Tag Archives: Exploring

Spring Break 2018 – West Virginian adventures, Tuesday, 29-May

Spring Break 2018 – West Virginian adventures, Tuesday, 29-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…




In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye says that Tradition holds the world together.

Bacon and eggs, with a cup of not-bad instant coffee held my world together. It had only been a few days, but I’m confident that this was now tradition, and thus sacred.  And I’ll be honest, I was pretty tired and sore already, so the boost was quite welcome.

Today was the day we’d get the final members of the expedition in – Brian’s friend Thomas would be driving in, arriving around 4:00… exactly when Daniel and Erin would be leaving for their date night in Charlottesville, planned to see them finishing dinner just in time to pick up their friend Lauren from the airport in town.

With those times in mind, we headed toward the Endless Wall; an easily accessable crag that would get us a few fun routes without loosing too much time to the approach. In theory, at least.

(Quick Side Note: We all wore nearly the same outfit today.  See the pictures below.  Kinda cool, Kinda strange)

I was driving again today, but this time our navigation was by phone, instead of by uploading it to the car. A bad decision, it turned out… as we realized that the GPS was trying to take us to the cliff, instead of to the parking lot. And while the X1 is a very rugged vehicle… it’s not qualified to drive down sheer cliffs. Or through peoples yards, which is what google was telling us to do.

You could say that we ended up getting a bit turned around.

That confused ended with us settling in at the Bridge Buttress – literally almost directly under the huge bridge spanning the New River Gorge itself. Although everything was wet, we set some top ropes and enjoyed the rock as best we could:

  • Monkey See, Monkey Do, 5.5, TR – Well, this was wet. It’s a slab route, that we climbed right after it rained. Funny story, it’s hard to make friction moves when the rock is an active river.
  • Easily Flakey, 5.7, TR – This route. This route was amazingly fun. Simple, pleasant, and great laybacks, I very much enjoyed it and absolutely want to lead it on gear the next time we’re in town.

Unfortunately, the forecast called for rain… and the schedule called for lunch. Neither of which would wait for climbers, so we packed up and headed into town before the 4:00 plans started arriving.

Side story: As climbers, we run into non-climbers at cliffs and parking lots semi-regularly. There’s usually a set few questions that we get asked, along the lines of “what are you doing?” and “aren’t you going to die?”. Sometimes, you meet a lovely family from Cincinnati who wants to know if their 100ft rope is long enough to set up the 70ft climb. As a note, you need a rope 2x the climb length to set it up… so to do a 70ft climb, you need at least 140ft of rope. This gentleman didn’t have that. Instead, he had a massive bag full of gear that would put the most equipped mountaineer to shame. Also, stores don’t sell rope in 100ft lengths, but in 60m (180ft) lengths. So… I’ve got nothing as to what was going on there. When we left, he was walking around to the top… and we haven’t heard any accident reports, so… all’s good?


We ate lunch at the Cathedral Cafe. It was fun. I had a reuben and a cup of coffee. We also explored Fayettesville a bit… nothing majorly touristy, just checking out some tourist shops, and stopping into the climbing store for me to get the new guidebooks that had just recently been released.

We went back to the house. It was relaxing; Daniel and Erin got all dressed up, and Brian and I lounged on the couches.

Thomas arrived, and Daniel and Erin left for their picking-up-Lauren-Date.

Brian, Thomas and I got antsy.

Brian, Thomas and I went climbing.


We picked the easiest wall we knew of – The Orange Oswald wall that we’d done the first day. But instead of setting the harder routes that Daniel had led, I went easy. Because I was being nice to Brian and Thomas. Not because I was being a weenie about leading hard routes.

  • Hippy Dreams, 5.7, Lead – I led this twice, and top roped it twice. Brian and Thomas both climbed it twice as well. It’s called “hands down the best 5.7 in the region” in the guidebook, and it absolutely earns that title – not only for the main route, but for the nearly limitless variants to it. I could have climbed it half a dozen times more, and not repeated a line of holds. Not that there’s infinite holds on it, but that each sections is subtly different, with really interesting movements that can be strung together. I loved it.

The danger of leaving to climb at 4:30 is that you stay out late.

We didn’t stay out ’till dark, though. We only stayed out until almost dark – we got back to the car literally exactly as the sun was setting… and you know what? I call that a win. A fully realized day, thank you very much.


Driving back to the house, we met up with Daniel and company on the road. Literally, they pulled in behind us at the traffic light turning onto the road that our condo was on. Kind of creepily perfect timing, but I’m not going to complain because it meant that we all got to the restaurant at the same time, and that Brian, Thomas and I had company for scarfing down our burgers. And I had Daniel to inspire me to order a cup of irish cocoa, which was unbelievably good.

So… that’s a good way to end the evening, right? Meeting up for 10:00 dinner, and gorging on huge bacon burgers and cocoa?


A weekend trip to Vantage!

A weekend trip to Vantage!

Trip to Vantage

This trip happened a while ago, and I honestly never really have the mental energy to write it up particularly well.  But I did write out this quick summary, so please forgive the plot holes, lack of details, and general tomfoolery and poor quality writing below.


Friday night:

  • Drive out, via Panda Express and DQ!
  • Takes longer than expected, but we still find a pretty solid campsite for ourselves.
  • Sleep sleep



  • Cold morning… like, super cold. Too cold to climb, so breakfast and then wander a bit. Recon, right?
  • Lotsa people leave… boo, weenies.
  • Back to camp from Recon, then have some lunch and head back to the Sunshine Wall to climb
  • Climb some super fun routes, mostly just adventure climbing up random interesting looking bits
  • Ollie doesn’t like the slot canyon… but she gets over it, or rather, through it. Get it? Through it?
  • Finish off with a tough 5.9… I think it was called “Vantage Point” that I can’t actually finish, because fuck the last move. It’s scary. I cheat past it though, to get an amazing final panorama of the whole valley at sunset.
  • Back to camp, make an excellent dinner of chili cheese dogs (and a mouse for Ollie, though we didn’t let her keep it long enough to actually eat), and sleep!


  • Wake up, it’s much nicer today, so we head back to the same area and do some more routes!
  • Actually… they’re super full, because there’s a ton of people. So we end up doing a lot of the same routes, and some of the other ones that we saw people on the day before. They’re fun, and not as popular… but they’re not as long, and not exactly what Sarah wanted to climb, which is a bummer.
  • Note, high entertainment value from the group of new climbers next to us.
  • Sarah drew while Ben made lunch of Mac and Cheese in the wind.
  • Pack up, and head back home!


Bill and Greta visit Hood River!

Bill and Greta visit Hood River!
May 19, 21 & 21st, 2017
Sarah’s parents came to visit this weekend!
I didn’t have surgery on Thursday, either!  So… two pretty awesome things, right?
When Bill and Greta first mentioned that they were coming out, we weren’t quite sure as to the surgery… everything was still in the air, and all we knew was that my ACL was damaged, and that I’d probably be all kinds of drugged up when they got here.  When we pushed the surgery back, and I was able to walk, it opened up a whole new world of possibilities for us.
Which, obviously, start with a good breakfast.
On Friday, we were in Portland.
Wait, that’s not the beginning.  The beginning happens on Thursday evening, when Sarah, Ollie and I arrived to the airport late (technically early, but they’d gotten an earlier flight.  So now late.  But was early.  But still late), and had an adventure trying to find our way through the rental lot.  It honestly went pretty well, and seeing Ollie freak out over seeing Bill and Greta was definitely worth the stress and challenges of tracking them down.
Then home, a quick nightcap, and sleeping.
So that we could wake up… and have a good breakfast!  At our favorite dog-friendly spot called Tin Shed; we ate probably a bit too much, and Ollie was even given like… five pieces of bacon, over all.  Which makes for a pretty good day in Ollie-land.
Then; Cannon beach.  It wasn’t my first visit since the accident, so I knew that I’d be able to safely walk on the sand; but it was still a nice workout for me.  Everyone else seemed to have a pretty solid time as well; we walked close to 5 miles on that sand, back and forth and around through the waves.
The evening took a classy turn with dinner, taking a nice change in pace from having sandy beach food for lunch to getting dressed up and having a fancy dinner at a restaurant overlooking the Columbia River.
Saturday started with a good breakfast too, but this time we made it ourselves, as a way to start the morning off slowly before doing… even more walking!  Specifically, two trails across the river on the Washington side, called Catherine Creek and Coyote Wall.
Catherine Creek turned out to be a bit of an easy stroll… in fact, it was fully paved and barely over a mile long.  It was pretty though, and gave us some amazing views and photo ops, which made up for the less-than-extreme workout that we got.  Coyote wall, on the other hand, kicked us back after just under a mile.  It was noticeably more intense, and a lot more rugged, and had some pretty significant elevation gain… at least for someone just learning how to walk again.  I mean, Ollie could have sprinted it in roughly 20min, if we’d let her, but…
Since it had gotten pretty hot by then, we made a bee-line for the waterfront.  We’d made plans for dinner with Sarah’s cousins, but still had a few hours to kill before we were slated to be at their house… so we relaxed.  Had some pizza, walked along the water, watched a wind surfing competition (Hood River, right?), and even took a quick nap at the house.
Then Enchiladas!  Enchiladas for dinner, with Quesadilla and salsa and beers, hanging out with Jeff & Maggie and family.  Even got a game of Gubs, in… which is clearly the key part to any evening.
Sunday!  A slightly sad day, since it’s the last one that Bill and Greta would be in town, but we made do by having a pretty excellent day of adventure and sightseeing.
And by sightseeing, I obviously mean more walking around, and a trip down to Parkdale to eat pulled pork and get amazing views of the mountains!
Walking around was a hike down Indian Creek trail – I thought I’d been down to the end of it, but Sarah led us down a turn I hadn’t noticed before, which led to a whole new leg of the trail!  Then out to Apple Valley BBQ, another place I hadn’t been to before… do you ever notice that you never really explore your home town, until people come to visit?  It’s kind of crazy, but also makes a bit of sense.  Especially this time: this would be the last time Bill and Greta would visit us in Hood River (probably, since my contract is almost up), so we had to get all the adventure in now, while we could.
The rest of the evenings was relaxation O’clock – Halibut steaks on the grill, watching Moana, and stretching out on the back porch while the sun lasted.