I realized today while I was running (I realize a lot of things while I’m running:) that I never followed up on the potential family adventure that I was hoping would transpire when I left for Utah. In a word–two, actually: it happened!
But first a word about family adventure. I’m super into it. It doesn’t have to be crazy hardcore–family adventure in Laos, for example, was not particularly strenuous but was absolutely amazing; having an urban, rainy-day-transit-through-Portland adventure with my mom is definitely not strenuous, but also super fun. The act of doing something new, exploring outside of the normal routine, building shared experiences–that’s what makes adventure awesome. And when it’s with family–and I definitely include my chosen family in that term, all the most important people to me–even better.
That being said, physically strenuous family adventures are amazing for me, perhaps because the number of people who will take strenuous adventures with me is relatively slim (the result being that I usually do this shit by myself:). So being able to meet up with my brother, who is twenty million times in better shape than me, is pretty awesome–for once I don’t end up feeling bad at the end of the day for having pushed someone I love way past what he or she wanted and could comfortably do. (Yes, I do think that some pushing is necessary sometimes, but I feel bad doing it too much.) With Alex, if anything, I’m the one thinking “Really? We’re going to do what?” Which is awesome.
(Alex and Cedar atop the Three Penguins. Yay!)
So. Family adventure. I met up with Alex and his cycling and climbing buddy Cedar Wright on my third day of travel through Utah, at Arches National Park. Actually, I biked into Arches and first ran into Sam Crossley, one of the awesome photographers who was with them, who I met last year at Mount Whitney. Alex and Cedar were climbing the Three Gossips–at least, that’s what Sam said. I only saw their left-behind bicycles.(guess who has the badass loaded bike? That’s right. THIS chica!:) Alex and Cedar had car support this time around) Â
One of the coolest things about having at least some semblance of baseline fitness? When your professional rock climbing brother gets down off whatever rock he’s on and says “hey, why don’t you come climb an easy desert tower with us?” you can say “heck yeah!”
Actually, at first I said heck no. Heh. I was imagining their last bike-and-climb trip, where they free soloed everything (that is, climbed everything without ropes), and whatever baseline fitness I may or may not have, I sure as heck was not going to free solo anything taller than myself. But once it turned out that he meant actually climb something, yknow, with a rope, I was into it. I may not be graceful or skillful or particularly strong, but at least I can haul myself up what the internet calls one of the easiest desert towers in the Moab area:)
(Owl Rock! Somewhere there exists what I’m sure is a super-cheeseball picture of Alex and me high-fiving at the top, but I don’t have it:)
So that was pretty awesome family adventure right there. How often do you get a few days into your bike adventure and then have your lovely little bro offer you a rad belay up a super fun desert tower? (And thanks to Cedar for lending me his harness and shoes:) I could get into climbing desert towers–yknow, once I got strong–just for the amazing views from the top.
Owl Rock is probably my favorite memory of that day. But a close second? Bombing down the hill out of Arches National Park with Alex going at breakneck speed in front of me, then reeling him in once the bike path back to Moab flattened out. “On your left!” I say, and zoom past him. Heh. Take that! :) (Oh, the small and petty victories;)
(Alex and Cedar, biking off into the sunset… :)
I only hung out with them for another day after that before we went our separate ways, but we had a pleasant joint bike ride up Potash Road along the Colorado River as they started a 5-day climbing tour of the White Rim Road (which, with Alex’s urging, I’d ride when I got back to Moab near the end of my trip). And actually, whenever Cedar gets around to making a movie about their trip, look for the surely super awesome 5 minutes of GoPro footage taken from the back of my bike. Heh. That’s my claim to fame here and I’m sticking to it.
(it turns out having a GoPro attached to your seatpost is actually really annoying. Cedar’s about to take it off here, but not before he photobombs my picture of it:)
Even though we didn’t hang out for all that long, it sure was nice to meet up with my bitty bro in the middle of the Utah desert. As our separate bike tours played out and whenever we both had cell reception, we kept in touch and traded biking stories, which felt very friendly — it was also nice, when the weather was at its shittiest, to later be able to commiserate with other people who’d experienced it much the same way I had, from the top of a bike.
Oh, and while I was just touring around and sightseeing, Alex and Cedar in fact ended up in northern Arizona and helped install a bunch of solar panels in Navajo land. Maybe next time I’ll do something helpful for the world too;)
(more pictures–sorry, mostly not of Alex and Cedar;)–here)