Julien Gagnon

What does a french Canadian skater’s road trip in the States look like ?

What does a french Canadian skater’s road trip in the States look like ?

Julien Gagnon, the french Canadian skater explains his trip in 5 days, 5 spots


To start a road trip in a Grand Caravan for 100 days throughout the United States of America, without having a specific route or destination, is the challenge that my girlfriend Charlie and I have lived for a second year in a row. This inevitably guides adventurers like us towards unexpected situations that are straight out of the train of life that we are now used to living on a daily basis. From the top of our 4 wheels measuring 32 inches, or rather 53 mm, the many plots, the surprises and the intense emotions were not lacking ; we lived the life of gods just as much as we lived the life of a less fortunate. In this idea where living one day at a time only depends on our destiny, I invite you to put yourselves in our positions as “road trippers” through five moments that we have lived in five different spots.

SPOT 1 – The city of cockroaches


After a long day on the road, it just so happens that, once in awhile, we feel like having a little fun in a city. On this particular day, we had set our sites on Wilmington, in the state of North Carolina. Once we arrived, we passed in front of a perfect “kink rail” inside a well lit school yard. I couldn’t help but stop and create a potential skateboard photo ! At that same moment, Charlie and I screamed “ EWWWWW , A COCKROACH ! “ . And the worst part was, it was not even the same cockroach we were looking at. It was at that moment that we became aware of the infestation of bugs that was happening right in front of us : hundreds of cockroaches running in all directions with every step forward we took. Charlie instantly jumped on a park bench with her bag of pretzels in hand, dropping some all over the place around her ! Even with all of these inconveniences, I still could not resist that stair ramp in front of me.  Unfortunately, I instantly had to stop this attempt because of the disgust and horror that was going through my entire body. Have you ever tried rolling through a highway of cockroaches  passing in front of you at high speed? Well, I can assure you that there is absolutely nothing exciting about it. It is but shortly after, in complete disappointment that we returned to our mobile home. Nonetheless, I quickly returned to that same spot with the mission of capturing a photo of one of these famous creatures. It was not at all difficult : many of them were already hard at work chowing down on a piece of Charlie’s pretzel piece, left there in the previous visit of the site.

SPOT 2 – Speedy Gonzales village of ruins


Lost along the border between South Carolina and North Carolina, you can find a deserted coming directly out of a Mexican fiesta from the 60’s : South of the border. It is an old village of amusement for families, probably created by Speedy Gonzales and Pedro Amigo. Even though the spot is totally in ruins and out of fashion, everything was surprisingly still functional. Hundreds of various statues mainly representing animals and Mexican hats are set down along the borders of the unique route : they all look like they have been painted over top of at least 25 times throughout their existence. You really have to be special or blind to sleep in the only hotel of the area ; it is totally unsanitary and it would have seemed abandoned if it was not for the truck place in front of room 1. Even with all the bizarre allure of the area, we did not let this get in the way of our fun. Firstly, we went to the arcade room to play a game of 25 cent basketball on a machine where the score did not even show up anymore. Second, we set out to take a photo with all of the mysterious statues that reminded us of the Easter Island heads. It must have taken us at least one and a half hours to complete our photo mission. Then, we visited a gift shop that was clearly filled with the same junk that was up for sale over the past 20 years, and empty of people. Finally, I pulled off a few 360 flips on the best paved spot before getting kicked out by the security of South of the border. If we can’t skate over there, I truly wonder what else their is to do… So let’s get back on the road.

SPOT 3 – Heaven on earth


Finally, we have made it to Florida. The sun, the beach and the great skateparks ! Our first stop was decided by both of us through a spontaneous decision. Jacksonville beach, a town not too touristy located in the North-East area of the state. We had never been, but we would go back year after year. One of the reasons for this being that the people are hands down the nicest we have met over the course of our trip. Another being that the beach is amazing, not too crowded and covered in sand with grains of the perfect size. And finally, because a brand new skate park had opened the previous month of march, South Park Skatepark. It is the best skatepark I have ever been to in my life until now : two pools, one “snake run” and a street section designed in a circle in order for the skaters to do continuous lines. This town had then become our cult area for 3 consecutive days. The routine was simple: beach, skatepark, Walmart (we slept in the Walmart parking lot). My girlfriend was sweet enough to film me many different sequences in the skatepark and I ended up making a montage available on my Instagram. We have truly met amazing people in this city, including the police officers who, even if they came to see us for being in the park outside opening hours, spent 20 minutes of their time discussing our trip only to end up giving us stickers of their police station. It was a town to visit a second time, that’s for sure !

SPOT 4 – The city of road bikers and sand grains


Daytona Beach is another of Florida’s town along the border of the Atlantic ocean :  it is very popular for bikers, qui gather there for all kinds of reasons that find themselves far from my field of interest. I was mainly there to wander around with my girlfriend, a little walk that found itself to be a bit more sandy than anything else. In fact, we had moved our walk to the boardwalk, when I say a large staircase ramp, one that is attractive to skateboards and sparks their eyes. Their was just one problem : the staircase finished where the beach started, meaning directly in the sand ! This would be a great idea to try a new trick and land in the sand ! No ? A few moments later, my girlfriend found herself laying down in the sand, ready to capture this out of the ordinary moment. On the first try, my 50-50 completely blocked and I just ended up head first in a million sand grains. Before starting over, I had to find a solution to this blocking : why not wax the ledge with sand ? This idea  that had just popped out of nowhere ended up being a success ! On the second try, I pulled off my 50-50 and repositioned my lucky sand grains to try a noseblunt slide. Charlie captured this moment wonderfully. It was only after having pulled off all of these crazy stunts that I realized the intensity of the problem I now had to face. I had sand from the roots of my hair, all the way to the inside of my socks. A disaster for people living inside a vehicle.

SPOT 5 – Cocoa Beach


On this day, after having visited the site where NASA launches its rockets, we decided to go and drink FOUR LOKO at Cocoa Beach, still in Florida. Why not. When we arrived at our destination, we came across the biggest surf shop I had ever seen in my life ; a Ron Jon open 24 hours a day ! Incredible, there was no doubt that we would walk in and pretend to shop in order to park our vehicle without paying the beaches park meters. Unfortunately, on that day, we actually fooled ourselves…we shopped for real. I purchased a skiboard, a fine wood board that is used to ride the small surface of the water left by the waves when they break. We set our sights on a night of drinks and extreme sports. At the entrance of the beach, two drunk men were fighting…probably because of the alcohol. For a few briefs moments, we watched the show, but I quickly moved on to my new sport ! I surprisingly learned quite quickly to pick up this new skimboard discipline and I was even able to pull off some “airs” ! Once again, my girlfriend was sweet enough to capture these great moments, with the sunset in back of us. When leaving the beach, the very drunk man that was fighting earlier was sound asleep beside a full case of 24 cold Budweisers… my dehydrated boy instinct brought to my thoughts the idea of taking the items, but my good values took over and I left empty handed. Still today, I wonder if the God of beer exist because on that very night, something extremely uncommon happened : when leaving the Walmart, a full case of 24 cold Budweisers was in the middle of the parking lot, with no one around it. This one, I grabbed.