Tag Archives: tourism

A labor of love – My labor day climbing road trip! Part 4.b: Exploring Devil’s Tower

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Saturday, 04-Sept-2021, through Saturday, 11-Sept-2021

I love road trips. I’ve learned that, speaking to various therapists and councilors in the last year or so, long drives are a major form of meditation for me. I have something to keep me focused, and I’m accomplishing a goal, but I can let my semi-conscious mind wander and reflect on what’s been happening in my life.

I try to do this at home, of course, but… I always get too stressed out, feeling like I should be doing something instead of juSaturday, 04-Sept-2021, through Saturday, 11-Sept-2021

I love road trips. I’ve learned that, speaking to various therapists and councilors in the last year or so, long drives are a major form of meditation for me. I have something to keep me focused, and I’m accomplishing a goal, but I can let my semi-conscious mind wander and reflect on what’s been happening in my life.

I try to do this at home, of course, but… I always get too stressed out, feeling like I should be doing something instead of just sitting back and letting my brain process all the various thoughts and possibilities that are constantly screaming around in my skull.

For my birthday, I’d originally planned to climb at Index with Daniel. When that fell through, I’d sketched out a road trip down highway 101 into California with my friend Laurel. That fell through too. Finally, I gave up and decided to do something on my own – something I’d always wanted to do, but had never quite been able to make happen.


An ascent of Devil’s Tower...




Wednesday and Thursday, 08-Sept-2021 & 09-Sept-2021


Wednesday:

I left Rapid City in the mid-afternoon. The goal was to make it to the tower early enough that I could get a solid 8 hours of sleep before waking up… which meant that I needed to be asleep by… 7pm.

Yeah…

Okay, maybe I wasn’t aiming for a full 8 hours of sleep. Plan was to be asleep by 8:30, okay? Still a very legitimate amount of sleep!



Anyways, okay. So I left Rapid City.

The drive into Wyoming was pretty simple – beautiful, in a hazy… sort of ethereal way.

With many thanks to a guy at a gas station who warned me about a few speed traps on the road, I made my way out of South Dakota, into Wyoming, and along the road to the first national monument of the United States.


When it finally came into view over the horizon, I was… Excited? Apprehensive? I had mixed emotions, to be sure – this was the culmination of the whole trip, and quite possibly one of the biggest (or at least, the most famous) route that I’ll have climbed. This was a big deal, climbing and emotion and anticipation all wrapped up in one point on the horizon.

I kept driving.

Wednesday was primarily a rest day – I didn’t plan on exploring much of the tower before the ascent, but I did plan on driving up to the base, at least, to scout out driving times and other concerns. If I was going to be up there by 4am, I’d need all the recon info I could get…

And with that info gained, I headed back to my campsite. A teepee, actually, with a lovely soft bed in it waiting for me. I mean, not honestly that soft… but hey. A heck of a lot softer than the sleeping pad I’d been rocking, so I was absolutely not one to complain.

I ate an amazing dinner, watched the sunset, read a bit from my book, and slept like a log.





Thursday:

First things first – Prairie Dogs!



Okay, with the cuties out of the way – Thursday was my climb day! But… the climb was early, and even after taking a nap I had quite a bit of time left in the day. See, we summitted by 7:45, and I was back asleep in bed by 11:00, after doing a few extra routes… which meant that I was awake from my nap a bit after 1pm. A quick breakfast-for-lunch later, and I was heading up to the tower to really appreciate the cultural side of it.

I treated it like a museum, really… Walking slowly, enjoying the scenery, and going at my own quiet pace.

So walk with me. Enjoy the signposts, read a bit, and see the views that I saw from along the trail!





After exploring the tower, seeing the signs, and appreciating the work that the national park services has put in, I headed back to camp to enjoy the rest of the day. Peace, quiet, and beautiful views were my greatly appreciated reward for the day.

Montana – A quiet Sunday

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Sunday, 13-June-2021


Any morning that starts out with French Toast is a good morning.

A morning that starts out with sugar-covered French Toast is a great morning.

This? This was an exceptionally excellent morning. Not only did it include sugar-covered French Toast, but it also included some leftover brisket from the BBQ that we’d had the night before, alongside fluffy scrambled eggs, a-la Brian and Clara.



After greatly enjoying our breakfasts, packing.

After packing, cleaning.

After cleaning? Hiking!



One of our original targets for hiking was a rather popular area called Pattee Canyon. It looked good, from a distance and elevation perspective, but it hadn’t had any notes of great views of expansive wildflowers… which put it a bit lower on our list for the weekend. But now that it was later on, and we were all tired… a simple walk where we could chat and talk sounded exactly like what the doctor ordered.

We drove, parked, and started the hike in… into the beautiful woods and roughly 90+ degree Montana summer heat.


I’ll tell you, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Not in a bad way, at all, but… I don’t know, for some reason I was expecting Montana to be a bit more rocky than it is… more jagged mountains. Maybe I’m mistaking it for Colorado? But this was… well, just like the other hikes that we’d done. Rolling hills, tall trees, and a big sky. No wonder they call this “Big Sky Country”.


We walked, we talked, and we appreciated nature. Clara found some excellent flowers, and soon enough we were heading back into town for lunch… and by lunch, I of course mean Ice Cream!

We hit up a place called “Big Dipper”, an ice cream shop that Brian and Clara had been ranting and raving about for pretty much the whole time we were there. We got some rather generous scoops, and I’ll freely agree with them that it was well worth the wait in line.


After making myself far over-stuffed with huckleberry and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (with a chocolate shell and rainbow sprinkles, of course), we set about to explore town. No major goals, just… you know, poking around and enjoying the small-town vibes. We hit up some novelty shops, an outdoors store, and quite a few other interesting places… There’s a lot of art in a small town like Missoula, and wandering the shop was definitely a nice treat.


The rest was just saying out goodbyes, battling my way through both an airport lobby and the tides of time itself, and finally finding myself back in the 1970s, sitting at a gate, waiting for my flight to wing me back to Portland.



From 2018 into 2019 – An Australian Adventure: The town of Cairns

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Wednesday, 26-Dec-2018

As is tradition, Sarah and I spent Christmas and New Years on an international adventure of epic proportions.  This year, the Lydecker clan (including myself and Henry’s girlfriend Leah) met up in the land down under, the magical land of Australia.

 

Jumping off from our relaxed Christmas, we took our family adventure off to Northern Australia, flying from Sydney to a town called Cairns, as a layover before catching a ferry to Fitzroy Island…

 

Wednesday, 26-Dec

I’m usually really good about keeping track of my stuff.

I’m paranoid about my wallet, and I don’t even leave my phone at my desk at work when I walk down the hall to get coffee.  After having my passport stolen in the Buenos Aires airport, I guess I’ve gotten paranoid.

But, I still make mistakes.  Such as leaving my camera on the plane after we landed in Cairns.

YUP.

Left it.

On the plane.

 

Thankfully, Cairns is a small airport, and it’s in Australia… which is notably different from the United States in terms of security and general letting you work through non-standard situations.  So, with a lot of freaking out from me and a lot of sanity and politeness from Henry, the camera was returned.  With a fancy photo, no less!

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Yep.  That’s the pilot.  A very, very, extremely unconvinced pilot.

Anyways, I kept my camera.  Yay camera!

Then, I used the camera to take photos at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventure!  It was awesome.  Hartley’s is, at it’s core, a tourist trap.  An amazing one – it was built from a small coffee shop on the highway, and now is a working crocodile farm complete with a zoo, cafe, boat tours, and a ton of amazing guides.

Also, from what Sarah will tell you, way too much Caesar dressing on their salads.

But they’re definitely awesome, and definitely a fun adventure for our day in Cairns.

The rest of the day was spent picking up food for Fitzroy, adventuring in the rain, and watching huge flocks (flocks?  Swarms?  Colonies?  Armadas?) of bats!  Huge flying fox bats make Cairns their home, and watching them swoop and wheel around town was an amazing way to watch the sunset, without question.