"Not all those who wander are lost"

Peeps in Portland & Catastrophe in Canada

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.



I made it to Boise before the rays of sun had dropped to find that Aunt Sue out.  I slipped in and looked around, spotting a few familiar pictures, and relaxed until Sue arrived.  We spent the evening catching up on the last 15 or so years in which we hadn’t seen each other.  Thursday (8/4) I relaxed it Boise and got a bit of a tour around town.  Shortly after getting back there was a light knock on the door.  The sub three foot guest was Mia, Sue’s grand-kid (what do you call your aunts grand-kid?).  Along with her older brother, Kai, I spent the rest of the afternoon playing soccer, basketball, and anything else the endless energy sources could think of.


Friday I continued west, but after ten minutes Sue called me to say that I had forgot all of my laundry in the dryer.  Forty minutes later I headed out again.  The drive was unspectacular, but fairly nice passing along the Columbia river and seeing the hundreds of people kitesurfing.  After a few missed turns I made it to my destination:  a house owned by my friend Nicks Uncle, James, which was currently was holding the four roommates, Nick and Chelsea in a sun room, and a tent for each Andy, Gary, and another cyclist they had met on the road.  I added my tent to the yard and joined in festivities, catching up, and the usual.


We slept until late morning before eventually rousing to head to the farmers market.  Nick, Chelsea, and I got our bikes and rode into town.  It turned out that this particular Saturday was not only a farmer’s market but also a Porche convention and some Iraq volunteer reunion.  Throngs of people crowded the streets inspecting and indulging in the treats, fruits, and fresh brewed coffee (brewed on the back of a custom tricycle that doubles as a coffee cart).  After loading up on food we headed back to the house.  We stopped at the ‘Not So’ Safeway on the way back (as I recall someone was shot there and it’s one of the easiest places to find a gun) to get a few more things before returning to the house.  Fresh pies from berries at the farmers market, floating in the knee deep pool, and hanging out took up the rest of the afternoon.  Needless to say, it was a stressful and difficult day.


Sunday the hardships continued when we went to the famous Voodoo Donuts for breakfast.  We continued our standard hooliganism biking around Portland, napping in a park, and eating lunch (& a bit more of course) at the Hopworks.  Eventually we decided that a movie at a local theater would be a good idea.  Not because we especially wanted to watch any of the movies, but the movie was cheap and novelty of have a couple beers in the theater was irresistible.  X-men First Class was marginal, but it was fun.  After the movie we headed back toward the house and ended up making it back over 12 hours after we left.


In the morning everyone devoted themselves to packing the bikes into bike boxes, mailing excess items, and getting ready to leave.  Already having nearly all my stuff packed into my car I alternated between helping them pack and laughing at them trying to fit all of their stuff into a bursting bike box.  I helped drive them to the airport and then headed out in the morning bound for Squamish.


Woe.  Misfortune.  Disaster!  CATASTROPHE!  I made it into Canada, just south of Vancouver when my car began overheating and died on the side of the highway.  An hour of letting it cool and limping it off the highway brought me to a mechanics where it was quickly diagnosed as a blown head gasket when fluids erupted out of the radiator when I tried to start it.  His estimate was 1 week and $1000.  I saw my trip crashing down around me, but I wasn’t ready to end it yet.  I spent every waking minute for the rest of the day and the next sitting in Starbucks across the street scouring the internet for a new car and riding my bike over 50 mi in every which way to look at them.  I found one that I was ready to buy, but soon found out that it’s not so simple to import cars from Canada, especially if they have a metric-only gauge cluster.  I canned the idea of a Canadian car and decided it was time to backtrack to the US and see what I could do.  Luckily for me, my friend Chris from RIT was now working for Boeing just north of Seattle.  Even luckier is that he’s very nice and said he could come help me, but there was still one problem; he doesn’t have a passport.  Eventually we came up with the plan:  he would drive up to the boarder where I would ride down to meet him (~30mi), get his car, then go back up to my car, get all my stuff, and pick him up along the way back to Seattle.  Before this happened I decided, out of one last shred of hope and desperation, to try to start my car.  If I couldn’t get it to the US my situation would be much easier.  It turned out to be even better.  I managed to drive my car all the way back to Chris’ place and Thursday (8/11) I was happier to be back in the US than I ever had been before.  I spent the next four nights at Chris’ while I scrambled to find a new car, which turned out to be much easier in the US.  When I wasn’t stalking craigslist I managed to explore the city a little, watch a free big screen showing of Inception, and cruised around on my bike.  The new difficulty came in selling my car in Washington since it didn’t have a title (not required in Maine for that year).  I bought a 92 Honda Accord wagon and the only thing left to do to sell the civic was wait for the signed paperwork in the mail (since it had been in my dad’s name).  Finally, I was able to get away and I headed to Index Town Wall, a climbing spot about an hour away.


I found some other climbers hanging around a fire and joined.  I found out they all had partners and plans for climbing the next day.  I went back to my new car and slept lying in the back.  Morning came and I still had no partner, but while making my usual oatmeal for breakfast next to my car a guy rode by.  It turned out he was looking for partners too.  Brad and I walked the couple hundred yards over the railroad tracks and began to climb.  I was already rusty, but didn’t hesitate to warm up by leading the first pitch of Japanese Gardens (5.10b trad) then TR both pitches (stiff 11c) together.  From there the day continued, climbing mostly routes that were sandbagged 5.12 including the two classics Numba Ten and Fifth Force.  Fifth force was a spectacular climb that combined every kind of move into a continuous difficult climb.  Numba Ten was a different story.  It was brutally difficult moves using primarily friction in a small dihedral which included a section of double knee-bars (picture someone sitting in a chair…now picture that person in the same position, only horizontal, 40ft up, being held by nothing but the opposing force between feet and knees).  I didn’t do much sending, but it felt great to be back on the rocks again.  I spent another night in my car hoping to climb in the morning.  In the morning I began packing up my gear when I realized that I was missing 5 trad draws.  Uncertain where it could be I found Brad’s van down the road, but he hadn’t seen them either.  I ran back up to the crag and found them hidden in the grass near Numba Ten.  Relieved to find my five missing draws I headed back to my car (quite ironic I see now, but for those who don’t know the story you’ll have to wait until I get to the AZ portion of my treck).


I headed back to Chris’ place, received the paperwork for my car, and was finally able to sell it.  By then it was too late to bother leaving so I hung out for one final night.  We watched the movie Frozen, about three kids who got stuck on a chair lift at a ski resort.  It was bad, so horrible that it was hilarious.  I learned that jumping off a lift from about 20 feet will result in 6in of bone sticking out your shins and that large packs of wolves like to frequent resorts, eating all people who happen to be there.  I went to bed with dreams of continuing my trip in the morning…Squamish here I come!

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