders in the world (including world champion bowl rider Benji Galloway, "Will Powers," Caylen Dakin, "Screech," Chris Cudlip, and Chis Nukala), I was in the middle of my first week of fifth grade. I was so excited when they pulled up to my school to bust me out of class (with permission, of course).

(Photo: Courtesy of Sky Siljeg)
We set off on our tour of Washington's best parks. We went from park to park having a blast, skating and spray-painting stencils from one of my sponsors, Motto, on the decks of kids at local parks. Bill took pictures and took notes on his laptop. The best part of going on a road trip from park to park is the friends you get to see and the many new friends you get to meet. It's a family in a way, all the people connected by their love of skating. I had a really good time working with Bill and the Guide crew. (I even got to write one of the reviews!)

The following summer, I went on part of the second tour of parks to update and expand the guide. Bill, Smoky, and a couple of new riders—Rion Linderman and Lance Leisher—revisited the states Bill had already covered, and then moved on to Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico. This summer, I'll be catching up with the tour to work on another book.

These are really excellent guidebooks (published by Concrete Wave Editions) and a useful tool for any skaters who want to plan road trips of their own.