Dispatch #6: Hello, Bend!

I’m writing this from the Strictly Organic coffee shop in Bend, OR, where I’m currently enjoying a nice mate. In a few minutes I’m going to have to mosey on out of here, so it’s just pictures today. :)

Pretty river near U.S. 20 westbound in Oregon

I stopped to take a picture of these beautiful flowers and caught a bird by accident.

There was no one coming, so I took a picture standing in the middle of the road. In this section it was perfectly straight and level for over 25 miles.

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Dispatch #5: The Mountain West

Guys, I am finally out of the midwest. Woo-hoo! I woke up this morning to this:

View of a mountain from a rest stop in WY, between Laramie and Rawlins.

I think the wooden structure in the foreground is designed to shelter the rest stop from the winds. I saw them all along roads and fields while I was driving through Wyoming. As you might expect, it’s a good place to build a wind farm.

Wind turbines all along the ridge.

I was all ready to motor through WY to Ogden, UT, where I’m currently stopped for a bit. I pulled off at a rest stop on a whim, and I’m so glad I did! There was a whole colony of small mammals near the picnic area. So cute!

Anyone know what this little guy is? Let me know in the comments!

I popped off on an exit to snap this picture. Utah has much more interesting scenery than NE!

I should make it to Smith tomorrow night. My body is definitely protesting all the driving–my back and my right knee complain now if I drive for more than two hours straight at a time.  I have about 11.5 hours of driving time to go–the end is in sight!

Dispatch #4: Conversations in Nebraska

This morning I had a great conversation with a nice elderly couple as I was eating breakfast on my tailgate at wall mart. The husband looked at my license plate, then joked around with me about whether or not Virginia was in the U.S. I told him that I’d never been to Nebraska before, and that it was HUGE! His wife rolled her eyes, then said in a great deadpan, “Montana’s bigger.” Then she whisked him off.

Oooold wood! An original pony express station in Gotenburg, NE.

Then I drove. A lot. I’m finally out of Nebraska now, hanging out in a coffee shop in Cheyenne, WY. It seems like forever ago that I was in Boston, but it was just Tuesday.

A is Boston, B was my first overnight stop in Toledo, OH. C is where I got the cap door replaced on Wednesday, D is where I slept on Wednesday night. On Thursday night, I slept at E, and now I’m near F!

I have driven over 2,000 miles so far. Whoa. The immensity of the U.S. is staggering.

This train was stopped under a bridge on I-80. It moved just as I was starting to take pictures, disappearing into the distance.

Dispatch #3: We’ll Call Her Shaun

Dear Mom: I hope you notice joke in the title, since it was just for you. I don’t think anyone else will get it. ;) 

Today, I drove some more. I got the rest of the way through IA and am currently somewhere in the middle of Nebraska.

The windmill-themed Iowa rest stop is awesome. So clean it feels like the future and it has free wifi!

I finally got my camera set up, which is nice. It’s a bit frustrating to see interesting things on the road all the time and not have anyone to point them out to. I wish I could take pictures, but I’m always driving, sometimes it’s on another car, and other times I’m just not in the mood to stop.

As far as I can tell, most of the midwest looks like this. Nebraska has hills, Iowa has trees and hills, and Ohio has neither.

Today, I cut off all my hair in Omaha, Nebraska. I knew I wanted to cut my hair short, but I was planning to do it before I left Boston. I was going to do it in Des Moines, but all the salons were busy for weeks->months. So I did some browsing on my phone while my tank filled up, and picked the first salon that looked good. The stylist seemed alright, so I let her cut all my hair off. Sometimes these things just work out.

Hey guys, I left all my hair in Omaha! :o

Also, guys, did you know that Nebraska is huge? It’s enormous!

Dispatch #2: Hello from the Heartland

My truck cap is fixed! A Leer dealer in Elkhart, IN came in on his day off to install it for me, and Leer built it in their Indiana factory just yesterday. It’s amazing what you can accomplish on short notice when you don’t have a street address.

As far as I can tell, the majority of the midwest looks like this. Since my camera isn’t set up yet, I borrowed this picture from Flickr.

Once the cap was fixed, I spent a couple hours at Walmart cleaning out the last bits of glass, extracting stuff from the cab and popping it into the bed, and going grocery shopping. I arranged everything just so–then promptly re-ordered everything when I stopped to cook dinner at a rest stop just west of Chicago. I think it’s going to take me a while to figure out the optimum arrangement of everything in the bed. I’m finishing up a few things here at Starbucks (free internet!) in IL, then headed across the border to IA before I stop for the night.

Dispatch #1: Going Nowhere Fast

I was planning to leave for Oregon today for my four month climbing trip. I’m very excited about the trip–I did a better than average job of getting outside to climb this spring, and I’ve been training hard lately. I was all set to spend the summer living in the back of my pick-up truck. Until I shattered the back glass today, a couple hours before I was planning to leave. Oops.

In other interesting news, an entire window shattering at once makes an awesome sound

If I stick around here to get the glass door replaced, it’ll be a week before I can leave. I’m looking into getting the cap door replaced closer to one of the manufacturer’s warehouses–basically going to them instead of having them ship to a dealer near me. Since I’m driving across the country, I do have a couple options. Hopefully future dispatches from the road will involve fewer car troubles and more climbing!

Why I Post Pictures of Women

The best thing about this post is that it’s illustrated with tons of kick-ass chicks having fun climbing. Like this lady.

Roberta Resende Loureiro on Bam Bam 7c, by flickr user Ricardo Cosme.

Or women on the rock just having fun, like this gal.

Greta, climbing in her Halloween costume. By flickr user _Tawcan.

So, why do I only mostly post pictures of girls?

It’s nice to see men doing impressive fitness things, but it doesn’t seem relevant or attainable to me. Women and men have very different physical builds and capabilities. In the same way that I can watch an olympic gymnast or a ballet dancer–and appreciate the beauty or strength of what they do without wanting to become like them–I can watch men climb and not get particularly pysched or inspired.

How many guys do you know who can bust out a pull-up at will, whether or not they’re in shape? If you’re a woman who wants to be able to do pull-ups, what’s more inspiring, this, or this?

Laura Griffiths in Stony Point, CA. Photo by flickr user Susanica.

There’s a gender disparity in the climbing media. Consider the number of ground breaking ascents (for males) that make it onto film vs. the number of ground breaking ascents (for females) that make it onto film, or the quality of the resulting films*. I’m not trying to point a finger here–on many levels, I get why this disparity exists. There are more men who climb than women. More men than women make first ascents, and most hard routes or problems women climb have pre-existing video of men doing the same climb. It’s not surprising that sometimes the ladies don’t get as much camera time as the men, especially outside.

Don’t get me wrong. I love watching climbing videos, even the one with guys. I can still observe technique and get inspired to climb harder.

But becoming inspired by a movie or a picture is about so much more than just being impressed or fascinated. It’s about feeling excited and feeling a connection, a glimmer of possibility that stays with you all day, until you hit the gym. The glimmer grows into a resolve that helps you bang out the last set of reps or make the sketchy clip or pull past the crappy hold. And for me, watching other women climb will always make a brighter, longer-lasting spark of inspiration, even if the woman in question is climbing on something that hundreds of men can do as a warm-up.

Jess at Norwa, by flickr user Daniel Pertovt.

(All images in this post are CC-liscenced images by users on flickr. The featured photographers have many other awesome climbing photos–you should check them out!)  

*I am in the process of collecting and analyzing quantitative data about the representation of men and women in the climbing media. When I wrote this post, I got curious about the disparity I perceived. This data will be posted within the next week to a special page on the blog.