Do not seek the answers which can not be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then, gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. -Rainer Maria Rilke
We spent a lovely night in a Walmart parking lot, right behind a McDonalds. Using blankets, towels and some cut-up foam, we managed to cover every single window, keeping us safe and snug inside, and the world’s noise, light, and sprinklings of snow outside.
I’ve accepted that Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is just not my place. HCR has some amazing climbs in the v5- range and then in the v9/10+ range. But there’s that gap in the middle – There just aren’t a lot of quality v7/v8s, and of these, most are too reachy and burly for me to kindle a glimmer of hope on. Rather than getting frustrated and bored with climbing as a whole, I’m reframing this to see HCR as a mild bump in the road of our longer road trip. Today, in the low 20s, Drexel is going to work on some stout friction-dependent problems, and I’m going to spot him while wrapped in all of the blankets and sleeping bags I can carry.
And now, as we delay a bit longer, hoping for just a couple more degrees of heat, I’ll catch up with some photos and stories from the past week.
This is a church. To be more specific, it’s the First Baptist Church in Jasper, AR. They have a giant sign when you first drive into Jasper that says, “The First Baptist Church WELCOMES YOU!” How nice! During one of our rest days (note the dark foreboding storm clouds rolling in), we decided to have some good clean fun and play basketball. We were sober, we were friendly, we didn’t curse, and nobody else was around except for a little boy who passed by with his dog and watched us for a few minutes. If anything, HE was coming closer to us. I almost offered to let him play with us, but I didn’t know if that was appropriate, so I just smiled politely, waved, and basically ignored him.
A few days later, we returned to play. Nobody was around. An older man starts walking over. I thought he wanted to join us, which was odd, but I guess okay. Instead, he asks us if we’re looking for someone. (Looking? I’m pretty sure we’re in the middle of a basketball game.) Where are we from? North Carolina and Tennessee. “No, no, no, where are you from around here?” Umm… I guess Horseshoe Canyon Ranch? This man then proceeds to mention that a 10 year old girl went missing last week (in a town more than two hours away). Her body was found a few days ago, dead. No, we didn’t know, that’s awful. No, we didn’t do it. (It was actually an older local man who drove by the girl in her car multiple times before scooping her up. He had worked in that town for years.) Clearly, this Jasperian had not read any factual information about kidnappings, because then he would be more likely to suspect fellow church members instead of four strangers minding their own business and playing basketball.
Since he hadn’t read that “29% of child sexual abuse offenders are relatives, 60% are acquaintances, and only 11% are strangers,” he told us none too politely to get lost and not to show our faces there again. I don’t think they like out-of-towners here. The next day, our friends just happened to run across a police check-point less than a mile from where we were staying, and waited over 20 minutes while the cops searched every inch of their vehicle. Finding nothing, they were free to go.
I don’t know how climbers/out-of-towners got such a bad reputation in Jasper, but I hope every climber realizes how much their presence represents the entire climbing community. If you get obnoxiously drunk and rowdy in a town, you are making things harder for the rest of us. So please, be kind and respectful wherever you go, don’t litter, and don’t kidnap children.
That was a longer story than intended, so I’ll just present the following photos with minimal story-time. 🙂