3 Years Deep: Travel, Truth and Lies with the Little Man

One of the perks of parenthood is lying to your kid.

“Dada! What’s that?” Ivor asks, straining in his seat to get a better view of the wood mill, a huge plume of white vapor billowing skyward from its chimney stack.

“That, Ivor…is a cloud factory!”

Cloudscape from plane window
Above the clouds…
A thin layer of cloud separates the mottled green brown earth and the blue sky.
Between the clouds…
A view of the central highlands as we make our approach towards Inverness airport
Below the clouds…
A view of a mill with a plume of white vapor billowing out of a chimney. If you were 3 you'd think it was a cloud factory.
A cloud factory.

We’re in Scotland for a rare summer visit and we’ve deplaned from KLM flight 929, Amsterdam to Inverness, on May 28th 2016. It’s Ivor’s 3rd birthday and he is psyched. But my bag is stuck in Holland and as we talk to the KLM agent about lost luggage retrieval it suddenly dawns on Ivor, his birthday present is in that bag. He throws his head backwards with the sudden, jolting, seizure-like movement of a lamb in a slaughterhouse. It’s a reaction of utter mortal fear. He emits a blood-curdling scream full of pain and suffering. Philippa struggles to hold him. During these moments he’s like an umbrella in a hurricane.
“NOOOO!” Philippa yells. “Stay calm. We’ll get the bag. You’ll get your present. One day you’ll do this freak out thing and I won’t be able to hold you. You’ll be smashed on the floor and that will NOT be good.”
I’m not sure Ivor can hear these words amid his screams and sobs.
“Waaahhhh waaaaaannnntt maaaaaaaaa peh sent!” he yells through bubbling snot and tears.
The KLM agent lady doesn’t understand what he’s saying. She can’t comprehend his garbled three-year old language. She stares. I stare. Ivor’s a mess. Think fast, how do we solve this problem? Yes, the first-world quick fix: cold hard cash! “We’ll go to Sainsbury’s and see what toys they have, ok?” This is not a lie. This is a sacred promise that must be kept. An oath. Ivor’s face begins to return to normal.
“Awwww. It’ll be ok, wee man.” says the agent lady, smiling, calm and professional. She looks at her screen, taps in a code and looks up at me. “Can you fill out this form please?”

Ivor, age three, strains to see if we are at Sainsbury's yet.
Are we at Sainsbury’s yet?
Ivor kneels on the asphalt floor of the Sainsbury's car park testing his new Blaze Monster Truck toy . It is a sunny day in Nairn.
Problem solved.
Ivor holds up three fingers to show you his new age.
Yup. 2+1. That’s right. Uh Huh.

Happiness returns…

Ivor leaps off the pier wall onto the white sand of Nairn beach.
Every moment of every day, rest assured, somewhere, somehow, someone is catching some air.
A gull wheels overhead
Meanwhile, overhead…

Things to Do in Portland When You’ve Bred. 2. Opal Creek

As we all know, having a kid marks the death, destruction & total annihilation of your old life. It is done, gone, over, finito. That’s not to say your new life after birth can’t have its bright moments. They’re just a little different from the old bright moments.
For our 13th wedding anniversary we’re trekking to Jawbone Flats in the Opal Creek Wilderness Area, to a tranquil & beautiful solar & hydro powered education center deep in the old growth forest of the Pacific North West. Ivor is 2 and it’s clear this is not the wedding anniversary trip of 5 years ago. This trip is altogether more…midlife. The crew: Philippa, Ivor, myself and Jennifer, the Mother-in-Law. Off we go.


Thumbs down from Ivor.




Old growth all around us.


Back in the day there were mining and logging operations down this way. They dragged a load of heavy gear down. These cogs are apparently from the USS Oregon.


This old steam engine powered the saw mill maybe.




The storage shed’s not looking too bad. A dab of paint, it could be quite lovely.



Here we are. Electrics powered by solar and hydro. No internet for guests unless it’s a life-threatening emergency. Set phasers to airplane mode.


Crank start.




Warhol fans.



It’s important to always travel with these essential survival items known as Monster Trucks.


I call this one Killah Bee. Ivor calls it Dragon Fly. We’re from different eras.








Raft racing with a small log that looks like a hot dog bun.


Old rusty stuff everywhere.


Cabin 7. Very nice.



Off to Opal Pool. It seems to be this way.



Hydro outflow.


Old Pelton Wheel.








Always try to remain as it suggests.


Heavy traffic.






The creek.



So it goes.







The boy.



The chocolate thief.

P1100345Distracted by cartography.



Things to do with no internet.


As mentioned, the cabin is wonderful.





Heading home.


Wherever you go, skateboarding is with you. Random Toy Machine art, spotted in the wilderness.


The final meltdown.


Can’t say it’ll get any easier, little man.

Cycling Shorts | 1 | Saw Blade

I keep a keen eye on worktrucks & job sites when I’m riding. That’s mainly because of the woman who got decapitated. Sad story. She was just minding her business, walking to work, or the shops or wherever, when she strolled by a construction site & bzzzzsssswhoosh! A saw blade came flying from where they were cutting a pipe and she was gone. Her body on the pavement, her head in the road. Ever since then I’ve made sure to maintain a healthy distrust of men in hardhats operating heavy machinery.

A Dreamcatcher in New Zealand

Andy just sent me the dreamcatcher teeshirt from the New Zealand trip, that one time when I smashed my collar bone into painful fragments. Remember? It was around 2005 and the trip was with P-Stone, O’Meally, Mumford, Shane Cross, Duffy, Chet, Strubing & Mendizibal. Mumford had recently quit Zero and was attempting to make some waves with his Legacy brand under the Dwindle umbrella. Hence Duffy, Strubing and Shane.

Staring into the empty eye-sockets of that longhorn skull the dreamcatcher prompted me to search through an old hard drive.

converse all stars and dreamcatcher tee shirt

Photos emerged featuring P-Stone rocking hair like he’d lost a bet.p stone bad hair day

Still smiling, still stoked.IMG_1642

Mendizibal blazed the pipe at New Lynn. This park is rad. Legend has it the plans were sent from the states in inches and the local contractors read them as centimeters. Full Spinal Tap Stonehenge shit. Amazing. If you watch Riding the Long White Cloud you can hear me say the same thing in real voice words.IMG_1657

Rhyss let us crash at his house and showed us around Auckland. He looks a bit shifty here but he’s a good lad, Rhyss. Hope you’re doing well, mate.IMG_1666

At the time of the trip Andy Henry was working as a post-grad in some neuroscience department of NYU. He joined in on the trip just because. Smart dude old Andy. Intelligent. Erudite.IMG_1667

If Andy hadn’t come on the trip then nobody would have put Petrol in the Diesel tank. This made him feel less smart. It made him question the value of all that time reading dumb science books.

Siphon skills remedied that. Andy drained that tank into a pair of 10-Gallon containers while Pat smoked cigs within spitting range. IMG_1734



At this other old bowl thing I can’t remember the name of Chet screeched through a few of his classic signature backside bluntslides while O’Meally lurked in the bushes.IMG_1684IMG_1689

The trusty Mountain Co-op hammock strung up behind Rhyss’s place.IMG_1699

Rowdy Roddy Piper?IMG_1723

Justin erupted from the volcano like a hot blast of lava fire.IMG_1776

What’s your secret, Justin?IMG_1799

It’s simple.IMG_1800

What’s your secret, Chet?IMG_1801IMG_1802


Other stuff happened and then I got broke off. Tried a dumb trick on an 8 foot high concrete vert ramp. In Riding the Long White Cloud Rick does multiple Miller Flips on the same ramp. When we realized my collar bone was shattered Duffy assured me it would be fine. “I’ve broken my collar bone like 20 times or something” he said. Very reassuring. Thanks for that, Pat. In due course the fragments fused and the pain subsided.IMG_1804




Raybourn’s Portland

Popped a few photos of Texas raised, Portland based, Birdhouse pro destroyer of all things skateable Ben Raybourn recently while he filmed for little day in the life documentary. Hopefully they bring a small glimmer of joy to your day.

What up?Ben opening his front door and peeking around from inside Portland, brah.P1050923 So artsy.P1050928 Mad beats.P1050938 Now featuring…Eric Swisher of the chrome ball incident Chromeball. P1050964Onward to Burnside.
P1050966Some rap video shit.
Heavy metal parking lot.
P1060011 Eggplant for lunch.fisheye shot of eggplant at burnside skatepark Hayashi in full effect.P1060055

Back at the crib scoping the scene with the bird’s eye view.P1060118 Free runners look on in disbelief. This local training center could make a good TtDiPWYB post, maybe, if there is such a thing as a good TtDiPWYB post.P1060126P1060128Not dangerous at all.
Perfectly safe.P1060132
Damn leaf.P1060131
Fully cropped the ground out of this.P1060136
Quicker down than up. P1060142
The owls are not what they seem.
security camera disguised as owl
And finally, what the internet was made for.P1060167

Things to Do in Portland When You’ve Bred – 1. Oregon City

Having a kid really changes things. You could say fucks things up. The bright side is that there’s less time to do dumb shit and every spare moment increases in value like the work of a good artist who just bit the big one. Certain stuff is out. Staying up late partying at the bar is a no go, not too much of a bummer there. I definitely skate less, not a terribly bad thing; I’ve been skating for years. The little dude pretty much needs to be home for a nap every day by 2 or else total nuclear meltdown occurs. So on those bases this is the first of a series of posts about shit to do around Portland in your new life after birth. Installment 1, the Historical Highland Stillhouse loop trail.

We decided on Oregon City because I’d like to see the Falkirk Wheel, a wonder of engineering, but it’s in Scotland and we’re in Portland. From Philippa’s research Oregon City sounds like it has some industry, and also a municipal elevator on a vertical street called elevator street. That sounds wonder-of-engineering enough, so we bundle the little man into his padded restraining seat and hit the road.
If we were looking for something reminiscent of Scotland then we’ve made a good choice. Driving up McLoughlin Blvd by the Willamette past the Oregon City Bridge reminds me of the River Dee at Riverside Drive near Duthie Park in Aberdeen.
P1070163 We pull off into this handy little car park and screech to a stop right in front of this historical-fact-packed wooden sign, where a craggy old balustrade runs along top of the steep riverbank overlooking a barrio-load of ramshackle mill houses. It’s like the Aberdeen paper mill on steroids.
Panoramic view of the mills on the Willamette at Oregon CityMad industry surrounds a section of river that looks as though its bed got stomped on by some giant rampaging toddler. It’s a strange sinkhole and if you happen to know the geology that created it then please let us know in the comments. Especially if the geological process was actually a load of dynamite.
P1070164 P1070166

McLoughlin Boulevard is the section of highway 99E that links Oregon City and Portland. It runs into Martin Luther King Boulevard and Grand Avenue just past the Ross Island Bridge. The bomb-ass graffiti on this plaque would be all the more bomb if it wasn’t being thoroughly interfered with by a bunch of historical info about pioneering, indian language knowing, fur trading, medical licence having, murder rap beating, long-haired french canadian scottish dude Dr John Mcloughlin, after whom this section of highway is named.

He looks pissed about something or other. P1070169P1070170
And Ivor decided to wear his fox sweater for the day. P1070171We turned round and walked back down to find the municipal elevator when all of a sudden we got stoked to find even more historical info on the other side of that wooden sign we’d parked by.
P1070173 P1070174A little further east along the pavement we could see that there was a walkway up on the bluff. It had to lead to the municipal elevator. It just had to. We ran boldly across the highway by this spider’s web and into the dirty soft mud by those bushes beneath the east end of the Museum of the Oregon Territory. The Museum looks sinister on a day like this. Note: if you don’t run across the highway there’s a footbridge just a little further down the road.  P1070176 P1070178 The walkway that runs along the top of the bluff is McLoughlin Promenade. Somewhere along here has to be the municipal elevator and Ivor intends to find it.P1070180
Tight views of the sinkholey bit.
Electrical boxes.
Reasonable advice.
The only Blue Heron we saw.
Aha! The 1954 observation deck of the municipal elevator!

From up top.
From down below.
The first elevator went into operation in 1915. It was a wood, steel, hydraulic contraption that took up to 5 minutes to ascend the 90 feet and caused all the nearby water pressure to drop; when it worked. When it failed you had to squeeze out the trap door and back down the sketchy ladder. 9 years later they went electric, got efficient and in the 50s did the full rebuild. The whole story – with its local house of cards style political shenanigans and a load more fun historical details – is on the little History of the Oregon City Municipal Elevator pamphlet you can get from inside the elevator right next to the attendant. He’s got local knowledge and directed us to a kids play park back up top in the town. That’s where we headed next.
OG bluff ascent.

P1070191 Ivor was wilin’ out at this point.P1070192P1070193
Walking up the stairs like some sort of pimp or something.

That’s just how he do.
Decorative cast iron tree grates by Olympic Foundry! Boo Ya! In case you’re unaware Olympic Foundry’s been busting out products metal style since 1900.
Nice brickwork.
Didn’t go in here but here it is.
Ice T never mentioned this in his biography.
Fire engines. Always thankful for those.


Swing steez.


Goonies-looking houses everywhere.

Local corvids at 5th and Washington.
Nice old Ford pickup on High Street by 3rd.
Cut back through to the bluff top.
Made use of the footbridge this time. If you’re a skater then it’s worth noting that if you had the right skillset, plywood (or maybe just brass balls) and a good photographer you could get a wild photo here. Gravette?

Wild geese.
There’s that museum again. Sinister but probably full of interesting historical stuff.
The walk loops us all the way back to the Highland Stillhouse, a Scottish pub that I’ll go on the record and say is legit.
Is this the hoe?
P1070232 P1070233
It’s often advisable to maximize screen time in these situations.
P1070235 P1070236 P1070237 P1070238 P1070239

If You Want to Sing Out – The End of a Pro Skate Career and It’s Inevitable Product.

I’ve always likened the end of a pro skate career to the description of vampire death given by Cory Feldman’s character in The Lost Boys, Edgar Frog, “Some yell and scream, some go quietly, some explode, some implode, but all will try to take you with them.”

Sometimes a vampire will implode and similarly sometimes an old pro skater, who never got involved with a marketing agent, who’s sponsors have revised their strategy, or gone out of business, might panic and decide it’s high time they capitalized on the haunting beauty they can surely craft out of their innate musical talent. Talent they’ve been roughly developing in Waffle House parking lots for the last ten years. And so we did.

We recorded 3 melodic stories that spilled from the soul and the resulting sound, that poured almost automatically through fingertips and larynx, is manly, rustic and inspiring. The accompanying bespoke lyric cards have been exquisitely illustrated by Melbourne based Salvador Gnarly. They are little things of beauty.

Gull Population as Yardstick for Viral Nature of Humanity is an ode to Aberdeen, Scotland, where Mum lives and old friends live and where the old man, old friends and little sister lived. It is a celebration.

2nd Option 3 headed gull_clipped

Dragons and Things tells the story of a young boy who finds himself in a battle that he must win or relinquish his childhood. And the rest.

2nd option Dead Medusa_clippedWorf Sails his Boat imagines the lovable serenity-challenged Klingon Chief of Security as a young boy in Belarus. The story explores the reasons why security officers are often such assholes. It’s not their fault. It’s not anyone’s fault.

2nd Option Klingon Child_clipped

All proceeds from sales of the Vava Records X Predatory Bird Sound in Print project will of course help fund the currently fetal Predatory Bird rap album and/or the next run of comics.