Bend to Seattle Driving Directions

I leave the LOGE, everyone’s favorite hipster motel, at around 8:00am. I’ve now been fasting for over 60 hours. At 72 hours, I can break the fast. I’ve put a lot of thought into what I’ll break my fast with. So far the frontrunner is grass-fed bougie yogurt by Alexandra, which I plan to purchase at Whole Foods on the way to my boat. Other candidates include bone broth, sardines and a coconut smoothie.

The girl at the reception gives me coffee despite saying that it’s only for guests “who’d been promised it.”

I was promised no such thing, I tell her, but she gives it to me for free anyway.

I’m now on the road, making my way through Bend to Highway 97, drinking said coffee. There isn’t much traffic.  A little bit heading north to Redmond, but that soon peters out. After Madras and a stop to refuel at the Plateau Travel Plaza, a place I’ll now go to for all my gasoline needs since they allow self-service in Oregon (!), it peters out completely. It’s just me and the open road and a Subaru who seems hellbent on passing me. Heckbent. I pull over to check some boulders, but realize their access is blocked by a gate because they’re on private land. How many amazing boulder problems will never get climbed because they’re owned by some guy named Cleatus in Central Oregon who’d rather shoot you full of buckshot than let you climb his fantasy blocs? Probably not that many, actually. But some.

I like transitions when driving. I imagine we all do. Which is why it pleases me when the ponderosa pines and the sage brush give way to evergreens as we climb into the foothills of Mount Hood. Then it’s all evergreens, and it’s wet, and pretty soon it’s snowing. A black BMW is tailgating me and eventually passes me in a lane covered with slush and pebbles, their tires slinging slush at the Subee. I flip them off. Damn right I flip them off. Why not? They’re driving like an asshole, and I want them to know it.

In Sandy, Oregon, I stop at Safeway hoping they’ll have the FitAid Zero recovery drink, which has only five calories and I’ve decided is OK for my fast, but they don’t. In fact, they don’t stock any FitAid products. Instead I buy some kind of Evian drink with zinc and magnesium, and also some Smart Water, and go out in the parking lot and sit in my car. In about a half hour I’ll be in Washington. As far as any weather goes, the hardest part of the trip is behind me. But the only interesting part of the trip is also behind me, too. Driving the I-5 corridor up from Portland to Seattle is about the most boring drive on the planet, especially when you’ve done it many times. To top it off, the Subee doesn’t do well at high speeds. She hates them. The Subee was happy back when the speed limit was 55, because then she could go 59 and feel like a badass. But she doesn’t like I-5. Going 67 feels SORT OF OK, but anything above that and she gets nervous. Couple that with the fact that I feel a bit delirious from the fast and the coffee and I’m not exactly looking forward to the second half of the trip. But c’est la vie, or asi es la vida, or so ist das Leben or however you’d like to say it. For now the only thing that matters is that I’m sitting in a parking lot in Sandy, Oregon, and life is pretty good. I’m in the process of doing my longest fast ever. My body feels supremely not inflamed, though it must be said that the recent back exercises I’ve started doing have me feeling a bit weird. But whatever.

I stop at a rest stop somewhere on the I-5 corridor about a half hour north of Portland to do a little walking around and possibly my back exercises. There’s a dude with an old Subaru with a bunch of shit in it and a cardboard sign that says something like, “Homeless. Anything helps,” and I think, Dude, you’re not homeless. You have a car. I do a couple laps around the rest stop. Rest stops are such a weird environment. Everyone is transiting. No one really talks to each other.  Most people don’t stay for more than a few minutes. I guess the truckers stay for a long time sometimes. The truckers sleep. The truckers sit in their trucks watching YouTube videos. The truckers sit in their trucks reading Proust.

My body starts feeling gnarly right around Centralia. My back feels gnarly. I need to get out of this fucking car. I love the Subee but mother of god get me out of here. In about four hours I can finally eat, but I have a sudden urge to do some climbing on the way home, and also to hang out with someone. I want to see what it’s like to hang out with someone after not having eaten for three days. I call Matt and ask him if he wants to climb at SBP. He says he’s there “working” and just come get him when I get there. When I get there we sit and talk about climbing and his living situation for a bit, and then we make our way downstairs to do some easy climbs. My body feels gnarly, but it also feels kinda good. I feel kinda free. I don’t feel strong, exactly, but I feel kinda free. I have abs. There’s nothing like starving yourself for a few days to get abs. I can’t wait to get home and pee on a keto strip to see just how deeply I’m in ketosis. Thing’s gonna be purple AF. I climb fairly easy, not trying anything harder than a purple, and down climbing rather than falling. And when things get too hard I bail and down climb, rather than push myself to where I might take a fall. My back will thank me. My back is thanking me.

Finally, after a stop at Whole Foods on the way home from climbing, it’s time to eat. I do my back exercises one more time and then it’s 5:33pm and now I can do whatever I want. The world’s my oyster, and it’s shucked and sitting right in front of me with lemon and a nice mignonette. Except in my case the oyster is a vat of premium yogurt, which I tuck into. Or at least try to tuck into. It doesn’t taste that good. It’s disappointing. And my body is actually screaming for something else, so I reach for the sardines.

 

 

Time to Project V5?

Ladies and gentlemen. Friends. What a beautiful day here in Seattle. What a gorgeous, mild, special fall day. Except it isn’t quite fall yet. What a beautiful, sultry, clear late summer day. A great day to be alive. A great day to drink caffeine. A great day to ride the ferry from Bainbridge Island ALL the way to Seattle, to disembark, to walk up 1st Avenue, to find your car parked on 9th and Republican in Lower Queen Anne, to drive that car to Whole Foods, to get a Hop Tea, to drink it, to be merry.

In short: Day.

(OK asshole just because you’re talking on your phone doesn’t mean you get to take off your mask).

Tomorrow I am PROBABLY going climbing at the Sasquatch Boulders. If I do go, I have several goals: 1) Send Where the Wild Things Go. 2) Send Goosebumps V2. 3) Check out Sun Sail V3. And 4) Check out The Network V5, Dreamscape V7, and Yin Yang V7. Because it’s time to start projecting harder blocs. It’s time to OFFICIALLY start projecting a V5, which means I need to first FIND that V5, which means I need to go to a bunch of different V5’s and caress the starting holds and look at the line and think, Do I see myself climbing this? I’ve now sent three V4’s, and thus think it appropriate to start projecting a V5 or harder. It’s all about finding problems that inspire you. The sight of them can inspire you, or the movement can inspire you. Or even just the grade can inspire you. But it’s hard to get psyched about something — to get obsessed with something — if it doesn’t inspire you.

Slash.

Is the ferry arriving?

Why yes, turns out it is:

Well, that means it’s time for me to skedaddle. It means it’s time for me to take a long walk. It means it’s time for me to get some caffeine (Whole Foods on Westlake or Whole Foods in Interbay??????). Or do I just go to REI right now and try on climbing shoes for the fourth time?

Fare thee well, friends! We shall talk soon.

 

To Sell or to Sail?

Friends! The Euro Trip is over. I am now back on my boat. I must say: I’m not entirely thrilled to be back on my boat. I mean, yes it’s beautiful. Yes, it’s peaceful. But I’m getting really sick of living on this 27 foot piece of fiberglass. Something needs to change, and something needs to change relatively soon. Which is why this fall I’m either going to A) Sell the boat (frowny face), B) Sail the boat south (if the boat’s in Mexico living on it suddenly seems way more attractive), or C) Leave the boat in Seattle, spend the winter OFF the boat and traveling (basically living in Latin America), and then in spring come back to the boat and finally sail it south. The moral of the story is this: Keep the boat and sail it south (now or in spring), or sell it. These are the two options.

This topic segues perfectly into shorter term plans. Regardless of what I do with the boat, what am I going to be doing for the next few months? Well, at first I thought about getting a job. But then I thought, No, that’s kind of lame. I don’t want to do that right now. The thing is, I’m much too excited about my fall and winter plans to get a job right now. When I think about living in an apartment in Seattle this winter and working some kind of “normal” job, even if it is a cool job like interpreting, I want to drown myself in Hood Canal. Seriously, I got an email from a hiring manager the other day about an interpreting job in High Point, Seattle (a neighborhood basically in West Seattle that would take 40+ minutes to commute to from where I live near the locks), and it felt like a death sentence. But then I think about the plans I had before I decided I needed to “get a job.” Sailing to the San Juans. Going to Canada to chill in Vancouver and boulder in Squamish and maybe hang out on Vancouver Island for a bit. Then possibly sailing south, and if not doing a shit ton of bouldering. Either way doing a shit ton of bouldering. In October going to Cabo for a wedding, then Mexico City, then possibly Bogota, and then definitely Chile. And that gets me excited. That I actually look forward to. And maybe it’s just me putting off “real life,” but at this point I don’t really care. I’ve put off “real life” for so long that I won’t be living “real life.” I’ll live my life. Other people can live “real life.”

I do, however, plan to take the Foreign Service Officer Test in October. Because I’m mildly interested in being a diplomat. And because last time I almost passed it.

And I also want to possibly take the legal interpreting exam, but it’s unclear whether that will be offered this year, due to the pan-de-mic.

If/when I HAVE to get a job I don’t really want, I’ll do it. I’ll do it with gusto. Every time in my life I’ve needed to work, like actually needed to, I’ve done it. But right now I don’t have to. So I’m going to do the things I actually want to. Because life is really short. And only getting shorter.

ANYWAY, it’s good to be in Seattle right now, for the most part. I’ve been climbing a ton, and my body is somehow hanging in there. I’ve been working on Leggo My Ego V6 at the Index River Boulders, but mostly I’ve been climbing in the gym. I’ve been stoked on gym climbing lately. It’s so social. It’s so easy (logistically). And it’s also so easy to work on your weaknesses. Granted, climbing outside is still cooler. There’s nothing like being alone in the middle of the forest standing before a hunk of gleaming granodiorite grandeur, puzzling out how to get to the top, but for whatever reason lately I haven’t felt like getting in my car and driving an hour and a half just to fail. I can get (basically) the same feeling of movement at the gym, which is a 10 minute drive. And at the gym I can watch other people climb, aka crushers, and I can meet people. I can still have projects. I can still get super excited about certain climbs. And it’s just so….easy.

That said, holy shit Leavenworth this fall is going to be fun.

Anyway, that’s more or less an update on what I’ve been up to since I’ve been back in Seattle and what I’m thinking for the next few months. The trip to Europe was (fairly) great. The flight back was atrocious. Twelve plus hours of ACTUAL flight time on a budget airline with a guy behind me who treated my seatback like his personal punching bag. At least I had an aisle seat. And the seat next to me was empty. When I sat in my middle seat and saw two empty seats by the window I immediately asked a flight attendent if I could move there if no one came. And no one did come. So when they said “boarding complete” I pounced on the empty row like a cobra on a naked mole rat. But the flight was still awful.

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week. It’s great to be in touch.

– Wetzler

First Order of Business

Alright friends, how’s everybody doing today? Good? Great? Amazing? Good, good. I’m glad. Well, I’m not that glad. I don’t really care. But I’m kinda glad. I’m kinda glad you’re doing well but to be honest I’m more focused on myself and don’t really care about you. That’s not to say I feel DISDAIN for you, it’s just that I’m much more important in my world than you are. You don’t take up much of my mental space, whereas my plight, my welfare, are two things that take up a LOT of my mental space.

First order of business today, April 7th, two thousand and twenty-one: Alex Honnold has a podcast.

You of course already knew this, but what you maybe didn’t know is that there are already a couple of episodes out. I’m not going to link to it. Links are so 2018. Just google Climbing Gold Alex Honnold.

Good.

Second order of business. I need to crack a mate.

Third order of business: I had my interview at Seattle Bouldering Project today, and it went….OK.

From an honesty perspective? It went great.

From a, did-I-get-the-job are-we-vibing is this going to be what I dedicate my life to perspective? Not so great.

And that’s because I was honest.

The guy who interviewed me was wonderful. I instantly felt rapport with him. But when he asked me how would you stay motivated after having the same interactions with customers over and over I couldn’t be anything but honest. That was actually my whole goal for the interview: to be honest. So I said something along the lines of (excuse me while I take a sip of my mate) I don’t know how I would stay motivated in that situation. I guess I would have to see.

Terrible answer, right?

Wrong. Honest anwer.

Because in my head I’m thinking: Fuck customer service, fuck the overprotective shitty Seattle moms that have jack fuck to do all day and bring their kids into Seattle Bouldering Project and then are assholes to the employees. Fuck ’em. I don’t have time for them. So if I had to have similar interactions with them over and over? Yeah, I don’t know how I would stay motivated. I probably wouldn’t.

Fuck ’em.

Fourth order of business: Yesterday’s climbing session.

I almost sent my first ever non-stemmy blue. I sent an orange that had been plaguing me since the last session, and made progress on a couple other things that are now “projects.”

I’m hoping that the blue will go tomorrow during tomorrow afternoon’s holy shit sick crew vibes super sesh. I’m confident that it will. I would like to start projecting some blacks, too. And keep projecting oranges. And maybe try some moves that slightly challenge the confidence in my left knee. Nothing crazy heel-hooky, just some stuff that’s not straight up climbing a ladder.

Fifth order of business: There is no fifth order of business. I’m going to drink my mate and wait until I can watch the Chelsea game on Paramout Plus. And then I don’t know what I’m going to do with the rest of the day. Oh god, what am I going to do with the rest of today? Why are you just bringing that up now?????? I hadn’t even thought about it!!! Fuck!!!! I have no plans!!!!!

I’m not climbing, that’s for damn sure. Weather isn’t great. I could go to Bainbridge. Hmmmmmm, what am I going to do.

I’ll figure something out.

Arrivaderci,

Mark Thomas Wetzler I

Seattle Bouldering Project Fremont: A Preliminary Review

Update: I’ve since written a post comparing SBP Fremont and SBP Poplar. It’s not a secondary review, but it’s close.

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? 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 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 great, because you always feel pretty 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.