i’ve never camped for a whole month. settled down in one space to climb. plant myself in the middle of nowhere kentucky without cell service.
it’s over now. not the adventure, but this chapter.
colby and i packed up the car this morning and hit the road again. this time, we’re headed back west. to red rocks in vegas and then onto bishop in california.
but what happened to the past month? i cannot figure out where all the time went. probably into endless fits of laughter, sore fingertips, and late night conversations.
i haven’t felt like writing. i haven’t had the words to put my experiences onto paper. i haven’t felt like letting anyone else in on the world i had created. a space in the woods where i felt safe. where i was surrounded by people who did not question you on anything other than what project you did or didn’t send today. unless you wanted them to…
i found the ones i wanted to know more.
and then my time disappeared.
as it always does.
and then it was today.
but what happened yesterday? what happened the day before? or even last week?
let me make a list of the highlights.
- healing the cripple. ryan walked away from a head-on collision with only some aftermath from the seatbelt aka broken ribs. hanging out with our “family” was not good for his ribs. we made ryan laugh so hard it hurt. literally. and here i thought laughter was the best medicine for everything. i am pretty sure his hand grasping his boob during an outburst of laughter is now just a reflex.
- the shanteen construction. having a shanty town makes you a local. having a home makes you feel safe. it gives you somewhere to escape the masses when you just want to be alone. or when you want some quiet. walking from the front of miguel’s past the bathrooms across the small bridge along the glow worm lined path down the line of shrubbery and ending at the warm glowing lantern light telling me someone was home.
- climbing (rock). that is why we were all there. taking time to problem solve the rock. sitting at the crag cheering each other on. smiling when we finish something we’ve been working on. feeling our muscles give out and the skin on our fingertips disintegrate. feel weak. feel strong. collect a list of your favorite climbs. collect a list of your projects. i got on a 5.11b technical, vertical climb (random precision at the gallery wall) last year when i was in the red. i didn’t get to the top clean. this year, i did. and i did it in the rain. i got on another 5.11b (like a turtle at the bronaugh wall) that i had taken about six whippers on trying to get to the last bolt before the anchors at the beginning of this trip. yesterday, i got to the anchors. not clean, but only one hang. it’s those moments of small satisfaction that make you love the rock even more. make you love the people around you even more. make you love this community even more. and make you want to come back next year.
- an australian thanksgiving. they don’t have thanksgiving in australia. weird, i know. this month has been filled with a lot of learning the cultural differences between australians and americans. new words. new foods. new holidays. we wanted to make sure that our two aussies experienced a true american thanksgiving, even if it was only october. and so, we sent lauren and ben to the grocery store and then off to jen’s cabin to slave away over the stove on one of our rest days. i sat on the couch and did work as the boys watched some sunday football. the aussies were rather impressed with my knowledge as i explained all the rules of the game. thanks college. colby and lauren cooked up quite the meal. including homemade pies. we said what we were grateful for. we stuffed our faces. we took naps. it was a success.
- the new river gorge. sometimes when you spend a month in one place, you want to visit somewhere else. and since i was with someone who was trying to see as many of america’s climbing destinations as possible before heading back to australia, we rented a car and headed to the new river gorge in west virginia for a long weekend. we were half running away from a kentucky cold front and half just running away. with fall in full swing, the four hour drive was beautiful. the climbing was beautiful. we stayed in a cheap hotel room. i don’t think i have ever been so excited to see a bathtub in my life. endless hot water! and a toilet just steps away from the bed! and the restaurants in fayetteville are actually pretty great. it’s a cute little town with a very big single span arch bridge. and it was a cute little weekend of touring the area with my aussie. giving him several new experiences…like dirty ernie’s rib pit. classic.
- family game night. there is nothing better than family game nights. especially when your family is a bunch of immature adults who find everything absolutely hilarious. add in cards against humanity and you have a couple hours of constant laughter. eight people crowded around a picnic table covered with camping stoves and dirty dishes and food particles and toothbrushes. alan, ben, ryan, colby, lauren, mark, steph, and me. mark won. the game was made for him. but to be entirely cheesy…we all were winners that night. there were hordes of climbers a few hundred yards away, but we were in our own little world. laughing our asses off until it was time to sleep.
- saying goodbye. this is a concept that doesn’t really exist in my life and i love it. it’s always goodbye for now. goodbye to simeon (until i see you everywhere). goodbye to elodie (until i see you again in thailand? or maybe france). goodbye to alan (until i see you a week later back at the red). goodbye to ben (until i see you a couple weeks later in bishop for thanksgiving). goodbye to lauren and mark (until i see you tonight in a hotel room in tulsa). goodbye to ryan (until i see you again in australia). i’ve always been good at keeping in contact with those who impact me. those that i want to keep impacting me. technology makes it easy to call and email and chat and blog. airplanes make it easy to go hug the people that live faraway. goodbye is no longer goodbye in this world. and so i’m adopting a new australian sign off.
addendum: simeon’s visit to the red also should have made the list. magical.