Tuesday, December 1, 2009

20 Days in.

Okay. Deep breath. Focus. Muster up motivation to update the blog.

Alright. I'm ready. After a long day at work, it takes some oomph to start writing instead of zoning out in front of the tube. But, here I am, finally. It's been 20 days since we arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina, and unfortunately, we haven't seen much of the South except the inside of the climbing gym. The job is cruising along though, so at least we have something to show for our time here.
The prow of the free-standing boulder. Pretty cool, huh?

Cody just finished the second and final layer of plywood sheeting on the toprope wall, which means that he can help me with my jobs: filling the cracks with wood putty, drilling out the holes for the T-nuts, and sanding. John called my jobs "remedial" today- which made me laugh. I think he meant "menial," which they certainly are, but I'm not sure what they remedy- my wimpiness, perhaps? Or maybe my patience? Menial as the work may be, I can still listen to my ipod as I work, which keeps me sane and happy.

I've been downloading podcasts recently, to try and engage my brain a little. Podcasts are pretty amazing little bits of technology- today I listened to David McCullough talk about "Why History Matters," and Michael Pollan discuss "Where our food comes from." It's so cool to be able to listen to smart people discussing interesting and relevant topics whenever and wherever for free! So, work is going well. Cody and I will be home on Bainbridge for Christmas, most certainly. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving break- I'll have to tell that story another evening. Because now, it's time for bed.

I hope you all are out there living your dreams. I know we are. Well, sorta.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Inner Peaks Climbing Center

Cody and I are currently in Salt Lake, staying with our good friends Pj and Sarah Mannion. On Monday morning, we're heading to Charlotte, North Carolina to do a job with Vertical Solutions. The Inner Peaks Climbing Center is adding a free standing boulder and a top-rope wall to their existing gym. Check out the sweet design and video here.

The job is scheduled to run for six weeks, which means that we won't be able to make the annual Allen Family Thanksgiving weekend. Believe me, we would rather be playing mexican train dominoes, eating Aunt Jenny's apple pie, Aunt Cynthia's cinnamon rolls, and spending time with all my favorite Allens (and LaPlantes), but the opportunity to make some money is pretty hard to turn down. We'll miss you guys!!

However, Cody's parents are sailing down the east coast (check out their sail blog here), and he has aunts, uncles and grandparents within a few hours of Charlotte, so we won't be spending turkey day alone. Also, the chance to visit Amy sounds pretty good too!

Until Monday, we're living the dream!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Photo Update: September and October

I apologize for the long gap between postings. I hope this group of photos makes up for my recent negligence. Out last post was from the Starbucks in Squamish, but I decided to include some photos from the Bumbershoot music festival in Seattle, which happened before we went to Squamish.

Cody and I went with Grace and had a nice day wandering around the booths, eating fair food, and listening to some good music. We saw Katy Perry and The All American Rejects at the main stage, then Eric Hutchinson played later in the day at a smaller stage. We hit the weather just right- it barely sprinkled on us. The next two days were really rainy and cold- the papers printed pictures of festival-goers wearing ponchos, looking wet and miserable.

The All American Rejects played a fun show.
Grace was able to squeeze through the crowd and get some great shots!

If you look closely, you can see birds on the arches of the Science Center.

It was such a beautiful evening- the stage was right under the Space Needle.

Eric Hutchinson playing his hit "Rock n' Roll."
This was the last show of the night- and what a fun one!

When the rain finally stopped in Squamish, Cody and I hiked up to the summit of the Chief.

A little bird perched atop the Chief in Squamish.

Kite-boarders in Howe Sound. There must have been 50 of these guys out on the water!

The proper Canadian spelling.

After Squamish, we stayed with Grace while Mr and Mrs Allen vacationed in France. It was a relaxing two and a half weeks at home, full of cooking, dinners with Gramma Jane, and hanging out with Grace. Once Mom and Dad returned home, we headed out to Lander, to see Bryan Wolfe for a few days, and then continued on to Laramie.

Cody sending Prize Fighter (V6) in Vedauwoo.

Halloween in Laramie!
(L-R): Cody the Lion, Callie the Golfer, Jesse as Richie Tenenbaum, Beth as Annie Oakley, Kelby as The Todd (from the TV show Scrubs), and Abi the baseball player.

Stick 'em up, you yeller-bellied beast!

I hope all of you had a fun Halloween! Today we're heading somewhere else... Colorado perhaps? Or maybe back to Lander? We'll let you know.... Until next time, we're livin' the dream.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Cody and I left Bainbridge yesterday morning, hopped on the Kingston Ferry and drove up to Squamish, BC.  Our drive went smoothly, inturrupted only briefly at the border for a series of questioning and a quick search of the van.  Apparently, it's unusual not to have a permanent job or residence, and the mounties at the border don't want American vagrants drifting permanently into BC.  Once we had assured the friendly officer at the customs desk that we really were planning on leaving Canada by the 19th of September, and he had determined we weren't carrying contraband,  he waved us through.  

We're so trendy!

We arrived in Squamish under overcast skies, but found it was dry enough for a little bouldering before dark.  We wandered around in the Ewok forest at the base of the Stawamus Chief for an hour or two before heading back to the van to cook some dinner.  That night, just as we had pulled the covers over us, it began to rain.  As far as I could tell, it rained steadily all night, and was still drizzling as we woke up this morning.  Currently, we're sitting in Starbucks, sipping chai lattes and waiting for the library to open at noon,  and are planning to catch a matinee later today.  The weather forecast looks pretty good for the rest of the week, but we're going to have to be patient and wait for the rocks to dry out.  We're not too concerned- time is one thing you have plenty of when you're living the dream.   

Thursday, September 3, 2009

City of Rocks and back to Boise

With some time to kill before we head for Seattle we decided to go to the City of Rocks ID.   Brian Wolfe couldn't bear to say goodbye, so he met us there for a couple of days. 

The first day we were there was pretty relaxed, Beth and I scoped out climbs, we decided to climb this attractive looking 5.10.  After I realized the dangerous potential of the second half of the climb I decided to back off.  Slightly frustrated, we did a fun scramble up Bath rock which brightened our moods.

When we got back to camp Brian had just pulled in with his new dog Abbey.  The next day brian lead his first trad climb, a 5.6 cleverly named "first lead", he did great!  The next few days were filled with generally scary climbing.  Quite large run-outs on round featured slabs;  we have come to realize that the climbing here is just not for the fearful.  Two nights in a row we went into town and relaxed in the hot springs until dark.  On our last day we decided to do some gear hunting.  The previous day after finishing Columbian Crack we walked over to the rappel and saw that people had dropped gear, into a crack near the anchors.  We made a retreival device out of a tent stake taped to a tent pole.  It worked great and within 45 minutes we had pulled tons of gear and trash out of the crack.  Free gear is always a good way to end a trip.

We arrived in Boise thinking that we would be climbing in the new gym and hanging out with friends.  That was not the case.  The wall we left one month earlier was still not done.  It was a grim looking place, and morale was very low.  We agreed to stay and help get the place done.  We stayed a little over a week and the wall is finished, we got to climb on it, but its still not open.  They've had lots of problems with the subcontractors and the city.  Hopefully it will open soon.  

We just arrived on Bainbridge last night, spent the morning picking blackberries and relaxing.  We're going to a music festival with Grace in 2 days, and then off to Squamish for some climbing.  

Until next time....  We're living the dream. 


Thursday, August 13, 2009


Cody and I left Boise once we had finished sheeting the bouldering wall with beautiful baltic birch plywood. You can see the (almost) entirely complete gym here.

We headed back to Lander, to help our good friend Bryan Wolfe move in to his cute new home. It's been nearly two and a half weeks that we've been here- but the time has flown. I've painted his kitchen (a rusty red color, to accent his granite countertops,) and his living room an olive green. Cody's built an adjustable climbing wall in the garage, a design copied from Sus, the guy who will be the general manager of The Front Boise, who was kind enough to put us up while we worked on the gym.

While Lander has some of the best sport climbing crags in North America not 45 minutes from Main street, the little mountain town is also surrounded by the Wind River Range, which has some incredible alpine trad routes climbing it's many peaks. We decided to spend a week in the Cirque of the Towers with Bryan, climbing the numerous peaks that encircle a grassy, stream-filled, boulder-strewn valley. We arrived at the Big Sandy trail head around 10am, shouldered our packs, heavy with climbing gear, camping gear, and food for a week, and began the 10 mile hike into the Cirque.

Pingora Peak and wildflowers

Just as we had finished dinner that evening, the thunder began. The Winds, and especially the Cirque, are known for weather that changes in moments, and also for afternoon thunderstorms. We hunkered down in our tents for a dark and stormy night. We slept poorly, kept awake by the wind and lightening. The storm was still blowing the next morning, ruling out any possiblity of climbing. We sat in the tents for most of the day- napping, reading, looking out the plastic window at the fog. Boring!
Pingora and the fog

The next day, we awoke to a chilly, but clear morning. We cooked breakfast and waited for the sun to hit the route. Once the sun had risen enough to warm the granite, we headed out, making the short but steep approach to the South Buttress of Pingora Peak. We encountered a few other parties, but didn't have to wait long to begin the route. Three pitches of beautiful granite trad climbing later, we stood atop the summit, enjoying the broad views and the sunshine. We rapped down, hiked back to camp, and scarfed a quick meal, (chili and rice- yummy!) and were in the tents by the time it started to rain again.
Belay 2
The Summit!

The view from the top

The next morning, I woke up with the sunrise, and despite my wool socks, long johns, and my 5 degree sleeping bag, I was freezing! Looking out our little window, I could see the rain from last night, frozen on our tent. Cody and Bryan woke up soon after me, and after a short discussion, we decided to pack up and head back to Lander for some warmer weather and sport climbing. We ate as much food for breakfast as we could- in an attempt to lighten our packs for the hike out. We had planned for a week, but had only eaten three days of food. As we cooked around our little campfire, it began to snow. Yeah. Snow.

Cody warming up and looking disgusted at the weather...

We hiked out in full rain gear, the storm blowing sideways. It was warmer and much dryer at Big Sandy Lake, a popular campsite, roughly half way between the trailhead and the cirque. We drove back to Lander and were met with sunny weather. After some hot showers, real food and a rest day, we hit the crags.
We're sad to be leaving Lander, but this weekend we're heading up to the Pacific Northwest. We're stopping in Boise, to climb around there and check in on John and the Gym. Then it's on to Bainbridge to spend some time with my family, and then to BC, to climb in Squamish.
Life is good when you're livin' the dream....

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Sorry about the delayed posting- We've been home for a few weeks now, and are falling behind on current events!  Hopefully we can get all caught up to the present soon! For now- since it's past my bedtime, I'll just let you all know that we're in Boise, working on a climbing gym with Cody's former employer, John Stack of Vertical Solutions.  Check out their blog for photos and info! 

I'm off to live the more literal dream...zzzzzzzz......

Photo Update: Segovia


Yum!  Sangria with a view of the Roman Aqueduct in beautiful Segovia.

The view of the street and cathedral from our pensione. 

The beautiful Spanish countryside as seen from the castle.

Our Pensione.  
(Just kidding.  This is actually the Royal Bedroom in the Castle of Segovia)
I don't think this was made for a child... there are actually spanish people of this size.

Can you find Beth?

Surveying the kingdom from the top of the castle.  

Monday, July 13, 2009

Photo Update: Valencia and Madrid

On the train to Valencia, watching the Mediterranean fly by. 

Delicious Horchata de Chufa- A Valencian Speciality.
(Those little nuts are chufa- they're kind of like little sweet dried potatoes.)

The enormous market in Valencia.

The National Library in Madrid. 
(¡Me gusta los libros!)

Patatas Bravas in Madrid
(Potatoes covered in a spicy tomato sauce)

Plaza Central in Madrid

Amazing Peacocks in the Royal Gardens of Madrid

And their friends, the devil swans. 
(Just kidding. The black swans were very friendly.)

The Royal Palace of Madrid.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Photo Update: Barcelona

Inside the Sant Josep Market on La Rambla
Lots of amazing food!

(After shopping in the Sant Josep Market)

On our way to the beach.  We had such beautiful weather!

At the Plaza de Catalunya

Overlooking Barcelona from the top of the Cathedral de la Sagrada Familia

Beautiful fountains on the way to AC/DC!

Angus (not-so) Young. 
But still kickin'. Literally. 

Back in Black. 

Monday, June 29, 2009

Segovia, San Seb and Speg Bol!!

Beth and I are back in Barcelona for the last couple of days of our trip. We are staying in an out of the way hostal just relaxing as things wind down. But here is what has happened in the last week and a half or so.

In Madrid we we started running into a lot of Australians, first two Keith Urban looking guys, then a really cool girl that has been traveling Europe for a long time and before that, she traveled southeast Asia. Then another girl, fresh off a tour of the UK. None of which really knew who Keith Urban was, despite the striking resemblance of the to Aussie boys. We thought nothing of it

On our last day in Madrid we went to a really cool Palace and the best parks we have seen in Spain. Beautiful pools, ponds and fountains. Not to mention that one was full of peacocks and black geese. We left for Segovia the next day. The city is small in comparison to other cities we have been in. I asked a man the bus how many people lived there. He said 55,000 and then started speaking at Beth speed and I lost him. But Beth translated bunch of other cool information. Segovia's wonders start with the 30m.(almost 100ft.) tall roman aqueduct which flows past a towering cathedral to the Castle at the end of the hill. This castle inspired the castle in Disneys Sleeping Beauty. The castle is truly built for function as well as beauty. It is perched on a very steep hill/cliff, the only spot you can really access it is a drawbridge across a very deep moat. After crossing the drawbridge you enter the castle to see brilliant courtyards, ornate halls, towers and gardens. Anyway I could write a whole page about it, it was cool. Another great thing about Segovia was just the feel of the city, very tight streets old buildings, and a generally slower feel.

After spending the night in Segovia we headed back to Madrid and spent one more day there before waking up early and missing our bus to San Sebastian. We caught the next one and we were on our way. When we got to San Sebastian we were greeted by a guy named Lewy, another Aussie, and he told us about a cool hostal he and his friends ran. We had place reserved for the night but told him we would see him tomorrow. The next morning we called Lewy and he walked us to the "hostal". He had been explaining that they had a big party the night before and it was a little dirty. It was an interesting bunch of people, most worked for the company that also owned the hostal. Almost all Australian. Only one out of the 10 or so could speak Spanish despite all of them working in Spain. This is were we learned the truth about Australians: they are serious about partying, they don't learn other languages, and have very low standards for cleanliness. They also just randomly decide to abbreviate things like San Seb., Air con, Speg Bol (spaghetti bolognese), and other random common words.

We spent most of our time in San Sebastian on the beach, eating pinchos, and learning about Basque culture. The city is known as the culinary capital of Spain and the food was delicious! There are two awesome beaches, one with waves and surfers, another for swimming. The water was a little cold but not too bad. One day we went up to a castle on the hill that was controlled by Napoleon's troops during a battle for the city. San Sebastian was our favorite city in Spain.

After San Sebastian we headed to Bilbao for an afternoon. After seeing a little bit of the city and the Guggenheim Museum we got on the night bus for Barcelona. And after a sleepless night we arrived back where it all started and in two days we will be home.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The rain in spain stays mainly in the plain.

¡Hola from Madrid!

Sorry about the long gap between postings- We´ve been busy.

After four days in Barcelona, we caught a train to Valencia. It was a beautiful ride along the Mediteranean coast with the azure water often just outside the window. We had looked into stopping at one of the small towns between Barcelona and Valencia, but there wasn´t anything affordable- lots of big hotels and private bungalows on sandy beaches, but alas, no cheap little hostels. Once we arrived in Valencia, we headed to the Red Nest hostel, a funky, brightly painted and spacious place, full of young travelers. Perfect!

Valencia is a beautiful city- the architecture is embellished and impressive, the beach is nearby, and a park that was once a riverbed runs through the center of the city. We ate lots of tapas, (especially dates wrapped in bacon- Yum!), did lots of walking, drank the delicious local horchata, and swam in the almost warm Mediteranean. We both loved the "Ciudad de los Artes y Ciencias" or The City of Arts and Sciences. Located near the park, this collection of super modern buildings houses an opera house, an imax theatre, a science museum and an aquarium. The buildings are truly incredible; elliptical in shape, covered in white mosaic tile and surrounded by shallow pools of turquoise water, they look like some far distant city from the imagination of George Lucas- all but ready to launch off into space. Our roommate at the hostel, Silard, from Hungary, had planned to spend a month in Spain, but once he arrived in Valenica, his one month stay became five, and now he does odd jobs for the Red Nest, like playing guitar and serving free sangria at the Friday night hostel parties, for a free room. It doesn´t seem like a bad life.

After five nights in Valencia, we were ready to move on. We decided to go inland, to Madrid. We´ve been here for a few days, visited the Prado Museum, (Goya, Velasquez, Bosch...), the national Library, and the Royal Botanical Gardens. Another beautiful city- but with more heritage and history. We´re thinking of heading up to San Sebastian and Pamplona next... We´ll keep you all posted when we can!

I promise some pictures are coming soon!

Love from the LTD team!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Barcelona Update!

Whew! I can´t believe it´s only been a few days since we posted last!

We´re in Barcelona, writing from our cute little hostel. We´ve spent the past few days exploring the city, visiting old cathederals, hanging out at the beach, and wandering the markets. There is a lot to see and do! Yesterday, after a lazy morning and early afternoon spent lounging on the beach and swimming in the Mediterannean, we went in search of this park that we´d heard had some rock climbing in it. It supposedly had a tunnel that climbers had taken over and turned into a gym of sorts, with climbing holds bolted to the concrete walls. We found the art museum on our way, and ended up sitting on a bench in front, just taking in the beautiful view of the city. As we sat there, we began to notice a large number of people walking by wearing AC/DC t-shirts.

When we decided to continue on to find the tunnel, we saw even more AC/DC fans streaming towards the stadium here. There was a concert that night! We wandered along, people watching, and soon we were offered some tickets. At first the guy wanted 80 euro a piece, but since we only had roughly 120 euro on us, we were able to talk him down- we ended up giving him all our money- 120 euro, four US dollars, and a handful of change- but still ended up paying him less for the ticket than he bought them for. Score!

The show didn´t start for a few more hours, so we went looking for the tunnel again- and found it. It´s awesome- we´re heading there today with our shoes and chalkbags. We grabbed some Paella for dinner and headed in to the show.

Needless to say, AC/DC was rockin´. Those guys may be getting on in years, but they can still put on a really good show. The stadium was packed full of psyched Spainards wearing light-up devil horns and screaming along with the music. We were at the front of the first balcony- which was pretty far away from the stage, but I was much happier there than I would have been on the packed floor. We had a great view of the crowd and the stage- and the giant video screens let us see all the sweat dripping off Angus Young´s balding head as he scorched our faces with his guitar solos. What an awesome night.

Photos to follow! (The old computer here doesn´t have a USB port!)

Well... off to another day of living the dream!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

On a Whim...

When people have asked me where we plan to go on our travels this summer, I’ve replied “I don’t really know..  We’ll go wherever the wind blows us.”  So far, we’ve been tossed around by gentle breezes, but now, we’ve got some serious gales coming our way. 

This past Monday, Cody and I were discussing what to do for the month of June.  I had recently spoken with my parents, who had just booked tickets for their trip to France this fall, and been infected with the travel bug, so to speak.  We looked around online and found a decent price for some tickets to Barcelona.  After some brief deliberation, we decided to go.  So, here we are, three days later, back in Salt Lake to hop on a plane to Barcelona!  ¿Can you say olĂ©?  

In order to make our flight, we had to work hard to finish up the wall in Bishop.  We burned a little bit of midnight oil, but the wall is up and nearly ready for climbing!  It’s a beautiful structure in an awesome old building in Bishop.  Be sure to stop by the new Mammoth Mountaineering shop next time you’re in Bishop to check it out!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Photo Update: Monterey, Big Sur and Bishop

A Sea Dragon at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  

Playing on the Beach near Big Sur

The Fire Tower at the Needles

Scrambling around at the Buttermilks

Sanding the new climbing wall in Bishop

Until next time....