Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A head full of dreams...

We have been in Massachusetts for about three weeks now.  It is a bit longer than we anticipated due to some hiccups, such is life!  We have been busying ourselves here by exploring, hiking, running, reading, working on projects, and the truck, getting health insurance (Thank you affordable care act aka Obamacare!), did a 1,000 piece puzzle, got injured while running, eating amazing home cooked meals(Thank you Judy Brewer!!) and showering regularly lol.  My projects have included curtains for being stealthy in the truck, a quiver for my arrows and an archer arm guard.  I've taken some photos along the way to share.  First up is a shot of my left leg, upper and lower that got scraped up pretty good from a fall.  I was trail running, got distracted looking at a bird I was trying to identify and tripped on both a root and a large rock.  Essentially I tripped twice and fell funny on my left leg scrapping my upper thigh and side of my shin.

Used this lovely salve thanks to Judy Brewer on my injuries and they healed a lot faster.

The next set of photos are from an outing to chesterfield gorge.  I didn't really get a great shot but it was a fun place to explore.  We found a blood root plant (trying to learn plants).  It was cool to see but I found it a little creepy too. 

Blood root plant
root of the plant, where it gets its name

The next set are from the curtains I made.  We needed curtains for the cap so we can have the lights on but it's not visible from outside the truck.  For this we went to Goodwill and found some opaque green and brown material.  After much deliberation we went with magnets to use for attaching the curtains.  It was a time consuming project mainly at the start to figure out how to do it.  We discovered that magnetic strips don't actually hold magnets, we had to get a steel sheet.  I had to cut the sheet into strips the those strips into 3 inch pieces.  I then filed the edges so we couldn't cut ourselves on them.  Once that was done I glued them to the frame of the windows.  I then had to sew little magnets onto the would-be curtains, attached the top first then made an outline of the edges, cut the material to size, sewed a hem, then added more magnets.  I did 4 curtains and it took me almost a week to complete.

The next project was a quiver for my arrows.  I bought some arrows and have been practicing.  It's a lot of fun and great for stress reduction!  Oh yea, that's something else we've been doing.  So I found a DIY quiver tutorial online here.. http://woodandfaulk.com/blogs/journal/15785153-archers-quiver-diy  We had some canvas and leather so I got to work.  It was fairly easy to make and for my first time making one I'm pretty happy with the final result.  The design is simple and functional with a pocket for my archery glove and bow stringer.

 I also made an arm guard.  My left arm is sore right now from drawing wrong and hitting my forearm.  I can also see a little bruising.  I thought at first it was motivation to shoot better... but it hurts and I don't want the dark bruises.  Again I searched online and found a simple design I liked.  It required buttons, which I did not have.  Matthew showed me how to make wood toggles, so much cooler than silly buttons!

We also went to an art festival over memorial day weekend that was really neat.  Sorry, no photos of that.  It was really cool to see what people can do, the most interesting to me was the wood work and the clothes (I still love clothes even though I don't own much anymore).  Everything was way too expensive for my budget or to fit in the truck anyway lol but it was fun to walk around and think of the possibilities.  I'm sure I've missed some things but those are the big ones.

I've been researching rock climbing in the area and in the White Mountains.  We are planning to do some climbing in 2 days about an hour from here.  We haven't climbed since Seneca so I'm really excited about it. After that once we head out we will be exploring the White Mountains for a couple weeks.  We are signed up for a WFR (Wilderness First Responder) course in 3 weeks. It's a week long course that I am really looking forward to.  I will feel a lot more comfortable wandering in the wilderness when I know what to do if something goes wrong.

Shout out goes to my big brother graduating this weekend, he has been working hard and I'm very proud of him, Love you Robert!

Monday, May 9, 2016

West Virginia, Country mama, take me home, country roads...

After saying goodbye to our apartment we traveled back to PA, to spend the weekend with two of my favorite people in the world!  Rachael and Andrew live in Camp Hill, they just bought a house and have done an amazing job making it their own.  We spent the weekend enjoying wonderful home cooked meals, playing scrabble (I won, woot!), exploring the area, catching up, drinking proper tea, watched the Jungle Book, discussing politics (very interesting since our views differ..except on the topic of Trump, no one likes what is happening there - Anyway!).  I was good this time and took photos!  Here are a few from the hike we did, it was really beautiful.  Did I mention this beautiful couple is expecting?  SO happy and excited that these two phenomenal human beings are creating another.

It was hard to leave them but the time came Monday morning and we drove out to Seneca Rocks, WV.  We both knew there was good rock climbing to be had but that was it.  We didn't know about the area, where we could camp or what kind of climbs to expect.  Matthew has a climbing book we used to do a little reading on it.  It mentioned a lot of Trad climbing options (setting anchors while you climb, as opposed to top roping like you would in a climbing gym).  We only know how to top rope but headed out anyway with hopes of getting lucky.  It took 3.5 hours to get there, once we arrived we decided to hike to the rocks and have a look around.

 There were two ways to get to each side of the rocks, we did one side and I took a few shots of that.  We did a little rock scramble for fun... it was a little scary to do without rope so I didn't go too far up.

Funky bug friend that landed on my leg.
He was braver than me... or dumber, you be the judge.
The other side took longer to get to.  It's a 1.5 mile trek and felt like the longest and hardest 1.5 miles!  It was a lot of switchbacks and fairly steep and steady uphill, the view was great.  We did about 5 miles of hiking that day.

Another shot of the rocks, we were told that we could top rope off the back of the rocks.  The next few days we spent patiently waiting in the cold and rain for a day to climb.  We found free camping about 30 min away and settled in.  

This first day turned out to be gorgeous and would have been great for climbing.  We ended up just hanging out around camp all day.  The weather was wildly variable here.  It would be sunny, then rain, then sun, then rain.  The wind constantly changed direction so we were dancing around the fire in the 'avoid smoke' dance to the fire gods.  The next day we decided to hike, there was a 3.2 mile hike about 1/2 mile away.  We had to ford the river on this trail about 6 times.  To help you appreciate this, it was in the 40's, the river was colder than that and in order to cross we had to take off our shoes or get them completely drenched.  Not one to back down from a challenge we pushed forward.  After the 6th ford we started thinking we might extend this hike to a loop so we could avoid going back the way we came.  Luckily that was an option... an option that ended up extending our initial 6 mile out and back hike to about a 9.5 mile loop.  We were pretty tired towards the end. In the past on long hard hikes Matthew has sung to me.  To keep our spirits high he started to sing.  He did one song, then I did a song.  I started with Sir mix-a-lot, Baby Got Back, a personal favorite lol  We ended up singing a lot of show tunes, I started dancing and had a blast.  Towards the end of the hike I did happen to twist my left ankle ( I have a history of this), it hurt at the time but didn't last and was fine by the time we got back to camp.  The following day we went to town to sit somewhere warm and get some wifi service.  This ended up being a 1 hour drive to the closest place with wifi.  The day after that was another hike day, but shorter this time.  We spent part of the day practicing belay techniques and going over some basics of Trad climbing.  I am now pretty good at starting and keeping fires going in the rain.  I acquired a few burns and my iphone doesn't recognize my print anymore.. but I kept warm by tending the fire!  Oh... I also managed to singe my hair thanks to the crazy changing winds.  It was minor, I need a trim anyway.

The sun came out Saturday and we were so excited to get going on the rocks!  We did the grueling 1.5 mile trek to the rocks, made more enjoyable by the gear and food we had to take with us.  We found two spots to top rope climb and each did 4 climbs.  We also repelled down for fun.

Oh and this happened...
That's my nail separating from my body.  It already had a new nail growing under it so Matthew suspects this is an old injury that finally came off from wearing my climbing shoes.  For those that may not be aware, climbing shoes are smaller than normal shoes and are pointy like heels, mine are curved as well.  They are like ballet slippers with a pointy toe to stick in small crevices.  They hurt, but it's worth the pain to climb.  It also gets easier with time, you get used to them and build up pretty calluses.  I don't have any more photos of climbing.  We tried climbing Sunday as well but the previous days climbs made it hard.  We did climb but not for as long as we'd like.  Ended up doing one climb, that we couldn't finish but attempted twice.  It made us sad, but we can't control the weather or the rate of our recovery.  It was still fun and a gorgeous day.  Looking forward to more climbing and building up my strength.  The next few days called for more rain, so we left.  Next is heading to Massachusetts to drop off some of Matthews things and visit his parents.  

Side note - We found where Chipotle gets their Tortillas... These big beauties were in a general store across from Seneca Rocks.

Enjoying the journey and missing the people I love.  Time to make some phone calls...