Well, we're on the road again - six months since our tour of Ireland. This trip is the Western US. we're singing songs, tapping away on the laptop, sketching, eating gas station food and of course..climbing! This time around, we've brought the doggies.
Not much is different with them in tow, and more folks seem smiley than without them. So far, they've not been too fussy, and seem to be clear when they need to pee and eat. Thats better than our communication sometimes.
Our journey has left Portland, with a few mis-starts (had to mail the tax forms), out to central Oregon to camp/climb in one of our favorite local places, Smith Rock State Park.
This time around just for kicks, we splurged the $4 and camped at the state bivy site. The most awkward things about this site are the awful camping distance from the car and eating in a litle pen in the middle of the parking lot. They have showers though - which is redeeming.
The climbing was good - it was hot in the sun. We ticked two sporty climbs on the Pinic Lunch wall. There seemed to be a large group spread all over the more popular walls, so we decided to skip them - we've climbed them many times in the past anyway. Picnic Lunch has some varied face climbing, just like the other walls, but they are mid-10's so the instructor-led crowds seem to skip them.
One night at Smith, then we drove south to Crater Lake, which is still under 3 feet of snow, snowmobiles brapping everywhere. We drove around it, then headed down 138 along the Rogue River into Ashland, Oregon. A storm was brewing as we entered, and the lightning that crackled over us was incredible. By the time we had secured the motel room and found a place for dinner, the storm was a thunder-rama. Even later that night, it hit something right outside and shook us all out of bed.
Downtown Ashland was quite cute. There was a recently developed "Main Street" area full of boutique stores and restaurants, many of which had lines in front of them (in the rain!) Checking the local paper, Ashland doesn't have a big problem with crime. However, not far from here is a sea of pickup trucks and damn-ugly strip malls and rural farm homes that seemed to have skipped the farming and gone straight to "collect rusty things in yard" stage. At one point, we were so surounded by jacked up pickup trucks, I wondered if there was a truck show going on. I passed a mustachioed guy with stringy hair at the gas statiOn carrying a Miller twelve pack and wearing a T-shirt that said "I [heart] Strippers". As he climbed into his pickup truck, I thought: Awesome! We're closing in on the heartland of America.
Dinner last night was fun. We found a Bitish Pub-themed pLace in downtown Ashland, complEte with soccer games, Guinness, dart boards and a traditional menu. We gobbled up the good food (although the lamb was off and had to be rejected) and even shared a Guinness/ice-cream float. Darts and beer always work well together. Hanmi pulled a rare "William Tell" and stuck a dart in the end of a prior one. Pretty neat!
Days out: 2
Forgotten and replaced: Toothbrushes
Kitch Level of Car Decor: 0
Best meal: Camp-cooked veggies