Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Late Winter/Spring 2013

Sorry. I'm behind. I'm currently living in a campground with no electricity or internet (I know, a campground without internet. Weird, huh? Wait, you don't think that's weird?). But today the weather started out drippy, and moved straight into 2000% humidity. You can't even see 30 feet through the haze. I'm certainly not climbing today. So I'll add some photos to this barely-taken-care-of blog. If everyone would just get on facebook (Mom), I could just add pictures there.

In all fairness though, I haven't added any pictures on facebook in forever either.

After New Years, I moved back down to Chattanooga until the end of March. It was rainy-er this year than last, which was disappointing, but I suppose it was to be expected. No winter could be as great as the winter 2 years ago. I moved into an apartment with 5 other people. It was a nice apartment, so it was really nice to have a low (but still over my budget) rent.

This was the second winter I lived with Ruth.

Ruth and Craig started dating the summer before, so Craig was down in Chatty with us. 

Rachel was in Chattanooga the winter before, but not our roommate. This year she was, and it was awesome to live with her!

Rachel's friend Bri moved in too. Now, of course, she's MY friend Bri.

And last but not least, Matt Pomfrey (he knew Bri best when he moved in) lived with us for a couple months. Now he lives in the campground with no electricity or internet like I do.

Bri was the only one with a job, so we mostly all just climbed all winter. Except for when it rained. We spent a lot of time at the library, and everyone but me pulled their hair out a lot. Luckily I'm good at not getting bored. Here's some more pictures. Me climbing and hiking with Ruth, Rachel, and Craig.

Of course, Joe came to visit for spring break. He is amazing. He did his first V8 - which is really, really, hard. In 10 years of climbing, I've done 2. And they were easy ones. Joe did his in about 2 hours. Unfair. He visited recently, though, and did his first trad climb. He did just as poorly as I did my first time, if not worse. So. I feel slightly better. I guess. Here he is getting his jump on. The first are two in a series where he ran and jumped off the ground and caught this hold one handed. Then he climbed to  the top of the boulder. The other is a famous route in Alabama. His feet were up on the rock, but they swung off as he jumped for the handhold. Then he held the swing and finished up (but not on this attempt, I don't think).

Maybe I'll do this again soon and catch you all up!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The promised snorkeling pictures!

This post is still about Christmas in the Keys. From the 1st day we went snorkeling. We had to get up at 7am (the picture below shows how many of us actually made it), to get to John Pennekamp State Park by 8, then we boarded the boat at 9. The water was a balmy 88 degrees, which is not nearly as warm as it sounds. Hence the wetsuits. Anyway, here's a great picture of my mom, my brother, and me. It's rare to get such a good picture of multiple people, so I'm really happy with this one!

The water was neon. This picture came the closest to capturing the absurd color.

These were crazy coral balls. They were huge, and too close to the surface to swim over, so I just sort of sat there staring at them. I have no idea why they formed that way.

Fan coral!

barracudas were everywhere! Every time I saw one I started singing Heart in my head. So... I was singing it constantly.

We saw sea turtles!!!! I had thought that because you don't see them on beaches in the winter, that we wouldn't see any. But if they're not on the beaches, than they're in the water!  Duh!

more fan coral. And some other cool corals

Coral reefs are so full of life! Who knew that they actually look like they do in paintings/movies (Nemo)/ at the aquarium!

Every time I look at these photos I just want to snorkel again! 

Friday, February 1, 2013


 It's hard to keep up with my blog these days, what with facebook being a perfect place to post my  pictures and tell about them all. And now, almost everyone I know is on facebook, my blog is pretty redundant. Soon I may give it up altogether. Maybe. Anyway, for the first time in my whole life, my family did something different for Christmas. We went on vacation! I haven't been on a family vacation since I was 14, I think.  So it's been 13ish years. Wow. That made this one all the better. Now that I'm an 'adult' I can appreciate how awesome family vacation is. You stay in a hotel go out to eat 3 meals a day, hang out on the beach and in the hot tub, and basically do whatever else you want FOR FREE. Unless you're the parent. Then you have to pay for everything. Luckily, I'm not the parent! So the whole not paying for anything was just about the most amazing thing in the world (thank's parents/aunt and uncle!!), and on top of that, I got to see a whole new part of the world, and have some pretty neat experiences.

We went to the Florida Keys. I wanted to go somewhere in the continental US so that I could drive. I hate flying. But I was surprised to find that my mom and brother wanted to drive with me. My brother because he wanted to stop at climbing areas along the way, and my mom because we had talked about taking a bonding roadtrip together (and, I learned, flying isn't her favorite activity either). We left my dad, sister, aunt, and uncle to make the 3ish hour flight by themselves, and set off 5 days earlier. Our first stop was Chattanooga, so we could fufill Joe's wish for the drive: climbing. Here we are at LRC (Little Rock City), bouldering. My mom even climbed with us!
Our next stop was Tampa, FL, where our old neighbor Kathy now lives. She had to work during the day, but gave us suggestions as to where to go and what to see while we were visiting. Here we were on the coast in a manatee sanctuary. It was a canal that was warmed by the nearby electrical plant. Overall "beautiful" scenery. We didn't see a single manatee! (but we stopped again on the way back and were rewarded by glimpses of hundreds of them. And the camera died.) But we did see this egret (or heron... I just called all the white ones snowy egrets, and all the blue ones great blue herons). It was our first wildlife sighting.
Our final stop on the way to the Keys was the Everglades. It's the only place in the world like it, so we HAD to see it, so we stopped in and went on a couple hikes. Here's a purple gallawrignalkrg... something. You might have to blow up the picture to see it, but it's a beautiful bright purple bird with huge yellow feet. And it walks along lilypads. How these birds haven't all been eaten by alligators, I don't know.

This bird is called an anhinga.

Here's an anhinga drying out it's wings. They dive down under the water to catch fish to eat, but  can't fly with wet wings, so they have to sit, air drying their wings all the time

our first alligator sighting! We were on a boardwalk, leaning over, looking into the swamp for at least a minute before we noticed him, right in front of us.

At some point on our drive south, palm trees started popping up. Just growing wild. I thought they were all planted. I didn't realize they grew wild (you may have seen an earlier post where I was at a desert oasis, hugging a wild palm tree. I had forgotten about that...). This one, however, was at a visitor center, and was most likely planted.

a great blue heron!

The tree my mom is touching is called a gumbo limbo tree. It has tissuepaper thin red bark that peels like a birch tree. Some people call it the tourist tree. For it's peeling red skin. Get it?

The Keys! Driving between islands, you're rewarded with breathtaking views like this: shallow blue-green water on both sides, with mangrove islands dotting the horizon.

One of the Key's only natural beaches. All the brown stuff is sea grass, deposited on the shore with the tides. While growing, it is a favorite food for sea turtles

This is our hotel's beach. See how there are actually rocks next to the water? A fake beach, but the biggest one in Islamorada (the key we stayed on). It was pretty nice.

a teeny crab!

When I read that our hotel had bikes that rode ON TOP of the water, I got SO excited. Seriously, I was excited about this for months. I somehow wasn't picturing the wheels to be half submerged and it just being a paddleboat. It wasn't nearly as fun as I expected. Here's Hanna and Joe trying to enjoy themselves (don't get me wrong, it  wasn't THAT bad...)

This picture has everyone but me in it! Hanna and Joe on the bike, my mom and Aunt Paula looking for the crab as I shout directions from behind the camera, and in the backgroung, my dad and Uncle Jay on the beach.

We also rented a standup paddleboard. They conveniently had some to rent at our hotel. Here's Hanna taking my mom for a ride on Christmas day. I was un-beaching them so they could get started.

This summer I learned how to do a headstand on one. Headstands are actually easier on a paddleboard than the ground. Handstands, however, are WAY harder.

Joe (of all people) got up before sunrise on our last day to take sunrise pictures. He had no idea how to use the camera and finally another lady doing the same thing told him he still had the lens cap on. Ha! Anyway, he did a great job once he figured that out.

We stopped by the Everglades on the drive back too. This time we saw gators everywhere. Literally, for miles, there was a creek following the road, and if we looked at it, within 15 seconds, someone would say "there's one!". Here we stopped at an observation platform. There were about 30 alligators there. They must feed them or something!

Well, I'm waiting to get the pictures (I will post them later), but the very best thing about the Keys was the snorkeling. There's a reef off the coast, and we went out twice. Once just me, my mom, and Joe, and the next time everyone. But wow. Reefs are amazing! Even though everything is blue, there's still so much color! The coral, the fish, even the water itself was neon green! We saw angelfish, fish that looked lie Dory, puffer fish, hundreds of other fish I couldn't identify, barracudas, my sister even saw a shark!, and the best - sea turtles!!! I can't' really express how amazing it was. At first it was scary and uncomfortable to breathe through your mouth with a weird tube in it, but the more you see, the less that matters. And here's some random knowledge that helped me have a great time. There's such a thing as a DRY snorkel. It means that no water can get in from the top of the snorkel. So, next time you go snorkeling, do yourself a favor and pay extra for a dry snorkel.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Oops! I forgot about this...

Back in April/May, my friend Ruth and I took a short trip to Washington state, for my friend Amber's wedding.  We drove, because this country's beautiful! And, I hate flying. And we drove a round-a-bout way to and from WA, so that we could see more people and places. We had been living in Chattanooga, TN all winter, so by the time we left in late April, we expected 80s the whole trip. But we were wrong. Luckily, we realized our mistake just before we left, and were able to pack enough warm clothes for the trip.

Our first stop was Chicago! I have family there (Grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins), so we stopped to see them on the way, and it broke up the beginning of our trip perfectly. We arrived early, so we had some time to explore the city first. Here's as trite as you can get! The bean. Oh, and we brought a sock monkey, like I do on all my trips. Susie Sockmonkey is her name, and she's tiny and pink. In the first photo, she's sitting on my head. Keep your eye out for her in other photos!
My aunt Martha helps run the city ferret rescue. Here's one! 

As soon as we entered South Dakota, we saw signs for "The Corn Palace" so we decided to check it out. Sure enough, the building in the background's facade is completely made out of corn.

Badlands were next. Beautiful!

Timon and his friends! I didn't know we had prairie dogs in the U.S.

Badlands still.

And we saw our first bison! He was getting rid of his winter coat.

We were sure they were going to fight, but they didn't. Just started at each other then went back to grazing. But isn't this the epitome of the northwest prairies?

Mount Rushmore!
...was too expensive to see, so here we are pulled off the highway

Devil's Tower, WY. It's a climbing destination (and sacred site), and we happened to drive by. We explored, but didn't climb.

Yellowstone. It was in the 30s. And it was smelly.

But totally worth it.

This was a surprise. I actually said "holy shit!!" out loud. There was an older couple next to us. They just smiled.

And, finally, after more beautiful driving, Amber's farm in WA. She scheduled her wedding for the perfect time of year in eastern Washington. The hills around her town were green, instead of their usual brown, and the apple trees were in bloom! It smelled heavenly, all day, everyday that we were there. She lives on this apple orchard, but works on a garlic farm. Some parts of the garlic farm are on the same plot as the orchards, but sometimes they have to drive to off-site garlic fields. It's 2 separate businesses that work (and live) harmoniously together. some goats on the side. I felt like I was starting to get the hang of it, but Amber is WAY better at it than I am...

And the wedding itself! Kiss the bride! Our mutual friend Addy was the pastor. She got ordained when she was in high school. For no reason at all. But she's using it now!!

They set up a slackline for entertainment. I was entertained. Ruth and I had "battles" to see who could stay on the longest. If we had walked to the middle we could have tried pushing each other off, but we never made it. I put this particular photo up because, as you can see, I won.

Then we said goodbye to Amber and moved on. But we headed west, toward Olympic National Park. Here were are a Hurricane Ridge. The snow was 12' deep. We trudged around on top of it for a bit, took some scenery photos, and moved on to other, lower, wetter parts of the park.

the Hoh Rain Forest.

And the beach! Hello Pacific!

The Oregon Sand Dunes. Near the beach, but not actually the beach. This was pretty fun, except for the fierce wind that was blowing constantly. Wind + sand = pain. Especially in the eyeballs.

Pacific, probably in Oregon somewhere. Just a picnic area off the 101

And onto California! Everything was bigger there. The trees, the ferns, the gas prices..

Redwood National Park! This was Ruth and my favorite part of the trip

we wanted to go to a famous beach bouldering spot, but the hike was straight down a tick-infested hill, covered in tall grass. No thanks. And the ocean was crashing against the base of the hill. Guess it was high tide? So we made some phone calls and heard about this beach. Step out of the car, and onto the beach. My kind of approach. 

On the way back toward the east coast, we stopped off at the Tetons. We tried to visit them right after Yellowstone, but the pass between the two parks was still closed, and when we tried to go around, we encountered snow. Just say no to snow. We enjoyed a picture perfect day in the Tetons.

Here's some shots from the summer: I was proud that I led this climb, so here's a photo!

that same day, a snake fell from the top of the cliff right beside us!! It was an eastern hognose snake. I'd never heard of them before

Here's another climb I did.

I was really excited that I didn't fall!

A mystery route.