Thursday, April 5, 2018

Backwoods Bouldering

Before I was a climber, I was a hiker. Being from Southeastern KY, there was a lot of ground to explore. I spent most of my childhood running wild in the small forest across the street from my house. At the time it seemed gigantic, a kingdom of my own. On a recent drive through the old neighborhood, I realized when the leaves were down you could see straight through to the open field beyond.

Some places get smaller when you revisit. Others expand with new hidden gems and opportunities. Last summer I went hiking with my brother on one of my favorite short trails, Dog Slaughter Falls near Cumberland Falls.  We always do the short version from FS Road 195, which is a perfect trail that follows a creek to one of the prettiest small waterfalls I’ve visited.

waterfall on a creek

This time was different. Not only did we take two of our family dogs, but I threw my climbing shoes and chalk into the backpack because I’d heard there were boulders in these woods.

I didn’t find the boulders I’d read about on the trail before the waterfall. I found one thing that I could traverse, but the roof problems didn’t jump out to me. Maybe it’s because we could only do so much with our doggie friends, or maybe they’re further off the trail than I expected.

Two leashed dogs on a hiking trail

But past the waterfall and along the Sheltowee Trace, we started to find ample boulders to explore.  According to the Kentucky Bouldering wordpress, most of them were down a sidepath to the river. Because the water looked swift and Hank the dog loves water we avoided getting close to the river. And because I didn’t have a bouldering pad, I didn’t try much of anything.  I did a couple of V0-V1ish problems.

girl climbs boulder in woods

girl climbs boulder in the woods

Normally when I climb I have a guidebook, pictures and do a lot of research ahead of time. This was different.  I’d done a little research but without pictures and a guidebook, it wasn’t like any climbing I’d ever done before. It was a small adventure, exploring this little boulder field more than a mile away from any parking. The woods were full of the unknown and possibilities, a beautiful peaceful place where it was just me, my brother and our dogs. It was perfect. Only thing I’d change? Next time I’m bringing a pad.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Room - Audiobook Review

Room (Goodreads | Amazon)
4/5 stars

So I’m a few years behind the curve on reading this book. When it was popular and then when the movie came out, it never spoke to me. Sometimes I’m in the moods for trendy books. A lot of the time I read them when I get around to them. Room happened to be available on my library’s digital audiobook collection so I downloaded it. (And to be honest that’s probably the only reason I read it).

For those who miss the trends as often as I do, Room is the story of a young woman who was kidnapped, locked in a soundproof room and eventually had a child with her abductor. The story is told through the eyes of her five-year-old son Jack.

The narration was excellent, the young child narrator worked well on audio. I can see how that would be a struggle in the paper version of the book. The narrator, Jack, knows so little of the world and understands so little. The way he talks is strange, he often confuses what is real and what isn’t because as far as he’s concerned, their little room is the only world he has ever known.

It’s amazing how much can happen in the mind of a child, especially when the book mostly takes place in a single room. Because of his captivity (which he doesn’t know about), Jack is an unreliable narrator who doesn’t realize what he’s missing. To him the room and his ma are real, the world he sees on TV is only make-believe. Yet somehow, the novel is captivating and I couldn’t stop listening.

Using Jack as the narrator for the story was a bold move, and at least for my experience it paid off.
Based on other reviews I’ve read, I recommend reading/listening to this book an audio. The acting was great, and it made Jack’s sometimes confused worldview easier to understand.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A look at my (failed) 2017 goals and ahead to 2018

I don't believe in New Year resolutions. I'm not one of those grumpy people who is going I to hate on your resolution. If for you, “new year new me” works then GREAT! For me, it’s always new year, same me. I’m goal oriented, but my goals work on their own timeline (and sometimes not as all).

For my goals, 2017 was a bit of a mess. I accomplished none of them. Sure, I took up fishing and bought a fishing kayak which was great. But it wasn’t anything I planned to do. (Sometimes I look at the two kayaks in our bedroom and wonder what happened). Life was grand - still going strong with the boyfriend, got a hilarious new cat, spent a lot of time outside, etc etc.
But when it came to goals, it was a mess.

2017 Goals

  1. Get back into blogging - FAILED. It felt like there was so much going on last year between politics and other news, it never felt right. And my old blogging circle seems to have disappeared from Twitter. Then I lost my old domain name and spent days going through the nine circles of Google hell before just buying a different one.
  2. Climb 5.12 - FAILED. Between my boyfriend (and main climbing partner) getting hurt, then suffering a finger injury, that goal went nowhere. But hey I learned to climb trad better and succeeded in my goal of leading a pitch of a multipitch. 
  3. Goodreads challenge - FAILED. First time I haven't met my goodreads goal. *shrugs* Should I be more bothered?
  4. NanoWriMo - I didn't even participate. I tried to come up with a list-minute Nano idea but I had nothing. Broke my streak.

2018 Goals

  1. Less screen time (and by screen time I mean TV/Netflix).
  2. Get back on track with fitness - seriously last year was a lot of FAIL in that as well.
  3. Read more but remember that the numbers aren't what matters. Enjoy reading.
  4. Climb 5.12...this will be my third season with that goal. So we’ll see.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Into the Drowning Deep: The mermaid book I was waiting for

Into the Drowning Deep (Goodreads | Amazon)

5/5 stars

For years, I have been on a quest for a good mermaid book. Mermaid mythology fascinates me, especially how it popped up all over the world simultaneously with some different aspects, but so much similar that it feels nearly true.

Most books delving into the subject disappoint me. Maybe that’s because I want so much from the book that it’s nearly impossible to live up to my expectations. Sometimes I just don’t bother with mermaid books because I’ve been burnt too many times. But Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire), knows how to write a good story.

And this, my friends, is more than just good.

This genre-blending book combines fantasy and science as only Grant can. In her writing, the science of the impossible feels not only possible, but likely. She does her research, from zombie viruses to mythological creatures, and it makes a huge difference. But she doesn't get bogged down in being scientifically-sound. Grant builds a world, characters and a story that work hand-in-hand with the science.

Into the Drowning Deep is the terrifying mermaid horror story you need to read. After spending most of last year in a reading slump, it felt wonderful to start 2018 with such a great book. I didn’t watch Netflix, didn’t go to sleep and found myself reading every chance I got. I needed to know what happened next.

Into the Drowning Deep follows a group of scientists, funded by a reality TV network, on an expedition to unravel the mysteries of mermaid folklore. It’s not the TV networks first voyage to the legendary Mariana Trench, where mermaids are said to live. Seven years prior to the story in this book, a different crew set out. That ship was found adrift, with no one on board, without even bodies to tell their story.

The scientists on the second journey have different reasons for coming - some are looking for answers, some want to find mermaids and some believe it’s a hoax but want a payday. None are looking for a massacre, but when monsters lurk beneath the waves nobody’s safety is guaranteed.

Here there be monsters...and it’s worth every heart-stopping, terrifying page to find them.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Trip Report: Truther Routes

In climbing, the first ascensionist has always named the routes. Sometimes you end up with fitting names, Day Tripping at Red River Gorge for the tallest route or Crack Attack for a pure splitter crack. Sometimes you end up with funny names, like No Brain, No Pain or Yu Stin Ki Pu.

Then there's what I've started calling the Truther Wall.  I've also heard it called the conspiracy wall.  It's a small section of Secret Garden at Miller Fork. These route names are by far the worst I've ever heard of - four routes with website names like or

It's the climbing wall. And it makes me ask: how much ownership should a first  ascensionist really have over their routes? Sure you added some bolts, cleaned off lichen and hopefully trundled loose rock. But the route and the rock weren't created by the first ascensionist.  The route was always there, waiting to be found.

What makes matters worse about these particular routes is that not only are they terribly named, they're horribly bolted. The first ascensionist appears to have added bolts on rappel without any concern for where the holds or moves are.  Fortunately, someone added a bolt to Truther #1 to prevent you from hitting the ground if you fall, but the holds on Truther #4 don't even follow the bolt line. If you try that path you will fall. Instead, you have to traverse way far to the right then move back towards the holds. A slightly shifted bolt would have made the route safer and more logical.

What do you think? What rights should the first person to climb a route really have?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Podcasts aka why I don't read as much

I'm in a bit of a reading slump.  Not sure how it started, but on my lunch breaks I started listening to audiobooks from the library. Then I ran out of good audiobooks on the online system. Who knew you could run out of books you wanted to read?

Then I discovered podcasts and it was love at first listen. Seriously, if you like audiobooks and haven't delved into podcasts you're missing out. They're like never-ending audiobooks. There's always a new episode or new show you can listen to.

My Favorite Podcasts

  1. Missing Maura Murray
    For the mystery lover, this is your podcast. The case of Maura Murray is baffling. Maura disappeared in such a short time frame, it seems crazy that nobody noticed. This case has so many different bunnytrails. Lance and Tim do a great job of keeping the show interesting, while being respectful of the family and people involved.
  2. Up and Vanished
    This podcast began my love of true crime podcasts. It's well-produced and engineered. The case is also fascinating.  The only complaint I have is the community surrounding this case is pretty full of drama with Facebook groups and secret Facebook groups.  Just avoid it and listen to the story.
  3. True Crime Garage
    Nick and the Captain explore a different case every week (or two if there's a lot to cover). They're entertaining, respectful and sometimes righteously angry at the players involved.
  4. Vox's The Weeds
    I started listening to this podcast when I was overwhelmed by politics. For me, it felt like everyone was always yelling at each other. This podcast is a nice contract, an intelligent deep-dive into politics.  I also recommend Wordly and The Impact which are spin offs of this podcast.
  5. Left, Right and Center
    Everything I said for The Weeds is pretty much same for Left Right and Center. This podcast brings together commentators from across the political spectrum who discuss what's happening in politics. It's nice to hear different perspectives in a respectful medium. 
  6. Lore
    For lovers of folktales and fantasy, lore should be on your podcast list.
  7. Heaven's GateThis new podcast gives an in-depth look at everything that happened with the Heaven's Gate cult. It's fascinating and respectful, likely because the host grew up in a cult himself and understands the experience.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Books I've read: The Epic Catching Up Post

So it’s pretty obvious I quit blogging. I’m not sure in what capacity I’m back. I simply don’t have the time that I used to (and honestly am not sure where it went). But I miss writing. Aside from press releases and work-related social media posts, I feel creaky and rusty in the creativity department. Also I’m trying to curb my current Netflix habits (seriously why am I watching so much Netflix?).  So I’m sort of back!  And don’t worry I have a few posts written, both about climbing and books, so this won’t be a one-off.

Let’s Get Lost - 2 stars
This was a meh-fest for me. The whole premise felt contrived, a hipster-tastic manic-pixie dream fest that was almost unreadable.  It’s maybe a miracle I finished the damn thing. The book is divided into a few different mostly-independent and unconnected stories (except for a character bridging them). Some of the stories were really annoying, with a case of insta-love and some were a little more compelling.  Overall the whole thing just grated on my patience.

Goldenhand - 5 stars
Thank you Garth Nix for being reliable. Also, I’m extremely grateful for a Lirael and Nick story.  I adore Lirael, and loved seeing her grow into her role as Abhorsen-in-Waiting. These two are so awkward and delightful at times. If you have not read the Abhorsen series it’s highly recommended.  This book was worth the wait.

Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center - 4 stars
I’ve been a feminist for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are railing against gender roles and asking questions about why boys and girls were treated differently. However, I’ve never done much reading on feminist theory. I wanted to read something that dealt with intersectionality. This book was so relevant I was surprised that it was published in 1984. It was a little heavier than I normally read on my lunch break but probably more enriching.

The Name of the Star - 3.5 Stars
For some reason I had low expectations for this book but actually really enjoyed reading it.  Isn’t it funny how expectations can either ruin or improve upon a book?  It’s been a few weeks since I finished it and I took no notes (since I wasn't blogging at the time) so about all I can say is that it was a pleasant surprise and I plan to continue the series.

Sorry for the lack of details in these short reviews.  I wasn’t thinking about blogging when I wrote them, just reading for fun.