As Kenny and Charlotte have said, go for 1 week, stay a month. What's up with that?! All the places which I've fallen for and found an amazing community of friends, I end up compromising my trip and staying until everyone else leaves. Who knew that a pizza shop/campground/climber hub called, Miguel's, would be the central place to meet climbers from all over the world, to have group dinners every night, to play card games and Catan until 2 in the morning, and to dance dance dance to an amazing Bluegrass band with new friends? Who knew.
When I first arrived in the 'Red' (short for the Red River Gorge), I met up with my buddies, Marc and Ben, who I met in Seattle at a Cuban sandwich shop. I was immediately overwhelmed by how steep the walls were, overhanging with pockets everywhere. At the New River Gorge, I'd gotten used to climbing vertical walls involving solid technique and big reaches. I didn't like the Red at first. Then, I met up with my friend's Gabby and Michael, who I met at the 'New', and I started to get the hang of it. Gabby and I are at a similar climbing level, and it was encouraging to see that she could get up the routes that intimidated me. Before I knew it, I was back to my comfortable climbing level of 11b's and 11c's.
Then I met the whole crew:
Kenny and Charlotte - A couple, from Austrailia, traveling around the states. They began their trip in April, just before I did, and they've traveled to almost exactly the same destinations as me. In fact, we were in Smith Rock and Squamish at the same time without even realizing. Kenny remembers seeing the Christmas lights in my car when the trunk was open, in the Smith Rock parking lot, and we talked about how we went to the same climbing event in Squamish and found out that we had been sitting about 10 feet away from eachother, oblivious to the other's existence. They are amazing, they've been together for 4 years now. Kenny's a paramedic, and Charlotte is a physical therapist (and gives the most amazing back massages). They bicker sometimes, but then the next minute they're being so silly and full of love for eachother. They bought a van in California (yay another van with California plates!) and it's extremely spacious! There's a map on the ceiling of their van showing all the places they've been. The van life is the best.
Ranae - I met Ranae in Smith Rock in late May, when I decided to come back for a couple weeks after realizing that I wanted to climb harder things. What vibrant energy Ranae possesses! She's always smiling and getting everyone psyched on climbing. And, she's super strong, even though she's only been climbing for a little over a year. She had a day where she sent two 12a's! or was it 12b? Either way, it's badass. I love love seeing strong women out there. It's so weird to go back to real life, where I still feel like women are confined by what society expects of them, which, in most cases isn't very much. Ranae can speak to this too, she's a passionate feminist, and advocate of the independent lifestyle.
Derek and Katelyn - Man, Derek feels like the older brother I never had but always wished for! He's incredibly encouraging and so well traveled. All the way from New Zealand, Derek's been on the road off/on for a couple years, traveling and climbing while writing and taking photographs for work. He met Katelyn in Tonsai, Thailand, and they've been doing long distance for a couple years. She currently lives in Canmore, Alberta (where I was earlier this year). Ha, I can't believe I ever complained about the distance between LA and SF! The distance between New Zealand and Canada is much much greater. I like them. Katelyn is beautiful inside and out, she works with at-risk kids in a remote part of Alberta, where they bring kids who are going through family abuse, drug/alcohol addiction, mental disorders, etc, to detox and try to work through their problems. It sounds like an emotionally exhausting job, yet Katelyn loves what she does and tries her best to help these kids. I want to do something with my life that helps others in such a way. Sigh!
Nick - A young guy with an old-soul from Conneciticut. He recently graduated from CU Boulder, and has taken the last 6 months to travel around the US before heading back home for Thanksgiving. His grandfather had a sprinter van which he decked out for a life on the road. It's super spacious! (sigh, do I want a van I can stand up in!) He also has a chill cat, Monkey, who lives in his van by day, and wanders around Miguel's at night. I didn't think it was possible to have a cat on the road, but it's easier than a dog! He's trying to figure out what to do next, as am I, the possibilities are endless! Should we keep traveling? Should we work again? Should we go back to school? Argh the questions!!
Chris - What a nice guy!! And he gives really good head massages because his hands are ginormous. He's from the UK and was traveling in the US for 2 months. The first month with his girlfriend, now fiance! And the second month with friends in the Red! A bunch of his friends, Matt (aka Cookie), Dave (aka Patty), and Sarah were all here visiting too. I haven't gotten around to doing illustrations of them. I'm so backlogged! Anyway, Chris is a lawyer back home, and owns a house with his fiance. Every year he tries to take a long trip and go climbing somewhere fun. He met Derek in China a couple years ago. How cool is it that we'll run into people down the road with whom we shared amazing memories? This little climbing world is so much smaller than I would have ever thought. I hope to see Chris next year sometime when I maybe go to Europe! We'll see!
John - a crazy British dude with an amazing personality. I don't even know what that means, but it's a good thing. He was so energetic and so silly, vulgar at times, but hilarious. He was one of the first guys to leave, he had to go back to work.. boo!
Pickles - I didn't get to know him as well as I would have liked, but he was super nice, and climbs 5.14. And his last name is Pickles. How cool is that?
Shane - We also crossed paths a bunch without realizing! He was in Squamish the entire time I was there, and I didn't run into him at all. But he knows all the people I was hanging out with there. Ha, he also was looking through my sketchbook and saw a sketch of my friend, Duncan, and was like oh! That looks like Duncan! I said, "It is!!! Do you know him?!" And, yet again, I'm surprised at how small the world can be. Also, Shane is obsessed with Settlers of Catan. Obsessed!
Gabby and Michael - I love them, I wrote about them in my New River Gorge post, but it was awesome hanging out with them again. They're so supportive and encouraging, I always feel strong when I climb with them. I'm hoping to see them again in Indian Creek!
Calvin - Oh my gosh, he's hilarious. On Halloween, he wore the tightest red pants I've ever seen a man wear. Ouch, that must have been uncomfortable, but he rocked it! We all call him Sea-biscuit, after the race horse, because when he climbs, he makes a similar sound when he's pushing himself to the limit!
Neal and Chris - Neal, I hung out with in the New and he worked his way over to the Red for a couple weeks. Always fun to chat with that guy! And, Chris, oh Chris, so young! 19, but living on the road. I'm trying to convince him that college is amazing and he should go! Help me convince him! :)
Anyway, another season passed, onto Indian Creek, where I'm meeting up with Duncan, Derek, Kenny, Charlotte, and Mike and Gab! Possibly more of the Red crew! We'll see! :D