"Not all those who wander are lost"

Archive for August, 2011

Southern Hospitality

Those who say it can’t be done should get out of the way of those doing it.

-Unknown

 

I rolled up to Early Ave late Friday afternoon, barely needing the google directions once I was near enough for my faint memories to guide me.  The heat in Nashville was even worse than Kentucky, but I pulled a shirt on anyway before walking up to the door.  I was greeted by the barking of dogs well before anyone answered the door.

It had been two and a half years since I had last seen Brett.  That was back when we both worked for Toyota in Indiana.  Since then a lot has changed, but the friendship was the same as always.  Once I had washed away the previous week of grime and felt like I could actually be a part of society without making everything around me dirty we settled into hanging out as usual.  The biggest change was that instead of him getting me addicted to Smallville we were now re-watching Dexter episodes (the next show he got me addicted to).  Five episodes and many hours of reminiscing and catching up later we finally decided it was time to head to bed.  The clock read 4:30AM.

Saturday we were up at the crack of noon.  Brett had decided to use me as the subject of an article he was writing and wanted me to be “in my environment” so we headed to a small park on the edge of town.  My leisurely rest day took a turn for the sweaty as soon as we stepped out of his silver Ford Ranger at Radner Lake.  We hiked the “Difficult” trail–1.6 miles of slight grade were occasionally a route crossed the path—while Brett held a recorder and a microphone trying to get every word I said.  While the trail wasn’t challenging, I still managed to stumble on my words as I usually do.  We finished our walk through the forest and headed back to Early Ave.  We had both decided we were too poor to go out and spend money so the remainder of the day was spent chatting and watching Superman I & II, although it didn’t work to get me hooked like he had done with Smallville.

(Radner Lake)

Sunday I loaded up, said my farewells, and headed off to Arkansas.  My destination was Horseshoe Canyon Ranch (HCR), a touristy ranch that owns a good deal of sport climbing and bouldering.  Before I made it there I spotted a lake and thought a dip would be the perfect refreshing afternoon treat.  I was wrong.  I took one step into the tannin bath and knew this wasn’t what I was hoping for.  A few steps later I realized the piles of sticks and organic debris covering the bottom wasn’t about to disappear any time soon so I splashed down onto my belly to paddle around for a second before crawling out of the hot lake water.  I continued toward HCR, catching sunset over the Ozark Mountains on my way to Jasper, AR.  I was nearly there when my car roared as I ascended a hill.  Just my luck to have my exhaust break twice in a month.  I made it to HCR and found a campsite easy enough; there were only two other cars in the camping area.  I soon discovered the first belonged to Jack and Ryan, two guys who had come up from Oklahoma for the weekend.  Introductions were made, we hung out for a bit, and soon headed out through the deafening roar of crickets to do some bouldering by the light of Jack’s Colman lamp.  As we walked to the climbing we were followed by a big ranch dog that seemed to eerily be keeping an eye on us as if it would make a report of our illicit climbing to the owners.

(My improvised ramps so I could get under my car to see what happened to the exhaust)

Monday morning Jack and Ryan headed for the river to get out of the heat.  They invited me to join but I was still hoping to do some climbing at HCR so I wandered over to the other occupied site.  Drew and Cade, the two other guys there climbing, offered that I could join them bouldering so I planned to meet them at the boulders.  Half an hour later I found them amid the field of boulders on the hill side near the ranch.  The Arkansas heat blazed down on us through the trees as Drew and I traded off attempts on an overhanging problem.  Skin steadily wore away as fingers slipped off the abrasive rock again and again.  At the end of the day my fingertips were nothing more than round pink blotches oozing unknown bodily fluid.  Drew and Cade headed out and I was left as the only person in the campground.

(Working on a V5)

(Taped up to try a dyno without losing all the skin on my fingers)

By the morning nobody else had come and my fingers couldn’t take another day of climbing.  I headed north and got a muffler shop to fix my exhaust.  With my car purring again I headed for Colorado.  I made it to Boulder late at night and found a quiet neighborhood to park my car and crawl into the back to sleep.

 

I made it an early morning so I wasn’t awkwardly woken up by people looking in my windows as they walked passed and drove up to boulder canyon to look for someone to climb with.  Once I had put up some signs on my car looking for partners I lay back on my crash pad to wait.  For four hours a constant stream of cars zipped by, not one stopping to respond to my sign.  By noon I gave up on climbing and went for a bike ride up the canyon so I could whiz back down.  Still unable to find anyone to climb with I decided I had enough of Boulder and headed up to Estes Park.