Monday, July 30, 2012

Gangsta Rap

Sometimes when I wake up I have a song in my head.  This morning it was Tupac's "Dear Mama," so I listened to it of course, which then led me to an hour of gansta rap, which I loved because sometimes that's just where I am, you know.

(Don't hate now.)

This led me to other songs - NOT gangsta - on my playlist that have connection to maternal identity.   I replayed these two over again even after the hour of my indulgence.

Nas' - "Dance"

Jay-Z - "Momma"

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Horse Flats Bouldering

Last day of our mini vacation took us to a wide playground of granite rock.  Granite . . . yes, granite on our final day.  Trying to keep "it's not sharp" at the front of my brain, and channeling the grace and power from Suzi and Katie, I fell in love with the area and the plethora of rock.

Here's what we came upon first - a playful boulder to warm-up and catch the vastness on top of the Los Angeles basin away from the smog.

Of course this B1 Traverse got our attention and of course Katie sent without blinking.  Her quiet confidence makes anyone spotting or watching believe that overcoming the crux or the heel hook or the sharp rock or the effort or the endurance it takes is possible.  Suzi caught her on video and even though it misses the real business of this little traverse, it captured Katie having some for real fun - Oh and it
starts with a for real booty shot!


 Katie fires every move on this problem - feels similar to Grounded for Life at Governor Dodge.

Suzi makes strong work on the traverse connecting and linking here.

When heel hooks fail me, I like to listen to my hecklers. They said to campus, so I did.

Towards the end of the day Suzi found this wall of fun, one problem with a mantle. I had to share this video because after much ado, I missed her actual mantle but caught the walk up.


 Our only way out of Horse Flats was for each of us to do one last problem on that beautiful granite, and sharp as it seemed, it was a fun way to end the day. Might I add that that one last problem was how each of us earned our gelato - the gelato AFTER the rich chocolate-tofu dessert Suzi surprised us with once back in her LA abode. I can use all the typical descriptive words about this trip, but really, it was the friendship and life in those days that felt so good. I left Saturday night and headed back to Oxnard where my Misa and John-Pio were waiting - unfazed by my absence and completely in their element, I found them at the Blue Star Buffet as happy to hug them as they were to hug me.

Here's a final shot of Suzi and Katie doing LA, beach style, the next day.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pine Mountain Highlights

A few back-dates are in order before bringing my blog up-to-date. I promised myself I'd highlight the rest of my climbing trip and write a piece about the feelings I had from being home before doing anything else. So here I go, writing and publishing mobile - hope it works.

To start, we had the Suzi Lee special breakfast before our long drive to Pine Mountains that kept us fueled as we chatted our way north.  Look at this set-up - there's nothing like hanging out with Suzi, especially on her turf.  This was first breakfast and enough to sustain me through the freeway and the long, windy road up to Pine Mountain.

By this day Suzi admitted to Katie that this is what we do in California: Put people in a car and drive to destinations. Katie looked fairly comfortable in the backseat taking in the "view" from the freeway and managing the curvy ascent up to what became a beautiful oasis - what a perfect place to climb!

After a three hour trip, we arrived here at Picnic Table boulders, a fantastic area for warming up.

We warmed up on some fresh sandstone lines and then moved on to the Juan Carlos Dyno, which was more like the Juan Carlos Deadpoint for Katie.  I am going to try to post a video of Katie doing this.  This picture of me documents the multiple times I came just shy of a fingertip away.

Meanwhile, Suzi had second breakfast and showed her bravery as she went high up on the scary Happy Hunting Grounds boulder - a beautiful line to a scary slopey top-out.

Among so much awesomeness, the one I will remember most was Katie's beautiful flash of the problem, "Surrounding Fish." I was drawn to it after seeing a picture of Todd Mei on this problem in the guidebook. Katie threw up her right heel and before we could move all the pads, she worked through the crux and sent it. Actually, its more accurate to say she bolted through the crux and sent it without even breathing. SHE should have been wearing the "Send" shirt!

A glorious day of climbing ended with a little send train on a fun V3, a pine come fight, some posed shots for our Asian girlfriend, and a mediocre Mexican dinner (thanks Yelp).  The day wouldn't have been complete though without traffic, which we ran into, but we didn't complain - after a full day of climbing, life is good.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Little Bit of Oxnard

Other than my dad living in Oxnard, I didn't ever feel like I had a connection to this city as a place. But once Highway 1 ends and the region changes dramatically to agriculture, military bases, and stripmalls, somehow my 30 years of coming here melds together and I realize there's more of a connection to this place than I care to realize.

If today's adventure to the Oxnard's white sand beach doesn't create a sense of place for Misa and John-Pio, I wonder what I need to do differently. Not so, though. They are completely at home in the midst of all this diversity, in the forms of terrain, culture, and where we stay. Yes, it's noticeable - they took note and commented on the population of Latinos and Asians, not to mention a smattering of Chamorros - we ran into several while bowling on the Port Hueneme base.

"Mama I can tell we're someplace else where we can all speak different languages, EVEN Chamorro!"

"A lot of people here are Mexican and from islands - why would you ever want to move from here Mama?"

That one was my favorite. Of course I grew up in San Diego, but started splitting up my time between these two places when my parents separated in 1982.

I am feeling more and more at home here because I just do - it's hard to describe in words, especially when those words are deep feelings of the personal racial and ethnic kind.

Today while at the beach it was noticeable that it was a place for everyone. Yet it struck me how universal people really are. I tried not to let the comment from an elderly couple get to me but as the evening wore on, I was reminded how much place matters, and that wherever you go, people seem to matter to people in all kinds of ways.

"Your kids are beautiful. Their father must be white . . . ". I guess I can only imagine how I or the kids mattered to those two. The world seems so big to make a comment like that, but that's what happened right here in Oxnard.

Anyway, here's what we did today - so
much fun!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Malibu Canyon

It's not a complicated feeling, but leaving Misa and John-Pio to go on a climbing trip has a familiar bitter sweetness. On one hand, it feels like a necessity, and on another hand, it feels decadent. Thankfully, as they've gotten older I sense that they understand why I need to go and it's less of a struggle to leave.

Thanks Dad! He's in charge and other than hammering down vital information and quizzing the kids on my Dad's address, phone number, and what to do in case of an emergency I didn't have anything to worry about. My dad parented me well and I know that his only concern is if he somehow makes a kid cry. So my final parting words of advice to the little ones was not to cry.

It was easy driving to Los Angeles since I knew I was going *to* meet up with two of my favorite people. We cut right to getting our boulder pads in the car and headed to Malibu Canyon. We didn't have to go into the park itself since the bouldering area was just off the highway. I know that the area is a designated state park and protects Malibu Creek, 25 miles long and possibly a watershed to the Santa Monica mountains above it.

I have lots of pictures to post that shows a portion of our approach, including the walk along the highway, and I'll do that later. For now let me just say that the second part of the approach beats the times we carried our strollers with a kid inside it through loose talus, tight squeezes between tall boulders, and slippery granite surfaces.
This approach was unlike any other, even the ones at Devils Lake.

Definitely steep - about a 45 degree
angle, coupled with loose soil, nothing to hang onto and tripled by thorns and occasional shards of glass not to mention a significant misstep meant a slide into volcanic rock, then the creek . . .

Yeah, we made it down.

And once down, the prize was working these boulder problems.

No documentation exists showing our graceful finesse getting back up and onto the highway after climbing. But this is pretty classy - double pads looped haphazardly together along with a plastic grocery bag.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pine Mountains

I've been back and forth from San Diego to Oxnard four different times now and just as I was getting antsy about climbing, I got out to climb.

Thanks Suzi!

We went to Pine Mountains in the Ojai Valley, by way of the central coast in California.  It's a long windy drive through tall pine trees and right smack in the Los Padres National Forest.  Stunning and high with magnificent views from all directions.   And you don't have to top-out the boulders to catch the views because it's just there.

Take a look . . .

We focused on two areas Happy Hunting Grounds and Enlightenment Ridge. Both littered with high quality sandstone, hardly climbed - we were surprised that we were the only climbers out there even though there were several parties camping and hiking. Check out these routes.
Aside from Suzi's little blemish, she also got a flapper. I don't have a picture of the flapper but it didn't stop her from anything. Having been on several climbing trips together I know her strategy - she observes, watches and susses out the moves in her mind, and then pops up and pulls the move which is often times, the move I've been working hard to get! So two little "injuries" (that's for effect) is nothing in the big scheme of our little climbing world.
I didn't try hard on anything, really. This shot shows I'm more of a poser than a hard-core climber.
High altitude, dusty, wind-blowing and sunny makes for perfect conditions to run into a rattlesnake. Which is what I did . . .

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Things in My Dad's House

Like many households that have been lived in, my dad's house has a collection of all things kitschy.  There's nothing modern about it - well, there's the beautiful wood floors and all of his cool hats, and the backyard is an oasis of peace - those things stand out to me.  The rest - well, take a look.

Hanging in the bathroom.
Chamorro beads - meaningful, not kitschy.
Just half of what's on the refrigerator.
One of the many religious icons tucked away.
Part of the hallway decorated with family pictures and more religious symbols.  That picture to the right is when I received my Masters and everyone came out to celebrate!
That mirror has been around forever.
Lots of little knick-knacks.  The piece of art to the right was made by Emma a few years back.  

While I'm not eager to sort and clean or choose what to discard or save, I am anticipating that the finds I uncover during the process will be cool.  And I'm pretty psyched for that.  I don't know when we'll start diving in, but my dad's agreed to start going through things. Ultimately I would love for him to spend half his time with Geri and half his time with me and Peter in Wisconsin. Maybe we'll bring that ceramic hat and hang it in our bathroom!