A blog about climbing full time on the road.

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Rocktown Abbreviated

We left Ohio after New Years which was a bit later than we had originally planned. The weather just wasn't cooperating and we figured it was better to sit inside, sip excellent flat whites (that's an extra strong latte for you americans)! Hopefully our Aussie and Kiwi friends are saying to themselves "see americans can learn to have some good taste in coffee". That being said Holy Crap the coffee in america sucks! wow it is really really bad. I guess you only really see things for what they are when they are compared to something else. Unfortunately this means that I will now be ranting about American coffee like one of those know-it-all travelers who thinks that just because they've seen a little of the world they are given free license to tell everyone how crap the stuff they like is, and how much better it would be if you just made it like they do in insertcountryhere. I also made some grocers at a supermarket in Columbus quite confused when I asked if they had any Vegemite. Unfortunately no, they did not.

List of items we now like that are basically impossible to find in the usa

flat whites
vegemite (Val, thanks for getting us hooked on this!)
cured meats (uncooked)
good cheese
crackers (good)
good bread (yes, ours is sweet)
cheap good chocolate
$1 good french wine (okay it probably wasn't that good, but it tasted good to us)
meat pies
fresh fruit shakes, coconut, mango
street food (SE Asia)

Okay, so moving on to the climbing. We arrived in Rocktown after what amounted to about a month off from climbing. We knew the first week would be a struggle, and it was, but we did manage to find some gems that we were able to struggle up such as El Bano directt v4, Pythagorean v4, Standard v3 (should be called Comet), Breadloaves v5, and to top it off Golden Shower v5 (yeah it's a pretty crazy name)

Just as we were starting to feel like our strength was returning the weather forecast changed to a solid ten days of rain. Not worth sticking around for, so we're headed to Heuco early where it should be sunny and dry. There are a lot of great problems here that we were hoping to have a shot at, but we're sure Heuco will not disappoint either. Hopefully we'll be able to get back here someday when it is cold and dry for a while.

Cassie working the very thin and crimpy Standard v3
We're now in Arkansas on our way to my stepdad Don's place in Eureka Springs. We'll stay there for a couple of days and then go to Hueco where we now have almost a month of climbing before we have to be back in Utah for jobs. That doesn't mean we won't be doing work stuff though as the house/apt hunt is under way. We're really hoping to find something that suits us and are considering living downtown as our desire for civilization vs quiet solitude has reversed somewhat on the trip. I expect that to change over time again, but for now a bit more of a cityish life sounds like of good.

So, as far as the jobs go, I'm talking to DTI (my old job) about coming back to work for them. Hopefully they will have something for me to do, though it will be different than before because I've gotten accepted to the University of Utah and will begin classes in May. Finally time to grow up and get a degree I guess. Cassie has accepted her old job at the state of Utah and begins work March 4th. I suppose we lose some points on the exciting scale for going back to our old positions, and old location, but I gotta say that after doing all the traveling we have, Utah is pretty much the best we've ever seen for what we like. One of the best parts about moving back to Utah is getting to see our friends again. It's been quite a while since we've seen them, and being on a trip like this really makes you appreciate them more.

Can't wait to be back (this might not sound too strange, but two years ago I couldn't wait to leave and could barely imagine really wanting to go back). We are even excited to go back to work (now that really does sound crazy).

Hope you enjoy this video from Rocktown, features an amazing v5 called Golden Shower. One of the best climbs I've ever done.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The final push. Home?

Well it's been quite a while since we posted. It's now January 1st 2013 and our last post was at the end of November 2012 from New Zealand. After leaving New Zealand we had 2 great weeks of travel in Thailand where we relaxed on the beach and went on a 3 day snorkeling trip. It was a much needed rest and the only thing we wanted to do more was sit at Owl Creek Farm and relax. So, when December 18th arrived and we flew back to New York City we were more than happy to be on our way home. We stayed at Cassie's brother's house for a day or two, then caught a flight back to Columbus, Ohio and spent a few days spending time with my sister Elyse. After that we headed to the Farm (Howard, OH) and began our trip recuperation. We've done almost nothing except eat good food and watch the fire, or soak in the hottub.

If you had told me before the trip started that we would be happy to be done with our international travels I probably wouldn't have believed you, but there's no place like home and I guess traveling really shows you that. Christmas was the best this year, and is the first time in 6 years I've been back to Ohio for it. On top of that everyone else was around which made it extra special. Much joy was had and shared.

As I write this blog my mom is making us eggs and bacon with muffins and that's about the best thing in the whole wide world as far as I'm concerned. Pretty sad to be leaving the comfort of home again, but new boulders await and our month off has renewed our energy for climbing. Today we head to Dayton to visit some friends of mine and then tomorrow we do the real push to Rocktown Georgia (La Fayette, GA). We stay there for about 3 weeks or so, then head to Arkansas to visit Don (my step-dad) and then off to Hueco Tanks (El Paso, TX) for about 3 weeks.

After that things are kind of up in the air. Sorry can't be much more specific than that, but there are job possibilities that may, or may not come through and I don't want to say anything until they do. Hopefully we'll know by the end of the week, (but we were pretty sure we'd know in early-November about this same job and you can see how well that's worked out :)

So, expect some more posts fairly soon about the excellent sandstone bouldering in Georgia, and hopefully our strength will return in time for some hard climbing in Hueco.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our friends and family out there. I hope we see you all again soon!

Monday, November 26, 2012

south island

We took a break from climbing to travel around the south island for a few weeks. And, like everyone says, it is a beautiful and amazing place! It's been a while since we posted since we've been having so much fun traveling around and seeing all there is to see.

steak, bacon, and mushroom pie. boy will we miss these.

We've been abroad for almost eight months now and as amazing as New Zealand is, we have to admit that we're experiencing a bit of travel fatigue. As luxurious as we thought we were being when we rented our van,  living out of a small van for four months straight can get a little old. (luxurious compared to living out of a tent, but small compared to our VW van at home). The continual search for toothpaste, food, nightly routine of smashing sandflies against the windows (at this point I am looking forward to going back to the mosquitoes in Thailand after living with these annoying little guys for two months!), sitting out the rain, etc has started to ware on us a bit. I know we're not going to get any sympathy with this comment either, but after seeing so many beautiful and new places, our motivation to do one of the amazing overnight treks here or even to hike a few kilometers to a nice view point has waned a bit. So, with the abroad portion of our trip nearing an end, we've decided to "splurge" a bit by staying in more expensive campsites with indoor cooking facilities, booking a few tours, and sometimes, even though we're in an amazing place and the weather is beautiful, just sitting inside surfing the net a bit.

So, with that being said, we still have seen and done some amazing things while we've been traveling around.

royal albatross
Royal Albatross
We started by heading to the south of Castle Hill to Mt Cook which at 12,316 ft is quite an impressive site to behold. It has glaciers all around it, and a glacial lake with icebergs floating in it. The park is excellent and we had perfect views for our hike to the glacial lake. We even got to hike across some suspension bridges that were being replaced by newer ones. Always fun to know that the bridge you're walking is currently being replaced...
mount cook
Mt Cook, and us.
petrified tree near the Catlins
After Mt Cook we headed to the East coast to the Otago peninsula to see the rare Yellow Eyed penguins, and other wildlife such as albatross and fur seals. We continued south to and west through the Catlins, and ended up in Te Anau where we pretty much sat around for a day and rested. We went on a tour to a glowworm cave which was some epic Indiana Jones kinda stuff. The cave was amazing with a roaring river coming through it and huge waterfalls. It was so loud the tour group leader had to shout and even then it was hard to hear. It climaxed with a very slow moving section of the river in which a small boat was navigated through the river to a grotto with glowworms hanging from the ceiling. I must say it was one of the best experiences of either of our lives. The river noise became dead silent and the tour group respectively obeyed the no talking request. This made it a pitch black, silent boat ride through an underground cave while looking up and seeing small green specks shining from the ceiling. Those were the night sky of stars and yet they were glowworms patiently waiting for a meal by attracting insects with their glow. Spectacular tour and one of the highlights of the trip.

Cassie on the glowworm tour


yellow eyed penguin
yellow eyed penguin
otago coast
beach sunset

For Matthew's birthday, we were planning on going to Milford Sound. This looked a little doubtful though since when we arrived in Te Anau, the road to Milford was closed due to a rock slide and they didn't know when it would be opened again. After a few days in Te Anau, we decided to a least drive as far down the Milford Road as we could in hopes that the road would open. The drive was amazing in itself, but luckily the road crews were able to get the road open and we made it into the sound. Really it's a fiord, since it was glacial carved, but the name has stuck. We booked a tour through the sound which also included a stop at an underwater viewing area. The conditions in Milford sound allow sea life which is typically found only in deeper ocean water to occur in much shallower water. They built an underwater viewing area about 6 stories below the surface to view all the fish and corals there. This was one of the coolest things we did since it was like being inside the biggest aquarium you can imagine. We saw all kinds of corals, starfish, anemones  and fish, I even saw a manta ray which apparently is quite rare (like one a year is seen). On the surface in the boat, we were able to see fur seals, penguins (fiordland crested which is the second most rare penguin), and waterfalls. It was a bit cloudy, so we couldn't see all the surrounding mountains, but it was quite spectacular and again, worth the money for the guided tour.

Milford Sound (really a fjord)
birthday dinner. simple and excellent.
fjord viewing building. a floating underwater building.
fur seal
fur seal

Haast Pass
mirror lake
We left Milford Sound and started to make our way up the West Coast to see the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers. The west coast is notoriously rainy, but we lucked out and had some beautiful weather. We'd seen and heard about New Zealand's whitebait fishing and fritters and had heard the west coast was the place to do this. These are some native fish in New Zealand, all called whitebait, but actually one of 6 or so different species of galaxiids. These fish spawn in fresh water, the larvae drift out to the ocean then after 6-9 months then come back upstream to spawn. They are netted as they are coming back upstream,  once caught, they are fried up whole with a bit of egg into a fritter. It was quite tasty. These might be the first fish we've eaten whole.

whitefish batter

the final product. yum!

We visited the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers which were impressive, but since we've seen a number of glaciers before in Alaska, we really enjoyed hiking through the rainforest even more. After visiting the glaciers, we headed up to the small coast town of Okarito. We spent an afternoon on a really cool rocky beach there then the next morning rented kayaks to tour around the Okarito Lagoon. We rented from Okarito Nature Tours who were amazing. They gave us great info on when the best time to go would be, lots on info on the birds and wildlife we'd see, and were great people to talk with before and after. If you're on the West Coast, check this place out. It's a 3000 hectare lagoon which is home to more than 70 birds and has views of the mountains. We saw the white heron and royal spoonbills as well as numerous smaller birds. We could kayak up into some small streams which went into the forest as well. It was a great way to spend the morning!

you may be hit by either white or black rocks...

curled fern

rainforest. just a mile from the glacier!

Royal Spoonbill
After Okarito, we made our way back to Castle Hill where we are now. We just have a few more days in New Zealand, then off to Thailand for two weeks. We're really looking forward to staying in hotels and bungalows rather than the van and eating curries and other good food that someone else will cook for us. We're planning on doing a two night snorkeling tour near Khao Lak which we're pretty excited about. It'll be our first overnight snorkeling tour. Haven't slept on a boat in quite a while so it should be interesting.

Also many of the pictures here were taken by Cassie who has been taking a lot of shots lately. She's getting quite the eye!

We're starting to really look forward to seeing the fam back in Ohio for Christmas. Can't wait!!!

amazing waterfall

another amazing waterfall. we are actually getting quite tired of waterfalls now...