Tag Archives: San Francisco

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Flying back home

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Flying back home

Flying back home to the States – The tail of the adventure

Wednesday, 04-Jan-2017


Flying home from an adventure is bittersweet. Home is calling, but the road is calling too… In this case, the plethora of Scottish roads that hadn’t been explored were calling pretty loud.

Oregon also has roads and mountains that need to be explored too though. Our own bed and Ollie were also calling pretty loudly… or at least barking and wagging at the thought of seeing us. Whether Ollie or us were the ones barking and wagging is still a point of debate.

Flights! Metal birds carrying us home!

Bill and Greta dropped us off at Aberdeen airport mid-morning for our short hop to London. This was our only non-fancy flight of the trip, though honestly it didn’t feel like it. European airlines still beat the pants of US airlines, in terms of comfort and service. That first picture, of the awesome breakfast? Yep. That’s what coach gets in the UK.

London was quick, nothing really of note. We landed, got on a new plane, and then took off again. London airport did have a pretty cool lounge, though. Very excellent butter chicken. Seriously. Everywhere. Everywhere in the UK serves butter chicken. If it’s not the official dish yet, it should be.

Then – a long flight. Like… you don’t understand how long this flight was. London to San Francisco. 13 hours, or something like that.

But we had comfy chairs! And movies! And booze! So much booze! I think we got up to 8 or 10 glasses, by the end of it… and that wasn’t even trying too hard. It reminded me of when I flew back to the States from New Zealand, and they had free drinks. Make the most of it, right?

We did make the most of it. They didn’t have the lobster mac and cheese that I was hoping for (that’s only East Coast to UK, it turns out), but they did have some amazing grilled cheese and tomato soup that I made great use of. And dinner? Ohh man… appetizers, main courses, desserts, wine… yeah. We enjoyed our flight.

An excellent end to an excellent vacation.

Pictures from San Francisco – Graffiti edition


A friend of mine’s traveling around the world right now, a bit like me except she’s actually successful at not getting kicked out of South America, heh.  One of the focuses of her travels is photography (She’s got an amazing ability to get shots I’d never even think of), and she takes a lot of really neat pictures of graffiti and other urban artwork… so to take a page out of her book, here are a few of the best pieces of “urban artwork” that I saw in San Francisco!



Danielle’s websites:



Rock climbing gyms of San Francisco


To climb outside, or not to climb at all. That was the question that used to haunt rock climbers across the globe, but thankfully it has been solved. Solved, thanks in no small part to indoor rock gyms. San Francisco is full of them I learned, and luckily for me my Cousin was able to help me out by taking me to two of her favorite gyms in the city; Twisters and Mission Cliffs.

We headed to Twisters on Wednesday, enacting a rather impressively complex dance of cars and bikes in order to get everyone to the gym on time. Emma had to meet a friend and pick up some shelving units using his truck. Remy needed to be there at a certain time so he could meet a friend. I had to meet Remy at his place, and needed to bring Emma’s bike with me so that she could get into work the next day. Someone needed to pick up dinner for us all. And to top it off, the Ox couldn’t go in the same car as the fox, unless the police officer was with them. Props if you got that last part.

No matter the odds though, you cannot keep a climber for their climb once their minds are set, and we somehow were able to get everyone where they needed to be, every bike and every shelf. And once that was all settled, we ate some food and rocked the bouldering problems at Twisters. Its an interesting gym, in the fact that its pretty small and simple. While that could be a downside for some gyms, here it fit perfectly… there weren’t too many people, and the climbs themselves were amazingly set; giving rise to interesting problems and unique moves. The “terrain” varied a bit too, although there were really only one or two climbs per section of the gym. There was a nice cave, a real tricky slab, some light overhangs and stems, and one short wall with a few strenuous traverses. My favorite part was the high-ball section though, with a pad nearly four feet thick underneath, just waiting to be jumped down to from the top of the boulder.

We spent the rest of the night in the gym, hanging out and chatting, bouldering and snacking. I’m sure that there was an official “closing time”, but the upside of a small attendance combined with being friends with the folks running it meant that there wasn’t an actual closing time. Through some creepy telepathic consensus we picked 11:00 to be our “chalk down” time though, and almost as soon as that hour hand hit the eleven people started leaving. At that point I was nearly useless on the rock anyways, so I helped Remy move Emma’s new shelving unit into his car and we started the long ride home. THAT was the real downside of Twisters… its pretty far away from San Francisco proper, and the ride home took us just about 45min. But once we were back at Remy’s place we reaped the reward of a tough workout – most excellent sleep.

Mission Cliffs, unlike Twisters, is right in the city itself. Friday night saw me walk down to the gym from Emma’s place, after realizing that the buss would only save me 10min or so. It was a three mile walk, give or take, but in my mind this was just another excuse for me to explore the city and get to know the feel of the neighborhoods. The only downside to the walk was that the rain hadn’t decided to hold off anymore; my rain jacket did a very good job of keeping me and my gear dry but I’m sure I cut a rather ridiculous sight walking down the street, in the rain, with my raincoat bulging around me from the satchel stuffed inside.

I actually made the walk a good bit quicker than I expected (upside to rain – you can push yourself harder since you effectively have a water-cooling system keeping you from overheating), and after helping a random lost guy out with directions I went inside. After the usual paperwork and “have you climbed before? Have you climbed here before?” I took a bit of time to explore the gym before meeting Emma and Remy and Co in the bouldering area. Just… wow. This gym was HUGE.

Mission Cliffs wasn’t as large, square footage wise, as Metro Rock back in Boston. But I am of the opinion that it more than made up for that size difference in a height difference; Mission Cliffs has a good 20 feet or so more vertical climbing than anywhere I’ve seen, and their roped climbing terrain is rather epic on its own. Needless to say, I am coming back once I have my harness and rope and a belayer 🙂

Ignoring the roped portion I bouldered with Emma and Remy and a few of their friends for the night, trying to keep up with the guys. Remy’s good (So is Eric, but he’s annoyingly TALL, so its hard to learn from him), and I had a lot of fun watching how he tackled certain problems that I couldn’t do. Seriously, I need to just buckle down while I’m in New Zealand and get good again… this “I’m not as strong as I used to be” thing I have going on is unacceptable. Honestly, its just frustrating because I can see the moves I need to make, can visualize myself going through it, and can’t actually get my body to follow through with the moves. Growl. But the upside – its just training and working out, and those are things I can work on.