Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ten Sleep

Leaving Ten Sleep was hard to do. The limestone canyon yawns for over 10 miles, just asking- BEGGING- to be climbed. And it’s ALL bolted… and the approach trails are heavenly… and the climbing reminds us of the Red. Seriously, we climbed 21 routes in 2.5 days. My hands are crying but the rest of me is smiling.

Ten Sleep is named because it is the midpoint between 2 Native American trading outposts. It was 10 days/nights travel from both locations.

Our first stop in town was at Dirty Sally’s. It is run by a wonderful Veteran named Katherine. If you call her Sally, she charges you a $1 “ignorance fee”! I approve! The town of Ten Sleep actually looks like a town straight from a western movie… wooden buildings… the works. Dirty Sally’s even has old-fashioned saloon doors! We got our climbing book and some ice cream (oh yeah! You have to get ice cream from the soda fountain in the back!)

So a little about the book: it is insane. A great guide to the walls with fantastic pictures and listings of routes, everything you need is in the book, but finding it might take a few minutes! There is a lot of additional information on space, the powers of good and evil, and African dictators… routes don’t get stars; they get pictures of kitties, sexy ladies, or a nationalistic symbol. Route descriptions are also… unique. It is easy to get lost in this book. Double entendres also come easily when referring to it:
We are only here for 2 days, so we’re going to do as many kitties and porno shots as possible!
Let’s go climb “Hooray for Boobies”, it has nice deep pockets you can slide your hands into…
…you get the idea!

It is cold in the morning, but warms up quickly. You spend the day chasing shade. After enjoying 2 days traipsing up 10c routes with 15 bolts and the anchors, or stemming while facing out into the valley, or bushwacking across scree in direct sunlight when there was no trail where the book thought one would be… we were ready for town. Lunch at the “Crazy Woman” is a must. Then we said good-bye to our new friends and headed out of town.

The prairies and fields between Ten Sleep and Yosemite are booooooooooorrrrrrrrrriiiiiiinnnnngggggg. But Leeloo is enjoying the chance to sleep after running about the canyon, and I must say that a lack of movement is particularly joyful for me too. Except that I ate too much. Food baby demands a nap.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

on the road again

So, I wanted to journal our travels and, true to blonde form, it took me over a week to remember this old blog we have… PERFECT! So I hereby resurrect the blog of bygone misadventures!

Recapping July would take forever, so too bad, I’m skipping it. Maybe if I get bored I’ll return to it, but chances of that are pretty darn slim. This first post is going to be a little long, so I have sectioned it for those seeking brevity.


Augustine adventures, here we go! So we headed out to Rushmore, expecting to split the drive in half. Made it to Kansas City driving through temps as high as 115*F (too hot even in the car with the AC blasting)… then headed out to much cooler temps in the morning. We got a late start since I was feeling under the weather and slept in. This current headache has lasted a week… and was migraine level for 3 of those days. To say it has affected the trip would be an understatement, but when have I ever let anything stop me.  Anywho, the Missouri river is REALLY flooded, and it appears that it has been for some time as trees are dying. Where it had receded there were dead crops and grass. Water lapped the sides of the highway for quite a while, and we were rerouted twice away from the river, adding over 2 hours to our drive. I don’t think there was an area where we went the speed limit for 8 hours! Back woods Missouri is very quaint though!

So we got into Mt. Rushmore very late. It was 1230 in the morning in KY time, 1030pm locally. I am a little sad we missed the Corn Palace and Wall Drug, but hey, you can’t have everything in life, right?!


Too tired to find a campsite we slept in the car at the National Forest adjacent to Rushmore. In the morning we set up camp, discovered water, and set out to do some climbing (smart with a migraine, don’t you think?!?). One small issue: these are granite pillars, with camouflaged bolts placed at varying intervals. Sometimes the routes were bolted safely like in the Red, other times they were more like western routes where the first bolt is 20ft up and the anchors are at 30 ft… So identifying routes can be difficult. Add to that the fact that the last guidebook put out was published in 1995 (there are at least twice as many routes now), contains very limited drawn pictures of faces, and mostly contains crudely drawn topo maps of pillars (so an oval could represent either a tall cylindrical pillar or one that is conical and short). Poor descriptions added to the problem, and most of the time locals point out which routes are good and which to avoid, and help visitors orient themselves. Sturgis motorcycle week was about to start, so there were no locals climbing. It is no surprise then, that we started one fin over from where we planned and accidentally got on a 10a when we thought we were on a 7 (non-climbers read here the route was much harder than expected, but still in our range)… oops! The rest of the day was, thankfully, delightful and uneventful.

We met the most wonderful people camping at the Forest Service area at Wrinkled Rock: several teachers, and several other people making the most of unemployment. But the place was pretty much ours, Sturgis scared everyone else away. We learned from a local that a new book is coming out sometime in the next year with all the new routes in it, pictures, etc. After talking with the rangers, we found out that Leeloo was welcome on leash in many more of the climbing areas than expected, and we extended our stay to get more of the classics in.

Rushmore is granite. Large grained, rough, chossy (bits break off when you climb), full of greasy quartz crystals, odd hand-holds rock that is completely different than sandstone. Most of the routes were slabby, and chewed up our shoes. And our rope. Oops. Worth it! But we missed our chance to climb at the needles with a local we had become friends with; he wanted to climb on our rest/travel day.

Said hi to the president’s heads, then headed out for Devils Tower. It has been raining here almost every evening. You can watch the clouds come in really quickly, rain for 10 minutes or so, then blow away. It is all very different than at home. Weather underground forecasted rain all day for the past 2 days. Good thing it was wrong!


Got up early, headed to the tower, registered, and started our approach. Curtis bought a small book of the climbs out there, decent route drawings, but no descriptions. Very little information was in the book about the approaches or descents… do you sense a pattern forming here? I do! So we started our approach, left the paved tourist trail, and started picking out the trail through the talus field. We got all the way up to the tower (note, NEVER mention your opinion of talus slopes until you know you are done with them or Murphy’s law will bite you in the butt), and found that we were not near our climb. We were near some 5.11 cracks (non-climbers read here: very difficult). Found out later that we were on the correct approach for the “easy” route we had planned, but if you don’t know your way around the base of Devils Tower then you wouldn’t be able to navigate the ins and outs of the slabby and slightly slick columns. So BACK down the talus slope we went… and picked our way through the boulders and bity stones to the other side of the route, then headed BACK up the talus field. Got out the rope about 120 feet below the start of the climb and improvised a 5.5 climb up to the start of the route. Approaching the route took as long as climbing it!

The Park Service recognizes the draw that climbers are to the tourists. Many of the benches and viewing areas are designed to be shady and in prime view of the climbing routes. We were on display like animals in the zoo!

“Durrance” is considered one of the top 50 climbs in North America, and it reaches the top of the tower, so this route was a no-brainer for us. We had looked at some other routes, just in case Durrance was busy, as it usually is. Thankfully, there was only a short wait while the only other party that morning finished the first pitch. The first pitch involves going up a loose and leaning column broken into 3 pieces. Each piece weighs about 250 tons, so it is still stable, but the top one has been known to shift a little every now and again. There are warnings not to place gear between it and the main tower, and not to push off of both rocks at the same time! Welcome to off-width climbing! The second pitch was 2 cracks a bit more than shoulder width apart that widened to off-width for the last 30 feet. My favorite pitches came next: one with a traverse around a bulge that is called “walking the plank”. Then some delightful crack climbing that was fun and quick. After that an awkward chimney crack that my hips and shoulders kept getting caught in. Finally, you traverse around under some roofs and jump (yes, I said jump) over a drop-off (don’t look down), then follow a wide ledge system (the meadows) around the tower until you find a chimney to scramble up that is easy climbing (they say class 3, Curt agreed with me it needed protection) to the top.

There is a meadow at the top, gorgeous views at least 50 miles in all directions, and lots of flying and biting ants. 4 double rope rappels down. And an easy walk-off through the talus slope to the paved walkway. Where all the bikers wanted to talk to us about the climb, and the top, and how crazy we were… they had watched us rappel. Got some beta on other climbing areas from a ranger (we have met more rangers on this trip who climb…), and headed back to the campsite to check on one sleeping and happy puppy dog.

Who knew I could arm-bar and chickenwing with the best of them? Certainly not me!


After all our adventures, we are tired of trying to find routes in areas we are unfamiliar with. It takes time. It takes a good guidebook. And most importantly, it takes patience. Patience we want to apply to studying for Curt’s board exam. So we are changing plans from backpacking and climbing trad at Wind River, to climbing sport at Ten Sleep Canyon. Although it is raining, the guidebook might be the most interesting reading material we have… I have been laughing all afternoon!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

good weekends and great friends!

Since we have returned, life has abruptly returned to “normal”. The lawn is growing richly and densely… the food is flowing from the CSA (veggies and eggs and chickens, oh my!), curt has been grocery shopping… I have been working in Indianapolis and Louisville quite a bit.

It has been good.

The current work schedule has me off for 3 weekends this summer (but with many, many Sundays in addition to that). One of them was this past weekend. So curt and I had to make the most of it: imagine… 2 days off with the hubby! WHOOPIE! Curt pulled some major strings at work, gave up his 3 day weekend to move the call schedule, and vwalah! Suddenly the future was wide open!

We took off on a 3.5 hr cruise south into the middle of Tennessee. The Obed is a lovely river with some nice cliffs on it. We got in after midnight Friday night (there’s a homestead there that lets you camp on their property. It is really quite nice there . On Saturday we climbed some of the easier sport routes; it is all nice sandstone like the red river gorge. Ever since I started getting ready for the Slovakia trip I have been leading more sport routes (instead of just cleaning up after curt). I’m getting my lead head back and it feels good.

The nice thing about the Obed is that when you’re done climbing you can jump into the river at this awesome swimming hole. About a year and a half ago we were there and got Leeloo to jump into the water with us, and ever since then she has not liked the water…. Wonder why, it was only October when she jumped in! so she found some other dogs to play with on the shore while we cleaned up with the fishes.

Sunday we were really sore (really, really sore), so we decided to try our hands at the trad climbing there. I lead an infrequently climbed 5.6 (soft and fuzzy route!) in my new shoes and had a blast (before my new shoes, my previous view of trad climbing was closer to “yelch!” ). We walked a little further down the trail and found a famous trad route called alpine dihedral. It is 2 pitches (it is so tall that the rope isn’t long enough to go to the top and get back down, so you have to stop halfway, have the other climber join you, and then continue up the wall to the top.) This is a 5.8 climb which is at the edge of Curt’s comfort zone for trad… and he climbed it like a pro! It lived up to the fame… it was a wonderful, open climb… just a joy the whole way up… and the VIEWS! YOWZA!

And when we got down, Leeloo and tipsy (one of the dogs who lives at the campground and likes to tag along to the crag…. He made a good choice with us, as he got cookies whenever Leeloo did, which happens frequently enough to be worthwhile on these trips) were very happy to see us. Took another quick dip and headed home… and slept like the dead… I love my bed. I LOVE sleeping in my bed. It is so comfy 

After a couple more days in Indianapolis, I came home excited to see LORI AND BRIAN!!!!!! WOOT! They were driving by on their way from one family to another and we haven’t seen them in YEARS! I miss having them in my life. They are a breath of fresh air and just a joy to talk to… and play Euker with! No one knows how to play in Kentucky. No one. We have only played once since we left Lansing. It was great night and Lori and I beat the pants off Curt and Brian twice! Hehehe he *snort* hehe… No, really, Lori beat the pants off them and I happily went along for the ride. They are great friends that remind me about what is important in life. They are good for my soul, and live entirely too far away.

The other thing that happened last month was that Carrie came to visit!!! We did EVERYTHING while she was here: pet expensive racehorses at the track, hike in the gorge with the dogs, found a poisonous snake when both dogs were off-leash… went to the bars and danced all night at pride… made fun of the saddlebred horse museum, ate out a whole heaping lot and saw a vineyard… and of course introduced carrie to the look of disgust when she tasted bourbon at a tour! Hehehe. We even found the Kentucky ren fest and listened to baudy stories of seafaring weenies while drinking hard cider. I need more weekends like this!

Since then, I have been up in Indianapolis almost non-stop and we got a third weekend away in Tennessee. This time we headed down to the Devil’s racetrack which is right off of 75. we had to stay in a campground, but it was a nice one with trees and shade and grass. Saturday we put on our packs and hiked out to the wall… and missed the turn-off and had to bushwack back down the mountain… and found the stream… and spent about another hour looking for the turn-off… and then found it around 3pm that day! We did a multi-pitch climb and called it a day as all 3 of us were exhausted! After some really good food we were out for the night… we went back and climbed a few routes the next day, drove home, and I took off for Indianapolis again.

In other news, we did get to see harry potter this week!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Hiking and Scrambling and Eating, oh my! aka: the rest of the Slovakia trip!

Our train ride to Poprad from Bratislava was uneventful. The scenery was gorgeous and the hills grew as we traveled farther east. We caught a commuter train deep into the High Tatras as a steady rain fell. Naturally, this meant that there wasn't that much of the Tatras to see, as it was covered in clouds.

So, the original plan was to get a bus ride to Podbanske so that we could hike a path called the Tatranska Magistrala across the tallest mountain range in Slovakia. In the summer this bus runs 3 times a day. In the second week of May, it doesn't.

Plan B: take a bus or a train into the High Tatras to a town near our first night's stay. This worked well, but due to set- backs, we didn't get into town until around 5:30 pm. The hiking information office was closed, and we couldn't start hiking without a map (and who would want to, in the rain), so we got a room for the night with a plan to continue on the Magistrala in the morning, once we had our map.

That night, we discovered the best bar ever... The hostel manager, cook, and their friend were all just hanging out in this bar decorated with several boar skins, small stuffed rodents, and more Antlers than you could shake a stick at. We don’t speak Slovak, they don’t speak English, so we communicated in broken German that we all learned waaay back in high school (I see no potential problem with this… do you?). These kindly, and already tipsy, gentlemen decided it was their obligation to teach us about Slovakian liquor! (You can imagine how much fun our German conversation was, as it became increasingly drunken as the night went on) … and I became increasingly aware that the friend guy was hitting on me…

So... In the morning we went to the Forestry Information Center and learned that the Magistrala trail was closed until June 17th. So the rain and trouble with the Bus schedule was Providence!

Plan C: Day hike to a wonderful waterfall above tree line and less than 1 Km (1/2 mile) from the Polish border, gourmet lunch in tourist central around a beautiful alpine lake, then hike up to a chalet for the night! The High Tatras are 6- 8000 feet tall and very similar to the White Mountains but they are much younger and have more dirt. So I suppose we shouldn't have been surprised that the trails were closed due to snow... In fact, we rather enjoyed post-holing through the snow (there is not nearly enough snow in Kentucky) on our way to the waterfall and up the Chalet. We even took a trip further up a pass as far as the trails were open to get an amazing view of the valley below and Slovensky Raj on the other side. We “skied” down the trail until we were post-holing again. There’s a lot to see in these mountains, but we were too early. We’ll just have to go back sometime…

From there we headed back to Poprad to catch a bus for Slovensky Raj. There is a direct bus. We knew there should be one. But the “helpful” little lady behind the informacie counter gave us one with a connection. Which we tried to take; instead of listening to our guts and applying ourselves to the foreign bus schedules with funny little symbols. Oops. Lesson learned. Second lesson: pay attention and don’t fall asleep on the bus! You might miss your stop and get off 10miles from where you wanted to be… In an urban suburb stop nowhere near interesting… but Providence struck again, and we found that there was a bus that went from the stop we were stranded at all the way to where we were going! I kid you not! No sweat! We stocked up on Kofola (have I mentioned we LOVE this stuff?) and hiked out to find a hostel.

And find a hostel we did! A little piece of heaven on earth! The girl working the front desk spoke (what in Slovakia is considered) impeccable English, there were real mattresses on the beds (have we mentioned that in other hotels the mattresses are made of 3 cushions with particleboard sandwiching some leettle springs like old Studebaker cushions: one for your head and shoulders, one under the butt, and the last to get the gangly end), and the food was fantastic! We also got to watch tv from bed in our room! In SPANISH! Well, we watched a little of House, MD in Slovak then switched to the “international news” which was in Spanish. Then Friends started in Spanish… very weird…

In the morning we set out to hike the beautiful gorges of Slovensky Raj. Of all the outdoorsy things we did, this may have been my favorite! Those who know my childhood stomping grounds know my love of the Polarbear Caves in New Hampshire, or Mahoosic Notch or the Beehive Mountain trail in Maine. All the platforms and narrow areas to squeeze through and metal added to the rock to make it easier… this is of the same ilk, only on CRACK! There are 8 gorges in the park and the trails are one way heading uphill. We managed to cover enough ground to hike 2 of the gorges and found some lovely scenery and views along the way. We had some lovely views of the High Tatras, capped in clouds and lost in thought. Then we happened into some old ruins of a monastery! We explored around the ruins, enjoying the signage (actually in English!) describing how it had started early in the 1000’s and had been used until it was ordered destroyed and abandoned sometime in the 1400’s! Very cool stuff to walk around and peer into their cellars and kitchens… oh, so while climbing the second gorge we passed a nun! Major props to the nun in her blue summer habit (read here full length dress and veil that went down to her waist) hiking up what we considered a fun clamor, but definitely to be done in PANTS… and she was making GOOD time too!

We sped back to the hostel for a last, wonderful lunch of Slovakian fare (this was the only place where I trusted the English enough to determine that the potato latkes were gluten free- and OHHH SOOO TASTY!!!!) The best part about Czech and Slovakia is that the traditional foods all involve cream sauces NOT thickened with flour… yummmm. I’ve been craving cream sauces since we got back and since I have been traveling for work and haven’t been out to the store yet in any real capacity, it means Indian and Thai foods that are rich and delicious… but back to Slovakia… delicious and decadent cream sauces. So glad I don’t eat kosher, because this is some FABULOUS eats!

We got the direct bus back to Poprad, and took a night train back to Praha. Night train left at 720pm and arrived in Praha at 4am (groan!). We had 3 conductors rotate through while on the train, so they kept entering our compartment (imagine a slightly run-down and aged version of the compartments on the Hogwarts express [complete with red pleather seat covers] if you haven’t ridden second class on a European train!) to check our ticket. This meant getting up every hour roughly and handing them our tickets AGAIN. By around 230 they figured it out and stopped bothering us. But what we didn’t expect were the police. We had seen LOTS of police both in the cities and on public transport all through our trip. Their presence is visible and much more pervasive than in the US, but we had never had any reason to give them any more than a passing thought. They were just that friendly police ociffer… I’m not as think as you drunk I am… you know, someone else’s problem but not ours… WELL. Here’s the audio (at least my memory of it) of events as they unfolded:

-Whoosh! Slam! BROINNNNNG! (those were the sounds of the door being opened more forcefully than necessary and the lights being turned on. The conductors were at least kind enough not to turn the lights on….)

-Squeek, Squeek, Squeek (me rubbing my eyes)

-“ZBRZSKTRISKA BRZRTISTAZBRTITSKY DRZBRIATSKA!” (police officer trying to communicate briskly and authoritatively with us… as if that hadn’t been established by turning the very bright light)

-“Prosim, English… oder Deutsch?” (me, requesting politely a language I might possibly understand)


-Curt hands the little man our train tickets in his half-asleep state. (this is what he has done every time we’ve been woken up on this ride and it had always worked before…)

-“NO!” the little man hands the tickets back

-grind grind grind (cogs turning in little man’s head) “passport.”

-“OH!” (duh, why didn’t we think of that…) rumble rumble (we get out and hand him our passports. He procedes to look at them and punch our id codes into his little handheld electronic doo-hicky thing)


-*ominous silence*

-I blearily blink a few times, trying to clear my head and wake up enough in my sleep-deprived state for a conversation I know I can’t understand in Czech when well rested…

-clomp clomp clomp (2 other police officers come over to see what is taking our little man so long and does he need back-up?)

brzasejrqntbkfasdiotrjt ska (whispers between police officers)

-slink slink slink (other officers moving away)

-flip, flip, grind grind grind (officer flipping through our passport stamps looking for our stamp of entry [which he can’t find, mind you, because the idiots at customs in Amsterdam stamped it over the 30 other stamps opposite the India visa and it is all a blur there now] and thinking very hard.)

-ffft, ffft (officer fingering his handcuffs with the caress of a lover, contemplating how much fun it would be to arrest us, but not worth all the paperwork??? This is pure speculation, but HONESTLY, he was starting to freak me out a little)

-“Next Apache!” (I have no idea how that is spelled, but that’s what it sounds like and it means “here you go” in Czech)

-STOMP stomp (as he moves to the next compartment). Whoosh! Slam! Broinnng!

So THAT was exciting… and harmless… THANK GOODNESS! And led to much quiet contemplation about the police and our desire for security and how that might differ given the political upheaval in these countries vs. the US… and how the huge numbers of police may or may not be comforting to all the czeck people in the way that traffic cops may or may not be comforting in the US…blah, blah, blah, did I mention he was fingering his HANDCUFFS! So, when we were returning to the US, I asked the nice lady behind the *very tall* (woot!, go height advantage!) customs desk to stamp a *different* page, she LAUGHED at me and went right on ahead and stamped it over all the other stamps again anyway, and I sighed, because no one is going to try and arrest me on the other side of the gate in the airport… and if they had wanted to, at least they probably would have been able to speak english…

Anywho, back in Praha, we checked back into the clown and bard, slept until 8 or 9 in the morning (mmmm) and got up to tour the jewish district on a cloudy overcast day. There are about 8 museums in old temples and you can’t take any pictures… but the best part is that in the one working temple there is supposed to be a GOLEM that lives in the rafters. He’s made out of clay from the river by one of the old rabbi’s (whose gravestone can be seen in the graveyard… part of the museum tour) of the temple and he is supposed to protect it. COOL! I WANT A LITTLE GOLEM TO PROTECT MY HOUSE! Well, I wasn’t willing to buy one of the little overpriced clay golems they had for sale (most were made in china anyway…) so I am still trying to decide if a Batman or Spiderman action figurine would be equal to the task… No, I’d better hold out for wolverine. He’s the best American equivalent for non-Jewish households…

The Jewish museums are a MUST if you are going to Prague, though. Seriously. It is incredibly moving (and depressing) to see all the history there. And a cloudy, overcast, drippy day sets the mood for sadness and contemplation like none-other. I don’t really have words for all the thoughts in my head in relation to that day, but yowza… just go if you ever get the chance…

Our last night in town we ate dinner at the lesbian Mecca in Prague. Then we headed to the bar for one last shot of absinth (which we had avoided since our first encounter of not-tasty-ness) and the bartender actually spoke English and taught us a better way of drinking it (it involves a sugar cube and a metal spoon and lots of FIRE!). this is a much improved beverage now….

And had a fairly uneventful flight home. So that was the second half of our trip! TADA! Our lawn was up to my waist when we arrived in our driveway, and Leeloo is still a little stuck to my side. Poor girl. I’m ready to go back! pictures to follow soon!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

a little czech

so, i promise to put up more about our trip... but before i get to work on that, let's have a little lesson in czech. you know, that stuff that every american should know...

english: czech or slovak, whichever we used more... phonetic for happiness!

please: prosim pro.seem (like a rolled spanish r, but only one tick)
thankyou: dakujem dya.ku.yem
ladie's: zeny zh(like pleasure)... zhe.nee
tea: caj "chai"
beer: pivo yes, pi.vo!

way: cesta tse.sta
old: jizni yizh.nee
rocks: skaly skall.eee
corner/arete: hrana that one is pretty much like it looks!
on the west side: zapadni za.paud.nee
on the northwest side: severozapadni se.ver.o.za.paud.nee
face: stena stey.nuh

since we've returned i have barely been home, i've been working so much. but curt found this video of other people climbing in the czech republic and i got to watch it last night. it is so true to what curt and i felt out there... here are a few of my favorite quotes:

take your shoes off so you can feel the grain of sand beneath your feet... this place is definitely the scariest place i have ever climbed... with no chalk and little protection, all of the talismans you carry against the dangers of climbing are left behind and what is left is you and the rock.... it's really quite adventurous. half the time you don't know where you're going... probably one of the best pitches of rock climbing i've ever done... i think you're supposed to place knots here, except for the fact that i don't know how to place knots... do i wish every place in the world were like this? hell, no!... major props to the homies climbing here in eastern europe.... the amazing thing about this area is, once you top out, you are in this wide open expanse. it's really inspiring.... it's really meaningful to travel halfway around the world and have the common ground of climbing.

that said, we were very careful about the routes we chose to do... and there you have my first happy reliving of the rock-climbing... and we only got one really good day of climbing in!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

beautiful bratislava

okay, so apparently typing while buzzed is a bad idea in that i don't explain things well and i can't type... oops! important things that were missing from the last post... did i forget to mention that the climbing book is in czeck? so when we got out to the rocks we were trying to decipher the little drawings and line them up with giant pillars based off of a little chicken scratch english and tiny pictures with czeck writing! so much fun!

absinthe update: i was "drunk" ALL NIGHT. I would wake up, think "yup, still not normal" and go back to bed. made for very interesting dreams. also, if you are going to drink absinthe, add LOTS of sugar. we put in 2 cubes and stirred for a good 20 minutes and that improved things greatly :)

but on to more important topics!

we are LOVING bratislava! sean picked us up from the busstop and we went home to the 6th floor flat to SHOWER and do LAUNDRY!!!! eep! anne got home and we all went out for PIZZA. my bestest friends in the whole wide world found me GLUTEN FREE PIZZA in the foreign lands of bratislava and it was SOOOOOO TASTY! honestly, it was a superthin crust with yummy toppings and everything! from there we went to visit friends and eat fruit salad. and tried slovakian wine and sodas.... good night with good people!

friday started with a bang! we had polenta pancakes and BACON and chai and lots of fruit. fantastic bacony bits. then it was off to vienna! we visited the graveyard and the musician's graves and the fabulous church there and toured around the market where we ate all manner of fabulous things from thai food and sushi to candied cumquats to lychee soda and both vianeese and italian coffees... yum yum yum... so we are again eating our way through the country we are in.

vienna was beautiful and all, but home was calling and we were beat so we came back and had a bbq with SCALLOPS AND SHRIMPIES and raosted marshmallows and bananas. oh! and vinea, a grape soda that is very wine-like. yum! the weather has been fantastic here with ne'er a cloud in the sky!

oh! oh! on the train back, we got to watch the countryside and it was sooo pretty! and there was a windmill farm! and these kids who were travelling were playing that game where you name things under a theme while clapping your hands and they were great fun! they were doing european capitals and got into an arguement about istambul... it is IN europe but is not a european capital! i only wish i was so fluent in another language that i could have a conversation like that... i am also going to refer to soccer as "american soccer" from now on!

today was busy with devin castle in the morning which was wonderful! it is a castle ruin with lots of great views of the danube and an archeological museum and beautiful walks by sculptures with fields of queen anne's lace behind us...

ate lunch at a grill that made wonderful kolbassa and drank kofala on tap. it is a dark soda made with the water left over from decaffinating coffee... it is not as sweet as most soda, and tastes a little like dr. pepper and is WONDERFUL stuff that packs a kick!

on the way home we walked through old town, enjoying the crazy statues and beautiful sights, and climbed st. michael's gate with weaponry museum, saw a reproduced pharmacy from several hundred years ago, stopped off at a few art galleries (and more coffee of course...) and then up to bratislava castle to walk the grounds, which also has wonderful views. this castle is under major reconstruction now, so we couldn't get inside.

we made it to the mall to see everyone and their dogs and enjoy all the sexy underwear shops... no really, we went to see the movie startrek which was awesome! the movie wasfun, the assigned seats were plush and comfy, the screen was huge, and you can buy wine and beer!

cabbage soup for dinner has left me a little gassy, but it was soo tasty and worth it! and i haven't gassed anyone out yet, so so far, so good! one more day here, and then we head out for the high tatras and slovensky raj (slovakian paradise). the only problem is, i don't want to leave!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

chesky raj

climbing in the czech republick is AWESOME! we started by taking a 2 hour busride up to cesky raj (czeck paradise) and asked the lovely lady at the info desk (who spoke english) about getting from jacin to the national park... she replied that we were already IN bohemian paradice, and where would we like to go specifically... so was got out hte map and dutifully got the bus schedule. the we headed over to the climbing store where we bought a book on climbing in the area. the helpful little man there told us the best places to go, helpfully explained that the bolts there (metal peices in the wall) were spaced 5-15 mters apart (yowza!), and that the sandstone was very soft, so no chalk or nuts (metal trad gear) in the rock, if you please.... yeah, yeah, yeah...

2 hours later we were hiking to the hostal. no such luck, they are not open for tourist season yet. so we hiked to the petrovsky skale (the pinnicles) and tried to find the routes the little man recommended. found some and realized that there are no bolts if you can place gear (to try and preserve the rock)... and that meant maybe one bolt if it was below a 5.10... so to climb something reasonable meant throwing trad gear in the wall... but no trad gear allowed... only rope knots! headed out to ponder this and find a place to sleep. hiked about 5km looking for a hostel and found a hotel room around 930pm.

in the morning we returned to the wall, climbed a friggin' 5.10 called "emporer's hat" to the top of a pinnicle (AWESOME view with lots of tourists taking our picture), and enjoyed being about as close as you can get to god without falling off a small roacky perch... curt estimates the top to be about 21 square feet...with commanding views...

clibed some other suff, placing rope instead of metal in the wall. "this knot is not a nut". the sandstone was so soft that we walked on sand on the ground, sand crumbled into our palms when we climbed, and i lost a foothold and scraped my shin on what felt like sandpaper! no wonder no metal!

we had a great time, and hiked 7km out to jicin this morning in the rain. the countryside is beautiful!

back in prague for the night where we are enjoying the buzz from our first absinthe... can accurately tell you that absinthe = drunk + happy!

tomorrow we head out for bratislava to see annie and sean! oh boy! we are leaving REALLY EARLY!!!! so now, i think, it is time for bed! hope you all are well!