Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Stats and reality

Final bouldering days with Val at Paradise Valley.

I have now been home for a week now and well it feels like I have never been away. When you are away for a prolonged period of time you think that so much will have changed, but in reality nothing much does. Everybody just ticks along the same as normal. My friends children have all grown a few more inches, there are some new buildings and traffic systems around town but that is about it. I don't really know what I was expecting but you always imagine the world you normally live in speeding on without you, when in actual fact I have probably changed more than my surroundings.

My flight back flew from Vancouver via Frankfurt to Edinburgh. The long 10 hr part of this flight was possibly the worst flight I have ever been on. Not any fault of the airline, I just seemed to get airsick. I think it was a combination of a few things, sitting at the very rear of the plane, turbulence, and homecoming nerves. Whatever it was it made me very sick and my 3 hr stop over in Frankfurt felt more like 6. I eventually arrived back in Edinburgh around 6pm on the Tuesday evening to a wonderful greeting from Emma and Diff. It was wonderful to see familiar faces after all this time.

I can usually combat jet lag quite well but this time it got me good and it was not until last night that I had my first sound sleep. This pleased me no end as I was starting to get very weary of waking between 4am and 5am. Although this does have it's plus side if I want to chat to any of my friends who are about 7 or 8 hrs behind.

Now all I need to do is get a job! Although some of you think that I am slightly work shy these days I actually do enjoy the routine of work. The part I hate with a vengeance is CV and application writing and interviews. Euch! This part I am not looking forward to at all, but hey ho it has got to be done.

Anyway enough of reality. I will leave you with some final stats from my trip just in case anyone is interested.

I drove through or visited 21 US States.

I drove my Saturn 13326 miles/21447km in 6 months.

I slept on various sofas 56 times.

I slept in my car or tent for two thirds of the year.

I read 39 books in one year.

I went to the cinema 9 times.

I watched Zombieland at least 10 times.

I only had 3 injuries.

Wore out 2 pairs of 5.10 Anazazis.

Ate my body weight in peanut butter and corn tortillas.

Broke 3 sporks trying to get peanut butter out the jar before learning to use a metal spoon.

Climbed lots.

Had fun lots.

So my extremely awesome trip is all over but I will keep my blog updated with photos and any new adventures. Thanks to all of you that have followed my travels and read my chat.


Thursday, 19 August 2010

Final Countdown

Proof that I have been climbing. The Peddler V3, Paradise Valley

Apologies for the lack of blogging activity over the last while but there has not really been too much to report. Since my return to Squamish from Banff I have been doing a mixture of climbing, hiking and just generally chilling out. I decided with so little time left just to relax and enjoy the peaceful and stress free lifestyle I have become accustomed to over the last year, because I know that on my return home things will definitely become hectic once more.

It has also been very hot and the thought of driving any where in my car with no air con was just not an exciting prospect. These lovely Summer days have led to some great days out with the amazing group of friends that I have here. An example from last Sunday. I was picked up by Sandra about 9am, driven into Squamish to meet up with Val and Stu for breakfast followed by a great session bouldering in Paradise Valley. By late afternoon we were all tired and very hot so we went to Brohm Lake for a swim and a few refreshing beverages. We then needed fed and went out for dinner with other people that had joined us at the lake. I was dropped off back at my tent about 9pm. Great day. As if that wasn't good enough, the following morning Val and Stu on their way to work delivered a homemade blackberry and apple gluten free pie and a fresh mug of decaf coffee to my campsite. I do believe it brought a tear to my eye.

So many tales to tell but they would take me far too long to try and type them on here so I will keep them to bore those of you that are willing to listen when I get home.

It is hard to believe that I leave on monday (4 days). I really do not know where the time has gone. Parts of the last month have varied between passing incredibly slowly or so fast it is hard to know what day I am on and my emotions have flitted between excitement and sadness at the prospect of leaving and going home.

I have been mulling over how I feel about my time away and my feelings about going home. I think that it is fair to say that I think this past year has been the best one in my life so far. I am not sure how much my climbing has improved because I know that I probably have not done as much as I could have if I had a partner with me. This trip though was not just about the climbing. The climbing gave me a focus and something to travel for and has taken me to amazing places that I hope I can revisit in the future. This trip was to help me find my soul again and prove to myself that I can take on a big adventure on my own and succeed. I feel that I have achieved this and I am much more content with who I am and who I want to be. Not all of it has been easy and I have had my ups and downs, but the ups far out way any of the downs that have happened.

None of this could have happened if it were not for the wonderful support I've had from my parents and friends back home, who have kept me sane for many a long year. They continued to keep me up to date with their lives and any gossip that was worth passing along so that I did not get too homesick.

My journey has also been made unforgettable by the many many new friends that I have made along the way. I find it hard to express in words the kindness and generosity that people have shown me. Some of these people were just passing acquaintancies that I may never see or speak to again, but there are those that I hope will be life long friends. Every single one of these people made a difference to the path that I travelled and I will always be eternally grateful to them all. I only hope that I can repay some of the kindness I have been shown should any of them travel to Scotland.

It is hard to believe that this time next week I will be home and trying to settle back into my life in Edinburgh. I am obviously extremely excited to catch up with my friends and family, but the prospect of finding a job is not so enticing. Sadly I have not had any epiphanies about that part of my life. My main objective now is to remain happy and I will do everything in my power to stay that way for as long as possible. I am looking forward to the next phase of my life, the prospect of new paths and new people. Another chapter waiting to begin.

So this will probably be my last blog from my tour of the USA and Canada but I will do a final one from home that will include some stats from my journey. Until then I am going to spend my last few days enjoying the comfort of Sandras' sofa and shower and I fear I will be forced to imbibe in a few beverages on Saturday night. There has also been talk of another home made pie. Yumm.

The Burgh is calling, see you all soon.
Peace and love

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Festivals and Banff

Diane, Bobbie, me

When I was in Tennessee back in May, I was in a car park near to the bouldering area I was going to, when the lady parked next to me started to chat. She remarked on my BC plates and said I was a long way from home. The conversation progressed and we exchanged short snippets of information and names. Diane told me that she would be in Banff in July for some hiking and I would be very welcome should my plans allow. Email addresses were written and we parted company.

On my return to BC from the States, it was easier for me to see what my plans etc would be and it turned out that the dates that Diane and her friends would be in Banff fitted well into my plans.

I wanted to stay in Squamish for the weekend of the Mountain Festival. I bought myself some tickets to see a photographic slide show presentation/competition by some of the top outdoor photographers, presentations by Royal Robbins and Tommy Caldwell and last but not least a ticket to the Party.

The photographers slide shows were amazing and inspiring with photos from around the world as well as locally. It was great motivation for me to learn much more about outdoor photography. The presentation by Royal Robbins, a big wall climbing legend was funny and very interesting. Tommy Caldwell on the other hand was extremely disappointing, but I suppose not all climbers are slide show/talk specialists. Partying in Squamish was much fun though, lots of drinking, dancing and fun.

I left a day to recover before I hit the road for my 12 hour drive to Banff, Alberta, to meet up with Diane. The drive was good and it was great to be welcomed by Diane and Bobbie in a comfy condo with a shower and lovely food.

I spent the next 5 days hiking some of the most scenic trails I have ever been on. Diane and Bobbie were amazing to hike with and I am extremely grateful to their outstanding generosity and kindness. These ladies have a passion for hiking and would put most people half their age to shame with their endless energy. I would also like to thank Bobbie for taking more photos of me in 5 days than I have collectively over the last year.

Banff National Park did not disappoint and I would suggest that you visit if you like uncomplicated hiking with fantastic mountain scenery.

I am now back in Squamish trying to get in some climbing with my wonderful Canadian climbing buddies before leaving to come home. Just over 3 weeks away now.

How time flies.

View from the top of Sentinal Pass

Me trying to be a photographer

Did not see any!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


The last week or so has been very sunny and hot here in Squamish. I have found that the best place to go to get a bit of a cooling breeze is at the shoreline. Apart from being a dog walkers paradise, it also is the home of many permanent slack lines. I decided to try my hand at this dirtbag climber recreational activity. Fun.


Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Quiet Times

Well it is the last day of June already, so have been in Squamish for a month now. In that time I have not done a great deal of climbing, especially bouldering. I had a very enjoyable time with my friend Sandra for a couple of weeks before she had to head back to work. I led some more sports routes and got my first taste of crack climbing. All of which was amazing.

My psyche for bouldering is pretty low at the moment, mostly because of my continually aching shoulder, but also because I don't want to climb on my own but am having a particularly anti social spell. It is a weird paradox that is kind of hard to explain, so I am not going to try and bother. I think it is really just a symptom of being on the road for this length of time and my need for home comforts and friends etc is starting to kick in. Although I am free from the stresses and strains of normal life, this road tripping lifestyle can become quite tiring. Don't get me wrong I am not grumbling, I will leave that till I get home and have to find a job of some description! My body is starting to tell me that it needs some proper comfort like a good bed to sleep in, a comfortable chair to sit on, a readily available shower and somewhere to cook proper meals.

However, all that being said I am still enjoying being where I am and enjoying being outdoors. I have been passing my time just relaxing, reading books, taking photos, and walking and running some trails. I am making sure to savour these moments while I have them, because before I know it I will be back once again in The Burgh.


Monday, 21 June 2010

60 hrs driving in 5 mins

Here is a wee video i made of my epic drive from Tennessee to BC at the beginning of the month.
Oops this is only a small section of video. Blogger will not install my longer 5 min version. Sorry.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Rainy Days

Shannon falls pre rain

Shannon falls post rain

Not really too much to report from the very beautiful but very wet Squamish. I have been here about a week and a half now and it has rained quite a lot of that time. The first week I was taking some time out from the climbing as I had lost my psyche to go climb by myself and the weather was not really helping. It was also a good rest for my shoulder which seems to have a permanent ache. I have been hiking though which has been great, lots and lots of uphill slogs followed by a good stroll back down.

A friend from North Vancouver joined me on Tuesday for a couple of days and we had a great time at the boulders. It was good to be back and psyched to climb again. I think climbing with another girl was just what I needed, we had fun and giggles. Yesterday we went for a hike in the rain. We tried to get to Garibaldi Lake but did not quite make it due to the ever deepening snow line. Cold and damp after being out for nearly 5 hours we headed back to downtown Squamish for hot chocolate and soup.

Not too much else to report really, the forecast is supposed to pick up for the weekend. Fingers crossed.

Peace x

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

A category 2

Mine is bigger than yours!

Machismo Machine

Just in case you were having trouble trying to imagine the kind of truck I was talking about in my previous post. Here is a prime example of a category 2 tail gater vehicle.

Monday, 31 May 2010

A Drive and and a half

Driving, driving, driving

Well I have made it back to Canada. I had to leave the USA not because of a visa this time but because my car insurance ran out on the 1st of June and I could not renew it from over the border. So began the long journey from Knoxville to Squamish.

I gave myself a week to do the trip as I wanted to go via Yosemite and Redwood in California. I had a choice of a few routes. I could head south and go through Texas, Arizona etc but I had been along that route already with Wes so decided against it. I could come back the way I came but did not want to endure Kansas again, so opted to go North through Nebraska and Wyoming.

I left a very hot Tennessee on the Monday morning and survived a sticky non air conditioned 13 hour drive to Rockport, Missouri. The next morning I set off West. A whole 16 hours West towards Salt Lake City. My left arm was getting very hot and a little sun burnt by this point. I arrived in SLC about 9.30pm. My friend Steven was very kindly letting me use his house to kip in even although he was in Colorado. I have never been so pleased to see a bed as I did that night. I awoke the next morning and really did not have the energy or inclination to get back into my car again, so decided to have a quiet day doing nothing.

That quiet day turned into a very fun and exciting day. As I was having breakfast I noticed a man in Steven's garden, so thought I would be a good house guest and check who it was. It turned out to be his Dad who had come to cut the grass. We chatted and had a cup of tea, then he asked if I would like a ride on his motorbike, a 750cc Honda, for those interested. I of course accepted because I had never been pillion on a big bike like that before. It was so much fun he took me on a 50 mile tour of the canyons surrounding the city, including driving along the highway at 80mph. Awesome! In the evening he treated me to a Thai dinner. Once again US hospitality amazing. I am so glad I decided to have a day off.

The following day I jumped back in the car and intended to get to Yosemite so that I could spend al the next day there. To cut a long story short I did not get there. Snow, closed roads and much swearing on my part took me in a huge circle that took me back to where I had once been. Totally scunnered I gave up the idea as to now get there would be so much more driving and I mentally could not take anymore. I got a motel in Tahoe and decided just to head straight North the next day. Squamish was still a 2 day drive away.

I crossed the very busy Memorial day weekend traffic at the border patrol and was thankfully let back into Canada after a 1 hour wait. Annoyingly the border guard lady did not take my US visa thingy out my passport and I did not think to look until it was too late. So i will have to go back to a border and try and hand it in. Federal offence if I don't, but I will wait till my butt has forgotten the 60 hours of driving trauma.

Spending that much time on the road by yourself gives you time to mull over many things, so in between taking photos/video, texting people, looking at the map etc, I studied other road users. It would appear that tail gating is as much a national sport as football, baseball, ice hockey and just like these sports the supporters of this sport are all very different. I have made 4 categories.

1) The Trucker, generally male and from those that I have seen overweight. They will drive their million tonne truck at least 2 feet from your bumper. They clearly do not like to touch the brakes as this would make them drive at the speed limit. If you can you get out the way as fast as possible, if you can't then you just have to stick it out and hope that he can muster more speed to get past you.

2) The non lorry truck driver, again generally male. The make of truck does not matter it could be Chevy, Dodge, Nissan, Toyota they are all the same. They will drive right on your ass for as long as it takes for you to get out of their way. You know that they do not want to bump into you as they would not afflict any damage to the very expensive turbo charged often pimped out extension of their manhood. Either get out their way as soon as you can, but it is more likely he will under take at the nearest opportunity to get to that important meeting/bar he has to go to.

3) The general run of the mill car driving asshole that just seems to be in a hurry all the time. He will tail gate then as he passes will give you the death stare before he speedily cuts you off and shots off down the nearest exit.

4) The last but possibly the most scary is the female that drives something expensive that either Hubby or Daddy bought her. She will tail gate even when there is room, space, time to over take but she does not notice as she is too busy talking with nobody important on her phone. If you are really lucky she will be checking her hair and putting on her lipstick too.

I am sure there are more categories but those are the main ones. They probably hate Canadians who take photos and text, but actually I don't think they care too much about their cross border neighbors anyway.

Mother truckers on my ass

So what am I going to be doing over my last 12 weeks. Yes only 12 weeks left, I personally can't believe it. At the moment I am not doing too much as guess what it is raining. I am actually quite psyched on doing some walking and trail running if I can, my fitness has certainly taken a bit of a dive over the last 9 months. So in other words I will keep you posted as I don't know what I will be doing or seeing.

I tried to post the video I made but it won't upload. Will try another time. Sorry.


I thought I recognised the gray clouds and rain.

All photos by Caroline Harvey

Monday, 24 May 2010

Moving on.

Knoxville, Tennessee

It is time to move again and I have to say my farewells to the South and head back north to Canada. I have to say I am quite sad to leave it is a truly beautiful part of the world.

Knoxville reflections

I have managed to get to quite a few climbing destinations whilst here and although very out of season it has been great to experience this amazing southern sandstone. I would love to come back when it is cooler and climb more of the fabulous looking boulders I have seen.

My latest excursion took me to Little Rock City (LRC) a couple of hours drive south of Knoxville. This is an area right on the edge of a golf course so is on private land and there are a few rules and regulations but well worth the $5 to climb there. I then travelled to Rock Town near Lafayette, Georgia. Sadly I only got to look at the boulders as it rained whilst I was there. Next on my list was Horse Pens 40 in Alabama. This area is again on private property but you can camp and climb there for $10 a night. The boulder formations here reminded me very much of Font in France. The heat and humidity were not very conducive for climbing on the many slopey top outs this place had to offer. To get full advantage I would love to go back in the winter with more people and crash pads. I did manage various low grade problems the highlight being a V2 called Dope. I am not good at slopers at the best of times but when your hands are sweaty and the rock is warm I reckon it makes it more like a V4. Well at least that is my excuse and I am sticking to it!

I also had a weekend trip to Boone, North Carolina with Matt, Justin and Josh. Good rock, good company and lots of laughs. Happy times and wonderful memories.

Y12 sport climbing

Green and blue everywhere





The boys at Boone

Horse pens 40

Beautiful rocks


Slopey top out nonsense

Me. Rock. Peace. All is good in my world right now.

All photos by Caroline Harvey

Saturday, 22 May 2010

A time to celebrate.

The 3 amigos

I have very mixed emotions at the moment as the 22nd of May (tomorrow or today depending on which time zone you are in) is the day that my very good friends Emma and Diff get married.

Diff proposed last Summer and the date was set for May, so I knew I would not be around. The possibility of breaking up my trip was always there but I knew that if I came home with 3 months to go I would not want to go back and finish what I started. Are these selfish decisions? Maybe but I know Emma understands my reasons and I thank her for that. Sometimes I feel you have to follow a path to the end in order for a new one to start and that is what I felt I had to do with this one.

I am extremely fortunate to have some of the most amazingly supportive and loving friends that anyone could ever ask for, so it is painful for me not to be there for them in return.

Anyway, before I get too sentimental I would just like to wish Emma and Diff all the happiness in the world. I hope you have a fabulous day and although I am sad not to be with you I am so happy that you found each other. I look forward to celebrating your 3 month anniversary when I get home.

I will be celebrating your nuptials in downtown Knoxville...


Monday, 17 May 2010


Who needs Hollywood when you got Dollywood.

It is really out of season here for climbing as even this early in the spring the heat and humidity are almost too much for me. I forgot that this kind of weather makes me very lethargic, oh yeah and there are lots of insects that seem to be eating me!

However, I am loving The South for many reasons but one in particular is because I got to visit Dollywood. What else is a girl to do with some free time?

My friend Justin, who hails from Sevierville, the home of Miss Parton, very kindly gave me a free ticket as his Mum works for Dollywood marketing. Southern hospitality, awesome!

As far as theme parks go Dollywood was pretty top notch and she gives a huge amount back to the local community etc, which is more than can be said for Disney. The piped music of good 'ole Dolly singing is much more pleasing to the ear than crappy Disney tunes. Granted I have only been to Euro Disney, and the French, well they are just not Disneyish.

Anyway that is all by the by, I had a great day out in the Dollywood hills and loved every minute of it.

One of the most fascinating parts of the day was the Dolly museum, which was jam packed with memorabilia. There were many displays of the clothes she has worn over the decades and it is not until you see these up close that you realise how tiny she actually is. I am led to believe that if Barbie was an actual human being she would not be able to walk due to the proportions of her body, well, Dolly must be some kind of super human because when you see her proportions on a mannequin doll it is quite fascinating to say the least.

25th Anniversary of Dollywood this year

Inspired. Thanks Dolly.

This is Cinderella a 110 tonne steam engine.

The Station

Choo Choo!

Oh Yeah!

Teaching used to be such a respectable profession


Mmm, No.

It is a big closet

I was told by one of the very pleasant members of staff that Dolly will actually be in Dollywood next week with Kenny Rogers. I was just about to rearrange all my plans for a return visit when she mentioned that Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus were also going to be there. I changed my mind. Apparently the film is for the Hallmark channel if anyone gets to view that.

All photographs by Caroline Harvey

Friday, 7 May 2010

Utah to Tennessee

Utah road

All the photographs in this post were taken with my point and shoot that still has dust on the lens hence the dark splodge in the middle of the sky sometimes. They were also mostly taken through the windscreen with one hand, all completely safe though! So apologies if they are not the best quality.

My last few days at Joe's were not as full of climbing as I had hoped due to bad weather. On Wednesday 28th April I drove to Salt Lake City to give a friend back a crash pad I had borrowed. I needed a rest day so it was a good opportunity to get a short reprieve from Orangeville. The drive was fairly unadventurous apart from the snow that had started to fall on the high passes. I arrived at Steven's about midday and asked if he would mind if I stayed over rather than drive the 2 and a half hours back in the dark and the snow. He said yes so I thought I would just drive back in the morning and get 2 last days before leaving on the Saturday for Tennessee. I woke the next morning to about 3 inches of snow covering my car and it was still falling. I stayed an extra day. He has a very comfy sofa so I was not complaining. I occupied my time in SLC helping him with a 5ooo piece jigsaw that he was in the middle of doing and caught up with his usual funny stories.

I travelled back to Joe's on the Friday hoping to try and finish off a couple of problems I was getting close to completing, but alas by the time I got there snow was in the sky again and it was very windy, so the rock felt very moist and no good for the friction I needed. So once again I have unfinished business in Utah.

A very cold Saturday arrived and it was time to hit the road again. I set off towards Colorado, a road that I have driven a few times now so I knew where I was going and I expected some snow on the passes through Aspen and Vail which are both above 10,000 feet. I was right, there was snow but the roads were clear so the drive was not too stressful. I was only going as far as Boulder on the first day so it was a relatively short 8 hours. I was staying at another friends house, sadly he was out of the country but he very kindly let me sleep in his bed.

Colorado snow

More Colorado snow

I set off early Sunday morning and was just going to drive as far as I could. I managed 12 hours and got all the way through Kansas and 50 miles into Missouri.

The drive through Kansas was not very exciting a very long straight road and with not much to look at. I was hoping for a yellow brick road to follow but sadly the roads were just gray with a yellow line along the edge. The impression I am left with from driving through Kansas is, that it is very flat and basically just one big farm. Clearly a very religious state with many billboards telling me Jesus lives, weeps and can be trusted. I believe these are traits that apply to many people other than Jesus but nobody else seemed to get a mention. They also seem to be extremely pro life.

No yellow bricks to be seen.

lots of flatness

Did not stop to meet the Tin man.

Jesus is real apparently

Next was Missouri, very similar landscape and billboards to Kansas, it just took less time to cross. They did have a town called Emma so not all bad.

A slight hill, whoopie.

Emma has moved from Leith.

Indiana, thankfully was less dull to look at and had beautiful trees and fields of yellow rapeseed. It was strange to actually smell scents in the air again, there are surprisingly few in Utah and these smells reminded me of home which was comforting. It was starting to get hot though and my lovely Saturn does not have the luxury of air con so I was melting slightly. My impression of Indiana is that they are still fairly religious and pro life but on the other hand also like their adult stores. They also have a large number of very large firework stores. Weird. There is a town called Santa Claus in Indiana, or at least I think it was a town maybe now I think about it Santa might live here in the Summer months to get away from the cold...



Santa Claus

Not too much in Kentucky fairly similar to Indiana, although I did hit Louisville at rush hour which was lots of fun, I had to change gear and everything.

I also passed London, Manchester, Livingston and Birdseye.

131 miles to go.

Then finally Tennessee. Yippee. It was mostly dark so I assumed it was pretty similar to Kentucky. I arrived in Knoxville about 10pm and found a motel for the night. Sweet.

The next morning I was meeting Matt and Justin, the very nice Southern boys who persuaded me to come visit the South, and we went to a local crag called Obed where we did some sport climbing. I managed to lead a couple of routes which I was quite proud of as I have not been on a rope in a long time. I did get pumped by about the 2nd bolt but it was good fun to do more than the standard 6 to 10 moves of a boulder problem. The day concluded with a trip to a Mexican restaurant for dinner and margaritas. Happy days.

The only thing that annoyed me about driving all those miles was the mother truckin tail gaters. People will actually drive 2 feet from the back of your car on a 2 laned open road where they can over take and not just car drivers either the huge trucks do it too. I may have sworn a few times, but hey they will just think that I am some slow Canadian driver.

So far I am loving the South it is a sea of green lovliness.
More soon.

Peace x

Just in case any of you ever need directions from Utah to Tennessee here they are;
I - 70 East
I - 64 East
I - 75 South