Southeast Road Trip, Part 1: Horsepens 40

David and I decided practically last minute to take a road trip to the southeast. We were super excited because neither of us had been there and we had heard of the many amazing places to rock climb. Although our trip was short, we were able to climb a few days in one of the best places in the SE, Horsepens 40, just outside of Steele, Alabama (about an hour from Birmingham). Our friend Erwin was in town visiting family as well, and he was able to sneak out and join us the first day for an afternoon on the beautiful boulders.

Day 1:

The temperature was in the high 30s. Burr!

Getting ready to crush! Ha ha ha

The rock is slopey sandstone. Sticky. Yummy.

Erwin warming up

This is a lot harder than it looks! I should probably lay off the donuts.

Two tiny holds to another tiny hold

My turn

David tops out!

Day 2 (my birthday!):

Starting the day off with a good birthday breakfast!

The rock is SO weird looking.

Finding my own beta on Growing Stone V2

David cruises up the problem after a few tries. I’m so jelly.

One of the coolest formations we bumped into!

A view on top of Chandler Mountain

All around Barcelona in a day

breakfast, emailed a bunch of places to stay in San Sebastian, walked to bookstore for a guidebook, only had Rough Guide, asked the guy where to go for lunch, got a menu del dias at Palermo in Eixample, for 10/pp, we were loving it, feeling the cost pinch, but really a good deal, headed back to hotel to finalize plans to San Sebastian, bought Renfe tickets which really are a pain, but Googling the steps is helpful, got confirmation on Urban House, Valerie texted, called them and met up at the train stop, our place is on the same line as David’s family, headed down to Placa Catalunya, got horchata, walked to Barcelona Cathedral, walked La Born district, the Park de la Ciutadella to the zoo, down to Port Olympic and all the way up to Poble Nou, stopped for some Estrella and patatas bravas (french fries with spicy mayo and garlic mayo), we hit the train back to our place because our feet were down from all the walking, planned to do Parc Guell and tapas the next night, back to the hood, we walked to Sagrada Familia at night, astounding lit up, got some crappy tapas and good German beer at the only place serving food at nearly 1am

Ally’s Guesthouse

Avinguda Diagonal

Barcelona has  it’s own public bicycle program!

Menu del dia at Palermo in Eixample

Barcelona Cathedral

La Born district

Sagrada Familia at night

Railay – Same same, but different

From Chiang Mai, we flew down to Krabi with a short layover in Bangkok. Once in Krabi, we were met by our driver and started heading down to the coast, where we were to take a longtail boat to Railay. As we were driving, we could see the tall vertical limestone cliffs…like nothing I have seen before! So magestic and ominous at the same time. My mouth was drooling at how many potential climbing routes are there, waiting to be discovered. And although it would be wonderful if someone developed them, I can appreciate them just as they are. Just amazing.

We got on out first long tail boat ride to Railay, which was only about 10 minutes from Krabi. We landed at Railay East at low tide, which basically meant we had to wade in the mud and water with our packs over our heads to shore. We checked into Railay Garden View Resort, which is a year-old development built on the farthest end of Railay East, past the Last Bar. The trail is still being developed, and the actual bungalows are perched high up steep steps in the jungle, which was a bit of a problem at times coming back in the dark after a long day. There is no AC and only cold water is pumped in from the Andaman Sea. Needless to say our showers were nice and brisk!

After we checked in we walked over to Railay West, which is only a 15 minute walk to the other side of the peninsula. Railay West was more of a beachy beach, and developed with newer, fancier accomodations. Along our walk we decided to change our overnight train back to Bangkok in a few days to an actual flight on Thai Airways. We decided we were done with the 14hr train rides! Once we made arrangements online, we were able to relax. We sat on some woven mats and were able to catch the somewhat overcast sunset, Chang in hand and Paad Thai in our bellies.

Railay has an overall chill vibe, and reminded me a lot of my trip to the Philippines in 2004 to the little island of Boracay. Laid back atmosphere, carefree attitude, cool breeze, dredlocked locals, reggae music, and local beer.  Many of the locals live in nearby Ao Nang and Krabi town, because Railay is too expensive. Whenever I ask them what they think of Bangkok, many of them respond in the same way. “Too many people. Too much pollution.” They all prefer life on the coast.

The storm clouds rolled in soon after the sun set, and we relocated under the thatched roof of the Flametree Bar. We sat for a bit perusing the walls lined with books in all languages and sketches donated by fleeting tourists, then made the hike back to our bungalow by headlamp.

Pack it up!! Pack it in!! Let me begin.

The infamous packing post. Instead of writing a long exhausting list of what we are packing, I’ve posted these beautiful photos. Please click on the photos to see the Flickr notes. Our goal is to not check any luggage. Of course this will probably change as we pick up stuff over the course of the trip. We plan on doing laundry in the sink and trading guidebooks/novels along the way. When we return, It will be interesting to review what worked and what didn’t work. I am probably missing something here, but I can’t think of anything right now. Oh, pacsafe and the 17-35/2.8 are not pictured.

The exploded view

All packed up. Total weight: David’s pack=18.4lbs, my pack=16lbs + 9lbs (Domke bag)

Bev and Dave’s WORLD TOUR

It has been a long dream of mine to travel around the world. Literally. Circling the planet in one direction, chasing the sunset so to speak. Circumstances haven’t allowed it until now, and I am happy that David and I are both at a point in our lives where we can create the kind of trip we want and hopefully do it the way we want. We are no longer dirt poor college students, and don’t yet have children who depend on us for their every need. We do have a mortgage though, and that’s going to be tricky, but with enough savings and booking extra photography gigs, we hope to come out of it with a new perspective and an experience of a lifetime. Did I mention we are doing this all in the span of seven weeks?!

Where the heck are we going, you ask? Well, this was the part of the planning that probably took the longest to decide. We pinned up a map in our dining room and for the last six months have been moving little red push pins around all over. It’s full of holes now, but we managed to finalize our itinerary and dates without killing each other.

Here it is:

Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto
Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi
Indonesia: Bali (Ubud, Kuta)
Morocco: Marrakech, the Sahara, Essaouira
Spain: Barcelona, Granada
Ireland: Dublin

In my hand at this very moment, I have our RTW tickets. (Round-the-World, hee hee). We got quotes from several different companies and ended up with Air Brokers, a company that is based in San Fransisco specializing in RTW trips.  It was great working with them because we were not limited to certain airlines or routing weirdness. Some companies limit you to 4 legs per continent, and that included routing you through cities that you don’t even want to go through! We can write a whole other post on just airline alliances, but that part of our planning is over, and there is much more to plan! If you have any questions about this topic, let us know, and we’ll tell you all about it. 😉

More to come. Stay tuned…