Tag Archives: Walking

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.

A Scotland Adventure – Part 1, the overview!

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Hello, and welcome back to your annual story time of Ben and Sarah’s international adventures! Keeping with the tradition of the last few years, Sarah and I visited with her family, this year going back to Scotland.

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From Saturday, 21-December, 2019 all the way through to Saturday, 04-Jan, 2020

 

Part 1 – The overview, and photo highlights

The general framework of the trip is detailed below; we didn’t come into the trip with any major plans or goals, we were really looking forward to the time to relax after the busyness of 2019. It’d been a pretty amazing year, full of huge amounts of growth… but with that growth had come a number of challenges that left us fairly drained.

A visit to the Highlands was exactly what the doctor ordered.

 

Quick summary of our trip to Scotland!

  • Leave Portland on Saturday, 21-December-2019
  • Get stuck in San Francisco due to a delayed flight, and stay overnight at the super-posh Grand Hyatt while also getting to walk around the city and visit my cousin
  • Arrive in Scotland on the 23rd… but unfortunately without our checked bags
  • Explore Aberdeen for two days (Tuesday and Wednesday), getting to see the Art Museum, attend the midnight mass at St. Maccars, and even watch dolphins jumping in the surf outside of town
  • Drive to the Isle of Skye, staying overnight at the BenLeva Inn on Loch Ness. We don’t see Nessie… but we do have a full can of Irn Bru (a type of soda) vanish, leaving only the pierced and empty can…
  • We spent three full days on Skye, and had an excellent time exploring and photographing everything we could find. Some major adventure points were:
    • We hiked up to the Storr (in the rain)
    • Explored the town of Portree, and ate some extremely good Cullen Skink
    • hiked the Quiraing route from the parking lot down to the town of Flogetty
    • Walked out to the Fairy Pools
  • Back in Aberdeen, we spent a day touring around the countryside, seeing standing stones and other amazing points of interest.
  • We spent another day back in Aberdeen exploring the city – seeing Greta’s office, visiting shops, and walking through some amazing museums

 

Bill and Greta visiting – Kelly Point, Mazamas, and Portland’s Rhododendron garden!

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Friday, 18-October-2019

 

Sarah’s Mom and Dad came to visit!  If you think Sarah and I have been having a busy year… well, you’d be right.  But Her Mom and Dad haven’t had a boring year either, so when they had a chance to escape up to Portland after a business trip, all of us were really excited to get to visit, catch up, and have a nice weekend of downtime and relaxing.

We had a few adventures scheduled up, but we mostly left room for us to explore and spent time together – Video calls are great, and I am extremely thankful to be living in the future where we can video call literally anywhere in the world without even noticing a delay, but in-person visits are still the ideal.

 

So we walked, explored, took them to some of our favorite restaurants, and explored somewhere we’d never been before – The Rhododendron garden!

First up was Kelly Point park – it’s a lovely walk, and a great way to tire Ollie out a bit to keep the crazy down to almost-sane levels.  It was excellent as always, and we even got to see some cool mushrooms!  Not otters or eagles this time, but it was still fun scanning the surf for them.

Then, we stopped by Sarah’s old workspace at the Mazamas – The Mazamas Mountaineering Center is where she’d been teaching kids to climb this summer, and so she got a chance to show off the walls and the Mazamas library.  I… may have… possibly… gotten a little distracted exploring the library.  I admit to everything, and it was awesome.

After the MMC, we headed to the Rhododendron garden.  We hadn’t been there before, but Sarah had heard amazing things about it, and it sounded like an excellent place to explore.  It was raining, as it so often does in Portland, but honestly I think that made the garden even more beautiful.  The rain on the leaves, and the petals on the flowers… it was lovely.