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Great EsSkate 2007 Trip Report

skatey-mark's picture

Well, anyone that didn't go to the Great EsSkate this year really missed out.  The event was as great as it usually is, and was a much needed break from the cold weather we were having back in North Carolina, let alone the bone-chilling cold in the northern states!  A small group of us form the Triangle went down...  Dave, Marlys, and I flew down Thursday night, and Susan & Rosie flew down on Friday.  Thursday night, we had a great meal at an italian restaurant near the hotel...  I just about slipped into a pasta coma from my 4-cheese gnochi...  :)  The original plan was to do some kayaking Friday morning, but in the end we decided to be a little lazy and sleep in instead.
 
So we started Friday with the Art Deco skate, which was *really* well done.  I'd highly recommend it to anyone.  The guy leading the tour did an excellent job.  It was a nice, casual pace so everyone was comfortable with the speed.  After the skate was done, Dave, Marlys, and I took a detour from the group and headed over the Lincoln Road and grabbed a bite to eat.  By the time we made it back to the hotel, there was just enough time to go up to our rooms and get ready for the evening skate.  I had a little mixup at registration (apparently, I had forgotten to register -- oops!)  No problem though -- they were more than happy to take my credit card...  lol...

The evening skate went pretty well, although there were a couple falls, one was serious enough to require medical attention unfortunately.  Susan tripped on something in the dark, but was unhurt and able to finish the skate after sagging up to the regroup point in the cop car...  The group dinner followed, and it was really well done this year.  I didn't remember the food being all that great last year, but it was much better this year.  (or maybe I was just hungrier!)  Anyway, after the dinner & raffle there was just enough time to get ready for the late night skate.  (See a theme here yet?) 

The late skate was a bit different than I remember it.  In previous years, I remember it being much more of an advanced skate -- fast, unsupported, and dark!  This year, there certainly was a fast pack, but there were also "less fast" skaters that were participating and we would all regroup periodically.  The breaks were fewer and shorter than the other skates, so I suppose it was a slightly more advanced, but certainly within the ability of most skaters that were there for the weekend.  We got back to the hotel around 1:30am, although I heard rumors of a "naked skate" that was going to happen afterward.  I have no idea if that actually took place or not...


Saturday had only one skate onthe agenda, which started at 9:30....  So not much sleep for us late night skaters.  Marlys joined us on a bike for that one.  The pace was similar to the Friday group skates...  Nice & easy, although there's always a group of fast guys at the front chasing the cop car when it takes off, just like dogs chasing a rabbit...  :)  Okay, so I did break my "no fast skating" rule for the weekend and went up there a few times...  lol... 

The skate ended at the park, where lunch was provided.  I had been looking forward to good ol' hamburgers & hotdogs like we've had in the past.  But they had something special in store for us.  A mediteranian restaurant, Pasha's, catered the lunch...  Definitely a better option for the many skaters that opt for vegetarian/vegan cuisine.  There were free massages there, which we were fortunate to get.  Definitely a nice thing after 2 days of skating!  The raffle followed lunch and dragged on forever.  Someday, someone will figure out a better way to do the raffles, but noone has gotten it right yet.  Oh well, we all came up empty-handed, which made it worse, but at least the money went to a good cause!  The event hotel this year was only about a mile from the park, so getting back was quick & easy.    When dinnertime rolled around, we found another place near the hotel and had a great meal...  It was this wine bar/restaurant.  I had a great crab-crusted mahi dish...  Mmmm...

Later that night, we had free admission to one of the South Beach nightclubs, Tantra.  There was an open bar from 11:00-12:00, so we got there around 10:59...  :)  This time, it was Laura, Brian, and myself -- everyone else opting to get some sleep.  Tantra's most interesting feature (in my opinion) was the floor -- it was real, live, grass...  Very neat...  We took full advantage of the open bar, stuck around a little while longer, then grabbed a cab back to the hotel.  We probably got back around 1:45 or so...  Not too bad...

Now, during the weekend I had decided I would work on my skates a bit.  My left boot in particular was a little uncomfortable.  So Thursday night I went across the street to Walgreens and picked up some Walgreens-brand double-foam inserts.  They made a noticeable difference in the comfort of the boot.  I was skating in my tried-and-true Defeet socks and had no pain at all...  Very nice...  Sunday I decided to switch to some Smart Socks, which I had bought at Tour to Tanglewood last year.  They're a thicker sock, and more padded.  I didn't try them before because I wasn't sure I had enough room in the boots, especially now with the thicker insoles.  Well, I put my skates on Sunday morning and they felt AWESOME!  Like riding on little pillows...  It's safe to say I have the comfort issues worked out now!  24-hours of Montreal, here I come!  LOL!

Anyway, I knew it was going to be a good day since my feet felt so good.  I wasn't even hungover from my aggressive drinking the night before!  And not really all that tired...  Everything was lining up nicely.  The Red Bull truck was at the start of the Sunday morning skate, so I grabbed one of those to wash down my chocolate-chocolate-chip muffin...  :)  The Sunday morning skate was beyond AWESOME!  I had so much fun!  The rest of the weekend was good, but that skate in particular was the highlight for me!  I hadn't had that much fun on my skates in a long time, so it was great to experience that feeling again.  I was having so much fun cruising and socializing that, at one point, I didn't notice I was drifting further and further back in the back.  Pretty soon I heard an all-too-familiar voice...  Bones!  I had to laugh at myself...  Of course, Bones is now egging me on -- "come on North Carolina!  I know you know what you're doing!  Move it!"  LOL...

Saw some others of the RSN crew during the weekend...  Brian (from Texas/Maryland) and Mike (from Detroit) being the most noticeable.  Mike was playing Skate Patrol for part of the weekend, which was pretty cool of him.  Of course, we were all spreading the love about Tour to Tanglewood, trying to get some new recruits...  :)  Cheri - if you're reading this, you better be checking that U-M football schedule...  lol...

For alot of people, that Sunday morning skate was the end of the weekend for them...  But there was one more in the afternoon.  Brian & I headed back down to Lincoln Road to grab a bite at Pasha's, then I took a short pigrimmage to the Ghiradelli store...  Then, back to the hotel to get ready for the afternoon skate.  For that one, they bussed us up to Hollywood, where we skated around, then were bussed back later.  The Monster Energy Drink truck was there for that skate, which was my first time having that particular beverage.  Not bad...  I think I prefer it to Red Bull...  That skate went pretty well, although the skies were looking a bit ominous.  They got darker and darker as the skate went on.  Towards the end, it seemed like it would start raining any minute.  We ended up on ths boardwalk area, which was really cool.  A quick down & back was all that was left.  About halfway back, we felt the first drops.  People started picking up the  pace, but the rain held off anyway.  Just a few drops here & there was all we got.  Brian lost a frame bolt in the final sprint, but fortunately didn't crash.

We got back on the buses and headed for the hotel.  Dave & Marlys were there, getting ready to go to the airport.  The four of us shared a cab to Miami International where our weekend officially ended.  Brian headed back to the frozen tundra of Maryland, Dave & Marlys back to slightly-less-cold North Carolina.  I fortunately didn't have to end my vacation just yet, so I just walked over to the shuttle to the car rental...  A little while later, I was driving up to Fort Lauderdale, where my adventure would continue for another week -- but that's another story....  :)

Pictures are coming soon...

- SM -

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