What do you picture when you hear the word wonderland? A beautiful kingdom with trees that gently contrast the stones of a brilliant castle? Or perhaps you imagine yourself 130 feet beneath the Earth, swimming with the mystical creatures that inhabit the sea. Or do you close your eyes as the Sun warms your skin while you gently sneak your toes into the infinite blanket of sand?
We all have our own picture of what a wonderland might look like. A place we could spend eternity in, to get away from the stress of our daily lives and enjoy the beauty of this life. Some of us daydream about the day we will finally be released from the imprisonment of our daily rituals; the day we get to embrace our wonderland. For some of us, this wonderland we so desperately desire is right within our grasp.
“I used to ride all the way from the other side of Vancouver just to come here,” says Dillon Mathison. Dillon is a 24-year-old who describes his very own wonderland. “It’s nice having a local place where I can go to just escape from everything.”
“You really relate to the other kids in that way. Everyone here is just looking to escape, and being here makes it possible.” His best friend Talyn Taylor adds.
Dillon and Talyn, as well as many others, share the same image of what a wonderland should look like.
Not So Far Away Nirvana
The sound of laughter dances in the air. High fives and fist bumps echo off the concrete and smiles consume the faces of everyone. Metal rails protrude from the ground and point towards a concrete vert wall. Opposite the wall is concrete boxes, lined with metal coping. Beyond the boxes, the earth swallows the ground to form a concrete bowl.
This is the Battleground Skatepark, and for many, an urban wonderland.
The Battleground Skatepark opened up in 2007, an enormous skatepark (compared to other local skateparks) boasting 27,500 square feet. With plenty of rails, table tops, hips, bowls and many other obstacles – the skatepark is often described as one of the most fluid parks in Washington.
That’s right, Washington’s finest skatepark, right in our backyard. At the far east end of Main Street, the skatepark welcomes in all aspiring athletes with open arms. There are plenty of amenities located close by such as a bathroom, food, and Battlegrounds very own Skateboard and Bike shop NW Ambush Extreme Sports.
A Man-Made Utopia
Dillon and Talyn both pursue BMX, otherwise known as Bicycle Motocross. BMX is a sport that was introduced in the early 1950’s, where one performs tricks on a bicycle, an extremely intricate performance to watch – much like skateboarding.
“I’ve been riding since 2008,” says Dillon. “I was cruising through town one day and saw someone doing Bunny Hop 360’s.” (A trick where one jumps their bicycle on flat ground, spins a full 360 degrees, before landing back in their starting position.) “I had to try it, and once I did I was hooked. I fell in love with it.”
Talyn explains how his love for riding dirt bikes introduced him to BMX, “It kept me on two wheels. Progressing through BMX also helps me progress on my dirt bike.”
An Arcadia for All Ages
It doesn’t matter whether you skateboard, ride scooters, rollerblades, or BMX – the Battleground Skatepark is a place where anyone of any age can pursue the passion that they love.
“All the little kids here watch you doing tricks,” says Talyn, “Then they go and try it in their own little way like jumping off the box or turning their handlebars.”
As you watch everyone at the skatepark progressing in their tricks, you are filled with a sense of accomplishment, even from watching. Your heart races and you find yourself smiling when you see them landing their tricks.
The sound of pegs grinding on the rails, skateboards slapping against the ground, and cheers from all the on-watchers fills your body with excitement.
For many, a wonderland is a fantasy. A fairytale that we tell ourselves to help get away from problems we may be facing. The Battleground Skatepark might not be most people’s idea of a wonderland – but for anyone who pursues the complexity of extreme sports, both local and those who are willing to travel, this skatepark makes your dreams a whole lot more tangible.
“We’ve spent countless hours here. It didn’t matter whether it was getting dark or about to rain. One day it was 110 degrees and we were still riding out here.” Talyn says.
“When you finally land that trick you’ve been trying for so long, it makes it all worth it,” Dillon adds.