Sunday, November 12, 2017

Staycation


Since we got Rita the Casita in August, we've racked up close to 30 nights being the yolk within her shell. Add in another 5 nights spent floating down Cataract Canyon and it becomes apparent why the pile of leaves on our curb is chest high. 


With our latest block of free time we entertained thoughts of Sedona and mountain bike trails, but as the time grew closer packing felt daunting. 


Our hearts simply desired to remain home. Meowzer's meows yearned for our presence, too.




Where we live and all it offers can be too easily taken for granted. Encountering visitors from around the world on our trails and in nearby parks is a reminder of why we are here.


So it was to be a staycation.


We'd begin a home project, tend to feline battle wounds, day trip for seasonal activities, catch a local sunrise, and enjoy this beautiful place we call home.



No matter where we travel, there's no place like home.





Thursday, October 26, 2017

Tender Fingers



For years after first tying into a rope and feeling the cool, textured rock under my fingertips, climbing became my main pursuit. Highs and lows, adventures and misadventures. Then I moved to southwest Colorado, little more than 100 miles from Indian Creek, a world renowned climbing destination, and ironically stopped climbing. My rekindled relationship with mountain biking was too much fun. Scattered forays back to climbing brought a realization that most of my time ascending rock was spent being terrified. My favorite part of the day was having both feet return to a flat earth. Note that this experience only applies to rock and not ice. To me, ice is a much more beautiful and alluring medium on which to climb and interact and is one I spend a good deal of winter seeking.
Every now and then I flirt with the idea of climbing rock again. Not to push my boundaries, but to slow down and enjoy nature, enjoy the movement. 


Keri is in a similar boat. Mostly, she'd like to be on her bike but there's a small ember reminding her climbing was once a minor obsession. One route in particular continually flared to her consciousness. A unique approach and two previous attempts thwarted by weather before exiting the car added to it's pull. Still though, we hadn't been climbing in ages. The thought was both tantalizing and off-putting. 


Would it be fun or would it be stressful, scary, miserable? Did we really care enough to dig out all we'd need? Can I even remember how to climb? After spending three months earlier this year in a cast, I also had doubts about my right arm's fitness.

With a slight gritting of teeth, we figured we needed to capitalize on our beautiful autumn weather. Travis and Amanda were also interested in joining us and further sealed our plans.


Though frozen ground, snow, and numb fingers greeted us upon stepping from the car I was surprisingly giddy with excitement. A river flanked by icy banks poured over a 175ft waterfall mere feet downstream blocking our passage to the sunny wall we planned to ascend. We'd arrived at Keri's intrigue. 



The lady with the plan
Our grins grew wider as we each crossed.


Keri's grin was even bigger when I arrived at her belay above our first pitch. Her goal was to lead at least one pitch on the four pitch route and she'd accomplished that off the bat. She proceeded to take me up the next two pitches of fun climbing with ease. 

Only those leading the way for others get butt shots. 
Travis lead Amanda up the entire route, too
Never scary, not difficult but requiring thought and technique, beautiful and perfect. We were all enjoying ourselves. Our puffy jackets appeared as the sun disappeared. With a minor jog off-route, I lead the final pitch. Keri followed, Travis wasn't far behind, then Amanda was on top too. 


Amanda about to top out her first multi-pitch climb
We did get lost on our way home. 

The way home
Margaritas and hot springs provided assistance finding our way. 



Monday, October 9, 2017

New Tradition?


If you've followed the blog for the past year, you may remember this post: Milestones

A quick summary-


Over Keri's birthday last year, we met my parents in Utah close to Zion National Park. During that trip we did a couple of slot canyons, both technical and nontechnical. It was a blast, but not completely planned to coincide with a birthday.



Back to current times



For weeks we had been planning on spending a few days in Crested Butte over Keri's birthday weekend. Fall colors are typically at their prime and our favorite trails become radioactive tunnels, glowing gold. We had our camping spot picked out, the bikes ready, Rita was packed but the weather was unaccommodating. Below freezing temperatures with snow and rain was forecast each day we were to be visiting. Fall ran off with summer and winter was all too eager for the stage.



We collected gear from a different pile, slept in, and veered west. Moab was generally dry with modest fall temperatures and a had few canyon adventures that piqued our interest. For the second time in two years, without intent, canyoneering became our birthday activity.

No presents under there...
This year our friend Erica, who has spent countless miles running through the wide-open desert expanse, was eager for a new, more narrow-sighted experience.



What she lacked in expertise she made up with in attitude and holy shit wide eyes.



Though our chosen route lacked significant classical slots, it had no shortage of character: a dozen rappels, potholes of hanta stew, buddy assisted down climbs, hugging holly bush thickets, cross-country travel.

Dodging Desert Tea

Mixing hanta stew
Navigating the descent proved unique in the canyon world. Typically once the entrance is found, navigation is easy; one simply follows the water down hill with no escape until it spills into the open basin with obvious exit. Our route was atypical, requiring careful navigation from car to bar.

Easy navigation I
Easy navigation II
GPS proved invaluable while locating the canyon's head and during a traverse into a second drainage to avoid a dead-end. Then again, with the sun rapidly setting, GPS assisted in finding an escape down cliffs small enough that our rope ends could tickle the earth.



That final rappel landed us a lazy throw from the car. 


Long, challenging, desolate, questioning if worth doing again, but rewarding. With no headlamps required and minimal shivering the adventure compass never wavered from Type II Fun.

Presents
Happy Birthday

The birthday girl

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Tadpole Jig

I can't quite recall why we decided on a riding trip to Wyoming, but that's where we found ourselves.


Parked under the broad star filled sky, Rita, our newest family member, appeared content. Rita who?


Rita the Casita!


Having been chased into our tent by poor weather, unable to cook too many times, we'd been lightly searching for a small camp trailer this past year. Rita very recently popped up for sale locally and we had to check it out. She was just about perfect and all we'd been seeking. This trip was the farthest from home we'd ventured and our first time challenging the elements together and though her skin was lashed by rain and gusts of wind, we remained warm and dry while cooking dinner, both agreeing she was worth every penny.




It appeared that the cooler temperatures and very fall like weather convinced leaves to change over night. Trees we remembered as being green the previous day were now yellow and orange.



Crisp air amplified the gravel's crunch as our tires passed. Friendly granite boulders, eons in age, invited us to play. And play we did. Up and down, traction was near limitless.




Exploration, like changing seasons, is refreshing.

Trying hard


Fall is synonymous with football here in the US. Travis happened to be in town, unconnected to our own visit, to support his alma mater, so we thought we'd link up and see what tailgating was all about.


Cowboy pride
A sea of gold and brown engulfed us quickly and I apparently looked very lost. A stranger thrust two tickets to the Wyoming vs. Oregon game into my hand, perhaps to act as a compass that ensured we would cheer for the home team.



The beer was strong and our collective memories of the game are weak. Luckily the alarm clock's strength prevailed in the morning and we all met for a fog-clearing farewell ride.


Entering
Ejecting

Returning home, we found the desert welcoming. No more fearing a mid-day ride and broil. Keri must have found her confidence in the long rays of sunlight; she attacked a number of haunting trail sections.



Moving forwards