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Road Trip Beta

Our Way to Salt Lake

By Musings, Road Trip Beta, Trip Journal2 Comments

It is 6:30 in the morning and too hot to sleep anymore. We start driving towards the middle of Nevada in search of food and coffee, when we suddenly realize it is the 4th of July and we had some issues with our windshield. Everything that might be open in middle-of-nowhere Nevada is sure to be closed so we will have to fix it later, luckily services as autoglasstec online could help us with this. And the most nutrient-dense part of our dinner last night was potato chips (possibly because we chose to climb a multi-pitch in Toulumne late in the day, so all the eateries were closed by the time we finished). A couple hours later, our stomachs grumbling audibly, we pull into Tonopah – the only place that can be called a town for hundreds of miles. Tonopah was a bustling mining town…in the early 1900s. As we drive through, shuttered blind after closed door welcome us. Then, there was the Mizpah Hotel. It looks open, and they must have a restaurant. Right? We park the truck across the street and walk over. “Did you guys miss the Starbucks?” laughs a middle-aged lady as she leads two small dogs up the stairs of the Mizpah. “We’re just looking for some food and coffee,” I laugh nervously. My usual reaction when I don’t know how to react. “Well, you’ve come to the right place. We ate here this morning,” she opens the door and tells us where to find the Pittman Cafe. Hot coffee and a…

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Les Gets Lessons

By Musings, Road Trip Beta, Trip JournalOne Comment

As Spenser mentioned, we easily fell into a tranquilo rhythm in Spain. We certainly packed a lot in with filming and climbing, but there was never a rush. Maybe that’s why we missed our train to Bellegarde, France last Friday morning. We left our Cornudella apartment with plenty of time. We stopped for coffee with more than enough time. As Spenser went to go order a second round for him and Ethan, I felt a slight pull to leave. That old nagging feeling that we’ve got somewhere to be. Chug those coffees and let’s get out of here, I said with little urgency in my voice as I moseyed to the bathroom, not realizing that those couple minutes would make all the difference. Sitting in Barcelona traffic at 7:30am, the apprenhension began. Still sitting in Barcelona traffic at  8am, we realized we really f’d up. We arrived at the train station at 8:23am, the exact time they closed boarding for our 8:25am train. In preparation, we had said our goodbyes to Ethan in the car and we ran to the gate…both knowing it was likely futile. An hour and too many Euros later, we boarded a train to Paris. Both of us hate throwing money at a situation, but sometimes that’s all you can do. I was not willing to miss seeing my best friend since middle school get married, especially not because of our stupidity. After 13+ hours and a couple chocolate croissants, we arrived in Geneva exhausted. Neither of us slept much the…

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Kelowna | The Boulderfields

By Climbing, Local Beta, Road Trip Beta2 Comments

Last summer was all about Squamish, but we knew British Columbia had more boulders to offer. When we found out about the 2nd annual Rock the Blocs Boulderfest outdoor bouldering competition in Kelowna, we decided to take a mini road trip East and give’r a go. The town of Kelowna is located on the eastern side of the massive Okanagan Lake. The Boulderfields are just south of town and take about 45 minutes to get to by a windy dirt road. There’s some rocky spots, but we took it nice and slow and were able to make it with the trailer. The Boulderfields have a seemingly endless expanse of gneiss rock (think Chaos Canyon at Rocky Mountain National Park). The area is highly concentrated but some hiking is involved, many choice areas require a bit more of a commitment to get to with some scrambling over talus à la Chaos Canyon. Contrary to Squamish bouldering, there are holds! Tiny crimps, textured slopers, good edges- whatever your heart desires. In previous years, a few sport routes have been put up across the area and now, with the hard work of a few developers, there’s also the up-and-coming bouldering playground. Both Spenser and I had a blast at the comp, quickly forgetting we were running on just an hour of sleep. Spenser got the second and third ascents of a couple spectacular steep lines, while I struggled a bit with some of the top cruxes and fell off more climbs than I finished. Nonetheless, I took in as many easy and moderate climbs as the…

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On Dreams and Family

By Road Trip Beta, Trip Journal5 Comments

This past weekend, Vikki flew to Phoenix for the weekend to help her college friend Anna celebrate graduation from medical school. I drove her to the airport in Salt Lake City, and rather than drive 2.5 hours back to Joe’s Valley, I stayed until she flew back on Monday. During her absence, I was graciously put up by our friends Max and Emmy, whom we met in Las Vegas through Alana, whom we met in Colorado. Max and Emmy are about my age, married, and living in a home they own in Salt Lake City. They have a dog named Sampson and five ducks in the backyard. They have a circle of friends, they have people over for BBQs, they go bouldering on the weekends, and they make long-term plans. They “have their shit together.”  Visiting and talking to people like this used to make me uncomfortable. The twenties has been called The Defining Decade, the period when you’re supposed to achieve all sorts of lifetime milestones like settling into a career, settling into a house, and intentionally building toward some grand future. We are not really doing any of those things. Vikki’s friend is now Dr. Ward. My best childhood friend just earned his Master’s. I ran away from academia 6 years ago. Vikki let her GMAT scores expire. I don’t have to tell you that things are changing from the white-picket-fence dreams of the past, that our generation is more capricious than any previous one. The New York…

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The More You Have

By Climbing, Road Trip Beta, Trip Journal2 Comments

Now that we’re back on the road, it’s very clear that Spenser and I are both happier living life in our little trailer – dubbed Oscar the Grouch (to stay with the Sesame Street theme). I’ve been thinking about why we’re in such better spirits away from the creature comforts we used readily in Colorado. The most comprehensive answer I have come up with is the more you have…the more you want. If I have a shower across the hall, I apparently will use it every day. If I have a big kitchen, I will eagerly choose to ignore it whenever the opportunity to go out to eat arises. These and other characteristics that I disliked about myself when living in San Francisco came back in full force this summer. Living in Fort Collins, just like living in San Francisco, had many positive aspects. It was easy-as-pie to do my physical therapy exercises. Heck, I was even able to find an awesome physical therapist in the first place! There was a gym in the garage of Brad’s apartment. There was gluten-free food on every street corner. Spenser was able to do the construction for the truck and trailer with ease since Brad had every necessary tool imaginable. Middle-of-nowhere Utah, or even Bishop, does not offer these amenities. We needed Colorado to be able to regroup after Byron’s departure. And then we needed to leave. Leaving was difficult because we had created a home for ourselves in our Colorado. We especially…

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A Review of Liquid Grip, The New Liquid Chalk

By Road Trip Beta, The Exterior2 Comments

Like every climber ever to grace this earth, I suffer from non-optimal skin. It sweats too much, it’s too thin, it’s cracked, it’s split, it just hurts. I’ve tried damn near every chalk there is. So far, the best I’ve been able to figure is Antihydral about once a week and plain old block chalk before every go. Recently I was reading Dave Macleod’s Online Climbing Coach blog and saw a review for Liquid Grip. I’ve tried Liquid Chalk and I like it, but it requires reapplication and is otherwise a pain in the butt for me. Liquid Grip is supposed to be an “apply and forget” sort of product, which would solve my main complaint with liquid chalk, so I figured it was worth a try. The company gives the somewhat dubious claim that the product adheres to the amino acids in your skin and will not transfer to other surfaces. Of course I perked up when Dave gave it a positive review, but I grimaced when I read that “there is a small amount of Rosin (less than 5%) in the product and they reassure that there is no transference to surfaces although didn’t say how this was tested.” I sent away to Liquid Grip for a few samples. On one hand, LG could very well be a manna for los manos. On the other, I’m very concerned about rosin being used on rock, because over time it forms a slick coating to the rock and destroys the friction…

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Cast Iron Chaos and the Lessons Learned

By Road Trip Beta, Trip Journal8 Comments

When we were preparing for The RV Project part deux, Spenser and I decided to downsize. Goodbye 30 foot trailer, hello little just-big-enough-for-two 10 footer. Going from a house to a bedroom meant downsizing everything, including our cookware. We decided we only needed one pan to cook with and, more significantly, we were going to be all hippy about it and forgo the Teflon. You really want something non-stick when on the road, so cast iron seemed like the best choice. I did some minimal research about how to season a cast iron pan (make it non-stick) and, at a quick glance, it seemed pretty simple. Neither of us had owned cast iron cookware before, but how hard could it be? Boy, was I wrong. Spenser came home with a brand-new Lodge Logic cast iron pan from Jax Outdoor Gear, very reasonably priced at around $25. It came pre-seasoned per the label, but the saleslady at Jax told Spenser to at least season it once more before using it. The saleslady had instructed Spenser to rub the pan down with oil and then run it through the ‘clean’ cycle on the oven. Naturally, the clean function did not work on Brad’s oven, so I sat down to do my own research on how to season the pan. Down the Google bunny hole I went. Apparently, everyone on the internet has an opinion on the best way to season a cast iron pan. There’s this guy: He thinks he’s got the answer, but…

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Crash Pads- A Review of What We Have

By Bouldering, Climbing, Road Trip Beta4 Comments

I’ve been bouldering for about 8 years now. Shortly after starting to explore the Santa Barbara mountains with Chris Yorks and Dan Kovner, I invested in my first crashpad, a Franklin Dropzone. Since then I’ve had a multitude of foam, nearly all of which we’ve somehow brought along on the RV Project. We’ve got a good variety, and in going through them I see there are plusses and minuses to each. If you’re thinking of buying a new pad (or searching for a used one), think first about what you’ll mostly be using it for and what you might already have. Mammut Soho The goods 120 x 100 x 9 (cm) or about 48″ x 39″ x 3.5″ It’s blue Three hooking metal buckles…weird closure system I got this one as a freebie from a then-road-tripping Alex Johnson who didn’t have space in her car for this one. I can understand why. It has two taco folds instead of the usual one, and it folds into a triangle. This makes it, as far as I’m aware, the only crash pad that gets bigger when folded up. Two straps keep the sides together, and then a big diaper flap comes up from the bottom and attaches to the top, making for a big storage pouch. The flap also can be used to protect the shoulder straps from the dirt when the pad is in use. The unique bi-fold design has major advantages. As a backpack, it’s easy: you just fold it up…

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The Game

By Road Trip Beta, Stuff We're Psyched On5 Comments

I have driven across the United States of America, around many of its cities and towns, and as of now, halfway back to California. Since buying Bert for the road trip in February of this year, we’ve put about 17,000 miles on him (our diesel fuel bill requires scientific notation). Since I do about 95% of the driving, I’ve spent a lot of time at the wheel. How much? Well, there is a lot of sitting in the car at stoplights, and an awful lot of cruising on the freeways at 55-60. Let’s just say it averages out to 40 MPH, which is probably nowhere near the actual figure. 17,000 miles ÷ 40 miles/hour = 425 hours Aside from callused buttcheeks, what those hours have given me is a lot of time to think, listen to various podcasts, surf country/Jesus radio stations, and contemplate vanishing points and how they relate to highway lines. The daily commuter probably spends even more time behind the wheel, unfortunately relegated to a similar or identical path dictated by expedience, rather than refreshed by ever-changing scenery. Unless navigating to a previously unvisited destination or jockeying with Boston cars, driving doesn’t take much mental exertion besides the minimum spatial awareness required to keep the wheels between the lines, the speedometer needle within acceptable bounds, and the vehicle away from obstacles. This leaves the real thinking structures of the brain free to design solutions to the world’s problems, play tricks with math, construct the perfect imaginary boulder,…

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TNT: Bert Gets a Rump Remodel

By Road Trip Beta, Trip Journal4 Comments

While I’m here editing the next video, my man is in the backyard nailing and screwing. Don’t worry, I’m not jealous…he’s just putting the finishing touches on Bert’s new storage system. I really like handy organization products. I’ll admit, maybe a little too much. Spenser likes to be organized, just in a I-don’t-want-to-look-like-I’m-trying way, while I love gadgets and gizmos that makes me, I believe, super mega organized. Even though we differ in our modes of organization, Spenser and I could easily agree on this simple plywood storage system for the bed of his big red truck. Building a storage unit for the bed of the truck was the first step of us getting road-ready once again. I found this handy, albeit incredibly corny, video and all we had to do was adjust the measurements. An important thing they did not mention in the video is the thickness of the plywood they used. We ended up using 3/4-inch plywood for the frame – we wanted to make sure the frame would be sturdy enough to hold us  since we plan to use it as a bed (with crashpads on top, of course) whenever we will be unable to take the trailer with us. We are on a budget, so we figured we could save some cash and use 1/2-inch plywood for the drawers. A slight issue came up when we couldn’t use the screws we bought to fasten together the 1/2-inch plywood boxes. Spenser ended up cutting small squares from a piece of 2×2 [pictures…

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