Tuesday, January 27, 2015

January on the road (1/1/15-1/27/15)

The month of January has been full of adventure as well as time with family. Cochis Stronghold proved to be an awesome place to climb! I was able to lead some of the traditional climbing pitches and we made it to the top of several formations! A few of our favorites were "Endgame" and "Mystery of the Desert." Both took us all day and we enjoyed a celebratory dinner when we got back to the van. We both felt very strong and confident in our climbing and really enjoyed the area. There were not a lot of people and we really enjoyed the scenic views!
We climbed the formation to the left of the largest one.
It was called Muttonhead.

Beautiful sunset in Cochis Stronghold, AZ
After our fill of climbing in Cochis, we headed Tuscon, AZ where we stayed with cousins Terrie and Dennis. It was wonderful spending time catching up with them and enjoying their home in Tuscon. They even took us to Sam's Club where we loaded up on snack items for the vanventure! There was also a pretty epic Jenga game played with Terrie on the dinning room table.
Zach nervously watching as Terrie attempts a bold pull!
My uncle Ted and his family live nearby Terrie and Dennis. We got to spend time with the adventurous Kate, my two year old cousin. She was non-stop and full of fun energy! Maybe someday she will come rock climbing with us! Jackson was very eager to show Zach his toys and was finally convinced by his dad to call him Zach-Man. I got to learn the sit and pull game with Jackson. I got a nice comfy seat against the couch on the floor and Jackson would try to escape my clutches! Ted called in an "older dad" rough house game:) My Aunt Jenny has always been an important person in my life. I ended up going to the same college she did, William Jewell, and she took me on a visit there when I was in high school! It was great seeing her and catching up a bit. She is such a great mom and easy to talk to.
My little adventurer buddy, Kate!
Ted and Jenny ended up taking us out to a local breakfast place one morning! We got to discuss all sorts of good topics all while keeping Kate distracted from the chocolate chip bowl on the table. Then we headed over the the Air Museum in Tuscon and Jackson got to show us all around. We visited the moon with a very informed flight commander and took some great keepsake photos:) It was a great day! Zach and I love museums and being with family.
Kate hiking on the moon rocks:)

Kate is a giant!

Very patriotic:)

Love you to the moon and back:)

Our harlem globtrotter.

Charlie's Angles!

Jackson expertly landing the moon lander.

The guppy! A transport plane used by NASA.

Zach enjoying the outside and checking out great airplanes.
The windy weather on Mt. Lemon encouraged us to head north towards Phoenix. We stopped by Queen's Canyon, but we did not like the rock quality there. Maybe we are getting spoiled, but we decided to go in to Mesa and see my grandparents instead! It was a wonderful week spent with two of my favorite people. 
Watercolor fun! Grandma with her journal and me with my project.
Zach and Grandpa relaxing in the living room.
Grandma took me to here art journaling class and I enjoyed meeting her friends. Grandpa gave us a tour of the wood shop where he spends a lot of time making projects as well as helping others with his expertise! He has made some beautiful pens and a butler who welcomes you at the door. Grandma and I took an evening to go to the salon and get our hair cut. Mine was getting a little scraggly and I was happy to have the rough edges trimmed off! Turns out it was half off that day! Zach and I took a few days to go and climb some of the Phoenix area climbs. It rained on us both days we tried, but we still enjoyed getting outside and hiking around!

After our beauty shop outing;)
We were getting ready to turn around here. The rain finally beat us away from climbing.

Here it comes!

The rain brought out such beautiful colors in the Superstition Mountains.

Singing in the rain!

The college Championship football game was on while we were there. We had a watch party and enjoyed popcorn and Dr. Pepper while cheering on the Ducks! It was a fun night with my grandparents and their friends. I truly love these two so much and it meant so much to spend time with them! I can't wait to see them again soon!

Grandpa cheering for the ducks...or was it Ohio?

My favorites:)

Joshua Tree National Park was our next stop. It didn't take us too long to get there and we found a campsite in Ryan campground. Because everything fits in our van, we don't leave things in the campsite like most people who pitch tents. We evidently got there the Thursday before a holiday weekend and it was full! Everyone was looking for a campsite. We had snatched one up before the rush, but on Friday evening when we got back to our site, it was occupied! This is how we met our friend Gil. He had not read how many days we were staying on the tag right and assumed we were headed out. It was an honest mistake, but it was funny because he had completely torn up the tag we had filled out for our site. The numbers on it match the numbers on the payment envelope we had turned in so we ended up taping our poor tag back together and hanging it back up. Gil offered to split the cost with us and stayed for the weekend. He was a very nice guy who had climbed most of his life, but was retiring back down to hiking now. He has been all over the world and had some fun stories to share over meals. All in all, it was a fun meeting. I'm glad he misread our tag;)

The climbing in Joshua Tree is legendary! We loved the crack climbing and I was able to grow as a trad leader, leading a 5.9 on our final day. Between the sunsets and the easy access to climbs, we were in climbers heaven and enjoyed it for almost two weeks. 
Sunsets were amazing.

Sarah on top of Double Cross, 5.7

The Joshua trees.

Enjoying a sunny and warm day.

Zach leading up Orphan, 5.9
Now we have settled in Bishop, CA for few days. The scenery and climbing our spectacular and we have enjoyed all the people we have met so far. The library has free internet and the town is pleasantly close to the camping/climbing area. Now that the laundry and grocery shopping is done, we plan to explore the town tonight and maybe even eat out for dinner! 
Our campsite in Bishop, CA

The beautiful Sierra's

Blue skies mean fun climbing!
Yesterday morning we woke up to some the news of my first nephew! Henry Edwin Schwarz! I am so excited for my sister and her family. He is a doll and I can't wait to hold him! I'm so glad I can keep in touch with everyone while I am on the road. I'm pretty sure I'd get much more homesick without my phone! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Snow in the Desert (Dec 24th-Jan 1st)

Holidays on the road are celebrated slightly differently. Considering we usually have a hard time keeping track of what day it is, the fact that we knew it was Christmas Eve was a plus! We were staying at a free campground outside of Socorro, NM in the Box Canyon. We planned it all out and on Christmas Eve, we headed into town and found eggnog and ingredients to make a delicious meal of hamburgers:) 

Making our Christmas Eve dinner in Socorro.
Christmas Eve was fun and we had our holiday meal before enjoying eggnog and watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." It was fun to celebrate in our little home. In the morning, we exchanged our gifts and went climbing! It was cold but sunny so we enjoyed being outside. 

Zach getting his climbing shoes on.
It was a little harder to put on tight shoes when it was cold!
My new shoes and a Christmas gift:)

Socorro ended up getting hit by a cold front so, Zach and I got to see how prepared we were for colder temps! Luckily, we had our down sleeping bags and coats and we played lots of computer/ Nintendo games. My monopoly skills have improved a lot! 

We had some great climbing days in the Box Canyon. I was able to lead climb my first 11b, which is the hardest climb I have lead! I was pretty excited:) 

After we survived the cold of Socorro, we headed up to Albuquerque to see my friend Evelyn who was starting her travel nurse position. It was so great to see her! She even let us stay inside with her! A warm shower and warm place to sleep was the best present ever!! It was fun catching up with Evelyn. Her and I had fun chatting after we laid down and it felt like an old fashioned sleep over! 

In the morning, Evelyn headed out for her first day and we hit the road again to find warm temperatures! Cochis Stronghold was where we ended up. It is a beautiful area outside of Tuscon and we are enjoying getting used to the climbing here. It is mostly traditional climbing where we place our own gear, but there are also sport climbs and preplaced bolts we can use. It has been much warmer here and more manageable. 
Zach getting ready for "Nightstalker" 5.9

Making the move over to the first bolt!

Zach almost to the top!
For New Year's Eve, we made a pasta dinner and Zach enjoyed his first monopoly win! We watched "Castaway" and managed to stay awake past midnight!! It had started raining around 10pm and at some point switched over to snow because this morning we were treated with real snowflakes! I enjoyed seeing the snow and also knowing it wouldn't last top long because the sun was already up and doing it's job. The forecast for the next week looks amazing! Highs in mid 60's with lows in the 40's. Considering we handled a low of 16 at one point, I am ready for the weather shift! 
My snowflakes made friends.

Zach getting ready this morning..brrrr

I eased my way into the cold with lots of layers:)
Even though celebrating the holidays is different, it is still so great to be on the road and seeing new things. The area we are staying in, for instance, was the home to Cochis, an Apache leader who was unbeaten in battle and defended his tribe by keeping the high ground and knowing when anyone was approaching. It feels so cool to be climbing around and living  in an area with such history! I love learning new things about the history of our country! Anyway, it was been an awesome four months and I can't wait to see what 2015 has in store!!