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