Saturday, December 31, 2016

Firsts of 2016

New Year's Eve.  Time to celebrate all the good stuff from the past year, wish for this coming year to be just as good, and make promises to ourselves that we may or may not keep.

For me, 2016 has been an amazing year.  Here are most of my "firsts" from this year:
  • Ice Climbing/Mountaineering, outdoor climbing, time in North Conway - January 23rd
  • Laser Tag game - February 14th
  • IMAX movie - March 1st
  • Trying fried pickles - March 21st
  • Shooting a gun - March 23rd 
  • Time purchasing train tickets - March 26th
  • Watching an official climbing competition - April 2nd
  • Taking a trip without a family member - April 9th
  • Going to the MFA Boston, and the Cheesecake Factory - April 10th
  • Trad climbing - April 14th
  • Staying somewhere by myself - April 15-21
  • Onset for a film/video shoot - May 1st
  • Promotion! - May
  • Flying by myself, out of the USA, having a meal on an airplane, watching a movie in Italian, visit to the Asian continent, stay in a five star hotel, visit to a different continent- June 30/July 1st
  • In the world's tallest building- July 4th
  • Hand feeding rays - July 5th
  • Having a Krispy Kreme donut - July 6th
  • On European continent, in Italy (just the airport)- July 8th
  • Backpacking trip - August 27th 
  • Metal show - October 15th 
  • Outdoor bouldering - November 12th

  As you can see it was quite the exciting year, and this isn't even everything! In addition to every on this list I started dating my amazing boyfriend, who was the reason I was able to do most of the things on the above list, including the four different countries (not including my brief stop in Italy), and three different continents I've been to in the last six months.  
  I've made a lot of friends, some I lost contact with fairly quickly, others I've kept and talk to regularly.  I saw my favorite species of shark in person for the first time, got my second and third tattoos, hiked 32 miles with a 50+lbs backpack on, climbed outside for the first times, and much more.

Here's to hoping 2017 is just even better!

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Change

Often times I don't post frequently because I think I have nothing interesting to post about.  Here are the issues I've found with this:

  • The obvious - I don't post very often.
  • I actually have a pretty neat job, so while it's my normal most people would fine it very different.
  • Posts don't have to be super long! 
So, here's what I've decided to do - please bear with me while I get into the habit - a new post here every Monday.  It might be a post about an upcoming trip, or a cute picture of my dog, or a funny quote from my rock climbing students, but every Monday there will be a blog post either here or on the Appalachian Trials.

I'm also excited to announce that my Appalachian trail thru-hike will begin on July 3rd 2017! 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Appalachian Trials

As you may know I really enjoy the Appalachian Trials website, I even have a link to it at the bottom of my blog! It's been incredibly helpful while planning for my thru-hike, and just a lot of fun to read other people's experiences on the trail.

Now, I get to blog for them!

I've already put up one post there because we didn't finish the 100 Mile Wilderness.  We did, however, learn a lot.

So, you can go to that link and subscribe to my posts there.  I highly recommend just subscribing and reading as many of the posts on the website as you can.

Today I did weigh what food I had left, and it was... 17.5lbs! Since I'm going ultralite I'm trying to get my whole pack under 15lbs.  I'll be posting my whole gear list on both blogs eventually, but it'll be up there first!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

100 and More Miles Preparation

It's time to get my ass in gear - both literally and figuratively.  My Dad, Cheyenne, and I are setting out to do the 100 mile wilderness of the Appalachian Trail at the end of this month.  It's time to finalize my gear list and acquire everything I'll need.  So here it is:

Gear I have:
Tent - Tarptent Rainbow (2.25lbs)
Pack - Deuter ACT Lite 70+10 SL (4.5lbs)
Stove - BioLite Campstove (2.5lbs)
Headlamp - Petzl Tikka RXP
Camera - Canon EOS Rebel T5
Water Filter(s) - Sawer Mini Squeeze filter, and LifeStraw
Sleeping Bag - Enlightened Equipment Revelation 
Sleeping Pad - Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite
Boots - Saloman Ultra X mid 2 GTX

With all the gear I have so far (with the exception of my camera, but including my boots and some other random little things) my pack weighs a little over 17lbs.

Gear Cheyenne has:
Pack - Wolfpack Banzai
Sleeping bag/bed - Noble Camper
Bowls - Generic collapsable bowls
Treats - TurboPUP Superfood Snacks

I did get some more gear tonight, so I'll post an updated gear list soon.

My dad's gear list and other information about our hike can be found on his blog.  He's just as (maybe even more!) excited as I am for this trip.

I'm definitely in shape, I walk, climb, bike, and dance as much as I can.  Cheyenne with her fairly recent knee surgery is my bigger concern.  We'll be going on long gentle hikes these next couple weeks to get her ready.  We only have two more weeks until we leave.

We leave around the 27th for 10-14 days, it'll be my first real backpacking trip.  I'm definitely nervous, but also very excited.

Monday, July 25, 2016

My First International Travel

27. Travel in a Foreign county with a friend.

I spent a week at the beginning of this month my first time abroad, in Dubai.  I would have posted more while we were there, but I decided it was a vacation from everything, including blogging.

My boyfriend (Who I will refer to as "IT" at his request) is working out of the country right now, and has been for the last couple of months, so we decided to take a vacation in Dubai.  After a hassle trying to get my passport, and a long first flight by myself, I arrived.  Then proceeded to sit in the airport for three hours until IT got there and we found each other.

June 30th
My first time flying alone, and I go across the ocean.  I don't sleep on planes, sleeping while in transit makes me motion sick, and one a plane ride of 12+ hours would be extra miserable if sick.  Instead I watched the following movies:
Sinister 2 - Which I'd seen most of before, and this version was "edited for content".  There was only one major scene that I noticed was missing, but a few other things in the movie made more sense with it in.
The Boy - I enjoyed the twist ending!
The Otherside of the Door - most of it.  The dog died and I turned it off.
Everest - I joked afterwards that the scariest movie I watched on that flight was Everest, being a aspiring climber of the mountain, and a rock climber, I know a bit about it.  I knew about the event, too, but couldn't remember who survived, which made the movie that much more stressful.

Also during the flight we were told that we were hitting some turbulence, my first thought was of the second Sharknado movie...

July 1st-3rd 
Because we were both pretty tired, and hadn't seen each other in over three months, the first few days we spend mostly sleeping, watching animal planet, and just wandering around the stores and water near our hotel.  

My first impression was that everyone was very friendly, there were a lot of people who would talk to me, and ask me questions - mostly things like “where are you coming from?!”  Others would just smile and/or wave.  I mean, I did stand out quite a bit, plus I was wearing jeans, a flannel and a beanie.

The whole city was fairly relaxed and welcoming, as long as you were respectful.  It was Ramadan for the first five days of the trip, which meant during the day everywhere selling food was either closed, or at least had curtains closed so you couldn't see inside, and here were signs in the grocery stores asking people to refrain from eating in public places.

A lot of people were really nervous about me going because it's a Middle Eastern country.  I can tell you I felt just as safe there as I do in my home town.  One of the biggest questions I was asked was "will you have to cover yourself and everything? and "are you sure it's safe there?".  While they are a muslim country Dubai is also tourist-centric city, so they rely on tourism heavily, which means they would never get away with having a dress code that strict.  Even the dress code I'd read about online - and was very nervous about breaking - wasn't really enforced, and there were a lot of people in clothes I'd read would be deemed inappropriate.  And again, I felt just as safe there as I do at home, because they are a tourist city and if it was as dangerous as people I've talked to seem to think it is then no one would visit! So if that's a concern of yours, and a reason you don't want to visit you have nothing to worry about.

July 4th
We visited the Dubai Mall, one of the largest malls in the world.  It was really cool, we didn't actually buy anything, or go into many stores, but just walking around was exciting.  They had some cool art around, a lot of people from all over the world, weird but awesome stuff like a full dinosaur skeleton, and my personal favorite, the Dubai Aquarium. 

The food court situation was actually pretty interesting.  They didn't shut down the food court during Ramadan, but so as not to be disrespectful towards those that were fasting they had it blocked off.  I'd never thought about that as a possibility, I honestly expected anywhere that served food to be closed completely during the day.

The bigger thing we did was go to the observation of the Burj Khalifa, AKA the world's tallest building.  Looking down at the city, and watching the sunset from 1,821' up in the air was pretty incredible. Unfortunately, I forgot my nice camera this day, and was left with only my iPhone to take pictures with.  

We did laugh at the plush version of the Burj that they gave each of us.

July 5th
This was the day of our aquarium visit, so obviously I made sure I had my nice camera on this day so I could take tons of pictures of fish, and other aquatic creatures.

We signed up for one of their special experiences, so after wandering through and looking at all the animals for well over an hour and a half, we got to hand feed rays! I was really excited, and I'm actually half tempted to cross number 76 (Swim with stingrays) off my list, because we were actually standing in the water with them, even if we didn't technically swim.  Much to my parents' dismay, no pictures were taken of us feeding the rays.  There was a pretty decent sized Nurse Shark swam up to us trying to get us to feed it, but our "guide" scared him away.  The big leopard whipray wanted some treats really badly, too, however he also wasn't allowed to have any.

Some quick Dubai Aquarium fun facts:
  • In 2010 there was actually had a huge leak that caused an evacuation in the mall.  
  • It is the second largest aquarium in the world, 
  • It houses the over 1,650lbs "King Croc" and his mate "Queen Croc", they are Australian Saltwater Crocodiles.  He was originally captured because he was causing problems in a small town!

July 6th
We got to explore a little more, and walked from our hotel to the beach.  Despite the heat it was a nice walk.

Because it was so hot during the day we opted to go back to the hotel, and then visited the beach after dark.  It was really cool at night, there were a lot more people there, and the water was so nice and warm.  The water was significantly nicer temperature, in my opinion, than my home near the beach in Maine is.

July 7th
For our last day of vacation we spent a lot of time in the pool in our hotel, and playing the new most popular mobile game - Pokemon Go.

I wouldn't have started playing the game while on vacation abroad, except IT and I wanted to play it together.  So we did join the trend and went on a walk just to catch new Pokemon.

July 8th
Unfortunately every vacation has to come to an end, and IT's plane was over three hours before mine.  So I got to wander around my terminal in Dubai for a couple hours.  I try to collect postcards, and snow globes because they're usually fairly inexpensive, and easy to find.

After doing a few laps around the airport out of boredom I bought a donut and sat to wait for my plane.

The plane ride back would have been much longer, there's only so many movie franchises I can watch in a row, but we got to stop in Milan for about an hour.  Italy is somewhere I've wanted to visit for a while, I'm even learning and teaching Cheyenne commands in Italian, so it was pretty cool that I got to stop there of all places on my way home.

The rest of the trip was very uneventful, other than my confusion about going through customs in the USA (it was ridiculously easy) because it was different than when we landed in Dubai, and a three hour layover in JFK where I played a lot of Geometry Dash and Piano Tiles while trying really hard not to fall asleep.

Other than being the first time I've left the USA there were quite a few other "firsts" for me on this trip.
  • June 30th: Flying by myself - it was pretty terrifying, let me tell you.
  • June 30th: Having a meal on a plane - it really wasn't that exciting, but it was a first.
  • July 1st: Visit to the Asian continent - while this is implied with it being the first time I've left the US, I decided to include it anyway, then someday I'll have the dates of the first time I visited each continent!
  • July 1st: Stay in a 5-star hotel - we didn't even realize it was a 5-star hotel until we'd been there a few days and googled it.
  • July 6th: Having a Krispy Kreme donut - life changing ;)
  • July 8th: Visit to the European continent - not a very exciting first time in Europe.  I stayed in the airport the entire time.  I still technically have been, though.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

My April 2016 Boston Trip (told mostly in pictures)

View from the train.
 This past weekend was spent with a couple friends in Boston, Massachusetts.  We took a train down on Saturday morning, and back on Sunday night.

One thing we did not think about was hockey.  Unfortunately our train down was completely full, and North Station was crazy packed because the Bruins were playing.  The station was the only place where we actually had any issues with the amount of people, so it worked out pretty well.

North station!!

Our first stop in Boston was to the New England Aquarium, of course.  I did want to be a Marine Biologist, and I kept fish for a long time so the aquarium was the first place I thought of to go.  We decided to walk
Boston still had the tiniest bit of snow.

Penguins, looking adorable, of course.
At the aquarium, after visiting the Shark and Ray touch tank, I took my camera out and started taking pictures of as many think as possible.  I definitely think I got some good ones! The penguins were surprisingly difficult to get good pictures of.  If they weren't moving the lighting was bad, or they'd be standing near their sprinkler things, which made the pictures look weird.  I got a couple, and did some editing.  This one is my favorite.

The whale skeleton backlit by the big center tank is in the running for my favorite picture I took at the aquarium.  I wasn't sure it was going to turn out, but the lighting works really well for it!

A gorgeous Freshwater Spotted Ray!
 The entire aquarium was my favorite part of the aquarium basically, but the freshwater tanks were actually inspiring.  While I don't have any fish right now I plan to set up my tanks again in the future.  They had some really cool freshwater tropical fish there, so now I'm psyched more than ever to get my tanks back up and running.

This turtle was swimming along the glass a lot, so it was pretty easy for me to get a bunch of pictures of it! This one was probably my favorite.

 One thing that happened that pretty much sucked was that I lost all my stuff that I bought at the aquarium.  I collect postcards, and Snow Globes, so I bought those, and some stuff for my family at the gift store of the aquarium.  I set it down while my friends and I were getting food, and accidentally left it and walked away.  When I realized it was missing a couple minutes later I went back and it was all gone.  That was a very disappointing part of the trip.

Two of the people I as hanging out with on Saturday I know through the theater, so they really wanted to check out a theater there in Boston.  We only went into the lobby area, but it was a really beautiful place!

 On Sunday we went to the Museum of Fine Arts in the morning, I didn't really take any good pictures in there.  Afterwards we visited the Cheesecake Factory for lunch.  Cheesecake being one of my favorite foods, I was very excited.
 Amy and I wandered around Boston for a while after that.  Neither of us are religious, but we definitely considered going into this church to look at the inside, because of how beautiful the outside of it is.  The bells were ringing, too.  We walked by as a church service was beginning, which is the only reason we didn't go in, we didn't want to disrupt the service, or leave halfway through or anything.

Even the doors on it were gorgeous!

We found the bridge with locks on it, it looks really cool.  Amy pointed out that it's right over a road, so if it does end up getting too heavy it could be really dangerous.  I don't think that'll stop anyone, though.

We walked through the Boston Common and met quite a few friendly animals.  I always try to slowly sneak up on animals to take their pictures, birds mostly, but occasionally others, so when I saw the ducks, goose, and squirrels in the park I started trying to sneak up close enough to get some good pictures.  Little did I know, I wouldn't really have to.

The ducks all stayed in the water, but let me get within a few feet of them to take some pictures.  The one I wasn't expecting to let me get anywhere near it was the goose.  I went especially slow up to it, for a couple of reasons.  Obviously if I'm trying to get a picture I don't want to scare it away, but I also didn't want it to attack me.  Geese are known for being vicious after all.  This Canadian Goose was somewhat friendly though.  It let me get close enough that I probably could have touched it, I didn't tempt fate by trying.  It did swim alongside me and Amy for a while when we walked away, until it was distracted by a pug.

Quite possibly my favorite part of the trip (stop judging me, this was amazing) was feeding the squirrels right out of my hand.

There were so many squirrels, so obviously I was trying to sneak up on them to get some pictures.  When a squirrel ran towards me I was really confused at first, but them quickly squatted down to try and get a picture, it then ran away.  However, I found a bunch more friendly squirrels, and started trying to get them to come up to me.  A couple did, and sniffed my hand, but ran away when they realized that I didn't have any food.  After a few minutes some people came by, and fed some popcorn to one squirrel before dropping a handful and then walking away.  I went over to it, and started hand feeding one squirrel to get some amazing close up pictures.  I have a ridiculous amount of pictures of friendly squirrels now, but it was definitely worth it!

So that's pretty much it! After the squirrels we explored Boston for a bit, then went to the train station and rode home.  I'm looking forward to more travels in the future, I've got a few more planned for this year.

If you want to see all my pictures from the trip to Boston check out my Flickr!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Travel adulting, Important Points for the New Adult

As you may know I am only 18 years old.  I used to tell people that when I got older I wanted to just to travel, and I didn't plan on going to college or getting some super fancy normal job that made lots of money.  This, of course, freaked a lot of people out.

Now, I have found ways to say the same thing, but without saying "I want to do something where I can just travel!".  Such as, "I'm slowly starting up a travel blog, and I've got a nice camera so I'm learning about photography", and "I'd really like to write and run a travel blog, in fact I already have a blog that I've been working on for a little while!" These answers, to the common adult, sound way better than the original.

Saying I want to travel is one thing, actually traveling and being smart about it is a completely different one.  Anyone can say "oh I want to go other places in the world", it takes a lot of time, effort, and money to plan an entire trip, and then actually do it.

So, I have here a couple of things new adults will want to consider when traveling for the first time (or first couple times) without a parent.  Hopefully this will give you a couple things to think about.

  • When, where, what, who, how?  When are you arriving/departing, times and dates.  Where are you going, exactly?  What are you doing while you're there?  Who, if anyone, are you going with?  How are you getting there, back, and to/from bus stations/airports, etc?  Answer these questions to start.
  • Travel Insurance.  Depending on where you're going and how long you're staying you may want to consider Travel Insurance.
  • Budgeting.  Do you have enough money to buy that souvenir and get dinner tonight?  Taxi, or the subway, which is cheaper or faster, and do you have more time or more money to spare? 

As an example check out my answers and thought about the above points in reference to my upcoming Boston trip:

  • When?  I am leaving in the morning on April 9th, and returning late night on April 10th.  I know I need to be at the train station at least 30 minutes before departure.
  • Where?  Boston, Massachusetts.  Personally I don't know the exact address, we're staying with my friend's friend. 
  • What?  My friend has most of the plans, that she has made.  I do know that on Saturday we are going to the aquarium in the morning, and to get piercings afterwards.  We'll also be visiting some museums, and the cheesecake factory on Sunday!
  • Who?  I'll be traveling with my one of my best friends, Amy.
  • How?  We'll be traveling by train there and back.  She will be driving to and from the train station here.
  • Travel Insurance?  I did get cheap travel insurance through Amtrak because in case of a last minute cancellation, if I wasn't concerned about that I probably wouldn't have gotten it for this short of a trip.  However, because I am concerned about that (I've been sick a lot lately!), and because it wasn't very expensive I went for it.
  • Budgeting?  I'm still working out my budget for the trip.  My friend has been looking into pricing for piercings, and has already gotten passes for a couple things.  I bought the tickets for both of us already.  The biggest thing is going to be food, so as long as I plan for that I should be all set!
So, maybe I don't have everything 100% figured out for my trip, but I do have possibly the most important things, my tickets there and back.  I also know where I have to be and when I have to be there for those! Being prepared is important.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Gearin' up, snapshot style.

I received my Canon Rebel in the mail on Tuesday, and finally had a chance to play around with it this morning!

Lucky for me today was the first day I've seen our newest "neighbors".  Two new birds have moved into our birdhouse.  Last year I snapped some pretty cool pictures of the last couple to live there on my iPhone.

My cats and dogs were also featured heavily in my photography this morning.

My camera is a Canon EOS Rebel T5.  The kit I bought actually came with the camera, three normal lenses, four close up lenses, three professional filters, two memory cards, an external flash, a carrying case, a full length tripod, a USB cord, and a couple other neat things.  I'm super psyched to have so many new things to play around with.  I didn't have to spend as many hundreds of dollars as I expected either, so that was nice.  A good quality beginner camera with lots of accessories, it's the perfect place to start me on my photography journey.

I also have recently received a hand-me-down MacBook Pro that works a lot better than my old one.  Lots of photo editing and more blogging should be happening now that I have a working laptop.  Salt Pump is a beautiful place to blog from!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Laser Tag, Trips, and Electronics

Finally I post about my trip to play laser tag, one of the things on my list that I finally got to cross off!

On Valentine's day this year my boyfriend decided to take me to play laser tag.  He read my list and saw it, so that's what we did! We visited Hilltop Arcade in Somersworth, played some arcade games, and then played laser tag.  I had a lot of fun, and I will definitely play laser tag again.  It was the perfect Valentine's date.  

As the title says I have a couple of trips planned that are coming up pretty fast.  First, my friend Amy, and I are going to be taking a train down to Boston for a weekend in April.  I won't post too much about it not, but some of the trip highlights will be visiting the aquarium, getting piercings, my first visit to the cheesecake factory, and much more! It's going to be a let's do as much as we can in Boston in a weekend as possible type trip.  I'll post a detail plan soon.

And the last subject of this post, electronics.  My boyfriend bought a new laptop and gave me his old Macbook, and today I ordered a Canon Rebel T5 off Amazon.  The camera should be here before our Boston trip, and hopefully I'll have a couple days to play around with it and figure it out beforehand.  Definitely look forward to those pictures, and keep an eye on my Instagram, and Flickr to see them all.  I've got three lenses, and a couple filter sets coming with it, so I'll be able to do some cool stuff.

Monday, January 25, 2016

My First Mountaineering Trip

Willey's Slide
Yesterday I went mountaineering for the first time with a class through Salt Pump.  It was a lot of fun, I definitely learned a lot of new stuff, and when I got to the top of where we were climbing and looked down I wasn't even a little nervous either.

I packed for the trip on Friday night, knowing myself enough to know that I wasn't going to be able to wake up enough to make sure I wasn't missing anything the next morning.

After a quick meeting at Salt Pump me and my climbing partners headed out to North Conway in New Hampshire, to meet our guide, Jimmy, and borrow gear from Cathedral Mountain Guides.  Quickly we were back on the road, on our way to Willey's Slide.

Our view of surrounding mountains!
First part of the day we learned the basic stuff, like how to use crampons, how to use the mountaineering axe, self-arrest, ice tools, etc.  We had beautifully calm weather, with next to no wind, and cloud cover, it was perfect for a first time mountaineering.  Considering all the snow the rest of the east coast has gotten in the last few days we were very lucky.

We did get to do some low-angle ice climbing, as well as learn a bit about running belays (AKA Simul Climbing), and eventually went almost all the way up what you saw on the left side, in the first picture.  It was an all around amazing experience.  With proper layering I wasn't cold most of the climb, except my fingers because I was wearing the fingerless gloves convertible mittens for my gloves.  Let me tell you, swinging an ice tool with numb, tingly fingers is extremely difficult, I do recommend better gloves.  I think I will probably leave my down jacket on while climbing next time, and maybe lose a top base layer instead.  In just my base layers, fleece, and shell I was a bit chilly, even when climbing.

Me, super psyched to be outside climbing for the first time!
We went up, and then hiked down a trail through the woods instead of going down on the mixed ice and snow, it was the easier way to get down.  Walking through the deep snow made me appreciate being so active normally, because though it was a bit tiring on the legs I ended up being the only one, other than our, guide who wasn't sore afterwards.

It was a fantastic trip, and now I'm just really psyched to get back onto the ice.  I'm planning on going Thursday morning back to Willey's Slide to tackle the middle section of just low-angle ice with my co-worker, Zack.

No matter what I know I'm going to be getting outside more this winter.  Usually I avoid the snow and cold like the plague, this year I think I will be able to enjoy it more.  Today I even went on a short winter hike to a waterfall near my house.  As amazing as it is to go out and find big adventures there are also small ones close to home, that is something I need to remember when the "wanderlust" sets in.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Rock Climbing, Getting Stronger

Those of you who have read my blog may know that I've only really been climbing since July.   July 23rd was the day I learned how to belay and actually started technical (with safety gear, ropes, harness, etc) rock climbing, it hasn't even been quite six months, yet.

If you know the grading scale for rock climbing you'll know a 5.10 is a fairly difficult climb, one that definitely takes quite a bit of technique and strength.  While I've done a couple of 5.10a's and a 5.10b or two in the past tonight I topped out on my first 5.10c.*

Back in August or September I was shadowing an Intro to Climbing class, the teacher was having the lone student belay me for practice, he suggested I get on a 5.10b or c, saying it was his favorite climb in the whole gym.  Not knowing the grading scale very well still I hesitantly agreed.  After a dozen or more falls getting under half way up the wall I quit.  Had I known then that climbs only stay up for 12 weeks or so I would've made more effort to get up that one.  On the other hand, I'm glad I didn't spend a lot of time on that.  I bouldered a lot in my first couple months, which helped build up strength that I need for all rock climbing, I'm not sure I'd be where I am if I hadn't spend so much time bouldering.

I do believe that working at Monkey Trunks help me get over my heights fear enough to get me rock climbing successfully.  Plus the autobelay I tried once or twice while setting up the rock wall there gave me a little taste.  Another thing that made it easier for me was dance.  Movement-wise I make more interesting moves with more high feet, and pressing off lower holds with my hand rather than pulling myself up ever if possible.  The flexibility I earned from dancing all these years definitely helped me progress faster than I would have otherwise.

Overtime I accomplish something new while climbing I think one step closer to my goals.  I climb a slightly harder route than I've done before, and I become more and more inspired to get better and go to the next step.  The next step for me is ice climbing.  Which I will post more about when it happens!

Now I am able to do every type of climbing Salt Pump offers; Bouldering, Top Roping, and Lead climbing, all within six months of climbing.  My fingers, and forearms still get sore after a couple days in a row of climbing, but I feel stronger after every session.  I have a couple of friends who I climb with often now, I'll be moving outside soon for some winter climbing, and then outdoor rock climbing this spring.  I've got a wonderful support group of people who want to get better, and want me to get better.  The rock climbing community remain some of the most supportive, friendly people I've met, possibly the most supportive and friendly community I've ever been involved in.  If it's available to you, I highly recommend climbing, even if you don't have the strongest upper body, or if you're scared of heights, or any other reason you might have for not climbing.  There are rocks pretty much everywhere, go climb some.

*For those of you who don't know: 5. means fifth class, it's part of the "Yosemite Decimal System" the grading scale we use in the USA.  The second number tells you how hard it is.  Once you get to 5.10 they add letters, just to make it way more confusing.  5.11a is harder than 5.10d but easier than 5.11b.  Once it gets to d it goes to the next number grade.