(pardon the intermission)

Hello friends. As you may or may not have noticed it’s been awhile since I blogged. This is because I haven’t been bouldering and this blog is currently, ostensibly, dedicated to stone-wrestling. However! Do not despair, because I am not only back in the United States of America, I am also probably going bouldering pretty damn soon. Like, maybe even tomorrow. Like, I might just drive to the Camp Serene boulder tomorrow after my call with my life coach and try to send Serenity Now V4 once and for all, a prospect which terrifies me, like actually terrifies me, because once you get past the crux of this boulder (which I’ve never done), you’re, well, pretty damn high. And I don’t really know what to expect up there. I do know there is a gorgeous hold which basically looks like a brick. I do know that at the top of the boulder there’s a juggy seam which, once you grab, should make it pretty easy to top out. But I only know all of this in theory. I don’t know it in practice. I would like to know it in practice. I would like to know what it’s like to send V4.

But also, once I send V4 it doesn’t make me a V4 climber. You could give someone a basketball who’s never played the game before and tell ’em to shoot half-court shots and sooner or later they’re probably gonna sink one. Which is kind of like me projecting these V4’s right now. I still struggle with plenty of V2’s. Hell, I struggle with some V1’s. But also I feel like Serenity Now is within my wheelhouse. I feel like I’m pretty close to sending. I feel like it’s more mental than anything. And here’s the thing: I’ve never gone to this boulder fresh and just dedicated a session to trying to send Serenity Now. Like, given it my all.

Which I still might not do tomorrow because even if I do go bouldering I don’t know if I wanna just go to one boulder and have that be the whole session.

I’m sitting on my boat right now and one thing I’ve noticed since getting back yesterday evening is that the temps are starting to drop. We’re starting to get into the fall season. Leavenworth is going to be game on very, very, very (very) soon. This Saturday looks great for Leavenworth, but sadly (happily) I think I’m going surfing. Because that’s what I was doing the whole time in Mexico and I actually have surf muscles right now and I want to take advantage of them while being on the Olympic Peninsula with friends.

I hope you all have been well. Yesterday was a bit of a gnarly evening because I got back and drank a Focusaid and smoked a rollie and then had a hell of a time getting to sleep. I probably slept about five hours. If it weren’t for a wee nap around 12:30pm I would’ve been completely frazzled all day.

Friends, I’m having trouble once again finding purpose in life. I didn’t find it in my last job. It’s not completely there with bouldering or surfing. Something’s missing and I’m not sure what it is. It’s not a woman, though I would love to have a partner right now. It’s not a job, though actually it might be a job, just the right job. Maybe it’s writing? Maybe it’s blogging? Has that ever been enough? Have I ever dedicated myself in mind and soul and body to the blogging life? Maybe I should.

I’ll let you know tomorrow, or the next day, if I end up going bouldering tomorrow. I’ll let you know either way. If I don’t go tomorrow it will definitely be sometime next week. I’m thinking the Morpheus Boulders. I’m thinking the Clearcut Boulders. I’m thinking Fern Crack V3. I’m thinking Fridge Center V4 in Leavenworth. I’m thinking Fountain Blues V0 over and over and over.

Fall is coming and I’m not even mad about it!


Western Washington Bouldering by Pablo Zuleta

Yesterday I got the book Western Washington Bouldering by Pablo Zuleta. It’s very possible that this book will change my life. In November of 2019 I tried bouldering for the first time at Seattle Bouldering Project. Then in December I became hooked. By February I had even taken a class, three sad guys on Valentine’s day with the teacher who had us trying an orange on a slab that I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do and both of the other guys did and then I finally sent it. Then we tried a purple and all of us failed miserably. My obsession with bouldering became such that before the lockdown I would go to the new SBP in Fremont, Upper Walls, and just sit in the upper viewing area with my notebook writing down beta. Left hand and left foot on sloper, right hand on pinch thing, right foot dangling below left hand. Slowly reach left hand up to pinch/sloper thing, match, reach up with left hand….etc. Back before the lockdown I had successfully done one V5 indoors, though the only reason I was able to do it is because it didn’t require much technique, only a lot of leg strength. I said back then that my goal before the summer was over was to do a V7, outdoors. That’s still my goal. I think I’ve found the problem. It’s called “Naughty Corner” and it’s located in the Index area. It looks gorgeous.  A bit crimpy, and with a dyno to finish. Dynos are my specialty, since they require athleticism more than anything. My technique with bouldering is subpar. But I’m good at jumping and grabbing shit.

Western Washington Bouldering has also shown me my dream problem: “Midnite.” Midnite is a V9 also located in the Index area. It’s gorgeous. It’s a clean face that might be slightly overhanging, crimpy line up to another dyno. The dyno looks sick. Right hand up to a sloper, then top out. My goal this summer is not to do it, but maybe just to get some of the moves down. Maybe to just be able to do the first 2-3 moves. Then again, the whole problem is only like five moves. And the dyno, like I said, looks siiiiiick. But you want more than just one pad to do this problem. Which means I either need to get more pads or go with friends. Either way I’ve already got my hopes up, like I’m going to be able to send this problem by fall or something. Which is a bit unrealistic. You don’t go from barely climbing V5 indoors to suddenly sending V9 outdoors.

Lately I’ve been bouldering a bit on a boulder in Port Gamble Heritage Park in the middle of a clear cut field (could there be a more depressing place to boulder?), and this is officially the first place I’ve ever bouldered outside. The rock is not great. There are no defined problems. But it’s still good to feel the rock against your skin. There is one sloper hold that I’m a bit obsessed with. I think sloper holds will be my next love. I think one day I will grow to love crimps, but for now I despise them because I’m terrible at them. I find that bouldering somehow has a lot to do with playing the piano. You chop boulders up into doable segments, learning a couple moves at a time, and then stringing the whole thing together. Same with piano. You learn little bits of the song with the hopes of stringing it all together in the end. And ultimately the whole allure with both bouldering and piano is learning one relatively small thing but doing it so that you completely master it, so that you can make it look easy, graceful. Becoming obsessed with one tiny little thing. Memorizing the moves. Exactly where you place your fingers. How your body feels when you do it. In my opinion bouldering is like solving a Rubik’s cube, but with your entire being. The ultimate goal is to disappear into the moves.

There was a purple at Seattle Bouldering Project that I was obssesed with. It involved grabbing a slopey ledge and somehow not barn-dooring, matching on the ledge and then powering to the top. I tried it for like three weeks. I finally got some beta on how to do the “crux,” which involved a mini right heel hook that kept you from barn dooring. So then I could grab the ledge, and even match, but by that point I was too pumped to finish it. But then one day I showed up, walked up to it and just sent it. The heel hook felt incredible. A move that had stymied me so many times I now loved. I loved grabbing the ledge, matching, grabbing the next hold with my right hand, and then moving the right hand further to grab the next hold, repositioning the feet, and reaching for the top. It’s still the most satisfying boulder problem I’ve ever done. And it was probably V3.

So that’s the deal: send a V7 by the end of this summer. Why not? It’s going to require bouldering a lot, eating somewhat healthy to keep inflammation under control, and most of all, having fun. That’s one other reason I associate bouldering with playing the piano. I never force myself to play the piano. I only play when I want to. I never force myself to practice. In this way it remains pure for me. I don’t do it to get better, or impress people. I only do it because it feeds my soul and it’s fun. I’ve decided to do the same with bouldering. If I ever get sick of it, I’ll just stop. If I decide tomorrow that I’m over bouldering, I’ll just stop and never do it again. I’m not going to force myself to do it. I’m not going to do it for other people. I want to do a V7 because I want to do it. Because I like grades and pushing myself. Because I like having clearly-defined goals. But it’s just for me. It’s a way to rise above the shackles of everyday life, naked and free.


A Review of Delta’s NEW Economy In-Flight Service

Embed from Getty Images

Hear ye, hear ye. It’s a new day. Yesterday I got back from Norway on Delta Airlines and can tell you all about Delta’s new service in economy class. It’s dazzling, it’s sparkling, it will blow your mind. Assuming you’re the kind of person whose mind is easily blown. Or just the kind of person who’s really into airline reviews. If not, I’m afraid there’s not much for you here. Some gnocchi with tomatoes and cheese. Prosciutto and melon. Etc. Etc.

Now, the unique thing about all this is that I actually flew Delta on the very LAST day of their OLD service, aka November 4th. On the WAY to Norway. And then on the way back, AKA yesterday, AKA the day before yesterday, AKA yesterday, I flew on an A330-300, seat 27G, with their NEW service. So I got to see both services, the old and the new, in a relatively short period of time. Which puts me in a unique position to compare and contrast them.

I loved the new service. That’s the short of it. The long of it is I loved pretty much every minute of it, from when they bring you the menu, to when they bring the new, BIG bottles of water, to when they bring the “peach bellinis” around (even though I don’t drink alcohol), up until the very end when they come around with baskets full of Toblerone(!). So, yes, in my opinion, the NEW service is an improvement. I talked at length to one of the flight attendants, and she said the flight attendants aren’t quite convinced. “Too much trash,” she said, and “Too much going on.” “What’d you think of the welcome cocktail?” she asked me. “Well, I don’t drink,” I said, “But I think it’s really cool you did that. Makes you feel like you’re at a resort.”

Sitting for nine hours on an airplane in economy is definitely not like being at a resort. It’s more like being incarcerated. But Delta’s new service does everything it can to make your experience better. Starting with distributing menus is a great touch. Makes you feel like you’re in first class. And I loved the big bottles of water, since I was dehydrated AB after a restless night of sleep in the Scandic Hotel Bergen. The appetizer was prosciutto and melon, and as a main I had the aforementioned gnocchi. The dude next to me, who was English and wearing Washington Redskins pajama bottoms and who, right before we landed, spent an extended period of time in the bathroom changing into jeans and cowboy boots, got the chicken, which also looked tasty. To top it off the dessert was Ben und Jerry’s salted caramel icecream. So, 9/10 on the food. 10/10 on the dessert. 10/10 on having a menu. 2/10 on my seatmate’s attire. And also 2/10 on Delta’s entertainment. Not super stoked on their movie selection. Though they do seem to have a lot movies featuring Rachel McAdams, which is nice, because I’m in love with her.

Shortly before landing the flight attendants came around again with “before landing service,” which left a little to be desired. There were basically pizza pockets (though at least mine was gruyere [?] and caramelized onion), and also a chocolate mousse. I would’ve preferred fruit, or something healthier than chocolate mousse. And I would’ve preferred basically anything to a pizza pocket. So, 5/10 on the breakfast/pre-landing service. 9/10 on them shoving Toblerones in our faces just before we landed. Chocolate actually does make you happier.

So, even though it’s not perfect, I still liked Delta’s new service substantially better than their old one. I remember very little about the old one, which says everything you need to know right there. But I remember almost everything about the new one, from the menu, to the improved bread roll, to the salted caramel ice cream, to the semi-bizarre pizza pocket. The flight attendants might not yet be sold, but I certainly am.


Vancouver, How I Love Thee (#7)

Oh, Vancouver, how I love thee. Let me count the ways…

  1. They call you the City of Glass. With your hyper-modern, mostly-glass apartment buildings, I understand why.
  2. You feel like Seattle, but something’s just a little bit different. Is it the plastic money? The location just a bit further north? The beautiful accent where “been” is pronounced like “bean” and every statement ends with, “Hey?”
The view from the Granville Bridge.

3. You have so much water, so many beaches. English Bay, Jericho, Kits, the Spanish Banks, False Creek, Lynn Canyon, Horseshoe Bay, and all the water surrounding Stanley Park. I need water around me at all times, and you provide it.

4. You have plastic money. In a world where every civilized nation is turning to plastic money because it lasts longer, doesn’t tear, and you can get it wet, you haven’t been left behind. Meanwhile in the States we cling to the very traditions that will be our downfall.

False Creek.

5. The proximity to unfettered nature. Drive a half hour and you’re on the Sea to Sky Highway, mountains looming in the distance, a fjord at your feet. What is that little town with the massive rock face watching over it, the world-class kiteboarding? Oh, right, it’s Squamish, and it’s delightful.

6. The wonderful cafes and restaurants. Mingle with hipsters over a turmeric latte at the Federal Store, or pop into the one and only Rick McCrank’s very own skate shop, Anti-social.

7. People in Seattle are pretty damn chill, pretty damn polite, but Vancouver takes it one step further. Please, bump into me so I can tell you I’m sorry. Please, go in front of me in line. Please, have my last beer and marry my sister.

8. Your green areas. Stanley Park is a world unto itself. And then there’s Queen Elizabeth Park, the Spanish Banks, UBC, and all the spaces in between.

9. No better place in summer. When it’s 60 degrees outside (18° Celsius?) the clothes start flying off. Again, like Seattle, but again, just a little bit better.

10. The quality of life. Everyone seems happy in Vancouver. I’m happy when I’m in Vancouver. Hopefully, I’ll live here one day. But even then I’ll keep counting the ways…


Caffeinated on Cordata: A Review of the Co-Op (#5)

Hear ye! Hear ye! I have been to the promised land. It turns out it is not where we thought it was. El Dorado’s gold does not exist! All year we have been toiling in the jungles of Mesoamérica, searching for a treasure that wasn’t there. A treasure that never was there. I have lost many good men. I have lost many bad men. I have lost many average men. I have lost fewer women. And friends, at one point I almost lost hope. But I never lost hope completely. And when I was on the verge of giving up, of packing it in and heading home to Spain to live out my life in relative luxury, suckling on the teat of the monarchy like some kind of deranged goat, I decided to look in one more place, and there! There, my friends, I found it.

Turns out it was in Bellingham.

Located on the north side of Bellingham near Whatcom Community College, the Cordata Community Food Co-Op is your one stop shop for quality groceries and produce. This place has everything: a hot bar, a salad bar, a seating area, and even a coffee bar that serves organic, fair-trade coffee at two dollars a pop, with free refills as long as you stay in the store.

The grocery store is open daily from 7am-9pm, and is located at 315 Westerly Road in Bellingham, Washington, kitty corner (or is it catty???) from the Bellingham transit center, otherwise known as: The place where the Bolt Bus stops, otherwise known as: Everyone’s 18th favorite Can-American bus line.

On my visit to the Co-Op and the one this review is based on, I arrived at 7:30am and, to be truthful, expected it to be closed. Much to my delight, however, I saw it was open, whereupon I wasp-lined it to the coffee bar section where I found precisely what I had come for: yerba mate. I wish I could say I’m not addicted to yerba mate, but that would be like saying I’m not addicted to ketamime — simply untrue! All jokes aside, I talked briefly with one of the employees who informed me that all of the wares at the coffee bar cost two dollars per cup — including tax — no matter the size, with free refills as long as you stay in the store. Judging by the Mexican guy who’s currently preparing ramen noodles in the seating area and has a two liter bottle of Coke and his own bottle of Tapatío, I’d say you can stay here a very long time.

As I was paying for my yerba mate I had a brief conversation with one of the serfs working the register, who posited: “I think it’s the best deal in town, because it’s organic, fair trade coffee…”

She trailed off as if expecting me to say something, but I was looking at the card reader and waiting for it to say “Remove card” so I could rip my credit card from its clutches and retire to the seating area and guzzle yerba mate.

Which is what I’m doing now. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” is playing on the PA system and the vibe is chill. Everyone is happy at the Cordata Community Food Co-Op, which is to say, all four of us. But now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go. El Dorado beckons, and in this case it’s kept in a thermos about 20 feet from my person. I intend to see to it that that thermos gets emptied, or at least something very close to it.

Hear ye!