Hueco, December 27, 2007

Thursday December 27, 2007 

Hueco Tanks was pretty fun. I was really happy to have the
company of Rachel and Jordan. Rachel was super
driven and highly motivated so the energy for the
remaining time there was really high. I kept my
appointments in town and climbed only a few days
during the time I was there, but each of those days
was awesome! Rachel is super strong but was
exhausting herself on one of her projects that she
ended up having to walk away from in the end. Her
determination was inspiring!

The timing of their departure worked well for me
because I was flying to Seattle from Vegas the
following week. We decided to caravan north and stay
with a friend in Albuquerque. Unfortunately, the
friend plan fell through so we got a hotel in a
quaint La Quinta Inn. I sorted out alternative plans
for the weekend and we each got a good night's rest
in a warm room that night.

We woke up to snow the following morning, which
scared me for driving the van but everything turned
out fine and the snow wasn't a deterrent like I had
expected. The drive to Las Vegas was uneventful,
fortunately, and I arrived early enough to not feel
like an inconvenience to my host, Bill, whom I
barely knew. I stayed at his home that night then
drove to Bishop the following day to meet up with
friends climbing there.

The drive to Bishop was good. My route took me over a
pass, which the van did well on but on the steep
descent, I overheated the brakes. Two kind gentlemen
stopped and helped me assess my situation and I
spent the rest of the day in a garage waiting for a
brake inspection once I got off the pass. After the
inspection proved I could get back to Vegas, I met
up with Kenny and Julie and we went out for some
pizza before retiring to their hotel room. The
weather had been very cold at night that they
decided to treat themselves to a room during their stay.

The following day, we went out to the Buttermilks
and putzed around. Brandan, who had belayed me on
The Force in The Red, had moved to Mammoth
so met us in Bishop. It was his first time in Bishop
so we showed him some of the classics

like Ironman
traverse.  Meanwhile, I got to try some of the
old classics and send a few new ones like: Soul
, High Plains Drifter and
Fly Boy
. It was a good day.

The next day, we hiked up to the Druids. It was coooold.
The sun was barely shining through clouds and the
wind was bitter. A front was moving in and it would
snow later in the day. We chose the Druids because
Julie had a project she was really close to getting
that she wanted to get back on: Shock Therapy.
She gave the top a warm up burn then sent the whole
thing first go. I got all the pics, check them out
my webshots site
. It was too cold for me to
climb so after she sent her project, we pretty much
hiked down and I started on back to Vegas.

Once again at Bill's, I packed for the holiday
traveling I'd begin the next day. Vegas public
transportation is actually quite good and I managed
on it all the way to
the airport from Bill's with plenty of time to
spare. The flight to Seattle went smoothly, I even
had a friend picking me up at the airport. I went
directly to their house and was dropped in Bellevue
the following day where I took the bus to the
airport for my flight to Kelowna.

In Kelowna, Diane made us a traditional Christmas
meal and we had a mini-gift exchange. Mike and his
dad went out to play hockey and were joined by
Mike's brother Matt from Vancouver. Diane and I
watched the game.

Back in Seattle, after lengthy flight delays, I
rented a car and met up with another friend where I
stayed the night. They let me wrap some of their
gifts for their niece and nephew and I enjoyed their
holiday spirit. The next morning, I went off to the
climbing gym to meet up with some climbing friends,
then ran my errands before heading back to the
airport where I learned I DID NOT have a
reservation! Apparently, I'd booked my return for
the 23rd of February, NOT December. ugh! With plans
in Vegas, I was facing missing Christmas and being
stranded in Seattle. Luckily, Southwest had seats
still available and at a reasonable last minute
price I snagged a seat. Except for that 'minor'
mishap, everything on my end went smooth for travel.
Mike, on the other hand, arrived after me and
without his bags. He started his trip to Vegas from
Vancouver at something like 11am that morning and
arrived in Vegas about 11ish pm. It was a long day.

Eve, everyone dressed up and went for dinner at the
Stratosphere where we had reservations. The meal was
huge but tasty and a bit pricey. It was worth it for
what we were trying to experience. With Mike getting
a Christmas bonus for the first time, this was his
gift for us. That and $100 for me to gamble
with…which I lost. 😦  I had serious issues
with my dress that immediately following dinner, I
went back to the hotel and changed. I felt bad doing
this because everyone else followed and did the same
thing. Julie's xmas gift was her dress and I really
thought she should wear it all night!

The next morning, everyone met up in search of some
breakfast. In one of the casino's we were checking
out, the security guard comes over to me and cards
me. yes, that's right, just me. 🙂 Everyone was
humored by that and even though it hasn't happened
to me in a long time, I was still flattered.

We found some breakfast, then hung out until the
evening when we went to old vegas to gamble. I did
well at Blackjack, but not so good on any form of
slot machine. I used the $15 I was ahead to play
Blackjack and lost it all in 3 hands. Mike loaned me
$20 and I won that and the $15 back including a
small bonus. It still didn't make up for what I lost
over the whole weekend, but it was fun.  Oh,
and I even played a hand of craps where I won twice
my initial bid. 🙂 I can't say that I am any more
comfortable gambling this year as I was last year. I
just don't see the returns. But, I can see the
addiction in it.

We have finally left the strip and are back on the
outskirts exploring the local climbing areas. Well,
everyone else is out exploring, I'm trying to take
it easy and heal some aches.

About Audrey Sniezek

Audrey Sniezek is a rock climbing athlete and computer software/technology enthusiast.
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