Seattle Bouldering Project Fremont: A Preliminary Review

Hello, friends, and welcome to a preliminary review of Seattle Bouldering Project’s new Fremont location. Why “preliminary?” Well, because I’ve only climbed there a few times and since I’m still injured I haven’t been able to push it too hard, PLUS I still haven’t climbed upstairs on the beautiful aretes and freestanding walls. But I have used most of the facilities. I’ve climbed downstairs. I’ve used the fitness area. I’ve used the hangboards. And so at this point I feel adequately qualified to give a preliminary review.

Let start with……location. The location of SBP Fremont is, in a word, spectacular. Right off Stone Way. Walking distance from downtown Fremont. Walking distance from Gasworks. And even closer walking distance to Upper Walls (SBP’s OG Fremont location that opened pre-pandemic). So, when you’ve sent all the hard blocs at SBP Fremont you can hop skip and toe cam over to Upper Walls and send all the hard blocs there. And then when you’ve sent ALL the hard blocs and ripped your shirt off and screamed at passerbyes you can walk to downtown Fremont and get a ridiculous matcha latte at Milstead, and then keep walking to get the best pizza in Seattle at PCC (bold claim I know but don’t fight me on this). Or, in the summer, you can project pinks till your fingers bleed and then go wash them off with a nice swim in Lake Union (provided you’re cool with getting typhus). In short, the location is good.

But who really cares about location, right???? I mean you want it to be easy to get to, but when it comes to a climbing gym what really matters is how are the blocs, right? How is the setting? What are the walls like, the holds like, the ground like, the movement like? You want to know all these things and more, because you’re a discerning boulderer.

Well, so far, the walls and setting and holds are pretty much exactly like SBP Poplar, just, like, newer. As I’ve said, I’ve only climbed downtairs, so I’ve yet to sample the roof upstairs or any of the spire-like aretes. Also since I’m injured I can’t just walk up to blues and huck my carcass at them; I basically stick to the reds and greens, the occasional purple, and today I even tried an orange. But so far I’m super stoked on the setting and the climbing in general (I mean, it’s exactly like SBP Poplar, which is amazing). Great movement. Interesting climbs. One thing I MIGHT say, and maybe this is crazy, is that at least in the downstairs of SBP Fremont things seem a LITTLE easier than SBP Poplar. Maybe that’s just because I’ve gotten better from watching so many bouldering vids while being injured, or maybe it’s because it’s actually easier. I tend to think it might be a little easier since right now I’m basically hucking myself at the wall like a one-legged bonobo. But I could be wrong. I could very easily be wrong.

Next we’ll talk about the fitness area and the hangboards and moonboards and the overall layout. Fitness area? Smaller than SBP Poplar. Hangboards? Less of those, too. Moonboards? Fucking gorgeous and brand new and one day I’ll get on them but for now it’s like I got all these brand new blocs why am I going to go to a climbing gym and get on a fucking moonboard?

One thing I love about the layout is the viewing area up above, since I like to go up there and just kind of watch people climb and snatch beta and just generally be around bouldering. And this viewing area is great for that. They have a viewing area at SBP Poplar, too, but the Fremont one is way better. I’ll be up there with my litte notebook writing down things like, “Right hand out to the tiny crimp, then bump to the better jug,” etc etc.

One question I do have: Are there no bathrooms downtairs??? Did I miss them? Because that might be a slight oversight. At SBP Poplar there are definitely bathrooms downstairs, and they definitely come in handy.

Lastly, what’s the VIBE like at SBP Fremont. What’s the AMBIENCE like. How do you feel when you walk through the doors? Well, if you’re me you feel pretty fucking great, because you always feel pretty fucking great when doing anything even tangentially related to bouldering. And the vibes in SBP Fremont are good. I can’t decide if there are more crushers there or at Poplar. I feel like it’s a wash. There are a lot of lower-level boulderes at SBP Fremont, but there are at Poplar, too. There’s a lot of sitting around, chilling, laughing, talking. For some reason SBP Fremont seems a little less familial, for lack of a better word. Like, it seems like people are kind of less homies at SBP Fremont. Maybe that’s because Poplar is the OG SBP or maybe it’s because Poplar has (had) the cafe or maybe it’s just because of the pandemic! Who knows. Doesn’t really matter.

In conclusion, SBP Fremont is awesome and I’m happy I renewed my SBP membership so now I have access to all of their wonderful locations. I do wish the hangboard area was a little bigger at Fremont and I do wish they had another warmup bike, but hey, small potatoes.

I mean, when you just wanna project polyurethane perfection it’s all pretty much small potatoes.

Happy crushing.

I Was Hoping These Were Gonna Be Gum || A Review of Neuro Mints

Today I decided to try a product I’d seen in Whole Foods for awhile, a product called Neuro Mints. Now, if you know me at all you know that I basically live in the supplement section of Whole Foods, or at least that I frequent it. I like to take a spin through there now and again just to see if anything’s on sale, if anything catches my eye, if I’m missing out on some MUST HAVE product that will instantly make me feel better.

And on one of these perusals I noticed Neuro Mints.

Three dollars a pop (for a pack of 12; on sale right now).

Two caffeinated flavors, cinnamon and mint, and one “chill” flavor that contains no caffeine and I don’t remember what flavor it is. The packaging is yellow. Probably lemon or chamomile or something like that.

ANYWAY, today I purchased the cinnamon variety. Each serving of Neuro Mints contains 80mg of “natural caffeine,” and 120mg of “L-Theanine” (quotes yours). They also contain some B-vitamins, a little sugar alcohol, some monk fruit extract, some stevia, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Basically everything that any supplement contains these days. One question I have is: If these are bent on improving cognition, why are they so damn basic? Really? Just caffeine and L-theanine and B-vitamins? If I want that I’ll pop a vitamin b pill and drink some damn green tea. Why not put a little gingko biloba in there, or some panax ginseng, some Alpha-GPC, some GABA, or some rhodiola rosea? This is my first critique with these mints, that they’re alarmingly basic. And that they have sugar alcohol. I hate sugar alcohol.

My SECOND critique, and the most scathing, is that these are mints, and not gum. God, I wish they were gum. How I long to be chewing right now, happily masticating. And indeed I THOUGHT they were gum right until I opened the package, despite the fact that they’re called “Neuro Mints.” I just figured they’d be gum. I wanted them to be gum. It made SENSE that they would be gum. And I was pretty bummed when I figured out they weren’t gum.

False advertising?

My third critique is that they don’t taste great. They taste a bit of artificial sweetener, with a bitter taste that might very well be the caffeine. They’re also kinda hard, and kinda big. They’re like double Altoid size. Honestly, I think I’d rather just have an Altoid. Also, they’re about 6x harder than Altoids, and since I like to bite mints or candy or whatever it is that I’m chewing on, I ran a slight risk of damaging one of my teeth. So yeah, don’t taste great, kinda hard.

BUT!

BUT!

But.

All that said, so far I would describe how I feel as “disturbingly wonderful.” Wonderful because I feel great, joyous, light, excited for what’s to come. And “disturbingly” because I have no right to feel this way, or rather I didn’t feel this way a mere half hour ago. Which is of course disturbing because that leads me to believe that this state is chemically induced, and how will I feel when it wears off? Will I have to chase the dragon the rest of the day with a succession of cinnamon-flavored mints?

Probably.

Maybe.

Also my stomach kinda hurts right now. This could be the effect of eating artificial sweetener on an empty stomach. And the longer this post goes on, the more jittery I feel. Some of the light, joyous feeling I described just paragraphs ago is already starting to fade.

In conclusion, would I buy Neuro Mints again? Absolutely not. Would I give them to a friend? Maybe, if he/she was a long-distance trucker who really liked mints. But other than that absolutely not. For now I’ll stick with my tea, and if I’m going to get caffeinated mints, I’m going to make sure it’s actually gum.

 

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!

-W