Saturday, May 30, 2009

Day 8

A delicious breakfast of assorted bread, cheeses, and spreads began our day. Alex's brother Matt gave us a proper tour around the St. Louis metropolis. We saw the vast grounds of Forest Park, the Washington University Campus, the downtown loop, of course the arch, and the French district. St. Louis is definitely a prospering city with much new construction along with many great universities and buildings that respect the city's rich history while forging a bright future for the community.
The historic facade of City Hall, and impressive brick and stone castle-like structure.

A shot of a pretty dreamy handrail beneath the shadow of the arch. Down-flat-down-flat-down c-bar. (There's one on each side for FS and BS.)
We watched a helicopter take off with tourists wanting an up-close and personal view of the arch and city.
The wildly famous Gateway Arch.

Alex and I stopped by the City Museum which featured the work of many new artists that built a pretty unique landscape out of urban salvage. Creative recycling. We did not feel like paying $12 to go inside so we just watched form the outside.

After our short visit at the museum we decided to salvage some stuff of our own at an enormous Goodwill Store. We picked up a matching pair of scene pastel yellow hats and I picked up a pair of CitiMortgage sunglasses. Epic finds (pictures soon to come)!

Oh yeah, and fashion superstar Diane Katzman is finally releasing her new jewelery collection at Goodwill. I couldn't wait for her line to drop. All the women in my life should expect this gaudy stuff for atleast the nect few holidays.

We met up again with our host family to enjoy dinner at William Shakespeare's Pub. It was a great meal with mediocre service, but I'm not complaining one bit.

Alex's Blog

My partner on the road (completely asexually) is none other than past PSU snowboard club president, proud Pollock, Penn State Alum, architectural engineer, certified lady's man, gym-bred gumbie, snowboard technology enthusiast, and blogging extraodinaire, Alex Wyczalkowski. Alex is also blogging his brains out along the way. If you would like to see the darker side of our trip simply click on this link. Yum!

Day 7 (One weird week in)

We said our goodbyes to little Hannah and Kaj, and thanked Chris and Lindsay for our great stay before hitting the road for an 8+ hour stretch to St. Louis. We passed through downtown Atlanta, then through Chattanooga, and Nashville on I-24. Just North of Chattanooga was a short detour to a great rock climbing crag called Foster Falls. With no idea what the area was like we went for it and what we found was well worth the risks. The area's name belongs to that of the 100 foot waterfall surrounded by an impressive rocky bowl. To say the park was picturesque is a substantial understatement.

View from scenic overlook

Foster Falls

Alex negotiating the rocky trail

A cave along the hike to the falls

After admiring the falls we traveled down a cliff line to a short 4-bolt sport climb that ended in closed shut anchors. The rock was really good, although a little damp, but after several attempts and big falls I lead Tea and Strumpets, 5.10a (a reference to medieval hookers and wenches recently popularized by Capt. Jack Sparrow). Alex followed with a top-rope ascent. Due to time constraints we did not get to explore the almost any of the 130 bolted sport lines at this area but apparently the climbs farther down the cliff band become increasingly impressive. It would be great to return one day to climb and swim in the deep cold hole that Foster creek pours into.
After my first run, only clipping the first two bolts

We returned to I-24 after our refreshing trek. We couldn't help but admire the sunset over the flattened country of western Kentucky before we rolled into St. Louis to stay at Alex's other brother Matt and his wife Katie's home. They cooked an exquisite meal with more sausage, pork chops with a cranberry glaze, zucchini, and salad. We were living high on the hog.

Day 6

Our second day in our suburban Atlanta home was filled with more imaginative adventures with the kids. Lindsay and I thoroughly discussed gardening until she made me put my money where my mouth was and help her prepare her beds for fresh topsoil from a local farmer. We transplanted cucumbers, tomatoes, corn and peppers and planted beans and pumpkins. Talks of organic vegetables turned to the prospect of raising chickens in their backyard (an exciting venture for Lindsay and a horrific and painstaking thought to Chris.) We decided that perhaps maybe next spring would be a better time to build their coop.

Spartacus liked to help garden as well

After playing in the dirt, Alex and I decided we were not sweating enough in the thick southern air so we drove to an indoor rock gym in Atlanta named Wall Crawler. It provided a good workout and maintained our strength for our upcoming long days of climbing.
Top-rope and lead wall
Bouldering cave

A delicious cookout thankfully followed our strenuous bouldering session. Our stomaches welcomed the delicious sausage hors d'oeuvre (Chris was raised in Poland as a child so you know they were good), steak, chicken, edamame (cooked, salted, baby soybeans), and a fresh green salad. Things are going well.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Day 5

Back on the road again after a great stop in Charleston. Last night finished late so this nearly 5 hour leg to the trip was a little worse than intentioned. We moved from home of hospitality to another as we ventured to Alex's older brother's home in Atlanta. Chris, along with his wife Lindsay and two kids Hannah, 4, and Kajetan(they call him Ky),3. We were quickly submerged in toy paradise. Hannah liked to play with her magnetic dress up dolls, which I apparently could never pick matching clothes for. Kaj likes cars and especially this single tire with rims straight off an episode of Cribs. Along with the kids there are 2 feisty dogs, Spartacus and Bella Rose. All these young energies make for a pretty hectic lifestyle. Oh, the joys of young family life! We all ate, along with family friends with 3 more kids under 6 at Los Bravos mexican restaurant. Kaj experienced jalapenos for the first time, followed by an epic slideshow of faces showing pain and remorse.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May Day 2009

My good friend Art McNulty edited some of the Penn State Snowboard Team's footage from our last day of riding in PA this season. It was a great park setup and good times were had by all. Thanks to Zach for filming with a broken hand.

May Day 2009 from Art McNulty on Vimeo.

Day 4

Today was wide open for rest and relaxation on Folley Beach, SC. It was a welcomed lifestyle to adopt for the day. After arriving at the beach, we played a game of football on the beach with some good 'ol boys until our feet were raw. We swam in the ocean until our appetite beckoned us to Snapper Jack's, a quaint local sports bar near the beach. All our food from the red snapper wrap to the Flounder Po Boy sandwich was excellent. After we got our fill of food and sun we retired back to our lavish plantation home. I snapped a few photos around the estate.

Alec enjoying the view of Heron Marsh from the Back Porch
A view from the backyard
Swanky dining area
A National Geographic-esque portrait of a native frog species.

Once back, I realized that the sun due more damage than expected. We spent the night at our temporary home with Alec, Jeff, Drew, Jamie, and Molly. It was a fun-filled affair.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Day 3

Today we thought would be spent in transit to Charleston, SC to visit our good snowboarding pal Alec who is spending the summer there. We woke up early and perked up to some biscuits at Tudor's. They were the densest biscuits I've ever experienced.
We stopped at a scenic overlook in the Great Smoky Mountains and snapped a few photos along the way to our maritime destination.

We made it to the beach for the afternoon where our bleached white bodies soaked up some softer ultraviolet rays while swimming in the waves.
We capped the day off with crab legs and spent time at Alec's. It is a wonderful plantation home with fantastic amenities for a couple of vagabonds. Here we met the affable Jeff, Drew, Molly, and Jamie, Alec's roommates.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Day 2

We awoke this morning to the sensation of the thick West Virginia air. After oatmeal, our trek began down the Butcher's Branch trail to what we thought would be an out-of-the-way sport climbing paradise in the Kaymoor area. These walls spiring up 100 feet overhead were filled with classic climbs but also many climbers. We explored the rocks for a bit before deciding to hike back to the car to drive across the bridge to the Endless Wall climbing area.
After miles of hiking and climbing it was definite that was truly endless, buttress after buttress.

After being beaten to several more great climbs we finally found some open anchors above an impressive 80+ foot dihedral. Lunar Debris (5.9) and Crescent Moon (5.7) were impressive climbs running parallel under the bolts. We then led Double flat, (5.9+) but I fizzled out through the slopey crux section. We ended the day with ramen and met some very nice folks from Michigan that helped us find our car keys that vanished in the dark.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Day 1

A week up packing and preparation was finally completed as Alex and I pulled out from the farm in his 98 Nissan Altima. Family farewells and last glimpses of home disappeared in the dust cloud our tires threw up after improperly digesting my windy dirt driveway. What a free feeling it was to finally be on our way to somewhere.
We decided to spend Memorial Day weekend in the West Virginia's "wild and wonderful" New River Gorge to climb some East Coast crags; but not before our first hiccup, a speeding citation from Officer Burden. The irony. We left this sour taste behind us along with the poor Pennsylvania road system.
After a four hour drive, we arrived at the New River Gorge where we browsed a bit at the visitor's center and the Bridge Buttress before finally gearing up to climb at the Junkyard. We top-roped Who Cares? (5.7) to warm up then onsighted a classic 5.9 offwidth crack named V-slot, pictured.
It was a great opening day to the trip which ended at Roger's Rocky Top Retreat near the Kaymoor climbing area. The climbing scenesters were out in full force in their expensive yet earthy ensembles. I'm posting this blog from inside our tent (the biggest one in the whole campsite) with a wireless signal from who knows where. Hopefully things continue to be this prosperous!