Fern green. Antique amber. Copper patina …
Decorator colors … for a skateboard park?
It's true in San Luis Obispo, where the planners behind the city's skate park looked for fresh ways to give skaters not just a great playground but a lovely thing to look at too.
SLO Skate Park, which opened Feb. 28, is a dream come true for skaters like me who have tired of the white-on-white concrete landscape of most skateboard parks. At first sight, I felt like Dorothy, board in hand, feasting her eyes on a Technicolor Oz.
The $2.2-million skate park, funded in part by a $25,000 grant from the nonprofit Tony Hawk Foundation, features many other creative elements.
"Concrete Jungle," a public artwork created by artists Jed Joyce and John T. Jones, provides shade in the form of steel and aluminum "trees," which double as near-vertical skate structures. (The trees proved too tough a climb for my skate skills, but I appreciated the challenge.)
I also loved the Wave, the curved, concrete structure hanging over the park's snake run, as well as the pieces of recycled skateboards used as decorative tiles inside the skate park's pool.
SLO Skate Park isn't the first to incorporate public art projects into a skate structure. In 2007 artists-skaters Judi Oyama and Jimbo Phillips designed the iconic wave mural that adorns the Ken Wormhoudt Skate Park in Santa Cruz.
But overall, this may be California's most artistic skate park. And, I hope, the start of a trend.
SLO Skate Park, 1050 Oak St., San Luis Obispo; (805) 781-7067, www.sloskatepark.com. 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Free.
Fly high at Arroyo Grande's Vert Jungle, no matter your skater moves
The first thing to know about Vert Jungle, a skateboard paradise for serious skaters, is that you don't have to be a serious skater to enjoy yourself.
Sure, the star of the show at this Arroyo Grande skate nirvana is the towering structure, known as a vert ramp, at the center of the five-acre property. The highflying Tony Hawks of the world favor such ramps.
But don't let that intimidate you.
For one thing, Vert Jungle has other charms. Owners Rob and Megan Beaudoin also run a bamboo business, giving Vert Jungle a tropical touch. The Beaudoins' four children (all skaters) are sweet and charming — and shred like you wouldn't believe.
There's plenty of heart here, down to the mama cat and kittens. Accommodations range from basic tent camping to a luxury studio.
Skate sessions are primarily at night, and rippers of all ages come from around the world and put on a show.
As a skate instructor, Rob understands that not every skater has the guts to stand atop a vert ramp and plunge over the side — a free-falling act known as "dropping in." Rob knows acrophobia when he sees it, and it was written all over me. Just thinking about standing at the top of the ramp (15 feet at its highest point) sent my pulse into a frenzy.
Fortunately, Vert Jungle's ramp was designed with wimps like me in mind. Unlike most vert ramps, this one includes much lower roll-in entries, gentle as playground slides. I rolled in from the lowest point, just 3 feet high, and had a blast.
And if that's still too much?
Relax on the viewing platform and watch the serious skaters fly.