Oh hello! Welcome!
If you’ve been here since this was a travel blog about Australia, whoa dude; you’ve seen some changes. Thanks for hanging out all these years.
If you’re new (and this is more likely) you’ve started reading because you’re into climbing and/or gardening. That’s awesome!
Regardless of what this ole’ blog was in the past, now its a vehicle for me to keep loved ones up to date while I traverse the country on this WWOOFing, rock climbing (mis)adventure.
What compelled me to plan this adventure was a giant “why the hell not?” I started realizing that, spoiler alert, none of us get out of this world alive, and that made me think, “well shoot, we might as well pursue those scary, exciting dreams that keep us up at night.”
There’s certainly more to it than that, of course. When I was in high school I was hospitalized for a pretty gnarly eating disorder that all but wiped my teen years from memory. A huge component of my healing from that was a WWOOFing stint I had in Western Australia. I joined WWOOF because I wanted cheap travel, but I came back from three months overseas with the conviction that growing food for small communities was the holiest of works, the most redemptive exercise a person could engage in. Nurturing the soil I stood on felt like restoring my own sense of self-care. My relationship with food drastically changed from one of bitter necessity to wonder and peace.
I came back to Phoenix, Arizona and started working on an urban garden in the asphalt jungle of downtown, and I’ve been there cursing the heat, crawling through mud during monsoon season to find a lost duckling, marveling at a tomato plant stretching up to the sun right before my eyes, and doing life with the poverty-stricken neighbors who come to help out at the farm in exchange for fresh, organic produce, which you can’t find anywhere else in the “food desert” of Downtown Phoenix.
Working at that farm downtown changed me, as did rock climbing.
Without getting too melodramatic, I’ve gotta explain that living and working in a broken system that keeps the sick and poor sick and poor, and the rich and healthy exactly the same, wore on me in unexpected ways. I sunk pretty deep into a depression that rivaled my high school experience and wound up having my family stage an intervention, where they came out to “visit” me from Los Angeles and then convinced me to quit my job, break my lease, and come rest in LA for a couple of months.
We high-tailed it out of Phoenix, speeding west like fugitives, while I wept over my failure in the backseat. When we pulled off the freeway to get to my dad’s house, however, a huge billboard caught my attention. “Stronghold Climbing Gym”, it read, black letters against a huge red fist, the silhouette of mountains with climbers dangling from them on the sides.
I’d never climbed before in my life, but I figured I might as well do something with my “recovery” time in California other than the mandatory therapy my dad encouraged.
I shuffled into Stronghold one morning last January, blurry-eyed and jaded from my years working downtown, and said, “hey, how much is a membership?” I already had my debit card out. It didn’t matter how much it was; this non-climber was getting a climbing membership.
Fast-forward to right now, as I type this up. I’m about to leave for work, actually, and you know where I work? At that climbing gym. I run all the kids’ programs there, as well as filling in behind the desk when my coworkers head out on climbing trips. Like gardening, I found something in climbing that felt redemptive. I found something that quiets my anxious mind, something that centers me, that brings me fully into the moment. Climbing at that gym, and subsequently meeting people there who took me to Holcomb, to JTree, to Red Rocks and Stoney Point, did for me what I thought therapy was supposed to. I found climbing to be meditative, and somehow healing.
This road trip could wind up a truly amazing thing; I know firsthand that it’s difficult to care about something seemingly abstract, like sustainable food systems or wildlife conservation, until you’re actually a part of that world. The people who care about the imminent Joshua Tree extinction are the ones who hang around Joshua Tree National Park with tape on their fingers and trad racks hanging off their waists. The people who do most for the hungry are those who know the painstaking joy of composting, mulching, harvesting, etc. I hope to bring food justice and climbing conservatism to the everyday person who’s just wanting to tag along on some adventures via social media.
I need to head to work, but I wanted to express my deepest hope that you will find something interesting in this blog and that you’re out chasing your bliss, whatever that looks like, and making the world a little more kind as you go.