Sunday, September 26, 2010


Tommy and I are on the road again after a REALLY fast 14 days home in Estes.  It was so good to sleep in our bed, have a kitchen to cook in, and see all of our Estes friends and our families.  We planned to leave early yesterday morning to get to Jackson where I am enrolled in an adventure photography workshop, but did we leave early??  Of course not.  :)  We finally got out of Estes at 3pm, ran errands in Fort Collins, and by 6pm or so we were officially on the road.  "Van-go" is packed to the brim and the Caldwell psyche is high!  This is going to be a very exciting 2 months starting here in Jackson and then off to Yosemite for Tommy to give his big proj (article and photos in Oct '10 Climbing Magazine) a push and hopefully send!!!!

Good Morning Middle of Wyoming!
As we started driving yesterday I began to relax.  I think I'm really starting to get used to all of this traveling.  Being on the road is where I relax now...where I can breathe.  Transit is when things are still even though that's when you're moving the most...covering the most ground.  It's when I get to regroup, take time to think, reflect on all of the excitement going on.  It's good.  Transit is when I used to be the most antsy...wanting to get to the destination or home.  Now I enjoy transit.
Wyoming Cowboys... :)

Jackson Hole Roasters Coffee House

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sombrero Ranch Trail Run!

Yesterday after finishing a run to start building up my miles again after the break in China I remembered that the Sombrero Ranch Trail run was today.  I mentally committed and thought that it would be a great race to try.  Tommy and I decided to switch roles and he tagged along to try and snap some photos.  We got up early to get to race-day registration, I guzzled some coffee, made it to the bathroom and chewed on some Clif Bar Shot Blocks (which I love) and got ready to go.  I'm not exactly a "racer" and as everyone around me stretched out and were jogging around in circles, I just kind of stood there...not sure what to do, so I bent forward giving a little stretch to my sore legs from yesterday.  Soon enough all the runners gathered, I handed my jacket to Tommy, the bells rang and we were off.  Within minutes I was smacking my dust crusted lips and digging into our first uphill.  With the course being a single-track, rocky course it was pretty hard for people to pass each other.  I told myself to just run slow and steady and was hoping that my feet would thaw out.  It was either really cold, or I just had poor circulation to my feet, but I couldn't feel a thing.  I thought maybe not feeling a thing would be better as long as they weren't clunking around.  However, after the first mile or so I started to get that warm sensation rushing through my toes reassuring me that I would be fine.

Flat spots to downhills and back up again, the trail was all over the place and everyone was clamping down and hoping their shoes would stick and they would stay upright.  In 3 instances people ate the dust right in front of me, occasionally rolling off trail, but always immediately getting up as if they hoped no one had seen their misstep.  On a few of the downhill spots, you ended up "glissading" more than running.  As we reached the "high point" of the run at 8,005 feet a trail volunteer falsely cheered on that "the rest is downhill"!  This got me excited and I started to let myself go a little more, thrilled in the challenge of accurate foot dabbing and making split second decisions if I could sneak by the person sucking air in front of me.  Heavy breathing seemed to be the tune of the race, which I definitely didn't avoid chiming in on.  After a while of cruising down and feeling great, I glanced up and saw bodies bobbing uphill again.  Sandbagged!!  I put my head down and grimaced up again, not even close to continuing up with my downhill pace.  I locked my eyes into the back of someone's Brooks trail shoes and made sure I didn't lose ground.  As this hill plateaued and the downhill came again, I used the opportunity to have some more fun cruising down.  It was kind of a rush!!  After hoping that maybe we were going to stick to some flatter ground the trail started to curve up again.  I don't even remember how many more times this happened, but each time I felt I started to get a little slower and slower on the inclines with my tired legs burning.  Many times I had to switch over to speed walking, which I've decided makes me faster at this point in my running.  After a burner hill we finally hit another downhill and I could tell that this was the last stretch. I knew I had it in my to go for it.  My stride lengthened and my legs were moving faster than I could ever make them go on my own, running loose so as to roll off any bumps.  Had I needed to stop abruptly, I would have eaten dirt and rolled for sure.  I tried to pass a few more people, but there was one girl in front of me that had the same idea.  As the finish line approached I pushed and finally crossed the blue mats and flagged arch.  Woo!  I had finished the race, which had been goal one.  Goal number 2 was to finish in less than one hour, and glancing at my watch, reading 48 minutes, I realized I was successful!  I was so happy to be done, guzzled some gatorade and realized this was only 1/3 of a half marathon.  Yikes.  I have some work to do!  I went to the massage table and put my name down for a 5 minute teaser massage and gave Tommy a hug.

I glanced through Tommy's photos and saw a photo of a tiny young girl I had seen at the starting line.  Tommy said she finished near the top!  I went over to tell her awesome job.  This little 11 year old girl (who had never run a trail race before besides at "camp") was the first woman to complete the course today at 41:12 (the women's course record from 2006 is 38:20!!  How rad!!!  Kudos to her and my friend, Alex Wieser, who took second in our age division (20-29 yrs) and all other finishers!  What a fun Estes race!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Only One More Week at Home...

As some of you know, our fall/early winter is jam-packed with travels.  We have officially been home for one week since China and we have exactly one week left until we hit the road for 4-5 months.  Things around our house have been pretty busy from dealing with lost luggage, trip planning and socializing to Tommy training ultra-hard for his Mescalito project on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park and me getting trained to run a trail half marathon!  Our travel schedule (so you all can keep track of us in case we get lost) is as listed:  Jackson, WY for 1 week, Yosemite for 7 weeks, Brazil for Corey and Marina Rich's wedding for one week, and then down to Patagonia, Argentina for 1-2 months.  Lots of excitement and chaos here in the Caldwell household.  

Amongst the excitement, our good friend, Kelly Cordes, decided he needed to change things up a bit and asked me if I could give him a haircut.  I'm used to giving Tommy haircuts and was up for the task.  However, he then he threw in that he was interested in growing a mullet for South America later in the season, and thought that maybe some stripes would be fitting as well.  I decided to stick to my commitment and brought on the challenge.  After no luck trying to google how to put stripes in someone's hair I grabbed the clippers, talked over with Kelly, drew some diagrams and started clipping.  Patrick Martchink, our roommate, gave some input and I think the results are promising.  Who knew Kelly Cordes could look this good!!

"Trimming" Kelly's neck hair led to shaving his back because the hairline did not stop.  :)
The final product.  He can really pull it off folks!
Patrick hard at work refinishing ski lift chairs.
This is Tommy's psyched face while taking pics of him.
Just one of our wedding photos that I like.  © Corey Rich

I Love America.

Well, we arrived back from China late on September 10th after a lot of traveling!  Our destination in China from our house was: a 1.5 hour drive, then a 2.5 hour flight, followed by a 12 hour flight, followed by a 4 hour flight, followed by 10 hours of driving (and lay over time in between!).  We were a long way from home!  When we made it back into the country after our trip to the San Francisco Airport from Beijing, we learned while waiting for our luggage at customs that 3 of our 4 bags did not arrive with us.  Lovely.  After going back and forth with employees of Air China, informing us that this was ridiculous (I agreed) and that we should go look AGAIN (the 6th time for both of us), and no bags appeared, they took our luggage tags and looked on a sheet and confirmed that 2 of our bags were in Beijing.  Alright...not a problem, we just needed them to get to our house, which we were ensured they would arrive in San Francisco the next day then fly out to Denver and finally be delivered at our house in Estes Park.  The 3rd bag was still missing.  After the trip through customs I enjoyed a wood-fired oven baked pizza and a smoothie (things I had been dreaming of - literally - since day 4 in China).  Tommy and I had separate flights home and met at the Denver airport to be picked up by his parents and home to Estes.

We rallied Saturday morning to enjoy the Scottish-Irish Festival Parade and felt chipper after only 5 hours of sleep.  We were determined to kick jet-lag in the butt and conquer it.

Tommy got right to climbing and I got to settling us back in at home.  My trip to the grocery store was so wonderful.  So many amazing options and so much produce!!  We are so blessed here in the States with the food variety and choices that we do have!  I vow to make an effort to never take that for granted again.  The next few days ended up consuming hours of time trying to get our luggage to our house.  Air China sent our bags to United in Denver and expected them to ship our bags to us.  However, since Air China lost the bags and there is not an Air China desk in Denver, United and the delivery company in Denver refused to pay for our bags to be delivered since it was not their mistake.  Finally I caved and took the day to pick up our 2 bags.  On the way down, I received a call that notified us that our 3rd missing bag was still in Urumqi (our original departure city in China) due to the bag containing a "Lithium Ion Battery".  This was a possibility because we brought a drill and 2 batteries with (having no problem westbound), but I thought I would wait and sift through our bags after I picked them up.  Good news...the drill was in one of the bags that arrived and the batteries, which meant that there was NOT a lithium ion battery in our luggage in China and there should be no issues with shipping it.  I then proceeded to inform Air China and was told that I should call Beijing in the middle of the night (my time) and let them know.  At this point...I got a bit frustrated with Air China and refused.  I was then asked to fax to our liaison at SFO a letter requesting our luggage and information on the contents of our luggage.  We have a Goal Zero battery (NOT LITHIUM ION) in our luggage, along with a small bouldering pad and a solar panel and a coffee mug.  This was successfully faxed, and we are still waiting to hear something from someone...anyone.  Ahhh, the joys of traveling.  :)

On the bright side...besides getting sick for a couple of days, nauseating breakfast every morning, and red tape galore we had a blast in China with such a great crew, got to go rock climbing and see some amazing cultures!!!  I will let Tommy give the updating on that, which he is currently working on typing up a trip report for Patagonia's Cleanest Line Blog.  There were 2 updates posted on the trip already, so check it out!  Since this trip was sponsored by Patagonia, they get first rights to all of the photos and so photos are to come eventually!