Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wanna Get Tattoos?

Walking into the Bean Cycle I didn’t expect to see Kate Fallon. But there she was, pretty as ever in her blue dress and matching eyes. God I have missed my farming doppleganger! It has been almost seven months since the last time I was in Fort Collins. I couldn’t believe it. It certainly feels good to be back.

Kate and I caught up and did as much doting and petting as was socially acceptable. Snuggling and hugging in the Bean’s upstairs library has never been so fun. I thought it was just by chance that the two of us ran into each other there, but later I found out that she had emailed me to say, duh, “Meet me at the Bean.” Well just as my unexpected visit was actually expected, so was one of Kate’s next questions, “Wanna get tattoos?” she said, part kidding but mostly serious.

I quickly did a bank account check in my head, came to the conclusion that: no, I really couldn’t afford one right now, but somehow, the words that came out of my mouth were something like, “Uhh, yeahhhh! Lets go.”

I didn’t have anything in mind really when Kate asked, “What do you want to get?” Ha. No clue. I asked her the same question, but she did at least have an idea. She pulled up some pictures of a variety of thistles. Hummm. What do I want? What do I want? I kinda wanted this or that, but then oh! I know, a CACTUS! I actually have been wanting a cactus tattoo for a while, after spending time down at Shelf Road, Joshua Tree and most recently Baja, I decided, why not?

Kate didn't end up getting the thistle, but instead, a beautiful series of the life line of a dandelion. I love it. What I love even more is that we actually got tattoos together. It worked out perfectly. The folks that tattooed us were a couple that had great energy and wonderful dynamic. I have never had a woman tattoo me so it was a particularly special experience, actually the best yet. She called it a "Prickly Bush," I laughed and said that that sounded naughty and corrected her, "Cough cough prickly pear."

Kate and her huge muscles and balanced out tattoos.

So the question of where does it hurt the most comes up quite often, for me, I don't quite know. I remember up around the top of my shoulders hurting the most, but I have heard the inside of your arm was high on the list of most people.... and now that I have that spot tattooed, I can say, yeah, it hurts, but probably about the same as the rest. Kate says she thinks the area that you have most recently got tattooed hurts the most, I would agree. So that's that. Tattoo numero five. And more to come? Probably.

The Little Toaster that Could: David

Ohhh, doesn’t it feel good to get things checked off your list? I heard there was a study done where some endorphin is actually released when you draw a line through or literally check something off a list. But who knows for sure?

I have been putting off my Wilderness First Aid class for almost a month now. I’ll do it in Boulder, no Bailey, okay maybe I’ll just do it in Maine? Well, I finally checked off my WFA in Breckenridge, Colorado. Me and David some how made it over two snowing passes with two wheel drive and icy roads. I was particulary proud of David when a Subaru Outback passed us but upon reaching the summit Dave and I putted on like the little toaster that could, going about five miles per hour while the Subaru was drifted off into the mountain side, looking sad and helpless. Everyone was ok, just a little slipping and sliding, that’s all. Go David!

Here we are at Breck, making some Indian Ridge Farm eggs and spinach in the back during a WFA break.

The class was great, I even got a head wound!

Well now I’m all set and ready as far as Camp Glen Brook is concerned. I do hope that as far as the kiddos go, I won’t actually have to use any of my new wilderness first aid knowledge. BUT with that, I think when I’m stationary again, I want to take an EMT course or at least a Wilderness First Responder course.

I think I’m headed back to the search and rescue or EMT direction. Or maybe I'll be a fire fighter next summer? With all this alone driving time, I have been getting all kinds of (crazy) thoughts in my head. A closing quote from my dad, "Well you won't know till you give it a go!"

Indian Ridge Farm

There are certain people in this world that bring out certain qualities about yourself. I know I laugh and drool more than is socially acceptable, but when I’m with Fumie Hiromitsu, multiply that frequency by like a hundred... million... billion... raised to the tenth power.

Fumie and I met our freshman at Colorado State University. She really amplifies my inner second grader, giggling school girl side, and I do the same for her.

Fumie and Paula in the back of David at Indian Ridge Farm

I got into Norwood late Monday evening and after a broken up Skype call with Fumie, I had spotty directions at best. They were something like, turn left, left again and find the Rav4, you can park there. Well I came into Norwood and totally missed my turn. Thankfully there was a sheriff parked on the side of the road, waiting to catch someone in a speed trap. Fortunately I was barley puttzing along in first gear trying to read the road signs with my dimmed head lights and lack of brights. I pulled up next to him and he was happy to escort me to Indian Ridge Farm, what a welcome!

The weather was rainy and snowy the whole time. Oh I missed Colorado. A Baja winter was nice, but what a treat to be back.

Working with Fumie, Paula, Barkely and Tony was a real blast. They have a CSA and full-fledged chicken opperation, oh yeah a bakery too. Paula keeps a blog, you can find her and follow along on their season at They were great, they even let me act like a farmer again.

Every day the four switch off making lunch. Since I have been working hard on perfecting one good Mexican dish, I thought I would jump in rotation. Check out the delicious goat cheese and spinach enchaladas and homemade refried beans, amongst other things

We got a fresh batch of baby chicks, so cute! When they come, the USPS delivers them to the post office, boxed up and chirpping their little heads off. When you put them in their new home, they have never ate or drank, only being one day old, so you have to teach them. I got the lovely job or dipping each of the 156 little beaks into the water feeder, for their first drink. It was absolutely precious.

When I finished and decided it was time to leave all the little babies and join Fum and Paula back in the field, I realized I had been locked in the brooder. I was there probably thirty to forty-five minutes before I was rescued. I can certainly think of worse places to be locked up.

Ok, Ok. I’m into chicks. Who wouldn’t be?

It was great getting my hands dirty again. I have litterally been planting seeds all over the west. I can’t wait to come back to the farm and see how the season is coming along. I look forward to following Paula’s blog and returning in September for another few days of farm work!

The Maze Overlook

I have identified that I am an impulsive person and I like putting off decisions until the last moment. It’s not the first time that this type of thing has come up, last summer Kate and I actually had to sit down and have a chit chat about how we like to plan things. Kate on one hand likes a lot of order, “Ok, we are going to go this way, we’re going to leave at this time and we are going to eat this, this and that.” Then there’s me, usually with most my endeavors things just fall together and they do so exactly the I want them too. This always killed Kate, she couldn’t stand my laissez-faire attitude and my inability to make decisions.

Avana and I were experiencing some of this “decision paralysis,” a term I have taken a liking to. We presented ourselves with so many options we couldn’t choose any. Should we go here or there? One night or two? What should we pack? Should we cook something before hand? With all this, Avana is a little like Kate, she was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed with the whole situation. “Julie, do you have this undercontrol? Do you know what we’re doing? It would just be nice to hear that your are totally calm and comfortable with this, are you?” Avana asked me.

I was preparing that delicious Mexican rice dish that me and Acey mastered in Baja and continuing to pack my things in my backpack, “Yeah, everything is coming together rather nicely,” I said “and I can’t believe Mike is going to let us take his 4x4 truck!” Avana looked a little relieved, we were about to head into the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park with spur of the moment planning but totally prepared with food, tent, stove, supplies and of course maps. And unlike the 127 Hours guy, we let some people know where we were going and when we were going to be back.

The drive to the Maze Overlook wasn’t built for ninnies. A three hours, all out adventure, hair pin turns on a cliff that drops the “F” off, only enough room for one truck, if another one came I have no clue what would have happened, and most of the time spent in four low. Avana and I were both excited when we finally got to the parking area, greeted by a couple dirt bikers with their GoPros strapped to their helmets.

Here is the picture I asked one of them to take for us. (Typing this at Sunrise Ranch now, Kate thinks I look totally gay in this photo, I’m flattered.)

So this is what we did, starting at the Maze Overlook in the Land of Standing Rocks, we hiked the South Fork Horse Canyon, near the Chocolate Drops, down to the road and back up inbetween the Plug and Lizard Rock. We dropped down into the next canyon, I can’t remember the name, but it is the one with the Harvest Scene rock art. We spent three days and two nights. Avana joked about my dirty, grubby hands and I kept replying with, “I’m gunna slap you betch.” Errr, “I’m gunna betch slap you.” How does that Youtube video go? Anyway, the days were filled with lots of laughs, and other then me jacking up my foot somehow, there were not major problems. I really missed spending time with Avana, she truly is an amazing friend and a wonderful backpacking partner.

Here are some more photos :)

It was sad to leave Avana, but I am certainly glad that I got to see her. We have promised to backpack together at least once a year. This is the second annual.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Taking Notes from Dirtbags

While climbing in Joe’s Valley I met three textbook-dirtbag climbers, Tom, TJ and Siebe. Before I go any further, I want to say “dirtbag” is actually a quite prestigious title in the climbing world. So, I’m using it in the highest respect. I have admiration (and a little bit of jealousy) for anyone who can live their lives out of the back of their trucks, survive off of pennies and who get to focus on pretty much one thing: climbing. Now I’m not too far off from this dirtbag title myself, but I was certainly taking notes from these three.

I drove straight in from a nice night nestled in the back of David, my fondly named 95’ Ranger. I camped out at yet another truck stop. My crashpads fit nicely in the bed and I have everything I need back there, a comfy place to sleep, a stove to cook on, an icebox and occasionally a friendly four-legged critter that stops by here and there to eat my food and leave little number twos. Yuck. I don’t exactly know how a mouse gets into your truck, but Drew and Steve had the same problem in Bishop. Their little mouse tore up a toilet paper roll and made a nest in the trunk (excuse me, boot) of their car. Ha. Rather cute though.

I decided I am going to take a picture at each state line, so here's Nevada.

"Life Elevated" in Utah

David and the crashpads holding it down

I pulled into New Joe’s, not really knowing where I was, but was greeted by the dirtbags and filled in with a few recommended routes and a weather update. These three guys met down in Hueco and have been meeting up and climbing together throughout the west. They each drive what I would call a creeper van, but I think they used the word “pedophile”... wayyy more disturbing. They each carefully crafted a nifty little sleeping space and store their food and other things more or less neatly bestowed in large plastic bins. They have fold out table and spatulas, writing it all down, good. They’re really doing it Harry!

So let me introduce you to them! They each keep a blog too, so follow them on their adventures.

From left to right, Tom, Juno, TJ and Siebe

This is Tom. Tom has a counterpart that I was unfortunately unable to meet, Mike (I think), but he goes by Mitch. And they have a wild husky named Juno, isn’t she cute? Well unlike my little mouse friend, Tom’s creeper van was graced with an inhabitant who overstayed his welcome. I pulled into the camp site and Tom was sweeping out the floor of the van and the having a mild freak-out about what to do about this mouse. It was pretty funny. TJ and Siebe were going through Mitch’s storage containers that basically had no order to them, carabiners with food wrappers amongst clothes clean and dirty. A true dirtbag. So, Tom is from Boulder, Colorado and got his rad wheels off of Craigslist (I love Craigslist), follow his blog at, he’s got some good pictures and epic tales.

This is TJ, a 24 year old from Georgia. TJ bought his creeper van from a used car lot and decided he needed to head out west. TJ enjoyed provoking Tom’s mouse phobia but it was always in good humor. Next to that and climbing, it appeared he lived off of, and thoroughly enjoyed peanut butter and jellies and chili-mac. TJ picked up his sweet van at a used car lot and has it nicely dialed in now. Check out TJ's climbing adventures at

Then there is Siebe, the 19 year old Belgian who tried to claim 24. He was killing me, the guys were talking about dipping fries into a Frosty and Siebe was offended by such a thing, “That’s just wrong!” I think he said in his heavy Belgian accent. I was surprised since he was totally ok with making pancakes the size of your head and dousing everything in a 10 foot radius in Nutella. I guess you have to draw the line somewhere though. Siebe has had his blog for 3 or 4 years now, follow his climbing adventures at Another strong young climber.

It was great meeting these guys. After leaving Phil, Steve and Drew in the Sierras I was feeling a little lonely. So, hey thanks for letting me share a camp site with you doods! I'll be reading your blogs, following the adventures.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Pulled a Rob

Ok. First, I need to explain who Rob is. Rob certainly is an actual person, a guy who I met yesterday, but I know you have met him too. Maybe not THE ROB, the Rob I met at the Buttermilks, but someone of the same sort. You know, the guy who has climbed every route or problem, knows the place like the back of his hand, overly flirtatious, slightly pushy, likes to hear his own voice, sprays beta, and basically, he will not ever go away.

Viva Bishop! Robs can be identified by their hemp necklaces, hairy chests and small guts... or also by their obnoxious colorful sombreros.

So, I can't say I pulled a TEXTBOOK Rob, but it was close. When I pulled into The Pit Campground I paid the fee then pulled into the first available site. I wanted to back my truck in, and the thing is always a little funny in reverse, you really gotta keep the clutch in quite a bit, or it'll stall. Maybe I'm still just learning, anyway. I back the truck in almost perfectly, then Boom Boom Boom, yup stalled it, haha. It's always a good laugh, at least it was right where I wanted it at that point. But the best part, it brought chuckles from my close-proximity neighbors: two (drop-dead-sexy), absolutely charming Brits, Drew and Steve. I quickly said "Ooops, that's a little embarrassing." I wasn't really embarrassed though, I was thinking, "Yes! This is my perfect segue to talk to the attractive climber guys."

Meet Steve and Drew

I went over to say hi, and they were as charming as they did in fact appear. We chatted about problems, and the good places to go, which is basically everywhere in a 50 mile radius. I went back to my camp after a few twinkling moments, and realized I didn't have a bench at my site. I walked back over to the guys, and said in that way that kids do when they want a piece of your food or something "Oh wow, what's that? That looks gooood." But it more something like, "My site doesn't have a bench.... (waits a little, looks around), I think I'm going to move... (waits a little longer, looks around)."

In retrospect, I was pulling a Rob. But sure enough, before I knew it, the three of us were playing Bananagrams, building a fire, and farting openly. But unlike Rob, I think I was actually welcomed, and honestly invited. I hope.

Well, lets see, I got here on a Tuesday and now it's Saturday. I have climbed the Happy Boulders, the Buttermilks, and Owens River Gorge. Here are a few pics from Drew and Steve's camera

Owens River Gorge, easily my new favorite place to climb

Drew and Steve at the Checkerboard

Erik's morning routine

A beautiful line that I am painfully close on

"Ok, look like you're checking the problem out..."

Steve making light work of another great looking problem

A painful stemming problem, I didn't actually finish it. But it's a good shot, right?

My most victorious send, the Shepard, or something like that

A fun one

Steve, being an animal, 5.12

Me and Drew and Owens

The unmistakable, creeper faceshot of a true Rob.