Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The story so far...

Ok, it has been a while since I posted and I apologise. I started writing one when I was in LA and never got it finished or posted, so the start of this one is from there and I am just going to add on to the end of it. I will probably not get pictures on but will try my best to get some on as soon as possible.

Well my few days in Boulder were chilly ones, the above picture of my car is what I woke up to on Saturday morning, the temp was down to -8c. The highs and lows for that day were record temps for October in Boulder.

After taking about half an hour to defrost my car, I slowly drove it back to the car hire company, praying that I would not slip and slide on my last day and cause expensive damage. Thankfully I made it in one piece as it would appear that although very cold the roads seemed to be very clear and non icy for the most part. I had traveled over 2500 miles in the Hyundia by the time I handed it back, the guys in the rental shop were very impressed and asked where on earth I had been and they were just glad that they gave me a new car.

In my attempts at trying to be more frugal with my money I managed to blag a free ride into Denver in order to catch my train and was then just going to hang out in the train station till the early hours on Sunday morning. As it turned out Union Station in Denver is not owned by Amtrak but owned by Denver city itself and so do not allow you to crash in the staion after 9 at night. So in the end I had to get a room in a motel and a cab to get there and back which was extremely annoying.

In order to get the train I firstly had to take the connecting bus to Raton in New Mexico where the South Western line is. This was quite an epic journey in it's own right as the freezing weather conditions made it quite exciting, especially since the bus driver, although nice was clearly quite insane. Anyway we made it the train and my 26 hour people watching festival began. Very amusing and much fun. A couple of interesting moments include a Boyz in the hood style white dude getting jumped by the police as he got off the train for a smoke. He had been drinking and giving verbal abuse to the staff. Then one of the conductors who seemed to be doing a mega 48 hour shift was accidentally left on a platform somewhere in California. Hours and hours of full on entertainment, much better than the TV.

I have not really done much since arriving in LA but the weather has been very Scottish, clouds and rain. I think the whole sunshine and blue sky thing is just a fallacy. However the rain is very warm, so it is just a bit like having a shower. I will maybe come back and check the place out later on. I am more looking forward to going back to Utah and getting in some climbing. We are heading off in that direction tomorrow. Exciting.

The drive from LA to Utah was long but thankfully uneventful. I travelled with my new friend Wes in his lovely VW Jetta, that reminds me of my car, except for the fact that the steering wheel and gear stick, yes no automatic, are on the wrong side. I even took turns of driving and managed fairly successfully to change gear with my right hand. Awesome.

We have been in Joes Valley since the 16th October and have had many good climbing days. I have managed to stay uninjured apart from a few cuts and scrapes on my hands so am pretty pleased. There has been a fairly constant stream of people coming and going from the Valley. There seems to be a never ending stream of people living out of cars and vans and meandering through life at a fairly slow but enjoyable pace. I am beginning to feel quite at home and very much like a climbing bum, but kind of wish I was maybe a few years younger, but hey, I have never exactly stuck to lifes rules. That being said I was asked for ID when buying wine in LA on my 38th birthday. Very awesome. made my day!

For those that want to know I have managed to climb a few V4's and a V5, and even put up a First ascent, not sure what grade it was but it was fun. I went for a hike across the other side of the river on the left fork of the canyon one day with a local climber and we hiked a long way looking for new boulder problems, there were hundreds of boulders but not many were climbable. Steven found a couple and made me try the first ascents, one of which I did, he made me call it Braveheart! It was an extremely fun day even the river crossing in bare feet made me smile despite the freezing temperature.

The weather has changed just now and it is actually starting to snow while I sit in the warmth of Orangeville library and type this post. It hopefully is supposed to warm up over the next couple of days. Fingers crossed, because it gets a bit dull when you can not climb and the cold makes everything so much harder eg getting out of your warm sleeping bag, making a cup of tea and cooking dinner especially. We have been making campfires at night but even they are not much good when the wind picks up.

Many of you will be horrified or delighted by my complete and utter tinkyness. I finally washed my hair in the sink of the garage/food ranch bathroom the other day. It had been about 10 days since it's last look at some clean water. I will leave it to your imagination at the colour of the water that I washed out. I am not sure how long I will be here in total but am looking forward to a very long shower at some point, rather than my spit and polish washes in a sink. Grim maybe, but to be honest I am quite enjoying it, at one with nature and all that jazz. It makes me smile just knowing that some of my close friends would be apalled by my smelly ways. Hee Hee.

Not really too much else to report mostly just climbing, eating, staying warm and constantly trying to get dust out of my stupid tent. When I buy a new tent I will definitely buy a four season one that does not have mesh walls. Mesh is not a good idea for desert living, every time the wind blows my tent fills with endless amounts of fine dust covering everything including me if I am trying to sleep. Not so awesome and the only thing that is really getting on my nerves.

On an up note I found 2 really tasty bottles of wine when I was in LA. I chose them purely for their names and designs on the bottles. I think you would agree they are very cool if only they would upload, so will post them later. All you need to know was that one was called Happiness and the other Evil. Both were very good.

Thats all from a very cold Utah for today and sorry for the lack of photos.


Saturday, 10 October 2009

Canyons, canyons, canyons

Lopsided horizon and me

I have done quite a lot of traveling over the last few days. After leaving the sights of Wendover on Monday morning I crossed back across towards SLC and onwards to Moab.

Moab is an outdoor activity town and you can do everything from skydiving, quad biking and mountain biking to white water rafting and climbing. I however did not do any of those things, instead I toured some of the National parks.

On the Tuesday I set off South to one part of the Canyonlands National Park, where you pass through Indian Creek. I had wanted to go and have a look anyway but was also recommended by a friend before I left. Indian creek is famous for its many huge red sandstone crack climbs and they were not disappointing. How anyone manages to climb those things is incredible. I have never really had the opportunity to hand jam, but even if I was fit I don't think I would like to start there first, a little scary! However amazing to look at all the same.

I drove further into the park and paid the $10 entrance fee and was looking at the map of the area, when I realised I had made a very grave error in my haste to leave in the morning. I had not refueled and my quarter tank was now looking a bit poorly. I had failed to notice because I was too busy looking at the scenery that you kind of forget how many miles you have covered.
So I had to leave and hope that I could reach the petrol station back in Moab before I hit empty. About 20 miles from Moab the low petrol light came on! Ooops. Luckily much of that is downhill so I managed to cruise in neutral for a few miles and made it back just in the nick of time.

Once refueled there was still much of the day left so I went North a few miles to Arches National park. I can not really describe how amazing and vast these parks are and I am not even sure if my photos really do them justice either.

The following day I hit the trail again and went to another area of Canyonlands where I got my monies worth out of my previous days unused pass that was still valid. Awesomeness. I kind of felt very small and insignificant looking at these huge landscapes. Again hard to describe.

My final destination was Dead Horse Point, where cowboys used to corral the wild horses. I stayed there till sunset hoping to get some good photos of the rocks turning bright red but sadly the sun sank below a low could just at the wrong time. Still spectacular though.

I left the wonders of the Canyons on Thursday and have travelled back to Boulder in order to bring my hire car back. This 8 hour journey was made all the more exciting as it was snowing through the high ski resorts of Vail and Breckenridge, approx 12000 ft above sea level. The temperature has dropped quite dramatically this last week and even around Boulder today there was snow and icicles hanging from the rocks. Brrr.

I managed to get a little climbing today as I hooked up with two guys from the UK who invited me out. They lead some trad routes and I did 3 top roped routes. I was pleased as I was still in one piece at the end of the day and I tried finger locking for the first time. Sweet.

So the next plan is to leave here and catch a bus and then a train to LA where I am meeting up with my friends from Joe's and then heading back with them to Utah and the J Valley. A very round about kind of way to get there, but it is cheaper than car renting again and having just driven back in mid October I would hate to have done that drive in mid November when I do not have a 4x4. I reckon it would be impossible and impassible.

Heres hoping that I will get to climb more than 4 days this time. Fingers crossed.
Till next time xxx

All photos by Caroline Harvey

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Passing the time.

Road tripping on your own has it's pro's and cons, but whilst driving from Wendover to Moab today I was thinking about what I do to pass the time. Here is my list so far, they are in no particular order.

1) Sing along to the tunes that are blasting.

2) Dance (sort of) to the tunes that are blasting.

3) Change the radio channel every time a bad song comes on.

4) Take photos, when the road is clear and safe.

5) Butt clenches and pelvic floor exercises (maybe too much info).

6) Drink hot chocolate from my lovely blue Petzl thermos mug.

7) Look at the amazing scenery and wonder at the vastness of this country.

8) Look out for signposts and the occasional corner.

9) Look out for funny registration plates.

10) Wake up when I hit the rumble strips (joking).

11) Think about stupid things to write on my blog.

12) Add 7 hours to the time and wonder what all my friends and family are up to.

13) Guess the mileage of the next toilet stop or petrol station.

14) Look at things and think that they would make a great photo, if only I could stop.

15) Think about people I have met and conversations I have had.

16) Think about places I have been and places I want to go.

17) Wonder at what I am going to do with the rest of my life, although when this happens I usually try and do any or all of the above ;o)

Oh how the time flies. You can imagine the fun that I have.

Big love to y'all xx

Salt flats and Wendover

Salt flats and Accent

Self explanatory sign post


Salt flats and weather

Bored in Wendover

What to do?

No gambling, no drinking. Oh wait yes I can just step over the line.

I have a thing for signs at the minute.

The bat phone and bible, just in case.

Plastic grass, nice.

That's nice of them, didn't know they liked the internet.

Crap fast food. Endless.

Don't know Mr Stewart so will take the cash.

I may be a monster truck but Jesus will save you if I hit you. Doubt it!

Not your average trucker, the 10 commandments were also printed on this truck.

He was certainly carrying God size tyres.

All photos by Caroline Harvey

Monday, 5 October 2009

Don't think I will move here!

Left Salt Lake this morning in a thunder and rain storm. Travelled West on the I-80 to come visit the Bonneville Salt Flats where they do speed racing. The flats are 80 feet wide and 10 miles long. Sadly with all the grey clouds I don't think they looked as spectacular as they might have when they have blue skies and are more white in colour, but impressive none the less.

I booked in overnight to a motel as not very camping friendly here and my back probably would still appreciate the comfort of a bed. I thought that there might be more to see and do around the area but Wendover is a bit of a hole really. It has the state line of Utah and Nevada running through the middle of it and is basically a casino town. Not very attractive. The only selling point is that it seems to attract top end acts to play at the concert hall. I was very tempted to buy tickets for The 4 Tops, Joan Jet and the Blackhearts, The Chippendales and Alice Cooper, but sadly will be moving on again tomorrow.

They obviously do not eat any proper food here as I could only find fast food chains, none of which are any good for me, so have had corn tortillas with peanut butter and honey for my tea. Yumm. The one food shop of sorts that I did find was as well stocked as a garage forecourt on January 2nd, and managed by an unknown gender of human that had less charisma than the sole of my foot.

I took loads of photos of stuff but blogger does not seem to want to load them at the moment, so another time.


Sunday, 4 October 2009

Utah photos part 1

On the I-70 from Colorado to Utah

The road ahead, no roundabouts, no traffic lights for miles and miles

Self portrait, it's legal to use a camera whilst driving, isn't it?

The Accent in Utah

Sweet boots

I didn't go that way!

Camping dinner with a view

The reservoir


The best view from a bath ever I think, chilly though!

The crew, Wes, Daryl, Paul and Claire

Wes on Hooters

Daryl and Wes

Claire on Wills a fire, her nemesis

The place in SLC to get good back medicine

I like these they look like little firemen

Never far from home

Knifes and Coca Cola an American institution

The Mormon Temple in SLC

Photos by Caroline Harvey

Saturday, 3 October 2009

The best laid plans....

Well, I am not quite sure where to begin really as it has been quite a surreal few days since I last posted.

As I think I mentioned in my last post my stupid back started to cause me bother again. It did not seem too bad when I first felt it pinch, relative to other times when it has gone anyway, so at first I was not hugely concerned as little pinches have sometimes disappeared in a couple of days. This time however was not the case. A week after the initial pain (Wednesday Sept 30th) I woke up to find that it was starting to seize up quite badly, so bad that it took me about an hour to get out of my tent and all I had to do was get my trousers, tee shirt and shoes on. Nightmare! Once out and able to stand I definitely knew I was in serious trouble. I had already decided the day before that I was going to take off and drive to Salt Lake City in order to try and find someone to fix me, but now there was no way that I could drive even with my automatic transmission gizmo. You can well imagine the swear words and thoughts that were circling my brain at this point. I slowly walked around and banged my head off a few trees until my fellow campers woke up, desperately trying to fathom a way out of my situation and wishing that I had remembered to pack my teleporter!

The only solution I could think of was 100% dependent on the generosity and kindheartedness of one of my new found friends who was due to head home from Joe's Valley in the next couple of days for a friends wedding. So with fingers crossed I asked Wes if he would drive me in my car to SLC where we would hopefully find a hotel to stay in, someone to fix my back and then I would buy him a flight back to his home town of LA. Thankfully being the amazingly super lovely person that he is, he obliged and I will be forever thankful.

So I headed off on my 2nd road trip not quite the way I had hoped or planned and although slightly uncomfortable it was a good one, as my newly found Louise was truly excellent company and kept me smiling the whole way.

We arrived in SLC and found the hotel we had looked upon the net before we left Joe's. We booked in and dumped our stuff and after a well deserved shower and a change of clothes we headed out to find a place to eat. Thankfully by this point I was becoming slightly more mobile and the walking into town was helpful in stretching me out a little more. We were quite early in eating tea so headed back to the hotel for a wee while and checked out places to go drinking! This was not as hard as we had thought considering the Mormin rules and regulations about alcohol. We found a very pleasant bar called The Bayou that had so many choices of beers Wes was finding it hard to choose, although his mind was made up quite quickly when he saw one called Poligimy Porter! I also had a good choice as they stocked 4 gluten free beers and about 5 different ciders. Happy days. After 2 ciders my pain was decreasing so we racked up the pool table for a few games. After 3 ciders I was playing quite well.

As we were finishing and about to leave, Wes was invited to the neighbouring table for another game. This man was called Kevin, a local to SLC and clearly not a mormin. He invited us to accompany him to another pool bar and so as not to appear rude we accepted, he also very kindly bought us more drinks. Anyways long story short, 3 pints and 2 tequillas later pain almost gone. Happy happy days.

Obviously my medicinal drinks were only a temporary measure so in the morning I phoned a chiropractor. I don't think I will bore you with details of this but suffice to say I have been cracked by a holistic quack twice and I think am starting to feel better and mending slowly.

I have been away now for a month and typically for my life it has not gone to plan. I have climbed very little and spent way too much of my budget on unforeseen circumstances. Despite this, I have had a great few days here in SLC, mainly due to my knight in shining armour keeping me sane and my spirits (non alcoholic) high. He flew home this afternoon so I am now left to think about my plans, which sadly will not include any climbing for the time being.

I will try and post a photo montage of the story so far tomorrow.