Vegas Vacation Day 7: Farewell Mountains!

And on the 7th day, we had to say goodbye to our vacation. We woke up early to depart Joshua Tree. Goodbye California!

Because we’d made the drive mostly at night on the way there, we decided to make a few stops on the way back. We stopped along Route 66 at a gas station, cafe, and former army barracks. It reminded me of something you’d see in an old movie from the 60’s or earlier. We snapped a few pics with the Route 66 road signs and moved along.

We stopped to admire the desert flowers and some train tracks. Ok, you caught me, we stopped to take goofy photos on the train tracks. But sadly, none of them are mine (I was in many). Trying to balance on a train track. Pretending to menace my friends with a railroad spike. Y’know, normal stuff.

We then stopped at Buffalo Bills, hoping to ride the roller coaster around the building. It wasn’t running that day, so we settled for lunch.

With a few more hours to spare before we needed to check in for our flight home, we stopped at Cannibal Crag for a quick climb. There, we met up with a climber from our home gym!

I lead Mac and Ronnie in Cheese. It took longer than I’d care to admit. After a week of climbing fairly hard, I was experiencing some serious head game. I had lead things as at this difficulty many times over. I had top-roped much more difficult climbs. And yet, there I found myself, frozen in place. I didn’t want to fall. Down climb? No way. Go up? Not that either. S was very patient with me. Waiting. Encouraging. Trying to give beta for a route he’d never climbed himself. The others chimed in with beta. You see, I’m stubborn. And I know I can do it. But sometimes this irrational fear just kicks in. I climbed up. Nope. Down climbed to the last bolt. Tried another way. Yikes that’s worse. Down climbed again. Finally, I just went for it.

And then I wondered why I was ever worried about falling. I love those moments when I prove myself wrong.

But I equally love the moments when I fall and remember that it’s not a big deal. I just climb back up, evaluate why I fell, and try again.

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Vegas Vacation Day 6: We’re not in Vegas anymore (Joshua Tree)

Ok, so the title of the Vegas Vacation becomes a bit misleading at this point. Because we decided to pack up the rental mini van and head on to another nearby climbing adventure. Joshua Tree, California!

Why Joshua Tree? Because it was on my bucket list. And I pulled the “it’s my birthday tomorrow” card. Thanks friends for letting me win this one. You’re the best.

First stop was breakfast. We stopped at Denny’s I think. Where I got the free it’s your borthday breakfast. This is when the maple syrup incident took place. If I’ve talked to you about this trip in person, you’ve probably heard this story many times. KinOhio wanted to buy me breakfast (what an awesome friend). When she found out that breakfst was on the house, she offered to buy me dinner instead. And I don’t know how the next part came about, but somehow a bet was made. If S drank the entire container of maple syrup (not the real, Canadian syrup, unfortunately), she would buy dinner for the entire group. Of course, L and I thought this would be a great idea and cheered him on. We watch, impressed and a bit horrified, as S drank the syrup with a straw in one giant but excrutiatingly slow gulp. This event has become legend.

Second stop, the local gear shop. I picked up the climbing guide for the area. The group purchased a few momentos (t-shirts, hand jammies, and the like). And we spent quite a while talking with the clerk, getting recommendations for the best place to climb that would also be easy to find.

I never did catch the name of the place we chose. Or any of the routes that were set up.

But the approach was very notable. Especially compared to Red Rock Canyon. We saw a big rock. We drove to a parking spot near it. We laughed and took pictures of the super hardcore approach of about 20 feet of flat ground. How would we ever make it? Do you think I should change out of my flip flops into approach shoes? Water! Water! I don’t think I can make it.

All jokes aside, this area was gorgeous! We had many single pitch trad route options (thanks to D & J for being fearless and knowledgeable rope guns) and were located next to a field of the namesake Joshua trees.

My first climb of the day, I sported the ridiculous felt birthday hat. J had packed it in our dangerously close to the weight limit suitcase. So I couldn’t refuse. I think I might have even kept the hat on for the second and possibly the third climb. But by midday, it was just too hot. And so the birthday hat made its way back to the minivan.

This was probably one of the trickiest days for me climbing. Not because of the skill level (well, some of it was beyond me). But because of the heat. It had been hot in Red Rock Canyon, but I had been able to find shelter in the shade of rocks. I had much less luck doing so in Joshua Tree. The sun was hot, the vegetation sparse, and the shade from rocks difficult to find and changing quickly with the sun. I reapplied sunscreen more times that I can count. I tried soaking my Buff with water to keep cool, and had to ditch my long sleeve sun shirt. I never thought I’d complain about heat. Especially in the midst of Canadian winter.

At dusk, we headed out. Making a quick stop to practice our tree pose in a field of Joshua Trees.