The classic American dirtbag road trip. For the past three years, from the day I started my degree in nursing, I’ve been dreaming of a road trip. I would say to myself, After school, I’m going to buy myself a van and a puppy and go on the road. The van would be something sweet, like a VW Westvalia, and the puppy would be a kick ass crag dog. It was my dream, and I stuck with it. Now, three years later, I am a registered nurse with a self-proclaimed specialty in pediatrics (kids are always more fun that adults), and I am finally fulfilling my dream on the road. Now, I don’t have a van or a puppy. But I do have a sweet truck with a little box camper and a very cute boyfriend who loves climbing just as much as I do (perhaps a tad more, which is saying something). I ain’t complainin’ (although a puppy would be nice..).

Our baby blue Baloo and the box camper (yet to be named. Suggestions welcome!)
A sneak peak inside our new home!

Nursing is the type of career where the learning doesn’t stop after you finish school. In fact, when you step off that stage with your diploma in hand and the shit-eating grin on your face after having survived 3 years of theory classes, dinosaur nursing teachers and stressful clinical days where you feel like you’re drowning, let alone able to help a patient who has heart failure and is literally drowning…you still don’t know a whole lot. They say the first year of your career is crucial for consolidating skills and building confidence. They recommend you work full time  and become comfortable in what is a challenging and evolving career. It’s good advice. I considered it a lot. But the thought of diving straight into a career never sat right in my belly. I want to build a nursing career and be a bad ass nurse. But I also want to pursue my climbing passion and be a bad ass climber. I never want to look back on my life and say, I wish I went on that trip. So Tom and I packed up our lives into a small storage locker, happily said farewell to the city and headed out on the road.

The boys in Skaha

We kicked off our trip with an Easter weekend in Skaha, a great climbing area outside of Penticton, B.C.. A large group of friends from Vancouver joined us for a fun weekend of climbing and sunshine. I have never really spent much time in Skaha before, despite its close proximity to Vancouver (about 4-5 hours driving time). We ended up spending about a week there, enjoying the good weather, good rock, and good people. It was such a new and refreshing feeling. We have no deadlines, no need to be anywhere on a certain date. We can stay for a weekend, or we can stay for a week. Whatever. No big deal. It’s addicting, this feeling of freedom. I’ve caught myself thinking more and more, I wonder if there is a way that I can do this forever… 

Cruxing out on Dr. Seus’ Wild Ride (5.13a) on the Doctor’s Wall.
Photo: Rich Wheater
Tom giving it all on Dr. Seus. He would send later that day, making it his second 5.13!
Photo: Rich Wheater

After about a week in Skaha, Tom and I became eager to head to our next destination: The Red River Gorge, Kentucky. I spent 6 weeks here just before starting school. I had delayed my intake for a semester just so that I could live and breathe the RRG sandstone. It was the best decision I could have made. And now, just months after finishing my degree, I’m back. I sense a pattern of good decisions here..

After 4 days of soul crushing driving across the States, as we were hanging on to our last shred of sanity, we arrived at Lago Linda’s Campground. We awoke to blue skies and green grass. Returning here was almost surreal for me. I have to say that the Red resides in a very special place in my heart. We have been here for about a week and a half, and it’s been a whirlwind of different crags, insane forearm pump and happy faces. Tom and I are psyched to be climbing with a group of friends from Vancouver; Jamie, Sarah, Gary and Marty.

Sarah Austin on the wonderful Check Your Grip (5.12a) at the Drive By Crag
Jamie Chong onsighting Skinboat (5.13a) at The Motherlode
Tom feeling the RRG pump on Chainsaw Massacre (5.12a) at The Motherlode
Photo: Jamie Chong
Climbing Resurrection (5.12c) at The Motherlode
Photo: Jamie Chong
The crew and the gear explosion at The Motherlode

Unfortunately, I was climbing a route at The Solarium a few days ago and after a long deadpoint to a crimp I did not expect to get, I felt my shoulder catch. Ever since, it has been sore. So, trying to be the smart climber that I have not been in the past when it comes to injuries, I have taken the last 4-5 days off. The dull ache is still there, but there is no pain when I move my arm above my head. So tomorrow I will try this whole climbing game again, with fingers crossed that my shoulder will not be a limitation!

Happy climbing everyone. Thanks to Rich Wheater and Jamie Chong for the great photos!

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