It was a sad farewell to San Pancho. We patted Mats on the head, took one last dip in the warm pacific waves, and caught a bus to Puerto Vallarta. We touched down in rainy, dark, chilly Seattle late that night. It was a bit of climate shock! We stayed a week with my family on Bainbridge, helping my folks move furniture around, while they repaid us with good company and delicious food.
|Keep Boise Cool, I say.|
We headed to SLC, stopping for the night in Boise on the way. We climbed at the Front Boise in the evening, and the next morning shopped at the Farmer's Market, took in some art, and were on our way.
|Standard Overhang, V3.|
It felt wonderful to be back in SLC for the fall season. We headed up to Little Cottonwood Canyon the first afternoon there, and had a good time pulling on the familiar granite holds. We weren't the only ones taking advantage of the beautiful day and fall colors in the canyon. While we were there, we saw a couple taking engagement photos, a troupe of girls with a chandelier and a bag overflowing with clothes (presumably conducting a photo shoot), and we saw another couple sneak away into the boulder field with a bottle of Martinelli's Cider (this is Utah, after all).
|What a cutie!|
We stayed with our dear friends PJ and Sarah Mannion, and their darling little girl, Fisher Bell. It was so nice of them to have us, and such a treat to play with Fisher, who is 5 months old, and can now hold her own head up, eat pureed apples, bananas, and rice cereal, and, most fun of all, smile! We celebrated Halloween with them, and helped to hand out candy to all the trick-or-treaters. Halloween is easy to forget about when you grow up, but it is a fun holiday when you have kids around!
|Morning light on the Grand Canyon|
We drove South, headed for Tucson after a week in Salt Lake. We had been offered jobs with Vertical Solutions, the climbing wall company there, and decided it would be nice to make a bit of money before the holiday season began. It was a beautiful and eventful drive through Southern Utah and Arizona. We stopped at the Meadow Hot Spring, one of our favorite spots between Salt Lake and many destinations to the south. Usually we share the spring with a group of boy scouts, but this time, we met Leif, the steward of the Spring. He loves to scuba dive, and the spring, so in his spare time, he dives to the bottom of the spring- about thirty feet down, and filters out the silt and trash that collects there. He offered us a scuba lesson- which I eagerly accepted. Cody would have as well, but we had to go one at a time, and with a long drive ahead of us, he declined. It was a wonderful and surreal experience- breathing underwater, in a dimly blue cavern, watching the bubbles collect in the dimples of the rocks above. Very cool. We thanked Leif with a jar of our homemade blackberry jam, and reluctantly got back in the van.
|Such lovely views from the top windows of this rimside tower.|
We made it to Page, Arizona that night, which is just across the border from Utah. We heard on the radio while we were driving in that the local community college was celebrating it's 20th birthday with free pizza and cake, and were racing to get there in time for dinner, but alas, when we arrived, we could see a sad, half-eaten cake through the window of an empty room, and found the door locked. But, it was for the best. We stumbled into a great little BBQ restaurant and had a great meal, accompanied by music from a cute old couple playing Willie Nelson hits. We camped out in the Wal-Mart parking lot, surrounded by other camper vans and RV's, and the next morning, pointed the van towards the Grand Canyon.
|The Grandeur of the Grand Canyon!|
I had never been to the Grand Canyon before. Everyone always says it, but photos cannot capture the scale, the presence of the place. The flat, beige desert plateau drops away, sheerly and suddenly, into blushing sandstone, then again, into a verdant river bed. The clouds cast shadows that roll into the abyss and back up the other side. It had snowed that morning, and the rim was dusted in white. Our breath came in clouds and my fingers numbly fumbled on the shutter button. Once again, I was sad to get back in the Van.
|One of the Tucson Locals.|
Now, we're in Tucson, building the new Rocks and Ropes climbing gym. Well, Cody and the boys are. They're not quite as far along as projected, so there's no work for me as of yet. But, I'm having a nice time hanging out with Chilly Pepper, our boss's dog, cooking for the guys, taking walks through the neighborhoods nearby, and admiring the local flora. The plan is to head to Star Valley to spend Thanksgiving with the Harrises, and then it's a big question mark. But I can tell you one thing...
We'll be living the dream!