I was disappointed, albeit hypocritically, that my dad's side of the family didn't have a big Thanksgiving shin-dig this year. Having just visited, though, my guilt on the subject is assuaged. This year, I spent the holiday with my main-squeeze, Whitney, and his family. We drove together down to Santa Barbara, a 5.5 hour trip, where I got to hang out with his mom, dad, and two brothers. Arrived just in time to help make some food for the spread, had an easy-going and filling meal, and walked the beautiful beaches before sleeping off the drive. Next day, we went hiking in the Santa Barbara foothills. Whitney had told me his parents were avid and active outdoors-people, but I had not anticipated rock-scrambling along a couple ridges overlooking Santa Barbara and the Pacific beyond. We peaked out at Cathedral Peak, and scrambled down the other side of the ridge. I felt beat after that, so here's a pic of me on the way up.
It was a good thing that we had that warm up lap, cause the next day, we hit the road again for another long drive inland to Joshua Tree National Park, where we arrived around 3 am and flopped off the road a long enough hike not to be bugged by rangers in the morning. I woke up to sunrise over an alien landscape with crazy looking plants and boulders stacked as though by titans.
The next two days, we did a lot more rock scrambling, this time, on much more vertically inclined rocks. I was the wimpy kid next to Whitney and his brother leading the way. They had grown up rock climbing and seemed to have no fear. I followed them as far as I felt comfortable, and then even a little more, seriously testing my fear of heights.
I look wiley in the above picture, but this was just before I was holding on for my life in a probably-perfectly-safe, but still scary-as-shit climb with a dangerous-ish drop behind me. (Maybe I should have put on the climbing shoes attached to my belt loop?)
I did find plenty of time to sip on some delicious tea that Whitney's dad had recieved from students he taught in China, and kept the Thanksgiving theme going with heartily earned meals to recharge at the end of the day.
I can't emphasis enough how wonderful it was to just be in the desert there. The air was dry and cool, and the sun was encouraging in the winter. Saw a lot of extremely awesome rock climbing, and was thankful that I had great people to be patient with my beginner status on the way up. I'm encouraged by the feeling of tiredness I had after keeping moving all day for the last few days (excepting the longish travel days) and hope to keep up the exercise. Strengthening my shoulder joints by gently pursuing climbing activities may be a great way to rehabilitate my loose left shoulder, as well.
Flew home this afternoon and back to the grindstone tomorrow. For now, though, it's time for a nice long soak in the bath, and fantasize about the next trip into a national park out here; I'm falling in love with the West.