Tag Archives: Driving

June 10th, 2018. Going back into the Columbia River Gorge

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Saturday, 10-June-2018

 

It’s been a while since we’ve been in the Gorge.  I mean, technically we’ve been there a lot, since the Thousand Acres dog park is just barely within the limits, but I’m not counting that right now because I don’t want to.

ANYWAYS.

We drove out to the Gorge!

It wasn’t a perfectly sunny day, but I’m being honest when I say that the rain clouds actually added to the beauty of the drive.  Sunny is all well and good, but the dappled sunlight and rolling clouds really made the drive seem… epic?  Adventurous?  Rough and tumble?  I’m not sure which words to use, but suffice to say that it was really pretty.

 

Our goal way to check out Vista House, via the Portland Women’s Forum view point.  We hadn’t originally planned on seeing the View Point, but that’s part of a fun scenic drive, right?  Stopping randomly to see the sights?  It was excellent, and a really great view of both the gorge and Vista House itself.  And Ollie got to stand on a water fountain.  So… there’s that, which is pretty fun.

Vista House itself was not quite what I expected, but it still exceeded expectations anyways.  For one reason or another, I was expecting an actual House, sort of like an Inn?  Or maybe a Frank Lloyd Wright building?  Instead, it mostly reminded me of a tomb.  Which isn’t really the goal, I would assume, but hey.  It is what it is, and this was a small marble building, designed as a circle with a vaulted ceiling.  And I was just in Rome, where there’s a bajillion of those all dedicated to dead people.  So.  You know.  Expectations.

So the adventure was excellent.  Simple, straight forward, and enjoyable.  Exactly what we needed on a rainy Sunday.

Spring Break 2018 – West Virginian adventures, Saturday, 02-June

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Spring Break 2018 – West Virginian adventures, Saturday, 02-June

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…

 

 

Saturday

Our last day dawned, and was greeted with Eggs and a rather impressive pile of leftovers from the BBQ the night before.

When I say “a rather impressive pile”, I don’t know if you quite understand… I’m talking about a to-go box weighing a few pounds. We’re talking nearly an entire chicken. And that’s the leftovers from us all gorging ourselves till we were overfull the night before. Firecreek doesn’t mess around with portion sizes, I tell you what.

But anyways, it was a short breakfast. We had a lot to do – cleaning up, clearing out track and recycling, basically all those things that one would normally leave to housecleaning at a hotel. It’s a downside of an AirBnB, but I’m pretty okay with it – I mean, we used those dishes and generated that trash, right? It’s only fair that we spend an hour at the end of the week cleaning it all up.

After that were our sad goodbyes, and then a long road ahead for me and the rented Kia.

 

I honestly don’t mind driving. It’s pleasant, I can half-zone out, and I get to see beautiful scenery.

The mountains of West Virginia are absolutely one of those places that I wouldn’t mind driving through, just spending hours cruising through small towns and around bendy mountain roads.

And what an unexpected coincidence, that’s exactly what I had to do in order to get back to DC!

 

Since the rest of the trip is kind of boring (going home usually is), I’m just going to give a few quick bullet points below:

    • Get gas, then blast my way through the mountain towns to the main highways. It goes quickly – I’m more awake and energetic than I was on the drive in, and I’ve got better music queued up too. Awww yeah techno!
    • Get to the highways, and spend some time chatting with people on the phone. Catch up, and get some solid family time. Is good. Then, back to rocking the techno!
    • One last stop for gas and “chicken” nuggets, and I’m at the airport
    • Return car, get bags checked… ohh lord the check process is insane. Too many people, not enough kiosks, no line control. Then security… with way too much line control! Line markers everywhere, keep us walking in random loops just to waste time and energy… which is honestly really smart. Go you, Dulles. Go you.
    • Once I’m through, it only takes a bit of time to get to the gate, and then… I get to chill! Yay youtube! So many movie clips!
    • I get extra movie clips, because the flight is delayed! Boo!
    • Holy wow, so delayed. And then, once we’re on… we sit on the tarmac! Sweeeeet.

The last bit of the trip was the sweetest part of the day, even including that delicious leftover BBQ that I had for dessert: When I got out of security at the airport.

I was planning on just heading down to get my bag, and then getting a Lyft home. Probably cook something up quick once I got there?

But instead, there was a Sarah waiting for me with snacks and kisses!

An excellent end to an amazing trip.

 

Spring Break 2018 – West Virginian adventures, Thursday, 31-May

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Spring Break 2018 – West Virginian adventures, Thursday, 31-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…

 

Thursday

Thursday.
A sad day.
A day without climbing.
The saddest of days.

It started out well enough; I woke up and, per what’d become a very pleasant “normal”, made bacon and eggs. Or… sausage and eggs, if I recall. They were really good. Then the sad bit: everyone headed out to go rafting, and I stayed in to write and nap for a bit. I’m not a huge fan of white water rafting, honestly… not only was it fairly expensive, but it’s just not my jam… as far as activities go. Not a huge fan of water, of swimming, or of being out of control. And, funny story, rafting has all of those things in spades.

So instead, I went hiking and scouting.

Specifically, I drove out toward Lower Meadow wall, to check out a specifically beautiful 5.14a called Mango Tango.

But… after spending 15min looking for the parking lot, I gave up. I’d planned on parking on the side of the highway, but when it came time to actually do so, I decided that was silly and dangerous, and instead I’d park at the official parking lot. Which… is invisible? Maybe? I don’t know, man. I couldn’t find it.

I moved on to my next destination: the Endless Wall. A massive fortification of stone, a rock face 3 miles long, consistently 80ft tall, and covered in brutally hard routes.

I started on the far Eastern side of the cliff, planning on hiking the whole wall and then following the Endless Wall trail (a nationally renowned hiking path) back to the car.

I met a guided group. They were cool. They told me where I was, and gave me a bit of information about there area… but we mostly left each other alone. Since, you know, they were guiding people.

I explored an open-air museum for the abandoned nuttall mine. There were placards and rusted buildings, and mine cars with plants growing out of them.

 

I hiked West bound, and ran out of trail repeatedly. Let’s talk about this bit for a second: The New River Gorge has between two and three gagillion routes. And I found an entire section of cliff with almost no routes. No joke – I didn’t see more than two or three bolt lines for hundreds of yards along the cliff bottom. There’s so much room for development here, you don’t even know.

After I got turned around and I lost the trail for the fifth time – I could have kept bushwacking my way through… but my guidebook mentioned something about a “sea of poison ivy, hip height in summer” that made me slightly cautious about continuing. Instead of risking ichy devastation, I turned around.
Then I tried to stop at the general store for lunch. They were closed, which made me sad and hungry.

Sadness and hunger were drowned out by parking at the next trailhead, and starting into what USA Today called the best hike in the country. Instead of getting food. Which was a decision. I’m not quite sure I agree that this is the absolute best hike in the United States, but it was definitely quite pretty – I got some really awesome views, and that’s even before I descended three ladders, a cave, and a few short drops to get down to the base of the cliffs.

The trail around the bottom of the cliffs was amazing – It reminded me of the Gunks, but with smoother rock. Cliffs towering a hundred or more feet above me, continuing on unbroken for miles. I never did make it to the far end (or even the sea of poison ivy), but I did very much enjoy the hike and exploration.

After exploring the cliffs, the rest of my day was pretty simple and boring – I got lunch at Burger King (because I wanted to), picked up some groceries, and hung out with everyone at the house. Nothing particularly exciting, except for maybe the volume of food that I bought at BK, though dinner was really good – Lauren and Thomas cooked up some burgers and bratwurst, which we gorged on while washing it down with some pretty excellent beer.

A good rest day.