Monday, October 1, 2007

The Word from Vegas

Loving Nevada's wide open spaces.

AAI Red Rock Coordinator Natasha Caldwell and AAI guide Kurt Hicks left for a climbing road trip to Red Rock Canyon, NV, on Friday. Here is the latest from them:

The road trip experience is bittersweet: the sense of adventure and anticipation, having to "work" to get to your destination, the funny moments and good stories you hear from one's companions along the way, the satisfaction of finding an independent radio station that plays classic rock for hours on end ... these things are imperceptibly lost when you simply hop on a flight.

Welcome, fall.

While I appreciate all things listed above, I am not the best road tripper. To be honest the whole “life is a journey, not a destination” saying seems a bit to cliché for my taste. It is hard for me to slow down and go with the flow. I want to be armed with an itinerary, a designated ETA, knowledge that all of my affairs at work and home are taken care of before leaving, and I want to be able to leave for my destination right on schedule. The departure for this trip was far from that. It was a bit chaotic - I forgot a few things and I was full of scattered thoughts. I wished I had made MYSELF a registration packet like we make our AAI clients so I could cling to it and calm my neurotic self!

Somewhere in Oregon.

I wonder how many clients feel this way when they come out with us for courses and expeditions. Those who do, I’m there right with you! I hope you don’t. If you are, call AAI and ask for the registrar and I will commiserate while you wonder if you fed the cat or if you turned off the oven . . . speaking of, did I feed my cat?

So cams do really work in the snow!

What is so great about my experience on Friday is I got to transition out of having my mind racing and thinking about all of the things I forgot/should have done/wonder if I did and take a look around at the beautiful scenery that passed by out our car windows. Driving down though Oregon was a pleasant reminder of why I love living where I do.

Whoops! Where are my sandle crampons?

The crowded Saturday morning roads of Portland eased into pleasant country road driving towards Mt. Hood. As we neared the historic Timberline Lodge, snow began to dot the treetops and glimpses of the mountain ushered us onwards. There’s nothing quite like delaying the winter just another week for some warm, sunny rock climbing in the desert. Minutes translated into miles as we continued south past Smith Rock and into Nevada, where we could finally open up the throttle a little bit more and really get moving. The sun set just outside of Reno, and the road stretched on for what seemed like an eternity towards Las Vegas.

Peaceful Nevada sunset.

Settling down to camp in the back of the AAI van with a Pete’s Strawberry Blonde in hand, looking at the moon and stars, I had the realization - I’m not going to work tomorrow! Wait - no I am getting paid to go on vacation! (Natasha and Kurt are dutifully driving the AAI van down for the Red Rock climbing season, which goes from September to May.) I'm getting paid to go climbing! In the sun! I love my job. I love my job. I love my job.

Today Kurt and I pulled into Vegas, and I got my first glimpse of Red Rock. We stopped off at Desert Rock Sports to write this blog and get some last minute supplies. Nice staff, cool (or perfectly warm) temps, and free internet. Thanks DRS!

In cowboy country now..

Enough about writing about climbing - time to go do it! So I learned a great lesson, to take a step back and enjoy where you are when you’re there ... but I must admit, I am looking forward to flying back instead of driving!

You can take the girl out of the Northwest, but you can't ...


Anonymous said...

What a great trip! We love hearing about it and seeing the beautiful pictures!! Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

Dear Natasha's Mom,
Natasha seems to be a very creative, talented, and wonderful daughter. You are so lucky.
Best wishes, Art H

Anonymous said...

Nice job you guys! Who doesn't want to go climbing at Red Rock now?? PSC

Anonymous said...

Hehe, I am with your Mom on this one ( Shout out to Julie) and Art H. You ARE creative, talented and wonderful, and I hope that you and Kurt are having fun. This even makes ME want to go to Red Rock :)