(PHOTO: Home sweet home with my new living room furniture - just $16 for table, chairs, ottoman, and a lamp from the Goodwill)
I didn't want anyone to think I didn't have fun in Madison. Despite my review below, I made the best of the facilities I was allowed to use. It was Brad's first climbing experience, so I didn't want to be a sourpuss about our limitations. We had a great time, though the clip-in auto-belay system (wasn't their a manufacturer's recommended recall last month???) made descents both awkward and "sticky." I was bummed about this - I wanted Brad to have the sort of experience I had my first climbs at UNL.
Christina wanted to climb, but her left ankle wasn't fully recovered. She fell last week, in a hole, during some sort of par-tay with new friends in Milwaukee. I hope she'll be able to go to my review trip to Warrenville, Illinois some time next year. Sidelined with an injury, she got stuck with the dubious honor of being our documentarian. Considering the limitations of my camera, a Canon PowerShot A720 IS, she did a good job. My camera, by the way, is out of commission. The shutter mechanism got sand in it during my summer trip to California and this morning, well, it stuck in the open position (despite my efforts to fix it). So it looks like I'll be dropping off my camera at Rockbrook this afternoon while hoping the repair won't cost more than an 8.0 mega pixel 6x zoom replacement.
At this point, I'm hoping to get a digital video camera - something beyond the Flip but not quite as pricey as the cameras I oogled at Best Buy. Not only am I becoming a gear ho, checking out climbing stuff online the way my ex surfed for porn, I'm becoming a digidweeb - hot for electronics. Checking out new climbing videos on YouTube has become a favorite hobby of mine, but that isn't saying much. I'll do just about anything to avoid reading the books on my dissertation comp list.
I'd even read stereo instructions, in Spanish mind you, and I don't habla.
Later today, I'm heading to the medical clinic for an x-ray on the sausage foot. Even after five days the thing hasn't improved, unless one considers its kaleidoscope color striations and blue toes improvement. At this point, I just want a shoe splint so I can go to work tomorrow. I've got teaching to do.
I'm bummed out, though. I already know the recovery time is going to cost me. My callouses, which were finally solid, will soften. I'll have to go through that conditioning period again. And I'm worried I'll gain weight or lose ground I worked so hard to cover at the wall. Climbing is "inherently dangerous," so I'm not complaining about the injury itself - I had a great time getting it.
Well, except that biffing part, where I fell from grace and into my face.
It looks like my next scheduled review will be of Vertical Endeavors in St. Paul, Minnesota. I'm headed to Minneapolis for the Rhetoric Society of America conference there during Memorial Day Weekend. It's a big conference and my first appearance there, so I thought I'd add to the fun by spending a day climbing. At some point, I'd like to check out the Stone Age Climbing Gym in New Mexico - and the outdoor climbing near Albuquerque.
Why the emphasis on sport climbing indoors? Well, why not? It seems that as popularity grows for both climbing and comps, and as some gyms employ a "great for parties and retreats" approach to wooing customers, reviews would be worthwhile. Also, I'm promoting healthy lifestyle development for women of all ages and sizes. I hope to contribute to others' sense of experimentation and growth - the sort of good stuff climbing provides in ways other sports/workouts can't.
But mostly, I'm having fun. I do hope to make it to the Shelf Road trip scheduled for April, but I may have to wait until the fall since I'm heading to Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, and Milwaukee again in the first six months of the year. Laura's graduating in June and Christina's getting married in July. It's going to be a busy year.
That reminds me: I'm collecting green wine bottles for Christina's centerpieces at the reception. If you live nearby or will be visiting, bring me your empties (or better still, full ones and we'll empty them together). Christina and Brad are trying to put together a "green" wedding, so all of our decorations, table service, and all that which is bridal, is coming from nontraditional sources such as thrift stores. Even the caterer is a owner-operated organic food restaurant. Beans and Barley of Milwaukee will be providing the trays - and I think that's pretty cool.
The wedding and reception will be at the original PBR brewery in Milwaukee - a beautiful space rich with history. I'm hoping my friends and PBR loyals will consider making the trip. It looks like we're going to have a rockin' good time.
That's about all I've got today: X-rays, a trip to the camera store, Dad and Denise stopping in for the night on their way from Chicago to Longmont, Colo., a dinner to cook in their honor, and papers to grade. It's a good thing I got my climb on over the break - there's no telling when I get to climb again.