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Trip Journal

A Bit of Catch-Up

By July 18, 2012September 27th, 2019No Comments

I started this post on Sunday. It was Spenser’s birthday and we were both catatonic from stress, unable to celebrate as we should be. Birthdays are difficult, I find you often end up doing what everyone else wants to do rather than what you want to do. Yes, it’s your birthday and you can cry if you want to, but you are essentially bringing everyone down with you when you do. So, forget it. Spenser had tweaked his neck bouldering last week and was not in the mood to celebrate. Neither of us were in the mood to start dealing with all the nagging pieces we still have left over from the original RV Project: mostly, selling Ernie and finding our new home. The trailer is on Craigslist and RV Trader, no bites so far and it’s exactly half way through the month of July…but I don’t really want to start thinking about that yet. I decided to go back in time and debrief about our long, straight, and steamy road to Colorado (and not steamy in a good way).

Alright, forget about Colorado for a second and back to New York we go… During our time at the Gunks, I climbed higher and got more exposure than I ever thought I would be comfortable with. Despite all this, living in the back of the truck with thunderstorms taking us off the rocks every afternoon and the chigger larvae infestation under my skin had started to get the best of me. I needed a hot shower, I needed to scrub my body. I now know that unlike ticks (to which they are related), chiggers are sensitive to showering and will fall off with a  slight scrubbing…if only I was close to a shower at the time. After whining to some locals, I was told that clear nail polish (or any nail polish, clear is just preferred for aesthetic reasons) painted over the bite should suffocate the chigger and stop the feeding cycle when you are unable to get to a shower. For next time…

We had extended our stay at the Gunks following multiple miscommunications with Edinburgh RV in Indiana, where Ernie was getting repaired after our run-in with an abandoned house lead to a leaky roof. Sadly, Edinburgh RV and we did not see eye-to-eye. We dropped the trailer off in the end of May, before we started our East Coast adventures. Although I will attest that I was very clear about us wanting to start the repairs, I still felt badly when Bill at the service department received the burden of my frustrations with life in New York on June 11, when he informed me that our trailer repairs had not yet begun. After sternly reminding him that he was holding our home hostage, our trailer was to be at least road-ready the next day. We would still need to deal with the awning repair when we arrived in Colorado, but we couldn’t wait any longer! Our first option is Outdoor Awnings Melbourne offer the best in European design and innovation for outdoor awnings, roller screens and retractable roof systems.

Our arrival to New Paltz, the town closest to the Shawangunk Ridge.

First day of bouldering. Murph showing us a Gunks classic, Black Boulder Problem. This fun slope-y V5 is best in cooler conditions, but still fun to struggle on in the wicked humidity!

Will compressing his way to glory on The Buddha, V7.

Vikki getting some elevation following Travis up Moonlight (5.6), a chill trad climb with a spicy, highly exposed crux on the second pitch.

Will, Travis, and Vikki hiding out from a typical Gunks summer afternoon thunderstorm.

As Spenser mentioned, we left the Gunks on Tuesday, June 12 and started the drive to the Byronian’s hometown. We wanted to break up the drive through Pennsylvania and had an unexpedectedly incredible day bouldering at Hunter’s Rocks. We were more than tempted to stay, but were also antsy to get Indiana, pick up our trailer and get our clammy bodies to Colorado. We decided to leave bouldering bliss and continue west.

When we arrived in Bloomington the next day, we were greeted by Byron and the three goldens. Byron’s parents were traveling in Europe at the time, so we received VIP treatment on steroids, even sleeping in the gigantic bed that is in the master bedroom. Our Bloomington visit was quick, Colorado was calling to us. My favorite moment was being able to spend some time at the city Farmer’s Market on Saturday. Traveling across the county, I have learned to appreciate when I can get fresh, reasonably priced produce. Anyone who has lived in the Bay Area can relate to my disappointment that there is not a Berkeley Bowl in every city.

Blooms at the Bloomginton Farmer’s Market.

A cute boy gets down to some funky acoustic beats.

A million peaches…well, at last forty peaches.

A young Amish girl on her way back to her family’s vegetable and fruit stand.

One of the many Amish farmers looking to sell their beautiful (and tasty) bounty.

Staying in the Wolter estate was luxurious, making Spenser and I restless with a  constant battle between giving into the comfort or fighting it. Brad and the rest of the Colorado Boys were still psyched for us to arrive, or at least still said they wanted us there, so we figured we need to get there as soon as possible – just in case they changed their minds! We also still had to drive through Missouri, visit my Aunt and Uncle in Columbia, and survive through Kansas before finally settling in Fort Collins.

We left for Missouri on Monday the 18th and drove straight to St. Louis. We had a big Missouri mission prior to arriving in Columbia: City Museum. Will Wolcott opened Spenser’s, and then my, eyes to this glorious playground for kids of all ages, filled with twists, turns, tunnels, and a giant ball pit (but don’t get too excited, the ball bit is only a few feet deep, leading to bleeding elbow on my part).

Now entering St. Louis. What gave it away? 😉

Vikki entering one of the many tunnels, mostly child-size…but we squeezed Spenser in there, albeit uncomfortably.

A hall of mirrors.

Crawling in the sky. Can you believe this is in a museum?!

This picture is from a school bus that is hanging off the City Museum building. You can see the giant ball pit…but beware of it’s depth!

A few hours at City Museum is not enough, one could explore the entire day. After a quick work out pit stop at the local gym, Upper Limits, we were off to Columbia. I was excited and extremely nervous, I hadn’t seen my Aunt and Uncle since 2007 and I hadn’t been back to Columbia since my parents and I moved to San Diego in 1998. Not to mention, apprehensiveness from my perpetual need for family approval. My family is small, my Aunt & Uncle’s opinion of what I’m doing means a lot to me, I can’t help it. I was confident they would love Spenser, but I just wasn’t as sure they approved of my current lifestyle choices. Thankfully, they do. Who knew Ukranian immigrants could be so progressive!

In the past 13 years, Columbia grew from a small town to a population of over 100,000 and exhibits characteristics I never imagined it would, such as rampant crime and severely segregated neighborhoods. We were able Ernie in my Aunt & Uncle’s neighborhood, luckily the streets were wide enough. Although, an unhappy neighbor called the cops on us after about a day and we were forced to move the trailer…down the street. Even though we arrived late in the evening, my Aunt Olga and Uncle Slava greeted us with open arms and a stovetop covered with a three-course meal.

Taking a drive down memory lane and checking out my old haunts (which consisted of school, the mall, and the library) with my Aunt Olga (featured here), Uncle Slava, and Spenser.

The house that I grew up in, 1315 English Drive. The tree in the front yard is much larger than I remember it…

Echo keeping an eye on Spenser, and licking his lips… Good he has that muzzle on…

We were fed incredibly well with my favorites from childhood, including caviar. Mmmm… Yes, I am Eastern European.

Roasted peppers with a glass of white wine. Perfecto!

Trying to get Echo to smile for the family photo.

Quick family photo before we hit the road to Colorado.

After a few days in Missouri, we were completely stir crazy. My Aunt and Uncle had provided us with copious amounts of food, great conversation, and non-stop love, but…no climbing!! Colorado was in our sights as we left Columbia and headed towards Kansas. We had passed through most of the midwest without getting any bar-b-que and we had had it. Oklahoma Joe’s stuck out like a sore thumb on the screen of my Android as I googled places to eat in Kansas City. It’s a bbq joint inside of a gas station and it was ranked as one of the top 13 places to eat before you die, per Anthony Bourdain. It was lick-your-plate-after-ordering-double amazing.

Then there was the drive through Kansas. You might as well call it the sideshow state for it’s many signed stops along I-70 that pique your curiosity just enough. Do you really want to see the world’s largest prairie dog? We decided to skip that one, but made a couple of other noteworthy stops.

First stop was the Wonder Tower in Genoa, KS. The less famous Genoa of the world, but we can tell it had it’s hey-day before the interstates came and took most of the traffic away. As we entered the tower, we were greeted by Jerry, the owner for the past 50 years. Jerry is a joke-telling lovely old man who made us giggle sheepishly as he made us guess the use for random antique after random antique. Jerry and the tower are worth the dollar entrance fee, no doubt.

An old sideshow attraction, the Wonder Tower.

1n 1926, when the tower was built on the highest point between Denver and New York, you could see six states from the top of the tower. The sign still remains…

A two-headed calf greets you in the first of many rooms.

Spenser browsing…there was too much to look at!

Although the sign remains, you can no longer see six states from the top of the tower. Still, the hike up the rickety stairs is worth the thrill alone. It was also windy.

One of the twelve or thirteen rooms filled with oddities.

Next stop: Mushroom Rock State Park, the smallest state park in Kansas.

Mushroom Rock State Park is surround by grassland. Oh, and cows.

It’s a really small park. There are only about 3 of the very cool don’t-know-how-they’re-still-standing mushroom rock formations.

Vikki crawling out of a hole in a non-mushroom rock formation.

Vikki here to showcase how tall one the main mushroom rock formation is. She is a little over 5 feet tall.

Spenser bouldering in Kansas!

We found this cool looking lizard in the grass. Anyone know what it is?!

The rock is incredibly soft, as shown by the many people who have left their mark.

Spenser gearing up for a dyno at sunset.

As the sun set, we left Mushroom Rock State Park and continued on the I-70 through Kansas.

Before you enter Colorado, the last unnecessary sight to see is the largest Van-Gogh replica in the world in Goodland, Kansas.

There it is. The largest Van Gogh replica in the world. But, you have to ask yourself…why?

Finally…we’re in Colorado! We made it just in time to be able to join Brad, Adam, Bob, and the Sender Crew in Vedauwoo and kick off this new chapter of the road trip. Recreational Versatility Project. BAM!

For the rest of the photos, check out our Facebook page or Flickr.

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