The Great American Road Trip

I open the Facebook app. on my phone and scroll through my feed. It’s how I get caught up with my previous life back in Florida. My friends post about their lives: the start of a new career, a baby just entered the world, one’s going back to school, looks like a wedding’s coming since a couple just got engaged.

My thumb taps the new Instagram icon revealing a plethora of photos. That burger and beer looks way better than the half packet of flavored rice and can of chicken I just inhaled. There’s a rope swing and a natural water slide in British Columbia? I’m bookmarking those spots in my brain, those places look awesome to visit on the way to Alaska. Oh look, Chris Burkard just posted another stunning photo of Iceland. Iceland looks rad, maybe I’ll go there one day.

Social media’s my form of entertainment on the road. It’s also my newsfeed at times. I’m lying, it’s my newsfeed almost all the time. I was born in 1990, I’m 26 years old, I’m a millennial, a millennial that makes a living by traveling. I’m the prime target for travel companies. I see a lot of the same ads you see on your newsfeed. The ones telling you and me that it’d be rad to visit Thailand and experience the little cities by vespa, that the climbing over the aqua blue water would feel incredible, and that I can eat cheap street food for every meal; as long as I can afford the flight there. Europe looks amazing in those ads too. I’ve had some friends visit Europe. Some of them did a study abroad program, others taught English as a second language, a few were a nanny to some rad kids for a summer, and then there’s a few that lived out of their backpack for a week or two; maybe even a month or two. They all tell me I’d love it there and I don’t disagree.

These travel ads have a way with altering perception. They do a terrific job at telling you and me that we need to go to another country to experience something amazing. Staying stateside in our own backyard is boring and that the only way to really have an adventure is to travel to another country, if only for a week or two.

Last week I was in Bend, OR for a few days. Bend is east of the Cascade Mountain Range and still part of the high desert. The days were sunny, the air was dry as the desert is, and it was warm during the day and cool at night. Adam found this awesome swimming hole called Blue Pool. It’s the most crystal clear blue body of water I’ve ever seen in photos and in person. You’d think we found it in a forest in Southeast Asia, but we barely drove an hour west into the Cascade Mountains and hiked two miles from the gravel parking lot to go swimming.Adam Fricke doing a swan dive into Blue Pool on a road trip

We kept driving west for a couple more hours until we were stopped by the edge of a jagged cliff with the Pacific Ocean crashing against the rough Central Oregon land. The temperature plummeted by 20 degrees and the wind carried little particles of salt from the ocean down below onto the land. Trees with different hues of green leaves surrounded me as I walked along the trails of the coastal forest.Road Trip view from Yachats Oregon

A couple days passed and I was walking along the cobblestone beaches of Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park along the coast of Washington. Back in Florida it was in the 90’s with high humidity on the 4th of July. And here I was walking around the Pacific Northwest fog wearing jeans and a hoodie watching fireworks across the jetty crack in the sky.Justin Fricke on a road trip through Rialto Beach

Everything’s so different than the place I left back in January. I thought I’d seen it all in the southeast, but come to find out that the southeast was my safety bubble. There’s so much more to see and experience outside of our safety bubbles and it turns out that you don’t need to own a passport to see something you’ve dreamt about seeing in photos or meet someone incredible along the way.

I want to visit every country in the world. I think there’s a lot of merit in meeting new people, learning about new cultures, and how the rest of the world lives. But did you know that there’s such a thing as Fry Sauce? I didn’t, they have it in Idaho, and it’s delicious.

Is that Climbing Trip Worth the Drive?

Cooler temperatures will soon be upon us in the southeast and with the cooler temperatures comes outdoor climbing season! It’s been a scalding hot summer and my friends and I are stoked to take a couple climbing trips soon. The only problem is that living in Florida, we live far away from any notable crags. I’m talking a one way 9 hour drive far. Herein lies the problem for the typical weekend warrior. Guaging whether the time spent driving to go climbing is “worth it.”

Many climbers have to make this decision several times throughout the winter. Should I make the 9 or so hour drive to go to Rocktown in Georgia or LRC in Tennessee? On one hand I’ll get to spend a fun weekend with my friends with the potential of sending a project of mine and starting a new one. On the other hand I could stay at home, get some rest, and maybe take a hike or go mountain biking close to home. Or I could always go to the climbing gym.Croc Bloc on a Climbing Trip to Rocktown

Fortunately there are a couple answers to this age old weekend warrior question.

V Points Per Hour

This is specific to boulderers. You should send an equal, but preferably greater, amount of V Points for every hour traveled. So let’s say we spend 9 hours in the car up to Rocktown. It’s safe to say it’ll take us another 9 hours to get back home, so we’re looking at an 18 hours round trip. In order to justify the trip each person would have to claim 18 or more V Points.

We could knock that out by climbing 18 V1’s, but that’d be a little cheap. You can make it so only climbing grades that are near your max count. Or you can just say that everything you climb counts as a V Point. Hell if you’re really strong you could knock out those 18 V Points with only two V9’s.

Pitch Quota

 Much like the V Point Per Hour method, the amount of pitches you need to climb (whether sport, trad, or free solo) to make your climbing trip “worth it” directly correlates with the amount of time you spent traveling. We’ll stick with the 18 hours round trip figure again. This means you’d need to climb 18 pitches to make your trip “worth it.”

To a lot of weekend warriors that’s a daunting task. I know I get pooped or find myself getting a case of the Elvis Leg by the 4th pitch. Something like this usually requires a few more days than a weekend.

To Hell With It Mentality

 Sometimes you feel like you just need to say to hell with it all! You just want to get away for a weekend, maybe even a day. It doesn’t matter how many sends you get. You may not even bag any sends at all that day. Just the fact that you’re a little out of cell reception in nature with some friends is good enough. But a send or two wouldn’t hurt.

What do you do to convince yourself that climbing trip’s worth it?