Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's cold at Smith

However, the temps are pretty much perfect for climbing. 60 degrees during the day and around 25 at night. It is that rare time when you can climb in the sun or the shade.

The days usually consist of waking up when the sun hits the van (around 7:30 or 8), making coffee, read for a bit, make breakfast, drive to the park, climb, drive back to the grasslands, make yummy food (so far we have created pasta with cream sauce and brocolli, sloppy joe corn bread pizza, quesidillas, maple glazed chicken over lemon rice, and something else I can't remember). Then we watch some Alias on Megan's computer, maybe read some more and fall fast asleep.

For the weekend we had a bunch of people from Seattle come down and we sieged climbing spots at Smith. On Saturday it was shipwreck gully (I think I climbed everysingle pitch there, including flight of the killer skud buster missiles or something like that).
On Sunday we took over the pure palm area at the lower gorge. Fortunately for the rest of the climbing community, no one else was there. It was quite a posse.

In other news, Megan is feeling better although her stomach still cramps and her blood pressure is too high, but mentally she is more content. We are trying to eat low sodium, but it can be tricky. We just aren't used to think about salt.

Since it is a rest day, we are in a Yerba Mate cafe in Redmond, OR, drinking Mate and surfing the web. Megan snapped this photo of me focussing on the computer.
So that is it from smith for now. Give a call if you are coming over.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Directions to Trout Creek

Here are the directions to Trout Creek. Again, we will be there the weekend of the 28th and 29th (arriving the evening of the 27th).

A link to google map page is :,-121.087017&spn=0.055403,0.112095&t=h&om=1 The campground is the green spot in the middle of the frame.


Hwy 26 east over Hood. As you cross the Deschuttes River in Warm Springs start paying attention!! As you drive out of the canyon and top out on the mesa……

Turn LEFT on Gumwood
Take your first RIGHT on Deschuttes and go to the end
Turn RIGHT on Juniper and go to the end of the mesa
Drop down the Gateway grade into the town of Gateway
Take your first LEFT on Clemens..take this dirt road all the way to the camp ground!!
All said, it takes around 20 minutes from the turn off of the highway to the campground.

We are going to try and get sites #1 and #2 which are some of the first ones you come to from the road. You won’t miss us.

A reboot to the system

Sometimes it just needs to happen. Things get too cluttered. You have too many applications open. All your memory is allocated. You need to just force a shutdown, and then bring it all back up online slowly.
This is what we needed to do.
After returning from Europe we landed in Denver and slept at our good buddy's, Jeffy Poodle's, house in Boulder. Megan was still feeling quite strange from whatever type of bug or whatever she came down with in Croatia or Greece. Her heart rate wasn't up, per se, but she felt like her heart was beating to harshly, like it wanted to pump a lot of blood without raising it's rate. We went to a clinic in Boulder and when they took her blood pressure, it was 190/ 120. This is way too high for someone her age. The doctor did an EKG (which looked normal) prescribed some blood pressure medicine, and said: I have no idea what is going on. Word of advice, if you have no idea what is going wrong, don't go home and research you symptoms on the internet. Most likely, you will finish this experience quite sure that you have some sort of life ending disease. So, with anxieties mounting, we went back to the clinic to see what more could be done and met with another doctor. She listened quite well, but only brought up worst case scenarios of what this could be.
Well... I was getting a little stir crazy sitting around in Boulder (although I can certainly think of worse places to sit around), so I developed a plan with Megan to hit the road and make our way to Oregon where there are hospitals near buy and more importantly, Smith Rocks is near by. We spent a night in Maple Canyon hoping to get a day of climbing in. We woke to better than perfect conditions (fall had moved in and it was gorgeous), but Megan was feeling light headed, so we headed down towards the local clinic. Once arriving there she felt better, but rather that going back up, we thought it best to just keep moving towards home. In fact, the more we thought about it, the better it sounded for us to go to Seattle, seek medical attention there, and force a reboot. This is what we did.
Megan has since seen a doc in Seattle, she has had many tests run on her (we got to see her heart valves working with an EchoCardioGraph), and of course, we still have no idea why her blood pressure is high. However, she is feeling better, and so today we head to smith. Hopefully this is the best plan of action, but after relaxing at the parent's house and getting recentered, we feel like it is time to go climbing (can you tell I'm excited?).
We head off today. If anyone is coming down, let me know, and we'll be happy to cook you dinner. Also, we are planning to be at Trout Creek for 2 days of the best camping and straight up crack climbing in the Northwest during the weekend of October 28 and 29. If you want to come email Gavin (gavin @ and he will give out all the directions on how to get there. This is sort of an obscure crag, but the climbing is excellent and we'll have the perfect guide, Gavin, there for the weekend. He even has a mega rack stashed up at the crag (for some of the climbs, you need 10 of one size piece).

So... to drag out the analogy too far... hopefully we are clean of viruses and we can keep our desktop clear of clutter for the next couple of weeks at Smith.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

The drippy kitties- a week in Greece

As we travelled through Europe, we became accustomed to cats everywhere. Most of them are feral, many are cute, and megan tried to make friends with almost all of them. All of them except a certain type of kitty that we encountered on Ithaka in Greece. This type we named the "drippy kitty." We were enjoying a meal in the picturesque town of Frikas (supposedly named because the people in this town are "frika" which stands for freak or horrible). At the table were a bunch of friends from Seattle: Leah, her dad Mark, Austin, Becky, Ian, Megan and myself. Of course the cats are combing around our feet looking for any scraps that we might drop. In a close by flower box a little kitty was snuggled up enjoying the afternoon rays. To get a better shot at the sun, he moved his head a little and exposed the nastiest lesion running the length of the underside of his neck. It was way too gross to look at, but it was one of those things that made it hard to divert your eyes. Ian, who was sitting next to me was wondering why I was so distracted and started to look in the direction of the kitty. I told him not to, but it was too late and he let out a growl as he saw the mutilated kitty. We then noticed that other kitties around the table had this defect. We started to loose out appetite, but the yumminess of the cheese pie, the spinach pie, the perfect tzaziki, the tender calamari, the baked lamb, and the chicken souvlaki kept us going. Without too much incident, I noticed that Austin was standing in the mediterranean, (which was right next to the table) kind of splashing his feet around. We asked him what he was doing and he replied "oh just walking in the water." He was trying to save us from the horrible truth: One of the cats (which looked like it was about to die that evening) had dripped on Austin's foot. I'll let you figure out where the drip came from, but needless to say, Austin didn't feel like eating anymore. We never did see anymore drippy kitties after that, but when we cruised around as a pack on our scooters and dune buggy, we called ourselves the drippy kitty gang. Don't mess with us or we'll ruin your appetite.
Ithaka is the land of Odysseus. In theory (it depends on whose theory you look at) it is the beginning and the end of Homer's Odyssey. Either way, It has been inhabited for a very long time. We went for some hikes while we were there and would stumble across an ancient village from the 16th century (now in ruins), but you could sort of get a feel for what the town was like. Of course, there are places all over the island named for things in The Odyssey. Who knows if they really are, but it is cool to imagine it. Here is a photo of Megan and Becky in front of the Cave of the Nymphs. This is supposed to be where Odysseus hid his treasures while he went and took care of (killed) all of the suitors who were after his wife. We walked around the archaeological site of what was Odysseus' palace. We swam on beaches which I'm sure Odysseus swam on. We saw dogs that must be descendants of Odysseus' dogs. And then there were the goats. For those of you who don't know, I sort of have a goat obsession. At some point in my life, I will have a goat farm in Utah because I think they are just the coolest creatures. Ithaka is covered with goats. They are everywhere and it makes me quite happy to be around them.
Who were the people we were with? The story goes like this. Our friend from Seattle, Leah Kiveat, has a family house on Ithaka. Her grandparents bought a piece of property on Ithaka back in the 60s when they were on a Pan Am world tour. I think it cost them something like 500 dollars. When Leah's Dad started to get close to retiring, her decided it would be nice to build a house on the property. When he looked into building on their land, he discovered that since there is one olive tree on the property Ithaka law states that you can only build a 300 square meter cottage on the property. That is just too small for the Kiveats (if you know the Kiveats, you will certainly understand). So they worked with a Ithakan architect to find another piece of property on the island. They ended up with a piece of land in the town of Vathi. This land is on a very steep hillside. Ithaka building code is very strict. In order to build you have to start all the way down at bedrock (In 1953 there was an earthquake that destroyed the entire island, so now everything has to be earthquake proof). You also have to build x amount of meters above the road. The Kiveat's property is on a very steep hill. Therefore, the house is three stories tall. Since they wanted to have a house that had a largish single floor plan, they ended up with a structure that is enormous. The bottom two floor aren't finished (the kids will inherit these floors to finish as they will). Leah was planning a small trip to Ithaka, and in typical Leah style, she started to invite all of her friends. Soon there were 7 of us heading to Ithaka to enjoy blue waters, white churches, lots of old stuff and a good dosage of Leah's cooking.
Besides Megan having some sort of stomach bug (more on that later) it was a great week with great friends.

Eventually our week was up. So we got up at 5 am to catch yet another ferry (if I don't take another ferry for a few years, that will be a o.k.). Drove the most exciting expressway ever towards athens (it is a two lane road that greeks drive like it were a four lane road- some sort of code involving blinkers and light flashing keeps you from slamming into the cars that are coming the opposite direction in your lane). Took a plane to london, spent a night in an airport shopping mall (thank god for overstuffed starbucks chairs) and then flew back to Denver to pick up our van and continue with our indulgent adventures.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Paradise in Croatia

We got off the ferry after taking an overnight from Italy, took a taxi to this small town that we couldn't pronounce, hiked around for a bit trying to find this guy who I had emailed before our trip, finally figured out where he was supposed to be, walked to 1 km or so along the Mediterranean when what should appear in front of our eyes but a paradise for climbers.
Limestone cliffs that rise about 40 meters out of a crystal blue sea with a natural port for swimming and a private beach to lounge around on between climbs. What could be better? How about the host of the climbing area offering us glasses of local red wine (he claims that it is the best in Croatia).
The name if the area is Sveta Nedjelja on the island of Hvar. In order to get there, you have to drive through a 1.5 km 1 lane tunnel with no lights in it. The woman at the information office told us that it is a "Croatian Style tunnel, different from any tunnel we have been in". She was right. Because of the tunnel and because it is fairly remote, there really isn't a lot happening in Sveta Nedjelja. There is a church. There are vineyards and olive trees galore. There is a grocery where you all the merchandise is behind the counter and you have to ask the grocer to get it down for you (this guy ended up giving us a ride back to the ferry after our stay. Here is a picture of Megan with him. There are a few apartments for tourists to stay (we rented a studio for 20 Euros a night). It is pretty darn sleepy.
Our days generally went like this: Wake up when we wake up (usually around 8 or 9), make some eggs and drink Croatian coffee. Walk up to the market to get a fresh loaf of bread for the day and some beers for the evening. At around 11 we would walk to the crag. If it was super hot (it usually was) we would jump into the Mediterranean for a swim before getting on the climbs. The climbs ranged in 15 meters to 40 meters in length and were rated somewhere between 5a and 8a (5.8 and 5.13). We mostly climbed stuff up to 6c or so. The rock was limestone with all types of features on it. Pockets, tufas, edges, razor sharp texture, overhanging and vertical. It was all bolted, sometimes closely bolted sometimes a little more sporting, but usually pretty safe. The biggest problem we had with the climbing is that we only has a 60 meter rope so we couldn't do all of the climbs. Many were 40 meters in length. So... After climbing and swimming and then climbing and swimming some more, we would get a glass of wine from Miro (the guy who owns the land and has done all the development- his website is and sit around to watch the sun set. We would then mosey back to apartment, make dinner, eat some chocolate, and then fall fast asleep. Pretty much a perfect day as far as I'm concerned.
We had one rest day so we decided to get a ride into Jelsa- a town on the other side of the tunnel with more varied types of food than we could find at the local grocer. We hitched with a couple from Austria that we befriended: Martin and Watraub. Here is a picture of them. These two took us under their wing the first couple of days and fed us full of cheese and wines from Austria. They were heading back home on our rest day so they gave us a one way ride into Jelsa. We had to figure out how to get back and we didn't really want to take a taxi again as that was kind of expensive. We heard rumors of a bus back to our small village, but as it turns out the bus is a school bus and won't let tourists on. We considered walking up and over the mountain that the tunnel cuts through but thought that might be a bit much with the groceries on our back. After studying a map of the island, we decided that we would take a bus towards Hvar City, ask the bus driver to drop us off at stop in the middle of nowhere and then hike the coast for 10k or so back to Sveta Nedjelja. This bus driver looked at like we were crazy when we asked him to drop us off in the said middle of nowhere, but he did it anyway and then we started hiking. It was pretty cool. We quickly stumbled across the world's smallest town that has no road going to it (only boat access). As we walked through what seemed to be a deserted town, I noticed an old man sitting in under the shade of some vines in front of what seemed to be a bar of sorts. We walked over towards the bar, and the guy woke up from his nap with a start. It kind of scared us a bit, but he insisted (in some form of German/ Italian/ Spanish/ Croatian that I could understand parts of) that we sit down and have a drink. After repeated attempts to convince him that I wanted a Pivo (beer) and that megan wanted red wine, he brought the drinks out and gave us a good smile, exposing the one tooth in his mouth. We told him we were walking to Sveta Nedjelja and he just about had a heart attack. Berge (mountains) are in the way and he didn't think it was a good idea. Well we drank our drinks made some more small talk about arrogant italians and then started on our way. He watched us hike out of town. It kind of felt like a western. 10km later and a most beautiful hike through olive trees, limestone crags, sea cliffs and small beaches we arrived home with a bag full of groceries and feeling pretty excited about our adventure.
So the week passed, the grocer gave us a ride to the ferry, we spent a day in Split (a most marvelous ancient city), we took an overnight ferry to Ancona, Italy then caught a 21 hour ferry to Patras Greece where we were scheduled to meet up with friends from Seattle. The ferry rides kind of sucked because we didn't have cabins so we did some quality floor sleeping. But hey, such is traveling. It was worth it to have been able to spend a week in paradise.