Tag Archives: rock climbing

A weekend of kicking it – climbing, shooting, and exploring

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First weekend of June
05 & 06-June-2021


Brian’s been staying with me!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve had someone stay over at my place… Not 100% sure, but it’s been at least a year since I’ve never hosted someone at my current apartment.

Regardless of how long it’s been since I’ve had a houseguest, I was super excited to have someone over. The first week he was here was nicely relaxing, with our days spent with him working from home and me heading into the office, and then the evenings with cooking interesting dinners, hitting the gym, catching up, and finally getting up to speed on all the new movies that’ve been coming out recently.

The weekend though, we had some more time to really get into the party time, stretch out, and have some fun!

Saturday, 05-June-2021



On Saturday, we aimed for a bit of city energy – Bouldering, and Shooting range. The bouldering isn’t particularly out of character for me (Ed Note: If Ben had a Character Sheet, it would literally be one of the first lines), but the shooting range isn’t something particularly common… So yay for stretching out my activities!



The morning started, obviously, with Bacon Pancakes. Because that’s how all most of the best mornings start!

From there, the bouldering was lovely – we climbed, we crushed, we ate protein bars. It was good, but not really something to write too much about.

The shooting range was… I mean, I don’t really know what to write about here. We rented a pistol, shot a bit, and felt confident that we knew how it worked. Then we rented a rifle and did the same thing. It was fun, and we both shot quite well if I may say so.

If aliens invade, I am supremely confident that we can in fact climb up a cliff, and then hit our targets roughly in their invading center of mass, quite successfully. We are 100% the ideal defense force for Earth now. You’re welcome.



That evening, we cleaned off the… gunpowder? Is that a thing we have to do? I’m not 100% sure if it was truly necessary, but we did anyways. It’s probably important.

Anyways.

Brian cooked Chicken Parmesan, and it was awesome. I freely admit that it was quite possibly nearly the close equivalent of my previously made Bacon Pancakes. Maybe even a teensy tiny bit better.

The post-dinner conversation was also something not to be missed – especially when it started veering into the slightly crazy tin-foil-hat consipracy theory, regarding which political party may in fact be secretly in cahoots with evil forces, trying to pull the strings on every single action ever taken in the world! To give you, dear reader, a quick hint – it’s both parties. They’re in cahoots! All hooting together! Tin Foil Hats!

Ehemm.

Then we went to bed.




Sunday, 06-June-2021


On Sunday, we met up with my friend Laurel!

She was down in my neck of the woods already, something to do with a previous horse show that she’d been to, so she stopped by for a quick breakfast before we headed out with her and her pup to get some time on the Oregon coast. Brian’s been to the Pacific before, of course, but the previous week had been hot… and I mean HOT… so the chance to get into the salty mist wasn’t something that any of us was going to turn down.

The drive was, as always, a little bit longer than it felt like it should be. It went quickly though – It’d been a while since I’d seen Laurel, and Brian had never met her, so we all enjoyed the chance to chat and hang out, catching up and learning about new people.

I love getting to go on group trips… it’s something that I really miss about living in Boston. Here in Oregon my friend groups never really felt inclined to mix, no matter how hard I tried to set up group activities. Saying that three people counts as a group seems pretty strange, in retrospect, but… I feel like that speaks to how isolated I’d been feeling throughout the course of the pandemic, and the last year or two before I moved to Wilsonville.

Regardless, it was lovely. We drove through the sun and into the mist, parked, realized I’d directed us to the wrong spot, drove to the right spot, realized that it was still the wrong spot, and then repeated that process a few times until we finally decided on a new spot that wasn’t a wrong spot.

Lunch was made (French sandwiches, as per tradition), and a beach walk was commenced.



I love the Oregon Coast… Don’t get me wrong, I have tons of fond memories of the rocky New England seaside – I love jumping from rock to rock, and scrambling around looking for cool tide pools and washed up treasure. But the wide open sand beached of Oregon are… they’re just something else. They’re gorgeous, and I love the sense that they could go on forever… just fading into the mist in the distance.

Someday, I’m absolutely going to figure out somewhere I can go backpacking on the coast… but until I can finally unravel that web of not-information, I’ll content myself with beautiful strolls along the sand.

Ideally with friends, watching a dog frolic alongside us.

Interestingly, that’s exactly what I did.

We walked, we frolicked, Biscuit ran and barked and was happy, and all was well in the world.


No hyperbole, point of fact. All really was well in the world – it was a really great day, and I was really thankful for the chance to just unwind and relax with friends.

We kept the good-times train rolling even after the sky opened up and it started pouring rain – instead of worrying or getting unhappy, we found a small ice cream shop near the beach, and scarfed down some delicious treats – not just ice cream, but blueberry lattes and chocolate treats too!

And then!

And then, we kept it going with a winery! I mean, it wasn’t really a full winery tour or anything, but it was really interesting! Laurel had a nice flight of wines, as a way of helping us pick out a bottle for dinner of course, and I got to learn a bit more about barrels – specifically some of the more common places that they’re from, and what effect the vintiers have been noticing from the various regions. In short – French and US casks are kinda overrated, and definitely overpriced, but they do give a nice finish that some others can’t quite match

Minutia aside, it was lovely. While the winery was pretty cool, I personally really enjoyed a really tangential bonus to the visit – they had a really nice tin roof in the barrel room, which combined with the pouring rain made for the absolutely most relaxing sound, surrounded by the excellent smell of aged wood and wine.

It was nice, and I appreciated being able to rest for a little while in the room while Brian and Laurel chatted with one of the vintners. My knee had been kind of painful since my hike down from Colchuck, and the rain hadn’t helped… so just sitting and appreciating the natural music was absolutely just what the doctor was ordering.

As we finished up, we mobilized and moved on. Threw our gear in the truck, and headed back toward the city.



I can confidently tell you, the drive back to Wilsonville was one of the happiest moments that I’ve had in… quite a while.

Laurel had started up a rather mixed playlist of 90s songs, before pretty quickly passing out with Biscuit in the back seat. Brian soon followed, leaving me alone with my thoughts, the rain, and the highway. It was blissful – seeing the happily tired out friends surrounding me, listening to the rain pattering against the truck, and watching the highway grind by underneath our wheels.

I’ve learned, in recent years, that my personal form of meditation is long drives. Driving fugue is absolutely a thing, and for me it’s a beautiful way for my brain to turn inward and re-organize itself. My body has its task which keeps me from getting too distracted and lets my mind start really wandering on its own.

Combining that with knowing that I’m surrounded by people I like, and who enjoy my company as well, and…

Well, I was very thankful that the drive seemed to last forever.




The rest of the night was nearly as excellent as the drive itself. We ate, we drank, and we had relaxed conversations. I made jambylaya, which paired beautifully with the wine Laurel had picked out and the chocolates that we’d all picked for ourselves. Then we settled into the couch and watched a very fun, if a little strange, movie that we tracked down on Disney.

It was a very good weekend.




A Spring Adventure – The Climbs

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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 and Friday, 03 and 07-May-2021


I haven’t been able to climb much since the pandemic hit. Even before that, I hadn’t been climbing a huge amount… And then it had mostly been in the gym in Portland, with maybe a few outdoor routes thrown in whenever I could. Climbing… is kind of hard, rolling solo, but I’ve been getting the chance to climb more and more as pandemic restrictions have been slowly pulling back.

Years back, Daniel and I had explored quite a few climbing gyms around the Boston area. It was something I’d really enjoyed – when the weather wasn’t cooperating, we’d pick a gym that we’d never been to and drive out to try some new routes. Maybe an hours drive, maybe two… I mean, we’d be driving the same distance to the crag anyways, so why not explore a plastic crag when it’s raining, right?

We got to experience some really neat gyms that way, and got a bit better at climbing unexpected routes – every gym sets their routes slightly differently, grades them a little harder or a little softer, and uses slightly different holds or features.



Anyways, that was years ago. I hadn’t done anything similar in way too long, so visiting Sacramento was a perfect time to refresh my soul and expand my experiences… at least in regard to climbing on plastic holds on fake rock walls.

There were a few gyms in Sac, but only one of them was both nearby and allowed non-members to climb… they did use a weird app to schedule times, but it wasn’t too bad to set up, and I was able to get time slots pretty easily both days that I went. It was a bouldering gym, but that worked pretty well for little old running solo me.


I had a blast.

I climbed, focusing mostly on form and the number of climbs, instead of trying to push my limits and climb the hardest routes possible. I did start pushing a little bit on the second day, but overarchingly I took it easy and just enjoyed the motion of climbing. The new holds, the interesting surroundings, and the bright sun streaming through the huge windows… it was excellent. It was absolutely excellent.

A spring adventure – the exploration

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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…