On the road again

Josh and Aminda are excited to have embarked on summer road trip 2010! Our goal is to explore the crags and mountains of Western Canada. We already found that our biggest obstacle to embarking on this trip wasn’t job or time related…it was regaining possession of the passport that Josh had sent for renewal.

Dealing with this arm of government bureaucracy is…well, frustrating to put it mildly. Anyone who is responsible for the actual processing of passports seems to be completely impossible to contact. 100% impenetrable. And there is an entire team of employees working diligently to ensure that the people who actually know anything about your passport absolutely cannot be disturbed. Unless you send them a letter. Yes, a letter via the U.S. postal service. (Seriously. Like this is still 1950). To which they might respond either by mailing you a letter back or by phoning you. But you better have your phone glued to your hand because they won’t leave a message, a name or a direct call-back number. Anyway…phew…guess we should let that go, now.

We only have two months to travel this year and we know it will go fast. Our transportation has changed – instead of the crusty old ’85 Toyota truck (still running with only 300K miles) we’re cruising in the (well, slightly) more stylish ’92 Toyota Corolla. It’s made even more stylish by the addition of a roof bag (and a blue pinstripe). The downside is that we can’t take out bikes along. The upside is that we have a better stereo, automatic transmission and best of all, air conditioning (and of course a sexy blue pinstripe).

After talking with so many climbers from all over the country last year, we came back last year with a long list of areas that need to be climbed. So our journey is taking us a different direction this year. The first leg has taken us due north through Utah and Montana. While Utah is best known for its imposing desert towers that are more pleasant in the winter, we’ve found plenty of beautiful high-elevation crags to keep us entertained—it’s been so nice that we’ve hung out a bit longer than planned.

One of those locales was Maple Canyon.* The crowd here was really laid back and friendly. So friendly that one evening we returned to our campsite to find that a family of seven was using it for a picnic. We casually asked if they were staying overnight and the one English speaker just shrugged and said “no, just a couple hours”. (It was already approaching 9p.m.) Then we asked them if they realized that this was a campsite that they had paid for, he had about the same response— “We won’t be here long”… Shrug. (uh, okay, you didn’t notice our tent 10 feet from your corn on a stick) Then I (Josh) thought he might want to buy my Corolla, so I pointed at it and said “not for sale.”  That seemed to get them moving.  Wow, that was weird!

Then I felt bad that I didn’t sell the Corolla to them. I just can’t face the thought of not looking at the blue pinstripe everyday.  So when Aminda noticed a couple of ladies driving around looking for a campsite, we were quick to offer up our as a great place to BBQ into all hours of the night.

Alrighty then. Thanks for that interesting perspective, Josh.

Best camping value this side of Lander…water, electricity and showers for only $10. Plus a scenic view of the interstate.

**climber beta**

*Maple Canyon was a blast. The rock is a conglomerate, walls embedded with various stones and river rocks. It takes some getting used to. Most of the routes are short, steep and well bolted. With short approaches, cheap camping (unless you stay in the group site with 7 random strangers who want to buy your car) and plentiful shade, it makes a perfect summer climbing destination.

Our next stop was Big Cottonwood Canyon (but don’t worry, my corolla is not intimidated by the word “big”). Little CC gets the most hype but we hoped BCC would be a better summer spot. We can’t really compare the two, but found BCC to be a nice & scenic. Quartzsite is great rock and the routes, mostly trad craggin’ and short bolted multipitch were generally aesthetic, particularly this one.

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