Day 8: White Noise

A bit of climbing, some sun, a forest bushwhack, and a whole lot of white noise made for a tiring day. We spent the early afternoon sport climbing and the late afternoon searching for a lost crag. I learned that when the sun filters through trees and grass, turning browns golden, greens emerald, and the clouds pink, and the white noise is replaced by silence, the shackles of sarcasm fall from my crusty climbing companion giving birth to an unburdened youth. It’s fun, unexpected, and touching.

Day 7: Bear and Blood

We finally met a real, live Bear. This particular Bear was Ariel’s dog, a large, black sled dog. Bear is the product of an unplanned pregnancy in a female Iditarod racer. He was too big to be a good Iditarod dog (preference given to smaller dogs that consume less food and are better endurance runners), so Ariel and her husband Patrick ended up adopting him from the humane society.

Ariel took us bouldering at a place near her house. The sandstone was soft and friendly, but I still managed to leave blood on every boulder we climbed. This resulted from a combination of sloppy foot placement/poor technique and the web of scabs covering my legs and arms. Whether it’s thin skin, “bad genes” as Mico likes to call it, or a sloppy way of moving through the world, the result has been that my body is almost more scab than skin. When climbing, I invariably end up upsetting one or more of these scabs, so I come off the wall with a trail of blood leaking down my shin, my inner thigh, etc. This constant reopening means the scabs aren’t healing, so I’ve decided to start naming the perennials after people in my life. It’s hard to say which ones will last, so I haven’t named too many. There’s the Jon Chen Knee Scab, named for Jon who once told me about a knee scab he had that took over a year to heal. There’s another called Mommy located on my inner bicep. We’ll have to wait an see which others stand the test of time.

Day 6: On the Road to Durango

I’d long known that the place to look for potential offspring names was the American west. There are a lot of names to admire, a lot of names you can imagine giving to tykes, names they will thank you for later in life–Blythe, Laramie, Cody, Phoenix, Odessa, Mesa Verde… the list is virtually endless. But there is one name in my mind that has always stood head and shoulders above all others, a beautiful, polysyllabic name that screams “hello I am a badass” like no other. You’ve probably guess it from my description (or the title of this post), but the name is Durango. Initially Mico and I weren’t going to go through Durango, which nearly broke my heart, but due to a very slow packing day yesterday and learning that a friend I’d met in Alaska (also a climber) was now based in Durango, we rerouted. We broke up the drive, arriving in Flagstaff around 11pm. I suffered a heart attack that night when I heard footsteps near where we were sleeping. My first thought was serial killer, but when I noticed the figure creeping toward us in the dark had four legs, my second thought was bear! Fortunately for us, on closer inspection it turned out to be a friendly relative of Bambi. We were still alive in the morning, so we went bouldering at Priest Draw. After that, we hit the road again, stopping briefly at the four corners. Well, actually, we drove by it the first time, but turned around five miles down the road because there’s really a very limited number of times you find yourself in the four corners in your lifetime. While Mico waited in line to squat on piece of metal that indicated he was in four places at once, I purchased frybread from a dude about our age. He explained that frybread is consumed with everything from sugar and cinnamon to mutton. We got the cinnamon sugar topping. After a snack and a selfie, we drove into Colorado with a beautiful sunset at our backs (much to Mico’s irritation because he wanted to take pictures). We’re arriving in Durango a bit later than we’d hoped because we failed to account for the fact that Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings.