Vanishing Point

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It's a strange life

Posted by Eric T. on May 18, 2012 at 12:30 AM

"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.

Categories: Climbing, Travels

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