Friday, February 19, 2010

Hueco Tanks: Back for More

Hueco Tanks State Park is named for the numerous "Huecos," the rounded holes in the rock formations. These holes catch the rainwater and can hold it for months after a storm, which makes the park an oasis in the vast and bone-dry desert surrounding it. Animals and people have come to the park to get water for centuries- from Native American tribes to settlers, to the little wild pigs called Javelinas. We saw a little family of Javelinas on our last day in Hueco, hanging out in a sunny meadow. The two adults must have weighed close to 100 pounds each! The babies were too cute- fat, waddling, grunting little things.

Nowadays, the Huecos still attract visitors, but we climbers are more interested in the boulders with Hueco formations that have turned sideways, or sometimes upside down!

Here, Cody works on Speed Bump (V7).

Cody on Best of the Best (v9)

Because of the amazing rock formations, Hueco is a Bouldering Mecca. We ran into people from Scotland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Canada, Australia, Norway, and from all parts of the US. Lots of accents to decipher and friends to be made.

Cody and I both sent our hardest boulder problems ever while in Hueco, and just had a blast.

If you look closely, you can see the engravings in the rock left by people who were here before us, most likely stopping by for some water and the shade. There's also lots of Indian Pictographs, and spray paint around too. I guess everyone wants to leave their mark!

Beth on Ghetto Simulator (V2)

Here is a video (it's kind of long, I know, but you get the idea...) of a climb called Ghetto Simulator. It is fairly iconic of what climbing in Hueco is like- overhanging with big holds. This one is particularly long- probably 25 feet of climbing from start to finish! This was taken on our last day in Hueco, and I just didn't have the juice left to finish. Besides, after 20 or so feet, I was pretty pumped and tired! A fantastic climb, and safe, because the rock behind it follows the route up, so if you ever feel like you might fall, you just step back. Pretty cool!

We are both feeling really strong after our stay in Hueco. We had a great day of trad climbing in Red Rocks with our good friends PJ and Sarah today. We saw several big horn sheep while we were on the route. They were bounding around so gracefully on narrow ledges, nibbling on the scrub oak, and occasionally would stop and just stare at us. It was so cool to be in their world and get to see them on their level. What a treat.

We're certainly livin' the dream! (And so is my little sister Grace- who is competing at the State Gymnastics meet today! GO GRACIE!)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Photo Update: Miami-Nassau

We're back on dry land again. Our last night in Miami we went over to my dad's friend Merrick's house for dinner and very potent drinks. We had heard from my dad that Merrick was a character and he certainly didn't let us down. He was cooking the largest steaks the world has ever seen and his bachelor pad was, well just that. He told us stories about his involvement in just about every sport that involved speed and danger. And at 50 something he is still racing all sort of vehicles. He told us that he once made it from Miami to Nassau which is about 40 miles in 42 minutes, in some kind of speedboat. After dinner we returned to the boat and got about 5 hours of sleep.
We woke up at four, loaded the dinghy and were in the gulf stream by sunrise. We motor sailed across not because we had to but because "cruising" for most to the old people that do it is just motoring with the option to sail. I wasn't psyched about the motoring but we sailed the rest of the way without motoring so that was good. Beth, my mom and I all got a little sea sick but nothing too serious.
Once in Nassau we got to deal with my parents frantic panicked customs show. It had been a long 36 hours of sailing and everyone was a little on edge. The next day we went to a bay around the west side of the island, cleverly named west bay. And then the next day my dad was afraid of weather so we sailed right back to nassau. Now we are back in Hueco Tanks TX climbing like crazy. Beth is really close to climbing T-Bone Shuffle, a very intricate V4. I had a great day today, climbing Daily D Dose V7 and flashing a new highball climb called Guns of Navarone V7. I cannot say I agree with the grade, it seemed easier to me, but it is my style so who knows.
Swimming in West Bay
French toast and the boat is pretty heeled over, note the egg mixture.
A Fish that I thought was going to be 40 lbs.

More like 5lbs of fish and 5lbs of weeds.
The legendary Merrick Pratt Steaks
And the house to go with the steaks.
Lots of rain in Miami.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Photo Smorgasbord: Cruising Godspeed

It's hard to believe that Cody and I have been aboard Godspeed for two weeks already! The days have just flown. We have also decided to extend our stay for a little while longer, in order to cross the gulf stream and make it to the Bahamas. Our original plan was to fly back to the van on the 3rd, but the weather window for crossing has just opened, and we're setting sail tomorrow! We'll fly out of Nassau in a week or so. The weather has been beautiful, but I won't say too much about it, since most of you are in the cold, rainy, snowy, wintry places of the world at the moment. Hopefully these pictures help to bring some florida sunshine into your day.

Sunset in Boot Key Harbor! Glorious.

Adjusting the headsail. Cody and I have learned a lot about sailing since we've been here. Pretty fun stuff!

Cody at the helm.

Sunset at Turtle Island, one of our anchorages as we headed up to Miami.

Under way! The wind wasn't quite what we wanted, but we were able to motor sail for a while.

Is that a fish? I think so...

Oh yeah! Spanish Mackerel for dinner!
Another one?

Bigger than the first!

Learning to fillet. Yummy!

What a beautiful way to travel.

Miami Skyline

Coming in to Miami. We crossed under several bridges, some drawbridges, some were tall enough to just motor under.

We're making our final preparations for our crossing tomorrow- stocking up on food, fresh water and fuel. Pat's been checking the weather obsessively. Everything looks good... So off we go!