Saturday, February 21, 2015

"Who even named these?"

Good weather sent us to Bishop and we were only planning to spend a few days waiting for the rain to go away in Las Vegas. Three weeks later, we rolled out of the Pit campground sad to leave friends and good climbing behind, but excited to explore a new area.
Climbing around Bishop allowed us to stay at a climber campground and get to know our "neighbors" with the luxury of a toilet AND trashcan:) We were living large! Every morning, the neighbors dog, Julie, would come by for a visit and scratch behind the ears. I may have encouraged this by dropping a few treats now and again... She was a sweet old dog who went around and quietly checked on the campground. Her owner was a climber who also worked in Bishop. We got in the habit of waving and chatting briefly, but I never learned his name. It was nice to have a neighbor to wave at though:)
Zach and I explored the bouldering areas and climbing of Bishop for a few days before we broke down and bought the climbing guide book and decided to stay a bit longer. Our friends Sheri and Charlie Dorst and their dog Riley came to Bishop and knew the area well. The Lily Pad way back in Tennessee, was where we had first met our fellow travelers and it was so fun to meet up with them again. They are traveling in style and have a 5th wheel. It was fun to play games and also have "dinner party's" at our friend's house:)
During the day, we all piled into the Dorst's Dodge truck and headed out to the bouldering areas. Zach and I took turns riding in the back with Riley. I loved getting her snuggles when we were both worn out at the end of the day. We all worked on projects (or climbs we had to try a lot to get) or cheering each other on. It was so fun to support each other and to climb hard with a lot of crash pads protecting our fall. My big project was "Solarium" (V4) and I tried five different days to get it without falling off. While working on the moves, we met an adorable couple from Sweden who were on their vacation. They worked on the problem with me and were successful and really cheering me on. They had rented an RV and were traveling with their baby boy, Jon. He was 6 months old and adorable. He was laughing and playing with Riley and super cute. They had mentioned their biggest issue having a kid on the trip was that he cried every time started driving. They had tried everything and finally just gotten ear plugs. We witnessed his antics later on when they drove by in their RV. Hopefully, he gave them a break!
Chillin' in the back with Riley!
On my final day working "Solarium," I walked up to it and climbed it on my first try! I was pretty excited and we were all happy to move on to other climbs:) Charlie projected a climb in the Sad boulders multiple days as well. It was called "Pow Pow" (V8) and was the perfect place to spectate and relax in the sun:) The Sad boulders also drew less of a crowd making it one of our favorite places to go.
Sitting in the sun on a rest day!

Charlie working on his project "Pow Pow" V8.
The Buttermilks is a world famous area with lots of impressive boulders. I really enjoyed climbing in this area, but it was usually very busy.  Zach worked on and got "Devoted Traverse" (V6) in the Buttermilks. It was fun seeing him get all the moves and cheering him on.
Zach on his send go of "Devoted Traverse."

Taking on the finishing moves of "Devoted Traverse."

Zach on top of "Devoted Traverse" V6.
Bishop was a great stop for us. Not only did we have world class climbing, but we had great friends to do stuff with in the evenings. We went to the local bar, Rusty's, and watched the Super Bowl. We also went back to Rusty's and used their WiFi to watch the national boundering championship. Another evening, we went to the local brewery and saw "Hootin' Hollar," a blue grass duo we had met while climbing. Amy and Nick were touring around the southwest from Boston and put on an awesome show! It was also pretty cool when they came up and talked to us during their break:) We were in with the band!
Charlie and Sheri have been coming to Bishop for the past 9-10 years and they had info on a free hot spring in the area. We piled in a drove to it a few nights. The first night was the best. The moon had not yet risen and we could see so many stars! The other people in the hot springs were a group of high school boys who were getting stoned and saying the funniest things! Our favorite quote was in reference to the names of the constellations. Zach was pointing out the Pliates constellation and one of them announced "Who even named these?!" Sheri informed them the Greeks had named them. It was pretty funny. They were just excited about life and we had fun chatting with them. There was also a naked hippy guy who was sitting in the middle of everyone. I didn't realize he was in his birthday suit, but apparently Charlie had been in the right spot to notice. It was not a large hot springs, but we had fun. Everybody else eventually left and we waited around a little longer because the full moon was supposed to rise soon. It was a beautiful valley between the mountains and when the moon rose over the horizon, it lit everything up with moonlight and we were in awe. The walk back to the car wasn't even that chilly.
Charlie heading up the tube!

Zach getting his leg stretch on!

Brushing buddies!

Sheri stretching her legs!
Our other night at the hot springs involved being squished in the small hot springs with more naked people who were drunk and not as pleasant to be around as the hippy and high school boys. I ended up with a naked butt on my foot and that was the last straw for me... We all bailed a little earlier that night.
To end our time in Bishop and celebrate Valentine's Day, we did a couples date to the Burger Barn with Charlie and Sheri. They had amazing burgers and good shakes too! The next morning, we said our goodbyes to the Dorst's and headed out towards Las Vegas. We took the scenic route through Death Valley and then found free camping near Las Vegas. Zach made friends with some dirt bikers and we got all the local info on places to go.
Getting ready for a day of bouldering.

Searching for a good rest spot.

Riley relaxing:)

Beautiful Riley Girl
Our time in red rocks has been fun. We have spent two days doing long routes up big faces (multi-pitch trad climbing) and two days sport climbing, We even spent one day bouldering. The multi-pitch climbs were our favorite. We did "Diet Delight" (5.9) and took turns leading. The hardest part about that day was finding the trail to the base of the cliff and then also finding our way off the top of Windy Peak when we got up there. There were tons of big horn sheep dropping everywhere and we did not find the easy way down. So, I decided we were mountain goats that day and we spend much more time hopping down rocks then actually climbing. It was still a fun day and we made it down safely.
"Triassic Sands" (5.10c) was our other big day. It was the best route Zach or I have done! It was so fun and such a great day of climbing. It also helped that we easily found the trail to and from the climb.
My parents are on there way here today and we are excited to spend the weekend with them! We are hoping to take them climbing or hiking around Red Rocks. February has proved to be a fun month with lots of climbing! Zach keeps track of our climbs on a website and February is going to be our biggest month yet!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Being a Vanventure Couple:)

Lots of people have commented on the fact that its impressive for Zach and I to live in a van together and not kill each other. I won't say that we don't have our moments, because it impossible not to, but overall, I feel this has been a very unique way to iron out problems we have and also highlight our strengths. Zach is so great at getting up and going in the morning. I tend to enjoy a more leisurely pace (surprise, surprise:). While getting coffee and breakfast started is Zach's job, I get lunch together most days. Zach is not a big fan of making sandwiches and I have fun doing different lunches based on what we have. 
Dinner is a co-opt project, but it did not start that way. Initially, we had to take turns because we couldn't work in such a small space without bumping into one another and getting in the way. Now, we seem to move seamlessly and its funny how easily we occupy that same space that used to seem so small. 
Creating a budget and sticking to a budget, are two very different tasks, I have found. We try to spend as little as possible, with the idea that we can stay on the road longer if we spend less now. That being said, I believe in quality over quantity and we have found some cheaper ways to have a higher quality of life on the road. These ideas are a combination of Zach and I's notions and it has turned out to be a good mix. We try not to eat out much and cook our own meals, but on special occasions or if we are just too tired to cook, we splurge a bit. One rule of thumb is to say yes to eating out or extras every other time we want to. In the beginning, it was hard and we ate out more. Now, we have gotten used to doing our own thing and it is easier to resist. Our spending has continued to decrease since the start of the trip and we are getting much more efficient with our money. If it was just up to me, I would have spent way too much and not gotten to go to all these cool places. Following only Zach's way and we might have missed some of the cool extras we have done on this trip. Our combination has worked out really well!
Most of our trip has been spent climbing. It has taken time to learn each others likes and dislikes as well as when to encourage each other and when to just let each other be. Overall, we have been super successful at being a climbing team and I love our climbing days together. I trust Zach with my safety when we are climbing and he trusts me. It took us time and practice to become a strong team, but I am very proud of my climbing partner and trust him completely!
Being together 24/7 has been a good way to learn about each other. Its hard to hide much of anything when you spend so much time together. We have learned when to take breaks and do our own thing. Even if it is just reading different things in the van or playing a game on the computer while the other person does what they want. It gives us time to just be and not bug the other person. I enjoy my alone time, but I also love being with Zach. He always has an interesting point of view and listens to my thoughts on things as well. If we do have an argument, its usually just a misunderstanding or hunger thing. We pretty much always have time to talk it through and before long we are back to adventuring. I think we may have even learned how to argue better because we figured out what things make it worse and what ways we can help solve problems. I have learned to relax about arguments, that they happen and can strengthen our relationship. It gives us a chance to share how we feel and figure things out. 
Overall, I can't imagine my life without Zach. He is my adventuring partner, my best friend and my future husband! I know life will have many different challenges and excitements, but I do feel that living on the road in a mini van has helped to prepare us to take on those together. The vanventures of Zach and Sarah continue! 
We have picked a date for our wedding and plan to have the ceremony back at my parents house on May 9th. It is coming up fast, but we have been planning from the road and I think it will be a fun day:) It won't be a large event, pretty simple and relaxed, but we are excited to share our day with family and friends. With the airplane hanger as a backdrop, we are planning a vintage adventure wedding! I am wearing my Grandmother's dress and using the 1940-1950's era as a guide for dresses and decorations. It's been a lot of fun working on this with Zach. He is an excellent planning partner. I am also getting lots of help from friends and family back home, which I very much appreciate!