Wednesday, July 3, 2013

#5 - 23 Climbing4MS Sponsors & Supporters

The past few days I have been volunteering at Camp Victory Junction in Randleman, North Carolina. Victory Junction is a summer camp for terminal ill and/or chronically ill children.  This place isn't like any other summer camp I've been to or worked at before.  It's more like Disneyland in the middle of no where but for these children it's the only time in their lives they can be completely carefree kids.  Instead of being poked and prodded in hospitals the tables are somewhat turned.  They have all the power, when they wanted to dye my hair blue they did, when they wanted to get on stage and sing or tell jokes they did, when they wanted to ride horses and shoot bows & arrows they did.  These children are not usually seen as the "cool" kids but they are able to come to summer camp and thrive in a judgement free zone and have the support of an amazing team of people ranging from cabin counselors to nurses and doctors to professional NASCAR drivers and pit crews.  But none of this would be possible without the numerous sponsors Victory Junction gets each and every year, the sponsors are the ones who financially support the campers and their incredible experience.

Similarly to Victory Junction people and companies supported Leena and I throughout our endeavors with Climbing4MS.  Not only did our supporters donate money and products but they gave us encouragement and helped us to believe in ourselves.  We would not have been able to commit to the presentations, raffles, benefit shows, etc. without the support from our sponsors who in turn helped us raise more money.  So check these companies out and thank them when you see them because we couldn't have done it without their support!!!  A HUGE THANK YOU to....

Misty Mountain Threadworks
Organic Climbing 
Athletic Advantage
Rock Dimensions Climbing Guides
Columbia River Knife & Tool 
ASU Health Professions Club
ReGear Boone
Mammoth Mountaineering 
Rick's Sports
Stellar Brew 
Looney Beans
Mountain Light Gallery 
Sage to Summit
Z Ranch (thanks so much for hosting our event!)
The Core Shots (thanks a ton for playing amazing music at the event in Mammoth!)
The Rubber Room
Black Sheep Coffee
E.J. (the man, the myth, the legend, and not to mention the best boss)
Michael & Lyn Green
Friends, Family & inspired beings!

Thanks so much for helping us to raise money, awareness, and keep people psyched and safe! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

# 4 - 23 Shots

Well I'm not totally psyched to report this one but it was achieved and therefore must be documented.  On a rest day from the hand bruising magnificent cracks of Indian Creek we embarked on a challenge I wasn't entirely sure we could handle....we took 23 shots within 24 hours...each.

We attempted to be diligent and clever in order to make this as painless as possible.  Therefore we took shot number 1 at 3:38 a.m. before going back to sleep.  Once awaking, we tried to take another roughly every 30 minutes.  Until you are taking shots every 30 minutes you don't realize how fast the time goes.  I felt like every time I turned around it was time for another one...miserable.  We didn't waste the day, Kyle being the kind gentleman that he was drove us to town to take showers, be our caretaker and recorder (marking our arms when another shot was down).  The day was never-ending and resulted in Kathleen passing out early after dinner while I forgot to eat and ended up drinking three quarters of a gallon of milk that night.  Much to my surprise I wasn't very hungover and I was able to jam my hands into some amazing lines the next day.  I am happy to have this one done and I will never attempt something like this again.  Done Did!

About 12 shots in...looking our finest (post shower)
Get Giddy!
22 ticks + 1 star = 23 shots, Done Did!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

#3 - Frozen Yogurt

To continue the common places we stopped in besides breweries...frozen yogurt shops.  We became slightly addicted to frozen yogurt when we were in cities, therefore visiting over 23.  We didn't rate them like our breweries but we did make some tips and comments...

  • self serve is the way to go
  • Green Tea is the best flavor we had (in Redlands, CA after visiting the 5.10 outlet)
  • Add granola and fruit and you've got lunch 
  • Probiotics
  • it can get pricey
Our least favorite was Golden Spoon in Vegas.

Our favorite was Krave in Saint George, UT!  We totally should have gotten a frequent customer card there. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

#2 of 23 - Breweries

In honor of my new job, our next item on the list of 23 is...Breweries!

So right off the bat we knew we wanted to visit at least 23 Breweries along the way.  We successfully accomplished this plus some.  We used a rating scale based on quality of beer, the atmosphere, and how much we generally liked the brewery.  This was done via a 1 - 3 star scale rating with a rare 4 star if the brewery was truly exceptional.  We always had different beers in order to sample as many as possible and sometimes wrote comments depending on our stupor.  Be sure to check out our favorites!  (These are the order we visited)

1.  Steamworks Brewery                               Durango, CO                          -                        
Not a good way to start off
2.  The Moab Brewery                                  Moab, UT                             ***                  
Canned beer is where it's at!  beer on tap is 3.2 ABV therefore fair 
3.  Santa Barbra Brewing Company           Santa Barbra, CA                  **                            
Get the nachos with your beer
4.  Cannery Row Brewing Company          Monterey, CA                         *                 
5.  Mammoth Brewing Company                Mammoth Lakes, CA              **                           
Well this is practically our home brewery, some of the bottled beer is awesome, fun tasting room and a huge plus's in Mammoth
6.  Flagstaff Brewing Company                    Flagstaff, AZ                         **                      
Good beer, good location, good vibes, 2 stars
7.  Mother Road Brewing Company            Flagstaff, AZ                          *                        
Great, simple tasting room, I really wanted to like this place but we actually couldn't finish our beers
8.  Lumberyard Brewing Company              Flagstaff, AZ                         **                    
Thumbs up to beer
9.  Beaver Street Brewing Company           Flagstaff, AZ                         *                               
4 breweries in 3 hours might have been a little ambitious 
10.  Carver Brewing Company                     Durango, CO                       ***                    
Super friendly staff who give great recommendations, great beer, reunion with Sam
11.  Ouray Brewery                                        Ouray, CO                          **                      
I'm sure the beer was fine to good but all I can remember is the swinging bar seats, props for atmosphere 
12.  Ourayle House Brewery                         Ouray, CO                          ****            
Honestly I'm a bit surprised Mr. Grumpy Pants has a website.  The tiny town of Ouray has 2 breweries and this is one not to be missed.  We stopped by three times, you'll have to visit to see why!  With matter-a-fact (and sometimes crude) sayings adorning the walls, and childhood games to enjoy while you drink incredible beer Ourayle house is like no other place.  Sitting by the wood stove listening to stories from Hutch, it's the perfect retreat after a cold day of ice climbing.  Be prepared for entertainment and good, simple, fun.  Don't forget to bring cash and don't think to ask for water dude, man up. 
13.  Colorado Boy Brewery                          Ridgeway, CO                      ***                  
Cozy atmosphere, good beer and good pizza
14.  Smuggler's Brew Pub                            Telluride, CO                        *** 
15.  Telluride Brewing Company                  Telluride, CO                         ***              
Simple, good and to the point...Beer & Skiing 
16.  2 Rascals Brewing Company              Montrose, CO                        **              
Popcorn points
17.  Lefthand Brewing Company                Longmont, CO                        ****         
Lefthand hooked us up with beer, a private tour, and incredible hospitality.  It's a great brewery standing for the good in beer, a green environment, plus the beer is fantastic!  If you get the chance try the Milk Stout Nitro on tap and if it's still around the Ambidextrous it's out of this world (and those are just two of the many)!  Lefthand is also the official sponsor for the NC Bike MS Ride so come out and have a beer with us and support me here!
18.  New Belgium Brewing                         Fort Collins, CO                    ****                       
If you want to know how a large craft brewery should run, visit New Belgium.  They have everything down to a science but they make you feel at home and that you are worth their time.  Sign up for a free tour and you will understand how wonderful this brewery is.  They are proud of their beer (which you get ample amounts of), proud of their green friendly environment, and everyone is proud to work there, as they should be.  New Belgium has been voted in the top 30 places to work by Outside Magazine, I think they even have made number one!
19.  Odell Brewing Company                    Fort Collins, CO                     ***                 
Nice environment, good beer, Lugene Stout is amazing 
20.  Fort Collins Brewery                           Fort Collins, CO                    *                      
The beer was alright to good, the atmosphere was pretty cool, but the workers were pretentious and stuck up.  They were rude and talked down to us, not to mention we had recently showered.
21.  Avery Brewing Company                   Boulder, CO                         ***                
Holy smokes I wish they had the beers on tap in bottles.  This place was packed for a good reason: The Beer.  The Chai beer was one of the most unique and wonderful beers I've had.
22.  Breckenridge Brewery                         Breckenridge, CO              ***           
Pandora's Bock for Kathleen, ironic on so many levels
23.  Epic Brewing Company                       Salt Lake City, UT              ***                
Utah surprisingly has some great beer when bottled 
24.  Wasatch Brewery                                 Park City, UT                    ***           
Jalapeño beer and The Devastator, enough said 
25.  Draught Works Brewery                       Missoula, MT                    ***                   
So close to being a 4 star.  Great open space atmosphere with one of my favorite beers; order 2/3 coffee stout with 1/3 milk stout.
26.  Magic Hat Brewing Company            Burlington, VT                      **                  
Fun vibes and swag, beer is much more refreshing with vibrant flavors on tap.
27.  Fiddlehead Brewing                             Shelburne, VT                    **              
Almost 3 stars.  Simple and just getting starting, I'm sure great things will come for this brew. 
28.  Switchback Brewing Company         Burlington, VT                      *           
Surprisingly doesn't have a is better fresh, who would've thought.  Vermont Classic!
29.  The Alchemist                                    Waterbury, VT                      ***           
Finished with a BANG! The tasting room is small, the brewery is small, but they excel.  They make the world famous Heady Topper which always leaves the VT shelves in a hurry (because that's the only place you can buy the beer).  I understand why it wins so many competitions and scored a 100 on Beer Advocate. 

Please remember these are just our opinions usually from one short encounter with a brewery.  I'm sure some of them we were mistaken about but take it as you will.  Feel free to click the links above to visit their websites!  I continued to visit more breweries on my way south including Lancaster Brewing Company (**), Spring House Brewing Company (***), and Appalachian Mountain Brewery (*).

My new job is at Bull City Burger and Brewery and I couldn't be more excited!  Take a look at the website and come by for a visit.  EVERYTHING is grown/made in house or obtained locally and this place is always packed.  We do everything from growing our own mint for Mojitos and hops for beer, to baking our buns, to catching rainwater.  This place is the future and it's great to see it thriving, plus the food and beer are stupendous! 

Some of the shenanigans at Ourayle House Brewery, Ouray Colorado.
More Ourayle House fun. 
A Day of Brews.  Telluride, Smugglers & 2 Rascals.
Left Hand! Sawtooth Ale, Milk Stout Nitro, Ambidextrous Ale.
New Belgium: Quality. 
Carver St with Sam & Kathleen: reunion!

Also I figured out how to upload the video for the previous blog post if you get ambitious keep scrolling. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Year of 23

Just over a year ago my life changed in a number of ways.  As I closed a chapter of my life at Appalachian State University I gladly opened the next, post-graduation.  My graduation weekend occurred with an emotional roller coaster.  The life I had known for the last four years and loved so dearly was coming to an abrupt end.  On one hand I was saying "legitra'ot" (see you later in Hebrew להתראות) to many friends, family, and mentors.  But on the other hand I was starting fresh, leaving with no strings attached on my journey that was sure to be full of excitement and adventure.  So without further ado, here is a lengthy synopsis of what has the potential to be my best year, The Year of 23.

I woke up early and disgruntled, I was supposed to do my hair, I was supposed to be excited.  Instead I did what was only natural to me, make sure my hair looked decent enough and put on some clothes and a minimal amount of make up.  This was how I've looked for the last 4 years of my college career why put on a show and change today?  Plus I hadn't slept well and already said see ya to many a friend.  I made it to the convocation center and went through the motions of graduation.  I walked across the stage when my name was called, I shook hands with Chancellor Peacock, I gave the best fake smile I could muster, and I took a picture in front of the Appalachian sign with my brother as a drizzle began.  This was it, this was graduation.  Sure didn't feel like what I had imagined instead it was just something to do on Mother's Day.

The cliche graduation picture (just as the drizzle began)...check
The days leading up to graduation were much more promising, at least the good parts were so I'll focus on those.  After moving out of my apartment on Friday and looking at the forecast it appeared this would be the last time I would have to go climbing in Boone for quite a while so that's what I did.  I gleefully carried two crash pads to the Neighborhood Boulders.  Things were going great, I had completed all my exams, moved completely out of my apartment, completed my Honors requirements and thesis, and all of my immediate family was on their way to Boone for the first time since summer camp.  All that was left to concur was my project, The Adam Taylor Arete.  I knew I should probably have a spotter due to the potential hazardous fall but I also knew I could send it.  I set up the pads, put on a Katana on my right foot for the heel hook and a Viper on the left for edging precision, chalked up, pressed record on the camera, took a deep breath and began.  The result is below... sorry didn't feel like editing or even putting music but got some uncut footage bros

I was beyond psyched.  I remembered the first time I had tried this, it had felt impossible, I never thought I would figure out my own beta but over many days and nights of hard work, lots of falling, perfect temps, good times, and beers it had gone.  I had done it, being alone gave me time to reflect on the past four years and how thankful I was to have gone to such a wonderful school, in an amazing place, and with such incredible people.  To make things more cliche, I topped out with a beautiful sunset in the background, things were lovely.  The following day, my only graduation request (besides the coolest Leatherman from my brother) was to have a lunch with some of my mentors and friends.  The guests included people that have made a tremendous impact on my life along the way, truly shaping me into the person I have become.  It wasn't much but it was a token of appreciation for all their work with me over the years.  If you are reading this now, more than likely you know me, therefore these people too have touched your life because they have shaped me. 

My family has been my rock throughout my entire life.  They have supported me through sports practices and competitions, good times and bad, surgeries and sickness, etc.  They have continued to praise my accomplishments and give me constructive criticism to better myself.  My father has been an inspiration for most of my projects and encouraged me to try new things today, because no one is guaranteed tomorrow.  My mother has always taught to me follow my dreams no matter how big they are.  And my brother well he's been my best friend for the past 23 years and has always been the guy to admire.
Graduation Lunch
My supportive family!
Nick & Sophie, these two are more than words can say.  Nick was my camp counselor from 6th grade on and Sophie as well for my aging out year.  The following year our relationship transformed into a friendship as I joined the staff at camp and we were all co-workers.  That summer Nick took me climbing at Grandmother for the first time and I was hooked.  The rest of my high school was spent in climbing gyms with an occasional trip to get on some real rock.  When it was time for me to choose between colleges it only seemed natural to become a Mountaineer and our friendship was rekindled.  I became part of their family with no hesitation.  Every month or so I would stay at their house for a home cooked me and to get away from dorm life.  Sophie would pick me up and we would go snowboarding in the winter, I would meet Nick on campus before heading to Cha Da Thai or Proper for lunch.  They are my family, they give me advice when I need it, concepts to ponder until early hours of the day, shoulders to cry on, and a place to call home.  

Family: Nick & Sophie
Lastly, Dr. Sue Edwards gave me opportunities that have changed my life.  When I returned from New Zealand as a junior, well I simply longed to return.  It was great to see friends and family and climb in the high country again but it wasn't New Zealand.  I reached out to Sue, who was my professor in Human Systems Physiology at the time, and an Aussie.  Her class was fascinating and her accent reminded me of classes down under (for the record though, Aussie's and Kiwi's have distinctly different accents aye).  During a class on the nervous system she had explained how her best friend in Australia lived with Multiple Sclerosis, following this lecture I knew I had a deeper connection with her even if she didn't yet realize this.  I went to her office hours and asked if she had any space in her laboratory and if I could join.  I shadowed and learned the basics for the remainder of the semester before she put me on my own project involving Lamprey and Hagfish funded by a grant from NSF.  She went over the basics with Margo and I..."just follow the recipes and pipette precisely, each ~10mL experiment is between $50 and $200."  I was terrified of messing something up but she trusted me and gave me the confidence to trust myself.  I began spending many hours and evenings in lab, carrying out experiments and hoping for results.  When it was time to undertake a thesis there was no one else I would have considered besides Sue.  She edited and tweaked my thesis time and time again even though she is the busiest person I know she always made time for her students.  She opened a number of doors for me, allowing me to go to Utah to present research at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research, making me a competent research technician, and taking me with her Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory.  She has instilled confidence and competence in me, she has been hard on me at times but only because she cares, and she continues to put a smile on my face to this day. 
Sue and I in some interesting attire...oh graduation
Okay so that was the real graduation.  Two days later I walked through airport security and made my way to Cape Town, South Africa, via Dubai.  I traveled and hiked around the amazing city before heading to Bloemfontein for an internship in Nutrition.  I was based in private and public hospitals, as well as rural areas and townships to experience the importance of nutrition in a country consumed of poverty, hypertension, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS.  If you would like an in depth record of this journey please visit my South Africa Blog.  I learned a copious amount during this time and met many people that are incredible at what they do.  Following the internship I found some people on a climbing website who were excited to split the costs of driving to the Cederburg National Forest to climb in ROCKLANDS!
Measuring head circumference at my internship
Rocklands was a dream come true.  There were boulders spanning the entire landscape and world class climbing everywhere.  Sitting around the fire in the evenings you would meet people from countries around the globe.  The weather was not ideal but it didn't stop us from climbing as much as possible.  I ended up climbing with some amazing guys that were more than hospitable.  After a week of climbing, a visit to the emergency room, raw fingertips, and being encouraged in over 5 different languages we headed back to the coast.  I said my farewells to my new South African friends and boarded the plane.  I can't wait to Rocklands Round 2!
Love Match, Stone Terrance, Rocklands, ZA
Back in American I unpacked and repacked, within 12 hours I was driving to Maine with Margo.  Sue offered us an incredible opportunity to work with live hagfish and further our research endeavors at Mount Desert Biological Laboratory. It just so happened that Kathleen was living only 6 miles away, this would be the longest we had been together since NOLS, 4 years prior.  The research was enjoyable and had sporadic hours, allowing us time to do all sorts of things.  We got delicious meals, went on gorgeous hikes, went climbing, had Hagfish slime everywhere, and had access to an incredible lab.  We worked as hard as we played and ate fresh lobster without breaking the bank, all in all it was an incredible opportunity learning about the oldest and most interesting fish in the world. 
Hagfish experiments, greatest fish ever!
Following Maine my brother, Jon and I set out to learn more about our roots in Israel.  Having taken a step back from religion over the past few years we did not have many expectations for the trip but we were excited to travel and be able to experience Israel together.  Surprisingly every expectation I had and didn't have were exceeded.  We traveled with some other amazing Americans and well as Israeli soldiers.  I learned more than I had in years of Sunday School and came away with more new friends than I have ever made in 10 days.  It was truly a wonderful and spiritual journey.
The Western Wall
I had a slight lull from my year of travels so I moved to West Virginia with a friend.  We slept in our cars or a tiny cabin, and by tiny cabin I mean 2ish bunk beds and a small fridge at a campground, yep that was all but it was grand.  Waking up and making eggs on the Coleman two burner, packing lunches and then climbing on some of the best quality rock out there.  The climbing was endless and the psych was high.  After climbing I would usually go for a run and then try and get more sponsors for our trip, life was simple and life was good. 
October rolled around and I said goodbye to West Virginia and all the amazing friends I now had, I'd be back soon and hopefully for a whole season someday.  I headed back to NC to prepare for the big road trip.  Kathleen flew down, we packed up and then we were on our way!  I felt great to cut the ties holding us to the east coast and fly.  Throughout this trip we both were 23 so we found it only natural to try and accomplish 23 things in sets of 23.  Therefore over the next blog posts I will list our "List of 23" things we did in 23!  I hope you enjoy and I promise not all the blog posts will be this long!

To start off, one of the first things we did in 23 was...
Location: Las Vegas, NV
We went trick or treating at 23 different houses before walking the strip.

Our favorite remarks...
From a young boy handing out candy "Aren't y'all a little old to be doing this...Mom I'm not giving them candy"
From a Dad handing out candy "I think I'm going to need to see your IDs."
Betty (from the Flintstones) in Vegas!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Did That Really Just Happen…Yes, yes it did.

January 31st…possibly the most ridiculous day of the road trip thus far

It began like any other day in Mammoth…pretty crisp with blue skies.  I had surprisingly slept well and it was miraculously warm out.  Kathleen and I rendezvoused at the apartment to gather up the last of our belongings that we would be storing at Mountain Center for the following week.  Then we got to packing the car and meticulously cleaning our shabby room.

The previous day, somewhat of a miracle happened…we found a place (Z Ranch) to host a benefit and raffle show for Climbing4MS on Friday, February 15th.  President’s weekend is supposed to be one of the busiest times at Mammoth, therefore saying we are psyched is an understatement!  After getting the wonderful news we tidied up a bit before our employee party where delicious food and great company were a constant, not to mention we watched Hot Dog (an 80s ski movie, when EJ was in his prime).

Anyways back to the 31st…We went around town after dropping off the keys to our room and posted flyers up.  We received good feedback and more donations for the raffle from some of the outdoor and coffee shops in Mammoth.  We headed to Mountain Center to drop off our last load when we realized how warm it was outside and then the lightbulb turned on…”Why don’t we go skiing in jeans and be ridiculous, well just because we can and it's our last day in town?”
Skiing in jeans...yea
Somehow when this came out of my mouth it didn't sound half bad so we added…”Why not in matching tank tops too?”  It was settled.  We parked the car, returned to Mountain Center, and changed into jeans, matching neon Giddy tank tops, white beanies, goggles, mittens and ski boots just before grabbing a bottle of bubbly.

Stretching out at the top of Canyon Express 
Champagne was sipped not very properly on the gondie ride from the village.  Once on the mountain we put on our skis and wrapped Champagne in our capes (also doubled as Stuessy sweatshirts).  We had forfeited ski poles in order to hold Champagne and for added enjoyment which was one of the best decisions of the day.  We were received well on the slopes; our tank tops deterred anyone from making judgments about the fact that we were wearing JEANS!  The lifties were super psyched for us and swiftly got us on the chair where we drank the rest of the Champagne heavily. 
At the top we buckled our boots and made the rule(s)…
Rule #1: Don’t wipe out
So Kathleen says she was impressed that I could ski and I swear I can but…here’s a look at run #1.  What a beauty to be caught on tape

Well after that the skiing got a bit smoother although the altitude was affected us with alcohol a little bit more.  We skied to Main Lodge and said hello to some friends that looked at us with the “wow you are slightly ridiculous” expression.  That didn’t bother us because we were off to better things upstairs…ice cream, beer, and sunshine.  We sat outside chatting until a friendly boss-ish type person stopped by leaving us tongue-tied.  He chatted like we were sitting in our work uniforms instead of neon tanks and jeans, yet we were fairly mortified that he probably thinks we ski like this all the time.  Oh well we were tipsy and it was time to head back and hit the road.
We drove to San Diego and stopped for dinner where Kathleen had her very first experience at Taco Bell.
Things just got real.

February 3rd…possibly the best day of the road trip thus far

Once again it started like any normal day.  And once again I had surprisingly slept superbly next to Kathleen in the car.  We woke up in a San Diego Wal-Mart parking lot, content as could be.  We weren't exactly sure what was on the agenda for today so we started with the usual…into Wal-Mart for some teeth brushing.  Once our hygiene was in order it was off to Starbucks, which we went to in a roundabout way.  We updated the blog and all that jazz before we realized there was a kitten adoption happening at a pet store.  Obviously we made our rounds and played with them, simply because we miss animals and like to feel our hearts ache.

Then it was on to business.  It was nearing 11 o’clock and I was supposed to call a representative from Head to see if he wanted to do lunch with us.  He should’ve just been getting off a place from the gear show in Denver so I doubted he would have the energy to go to lunch with two random girls he met in Mammoth.  I gave him a ring and on the third ring I realized I would be leaving a message and Leena and I would be eating lunch on some beautiful beach, just the two of us.  But then he picked up and said lunch at noon, well there was nothing else to say except “alright see ya there” and try to contain my excitement and nervousness. 

We looked in the mirror…shit.  Our hair was greasier than fries from McDonalds and we were a mess.  Showers were necessary seeing as we really wanted to make good impressions.  We found the closest beach and scouted a shower…20 minutes until lunch.  I ran back to the car to get Leena and our shower stuff, yes we would be taking pretty legit showers in beach access rinse off showers.  We turned the corner and all of the once empty spigots were consumed by surfers of all ages.  We didn't have time, we hesitated for a mere second, grabbed the shampoo and let the frigid water coat ourselves.  We were definitely the talk of all who caught a glimpse, people starred and giggled and one surfer even remarked “Wow, ya’ll really are homeless huh?”  Oh well, it was an experience that has turned into a story, but you have to do something when you've got greasy hair and an important lunch meeting.
We did get asked if we were homeless.
We pulled into Schooner or Later in the Marina near Long Beach and it’s packed, there is no way we are getting a table anytime soon.  I call Steve and he simply says walk straight and you’ll see me.  We all reunite with friendly hugs and are then introduced to the rest of the party.  Everyone hit it off splendidly and we’re chatting about gear shows and how Schooner or Later has been on the Real Eats TV Show a number of times and everyone at the table (minus us) has appeared on the show.  The food was out of this world, right behind the company.  As we’re chatting Leena and I realize that the gentleman to my right, the one I’ve been joking that he is looking better by the minute from the specialty mimosa I’m drinking, that guy owns the place.  We are eating lunch with the owner of one of the most well-known restaurants in California.  He proceeds to tell us what other restaurants he owns while the Head rep invites us to stay in EJ’s room that evening as long as we can handle getting attacked by terrors of love.

The terrors of love...Mya & Sam
As we left lunch with plenty of delicious left overs we couldn’t get to the car fast enough.  We softly spoke “just make it to the sound proof box…shut the doors…shut the doors.”  Then yes squeals of 12 yr old girls vacated our bodies as we tried to convince ourselves “yes that really just happened.”

The rest of the day we go on a tour of Denny’s restaurants.  After Schooner or Later we made our way to Schooner at Sunset.  This was more of a pirate bar, that was fantastic!  Great beer on tap and of course served in Schooners!  Major cool points…there was an outside shower on the back on the restaurant for surf breaks for the employees.  It had hot water too…how I wish we would’ve known this a few hours earlier.

Maybe the best beer I've ever had.  Victory At Sea at Schooner at Sunset!
We then changed into nicer attire and made our way to his upscale Asian restaurant, Tantalum, which has the best view for miles.  The Super bowl was on the Television but I couldn't stop starring at the view.  (By the way, could anyone else only think about The Little Giants Movie during the bowl?)  The bar looked over the water, and at sunset, it took me back to Holden Beach, my childhood, and my Dad.  The drinks here were sophisticated and there was something for everyone.  Weather you wanted to stick to the stellar Happy Hour menu or order a quality Asian dish the opportunities were endless.

We headed to Steve’s house off the Pacific Coast Highway where we were warmly welcomed by the girls and Steve.  We had a recap of the Super bowl and watched the Budweiser Clydesdale commercial that our fellow lunch goers were in.  We crawled into, quite possibly the largest bed I have ever slept in and settled in for the night in a house that fondly reminded me of my Oma’s house.  Sleep was on the agenda, shortly after some crosswords, since tomorrow we would be guiding for Climbing4MS.

Thank you to everyone who have helped make everything in my life “really happen.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The road is calling.

Mammoth has been more than I could have imagined in most aspects.  The winter has been EPIC with the 2nd most snow in Mammoth's history and currently the best snow in North America.  We've got a base from 8 to 16 feet up to the summit.  Luckily I've had the opportunity to ride in powder, get stuck in some trees, and try to keep up with Kathleen racing down the groomers.

Gettin' some snow!
At the summit with the Minarets in the background.
The day we arrived we got jobs at Mountain Center working for Mammoth Mountain.  We didn't know what exactly we were getting ourselves into but I couldn't be happier.  This job has taught me an ample amount of information about sports I adore.  Most days I spend in the Family Center and Demo Shop setting people up on this season's newest skis and boots.  Technically I'm a cashier and rental technician.

Work is often accompanied by sweet ride breaks which correlated to lunches on the gondola and 2ish hours on the mountain.  Luckily I have some of the best co-workers and bosses around who hook it up.  Usually I'll ride with one of them during the day and then we'll all hang out in the evenings.  Happy Hours are the way to go in Mammoth and when your bosses join you rolling brown outs are likely to be had.
Mammoth Margaritas from the boss man.
During the holidays we were super busy and the mountain was packed.  Ride breaks were non-existent and unwanted.  Kathleen and I ended up working 7 days a week and on our first day off I came down with with a brutal case of the flu.  But now that it's slowed down our days off are spend on the mountain, rock climbing in Bishop, or applying for jobs.  I am psyched to get back to Bishop, Owen's River Gorge, and try my hand at ice climbing at Lee Vining and June. 
Climbing on our days off with Brett.
Surprisingly I'm falling in love with Mammoth and as of now I am planning to be back here next winter...possibly even for good.  Everyone keeps raving about the summers so I can't wait!  Plus Tuolumne and Yosemite are right around the corner.  Who knows what's to come but I'm stoked we stopped here.  Mammoth has made a lasting impression and opened lots of opportunities.

As much as we dig it here the road is beckoning and we'll continue our journey in a mere two weeks.  As of now our plans look like California for a week then to Arizona, Hueco Tanks, Ouray, and Salt Lake City.  We'll be meeting friends along the way and hopefully the fundraising will take off again.  Cheers ya'll!