City, Smith and a leather hat

September 27th, 2020

Sue and I had planned to leave for Lovers Leap on the 18th after getting our new canopy installed. We were going to hook up with Chad who would have just finished up a week at Yosemite with Annie, Brian and Liz.  However, Chad was on his way down two weeks ago and couldn’t get past Centralia due to bad smoke from the Eugene Oregon fires.

He stopped by our house to drop off a coat of mine. I was sewing my new leather hat and we discussed options. I mentioned that the City looked relatively smoke free…and we could possibly bring our plans back to life by going there. I had plans to climb with Kena on Sunday but was free after that.

So off we went Sunday night, crashing at midnight up a dirt road on Swauk pass, then getting to the City Monday at 6pm. Highlights of the City were my cruise up Private Idaho, and a couple 9 and 10b slab leads at Lost World. Sun and smoke were a problem, but it was still awesome as always.

We climbed hard until we woke up Wednesday, 9 days later and realized we needed a rest day, plus that  BLM road was getting irritating in my two wheel truck. The ruts are a full two feet deep. But rather than a rest day, we decided to spend it driving closer to home. We drove to Smith, arriving at 10pm to a half empty Grasslands. I led Outsider and second pitch of Pack Animal while Chad led two 11’s at Morning Glory: Zebra seam and Lion’s Chair. Not sure of those names…

He also led Pack Animal Direct, which I fell off of at the top. It was totally covered in Guano. The Covid shutdown has brought back the nesting birds. I had to rest following him up Karate before the traverse. I blame that on the lack of gym power. Can’t be that I’m getting older.

I got home Friday. Today I sewed a beaded hat band for my new leather hat, which survived the two week road trip in perfect shape. I chose to use a pattern size of Medium, since I was in the low side of that hat size at: 22.6 inches. Turns out, that made a hat too small. But my experience with leather phone cases told me that leather can always stretch…though shrinking is less likely. Almost twice a day I had to sponge water on the hat opening and wear it too tight. Finally, it is starting to remember my big head.

Just in case though, I ordered a hat stretcher from Amazon. It was really awesome seeing Sue today. We are both very independent people…but absence does make the heart grow fonder. I wish dad was alive to see my hat and hear all the family news. He would be proud. Pictures to follow later .

Storage Bin

September 8th, 2020

I bought a new rubbermaid bin recently and it only lasted 3 months. I suppose it might have frozen in the bitter jtree snow storm, but still, I’ve had them last 10 years.

I bought some nice plywood from Architectural Woods downtown: #2500, 1/4 x 4 x 8, C2 white maple appleply 5 ply NAUF carb 9310 phase 2 compliant

The key to a tight box seems to be to cut  the bottom and long sides same measurements. Then cut the short end pieces 0.5″ shorter. Assemble it with the short sides attached to the longer bottom first, using temporary shim pieces for alignment. It’s kind of a no brainer…but it took me 4 bad wood boxes to figure this out.

Cheap DIY tonneau cover

September 8th, 2020

Our new custom contractor canopy from canopy-world.com won’t be here until October-ish. Our trucks been sitting since it’s useless for camping without a storage area.

I decided to build a DIY tonneau cover from 3/4 inch plywood. I can re-purpose the plywood later into ourcanopy bed…and it was a fun project. Total cost was around $200.

Because I built it on a Sunday, the metal shops were closed. I mickey moused the C channel with some drilled square pipe cut in half. If I was going to use this long term I’d cut the post 2 inches taller and mount proper 8′ long C channel directly to the posts, thereby skipping the 2 x 2 and all the leaks inherent in my current system of partial coverage C channel.

There was one major problem. Once I started measuring for the proper panel widths I discovered that the post holes in the bed are not in a straight line. They curve. This made the C channel curve caused fit problems. I solved that by redrilling the last post off center to true the 2 x 2.

 

Back from a week at the Leap

September 8th, 2020

I’ve been having some challenges finding partners who have more one or two days available. But bless the stars above, out of the blue I heard from James. We’ve been on many the long trip over the 14 years since we took that first Jtree trip with Austin and Brett.

We left on Sunday around 10 and arrived at 1pm the next day. We stopped to sleep near Shasta Lake in a city park outside of Redding. It was sketchy, but at least there were no signs forbidding camping. I might of slept a couple hours….kept worrying about getting busted.

We did some exploratory hiking the next day. I’ve been there 3 times but could barely remember anything other than Bears Reach, Corrugation and Haystack Crack.

We ended up climbing all of those plus East Crack, which is a much safer start to Bears Reach. We discovered a ton of stuff over on the Hogsback. Ham and Eggs was a standout with 4 pitches at 5.6.

I backed off Corrugation Corner 40 years ago but got it clean this trip. It’s a 5.7 that feels like 10B due to exposure and runnouts. 50 year old bent pitons are considered ‘good protection’. The trad ethic is in full swing down there. They don’t even allow bolted anchors or rap stations.

I’ve had a few nibbles on my blue car. We parked it in front of the house with a for sale sign. Someone test drove it today and seemed to like it.

 

 

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August 29th, 2020

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Baked out of Darrington

August 2nd, 2020

Pam and I just got back from 2 days at Darrington. Forecast was for 95 but we thought it would be cooler, it wasn’t. We got three pitches up Till Broad Daylight before rapping off in the extreme heat and bailing for home. The climbing was lovely, I sailed up a runout 5.9. I almost felt like I had my mojo back…until the sun hit me.  There is zero shade at D-town. It felt like standing too close to a roaring palette fire at Jtree. Unbearable heat. Did I mention it was warm?

We ordered a canopy from a local company out in Parkland. It won’t be ready until October. It’s crazy how back-ordered all the canopy companies are. Some of the popup builders have one year wait lists. At least we will have it for the winter months. We are looking forward to having more room in the bigger canopy. I will have room for climbing, painting and a sleeping platform. For decades we had to haul heavy loads to the front seats and roof rack so we could sleep in the back. Now we should have room without a lot of heavy lifting.

I painted Comet Falls at Rainier the day after climbing Rattletail with Christine. It’s a palette knife painting and might be good. Three people asked me where my gallery was. Then the very next day I carried my heavy rock pack with two ropes up to three o’clock rock. That was 4 days of heavily loaded hiking in a row…in the heat. My shoulders hurt from the art pack backpack straps. That is my first hand sewn back pack, and the straps weren’t thick enough for 40 to 50 pound loads. Just tonight I sewed new 3 inch thick padded shoulder straps. They feel awesome, can’t wait to take them on another painting expedition.

Now that we are both getting SS checks I have less pressure to sell my paintings. Now, I paint because it’s fun, not because I need to sell them to make money. It’s kind of freeing knowing that I don’t have to sell my paintings anymore. I mean sure, it’s validating to have them sell, but knowing the good ones can stay with me is cool.

Vitaliy dropped by today with his wife and kid and new baby. So great to see him! He hasn’t climbed outside in a year. He is such a great climbing partner.

I have a bunch of new songs this summer: Difference between Whiskey and You, Cat’s in the Cradle, When you say Nothing at All, Shallow (Lady Gaga). I swore for decades that i could never memorize a song. Fletch persuaded me that I could, so I did. I’ve got Whiskey dialed.

A truck on a train

July 10th, 2020

As we get closer to retirement we’ve been planning how that’s going to look. I clearly remember standing in dad’s sunny laundry room when he was about my age now. He was excited about the plans he’d made  concerning his extra health insurance plan. He predicted (correctly as it turned out) that he’d end up in a nursing home, so he bought a special policy that would cover the cost.

Sue and I, on the other hand, have been looking closely at our  stable of vehicles: a 2010 V6 RAV4, a 2004 two wheel drive Tacoma, and a 1991 Corolla. When we load them up with climbing, camping and painting gear there is no room to sleep inside. Our Corolla wagon is even worse. It’s a 370,000 mile beater for around town that’s drive-able but missing fourth gear.

Many folks in the  climbing community are investing in vans that cost up to $200,000. Some news stories speculate that young people are priced out of the housing market and choose to make car payments instead.  We’ve seen  charming young climbing couples who have fixed up Ford and Chevy vans from last century. We saw dozens of them in our last climbing trip to Idaho. There were also a slew of climbers in vans and trucks with pop up campers on the back. There were even a couple sprinters with popup tops added. Do they really need that much space and luxury?

We camped up in BLM land in the RAV4. We had our little 20 year old 4 season  Bibler backpacking tent. It leaks badly, so I staked out a tarp on top of it. It looked like a legit homeless encampment up there. During two nights of our stay our neighbors in the next campspot drank until 2. There was a drunken woman who had a very annoying  laugh. She brayed, kind of like a drunk donkey with a toothache, and it went on and on. There is no campground host to call up there, and no such thing as a quiet hour.

Boondock  camping has been compared to the wild west.  Truth be told, it’s been me and my climbing buddies talking and playing music late into the night on past trips. So this was a bit of karmic payback.

On the second night, Sue slept in the RAV4 (better sound proofing) while I braved it out in the tent, wearing ear plugs and numbing my brain with whiskey. While climbing in the city, we kept seeing all the van life people driving by in their gas hogs. There were literally trains of them going up and down the rough dirt roads.

My 2004 Tacoma runs like a top, but with 270,000 miles it’s a bit gutless going over the passes with a full load. And it’s far too small to sleep in without a lot of extra luggage shuffling to the front seats every morning and evening. Both cars run fine, but neither serves our needs well.

We are getting older and feel like we’ve earned some luxury in our retirement. We spent a few days looking at new trucks and settled on a very rare model of the Tundra. They are extremely hard to find. Our dealer actually gave up on finding one, but I kept looking and eventually discovered a way to make autotrader.com filter by: new, Tundra, within 50 miles, low to high pricing. Hours and hours of searching eventually revealed the truck we wanted at a heavy discount.

I used the vin number to find the same truck at a much higher price on the dealers website. I called them and told them about the low price on autotrader.com. She confirmed the details but said it wasn’t yet available…that it was on a train and expected to be on her lot between the 12th and the 20th. Long story short we placed a deposit on the truck. Once we get the truck in hand we can look into canopies.

I have thought about building my own canopy from fiberglass or poor mans fiberglass (PMF). I just finished a test box to learn the process. I made the food storage box out of 1/8″ plywood…maybe closer to 4mm. PMF is not nearly as rigid as true fiberglass, but it was a good learning experience.

My son and his wife came over last week with some good news, but it’s not my story to tell.

Christine and I climbed at the gym with masks on yesterday. First time since Covid shut everything down. Tod and his family were there running the place. He seemed very happy to see a  couple of us old timers  in there doing our thing. They have a new juggy ten minus in the lead cave for all us rusty has beens to practice on. There is a whole community of climbers in this town who really miss our favorite local hangout.

Marty – Off Belay

July 3rd, 2020

I was on a bicycle ride over to Gig Harbor when I got a text from an unknown number.

Hey Buddy, if you haven’t heard;

Marty died yesterday while running.
Word is a heart attack.
He wanted me to help him on a basic climb of yellow jacket. But covid got in the way (cancelled the trip).

This hurts

Mark Webster:

Who is this…Marty’s gone?

Old Friend from 1976:

It’s Lemon
Yes

 

Old friends die. I guess I have to get used to it. Not saying I like it. But life goes on. Just got back from City of Rocks with Sue. My best  climb was  My Private Idaho rated 5.9. It was either too hot or too wet to climb much else. The trad climbs there don’t have anchors directly on top. They are usually 50 feet off to the side. You need to be able to bring your partner up and walk over to the anchor.

We stayed with Jim for  3 nights, then BLM for 3 nights and Pam for one night. Weather was thunderstorms for three days straight. We barely dodged getting caught in a thunderstorm on Wheat Thin. It had just rained and was drying out. I led up, feeling rusty but ok. As Pam was following a huge black cloud was rushing in behind me. We rapped off in light rain, but as soon as we pulled the rope it began to pour. We rushed over to the dry cave as thunder crashed immediately above us.

In the morning Sue and Connie wanted to bail so we drove home in 11 hours. It was an ok 9 day climbing trip. Not great, but fun to get away. Today I have jet lag, though we did go test drive a Tundra. Covid has made the the 8 foot beds  in short supply.

 

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June 6th, 2020

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Do dreams have pixels?

May 31st, 2020

My mind clicked awake at 2AM last night.  I thought I might be able to get back to sleep by creating a calming scenario…like sheep jumping over a fence. Who’s in charge here anyway? I went into the menu and chose: file > new. The sleepy part of my mind thought I could create a dream with me successfully singing my latest project: “Love Yourself”, by Justin Beiber and Ed Sheeran.

But I got stuck on the file > new  menu. What resolution should the file be? Should it be 1080p? Maybe 4K? So many questions…

We’ve been doing some really complicated projects in class recently. Our project this quarter is to build a portfolio website. It needs to be so good that it can help my students get a job. But the process is sooo complicated that I wrote a book about it,  you can buy it on Amazon.

But back to my dream. I worked on the song after class today…for hours. I must have been driving Sue crazy…obsessively finger picking the chords. Eventually I gave up when Lisa asked us if we wanted to run the stairs at our local stadium. Sue surprised me by challenging me to run them with her. She normally walks up. But there she went, running up, and I followed. We both reached the top…still alive. I couldn’t  believe how strong my 66 year old wife is. I struggled to keep up with her…and the stairs seemed endless.

There were a  dozen people in their teens and twenties running the stairs. Those kids are like electric motors. Definitely wired for 220 Volts on a 20 Amp circuit. They don’t even know the meaning of load.

Annnnd I’m back to the dream.

I discovered this song a couple weeks ago. I think it’s the hardest song I’ve ever learned. I’ve figured out how to play the lead part in the key of C, without a kapo. I still can’t sing and play lead at the same time, but I’ve got the chords and words down.

Here is the tutorial I’m following on how to finger pick the main verses:

I spent many hours studying the song before coming up with these chords. I love the way the words rush along, out of time to the music. It’s the kind of song that gets into your head. I don’t even like the words, they are a bit juvenile. But the melody and rhythm is very compelling, it just works.

F. and I climbed one day over Memorial day weekend. I was so rusty I had to cheat on South Face of Jello. My lack of gym power is making a difference. I got up Midway direct, but barely. I was terrified on the Midway step across move. I’ve had that wired for 30 years.

In other news, I was standing at the sink today and noticed that the soap dispenser bottle was looking particularly fetching. It’s your standard yellow liquid soap for washing dishes…but my artists eye saw it as a painting. I imagined mixing the colors with my palette knife and laying them down thick and juicy on the canvas, gradually building up the shape in thick layers of colored mayonnaise like oil paint.

I didn’t actually paint…but the fact that I thought…even hungered for painting, is in itself promising. I’ve been blocked since November. Doesn’t help that all the parks are closed…though that doesn’t stop my friends who are real working artists. Summer is coming in a month.

I wrote this post a couple weeks ago but have delayed posting it. Since then I’ve been climbing with F. three weekends in a row. Last weekend (yesterday) we went to Private Idaho at Index. I led Senior Citizens and Wild Turkey. He led Battered Sandwich and Istanbul. I might have been able to lead them, but was glad he stepped up to the plate. Battered would have freaked me out at the upper slab. I would have had to hang. I almost fell out on follow. It’s partly my new shoes. I don’t trust them yet. They are very aggressive and seem to have a stiffer than normal insole. I love them for crack…but don’t trust them yet on friction.

SpaceX just put two astronauts in orbit. Those guys are so brave! First US built astronaut launch in 9 years. The technology is much improved over the old space shuttle. I still remember where I was when the first one blew up. I was at JL Darling, working day shift in the bindery where they had a radio reporting on the tragedy.