Monday, October 20, 2014

Continuing the Vanventure

Our vanventures have continued in slightly unexpected ways this past few weeks. We set out to go to the New River Gorge in West Virginia at the end of September, but took a detour to South Carolina to spend time with Zach's mom, Stephanie, and step-dad, Tom. Tom's health had taken a turn for the worse and so we wanted to be there to help out Stephanie and spend time with them both. Through love and teamwork, we were able to assist Tom in having comfort in his final days. 
As hard as it was to be in that situation, I was so thankful our lifestyle allows us to be with the people we care about when they need us. It was lovely to meet Zach's parents and try and help out as much as we could. Luckily for me, my friend and former teacher, Lee Wayson, lives a few hours from there. On a day when it seemed okay for us to take a break, Zach and I went and met her for breakfast and had a great time catching up. She has always been apart of my life, wherever I go, and I appreciate her support! I'm glad she got to meet Zach and get a tour of our house:)
My 2nd Grade teacher and friend, Miss K:)
After Tom's passing, we spent a few days getting ready and then headed back to Ohio for the funeral with Stephanie. It was a sad reason to go back, but I was so glad to be around family. Thank you all again for supporting us and giving us a place to stay. 
After taking Zach's mom back to South Carolina, we decided we wanted to go spend time with friends and climb. We decided on the Obed. We took a few days getting there and slept in some Walmart parking lots along the way. It felt good getting back into van life, but we also needed time to talk and decompress from the previous few weeks. One rainy day, we spent the afternoon in Oak Ridge, the Atomic City, and learned about how the atomic bombs were secretly constructed in a town created for the sole purpose of building the materials. It was fascinating and fun to stumble upon an area so rich in history and science. When our brains were too full to take on any more, we found a park and hiked/ran around on the trails before settling in for the night again. 
For Michelle and Nancy:) A sign we found on our hike in Oak Ridge.
We got back to the Obed and were immediately welcomed by Del, Marte, and the rest of the group here. It was so fun to hang out by the campfire again and talk about climbing. Since we haven't climbed for a few weeks, we were feeling pretty tired after only four climbs the first day. We climbed at Tieranny Wall along the Obed River at first, but the gnats decided to swarm our faces which didn't work out to well for the belayer on the ground. We headed back to a wall called Lilly Bluff and found a few more climbs to get on. 
A beautiful waterfall on The Point trail near the Obed.
We continued pushing ourselves to get back into climbing shape. My hands had become soft from not pulling on rocks and so my biggest obstacle was rebuilding the calasus on my fingers. Zach's feet seemed to be his biggest hurdle. We spent the weekend in the bouldering area where the climbs are shorter and only require soft pads underneath the climb (crash pads) to soften your fall. I am working on climbing problems in the V3 range (meaining easier boulder problems). I was able to get an arete climb (up the corner of the rock) in a few tries. Zach worked on a V6 after getting two other hard problems called Buddah's Belly (V4) and Slam Dunk (V5). Its fun to push ourselves and try and get back in shape:)
Working Popeye (V3)

Zach on Buddah's Belly (V4)

Zach sticking a big move out a roof on Access Denied (V6).
We climbed for three days total and then finally woke up today to sore to keep going. The park service welcome center in Wartburg, TN has free Wi Fi so we are hanging out here for a little bit before running a few errands and just being lazy today. With all the fun people around at the Obed, there is usually somebody to hang out with and learn something from. 
Its exciting to be getting back to vanventuring! We have a few more weeks in the East and are planning to continue to climb around Tennessee and then visit our friends, Patrick and Rachel in Atlanta, GA to do some climbing and relaxing. I'm sure more random excitement will pop up, but that's what we are counting on:) We didn't plan out everyday of this year, but rather left it open so we could be flexible with what's going on around us. I'm loving living that way and just enjoying each day and what it brings. I hope all of you enjoy today as well:)

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