To Oregon

Date: June 2, 2016 Author: King Writer Categories: features
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By Eric Greene // Photos Eric Lamothe 

Last summer, Anto Chamberland, Alexis Mailhot, and photographer Eric Lamothe drove from Quebec to Oregon. That’s quite a long drive. It all started in the small village of Longueuil, Quebec, where Anto lives, early on the morning of July 15th. Eric and Alexis were both pretty tired and groggy, as they’d been out late the night before and got into some shooters, but Anto had been up for hours. He’d already done two sessions of yoga and packed a week’s worth of homemade lunches, so he wouldn’t have to eat out of gas stations during the drive.

Anto has a murdered black Ford F-150 with a massive camper on the back—also murdered black. It took 30 cans of matte black spray paint from the hardware store to murder the camper, but it was worth it. It’s equipped with everything you need for a cross-continental road trip, such as a fridge, stove, entertainment, custom storage for boards, and tools. The heat and stove run on propane and the rest of the setup is powered by solar panels. 

The ladder got stuck on the tailgate the morning of their departure, which delayed their plans of leaving town early. Anto couldn’t believe it. “It’s a 2013-model truck and the fucking tailgate is rusted shut,” he cursed as he beat his DC boots against the rusty hinges. Quebec is known for its salty streets, hence why one should never buy a second-hand vehicle from the region—even a 2013 model. The other guys had never seen Anto so angry and they’d watched him battle tricks on plenty of late night filming sessions. They ended up taking the road trip rig to the Ford dealership, where Anto demanded they fix the broken tailgate. It was mid-afternoon by the time they finally hit the highway.

The first stop they made was in Chicago the following day when they pulled into a café for waffles. Most road trippers go for deep dish pizza when passing through Chi-town, but these guys were in the mood for waffles. After the feast, they went to Grant Park Skate Plaza, where they only rolled for 10 minutes before the sky opened up and flooded the park. Anto had timed their arrival and departure through Chicago down to the minute in order to avoid traffic. The waffles were right on schedule, but the rain delay threw everything else off, so by the time they got passed the gridlock and into Wisconsin, those waffles had cost them about four hours and they didn’t even get to skate. Again, Anto was pissed.

Back on the road, the boys got in touch with Dylan Thompson, who was already on the West Coast. Dylan said that he was planning to spend a few days surfing on the Oregon coast before heading up to Mt. Hood. The idea got everyone in the murdered black camper excited to surf, so they set the GPS to the beach and put the pedal to the metal.

After powering through the entire night, crossing the Midwest of America, where there isn’t really anything worth stopping for, they pulled into a Mexican dive restaurant beside an abandoned gas station the following morning. They got some breakfast burritos, played a game of S-K-A-T-E in the gas station parking lot, and carried on until they found a campsite that wasn’t completely booked about an hour from the coast. Oregon is tough like that in the summer. Every campsite is snatched up months in advance, but with a murdered black camper and four-wheel drive, why would you waste money on a state campground, anyway?

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At the crack of dawn on July 18th, they arrived at the beach, where Dylan told them to meet. He wasn’t there, he wouldn’t answer his phone, and the waves sucked. Instead of surfing the crappy waves, they found the nearest town and sat down at the first proper restaurant they’d seen since Montreal (the waffle house in Chicago didn’t count), and enjoyed some breakfast and fair trade organic coffee. It was during this meal that all three of them felt the West Coast vibe they’d driven so far to experience and they realized that the next two weeks were going to be fantastic.

After breakfast, they found a local skate park with a savagely large concrete bowl and they all tested their manhood. Dylan ended up noticing the murdered camper when he drove by, so he pulled in and told them all about the amazing waves he’d surfed all morning in great detail. He let them know that they all blew it for not getting barreled and wasting money on a fancy breakfast. He also said that he forgot to pay his cellphone bill, so his phone was disconnected and he went to a different beach than where he told them to go because the waves sucked there. Anto argued that the waves looked crappy all along the coast, but Dylan claimed to have “secret spots,” where he could get perfect barrels whenever he wanted. Classic Dylan.

That night, the guys had a big fire on the beach and drank many beers. Eric drank a few too many and had to go to bed early, but Anto and Alexis stayed up late, basking in the West Coast camping lifestyle they’d driven so far to enjoy. “Camp vibes,” they called it in the area. Eric had to wake up to pee out some of the beer in the middle of the night and when he stumbled out of the camper, he smashed his head into the light bulb and tiny glass shards rained down on the beds of the other guys. They spent the rest of the night trying to clean the fluorescent fragments out of all corners of the camper. Eric would have to pay for all the beer the following night.

Anto and Dylan went surfing the next morning and the waves were HUGE at Dylan’s secret spot. He told Eric not to take photos from the beach because that was a big no-no and the locals would break all of his limbs. Surfers are known to be very territorial and Oregon is known to contain many gun-wielding Republicans outside of Portland. Of course, Eric decided that he would take photos anyway—he’d just be sneaky about it. He found an empty beach house and climbed onto the balcony with his camera, shooting with a long lens through some tree branches. After a while, he decided to go down onto the beach and take some “low profile” shots without drawing any attention. A local surfer wasn’t fooled and paddled in to greet him on the beach, where he threatened to break all of Eric’s limbs if he didn’t put his camera away. “He came out of the water and made it really clear to me to not take photos,” Eric said. Anto thought it was crazy that Eric was threatened for taking photos. He heard all about it when he came in from his surf and the same guy told him to pack up and go home. He decided that the crazy bastard could have his shark-infested Oregon waves if it meant that much to him and they would move on.

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The boys drove further down the coast and parked the camper on the beach above the tideline the next night. When they were done with beach camping, they pointed inland and drove up to Mt. Hood. Anto showed his famous face at the offices of the Windells and High Cascade camps, and the three of them were immediately given free lift passes for the week. Coming off of a poor snow year, it was pretty bare on the glacier and both camps had to share one small park, but they made the most of it. “The situation with the weather and conditions was crazy and scary,” Anto said. “It was like nothing I’ve seen at Mt. Hood before.”

On the first day they arrived, the boys took part in the Bode Merrill Mini-Pipe Invitation with all their best pals. It was a hell of a time and that afternoon, they met up with Louif Paradis, Ben Bilocq and Aaron Biittner, and went to Trillium Lake for a dip. You can see how much fun they had if you lurk their Instagram accounts from last July. Anto was very happy to be in Government Camp with his camper, where everyone else also seemed to be sleeping in their cars. “Everyone had their own sleeping setup and you could walk to the bars, general store, and skate park. It’s just the best!” he said. The next day they rode in the glacier park, and Eric and Alexis stayed up until sunset in an effort to score some of those beautiful silhouette shots that you see in magazines. Unfortunately, Alexis got hurt on his final run and the medics had already left for the day. Eventually, they organized a Suburban to drive up the snowless run, pick him up, and take him to the hospital. It really sucked for Alexis and he was quite upset.

When the snowboarding part of the road trip was complete, the guys drove down to Hood River to skate the famous park and camp in the parking lot. It was there that they slept in until 10 a.m. for the first time during the trip and then drove to Portland, where they dropped off injured Alexis at the airport so he could go home. Alexis apologized for bailing on the drive back to Quebec, but everyone just wanted him to be safe and heal up quickly. Anto decided that they might as well go back to the coast, considering how close they were, so he could go for another surf with his new local friend he had met at the beach. This time, Anto stayed away from everyone and surfed by himself, and Eric stayed in the truck so it didn’t get vandalized. Dylan was there again, this time with Sammy Carlson, but the boys didn’t talk to them.

After surfing, Anto and Eric went to a roadside diner and ended up conversing with the mediocre-looking waitress, who was ecstatic when she discovered that Anto was a pro snowboarder. She asked for a photo and autograph for her son, and then the cook came out to meet the famous Anto and get a selfie with him. “I don’t even get those types of fans in my hometown,” Anto said. One customer, however, was not impressed and started talking shit to a different waitress that he was evidently trying to court. The angry man then started talking to Eric and Anto, and the conversation moved on to topics of gay marriage and black presidents. He became very worked up and opinionated, so the guys decided to pay the bill and leave.

Back on the road, they ran out of gas and had to coast into a gas station that was closed for the night, so they camped beside the pump. There was a bar next door with some locals drinking in the parking lot, one of whom told the boys that he used to be the county sheriff before he got two D.U.I.’s and lost his job. Then he gave them some weed.

The following morning, with a full tank of gas, they drove all the way to Salt Lake City to meet and stay with Chris Grenier. Chris invited them out to the desert to play with his motorized toys, so they loaded up his trailer with dirt bikes, Razors, guns, a BBQ, and lots of beer. “Chris’ friends had an insane automatic weapon that was super gnarly, like in the videogames,” said Anto.

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Eric was most impressed with Chris’ girlfriend and her motocross skills. “She was ripping on the bike in a bikini top like there was no tomorrow,” he says. In the Utah desert, they tend to live like there may not be a tomorrow, so every ride counts. They finished the day in the desert by shooting shotguns, having a water-balloon fight, and grilling some meat on the BBQ. After drinking beer and vodka under a pop-up tent, Chris decided they should take the Razor out for a midnight ride. Eric was concerned that they would kill themselves, but he jumped into shotgun and they took off into the dark night. “We were going 60 mph and it was the craziest thing ever, but we survived,” Eric lived to say. A sandstorm approached and ended their fun, so they packed up and went inside Chris’ trailer, where they stayed up late and finished the rest of the booze.

When they woke up in the desert the next morning, Anto realized that they were in Utah and he was supposed to be at work the following day in Quebec. They drove straight east, but made another stop in Chicago to skate the Plaza because they weren’t yet satisfied after being rained out on their first attempt. They also stopped to shower at a Little America roadside center in Wyoming. Aside from that, nothing else happened all the way back to Montreal and when they arrived home, it was as if they’d never left. Montreal tends to stay the same like that.

Overall, it was a pretty awesome road trip. Now that Anto has a new tailgate on the murdered black camping vehicle, they’re planning to do the exact same adventure next summer.

Editor’s note: This story was written from the notes that Eric and Anto kept from their trip. Their notes weren’t that great, so the details might not be entirely accurate, but they probably are.