Tag Archives: Adventure

A spring adventure – the exploration


Monday, 03-May-2021

Spring Break, 2021

I don’t recall having a real Spring Break trip last year… If I’m remembering correctly, I did a short Spring Break trip down to Joshua Tree back in 2019, but 2020 didn’t quite lend itself to much traveling…

With that in mind, and looking at how much vacation time I’d accumulated over the last year or so, I realized that I really did need to take some time off to escape from work, from Wilsonville, and from getting stuck in my own head. Thankfully, most travel restrictions on the West Coast have been lifted, and my back’s been feeling a lot better… and I was able to finally make the long trek down to Sacramento to visit my friend Mike and finally meet his girlfriend Michelle!

It was a long drive, and a full week of stepping out of my usual little patch of world. I didn’t really go into it expecting anything specific, but I came out having even more appreciation for my friends, and feeling gloriously rested and recharged. I’m not quite back to my old self yet… but this trip was an amazing change to stretch back into myself, and just… explore.

Monday, 03-May

I don’t know why, but on Monday I got really scared / nervous… I was down in California, visiting friends, and getting to finally stretch myself out and explore a new city again. Something I hadn’t done in years, it seemed, and something that I’ve always hugely enjoyed doing.

But I was nearly 600 miles from home, and exploring on my own while Mike and Michelle were at work… so alone in a new city, for the first time in longer than I care to think about. It’s invigorating and freeing, glorious and amazing, but the weird thing was that I was freaking out on the inside.

I was super nervous, kind of scared, and frankly just wanted to hide indoors and watch Youtube or some stupid TV.

I don’t really get it, but… maybe it was because it had been so long since I’d really gone on a new adventure?

I remember when I first set out on my big South American adventure, a friend of mine warned me that, every time she traveled, she’d get super homesick a day or two into a trip… and that it’s a perfectly natural thing. You just have to push through it, and accept that it’s a simple psychological reaction that everyone has. One that comes, but one that will pass quickly enough.

This trip was pretty tame by my standards, so I wasn’t super convinced that I was falling into the homesick category. Looking back through where I’d been and what I’d done, and my memories of my mental state during those, and this doesn’t quite add up. I wonder if this is just one more effect of the pandemic, of the breakup, and of the new world that I’ve found myself navigating…

Regardless of why I was feeling it though, the solution was the same. I texted a neighbor of mine, asking if they could give me a sanity check on my garden, and then I buckled down and did my best to enjoy this brand new city laid out in front of me.

I started with a great breakfast at an English-style brunch place called The Fox and Goose, and then headed to the climbing gym in town. By the time I was done bouldering I was feeling a bit better – two hours of climbing almost always helps make things better, I’ve found.

(Ed Note: Please see Ben’s other post, titled “A spring adventure – The Climbs” for more details on the climbing)

After the gym, I kept the adventure train rolling – hitting a few shops, and wandering around ’till I found a restaurant that piqued my interest… then just kicking around ’till it was time to head back and hang out!

Thursday, 06-May

Today was another adventure day, full of exploration and cycling around town.

I don’t quite remember any major standouts, to be honest – I had breakfast at Fox and Goose again, since they’d had three different breakfasts that I knew I wanted to try, and I happened to have three mornings free. That was just too fortuitous to pass up, and I made starting my day there a nice little staple to the adventure.

The rest of the day was spent enjoying myself. I biked around a bit, looking around for anything that caught my eye – I started toward a part of town called Land Park, at Mike’s recommendation, and sort of moved on from there. I settled on exploring a small rock garden before lunch, and then explored around until a BBQ place caught my eye.

It was a lovely day, full of lovely exploration.

Friday, 07-May

My last full day in Sacramento, I kept to my theme and spent the day exploring and relaxing, immersing myself in the freedom to do literally anything I wanted at any time, and the excitement of being in a new place.

My nerves had mostly gone away at this point, and I was becoming almost comfortable in the day-to-day temporary routine that I’d created for myself. I had brunch at Fox and Good, I read in a park for a while, and then I went back to the climbing gym to get a few bouldering routes in.

That afternoon, Mike was able to get off work a bit early, so he and I took a nice long bike ride around town – Previously I’d been meandering around a bit aimlessly, so having a tour guide was a nice change of pace. Mike’s been cycling a lot recently, so he kept up a very solid pace, tempered by the narration of the neighborhoods, and other places that they’d looked at renting apartments at. It was lovely, and the weather was absolutely perfect.

In the evening, Mike and I went to a taco place I’d found on Monday, and then the three of us just relaxed in the living room, chatting and watching TV. Lovely and quiet, calm and happy. It was a very good day.

Saturday, 08-May

My last day in Sacramento… last morning, really.

We biked, and had out last nice breakfast out – this time, at a really nice indoor place that Mike and Michelle recommended. The indoor aspect was quite appreciated since the weather had gotten a bit windier than the previous two days, and the pollen was falling from the trees in thick waves across the streets.

It was… intense, but not the worst ever. Better than my drive back from Tahoe, at least, so I wasn’t about to complain too loudly.

We biked around a bit while waiting for our table, and found a rather impressive pile of scooters that had been created at a Bike Rack… from what Mike told me, there was quite a bit of pushback in Sacramento regarding the electric scooters. Not that they existed, but about the requirement that they be left at a bike rack. They’re not locked to it, of course, but just… taking up spaces that bikes could normally use. It wouldn’t have been a problem, except that none of the scooter companies had installed extra bike racks… which leads to most racks being fully taken up by scooters, leaving cyclists a bit in the lunch.

Unless, of course, some enterprising youths (so I assume, at least) decide to create impromptu street art using the scooters…

Spring Break 2018 – West Virginian adventures, Wednesday, 30-May

Spring Break 2018 – West Virginian adventures, Wednesday, 30-May

A West Virginia adventure – Spring Break in the New River Gorge, 2018

Saturday, 26-May, through Saturday, 02-June, 2018


Life is old there, older than the trees. Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze. Country roads, take me home… to the place, I belong! West Virginia, Mountain momma… take me home, country roads.”

I’m pretty sure that the first real spring break I ever had was with Daniel, years ago, when we drove down to the New River Gorge to climb, and attend the New River Rendezvous. Since that year, we’ve done our best to always link up and go on some glorious climbing trip on or around Memorial Day. This year was a tough one, with Sarah breaking her leg, but she insisted that I go anyways, and let her live vicariously through me as she convalesed at home. I’d already cleared the week as vacation with my boss, even before I was hired for the project, so I was free and clear for a throwback adventure…





Today’s the day! The big day of the trip! And big days start with… breakfast! What? Bacon and eggs? That’s crazy!

But you know what? We’re cool kids, and we can do what we want. So we break with all tradition and have bacon and eggs and coffee for breakfast. Just like the last three days, because it’s awesome.


The goal for the day is to go back to where we went on Monday, but to use our new knowledge to set up more routes now that the whole crew had been gathered. The forecast looked good, the sky looked pretty clear, and we were energetic and ready to go.

We started in pretty quickly – taking two cars meant that packing and unpacking was actually really quick, even with six peoples worth of gear, so we found ourselves setting up routes rather impressively quickly…

  • Butterfly Flake, 5.7, Lead – I did this one at least twice, and it was definitely worth doing multiple times. Fun, powerful, and just slightly sketchy due to the fact that you’re climbing a massive, detached flake of rock that probably weighs something around a hundred tons.
  • Shady Lady, 5.7, Lead – Cindy (from Monday) had recommended this route rather intensely… which makes sense, since she set the route herself in years past. I found it to be really fun, but a little weepy and wet thanks to the constant rain.
  • Layback and Enjoy it, 5.10d, TR – Ohh my lord I loved this route. The first crux was gloriously, horribly, evilly hard, and I don’t think I honestly did it cleanly. But I did do it… mostly by going around the hard bit. The second crux went super cleanly though, since I love laybacks. And, interestingly, this route had a pretty big one.
  • The Decameron, 5.10b, TR – This route is the test piece for the area, and it was evil. I didn’t complete it, I’ll fully and honestly admit. The crux is a terrifying traverse over open space, followed by a super thin move. As Daniel said, “Move onto the really bad sloper, then match your hands on the bad sloper, and then move to the worse sloper above. Then jump”.


Now, the original forecast for the day was bright and sunny all day… but of course this was the New River Gorge, and weather reports are really not super accurate. None of us were particularly surprised then, when we checked the weather at noon and found that a storm was quickly bearing down on us.

Thankfully, it was still a ways out, so we had time before we had to run out. But climbing always takes longer than expected, and soon enough I was trying to rush up The Decameron to pull it down and hopefully avoid a repetition of our earlier, soaking wet adventure at Sandstonia. I’ll be fully honest with you all here, dear readers; I got my butt handed to me by that route. The earlier 5.10d was easier for me, and I kept getting thrown off the crux move of The Decameron.


But I’m not a good loser, and I refused to leave any gear at the top of that climb… or worse, call Daniel over to clean it for me. So I swung over to a slightly easier line, climbed up, and then swung back onto the main route a bit above the crux portion. Because I’m smaht that way. Wicked Smaht.


I had the route cleaned, and we could head out. The walk was quick, and soon enough we were heading toward WalMart for boat shoes for everyone.

Wait, boat shoes?

Yup. Boat shoes.

Not everyone is as obsessed with climbing as I am, as it turns out, and so everyone else decided that they should do something other than scrambling up rocks while wearing strange shoes. Instead, they wanted to splash over submerged rocks, also while wearing strange (but strange in a different way) shoes.

They didn’t own those new strange shoes yet, though. So we had to go to Walmart to buy them.

If it isn’t apparent, the summary of the above is: “Everyone else wanted to to whitewater rafting, but needed water shoes. So we bought them at Walmart”.

We also got some food, since we needed it. That turned out to be a mistake, since we were all quite hungry, and shopping while hungry is a bad idea. But we persevered, and finally found ourselves at home, making dinner.

And by that, I mean “we went to an ice cream shop called Fat Eddies, and ate amazing ice cream and I also ate a corn dog which I dipped in the afforementioned ice cream because this is America and I can do crazy things like that if I want to especially when I’m over hungry from climbing and then herding cats in Walmart who are also hungry”


Dinner was awesome. Daniel and Erin make chicken foccatia, and it’s delicious.

We all hung out, and I soaked in the hot tub for a while, which was awesome.

Then a well fed sleep.

Skiing Squaw Valley, and my newest injury


Skiing Squaw Valley, and my newest injury

Saturday, 25-Feb-2017


I went skiing in California!

Sarah and I had started skiing earlier this year, and I’ll be honest – I’d gotten pretty good, and was really starting to enjoy myself. Combine that with my friend Mike telling me all about how great skiing in California is, and that I hadn’t seen Mike for a while… well, I bought tickets and flew out. Rented get in Hood River, of course, which just added to the fun of flying. Yay huge bags!

I actually flew into Sac on Friday night, after a day of climbing with Sarah at the gym… I felt bad about running off, but she’d mentioned a desire to stay in Portland and see some friends of hers, so I figured that this would be a good excuse for us to have some individual adventures, and then catch back up the following week.


So I flew into Sac. Stayed at Mike’s place Friday night, and then drove out to Squaw Valley the next morning.

It was a drive. Mike and I hadn’t caught up in a while, and this drive definitely gave us time to catch up. What was normally a 2.5hour drive quickly turned into a 5 hour one, what with having to pull over to put on chains, be told that we couldn’t put chains on where we were (we were <5ft past one sign, but 10ft in front of another…), turn around, sit in more traffic, put on chains, then sit in more traffic, then get caught in some more traffic.


Then, after the traffic, we found out that the parking lot was full. So Mike, being amazing, dropped me off out front, and then went to get lunch while I got a few runs in.

By the time he got back, I’d done maybe half a dozen runs throughout the easy area, and was starting to feel pretty okay about Squaw. It was steep, and carved out, but definitely fun… and I was really looking forward to learning some tips and tricks from the ski extraordinaire hanging out with me.

Once Mike got a parking spot, we hit up the far side of the mountain, a lift run called Shirley. And that’s where I should have turned tail and run… it was all blues, but much steeper and more carved out than I was used to. In fact, the runs were mostly moguls… not something I’d ever dealt with before. But I gave it a shot, and our first run went pretty well.


Our second run didn’t.


I did the first half of the run well, and stopped for a quick breather about 70% the way down the run… before starting into that mogul field again. But this time, I didn’t hit them right. This time, I caught a ski, and went down.

My knee went another way. I screamed.

By the time I got down to Mike, shock was setting in. I couldn’t press down with my heel, and I was confident that I couldn’t ski out.

We asked a lift operator for a hand, and he quickly proved his incompetance by suggesting that I ski out… even going so far as to say that I needed to wait in line, and then ski down a green to get back to the lodge. Honestly, I’m like 90% certain that he was stoned… which I wouldn’t normally mind, but… you know… shock. Pain. Injured skier asking for help. Screw that guy.


So I walked away, and asked the next lift operator if he could help.

“Ohh god! Yeah man, get on this next chair, I’ll hold some folks back for you. What’s your name? I’ll call up, and ski patrol will be waiting for you”. THAT is how you react to someone saying that they’re in shock, and unable to ski out.

One snowmobile ride later I can’t put any weight on the knee at all, and I’m on a tram down to the urgent care area. Then two hours of waiting (1.5 hours of that in the outside waiting room), and then meeting a nurse for x-rays, and a doctor for a diagnosis.


Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament.


The four words that every skiier, soccer player, footballer, or really any athlete fears. I was told that I was now a member of that club, and that I should go see an orthopedist for an MRI within two weeks. That I wouldn’t be able to walk for a month, and that recovery could take anywhere from six months to a year.

The rest of the night was blurred. I called loved ones, then ate a huge plate of nachos. Mike helped me carry my gear into the motel room, and I settled myself into the bed, trying to learn how to hold myself to keep the knee elevated, but not painful.

I guess I’ve got time to learn, though… we’ll see how recovery goes.