Home, Sweet Home!

Some of you may know that for the past six years or so, my (Mike) family and I have lived East of the Mississippi, first in Dayton, OH from 2008-2011, then the NW Florida panhandle from 2011 to the present. Living “out East” was an incredible experience in which we met some awesome people, and were forced out of our comfort zone. We were treated to some amazing climbing, in particular, we fell in love with the Red River Gorge, but also really enjoyed iconic crags such as Looking Glass in North Carolina, Little Rock City (TN), Horse Pens 40 (AL), Tennessee Wall (TN), New River Gorge (NRG), and too many others to list.

That said, it was really challenging being so far from family, and our “spiritual” mountain home in Colorado. Being in Florida was especially challenging for climbing. We didn’t have a climbing gym nearby, and our closest crag was a 4-hour drive. We trained a lot…. We did have awesome fresh seafood, which is something we will certainly miss.

Last fall, a job opportunity came up “back West” that would get us out of Florida, so I jumped at the opportunity. It was near-torture counting down the days to our departure, but we busied our minds by training and packing.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking….

In a previous post on building a campus board, I shared photos of us disassembling our campus board:

Tearing down our portable Campus Board.

Tearing down our portable Campus Board.

Next, we took down our Ascent “Fun Rock” rotating climbing wall. This was a lifesaver while we lived in Florida, since we had no climbing gym, or space to build our own wall. However, it is a BEAST, and weighs well over a ton (2,000lbs). We are very grateful to my parents, Marshall and Karen for helping us take it down and pack it up (along with much of our other household wares):

We stripped the holds, then removed the aluminum panels.

We stripped the holds, then removed the aluminum panels.

The manual instructs you to tip the wall to a horizontal position to remove the panels, but the size of our room didn't allow this.  At this point, gravity and balance are the only things holding the panels on, so you have to be careful to avoid an industrial accident. We used some ropes, a gri gri and an ascender to lower the panels carefully.

The manual instructs you to tip the wall to a horizontal position to remove the panels, but the size of our room didn’t allow this. At this point, gravity and balance are the only things holding the panels on, so you have to be careful to avoid an industrial accident. We used some ropes, a gri gri and an ascender to lower the panels carefully.

Lowering the last few panels. Each panel weighs about 15 lbs, and there are 41 of them...that's about 600 lbs total.

Lowering the last few panels. Each panel weighs about 15 lbs, and there are 41 of them…that’s about 600 lbs total.

These are the "guts" of the Fun Rock...it comes apart pretty quickly from here, but these puppys are HEAVY!

These are the “guts” of the Fun Rock…it comes apart pretty quickly from here, but these puppys are HEAVY!

In the midst of all this, I had to wrap up my job, and I had my 37th birthday. We took some time out to dine at one of our favorite restaurants…a total dive Italian joint that doesn’t advertise, has weird hours, is cramped into a run-down, non descript building with no sign out front, and yet is always jam-packed with customers — the food must be good!

Chicken Marsala, our favorite dish at Tradewinds in Niceville, FL.  They use a unique blend of Marsala and Sherry wine that makes it sweeter than most Marsalas.

Chicken Marsala, our favorite dish at Tradewinds in Niceville, FL. They use a unique blend of Marsala and Sherry wine that makes it sweeter than most Marsalas.

My birthday Canoli.  Their Marscapone is imported from Italy...yum!

My birthday Canoli. Their Marscapone is imported from Italy…yum!

We rented a 26′ U Haul moving truck to pack up our various climbing walls and training gear. Oh yeah, we had some furniture and other stuff too….

The biggest vehicle I've ever piloted.  It drove like crap, but it got the job done.

The biggest vehicle I’ve ever piloted. It drove like crap, but it got the job done.

Just getting started...plenty of room so far!

Just getting started. Part of the Fun Rock climbing wall is laying in a stack on the floor on the right, underneath the table we custom built before our last move (from OH to FL) to move the Fun Rock. The main support beams and drive axles are strapped to the left wall of the truck (the big black pipes).

Playing "Tetris" with all our worldly possessions.  The Campus board is strapped to the wall to my left.

Playing “Tetris” with all our worldly possessions. The Campus board is strapped to the wall to my left.

During the last few weeks in Florida we made a point to gorge ourselves on seafood. We made a ticklist and hit up all our favorite restaurants, along with cooking our own fresh fish and shrimp. Grouper is our favorite, and it is a specialty in the Gulf of Mexico. They are also renowned for their shrimp. Our very last stop was to grab some Seafood Gumbo and hushpuppies at our favorite dive in Destin, Florida:

Enjoying seafood gumbo from "Dewey Destin's Seafood Restaurant" with my Mom, Karen.

Enjoying seafood gumbo from “Dewey Destin’s Seafood Restaurant” with my Mom, Karen.

We hit the road, and drove (very carefully) the 1400 or so miles from Florida towards the Rockies. Along the way, we stopped in Dallas, TX for some authentic tacos served out of a gas station convenience store…the Al Pastor were our favorite.

So after a 6 year hiatus, we are very thrilled to announce our return to the Colorado Front Range! As of May 12th, we have moved back to Colorado Springs, and we are very psyched. Our house won’t be quite ready to move in for another month or so, but we are pretty psyched on it. This is the garage (the most important feature for a climber):

I think the Fun Rock will fit :)

I think the Fun Rock will fit 🙂

We are really looking forward to re-integrating into the front range climbing community and revisiting all of our favorite crags (Shelf Road, Penitente) as well as exploring new ones. We have changed a lot as climbers during our Eastern travels, and we’re very excited to exploit our new climbing skills (in particular, our new-found ability to climb steep rock).

We look forward to seeing you out at the crags, and if you see us, please say hi!

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3 thoughts on “Home, Sweet Home!

  1. Congratulations Mike! I’ve visited the American West before and think it is beautiful, but live east to be near family. I couldn’t imagine being so far from family; happy for you.

    Like

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