[ 25 Aug 2020> Flashing back to August of 1993 (continued from July 93), when we took a week or 2 off to go on a randum roadtrip thru the Western U.S. We din't have a camraw in the '90s so the accompanying photos were likely sent to us.]
Aug 2, 1993—PHX > LAX
I'm hovering about the clouds and i'm thirsty. I have 24 days until school/work starts and a one-way ticket to SFO. It was dark in Phoenix and now we can see the sunset all over again and it's like dawn. A greenish glow as opposed to the dusty red sunset in Phoenix. The clouds have been amazing lately. But still no monsoons. A big dark cloud chased us from Kitt Peak. Probably the first monsoon and I'm missing out. Damn, held out all summer and what kind of reward do i get?
My first 2 days of vacation were spent in Tucson. Scott and Cheryl came down Friday night and we were out until 2 a.m. so got a late start Saturday morning. Cheryl went to her parents and Scott and I cruised to Windy Pt (too late to hit Rap rock like we'd planned). I started us on Mexican Radio (5.10) then Scott led Coyote Business (5.10-). Then i did Coati Trot (5.9) which was a mini-epic... first i got to far left and clipped a bolt on Coyote Business with a long runner. Traversed over to where i was supposed to be, got some placements then had to go back over and unclip the bolt. Did the crux, a nice finger crack. Meanwhile Scott is yelling about some squirrel running off with his bagel. I ran it out then got to the overhanging headwall with a wide crack. I got my #3 camalot in then my #4 though it was manky. I did a move past my #3 and stepped on it, dislodging it. I was planning on replacing my #4 but had gone past it. I could only get a hex sideways and when i went up past it it pulled. I was looking at a 30 foot fall on manky cam, and if that pulled it was like a 60 foot fall. I just kept moving, it was overhung but there were jugs (Mother Jugs and Speed). After that Scott did Recovery Room (5.10–) and we tried to top-rope the Sloth (5.11) but failed miserably. Then i went and led Border Patrol (5.10–) which was pretty scary. I'd done it before but couldn't remember where the crux was. I layed it back up this flake and looked down and there were all these jagged blocks down in the gully blow. Got a stopper in, moved under the roof to this big flake where i got another stopper and actually managed to get my baller in. Did the move and froze up not wanting to let go of my comfy layback. Besides that there wasn't much, and that landing! Finally did the crux and got to clip a bolt, so that was the reward. Fun well protected 5.9 after that. We left but got held up cuz the sunset was so beautiful. Then Scott led Hitchcock's Pinnacle but i didn't follow it cuz the clouds looked ominous.
Today we woke up, i packed for California and we left for Kitt Peak. What was i thinking? It was hot and it was the bushwhack from hell. Sticker bushes, cacti, poison ivy, rattlesnakes. Went to Aguagony and did Solarscoped (5.7+) (i led the crux pitch). It kind of sucked with 3 people and Cheryl was being her usual slow self and i wanted to hurry to do more climbs. Actually, we only did the first 2 pitches. Then it was too fucking hot. Listening to the radio when we finally got down it was 112°. Drove to Phoenix airport via the scenic way through the reservation, stopped in Casa Grande for Mexican food then got to the airport with 10 minutes to spare.
Aug 4—leaving San Francisco
Just crossed the Bay Bridge and are on our way to Lapland [what we called our mom's place]. I'm driving w/ Kimi and Tanaqqi in a Dodge Caravan named Carlos. I'm in "the pit". I got into SFO and David picked me up. Right away I began looking for a VW bus. Next morning I went and met S [our x] in Santa Cruz. It was very uneventful, same old shit. Dreary. I always look away in conversation. I lose myself. We drove back the back way, fucking sucked. Reminded me of all those miserable Sundays. Dropped her off and couldn't wait to get away. I don't know what's wrong with me. The rest of the time here was spent like that, feeling obligated to be with whoever. Kevin came on Tuesday. He's living in S.F. now. He paced around the house wanting to do something. Leslie came by and tried to convince me i was jealous of her and David cuz i wasn't married, giving me that "just you wait and see" superior holier than thou attitude. "If you really want to eat chicken then why don't you eat chicken". It really bothers her that i'm vegetarian with free-spirit ways, but then she'll say, "i used to be like that" and mom's arguing and David's trying to tell them not to argue. Two days is all i can handle of this crap. I got a little turned off finding a car (more expensive than i figured) and when i heard Kimi bought a Caravan and wanted to go on a roadtrip w/ Tanaqqi I said "hey, let's go to South Dakota" and the idea caught on and well, here we are. Finally in motion. And i no longer feel like writing, no longer feel the need.
Blissfully by the bay, Orlando read the landscape like sacraments. The exit was fast coming, the exit to the getaway. The exit from hours in a day. The exit to the miles, from the fairgrounds and bitter taste of almond joys. Before the bay, down next to the bay, he read the water like a child at the zoo, always no less than a child. Down under the bay, the zoo beneath the quilt. The weight of his freight heavy upon the patchwork, the window to the glassy sea. Skating further from any remorse. He always travelled on liberal avenues, forever south. But under the sea blanket, agitation and restlessness still lingered. Suspended in the jazzy soup. He turned and got onto the road.
He adjusted his derby to keep his hair out of his eyes. He was going to where he was from but was going further from home. He was alone but at peace, still reading the landscape. Rare jig pajamas, he wore. His face was smooth like hand cream, his cheeks like pate. Unlike Zapo, his younger brother, he was unsure of the last day in the big valley. It was a pit in his hear overflowing with self-absorbing ashes. A running marmot crossed the road. Orlando slowed down far before under a red sky equalized neutral.
(This my attempt at letting the environment dictate a story—I'd look at license plates and the first word it would inspire would enter in.)
Aug 5—near Lakeview, Oregon
Finally getting the rain. We are cruising along Albert Rim, the highest fault upheaval in the U.S., cruising along the shore Albert Lake—crystal clear and salty. Everything is fresh and electric amidst this electrical storm. We just passed Lakeview, Oregon, Harlow's hometown. It smells like swampy sulfur decay from these salt flats next to us.
Yesterday we made it to Mom's place around 5. She's done a lot of work on the house. The pond was teeming with weeds that blanketed the surface. The huge frogs were bolder, lying on top of the lily-pads spread-"frog" (as opposed to eagle). Turtles were everywhere as were the bass, bluegill, catfish, etc. Quickly went down the creek to get trout for dinner. I helped Kimi and Tanaqqi rig up their lines then ditched them going upstream.
The river still flows and the big holes i remember so well are still there, but many of the details have changed. I caught three little rainbows on salmon eggs. We went back and had a feast, brown rice, mugwart udon noodles, pesto sauce, trout and fresh corn.
I slept on the raft. Got up at dawn and cruised the pone with the idea of catching bass and actually got a few bites. Went back, had mueslix and strawberries then took Kimi and Tanaqqi out on the pond. After getting sick of paddling i dove in and they stripped and followed suit. We got a late start and here we are.
Aug 7—Moscow, Idaho
We drove through Oregon. I got a ticket in John Day for doing 54 in a 40. We went to this redneck bar, the only one in town. Ordered beers and put our quarters on the pool table and within minutes this guy is giving Tanaqqi shit, pretending he's humping her while she's bending over to shoot and saying all sorts of crass shit. I'm looking at this guy thinking we can't let him get away with more or he'll take this further and i'm thinking of what to say to ease the tension without starting a fight. His friend says to me, "i see you look at him like that, don't you be looking at him like that." Trying to look intense and mean, and i'm all "hey, we just came in here for a beer and a game of pool, if you came to a bar in my town i'd welcome you there." But i'm thinking it's best not to say anything more that will make these guys take it out on me.
Meanwhile the original guy apologizes and introduces himself and going into the "you guys ain't granola-types are you?"
"I had granola for breakfast," i said.
"You're not environmentalists are you?"
"Well, i guess you could say i am, though i'm not the activist type."
How to sound semi-neutral without losing face. Meanwhile Kimi in her eco-peace-save-the-world shirt or something stupid like that is getting buddy buddy and pacifying them with her ditzy charm. This went on for quite a while, "why the sour look on your face?" Trying to look like we're having a good time and not offending anyone but the scene disgusts me.
Now i'm writing this on a picnic table in front of the laundromat in Moscow, which is a sort of hip town in the middle of all this backwordassness.
(now I'm sitting in the shade of the farmer's market with a cup of joe... we're waiting for Kimi and her friend Toni who we’ve now added to the passenger list). So we left that shitty bar and drove for a while then realized that we were in the middle of nowhere so we just stopped on the side of the road and slept in some gravelly field with mosquitos buzzing and trucks flying by. I woke up early and they were still sleeping so i went for a stroll with my harmonica and chased cows and observed firsthand the destruction and deforestation. After a few hours they finally got up and we went to a lame breakfast place in who knows where. Most of Oregon was uneventful. Tanaqqi woke me up in Walla Walla, Washington but it didn't strike me as some place Bugs Bunny would frequent. So we moved on through all the wheat fields of Washington, stopped at some reservoir for a swim and then we were in Idaho. Continued up to Moscow and parked at some outdoor cafe where we spent the next few hours in a surreal daze ordering various food items and consuming lots of coffee. Kimi’s friend Toni showed up in a stupor. Our sense of reality clashed violently with hers. Obviously something was up with her in her neck of the woods but she was unable to express herself to outsiders. The main thing was that she had been kicked out of her place hours before we arrived and thought our arrival was all part of some cosmic scheme to destroy her life, though she couldn't articulate why. I lost patience with trying to decipher her dribble so i went to the bookstore with Tanaqqi and bought a Frank Waters book. When we returned it had been decided that Toni was going with us. She needed a day to pack up her boxes, she would go with us to South Dakota then back to L.A. to live with Kimi. I didn't mind the spontaneity of the situation but didn't quite understand it and took it as a bad omen, so i dove into Henry Miller, since i was just a passenger in Kimi's van. The motive of escape from a small town in Idaho seemed convenient for her but I wasn't sure what direction it would take our roadtrip and whether the excess baggage would slow us down.
We sent her off to box up her shit and we were going to see a movie but decided to go to "Mingles" to play some pool, drink pitchers of Henry's. Some band was playing, Xo and the Cats, cool blues music with standup bass and harmonica, all white boys and a very white audience worshipping black culture. We did some Jägermeister shots and danced. Kimi was with some frat boy type and i was having a grand old time with Tanaqqi, she's quite funny and a good dancer, has a sort of Balinese grace about her.
We crashed at Toni's abandoned sorority house apartment, woke up to a cigarette stench and arguments on the telephone and i felt i needed to bolt, went with Tanaqqi walking through Moscow to a laundromat where I finished Sexus (woof woof) and went to the farmer's market and drank in the nectar of small town life and shot the crap w/ Tanaqqi, good company in what otherwise could be a disastrous drama, waiting for Toni to get her shit together. It's pleasant here and the people are sincere.
[then it switches to Tanaqqi handwriting]
Hopefully a whole new writer won't have too jarring an affect—unconventional, but perhaps it's time has come. So I am the one referred to Tanaqqi + my contribution could make a potentially seamless garment considering i was in these past experiences he's been describing— + how friendly an invitation it is to be invited to participate in his journal—absolutely unheard of w/ me—nobody thus far has been allowed to read mine much less contribute. How wonderfully unprecedented. Unfortunately i bring my bad run-on-sentence habit w/ me. Anyway, Derek + I have been experiencing down-town Moscow (Mockbá) together + some of my impressions have been similar—the people are thankfully unpretentious—being a learned trait (i think) it seems they haven't quite picked up on yet. Sometimes it certainly pays to be slow. I feel just nowhere in particular + it's wonderful though i've been most intrigued by learning about Derek—which is only temporarily part of my Idaho experience—so that's part of why i like Idaho—maybe it's really not such a great state. This attempt at leaving has been dragging out—so i think i'll stop up what might have been a violent outpouring of impressions + drivel + general ramblings—then again it could have been the next great American jointly written novel. Who knows?
somewhere in Idaho or Wyoming (sporting our new Cafe Spudnik shirt)
We're about to leave for Montana into Wyoming—into Yellowstone. Big flowing rivers, rolling green pastures and snow-capped peaks. Well, the scenery is too nice to write.
So yah, we managed to leave Moscow by 4:00 or so. Very frustrating. Both Kimi and Toni are very lethargic and slow. They always need to stop and smoke cigarettes—like right now. They're hard to motivate and Toni's always pouty. What did i get myself into here? We drove for quite a while through Montana, they all slept while i drove. At about midnight we stopped at some greasy diner. This greasy food and lack of exercise is starting to wear on me. I continued driving til about 3 a.m. The ground was wet so I pulled under an underpass. Kimi and Toni kept sleeping in the car while Tanaqqi and I went through a barbed wire fence and up a dirt embankment to sleep at the flat part directly underneath the highway. Every time a car went overhead it sounded like an earthquake and when truck's went overhead it was like a bomb, but it was cool... i felt like a troll and i've been wanting to sleep under an overpass ever since that time in the Pampas of Argentina. Tanaqqi woke up early (around 6 or 7) and we went to get bad coffee and greasy eggs—then finally to Yellowstone. This situation is getting very annoying but i basically try to just run off and ignore everything. We saw all the geothermal activity, including waiting for half an hour to see old Faithful.
Aug 9—Cody, Wyoming
Yellowstone wasn't too inspiring, definitely not on par with Yosemite. Then again, i guess we flew though it and the company i was with gave me a cynical air. The rocks coming out of the park on the way to Cody were amazing, will definitely have to come back. Mowed on Chinese food here in Cody. Some western town of sorts with lots of bikers. The tension is building up and has almost partitioned us off to the extent that the second we get somewhere Tanaqqi and I run off while Toni and Kimi do their lame thing.
Aug 10—Custer, South Dakota
Finally made it to Rusty's place in South Dakota. It got increasingly hellish getting here. Spent all morning in Cody waiting for Kimi and Toni to get their shit together.
Aug 11—Badlands, South Dakota
Then cruised through cool geological upheavals and finally into Custer to look for the Chief restaurant. Things are getting increasingly miserable and i decided it is necessary to bail on the rest of the trip. I just hope they don't linger around too much here, they are driving (no pun intended) me crazy, except for Tanaqqi. So we met Rusty, Kyra (sister), Mica (sister's friend) and his mom. Ate catfish in a teepee used in Dances with Wolves. So that inspired us to watch the stupid movie. Tanaqqi and i got up early yesterday and ate breakfast at the Chief. We figured Kimi and Toni weren't up so we went to the park and checked out Sylvan Lake—high quality lake with rocks jutting u from all sides. We did this 3 mile walk around it, stopping to admire the rock and find routes. When we got back to the house (past 12:00) Kimi and Toni were drinking coffee and hadn't taken showers or anything. Kimi is all "I'd appreciate it if you guys woke us up when you got up"... first of all we did and you said you wanted to keep sleeping. And this devolved into an argument where i said all they do is bitch and moan and smoke cigarettes and take forever and told them i was not continuing on with them. All this was in front of Rusty's mom. Somebody had the idea to go to the Badlands and i felt bad imposing on Rusty's family so i went. The Badlands is incredible, like being on some weird planet. Too bad the experience was ruined by the company i was in. This would be a great place to come alone and disappear. I had this wonderful idea, to have Toni and Kimi drop us off at this trailhead and Tanaqqi and i would walk it one direction and they would come from the other direction and give us the keys. Beautiful hike, lots of cool stones and mud tunnels. Spent the night in the rain (i'm sleeping outside to get furthest away from them as possible) and now to deal with another day with Kimi.
Did the drive back from the Badlands. Kimi and Toni in front puffing away. My eyes peeled for buffalo, i mean bison. In the middle of a large field we finally saw one. I jumped out and began walking towards it but it was way out there and you're not supposed to get too close [all sorts of chotskies from the Black Hills + Badlands folded in between the pages, including a notice to stay away from the buffalo]. An elegant beast, very primordial and powerful with shag hanging fashionably about its front quarters. And it's huge head that is one and the same with it's body, it's weight set forward.
The rest of the drive sucked (still on 981 [in terms of license plates... we'd been counting forward from 000]). Kimi was freaking out + made a wrong turn + we got stuck on some road with thousands of bikers (Sturgis bike rally is this week). The tension was swelling, being with Kimi and Toni puffing their pukeish smoke into the back, making the stupidest comments and banter. I ran off to see Rushmore by myself. Even more dismal. A monument to man's decadence, arrogance, stupidity and wanton disregard for nature. All i could think about was what the mountain must have looked like before some assholes carved it away. They ate gross fast food and i sat in a silent protest refusing to eat. I left them again and told them i'd meet them at the car. Checked out all the Harleys, some of them are like works of art. They showed up much later and Toni's bitching "fucking giftshop, all i wanted was a postcard" and she gets in and starts to light a cigarette and it's hot and stuffy as it is and i'm just beginning to regain my appetite so i say "hey maybe you can just go outside and smoke or wait 20 minutes til we get back to Custer, i already couldn't eat lunch cuz your cigarettes make me lose my appetite." But this just spurned Kimi to defiantly light up a cigarette also and close the windows, saying it was her car. "Whatever, if i puke on the backs of your heads consider yourself warned." I so wished i could barf on demand, just thinking how funny that would be. Got back to Rusty's, he was going to the dentist and i just had to get away so we dragged Tanaqqi and informed them we were going climbing. We set off to Middle Earth, behind Sylvan Lake and Rusty led this 5.4 on Practice rock and we set up a top-rope on that and this one next to it. Kyra showed up and belayed me on this 5.6 route while Tanaqqi did the 5.4. I love my new shoes. After Rusty did it i had him backclip this bolt so we could make it a 5.10 top-rope. As we were returning i couldn't bear the concept of Kimi. Rusty took us to the Needle's Eye and we screwed around clambering up Pinnacles in the dark and watching the lightning on the horizon. Very beautiful rock, ancient granite with crystals everywhere. We got a bottle of wine and a jug of red. When we got back Kimi and Toni were sleeping. "Should we wake them?" asks Rusty. "Fuck no! Leave a note saying vaguely we're in the Aspen grove."
So with a drum, a harmonica, 2 blankets and the cheap wine we set off single file through the dewy grass in the dark. Rusty and Kuma (his dog) leading the way into unknown territory. Flashes of bright yellow lightning would provide a glimpse now + then, but no more. Stumbled around trying to find my way, to the aspens. The wind blowing through the leaves sounded like rain. But it was raining, a misty drizzle. And the thunder right over our heads. We layed the blankets down and opened the red and began passing it around. The other blanket we draped over us, huddled together. Tanaqqi played the drum, Rusty hooted on the wine bottle and i played harmonica. Then i heard a rustle... so typically like a scene in a horror film. "Shhh, did you hear that?" Something is definitely in the tall grass about 15 feet away. Kuma pricks her ears. "Aarf" but she doesn't go for it. We discuss the possibilities. No bears, coyotes wouldn't come so close. Cows? Kimi? "Kimi, if that's you you better say something cuz Kuma is about to come attack you." No reply. Finally i go to check it out. I hear something clamber up a tree. Rusty thinks it's a porcupine, or a skunk. Either way, don't fuck with it.
It clears up and there are meteors everywhere, drawing lines in the sky. We're getting increasingly toasted. Suddenly Tanaqqi is sitting sternly saying "I don't want to be part of some threesome" and it occurs to me that she is uncomfortable. I'm too busy looking at the stars so i keep an eye on Rusty. He's stroking her back and such. She's sandwiched between me and him. Trapped. We're all pretty toasted on red wine, and the strange atmosphere of lightning and meteors, everything in stroboscopic images. So i get up so she doesn't feel trapped and she gets up and we stumble back along the same path trying to keep quiet as we approach the house, though Tanaqqi kept stumbling and giggling. The father in the room down the hall. The dark quiet house suddenly intruded upon. We devour lemon meringue pie in the kitchen and are rolling on the floor trying to restrain our laughter, laughing about what i don't remember except that i had this idea to wake Kimi up and tell her we were going climbing, after all, she insisted we wake her up if we went anywhere so she didn't miss out. We watched as Tanaqqi crept into their room, they were still sleeping. They wake up looking dazed and ditzy, upset that we didn't wake them up, saying they felt left out. So then Rusty goes in, under the pretense to soothe them, but i know better. I went back later and he was sprawled out in his underwear, cuddling up to Kimi. Toni got up with an annoyed look on her face, annoyed that her sleeping room is being taking over by Kimi and Rusty. She obviously hates me and Tanaqqi too, but i don't care.
A bit later i'm getting ready to hit the sack and Tanaqqi comes in, appalled at Rusty's behavior. Indeed he was trying to feel her up in the meadow. I try to tell her he's harmless and just a touchy-feelie kind of guy, but now he's in there with Kimi probably having sex. Should we intervene? It's probably mutual, Kimi sleeps with everyone. Tanaqqi lingers in my room. My feelings for her are totally platonic, though i wonder if she's into me, but i don't want to lead her on in any way, she's way too cool.
I dream [not logged] that i wake up Ajay and he jumps up like "don't worry, I'll give you a ride." He's in his underwear giving me a ride to who knows where. He's sarcastically crying and displaying exaggerated anguish. I can't tell if he's joking, blubbering and acting psychotic.
Rusty's dad (who i haven't been introduced to) wake me up. "Rusty's on the phone." He stares at the wine bottles on the floor. It's drizzly outside. Rusty's hung up at work, so can't climb. It was drizzly all morning and i had cabin fever. Everybody's sleeping. I'm reading As I Lay Dying (finished Death of Ivan Ilyich). I’m ready for a nap by the time everyone else is up.
Rusty finally comes back. Still drizzly. I'd been walking in the "backyard" and saw a cool rock to top-rope. He said he 'd meet me out there. I traversed around in wet feet while i waited. I go back, Rusty's yacking on the phone. So this guy Ron, a friend of Brian Grass called Rusty, they want to meet him in Denver on Aug 19th for a Phish concert. Obviously they'll return to Tucson. Hmm. Weird how things work out. Not the first time Brian has bailed me out, getting me back to Tucson at the end of the summer, just like the eclipse in Axixic.
So more Cabin fever. Finally we go to the route. (how about Jonesin' FIutt?), an overhanging rock maybe 25 feet high with a tree right next to it. I got most of the way up then though about the consequences of swinging out into the tree so stepped out to the tree. Loose rock and slopey lichenous surfaces. I finished it, but used the tree. Rusty pulled a bunch of rocks off as he was lowering off. Kimi rode up on a white horse (Rusty's). He jumped on the back, snuggling up next to her and they disappear. Disgusting. I go back to the house. More coffee and cabin fever. Kimi and Rusty return but then disappear out in the barn. The rest of us in and out of slumber. No food all day. Finally we raid his kitchen. Then we all take naps. Wake up at 5 and head out to Rapid City. Rusty busts out the bowl and i say what the hell, maybe it will make this reality more bearable. Rusty, Tanaqqi and I get stoned in back while Kimi and Toni smoke cigarettes. It's a war of smoke. We met Sue, Randy and Jennifer—people Rusty works with—at some Chinese restaurant in Rapid City. Then onto Neil Young. Soundgarden opened up, they were pretty good. Bikers everywhere. Weird crowd. Neil Young was great for the 1st half then started playing a bunch of shitty new tunes. Booker T and the M.G.s and his sister backed him up. The selection wasn't too good, seemed he was trying too hard to appeal to the biker crowd. "Ain’t it great" (he said referring to the Sturgis bike rally), "where else can you be fat and bald and be cool." Kimi disappeared going to get beers and when we finally found her she was with these slimey biker dudes, Griff and Dough. They were pumped with testosterone and had their beer goggles on, drooling over the blonde airhead that introduced herself to them, they can't believe their luck! They say they want her to meet them at some bar called Fat boys. So she hands me the keys and say's "here's the keys, i'll go on one of their motorcycles, i've always wanted to ride on a hog."
The Griff guy says "um, i don't have a motorcycle. But I'll give you a ride." She looks all dejected with that blank Molly Ringwald stare. Not only did she not consider that they didn't have bikes, but she assumed we all wanted to go to this stupid redneck bar. But of course we do cuz it's her car and we have to keep her from doing something stupid, seems this is always the case with Kimi. We get to Fat Boys and Kimi disappears to find the random biker she picked to slum it with. Tanaqqi, Rusty and I explore a few of the other bars, none of us in a drinking mood, just waiting for Kimi and Toni. Tanaqqi we're dancing in some weird cage, the only one dancing besides this black dude (who's probably the only black guy in Rapid City), who's saying "isn't this music the best?" It's cheesy soul music. Followed by bad country music. I put 50¢ in a blackjack machine and next thing i knew i have $5.50 and quit.
We wait around more for Kimi. She's dancing with that slimey dude and he's got his hands all over her and she's leading him on. This went on for hours while we waited. "Come on Kimi, “we kept saying as they were calling last call. Griff glares at us. Kimi's all, "Oh, I'm just saying goodbye" More sucking face. We wait. Drove back in a severe storm.
Aug 15—Hill City, S.D.
So Saturday morning Kimi and Toni finally took off. "Tatanka" stayed (i call her Tatanqa now cuz when we were at Sturgis and she was down the street and i yelled Tanaqqi these Indians got startled looking behind them... they thought i was yelling Tatanka, which means buffalo!). We went to Cathedral Spires with Kyra. I was trying to go by Paul Piana's map and got us terribly lost. I didn't mind cuz it was a good excuse to cruise through the spires. Very awesome and majestic. Spires jutting everywhere. Finally found spire one (supposedly looked like a praying Madonna) and started to do this route called i forget what but i got 25 feet up and it was very lichenous and loose and didn't seem well travelled though it was a recommended route. So i bailed. Walked around the spires trying to figure the damn book out. It was awkward with 3, especially beginners, didn't seem like there was much we could do. Finally i found a route Thunderhead (5.) supposedly 5.5—traversed into this chimney that dropped off 10 feet or so, then into this fist crack, turned around a corner into a meat-grinding squeeze chimney. Then onto about 25 feet of runout face. Not a bad route but i felt for Tatanqa and Kyra who had to follow. Kyra cleaned and fell at the fist crack, struggler her way up and emerged scraped and bruised. Tatanqa decided not to do it which was all for the better.
I guess i missed a day where I'm sure we just sat around waiting for Kimi but went climbing in the afternoon, did Intercourse (5.4), Rusty led it then Tanaqqi followed then i led it again and belayed Kyra followed and then the rain started. The clouds were amazing but threatening. Thunder rumbling all about. 4 individuals anchored to the top of a spire trying to situation the rappel rope and get everybody off, and Tanaqqi's first time.
[here's the original of the next page where we got stoned and went to Flintstones theme park (a Flintstones bumper sticker and other notes/pics, etc. also embedded in pages]
[+ oddly we just watched Close Encounters last night]
Stayed at the campground in the bend of a river, had spaghetti and wine then got stoned and made smores.
Got an early start up to the base. Tanaqqi decided not to go which was good cuz it was long and strenuous and she would have slowed us up. So Rusty and I did the Approach pitch (5.4) up to the Durrance Route (5.6, 4 pitches), then finished on Bailey Direct (5.6). I led all the pitches. Started up these leaning columns that seemed almost Corinthian, like climbing the Parthenon or something. Kind of chimneys with cracks on the edges of the hexagonal chimneys to stem on, some jam cracks, very clean, very solid, good leg climb, you hardly use arms. Did it in 4½ hours... i purposely ran sections out so i could combine pitches. The top is a whole acre, we looked down over the north edge, dihedrals and columns sloping down into a talus field of broken columns. 4 rappels off the back to get off. All to the throngs of tourists gawking up at us, but all in all the park is fairly supportive of climbers, especially being a national monument and all. We went and swam, well actually sat, in the shallow river. Then got an early start back.
Yesterday i went to Sylvan Lake with Tanaqqi and Kyra. First did some easy bolted route that was a joke then i led California Boys (5.7). Very cool. 25 feet up to the 1st bolt, then another 30 feet up to the next and that was it. 2 bolts in 140 feet. Fun crystal knobbed face. Went to the black hills playhouse and saw Picnic and met Herb and Jan Conn.
1st pitch of Durrance Route
Rusty topping out
Aug 21—near Boulder, CO
New car, new faces, new place. Now in Colorado in a Nissan with Brian and Ron. Weird how this is all working out, but i'm finally almost back to Tucson and actually looking forward to it. Chronology always works best (for writing) ... back to South Dakota, our last day i was desperate to do as many of the classic routes before we left so we went into work with Rusty at 6:00 a.m. Then Tanaqqi and I took his car up to the needles. Started off on Safety Pin (5.6), starts in a chimney then the crux of leaving the chimney onto the face (typically where the crux is in these parts) into a jam crack that opened into a slot that went all the way through the pinnacle so i could see through to the other side. Did a hand jam so my hand came through the other side! The hardest part of these climbs is setting up a belay and getting off. I wrapped the whole pinnacle off and straddled it like a saddle. Normally it wouldn't bother me but knowing Tanaqqi would probably fall i was a bit nervous and was gripping the pinnacle with my legs. She more or less fell and struggled but i was giving her a tight belay. I lowered her off then i had to get off! I climbed down to a sling wedged in the slot, put the rope through that, got on rappel, then had to unlasso the top... typical needles descent. Had to do something easier since Tatanqa could barely get up Safety Pin so we went and did the Rook (5.4), another chimney to a face but the crux moves were up high and unprotected... may as well free solo. Fun. Tatanqa barely made it up and was completely spent and didn't want to do anymore. Kyra was supposed to meet us after she got off work at 10:30, but she wasn't there.
Oh yah, the Rook descent, lowered Tanaqqi then had her anchor herself then i put the rope over the other side and rapped off. I figured i'd have Tanaqqi belay me up Tricouni Nail (5.8) and Kyra would show up to follow.. a truly glorious route, a religious experience. I got up past 2 pitons and Tanaqqi was not paying much attention so i figured I'd treat it as a free solo. Just me and the rock. Up a crack onto a flake then up more crack and onto this very cool crystallized face. Just me and my heartbeat and the rock and the motion across it, the deliberation, the concentration, each move, the texture, the holds engrained like a road map, like figuring out a puzzle. Tuning everything else out. I was no longer thinking of social phenomena, just me and the rock. I got up to another perfect saddle, took my shoes off and made myself comfortable, waiting for Kyra. Up where nobody could fuck with me, that Billy goat feeling. Me and the sky and the other pinnacle tops. Tourists driving below asking stupid questions, "how's the weather up there?" Much better than down there, that's for sure. Finally I see Kyra drive by and i start yelling like a Billy boat. She shows up and follows it, falling dozens of times. My balls pressed against the rock (again, straddling the top), starting to get really uncomfortable. Getting off the rock was great fun, the simul-rap. She got on rappel on one side, me on the other. Then unlassoed the top and it was like a see-saw. She'd move forward and i fell back a few feet, very strange feeling, you have to coordinate with each slight move. Rappelling off living, moving anchors in a weird balance of trust, the rope just slung over in a notch on top. Of course you have to wait at the bottom when you get down. And that’s it for climbing in South Dakota. Went and picked Rusty up at the restaurant and set off for Colorado. Me, Rusty, Tatanqa and Kyra cruising through Wyoming. Unexpected corn fields. Next thing i knew i woke up and realized i could be anywhere in America, shopping malls and apartment complexes, but i figured it was Colorado Springs, to Rusty's cousin Julie's apartment. She's unbelievably beautiful, too bad she's married, to some guy Mike. Went to Avogadro's # for an eggplant parmesan sandwich and a Ben and Jerry's rainforest crunch espresso shake. Went back and they were tired but i was enjoying talking to Julie and watching Beavis and Butthead. Woke up early and took a sauna and swam and worked out and showed and eventually they got up and we ate breakfast and drank lots of coffee and cruised thrift shops and coffee houses. Rusty bought a plaid skirt and a leather Bono vest. At some point we split up and it was me, Rusty, Julie and Tatanqa and the second Mike's away Julie unleashes a torrent onto Rusty about her and Mike, guess they're not getting allowed so well. We talked her into coming with us to Phish. So now we 5 are off through a major thunderstorm in downtown Denver and Rusty's stressing majorly and finally to Red Rocks. I spotted Kimi, Brian, Toni and Ron right off, sorted out moving my bags from one car to another in the downpour. Red Rocks is an amazing place, a natural amphitheater of rolling red rocks cliffs. It was just like a dead show, but Phisheads instead. Rusty rushed off to the front but i stayed with Julie (who doesn't like Phish either) in back. Brian, Ron and Kimi were also up front. Julie and I just hung out on way in back talking, laughing at all the idiots, she's also an ex-punker so could sympathize with my situation, that i was suffering through fucking Phish just to get a ride back. Why she was there, i don't know, except to get away from her husband for an evening. The atmosphere was cool even if the music wasn't, red cliffs around us, lightning and clouds over the Denver skyline. I wish i would spend more time with Julie, just a cool personality, she's picked up the good qualities of age as well as retaining the good qualities of youth, a school teacher. Phish sucked beyond my expectations. Rusty pulled us out early cuz he had to be at work in South Dakota at 6 a.m. We said goodbye and then Tanaqqi and i waited at Kimi's van. Now Rusty, Kyra and Julie are out of the picture. Enter Brian, Ron, Kimi and Toni, all us off to Danielle's house. Enter Danielle, Jay and her grandmother. Danielle is like all grown up now, weird, guess last time i saw her was as a freshman in high school. Her grandma was bitching at us showing up late, 6 people. But i found a couch and crashed. We all went to breakfast including Danielle. What a trip to think that when i lost my virginity she was next to us on the same bed, w/ Brent. And to think of the path she's taken compared to me. Went to Duke and then law school, married some dork who's an engineer on Trident submarines and they have Forerunners and 2 sets of twin mutts. Then exist the girls and leave the boys. Kimi, Tanaqqi and Toni went back To Danielle's and Brian, Ron and I are off to Tucson. Brian my "bring me home" man. And here we are now, cruising the high plains of Colorado in the cold misty clouds and patches of snow (in August) listening to Bolivian folk music (my doing) and a thermos of coffee and cookies. Rocky Mountain High. Though I must admit the Rockies are not rugged enough to suit me.
Aug 23—back in Tucson
Thunderstorms through Four Corners, seeing the landscape in stroboscopic surreal images. Pounding rain. We stopped in Green where Ron's family has a cabin, complete with pool table, pianos, ski equipment, backpacks, etc. So decadent to think there's homeless people in the world and this place sits empty most of the year. Slept in a bed with skylights over my head. Flashing lightning. Finished the drive through Salt River canyon and then Oracle. Ahh, the mighty Catalinas! It felt good to be hone. I least i felt that way at that point. Then we actually we pulled into town. Then that oppressive afternoon feeling of wanting to delay reality by seeing a flick. Most of [C's] stuff was gong but it was still a mess. What was left was in my way, for me to clean up. I wanted to purify, i burned some incense. the place smelled like C. Beer bottles and Domino's pizza and condom wrappers and tampons in the trash. Moldy Ultimate smoothies and black rotten bananas. I didn't know where to begin. It was hot and sultry. I went into school and saw Jesus (who's stressing majorly) and worked out. Came back and scrubbed, I mean SCRUBBED the kitchen bathroom and back room. I need simplicity, purity. Open space. Next semester i'm gonna get very healthy, do yoga, climb and study. No more partying. Yah, well, Brian and Rich came by and we went to O'Malley's and drank beer. Mark and I beat these macho Mexican dudes that were being pricks then we ran the table all night and finally just gave it up.
The storm is almost upon me, encroaching from all sides. Mt Lemmon is enveloped, a wall of grey-blue lit by lightning is heading this way. From the south comes a more dusty and very threatening wall of clouds. The wind is swirling and can't make up its mind. It's like being in the edge of a hurricane. Lightning all around. It is wet though it's not raining. Just from the proximity. Besides the usual dusty smells there is a peculiar fruity odor. The sky is cracking and the sirens echo through the city. It is almost here. My porch is wet, but it's still not "raining." Come now.
Classes being tomorrow. I feel good about it. Went and hiked Tanque Verde ridge today with Shaheen and Debbie. Actually Shaheen had to go down to take the new Russian girl somewhere while Debbie and i finished the hike (6.9 miles each way) and Sean picked us up. I read Black Elk Speaks last night. Mesmerizing. He spoke of the vision on Harney Peak where the tree grows in the sacred hoop and i could only think of the tree we just saw atop Harney Peak [highest point in the Black Hills] and how special it seemed and i though it was just cuz it stood alone on the highest peak east of the Rockies. Rusty was all, "so?" and all i could say was that it just seemed special. So he went over and kissed it and so did I. Looking back, i neglected to mention our jaunt up Harney peak, which was weird cuz it was such a special place. There's a stone building on top that looks like a castle, the vibes were strong, the rock ancient and crystallized, the oldest rock in the world. We (Tanaqqi, Rusty and I) spent a good while up there, absorbing the vibes. Anyways, Black Elk Speaks... an amazing book. It got me thinking a lot about why humans feel a need to express themselves. Why can't i just be content to read books such as Black Elk Speaks and be satisfied with the experience in itself and no more? Why do i want to write or talk about it? Why do i write anything? I'm writing a story about the stonefish experience, i've got all the ideas, i just don't know how to lay it out. What am i trying to get across? Breakdown of scientific reasoning. Privileged good looking young American woman about to embark at Medical school steps on a stonefish. Just one step and it makes her rethink that there is more to medicine and "hospitality". And more that i know means something but i'm not quite sure what. The elements. Fish disguised as stone. Fire-walking. Pain in almost a sensual sense that induces a reawakening, a revaluation of sensory perception. I guess the reason i'm writing it is to make sense of myself.
Went to Prescott this weekend with Boyd and Bill. Originally like a dozen people were going but most everybody chickened out cuz they were predicting rain (but they predict thunderstorms everyday this time of year, don't they?). So it ended up being the 3 of us in the cab of Bills truck, 4 hours to Prescott. Camped out at the trailhead (arrived in the dark). Somebody had a wolf and it was roaming around the campsites, inducing dreams in me. The approach to Granite Mountain is about 2 miles. I did the usual pre-climb release of excess baggage... find a nice spot, dig a hole, squat and i'm ½ way through a shit when i see a praying mantis and it's in the hole i dug struggling to get out but my shit is on the way and if i pinch it off he's dust! I couldn't help it, couldn't stop it from coming, nor was there time to reach and grab the mantis. It plopped right on top of him, his arms in the trademark praying mantis defense pose. So i'm thinking what bad karmas this was, i couldn't save it without digging it out of my shit. So i bury it and pick up a rock to plop on too and there's a scorpion under it! Anyways, Boyd started us out on Magnolia Thunder Pussy (5.8+), this 5.8 crack like elevator-shaft like chimney up to a rood that you had to get hand jams in and haul yourself over. Excellent fun. Then we went and did Said and Done. I did the first pitch which was only 5.6 and i got up to the belay and i see this storm and Bill these other climbers are eyeing this approaching cell and we decide not to do the other 2 pitches (which were 5.9 and 5.10 finger and hand cracks), but rather stay low. I down climbed part way then got to a large block that i rapped off but Bill was too proud to leave a sling so he climbed up to get it then downclimbed. Then we went and did Delphina Lightning Ass (5.9–) which Boyd led, layback crack that was good fun. So Bill offers me the first pitch of Falling Ross (5.9) and I tell him to do it since he hasn't led yet and Boyd's all "I'll do it" and grabs the gear before we can say anything. He gets to the crux section and falls repeatedly and eventually had to lower off. Haha. Bill went up and finished it. It was this shitty series of cracks, just awkward as hell, but i did it with no falls. Bill started to do the next pitch, a classic 5.10 hand crack, but got spanked and had to aid his way down. We had beer that we brought with us so we went to the "patio" and drank them with these old timers that were camping out there. They were all probably in their 50s and overweight but had climbed all the heinous routes there, first ascentionists like Scott Baxter, Tom Taber and these other guys who were doing the 25th anniversary ascent of Green Savior. They had some good stories to tell.
After a burrito fest we hit the sack but then a skunk kept bugging my sleep, sniffing around and i had to keep really still. Woke up with my nose grinding in the piney-decay soil. Did the approach again and did Water Streak Delight (5.10d, 2 pitches). I did the first 5.9 pitch. Boyd was about to do it but i figured you just have to be an asshole with idiots like Boyd and just said no fucking way. It was very cool face climbing on these edgy flakes. Bill did the next pitch which had a 10d face crux then went into this crack. I did it no problem then he kept me on while i scrambled up this 5.4 section that led to Candyland (5.9–, 2 pitches). Oh yah, by this time Bill's friend Paul Peterson had joined us. He was this mountain-man programmer from Prescott. Where Candyland starts is under this immense roof that juts out vertically maybe 3 or 40 feet. All sorts of pigeon and Peregrine shit everywhere. The peregrines were cruising about this whole time, diving and hovering, taking your breath away with them. Boyd led the 5.7 traverse under the roof, amazing pitch. the kind of pitch you're in no hurry to finish. First up this slippery dihedral to the corner, then out right (left is 5.11) below the corner crack, with absolutely nothing for your feet. You just gotta keep moving along about 30 feet like this hand over hand like traversing the top of a wall, then around the corner onto a bitching ledge. Such a breath-taking roof. Bill led the last pitch, a 5.9 crack. I started doing it as a hand jam before i slipped out (my only fall this weekend) and realized it was easier to lay it back. That topped us out just as a thunder cell was approaching so we quickly got off and virtually ran the 2 miles to the car. Had dinner with Paul than i drove us back and we hit this insane storm right around Picacho peak.
[... September/October 1993]