Bday blog, October 27, 2008

Monday October 27, 2008

Happy Birthday to me! ðŸ™‚ 

I can't believe how fast time seems to fly these days. 

I haven't written much these days mostly
because my schedule has been franticly busy. Since
August, I returned to work closing out one project
and absorbing another.  Between
trying to spend as much time with Mike as I could
before he left on a one-way to Europe and my work, I
didn't really have any left over time for
else.  I had committed some time this October
for a climbing trip to the Red River Gorge and even
up until the actual departure, I was sure I'd have
to cancel it because of work. Fortunately, as I
write, I'm sitting in an airport after the trip, enroute back to Seattle from the Red. 🙂

I left for the Red October 9, just in time for
Rocktoberfest.  I flew into Columbus and rented
a car so I arrived late Thursday night and was ready
to climb something on Friday. One thing to note
about my travel, apparently with the new baggage
fees, there is a higher likelihood of not getting
checked through to your final destination. I was
checked only to Detroit where I had to get a new
boarding pass. What they neglected to tell me was
that my bag was also not check ed through to Columbus
and that I should have requested it's transfer,
which I didn't do because I didn't know to do this.
Fortunately, with a few hours to drive to Lexington, Ky, it was enough for my bag to fly from Detroit to
the Lexington airport where I picked it up on my way
to Slade. Not too bad of an outcome, really. Baggage
claim in lexington had closed by the time I arrived
but a gentleman stayed on an extra 30 minutes to
hand me the bag. This was a real treat after all of
the bad service I had received along my trip that
day.  the man waited by the curb of baggage
claim for me to drive up and then he put the bag in
my car and i drove off, hardly putting a dent in my
drive time for the detour. 🙂

Friday, I partnered up with Canada's Sonnie Trotter
and went to the Motherlode. Sonnie was trying
Transworld Depravity and I just needed to do laps
and get fit. I had forgotten how intimidating the
walls of the 'lode were and was quickly reintroduced
to the perpetual pump factor of climbing there. It
took me about a week to be able to hang and feel any
kind of recovery start to happen. Sonnie did well on
Transworld but was not in town long enough to send.
the temps were hot and humid and the higher you
climbed on those walls, the more you were hating the
heat. Everyone was complaining of the weather, but i
didn't care. i had a limited time to climb and humid
or not, i was climbing and loving it!

The weekend of Rocktoberfest went by quickly. The
Petzl crew was there (Chuck, John and Mike) with
some of their athletes and a booth. Some notable
athletes I met there were Sonnie Trotter, Emily
Harrington, Tommy Caldwell, Lisa Rands, Stephanie
Forte, Micah Dash, Whitney Boland, Cedar Wright,
Justin Sjong, and arriving after Rocktoberfest:
Chris Sharma, Dahlia Ojeda, Joe Kinder and Colette McInerney.  When a friend from Vancouver, Steve
Townsend, showed up after driving 3 days I was not
surprised when he said the Red was the place to be.
That day, alone, there were 20 highly motivated and
strong climbers devouring the walls.  It was
the perfect place to be to be inspired and

Rocktoberfest brought about $25k to the
coalition and was
considered a huge success. You wouldn't believe that
one of the organizers pulled this together while
planning his own wedding, getting married, buying a
house and moving during the same span of time.
Everyone involved with bringing this together needs
a huge Thanks!

When the weekend events were done, I moved to
lago linda's
and began my work/climbing week. Being busy with
work meant that I would have to take work with me on
the trip. i'm pretty skilled at working remotely,
but the problem is that not everyone understands how
to work this way and there were some glitches that
did not set this routine on a comfortable track,
esp. for
those in seattle working with me.

First, airport internet connectivity was not letting
me access my corporate network.  All the work I
did on the plane had to wait an extra day to be sent
because of this. Next, Miguel's offers wireless that
actually works! but, it costs $1 a week to use.
ok, i'm not complaining about $1. i'm complaining
because they change the codes periodically and when
i get online, esp if it's time sensitive, i found
myself without connectivity and having to get the
code, again. 😦  Even my reliable network at
the My Time coffee shop in Richmond failed me one
evening. everyone in the coffee shop was
experiencing the same thing, being booted off the
network. my conf calls kept being interrupted and i
had a presentation to do that evening that i was worried would be
affected. fortunately, it wasn't, but talk about

so, from my end, once i could troubleshoot the
initial hurdles of connectivity and consistency of
connecting, then I knew how to get around and be
productive. But, from the Seattle end, i'm not sure
they really understood…there were definitely times
when i thought this was fruitless and i shouldn't
bother because the coordinated effort appeared
impacted. when i get back, i hope to learn their
side so perhaps i can get the opportunity to work
remotely, again.  ps. i should mention, this is
a new manager and new project, so perhaps that
contributed to the challenge.

i wasn't working, i was climbing. i didn't have too
much time to sit back and enjoy the company of camp.
this part i could relate well with for my boyfriend,
mike, who had to work during our roadtrip.
unfortunately, it usually meant boredom for me, not
socializing. anyway, i did feel myself being torn
between the lifestyle of a climbing get away and
work. i'm still not sure if there is a way to
reconcile this. however, i should note that i was
not alone. Micah, Whitney and others had to work as
well, while traveling. I would run into them at
Miguels and took comfort that i was not the only one
feeling the pressure of delivering something in my
'free time.'

I didn't have a project at the Red this trip and I
was out of shape for rope climbing, i didn't care
what cliffs we went to, i just wanted to climb. i
was staying in one of Kenny Barker's campers at Lago
Lindas and the first weekend I was there, Kenny's
girlfriend, Julie, wanted to go to The Dark Side to
get on her project, The Force. I was excited to hang
out with them and didn't mind that one of the first
walls I'd be climbing on was one of the hardest in
the Red, in my opinion.

tried this route Shanghai up on the ramp and after a
bolt to bolt go on it for my first attempt (i'm not
in onsite shape, remember i can't recover at all,
yet!), i managed it on my 2nd go. i was
psyched! the climb is typical dark side pockets and
ledges (sharp) with a 2 bolt boulder section that
takes you to the chains. it was sweet! i highly
recommend this climb. super fun! oh, and i couldn't
cheat to the first good hold at the first bolt up on
the climb, i actually had to do the crimper moves
into that to get started….also very typical for
me at that wall.

the wall was pretty crowded and i was thinking to go
on Mind Meld, but was persuaded to try Elephant Man,
instead. I did a bolt to bolt go on it and thought
it was wicked hard. we left it at that and i didn't
think i'd try it again this trip. ha ha, jokes on
me. I ended up at the Dark Side not long after and
gave Elephant Man another go. Wow! I was surprised.
I made a high point and managed to link after the
crux to the top. I got psyched on it and even after
putting some time on it (some times definitely not
even close to as good as this day's attempts) never
managed the send. 😦  I never actually clipped
the 5th bolt….where's that recovery thing i was
talking bout?  🙂  my stamina is still low
and i never really worked on it so by the 5th bolt
of about 20 pumpy, powerful moves, i run out of gas.
oh well, for another time.

trips are hard because you have to choose between
projecting and climbing lots. I wanted fitness so i
started with climbing lots, then i got psyched on
elephant man and started projecting. hmmmm…can't
really have both, as I admit upon leaving the red.
🙂 anyway, it was fun to try and i can leave being
psyched on my new high point that could have me
clipping the 5th if i stayed a little longer. then,
there's hope of a send on the horizon. 🙂

saw a lot of familiar faces as I went around. It was
comforting and brought back happy thoughts from
previous trips. Everyone was smiling, most of the
days were sunny and the temperatures had dropped so
the climbing was
getting better and better. The
weekend warriors would come up and I'd get to meet
up with friends from Tennessee like Noel and Craig.
Both of

whom are climbing super strong right now.
Julie didn't make it back for another weekend, but
at least i got to spend some time with her this past
one. Kenny's
been psyched that she's taken to rope climbing.
She's always been really strong but she had never
developed a lead head until now. Now that she has,
she is crushing!  Speaking of crushing, Kenny's
one hanging it on Transworld and has good progress
on Swing Line. Talk about crushing it! 🙂

set of people I met are friends of Mikes from
Vancouver whom I had never really met or gotten to
know before. We met up one day and went climbing
together, it was a blast. I took them to Solar
Collector in the hopes of going to Dark Side after.
I was going to rest, and probably should have, but I
got psyched to climb after climbing up to take
photos of them. 

It's bad enough that Elephant man is hard and esp.
hard for me, but on one of the muggier days that i
found myself back there, my foot slipped in the
middle of the crux at the 5th bolt and my right arm
missed the pocket up and left of the bolt. somehow i
caught the rope and flipped upside down. it was
scary! i turtled and my bum hit the wall. i managed
to unhook my leg and get upright before being
lowered. disoriented, i sat down and dealt with a
stinging leg for the rest of the day. i was wearing
crop pants, thankfully, so i only bruised myself
really bad. no loss of skin. but, it happened on my
2nd day on the climb and ever since, i found myself
scared to fall…not that i didn't have reservations
before, but i suddenly found myself grabbing draws
on my red point attempts and on elephant man, i
couldn't climb to that high point without
hesitating. i studied the rope, i had my belayers
study the rope, i made sure the belayer was someone
i trusted and still, it was in my head. 
disappointed, i walked away from the climb and
decided if I was to get on it again, i'd have to
work through that mental crux.

on my last day, i got back on it, felt strong and
even made it to the clipping holds, i was scared. it
was the strangest thing…i'd taken the fall at the
5th, i had kenny, who i trusted, on belay, but
still, i wanted to do anything i could to clip the
5th and not let go and fall. every hold i grabbed as
i moved through that section i was watching the
rope, deliberate and of course, over gripping to
make sure i didn't slip. kenny said the rope looked
fine, but my head was still debating this. i could
hear my inner voice telling me to keep moving, that
kenny was on the other end and i think that is what
let me make it through that section. now that i've
left, i won't know if i've made any headway there,
but i'm hoping i did. at the very least, i really
understand how my friend, Syg, after flipping and
hitting her back, developed serious reservations
about climbing.

Ky so close to Oh, there is the temptation and
desire to go north to Cleveland and visit my family.
i never know how much time will be in between visits
so i make every effort whenever i can. as luck would
have it, the rain stayed off until this past
weekend. i was not motivated for the long drive (6.5
-7 hours with pit stops), but I found myself doing
it anyway. i left thursday night and returned
saturday night. it was nice to spend time with
everyone. i managed to squeeze in the most important
people. even josh was around long enough to
breakfast with me. now that he's nearly 17, he seems
to have a full life with girlfriends, social and
other things more important than family,. 🙂

kids, on the other hand, were available and friday
night we played monopoly (with the new credit card
feature where Times Square is Boardwalk and the
price of landing there costs you $20m dollars when a
hotel is on the property. ouch! Everything was in
hundreds of thousands of dollars and up. seemed
really unrealistic to me, but it was fun to have a
banker do all of the transactions by credit card. i
was definitely losing in the beginning, started off
on a chance space that made me pay each (5 others)
player $500k. 😦  DJ was next to last, then
Victoria, Jordan and then Danny. Danny somehow
managed to get a lot of properties his first go.
Victoria ended up in jail and jordan was just a bit
unlucky, next tome. DJ was half playing so i
attribute his loss to that.

One strategy the kids had was to get the next player
to roll the dice as quickly as possible in the hopes
that their turn would go unnoticed. this meant if
they landed on your property and you weren't paying
attention they could avoid paying rent. 🙂 
Victoria got away with that a lot, but despite her
keen eye on everyone else, she decided to quit and
hand over all of her property and $ to me. 🙂 
i played her hand for awhile before realizing she
really wasn't coming back. with her added property
and cash, i was able to quickly bankrupt jordan. 
this gave me both of the highest valued properties
with enough $ to put hotels on each. DJ had left the
game and the cash and properties had been divvy'd
between jordan and danny, but it didn't help jordan
in the end. Danny just wouldn't give up even though
i was sure he was done. with $1300 in his account at
one point, and most properties mortgaged, i started
landing on his land and paying him $9m a pop.

was a brief moment when I thought he might return,
then he told me i was about $75m up in cash and i
just waited for him to fizzle out…it took a few
more turns, but he landed on Times Square twice and
I/Victoria won with over $100m in the bank. 

During the game, i should mention that they came
down with cake and sprayed me with silly string. 🙂
i can't believe they put 38 candles on that thing!
the frosting was melting it was so hot!

the next morning victoria wanted to work out with me
so we did a 'bikini body' workout (bikini body in 22
minutes!). wow! it was hard. she was strong and
could keep up, giggles and all, but me, no way.
Then, when it was done, she wanted to show me her
karate exercises. we made it through some of the
stretches and her military 6 inches abs before i had
to call it quits. i was tired! 🙂  i took her
to breakfast then joined DJ and Jordan in Cleveland
for the football playoffs game.

is #42 and plays the safety. Jordan is #1 and plays
(hm, can't remember the term…he's on the main line
very outside position). DJ was under the weather and
perhaps that's why he didn't get a lot of play time,
but he did play the opening kick and some of the
final plays. Jordan
was in the game for the defensive, quite a bit. he
made a few good tackles and i have some video of
them on my webshots site. They didn't win the game,
but they played well and held the other team off at
only 1 TD.

After the game, we did a White Castle run where
Craig brought out another cake (thankfully

only 8 candles on it) and we celebrated my bday one
more time. The funniest part about the 8 candles vs.
38 candles is that i blew out all 38 the night
before but had trouble getting that 8th candle to go
out that day. ha ha, pretty funny. i also have a
video of this.

that was the end of my family visit and pretty much
the end of my trip to the red. i crashed with kenny
and julie in columbus last night and am enroute to
seattle as I type.

Tonight, i'll celebrate my official birthday with a
friend. i'm already hoping i can return to the red
in a few weeks. meanwhile, hope to find out what
mike is up to and hopefully learn when i might be
able to see him again. 🙂

About Audrey Sniezek

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