Posts Tagged ‘road trip’
Thursday, October 8th, 2009
Continuing on with my Living the Nomadic Life series, is Which Crags to Visit as a Solo Traveler.
- Just Leave
- The Best Car for the Road (and its addendum)
- What to Pack (Domestic Travel and International Travel)
- Where to Visit – Crags to Visit as a Solo Traveler (Perhaps I will later make a post of all climbing destinations)
- Tips and Tidbits
I don’t plan very much when I travel. I usually pack up the bag and car and simply take off, figuring my path along the way. I usually will have a couple destinations in mind, but fill in the majority of the trip along the way (this goes for backpacking trips through foreign countries and rock climbing road trips).
I realize this spontaneity isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so I have created a map of climbing destinations that are good stops for a solo traveler (meaning ability to find climbing partners). This map is public and editable, allowing anyone to add markers and information. (If you can not edit for some reason, please leave a comment and I will add your suggestions to the map). It is definitely missing information as I can opine only on places where i have visited. For instance, the only place I have climbed in Colorado is Rifle, meaning this really is the only destination I have added.
Map legend: The markers are colored for the type of climbing for which the area is known. Green = trad. Blue = Bouldering Red = Sport. Yellow = All.
If you are fortunate and have a traveling mate, your options are definitely wider. I came across a google map of rockclimbing the world. When I first came across it I thought it was fab, but now I realize it is incomplete. Still a good resource and should be included on this post, but also means that perhaps I will make my own map of world destinations.
Rock Climb the World Map. Author unknown. He/she states it is open to public edit, but I don’t see how I can edit when I am logged into my account.
Do you have any suggestions or thoughts? If so, please comment or reach out to me.
Thursday, September 10th, 2009
I’m not quite sure why I have been slow to post lately as I have had content just waiting in the coffers. Oh well… better late than never.
Picture by Patrick Lionais.
As mentioned in my previous post, blog reader Lydia had sent in an email with 3 questions regarding travel. Here is question #2 with response.
What do you think was the biggest challenge on your trip?
As a preface to this question, please note that the trip was fantastic and I would highly, highly suggest everyone take some time off in their life to do a climbing trip or an extended travel (non-climbing trip) as the experience is invaluable (I am still hoping to do an around the world trip at some point). However, there will definitely be a handful of challenges that present themselves. These challenges will vary for each individual, but these were the three largest that I faced.
- Feeling Lost – It is easy to feel “lost” while living on the road. I am a very goal oriented person and I noticed I felt lost for the first 6 weeks, not understanding why exactly I hit the road. (Yes, that sounds silly.. but I definitely met other people who felt the same way.) The key was for me to make goals. Sure climbing goals were good, but I made other goals of things I wanted to accomplish. I had to look at it from the perspective that I had a 10-month break from real life and decide what I wanted to do with this time. I ended up with a list of goals that included a number of books I wanted to read, a daily time frame to try and learn French, learning to become more comfortable with the terminal window (um, I like geeky things like that), and I focused on journaling, trying to understand patterns in my life that I perhaps wanted to change upon getting home.
- Loneliness Sets In – I was surprised at how loneliness could just creep up out of nowhere. I was traveling solo, how I usually travel, but I had yet to do such an extended trip by myself. There were definitely time periods of loneliness. Not loneliness for a significant other, but loneliness for a friend who already knew my story: someone who already knew my job, my family situation, my travels, just me. Upon meeting people there was always a “data dump” where people asked the usual questions and sometimes I just missed the familiarity of a good friend. And even though a good friend at home should have been just a phone call away, I noticed they really weren’t for the sole reason that we were living completely different lives. Interestingly, I made new SLC friends (a couple who I had met right before my trip and a couple that just reached out to me through my blog) that had lived on the road and new the highs and lows… and these people became dear friends. (A great example of this being my friend, Melissa.)
- Finding Your Groove Upon Arriving Home – I think the hardest challenge for me was finding my place upon arriving home. I have been home 3 months and have yet to find this groove. I think it is because I was coming home to yet another time of transition of finding a new home, finishing one job, finding a new job, hoping to make a move to a new destination, etc. I have had a surprisingly rough time …. but I think the takeaway is for me to learn patience and just believe that things will work out how they are supposed to when the timing is right.
Hope this helps you out, Lydia. Thanks again for writing in.
Sunday, August 30th, 2009
One of my favorite blog results is reader emails. Sometimes they are a simple thank you for some trip beta I have posted or for helping motivate them to quit their job and hit the road. =) And sometimes they include travel and climbing related questions. These emails are greatly appreciated and make me feel that perhaps these ramblings of mine might be useful.
This week I received an email from Lydia, a girl I briefly met in the Red River Gorge, as she had some travel questions. In the past I have directly emailed a response to any questions, but have decided to start responding online in case these questions and answers might help additional readers.
Lydia had 3 questions, which I will answer in 3 different posts. The first question was concerning traveling with a dog.
How was it traveling with CB? I’ll be traveling with my dog and doing a bit of freelance work as well, so I guess I’m wondering how everything went with you working in coffee shops and other places CB could not go. Did CB do a lot of car napping? Were you ever worried?
Traveling with CB was fabulous. I definitely had to do a bit of planning because of her, but it was definitely worth it to have her along. Not only is she my best friend, but it was great to have a protector of the car, even if all she could really do was warn me that something or somebody was approaching.
The Joshua Tree Office.
As far as work, I would try to work outside as much as possible so that CB didn’t have to stay in the car. Sometimes this wasn’t possible (for instance if there wasn’t an outdoor power outlet) and so I would park my car in a shady spot (providing a lot of blankets for CB as she actually rarely gets too warm, rather too cold) and let her nap in the car. Even though the car was a nice large space for CB, I would stop working every two hours to let her run around and go to the bathroom. (Also, in reference to the power outlets mentioned above, there are car laptop chargers. I didn’t own one, but will for the next trip. A charger is approximately $30 and allows you to charge your laptop from your car, meaning the ability to drive into a wifi hot-spot and never leave your little abode. There were numerous nights I had to stop working because the store providing wifi was closed and I was out of battery juice.)
Beau and CB hanging out in Indian Creek.
As far as climbing, certain places do not allow dogs (Little Rock City, HorsePens40, and Hueco Tanks and definitely more). I went to a handful of these destinations, but had to plan ahead due to my little one. I mentioned the dog issue in each of these trip betas, linked to the destination names above.
Actually my biggest CB concerns were worries a large dog owner would never experience. (Lydia, I am assuming you have a large dog but could be assuming incorrectly.)
- Keepig CB Warm Enough – My dog weighs 6 pounds and has minimal body fat. Climbing temps are perfect in the 50 – 60 range, which is WAY too cold for CB. Besides layering on her little sweaters, I started to bring my down sleeping bag to the crag in order to keep her warm.
- CB Becoming Prey – I constantly worried (and continue to worry) about CB being preyed upon. One snake bite could kill her. A big bird could easily think she was a rat and swoop down to get her. (And yes, I truly have had both these problems.)
- Other People’s Dogs – Upon seeing other dogs at a crag, I inquire if they are friendly to which everyone ALWAYS says yes. The problem is my dog just wants to be left alone because other dogs don’t quite know what she is. Other dogs want to keep coming to investigate or will try to play with her, usually entailing them trying to stomp on her little head. The first introduction can be a little rough, but everything usually goes smoothly after the first minute.
CB wrapped in her down sleeping bag in Rock Town and meeting Balsam for the first time. This is a usual introduction for CB … basically showing her teeth to say , “Leave me the f@$% alone.” Even though we crashed at Eric and Will’s house, Balsam and CB never became great friends, I think mostly because Balsam was still a pup and wanting to play and CB is anti-social.
Thanks for your question, Lydia. I will address your other questions shortly. Please feel free to email or comment with any other thoughts or questions.
Monday, August 10th, 2009
I finished my 10-month climbing trip approximately 2 months ago, but I have been so incredibly busy getting back into the groove of life (finding a home, finishing my job, looking for a new job, re-adjusting to normal-day-life, sorting through all my belongings, while still trying to squeeze in climbing, etc.) that I have yet to write the concluding write-ups, though they are definitely still en route.
One of my favorite photos from the trip. Photo credit: Frank Wu.
CB. Photo Credit: Elliot Warden.
On this solo adventure (well, solo except for the inclusion of my chihuahua, CB, during the US portion) I explored the following destinations:
- Joes Valley
- American Fork
- Big Cottonwood
- Little Cottonwood
The Fontainebleau Forest.
My top three favorite spots out of the trip were:
- Fontainebleau, France – This was hands-down my favorite destination. Everything about this place was ideal: quantity and quality of rock, ability to meet someone from a new culture daily, cheap and delicious wine, hour proximity from Paris, etc. =)
- Bishop, California - mmmmm…. Buttermilks!
- Chattanooga Area – Chattanooga allows easy access to Little Rock City, RockTown, and HorsePens40, each place providing a unique climbing experience.
If you are planning a trip to visit any of these areas and need additional beta, please feel free to reach out to me. Or, if you have additional information excluded from these posts, please comment and / or email.
Thursday, June 25th, 2009
The last destination of my 10 month road trip was Leeds, England in order to check out the grit stone, hang out with my friend Steve, and hopefully catch up with a handful of Londoner friends (I luckily caught up with more than I expected… seeing 9 friends). =) The grit stone ended up being my favorite rock type, but I also was extremely lucky that the temps were perfect and Steve knew how to escape the continual rain.
Me sending ‘The Green Traverse’ at The Plantation. This excellent line also had a fabulous extension, ‘Dope on a Slope’, a grade harder.
Steve on ‘Deliverance’ at The Plantation.
Both problems at this Caley Crag boulder were superb, with ‘The Horn LH Arete’ perhaps being my favorite climb on this 10 month road trip. Pictured here I am doing ‘The Horn Direct’.
Me on ‘Matterhorn Arete’. This climb was a warmup, but it truly got the heart a fluttering, especially since I knew that a fall on my sprained ankle could be quite disastrous.
Another fabulous problem, ‘Flying Arete’, at AlmsCliff (also known as the best crag in the world). =)
I wish I had had more time to project this line, ‘Jerry’s Traverse’ at Cratcliffe. We only made it to Cratcliffe once and unfortunately only got in a handful of attempts on this climb before the craziest storm, hail included, blew in. Steve somehow got re-motivated, but my little toes were so frozen I couldn’t find the psyche to try and jam them in my climbing shoes.
Legendary British climber, Ron Fawcett, out crushing problems at The Plantation.
The highball ‘Not To Be Taken Away’ at The Plantation.
‘Forked Lighting Crack’, a very tricky v4, at Caley Roadside. Geez, this thing liked to spit me off repeatedly.
A super great traverse, ‘Weed Killer Traverse’, at the Tor.
One of the Spaniards pointing out a mono pocket intermediary on “Ben’s Roof”. I didn’t realize the grade of this climb at the time, probably a good thing, as I would have never hopped on otherwise. But the moves I could do were real enjoyable, with the mono pocket being an excellent intermediary option for me.
A fellow American (whose name I am unfortunately forgetting! argh!) who I actually met in Fontainbleau and ran into in England since he was currently living in the UK. Here he is sending Captain Hook.
Steve on “Crimpy Roof” at Brimham Rock. Steve was positive that I would be able to do this climb. Wow, what a nice, optimistic friend! I could barely get my bum off the ground due to the necessary long reach after long reach. Oh well… always fun trying. =)
Sunday, May 24th, 2009
After my time in Bishop, I stopped in Salt Lake City for a week (Week 34) to quickly visit friends, pack up my belongings, and drop CB at the dogsitter’s house. By week 35 I had taken the direct Salt Lake City to Paris flight followed by a train to Lyon. Lyon was a bit of a hard destination for me, but (of course) there were still plenty of positive aspects. The city truly was amazing with fabulous architecture and excellent food (I tried my first snails and frog legs, loving both of them immensely). And the stop in Lyon forced me to take a week break from climbing, a much needed rest period.
I stopped by Lyon because it was a mere couple hours from Fontainebleau and wanted to visit my friend, David, who I had meet in the Red River Gorge. Here is David on the day I arrived. We stopped by his favorite bar for a couple drinks prior to catching a fabulous meal at a neighboring restaurant.
I hadn’t visited Europe since 2003. I truly love Europe… with it’s history, architecture, culture and wide spread use of bikes. =)
This building, La Fresque Des Lyonnais, was fabulous. I saw this painting on a walk during the day, but completely missed the other side of the building, the side that holds the main beauty. David was actually excited I had missed it so that he could personally take me there that evening. The whole building was painted from top to bottom with a popular figures from Lyon history either walking down the street or peering out each window. On my last evening in Lyon I spent a good amount of time simply enjoying this piece of artwork as the sun set.
The bridge over the Saone river at night.
We ended up playing a lot of cards in Lyon. Pierre, on the left, really loved Texas Hold ‘Em. I actually love the game as well, but hadn’t played for years. One night we watched the football game (soccer for us Americans) at Pierre’s house while playing poker and drinking wine and champagne. It was one of my best nights in Lyon.
Surprisingly, my favorite thing about Lyon was the graffiti. I loved it! It seems most of the graffiti I have seen in the States are scribbled letters. But the graffiti in Lyon were mainly of characters, simply etched on the wall… almost adding to the atmosphere.
I really liked this character, exclaiming his love for Lyon while marching on the bridge.
And yet another one. I seriously have more pictures of graffiti than anything else in Lyon. =) I spent a lot of time walking around and simply enjoyed stumbling across the vivid paintings.
Saturday, May 23rd, 2009
I’ve been writing the following ‘Living the Nomadic Life’ series, but wanted to follow up with post 2, Best Car for the Road.
- Just Leave
- The Best Car for the Road
- What to Pack
- Where to Visit
- Tips and Tidbits
In the original Best Car for the Road post, I mentioned my friend Prairie and her van. At the time of the post I didn’t have any pics of her van, so thought I would simply create this additional post as an addendum.
In my opinion, Prairie’s set up is a type of Dream Vehicle for the road. It might not be as great on gas as a small car, but it definitely is more comfortable and provides some privacy.
The mini-van provides plenty of space, yet isn’t a huge beast. Prairie had it arranged so all her belongings were organized in stacks, creating a true home atmosphere.
The other side of the car, from the packed point of view.
Her bed was at the very back creating an open “room” where she could move around.
Another view of the inside. Yep, her vehicle definitely looks a lot moe cozy than my Honda civic set-up. =)
What about you readers? Have you done a long trip where you lived in your vehicle? If so, what do you suggest?
Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
I visited White Sands National Park on a rest day while in Hueco Tanks. I was there for only a day, but it immediately topped my list of favorite national parks. I would highly recommend stopping by if near the Las Cruces, New Mexico area.
The rolling white sand dunes looked like fresh white powder. I even saw a family sledding down the dunes on toboggans. =)
Every once in awhile, vegetation can be spotted on the horizon.
Tracks in the sand. It was actually real hard to take pictures because the reflection of the sun on the white sand was so bright and my eyes were very senstive. I had to wear a hat and sunglasses to see, and I am pretty sure I was still squinting.
CB loved it there! She would run to the next sand dune… run back….
and then would need to sleep for a minute. =)
I would suggest going on the trail in the middle of the park. (I’m sorry, but I can’t remember the name right now.) It is miles long, but going only a mile out is further than the usual visitor and provides the best views of the dunes. Just make sure to follow the above markers as it would be extremely easy to get lost.
Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
Re-circling to the series I started in December …. post 2 of Living the Nomadic Life.
- Just Leave
- The Best Car for the Road
- What to Pack
- Where to Visit
- Tips and Tidbits
The “best” car for the road is quite a subjective topic as it depends more on what is important to you than the actual vehicle itself. Things to consider include:
- How much do you want to spend on gasoline?
- Is your current vehicle reliable? Or should you buy a new one?
- How many people are going on the trip? (If traveling with another person, a car is probably NOT IDEAL as the car becomes your home and it is nice to have some space.)
- How much space do you need to feel comfortable and happy? And how important is complete privacy (i.e. the windows of a car vs. the enclosure of a van)?
Basically there are three main options. The biggest variables are space versus gasoline prices, giving up one for the other.
The Dream Home
I saw some fantastic van set-ups on the road, thinking especially of Prairie’s and Nick’s vehicles. I unfortunately did not take any pictures. Argh! I have emailed Prairie and hopefully will have some pictures to post up for you soon. Basically the best van setup is where the bed is located at the very back by the back door allowing the middle of the van to be open. Both of my friends had constructed their belongings to be in stacks or built shelves, creating an atmosphere of a true room.
Along these same lines is the camper setup. It doesn’t provide as much spare room as a van, but still creates a true home feeling..
Amy’s and Tripp’s camper setup.
The Lil Chicka posted her old travel vehicle on her blog. You can see how they were able to organize in stacks, creating some walking space.
The Runner Up
Many people travel in SUVs or mini vans were the backseat is removed and the whole back is made into a bed, creating a storage space underneath the bed.
This picture is from TheRockClimberGirl blog. I traveled in a similar setup for about a week and it was very comfortable and worked well, requiring very little re-arrangement for sleeping.
The Tight Squeeze
For the penny pinches, traveling by car is an option.
Pierre traveled in this little car but had taken out the back seat and built a bed area that allowed him to lay flat, albeit with limited wiggle room.
When his car was completely packed up, it looked like this.
My Set Up = Tight Squeeze
I ended up with the tight squeeze approach because…
- When I left home gasoline prices were $3.50 a gallon. I knew I would be traveling a lot and didn’t know how to forecast future fuel prices.
- My Honda was very reliable and I trusted it to be able to go the whole trip, which it did.
- I was traveling solo and so a tight squeeze approach could work for me.
- I was content with the limited privacy and space.
I kept the front fairly clean so that CB could sit on the passenger side if she needed a break from the backseat.
I slept in the backseat, having this bed basically set up at all times. The only thing I had to move when wanting to sleep was the crashpad (as it was stored on my bed) from the backseat to the front seat. (Yes… I slept in the backseat of my car…. for almost the entire 8 months.)
Most of my belongings were in the trunk. Near the end of the trip I had organized everything into bins to ensure dryness as moisture liked to seep into my trunk (a fact I did not know as it never rains in Utah). The empty spot in the picture was used for my cooler.
Have you been on the road before? If so, what was your setup? And what did you think about it?
Sunday, February 15th, 2009
And … once again it is time to move on. =)
I have been in Hueco Tanks for the past month, soaking up the desert sun and attempting to get stronger. I have absolutely loved the climbing here in Texas, but to be honest I am completely ready to move to the next destination. Whew! Next up is a quick stop in Joshua Tree, being there a mere few days, and then off to Bishop.
If any of you readers are close to either of these destinations, drop me a line as I would love to catch up.