Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Unfamiliar Faces...

We've been enduring winds here in western Texas. The difference between the wind here and the wind in most every other place we've visited is that the zephyrs here carry the desert with them. It's much like a scene from the move Twister, you'll see Wal-mart bags flying through the air regularly, sometimes with stuff still in them. Lots of trash illegally crossing the Mexican border, tumbleweeds the size of Geo Metros, and sand. Lots and lots of sand. The Starbucks at the corner of Joe Battle and Montwood has become our "windy day" haven.

Trevor has been taking us to lots of newly developed problems all over the park. It's been a lot of fun for me since I've already seen the majority of Hueco Tanks. Two days ago he took us to a boulder I've walked pass a hundred times and there were two amazing problems, in one of the most densely climbed out areas. Who knew? In seeing all these new faces, we've felt obligated to climb everything since we may not get back to it (as long as Trevor has his way). In doing so, we've started to get strong a lot quicker than we thought. Thanks to these serendipitous colds we've been resting a lot and forcing us to be smart in our training. We climb until we feel like our souls are bleeding, we come home, eat, drink a lot of emergen-c and then go to bed. We think it's helping anyway. Let's face it, America's strongest climbers are here right now, it's a lot to measure yourself against. Though it's been said that "greatness breeds greatness" so maybe we'll leave stronger than when we arrived. That is the idea I suppose. Enjoy the last few days worth of shots. Adios.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Skin, Ping Pong, & The West Texas Desert

"Ouch." We say this word in hundreds of different ways each day we go out here in Hueco. Sometimes there are adult expletives attached before and after the word. Sometimes we scream it so loud that the resident Javelinas run in all directions. Sometimes we whisper it as we clutch our finger tips and shake with frustration and pain. "Ouch." "Oooouuuuucccchhhh!" "Oooowwwweeeeyyyy!" The syanite here is unlike anything I've seen anywhere else. It can be as hard as steel or as sandy as a crumbling old brick. Mostly though the darker, deep hued red rock dubbed "bubbly iron rock" lives up to it's name. Forming features like that of some prehistoric dinosaur skin. We are noticing that our strength is returning and our skin is slowly turning hard. With any luck, within the next two weeks our finger tips will look like those of a seasoned mason.

When we're not touring the fairytale land of Hueco Tanks, discovering new problems and dispatching those just barely within our grasp, we play Ping Pong. Let me rephrase, we play a SHIT load of ping pong. I would say on a climbing day we play 24 games or so, and on rest days it's double that. We're not ready for the Chinese national team yet but we have two distinct modes. We either have "Forrest" moments where we miss the table completely with the ball, miss the ball all together, or just plain screw up royally. OR we have "Gump" moments where we dive backwards, blindly, left handed and return the serve with shocking speed and dangerous accuracy. There's no rhyme or reason to it but damn is it fun. The handful of moments we're not playing, I'm building furniture for Trevors house, Lindsay's shouting for Bodhi and Amico who LOVE chasing the jack rabbits, or we're resting, rubbing hand salve anywhere we dub and "ouch" zone.

All in all we're getting stronger, day by day, minute by minute. We know we're getting stronger because we climb a bit harder each day and in the meantime we hurt like hell! Sound logic I think. The dogs are getting a bath today at Petsmart so Lin and I are headed to the dollar theater for some sweet old movies. We may even take in an ice cream before we head back out into the desert. I'll have a large, not because I'm hungry but because I think I can probably fit both my hands into a large bowl. Mint chocolate chip too, for when we pull our tips out and like them!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hueco Tanks

So we are in Hueco Tanks near El Paso Texas. The good Lord finally decided that we were good kids and has blessed us with sunny skies, 70 degree weather, and lots of open spots in the park. We've set up shop at our good buddy Trevor's, and we are currently the caretakers of his humble abode (I stress the humble part). As in the past, it's hard to get any kind of cell service there and Internet is a no go but luckily we're going to be coming into town at least once every few days for fresh tortilla's and water. The drive from Georgia was awful. 1438 miles to be exact, that's two days no matter how you cut it. We made it without incident but we've felt very road weary since we got here. Unfortunately we're both sick now. I've had a bit of a relapse in my cold, and Lin has caught the funky heebee geebees too. On a serendipitous note, climbing here forces an equal number of rest days to climbing days and we're in day one of two off.

Our skin is on fire (this place is harder on your finger tips than anywhere else in the world) but we're excited about the prospects of future climbs here. It's changed a LOT since I was here three years ago but it's a fun vibe now. All of our old friends have properties and little adobe pit toilets, and the once chaotic system of entering into the park seems trivial and easy now. We're here until the end of Feb and then who knows, most likely starting to look for that elusive new home! I feel like a big pile of poopy right now so that's it for this installment, but I promise the next one will be full of more pictures and details. For now, know that we are in Hueco, we're happy, healthy (sort of), and having a ball! We miss you all and look forward to the stories we can share in the future. Adios!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Pura Vida

Pura Vida. This is the motto of Costa Rica, it's everywhere you look. On water bottles, billboards, tee shirts, cheap surf boards. Literally it means "pure life", it's a perfect slogan for a country that seemingly has no sense of urgency about anything. We would call it..."laid back". With no standing army since 1948, the locals or Tico's are a very non-confrontational people. Our trip took us to the southern most region of the country near a duty free zone called Golfito. The journey began here in Milwaukee with a lengthy bus ride down to Chicago where we spent the night due to the early nature of our flight the next morning. We took it as a good omen when we checked into our hotel which was SUPER swanky but only $89 bucks online- go figure?

With an impending storm, we flew out the next morning (only to find out later that we were one of the last planes out and then they closed O'Hare) and arrived in Houston to a voicemail that the entire rest of the gang were delayed in Denver and couldn't make the connection to San Jose (the capital of Costa Rica). We continued on south, arriving in San Jose at dusk. Kelly the travel master had arranged a shuttle for us to a great little gated hotel complex in Escazu, a region above San Jose. We listened to gunfire and fire works as the Christmas holiday approached. The rest of the family arrived that night via a different airline and flights.

The next morning we loaded into a sweet little Toyota van that puts most American cars to shame. As a side note, ALL their cars put ours to shame. We rode in a Toyota Hilux while we were there and when we asked our driver what kind of mileage it got, his response was "I can't count that high". Matt and I did the math, roughly 50 miles to the gallon. But back to our trip down, our driver Antonio would prove to be one of the highlights of the trip. His Tico knowledge of the country was invaluable. From the coffee highlands to the coastal regions he gave us the brief history of Costa Rica and explained all of her idiosyncrasies to us. The ride down took 10 hours, five of which were on a two lane dirt road. Brutal to say the least. When we arrived in Zancudo we flipped out. It is truly at the end of the earth and there are a significant lack of amenities to prove it.

We dropped our bags, put on our suits, and RAN into the ocean like lemmings to the sea! Pura Gringos I think. When we got back to our cabinas we realized just how remote we really were. No phone, no TV, no radio, no Internet, no communication with the outside world at all. There was a small "convenience store" two minutes walk away with surfboards, beer, and pink marsh mellows. Other than that, we could bust open any of the coconuts outside our door and the restaurant at the "resort" served us most of what we needed. I say "resort" because it was comprised of four buildings, the restaurant, the owners house, two cabinas, and the surf shop. Oh yeah, none of the buildings had insulation, glass, or hot water. Screened windows, hardwood floors, and fans, lots of fans.

The next week is a blur. I can tell you we swam, surfed, walked the beach, took pictures, drank Imperial beer, and pretty much just lazed around the black sand beaches in the sun. We took a tour through a wildlife refuge, THAT was COOL! A few highlights were the dolphins swimming next to our little skiff boat, snorkeling a coral reef (waiting on the underwater camera to be developed) and the spider monkey showing Matt where it wanted to be scratched...funny as hell! We ultimately got the surfing thing down, what a blast! It took us all a day though to realize why you need a rash guard. We thought it was for the water...negative ghost rider! My abs, knees, and inner ankles all still bare the wounds of wax rash where I lay on the board to paddle out through the surf. We walked to the "center" of Zancudo which was nothing more that the police station and school, the best part of which was as we were walking back along the beach, we were adopted by a beagle named Magio. The owner of the Coloso Del Mar informed us that "we were his now and not to try and shake him." Magio was great, he was our personal body guard for four days.

Our journey home took us along the Panamanian border and through many police checkpoints where when asked about our travels the policia would look at us with confusion when we told them we had been in Zancudo. Barely making all our connecting flights back, we came back to Milwaukee two nights ago, weary from two days of travel, and fighting some nasty head colds. We'll continue to add to this post with new photos when everyone sends them out, here are a few to tide you over. In summation, the trip was amazing. We saw way more country than we thought we would, met some great people, and enjoyed the Pura Vida. We wouldn't recommend this trip to just anyone, there's a reason it's at the end of the earth. It takes a long time to get there and at times it's not the most comfortable trip but in the end, it was totally worth it. Adios
There was an error in this gadget