Thursday, January 20, 2011

Transcontinental Dreamin.

Chattanooga's Pedestrian causeway is an excellent way to view the Tennessee River and this paddleboat.

Serious time has elapsed since our last update; a month to be precise.  The sands of time have an uncanny way of obscuring blogal proximity.  Weeks ago, when we were still in the East I had the best of intentions to bring current this omnibus of adventure.  But, as circumstances unfolded the ideal blog 'window' never availed itself.  We have driven over 1200 miles and had numerous escapades in the chimerical landscape of New Mexico since then, with not a morsel added to this blog.    To expedite the process, we are going to lay this one out in more liberal photo-journal fashion.  I'm sure details will have fallen in the cracks, but, we hope you will have a proper feeling for where we have been, and what we have been about.  Enjoy!

On the evening of December 17th, after spending over three weeks away from Tiffany, I picked her up at the Nashville Airport.  It is true what they say concerning "distance making the heart grow fonder".   We had a great night hanging at my Sister's place in Nashville with Sammy Hudson, and my Nephew Beau.  With Christmas festivities being a week away and a nice forecast, we hit the road to explore the Chattanooga area.

After resupplying at Trader Jo's we were headed down Interstate 24 for Chatt.




Hiking across the "Indiana Jones" suspension bridge at Foster Falls.
Our first stop was Foster Fall's.  This small sport climbing area lies just West of Chatt and hosts a wonderful canyon replete with sublime cataracts, thick forest, perfect sandstone.  The routes are mostly spread out on south facing cliffs.  Since our day time highs barely climbed in the 40's, this was a great boon.

The only downside is that one has to drive to camp this time of year.  During peak season there is an on site campground (which would have been above our pay grade anyhow), but is closed during winter.  However, there is an excellent pavilion and free water at the overlook.

Although we were only able to scratch the surface of this place during our stay, there is no doubt that I would visit again.

Lovely Foster Falls.  Nighttime temps were regularly in the teens. {see ice accumulations}

This 9+ arete was put up by Eddie Whittemore.  It is excellent!!  We enjoyed the variety of climbing.  Ben managed a couple 12d's first or second go and absolutely loved the 11c Wristlets.  

After Foster Falls we spent a couple days exploring Chattanooga.  This town nestled along the Tennessee River Valley has some attractive amenities including two great brew pubs, waterfront walk ways, and a world class Aquarium.  Unfortunately, the latter of these didn't ever happen; but for those coming for a visit we hear it amazing.  Being on the road and not working for months means sacrifice.  Sometimes, we just can't afford every neat opportunity.  That said, we did enjoy some mighty fine beer at the "Terminal" brew pub and perhaps the best Burgers of our trip.  Words can't express the euphoria induced by these preternatural liberty steaks.  Here are some pics of Chatt.


The Terminal Brew Pub.  Does that grin say it all?  Just look at that juicy liberty steak sandwich!

Was the architect on this project worth it!?  Absolutely.  We very much enjoyed walking around here.

Situated several miles up river from Chatt, the famous and venerable T-Wall looms.  It ranks as one of the more notable trad climbing areas in Dixie, with climbs like "Hands Across America", "Scamper Roof", and the "Grand Contusion".  With a sunny forecast we made the trek to the wall, only to find the cliff soaked.  The previous day it had rained some in Chatt, but judging from the rain soaked cliff, it had monsooned at T-Wall.  Fortunately, after several hours of patience we were rewarded with some nice climbing.  Tiff climbed a sandbagged 5.8 that was only partially dry; and I can attest that it wasn't 5.8, especially with seepage draining out of the crux fingerlocks.   Some pics of T Wall: 

The flying hobbit onsighting Ruby Fruit Jungle (13a) at T Wall.  Though far and few in between, there are some real nice clip ups along the main wall.  This one had me jumping a gap from a boulder just to get on the wall; and several more dynamic moves out the roof saw me up.  Tooth and nail on this one.  Psyched.

Some poser...

A tea commercial

One more blissful day at Foster Fall's rounded out our short Chattanooga trip before heading back to Nashville for the holidays.  The SE is definitely blessed with a wealth of steep beautiful sandstone cragging.  We loved it!  

We pulled back into Nashville on the 23rd, just in time for Loni's Mexican dinner fiesta!  Fantastic pull apart pork tacos, piles of spicy Nacho's, and limitless margaritas made us feel right at home:)  Thanks goes to Sammy and Loni for such an entertaining evening.  Aside from the fine grub, the evening was rounded out with guitars and singing.  

Spending Christmas with my sister Loni, Sammy and Beau was magical; considering the absence of the remainder of our immediate Family, which was spread out from Washington to Iowa.  There were wonderful days spent eating (of course this is essential during the holidays), going for runs around the local golf course, watching movies, reading, playing with the cats, watching the cats socialize, the occasional snow flurry, and a blissful evening spent with my Tiffers at a fancy restaurant courtesy a gift from Dr. Kristy Corliss and Mr. Ronald Kutsch (thanks you guys for making us feel so special!).  

My lovely women....

My nephew Beau scheming global annihilation on the civil war battlefield of zorgatron.




Christmas morning breakfast.  


Nashville's replica of the mighty Parthenon 

Sammy Hudson's Bowling birthday party!  

Rockstar Loni Rose.  


Hmmmmmm.



After five days lounging in Musictown USA we decided to make one more pilgrimage East, before our exodus from Appalachia.  The weather was looking nicer than it had in a while, so we pulled the trigger.  From Nash we drove back East towards Knoxville and found that other fabled sport climbing mecca of the Obed.  Our friends Mike and Elissa joined us and a good time was had; at least, for a day.  And then, the rain came.  It rained all night.  Imagine incessant downpour for six hours.  The roof of the Vansion (normally able to withstand ambient noise caused by normal rain) was a cacophony.  At least we were privy to one extremely nice day climbing at the Tierrany Roof Area with these delightful folk.  

Farkle?  Have you heard of it?  If not, you are missing out.  This game involves six dice.  Six dice to rule them all, six dice to find them, and six dice to bring them all...o.k., I'll not digress further in that direction; however, I will warn you not to get to cocky with this game.  The night before New Years we decided to invite Mike and Elissa over for some 'casual' Farkle.  They were new to the game so I thought it would be an easy schooling and forthcoming Gilkison victory.  Tiff and I had been trained by the grandmaster Farkle genius DAG.  For those of you who don't know, my father Don Allyn Gilkison (aka: DAG), is a fierce and combative adversary in any gaming situation.  Though trained in his dojo of kamikaze crouching monkey (form of farkle), we were no match for the innate talent of Mike's wife Elissa, who (with an unassuming manner), left us in ruins upon the Farkle battlefield.  Thus, the Farkle torch was passed to Elissa for the night.  That said, since then, we have regained some of our previous rank by crushing some 20 year old rock jocks in New Mexico.  But that is part of another blog.

South Clear River at the Obed.

Steep roofs abound at the Obed.  Real steep.

Tiffers making friends with the local crag dogs.

Ben climbing Maximum Overdrive (13a) after being denied on round one.  This sweet route climbs huge slopers to a flat 40 ft ceiling.  Roofs don't get too much bigger than this one.  



The Vansion at Frozen Head State Park after a wonderful trail run and free shower.  New Mexico anyone?
Filling water at Frozen Head State Park.  Right about now we start feeling the Desert SW pull...like a tractor beam.


The obed was sweet.  Unfortunately, we only had 3 days of nice climbing weather before it started to snow.  It was a rest day: Tiff and myself were casually running some mountain trails in Frozen Head State Park (free showers!) when the sky gushed forth white frothy flakes.  Within hours, the white stuff started to accumulate on the road; and then and there we knew our destiny lay elsewhere.  We'd stuck out a month of generally colder than normal weather in appalachia, and though we wanted to spend more time at the Obed, the steep approach road to the canyon were soon to be treacherous.  On our way West we spent a couple more days in Nashville.  One day we spent taking the tour of Historic Nashville.  It was fun to see all the music shops, the old fort, and eat some delicious pop corn.  Here are some pics...


Downtown Nashville juxtaposition.  

Fort Nashborough.  



Tiff and Elvis.
In the late morning on January 7th we said our goodbye's to Loni and Beau, and hit the open road.  With the sun in our face and the wind to our back, we shot to warp speed, the Vansion gaining inertia with every...downhill section!  Memphis and the Mississippi flew by as we carved our way deep into Arkansas.  

The blur of the Mississippi. 
We don't know how this guy was able to maintain 60 mph in reverse.  Amazing driving skills for sure.
The T-1000 driving machine at the helm of Vansion.





1250 miles later we pulled into Albuquerque NM.  We crossed TN, AR, OK, TX and many roadside sunsets to get there.  And yes, it was all worth it.  We've been here a while now and have had audacious adventures.  But, I'm just about all worn out.  So, stay posted and I'll sooner or later have something to say about New Mexico the State of "Enchantment".

I'll leave you with a picture of what our evenings mostly look like.  This one is average.