Palya, friends! Since we last posted we have been enjoying the United States during its pre-election buildup.
We arrived in LA back in early October, picked up a van from the fabulous Lost Campers, and then hit the road. We spent a fun night with an old Uni friend who has now settled down and got himself a lovely other half and a couple of rugrats. His parents were visiting and we may have stayed up late with them to put a dent in their son's wine stocks.....which made our setting out for Vegas the next morning a fun drive.
Vegas. What can you say about it? It is a pretty artificial place. No real reason for it to be here but some lines drawn on a map by some people when they were figuring out the state borders. There is no natural reason for it to be here. No port, no river, no verdant valley. It is only here for entertainment purposes, and at that they excel. The gambling, the million different Cirque du Soleil shows, all the bands and comics that play here to halls that may or may not be full, are all part of the modern USA's equivalent of "bread and circuses". Keep them fed, keep them entertained, keep them happy. That is Vegas.
We haven't really been "in" that side of Vegas. We did go to a Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler concert (Dylan was terrible, he has lost his voice, couldn't understand a word, Knopfler was great, but only played one Dire Straits track), and we did stay at the Luxor with a 50 buck internet special (tired rooms but it did have a hot tub!) but apart from that we have been camping outside Vegas rock climbing. And that IS something natural that Vegas has, because Red Rocks park is awash with moderate to difficult sandstone rock climbs. And it is almost in town!
As usual when we go climbing we have met awesome people. People we learn from, people we laugh with, people we share a beer with. The crew from Fairbanks Alaska, Erika, Vaughn, Erin, Chad, and Brian as an älso ran" were top notch, and have pushed us to do some big multipitch climbs we might not have attempted on our own. Cor has started leading traditional style climbs but having these guys push me to do some longer stuff has been great. Getting up at 5:45 to hit the wall at dawn and then do a stack of pitches followed by an hour's descent by head torch in the deepening dusk is probably not what I would have elected to do, but it has been really great fun. I have learned a lot about climbing and myself, and I know that I will be training next year and coming back stronger.
So now my fingers are a bit of a mess and we are going to take the next week off as we travel up to San Francisco for our flight to Honolulu, no doubt listening to American public radio (NPR) all the way.
A big shout out to James from the Okeanos Aggressor - he encouraged me to shoot photos in RAW format and see what I could do with them afterwards, well my photos are really looking great, so stay tuned for the best of our USA pics!
So until we see you, whether it is on the rock, on the road or at the bar, pura vida!