It gets cold in New York during the winter. And it gets cold in the mountains of North Carolina. So in an attempt to avoid the misery of February, I once again joined forces with my favorite Yankees and fled to somewhere warm.
Unlike the Puerto Rico tour of last winter, Justin Brasco anticipated a month of constant ridicule and resisted the urge to shave his entire body in preparation for the trip.
But for some reason his Long Island posse member, Alex Karayannis, could not fight that same temptation and all I heard across the aisle during the first of several 14 hour flights was Austin Paz yelling, complaining, and threatening each time a spikey and stubble-ridden arm brushed against him from the middle seat.
When we landed in Abu Dhabi, a man who spoke minimal English held out a paper sign with Austin’s name printed in all caps. This man quickly grabbed Austin’s luggage from his hands and left the rest of us to fend for ourselves.
This was especially difficult for me.
I received all new Rollerblade brand suitcases for the trip but after the first flight and the violent handling by airport personal, my checked bag was never to roll on two wheels again.
So I dragged my luggage on its one remaining wheel through the airport parking lot where we loaded up in a truck and were taken to Dubai. There, we were introduced to a man named Mr. Sam. (Sam to us, Mr. Sam to all the private drivers, groundskeepers, and hotel attendants that surrounded him.)
Sam had a mohawk and provided us with a house, food, mattresses, drivers, desert safaris, club access, beer, and Burj Khalifa tickets.
Obviously, our time in the UAE would have been drastically different if it wasn’t for Sam.
The next stop was Melbourne. And for me, Melbourne was a blur of hot days, capped ledges, and urban naps while Matthias Ogger continually suggested we stop blading and head over to a brothel he frequents know only as “The Korean Barbeque.”
From there we flew to Sydney with Gav Drumm who warned us all it would be necessary to remove the frames from our skates in order to carry them on the flight. I, riding flat rocker, declared I’d be goddamned before taking out all the wheels required to access my frame bolts and of course, did not make it through security.
We got to Sydney late in the night and met up with our drunk and drug fueled Air B&B host who slurred words and showed us around the penthouse suite we called home for the rest of the tour. While enthusiastically bragging about his speakers, this man dropped several bills from his pockets that were quickly confiscated and put to use throughout the week, hosting rooftop barbeques for the local bladers.
Sydney has a great crew. One of the best I’ve had the pleasure to blade with. Each member is essential, bringing something unique to the cohesion of the group. From Vonny with the jam box to Rian Arnold with the $600 shoes, varying personalities blend seamlessly creating interactions that consistently remind why we all continue to do this.
I had damn fun in Sydney. Grilling snags at Bondi skatepark, drinking beers while mobbing through the city at night, and staying up to see the sunrise on a 3 day camping trip to Jervis Bay are all my best memories of the tour.
Granted, Sydney also gave me a kangaroo attack, an arm slice on the sharp walls of a cave, and AM faceplants flipping around on the beach when I could barely stand.
But even so, when time came to leave, no one was truly ready. There was a half-assed attempt at calling the airline and extending the trip. But when Justin’s fast-talking, mortgage broking, manipulative Yankee speak could not procure amended tickets free of charge, everyone just gave up and accepted the inevitable 40 hours of travel back to the cold, back to the jobs, and back to reality.
Words by Thomas Martin. Photos by Adam Kola and Austin Paz.
Video filmed and edited by Austin Paz with additional footage from Dom West.
Lost Dingos stars Austin Paz, Thomas Martin, Justin Brasco, Alex Karayannis, Ivan Narez, Matthias Ogger, Gav Drumm, Tommy Scofield, Josh Butler, Dom West, CJ Wellsmore, Rian Arnold & Tien Nquyen.
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