Vanishing Point

A site about climbing, bikes, and peculiar travels


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.

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