Monday, May 5, 2008

day 4: heights and hi-lites

we started the day with a nice nature walk at gemini springs. i forgot to bring my camera, which was a terrible shame because we got a good close look at a scarlet ibis and i caught the tail end of what i'm pretty sure was a river otter. we also saw several cottontail rabbits, although, as i told pam, i think it was the same one stalking us through the woods. we did not see any snakes, which disappointed pam greatly, until near the end of our walk when we saw half a snake corpse. she said that didn't count.

the conversation got deep during this walk: exploring the influence parental divorce and its timing may have on the development of a person's 'natural astrologically-based personality'. for example, her taurus persona is not supposed to be very spontaneous or flashy. according to the book, she should be a plodder and prefer functionality over style. sagittarius, on the other hand, is supposed to be much more flighty, given to action without forethought, and optimistic to a fault.

if you know us, you know that she is much more a seat-of-the-pants thrill-seeker, and i almost never do anything without a plan of action 4 levels deep. pam's rationale is that her early childhood enjoyed the stability of a typical family arrangement, allowing her the security to attempt activities she might not otherwise. on the other hand, the family structure was already fractured by the time my personality started to develop (i later argued that said personality never developed at all, but that may be another post) and led to my need for planning, if not in detail, at least in theory, every step of my actions and possible reactions to them.

and optimism? forget it. until i had kids and was replanted in the church, i was one of the most cynical and pessimistic people i knew.

the discussion that began on the nature trail ended at the waffle house, where i confused frank's red hot sauce and straight-up tabasco and nearly burned my mouth off eating scrambled eggs. after a good cry, we were ready to move on.

we decided to crash the senior center and take over the bingo game. pam has started to take after mom a whole lot, including her fascination with bingo. she even has her own bag and, until this day, a complete set of dabbers. the set may no longer be complete because danica said she saw a brown one, although pam is dubious. i'm sure she'll be on the lookout for it next time, though.

we had our own little table right up front and quickly got lost in the game. at intermission, they served coffee and sweets. what is it with old people and eating nothing but dessert? i guess they figure there's no point in eating healthy anymore. respectfully, i suppose they've earned it.

a couple times we were one number away from a win, but victory kept eluding us. late in the session, i sat needing one number for about 12 balls. of course, the way things go, it was one of the first numbers called the next game. bingo is nothing more than a game of sheer chance, but sometimes you wonder. one woman won 4 different times! in the penultimate game of the day, danica and i both were 1 number away; hers actually came through. she was quite excited, but she complained for the rest of the day that her $50 winnings were in singles.

i wanted to dye our hair on this wild trip, but pam forgot and did something before i even arrived. i still wanted something radical, though, so when we were not busy not winning at bingo, i took the hot pink dabber and started coloring my gray patch. i couldn't see it very well, though, so pam took over, which was not unlike the olden days when she would color my hair with her markers while i was sleeping. it looked pretty cool but was coming off when touched so we decided to stop and get real dye to do it right. i think it looked better with the dabber, though:

we finished that just in time to head over to the climbing gym. pam got an unexpected price break when we found out that it was students' night. 5 people climbed for 11.99, including rental shoes and harnesses. we had to take a quick class in knot tying and then away we went. it worked out pretty well in that two people could climb while two others belayed and one took a rest. jess mostly rested for some reason, but danica was like a monkey. she climbed those walls so fast we could barely keep up. oddly enough, pam was terrified. the woman who wanted to do somersaults at 11,000 feet froze halfway up her first climb because she didn't trust that i would keep her from falling--what sisterly bond? after she did a 'test fall', however, she was more confident and did a better job. i did pretty well, too, if i do say so myself.

there was one path in particular that danica scaled that gave the rest of us trouble. chris tried it, but his shoulder gave out. when i attempted it, i had trouble coordinating my moves. i came off the wall twice but went back to it. i got only as far as chris had before my hands starting cramping and i had to quit. a little later jessica tried it, just to say she got higher than chris and i, i'm sure. she started to have trouble around the same place i did, but i wouldn't let her down. she stuck with it and once she was clearly higher than we had climbed she gave up, too. pam never did attempt that one.

danica did encounter one path she couldn't conquer. although it wasn't the most difficult one she attempted as far as verticalness and hold placement/frequency, the holds that were lowest just were not good for fingers. especially not fingers with freshly manicured half inch-long nails. acknowledging how well she did despite those talons was kind of
embarrassing for the rest of us who had no such handicap.

i finished off the night with a great climb. it was a complete vertical and took some serious maneuvering. i did stray off the color-coded rocks for that particular path, but i made it to the top. hey, whatever it takes. when you're a rookie you don't worry about style, you just want to climb.

we all had a very good time, but we ended up with stiff necks from looking straight up all night. add that to the soreness i had from volleyball and i was feeling it. that was one thing my training couldn't save me from. we discovered that the best way to watch other climbers, provided that you weren't responsible for belaying, was to lie flat on the floor. we watched some (much) more experienced climbers do lead rope work in the shrine-like cavern. we were in awe of their sculpted backs and shoulders. i think pam actually drooled a little.