Words: Travis Dopp Photos: Brett Ferguson

This story starts out in Tony’s extra bedroom/ office – I asked if I could go on Quiksilver’s team trip to Chicago, since I have friends there and it’s close to where I grew up. Tony sat with the idea for a second and then, like that, he gave me the green light. I don’t even think he was listening to me, ‘cause he was looking at a picture of his girlfriend and mumbling the words to that Vanessa Carlton jam “… making my way downtown, walking fast …”

I was sitting there and we were going through some ideas on how I should write this story. Tony was telling me that I tend to write everything in PRESENT TENSE and he would like me to write in PAST TENSE. So what I’ve decided to do is try to write in both tenses. Hold on tight, cause we’re going to be going through some wormholes. Let’s go back in time first.

DAY ONE: July 5th


Ten in the morning, Chicago time, I put in the call to Charles (AVE filmer) – Charles did not answer, so I tried Staker. Staker answered, Charles and Staker were sitting in the “Team Alliance 4-Runner” (Charles’s car) outside of the airport, both with zero phone power. It seems they both forgot their phone chargers and had planned on picking me up at Chris Heavener’s place, but how would they find me if they didn’t have phone juice? I felt aban- doned, lost for the first time in my life … but anyway I toughened up and Charles gave his word that he would find me.


Chris came up to Michigan for some shows and to kick it for the 4th of July. This story isn’t about the 4th– it’s about the Quiksilver team’s first ever wake road trip and it takes place in Chicago and various Midwest surroundings. Chris and I left my brother’s pad early in the morning to meet up with “Team Alliance” and the Quiksilver guys. Our journey to Chicago was successful and “Team Alliance” found me. So our next mission was to find our photog- rapher. “What’s his back story?” I asked. It turned out that Matt worked with Brett. He’s Josh Letchworth’s brother-in-law and word on the street was that he rips. Charles and I decided that we were going to call him a new name every minute. For example: Jack, Henry, Clark or Brad. So we go back to the airport and there he is – a dude with dreads. He found his place in the back seat next to Matt and from that moment we knew he would be perfect for “Team Alliance.”


Fox River was our first chore – our first mis- sion. This river was two hours outside of Chicago, but I think it took us four hours to get there. Ben Greenwood was calling and checking in on us, but every move Charles made was a wrong turn. Eventually we found the Broken Oar – the establishment where the Quiksilver event was being held. We rolled up and Ben greeted us with open arms – we started our stretches and the unloading of our equipment. The Broken Oar was a two-story bar on the Fox River with a great outside din- ing area and great people. So we met the rest of the crew and the only people missing were young Jacob Valdez and his mother. Ben asked me to MC the event and I don’t think everyone really understood what I was doing on the mic, maybe I was doing it wrong. I wasn’t very informed on what the event was all about so I just let it flow. Some cuss words accidently flowed out and it wasn’t really going that well so Ben Greenwood took the mic back and ran the show. He really got the ball a rolling. The games got started and free gear was handed out. When the riders started their session in front of the bar, the river was chaotic with boat traffic. That didn’t stop Collin Harrington, Jeff House or Ben. When Ben rode he passed the microphone to his girlfriend Michelle – she continued to keep the games going and more free stuff was handed out. Still no sign of Jacob Valdez.

List of Games We Played

1) Sing a Black Eyed Peas jam with me
2) The first person to place a Quiksilver sticker on someone at the bar
3) Trivia – there were a lot of questions asked, but I can’t remember all of them.
4) Shots of soda
5) Autograph session

The games were still being played when young Jacob Valdez strolled up and was ready to ride. He tore that messy river up; did I tell you he is only 12 years old? This young dude can pack a kick. We shook hands by him giving me a 25% kick in the stomach. Still, to this day, I believe he gave me a 60% kick.

The event came to an end when Mother Nature decided to turn out the lights. So we pulled the boats out, got all of the troops to- gether and made our way to the big, bad city … the Windy City – Chicago.

Our hotel was in the heart of Chicago and while we were getting situated, Moe (Quiksilver Marketing), called everyone into his room to eat some pizza. What a perfect way to end the night. Only two bad things happened on the first day – Brett lost his phone and we were only going to get three hours of sleep that night.

DAY TWO: July 6th


Five o’clock in the morning came around quickly, but hey – we’re going to be shaking and baking on Lake Michigan in front of the skyline, you don’t see that every day. The boats were dropped in, the Great Lake’s morning breath smelled like diamonds and Jeff House was getting ready to shred. Jeff got the best water … let me rephrase that, he got the butters.

Our morning was kind of cut short, ‘cause we went into Navy Pier and supposedly sent some rollers at a huge boat called The Odyssey. We tried a couple of double-ups and then high tailed it out of there. A few minutes later, as Jeff was having a great sesh and we were cruising along, we saw a pretty big boat in the distance hauling in our direction – I mean, we could have only been on the move for about six minutes and yep, it was the water cops.


So here I am, lying on my couch months later and laughing about the $150.00 ticket they wrote ME, because I was the only one who had a drivers license on the water (at least that is how the other guys played it). I wonder who paid that ticket? I wonder if those boat cops will find me in Florida? You want to hear what they said to us? Cop quote: “If we were the Coast Guard you’d be f***ed.” They say these sorts of things when you don’t have tags or fire extinguishers or enough life jackets on your boat. I’m going to take a nap.


The cops held us up, so The Great Lake pun- ished us for mistreating her piers. The chop and winds started to pick up, Collin’s ride was cut short, and Jacob’s was a ride from Hell – I can’t believe he wanted to ride back to the ramp in the chop. I mean, our boat was jump- ing every other wave, it was insane. Ben didn’t get a chance to ride on that beautiful day. It was breakfast and naptime – a moment of silence … shhh.

We were supposed to go to Kenosha, WI, but we opted for a return trip to the Fox River. This time the river would feel the wrath of the Quiksilver team. The Fox River is really cool because of how much the scenery changes around each turn – one stretch it feels like you’re in a pond, next you’re at a National Park and then you’re in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Illinois. The boys had a great sesh and it was time to make it back to the Broken Oar, where Robin Valdez had food waiting for us. Robin is hands down, the great-est wake mom in the scene – she took care of everyone like we were her own. Thank you so much.

Once again the boats were packed up and the teams were loaded into their whips and we made our way to Kenosha, WI. Along the way we decided to grab some dinner at Burger King. While we were all enjoying our dinner, I saw this crazy dude in the background beating the shit out of the pay phone. As we walked out outside he was yelling and Brett yelled back at him. The crazy guy screams at us, “Get away from me boys, I’ve got guns.” And then he continued out into a field throwing his arms up in the air at the world. We high tailed it out of there; I could only imagine what he had planned for that night.


Ahh, the Comfort Suites are perfect, but not that perfect, ‘cause there is no AC in our room. I call the front desk and they said they’ll try to fix it, but until then why don’t I come down and get a box fan. When I walk past Moe and EB’s room I notice it is freezing and EB says something along the lines of, “Man, I had to put on a long sleeve – it’s freezing in here.” I return to “Team Alliance’s” room and everyone is in their boxers with their shirts off. I hate sleeping in a sweatbox. Right now I’m sitting in front of two fans and all of my memories are getting blown into the back of my head.

DAY THREE: July 7th


Bright and early in the Comfort Suites lobby, everyone was eating their morn- ing meal and getting their heads around the thought of going to a private/man- made lake. So we headed outside of Kenosha to Paul Shumaker’s place to do some riding. We made our way down this long path and … boom – there’s this glassy lake staring us in the face, calling us on. You couldn’t ask for a better day at all – the runway was a little short, but beggars can’t be choos- ers. This day was full of some wicked riding, some wicked double-ups, a wick-ed lunch at Chili’s and some wicked swimming. The night came upon us and we made our way back to the sweatbox.

DAY FOUR: July 8th


Woke up in Kenosha and we were on our way to some huge lake, but it was so busy and so choppy we decided to go to Lake Benedict. Lake Benedict has some crazy rule,
or maybe the majority of Wisconsin lakes have this “no riding” rule before 10:00 a.m. I think it’s for the fisher- men. Mark Ruck (Erik’s brother) came out to be our host and this lake was a good time until we got pulled over once again by a water cop. Ten minutes to 10:00 a.m. – you’ve got to be kidding me. So the cop stopped our sesh and was issuing us $150.00 tickets for each boat. Staker tried to pull a fast one on him by giving him a credit card that was turned off – it didn’t work, so Charles had to pay for it. While we waited for the tickets to go through we played a little game called “Whom would you rather date?” You take two celebrities and decide which one you’d rather date
– this game went on for about an hour. After the tickets were paid we loaded the boats and made our way back to the private lake. Paul’s daughter, Savanna Shumaker, was our host at their lake. This day was a little more relaxed and laid back – we did some wake surfing, some swim- ming, “Team Alliance” shot a little short film about being stranded on an island, and then we did some riding. The rays were perfect and the water told me a story, no – I just stared at it for a while and thought I heard something, but it was Brett yelling from the island to pick him up. Anyway, Moe told us a couple of nights ago that we were going to be going back to Chicago and eating at some hot restau- rant. We were Chicago bound and loving it.

I was sitting in our room with AC and I had no idea what was going on – so I turned to Brett and asked what we were doing – “All I know is that we have to be in the lobby at eight o’clock.” He was right; everybody was downstairs in the lobby. Chris Heavener showed up to eat some din- ner with us. The dinner place was really good – I wish I remember what it was called. So the night was getting a little wild and I decided to go see my buddies new bar – it’s a 5:00 a.m. closing bar and we were supposed to meet up at Lake Michigan at 4:30am. 

DAY FIVE: July 9th


I called Charles to let him know that I was making my way to the lake. I rounded up some friends, called a cab and made it to the water. That morning was very cloudy, but the waters were calling us on. Ben started off with a bang and everyone else followed suit. We ran into some drama with a swim- mer who was not happy that I was try- ing to pick up Staker from the shore. He kept yelling this at me, over and over, “You can’t do that!” I wanted to hit him with the boat, but I knew if I were to do that I would have gotten into some trouble, so I just had Staker go down to the other side and picked him up there. Everyone needed sleep and all that was left was to get some interviews done and then the work week would be officially done – done for me. Jeff was the first to leave us, and then the next day everyone else was leaving. I would like to thank Quiksilver, EB, Moe, Chicago Mas- tercraft (Mark Michilini), Broken Oar (Nick Stiller), Robin Valdez and Ben’s girlfriend, Michelle. Thank you for everything – let’s do this again next year.