Check out the Big Little Dog Productions video and write-up of the the Solbound Team attacking their towable funbox contraption at Canyon Lake. Riders include Steve Wahlman, Melissa Marquadt, Mike Rogers, Leif Erkkila, Randy Harris, and Fil Lowe.
Those of us who hail from Northern California know that there is not a better place on earth to live and ride. We have the lakes, the skateparks, the snowy mountains, the beaches, the delta, and a few other things that make life better. Even though all this is true, it is still nice to get away to some new place and soak up the scene. When Mike Rogers called me and told me to pack my bags for a mission to Canyon Lake, I was all the way down. I had always been curious about Canyon Lake since I first read about it in a magazine, so I jumped at the chance to go check it out. We would be a crew of five including Mike Rogers, Aaron Aubrey, Fil Lowe, Bobby Starkey, and myself. Bobby’s dad, Rob, let us borrow his expedition with the boat behind it and the road trip was on. Al Gartamaker drove down from Sacramento and met us at Randy Harris’s house,where we would be staying. Randy and Steve (Wahlman) showed us incredible hospitality during our stay, during which time we completely took over their house. We arrived on Thursday night and left Monday morning, which gave us three days, one boat, a hand full of solbound riders, and a few surprises up our sleeves to get as much footage and as many photos as we could. The trip was not exactly smooth, and of course things didn’t work out quite like we planned, but it did turn out to be a success and everyone who came along had a good time.
I knew I was supposed to be ready to go at 6:00 a.m. I had my bags packed and sitting on the sidewalk. I was sitting there with my coffee when I realized that we never talked about where I was supposed to be. I called Fil, who informed me that he and Mike and Bobby were at Mike’s house waiting for me. So they immediately drove to my house and we were out of there, on time, good to go. We were calmly and quietly beating traffic out of Sonoma County on our way to pick up Aaron Aubrey when Rogers starts screaming obscenities. We finally got it out of him that he forgot his wallet at home, so we turned around and drove for half an hour back up the freeway to get the wallet. So we lost about an hour and now we were in traffic. We picked up Aubrey, who was sleeping on the ground in a parking lot next to the freeway where we had agreed to meet him. It was sad.
We proceeded without trouble (other than stop and go traffic) through the bay area and down I-5. When we were about forty-five minutes from the grapevine, we pulled over to switch drivers and noticed a peculiar smell. A hideous smell. The smell of a four hour layover in the middle of the desert due to a disintegrated wheel bearing on the boat trailer. The smell of long-distance cellphone bills, the smell of five trips to the parts store and a hundred-and-twenty dollar mechanic’s bill with no guarantee on the work. The smell of waiting...
So we finally got going again at about four o'clock, and we were really only half way there. There were no problems with the vehicle for the rest of the drive, but we spent a lot of time watching for smoke coming from the hubs on the trailer. We finally arrived at Randy’s house in Canyon Lake at about eight O’clock, bringing the grand total up to fourteen hours spent getting to where we were going. There is one thing I must mention about those hours. If you have ever been around an eleven year-old kid when they get excited, you know they get rambunctious. You know they talk a lot. You know they can’t sit still. But, did you know that they can keep it up for fourteen hours? Seriously. I didn’t know that. We were all pretty beat, so we blew up our air mattresses and then slept on them. It felt good to sleep. Bobby fell asleep face first on the concrete floor in the t.v. room with the playstation controller in his hands. It was beautiful.
We woke up early, and it wasn’t long before I realized that Randy and Steve don’t drink coffee. That means there’s no coffee or coffee maker. In my world, that’s a bad thing. Everyone finally got themselves together and we headed to Douglas burger for breakfast. Douglas burger has everything from eggs to burgers to burritos to sandwiches, and coffee. So everyone was happy, until we left. We came out of the restaurant and it was pouring rain. So we went back to the house to wait for good weather. It never came that day, and we spent a lot of time looking at the horizon and cursing. Bobby did three times as much as any of us, even though he was just hanging out with us the whole time. He just has a way of doing that. A steady stream of visitors came by the house that day, including Solbound’s newest pro, Melissa Marquardt, who turned out to be really friendly and down to earth. She instantly got along with everyone there, and she seemed excited about being part of the solbound family. During our stay she and Rogers began working on the design for Melissa’s pro model boot, made specifically for women, which should be finished soon. We all made plans to go ride together as soon as the weather got good enough, which didn’t seem likely that day. Despite the rain, we kept busy by assembling “number four”. We have been sliding our towable funbox for almost a year, now, and we had a new and improved design to try out. This being the fourth prototype, we called it “number four”. It was disassembled for the drive, so we spent the day putting it back together, and speculating about how well Randy and Steve would ride it. We spent the evening looking at video footage and fighting off thirst, hoping the morning would bring better weather and a chance to ride. Bobby fell asleep on the concrete floor, face first, with the play station controller in his hand. Priceless.
We woke up Saturday morning and decided we were going out on the water no matter what. We got some coffee bags the night before so we microwaved some water, ate a pop tart, drank the “coffee”, and loaded up the boat. Randy and Steve were still in bed, hiding until we were good and gone. We didn’t expect to see them until past noon. We launched the Scary Craft and set up number four. To get to the good spot on Canyon Lake, you have to drive past the water-skiers’ dock and through their slalom course. It’s like you are on display. The looks we got from the skiers were strange, but satisfying. But the amazing thing is, no one seemed to have a problem with our funbox because we took it with us. It’s really just tubes being towed behind the boat, so what can anyone say?
We got to the back water and I volunteered to go first. It was a cold, gray morning, but I was takin’ one for the team. We took off, and I stood there for about a minute waiting for the boat to plane. The scary craft didn’t want to go. We finally stopped and I had to get back in the boat while we fiddled around with the throttle cable. By the time we finally got it going again, I was shivering and stiff. I got back in the water and took my little turn and got out. Rogers went next, and he blasted right into the side of the thing. It was scary, but he was fine, and he got back up and busted some board slides and tail taps. Fil went next, and he took the worst wreck of all. He found a way to hit the side of the box on his way up to it, get his board hung up on the end, and fall in front of the whole thing right on top of the rope that was connected to the tube. To our amazement, he was fine, and he also got back up and hit it successfully. Next up was Aaron Aubrey. He had his way with the contraption, pulling off a variety of tricks, including front side board slides, lip slide to bs 180 outs, and a one wake gap to board slide. Everyone was impressed with how well the towable funbox was performing. It was actually working better than any of us thought it ever would. Al declined to ride it, citing fear of a broken neck and/or death.
About that time Randy, Wahlman, and Melissa showed up. Despite strong resistance and lots of griping about the “cold” conditions from Wahlman, we eventually convinced him to give it a try. When I say “give it a try”, you have to remember who I’m talking about. Wahlman the cool cat mr. smooth simply molested the thing. You should check out the video, because my words wouldn’t really do it justice. It was so fun to watch. He just did whatever he wanted to do, and made it look right. I always find it interesting how someone’s riding can reflect their personality so clearly. Randy was up next, and the boat was extra loaded. I ended up driving, and it didn’t take me more than five minutes to run that towable funbox right into a dock. Rogers was screaming “we’re gonna hit it, stop the boat!” at the top of his lungs. I couldn’t see anything out the back, so I didn’t know what was happening. By the time I killed the throttle it was too late and we all watched in disbelief as our contraption ran full speed into the dock and broke into pieces. Randy, who never even got a chance to hit it, was just floating there laughing. We went and collected the wreckage and headed back to the dock. Randy and Wahlman took off, and we had to go get our tools so we could try to reassemble our creation. An hour later we had the thing going again and Melissa was ready to go. I volunteered to wait on the dock, because I’d had enough of boats that day. They finally came back with everything, and everybody, in one piece. Everyone who rode the funbox that day had a blast, and a few locals were already planning to build their own from our design. Number four was a winner. After a long day all the members of our crew were pretty tired, except Bobby, who went out to some parties with Melissa and her friend. Young Bobby seems to have a way with the ladies. We threw “K-Pax” in the DVD, which put everybody to sleep in no time. I got up for some water in the middle of the night and saw Bobby crashed out face first on the concrete floor with the playstation controller in his hand. That kid is something else.
I woke up early, to find that my air mattress had sprung a leak and now I, too, was face-first on the concrete floor. I went to the couch for a few more hours of sleep, where I managed to finish the night. Daybreak revealed blue skies and plenty o’ smog, so we new we were looking at the best day yet. We got up and got ourselves to the lake as quickly as possible. Randy and Steve stayed in bed, but we figured they would make it eventually. We noticed that Bobby had “Melissa Marquardt” written in fat black pen on his left hand. We tried to figure out what this meant, but all we could really do is wonder.
Our crew of five made it out to the back water by about ten o’clock, with decent light and only one other boat. We dropped Rogers off on shore to take photos and everyone took a turn. Me and Fil got to try our new Cassette 3ds, which we both decided we liked. Bobby and Aaron each took a turn on their wakeboards, and then we went to the dock to get Steve, Randy, Melissa, and Al. After Steve and Melissa rode, Rogers talked Randy into trying number four again. I could tell he wasn’t really into it, but he was a good sport and did it anyway. Unfortunately, it was just too tame for the man. He completely cleared the thing no matter how far away he put it. When he finally did force himself to slow down and hit it small, he got hung up and slid across the top on his belly, finally tumbling away to safety. At that point he was over it, stating, “that’s about as fun as getting my teeth pulled.” We dumped the funbox at which point the Vandall proceeded to go out do some of the tastiest spins I have ever seen. Like I said, it’s interesting how someone’s riding can reflect their personality.
After that, we all went back to the house for some food and a much needed break. Once fed and rested, we headed back to the lake for our last round of riding. It’s a small world when you ride at Canyon Lakes. We got to the dock and there was Liquid Force team manager Don Wallace with a boatload of wakeskaters. We all conversed for a bit, and somehow Bobby ended up in their boat. What can you say, the kid gets around. We went to the back water, and Aaron rode my cassette, which he obviously liked. He was doing hs nose grab 180s, ts nose grab 180s, hs indys, ts airs, all with consistency. I took a turn on the skate, and Rogers rode the funbox again. At that point we were almost out of gas, so we headed back to the dock to pull the boat out of the water. We went back to the house and changed clothes, and went for our last trip to Douglas Burger. We finished the evening by watching the video footage from the day, after which we all went to bed. Bobby was mysteriously absent when I fell asleep.
I woke up to see Bobby sleeping face-first on the concrete floor with the Playstation controller in his hand. I was not surprised. We all got up, had some “coffee”, and started packing up our stuff. We devised a way to secure number four to the boat fully in tact, and by ten o’clock, we were ready to go. Randy and Steve were still sleeping, so we hopped in our truck, Al hopped in his truck, and we left. It was a quiet, uneventful trip home, and even Bobby was too tired to say much. In fact, I don’t think he said anything at all during the entire drive. I spent the drive quietly digesting the experience, reflecting on things that people said while I was there, and thinking about when I would ride next.
I had a great time on this little road trip, and it was worth-while to experience Canyon Lake. I gained a little bit of insight into the personalities of the riders who live there, and I met a lot of new people, all of whom were very nice. Upon arriving at home, I felt incredibly happy to be back. L.A. is a fun place to visit, but Nor Cal is, without question, the spot for me.