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It's a strange life

Posted by Eric T. on May 18, 2012 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

"Hey man."

I'm talking to a tinted window in the darkest corner of the parking lot. I know he's in there. He opens the door and I hand him his Yosemite guidebooks and a can of fuel from REI. My neighbor in this blacktop neighborhood is Alik, a friendly Canadian who's in the same training course that I'm taking. Our conversation naturally turns to climbing. We're forced to raise our voices as we're approached by a bizarre machine that I can only describe as a huge vacuum cleaner mounted on a truck.
"You guys are weird." He says, referring to my country as a whole.
"I'VE never seen one of those things." I say, weakly defending myself.
"What, you don't hang out in parking lots in Reno much?" He says with a smile. It's good to be around other people who get it. Alik is on a climbing trip with vague plans. I'm readjusting to life on the road, after two years of a feeble attempt at "settling." It left me with enough money for a ticket to Peru and a car that I can live in. When sprngtime hit, nothing could have kept me in Durango. I chased a girl to Squamish and almost missed my course in Reno. The weather, among other things, had turned almost perfect.

"I gave up on looking for a chinese place and went to the grocery store." I say, pointing to the host of our parking lot. "And guess what they sell in the Deli!" Alik laughs at my discovery of the cheapest chinese food in Reno. He tells me about an online post by Alex Honnold on soloing Monkeyfinger.
"I'll check it out. I can get Starbucks' internet in my car now.
"Is that why you moved 4 spaces over?" He asks.
"Uh, yeah actually."
Alik, who's coincidentally on the road after 2 years of "normal" life as well, gives a grin and points out the absurdity of the moment. "It's a strange life we live."
I realize how right he is and chime in. "Getting chinese food from a grocery store, and hunting for free internet so that we can read about what soloing Monkeyfinger is like?"
"Exactly. And dealing with... that." He points accross the parking lot to where the giant Chevy vacuum is humming along, cleaning vacant spaces. We both can't help but break out laughing. As we revel in our ridiculous situation, the significance of it sinks in. I haven't enjoyed my life this much in a long time. When I was younger, I took this lifestyle for granted. Now I see beauty in every single silly thing I go through to achieve it. Appreciation is a wonderful thing.

A few days later, we pass our exam and drive to Lover's Leap to bag some classics. I free solo my first rock route. We spot Fred Beckey, 89 and still crushing. My mind, in a weird place from the past week's various physical and emotional challenges, urges me back to Colorado. I leave for Peru in less than two weeks.

So now I'm headed East through Nevada, weaving my tires between lizards and the odd bird. As it turns out, Nevada has the kinds of roads that you can drive while also writing on a laptop. I'm on my way to the Black Canyon to test my skills before heading back to Durango. The hand jam in my steering wheel feels good, and I can't help but see beauty in more things every day.

...eh?

Posted by Eric T. on April 24, 2012 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Hoo boy...


It's been quite a while since my last post. What I'm wondering is not why I haven't written in so long, but more; why do I feel compelled to write now?


A few reasons. It's spring, which gets the gears in my head whirring into redline. The time of year when the reasonable part of my mind leans back in his chair with his arms crossed and smiles at the mayhem going on around him, content that he won't have to work again for at least the next 3 months. His input isn't needed. I've also been inspired to write again, thus starting new works, and unearthing old ones. But mostly, my life is a marble that's just begun to roll into the Rube Goldberg machine that is this summer, and I am excited. I recently heard a word that I'd like to start using more. I think it describes my future perfectly: It's going to be kickass.


But first, a quick review. I prefer not to dwell in the past, but I'll reminisce for just a second. Last January, I went into welding school with about 16 other guys. It's safe to say their necks were a little bit red, after all we were in Cortez, Colorado. Now when I say redneck, I'm not talking about the John Deer hat wearing, cheap beer drinking, truck driving adorable rednecks you find here in Durango. I'm talking about people who work hard, casually hate Obama (and not just because he's a n*****), love god, would absolutely die for our country, and who make up the spine of our rural working class. The kind of person that can infuriate a hippy in about 3 minutes flat. I loved it. After learning the fine art of TIG welding, I got a job making titanium bottle cages for bikes. Ron has proven to be the coolest boss I've ever had, and I can safely say, ever will have. A remarkably uneventful summer led to moving in with some good friends in the fall. Winter did a strange dance, coming and going by the week, never leaving much snow, but always much sun. The first half of our snowpack got destroyed by a bizarre warm spell in January, leaving a terrifying layer of hoar for the moisture of Feburary to settle on. Luckily, I was wrapped up in 3 jobs, trying to save money for the cornerstone event of the summer. The one that pushed my little marble onto its winding track, and into those unknown, wild works.


I bought a plane ticket to Peru for June and July. Visions of steep, long alpine ice and snow lines have been swirling around in my head for months. I was terrified of another Durango summer, come and gone with nothing to show for it but some stories of drinking beer and 'epic' bike rides. No, I needed something big. It's time to take those dreams of alpinism and turn them into steel and stone. Real things.


A bathroom wall hanging I found inspiring in the cheeziest way:

The past is history,
the future is a mystery,
and today is a gift

What am I doing?

Posted by Eric T. on February 18, 2011 at 12:12 AM Comments comments (0)

In writing an email to a friend, I realized that it was easier to tell him my thoughts on life at the moment than it is to write a blog. So I'll post a slightly abbreviated version of the email. It's a bit of insight to my life right now.


...

 

Good to hear that you're surviving, however. And I'm glad to hear interest in a touring setup. I'm longing for a good bike tour, I'm thinking about disappearing for a month or so in the spring. The Northeast sounds tempting. I've been in SCHOOL if you can believe it. Welding school, so easier to believe I guess. But it's been awesome, I think I'm really going to know what I'm doing with metal after this semester. Fun times, and fun teachers. Also thinking of going for advanced welding up in Fort Collins come next fall time. We'll see. The goal is to get good at stainless steel and work in breweries/wineries/distilleries.


 

The reason I casually dropped a line about moonshine is that I may or may not have found myself obsessed with home distilling recently. I would never actually do any, since it's very illegal and you know how I feel about the law! but I've been having a ton of fun. There's lots to learn, and I even landed myself an internship/apprenticeship at the Mancos Valley Distillery. I start next week for 2-3 days a week helping the owner distill rum. Depending on how things go, it may lead to a job in the future.


 

Yeah, having a ton of fun with that, and still working a bunch. Starting to itch pretty badly to travel again. The Europe idea is dangerously alluring. I can only imagine how fun it would be to bike tour/couchsurf/bum around Europe for a summer. While I'm sure it would be harder than it is in the states, I'm convinced that on a bike you could find easy camping most places. Way better than hitching, you can pedal a few miles out of whatever town you're in really easily. Keep me updated on your plans for that.


 

I've been on the plan-for-something-really-far-out train as well. I decided that I'm done talking about biking the Silk Road. I'm going to do it. Been doing research, got a good guidebook, and the tentative leaving date is February-ish of 2012. I want $8000 for the 4 to 6 month trip. AFTER airfare. Long story short, I'm buckling down and going to make some money this summer. That was part of the inspiration to finally go to school for welding. However, the distilling thing has taken over a lot of interest. Like I said, we'll see.


 

IDEAL dream timeline at the moment

-Become distilling master during apprenticeship.

-Take 1 month bike tour in spring.

-Get a job around here at a distillery for the summer. Save money.

-Transfer to CSU and take advanced welding courses in fall.

-Work in distillery or brewery in FoCo while going to school. Save money.

-Leave for Eastern Europe in February and bike the Silk Road.

-Meet dying chinaman who tells me the story of his life, and where the treasure is hidden.

-Disappear into the mountains of Tibet, never to be seen again.


 

Possible variations include welding for the summer instead of distilling. I could make oodles more money. And maybe going to school all next year and leaving in April. But the Silk Road is going to happen, I just need to earn the money. I also might disappear into the mountains of Peru, instead of Tibet.


 

Share with me any whimsical ideas you have, if you haven't shared them all. Talking about dreams has a dangerous effect on them. They become real.

 


Glad to hear you're alive, we should talk soon.

-Eric

If it's not greasy, I won't eat it.

Posted by Eric T. on February 9, 2011 at 8:16 PM Comments comments (0)

I find that I only really write here when I have absolutely nothing to do. I often forget I even have a website, and am usually suprised when I find that it hasn't been shut down from underuse. I put this thing together when I was in Florida, and my feelings on that state alone should allow you to understand how bored and sad I was when it came into being. But now I have it, and I should probably update it more often. I don't have much use for a website except for keeping friends who have scattered far and wide updated on my doings. Unfortunately, I have enough friends here, in the real world, that I don't have the time or really interest in posting pictures and words to a website no one reads anyway. However, in the interest that I may someday really want this site functioning and somewhat updated, I'll cover the basics of the past few months.


I'm in school! I started going to welding school in Janurary, and I've been enjoying it quite a bit. It's a long drive to Cortez, but well worth it I think. I'm really interested in going somewhere with welding. Still working quite a bit, and along with school, I don't have a ton of free time, and at the moment, no full days off. Christmas break was completely ridiculous, lots of work, lots of friends, lots of C2H6O, and lots of madness. Fun, but weakening for the mind and soul.


Pretty regular winter for me. The old standards of work, skiing, and climbing with a dash of school, and of course my new interests to research, pursue, and obsess over. My beard is quite absurdly long, it's beginning to require more shampoo than the top of my head.


Thoughts for spring? Who knows? Keep working and save money for the Silk Road hopefully, but I may simply become a bum again. Maybe a little of both.

The Big Ditch

Posted by Eric T. on November 17, 2010 at 11:03 PM Comments comments (0)

Late last August, I was peacefully living my own life, when my friend Nate called me. Nate is a raft guide on the Grand, and he asked me if I wanted to go on a 2 week Grand Canyon rafting trip. Well, yes, said I. When?

You'd be leaving at 6:00am tomorrow morning, said he.

I had a feeling it was something like that, said I.

And so it was. I broke plans with everyone that I'd had them with and packed in a fury for the 5 hour drive to Flagstaff. Shaking with excitement and caffine, I told my dad I'd be gone for a while. I got in the car and my fate was sealed.


When I got to the raft company warehouse that evening, Nate gave me the lowdown on what to pack, what to prepare for, and how not to be a douchebag. I would be an assistant to the guides on the trip, essentially I would cook, clean, and help set up and break down camp. In return I got to raft down the Colorado river in the Grand Canyon. One thing I would later recall Nate telling me over and over that night was "You have no idea what you're in for." He was right, I didn't.


This summer was a strange one for me. An odd trip to Florida put me in a strange place and then I returned and kept getting sick. I was out of shape from sitting on sailboats smoking cigarettes for 3 months, so bike trips were hard to get together. I had a bit of emotional rollercoasting over one or two girls, and overall didn't get to go on a fun long trip like I had wanted to. When I stepped onto the Colorado river in August, I didn't realize I was beginning a trip that would essentially heal me. I stopped feeling sick on about the 6th day, my mind was cleared, and life began to make sense again. The guides were awesome people and really fun. The customers were great, I got along with all of them, and the Canyon was... well it was completely incredible.


A very sincere thanks to my friend Nate for getting me on that trip. You have no idea how much it meant to me.


I decided this trip deserved a photo album. Check out the pictures here.


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