Since my last update in February, a lot has changed. I guess I'll start off with the topic most people follow.
In May, I was able to add another question or answer, depending on how you look at it, to my repertoire of medical problems. While out climbing some cliffs near my home, I got a call that I had been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Because of the fact that I was leaving to drive cross country again in three days, I wasn't able to see a specialist. And I still haven't been able to. The good news with it is that my numbers for the Rheumatoid factor are pretty low. When my mother spoke to the nurse, who has RA, she said that my numbers were around 50, and 37 is positive. Her RA factor tests around 115. So mine is still low. Whether it will get higher, I have no idea. The Rheumatoid Factor test also tests for more than just RA. So, I could have something completely different. I'll have to go to a specialist and they'll have to start playing the guessing game for us to figure it out.
I'm not sure if I'm seeing any symptoms of anything yet. I have felt some weakness, stiffness, and pain in my fingers, but I'm not sure if that's because I was out of climbing for a month or two and have started back up. I spent all of Sunday bouldering with friends, and even though I didn't climb much, I had much, much more stiffness in my hands than the others, including new climbers. I'm staying optimistic for now and saying it's just because I've been out of climbing for a while.
But just like last summer, this summer I drove out to Reno, NV again to live and work there. It turned out to be one of the best decisions ever, because I now have a six month old baby girl. She may be a little small, and a little fuzzy, but she's perfect to me.
This is Nala. When I got to Reno, I decided my apartment was a little too lonely, and I wanted to adopt an animal. I was going to adopt a cat off of Craigslist, but when I went to respond to it, the ad was deleted. Nala's ad was the one directly underneath it. I clicked it and decided to go for it. It had no picture or description. When we finally met the woman, we learned that her mother had found Nala under her car, way out in an Indian Reservation. She was 5-6 weeks old. The woman put her in her trailer with her other cat, and left, since she wasn't living there anymore. When we came to pick her up, it was a week after they had found her. The other cat in the house didn't really like Nala, and would hiss whenever she came near her. She had very little human contact, since she was left alone in this trailer with the cat for almost the whole week. When we took her home, she was 6 to 7 weeks old, and so tiny. But she's been the perfect cat. She acts like a child. When she's scared, she wraps her paws around my neck. When she's had a hard day, she won't go to sleep unless I'm holding her paw. If I'm watching TV, she'll crawl up into my arms, curl up, and watch it too. Her favorite show is the Daily Show. Her favorite music is Bon Iver. If either of those two are playing, she's instantly on my lap. She's truly the most wonderful thing in the world to me.
After being out in Reno for a little bit, Bakamitai made the wonderful trip out and spent some time out there with mhawk and I. During his time in Reno, we went up to Tahoe to show him the amazing scenery. It was 65 degrees, drizzling, and there was still quite a lot of snow on the ground. For some reason, I got the wonderful idea to jump in Tahoe.
I don't know if anyone here has ever done something called the Polar Bear Plunge, but let me tell you: When you jump into water that's 45 degrees on the surface, it hits you like a brick out of a cannon. You can't breathe, and your body is instantly screaming at you, "WHAT DID YOU JUST DO?!" It was probably my quickest swim back to shore, but also one of the most exhilarating things I've ever felt. I would totally do it again. Plus, I had the wonderful oppertunity to wear Baka's extra jeans for the rest of the day, which fit me perfectly.
And of course it wouldn't be an entry if I didn't throw some climbing stuff in. Not only did Baka and I climb some awesome stuff, but my Roommate from all the way back in Pennsylvania hitchhiked his way out to Reno to do some climbing with me.
If you can see the absolute pure concentration on his face, you can tell that he's an amazing climber. And a pretty awesome crusher. I did try to get Baka to climb this cave roof...
...But he couldn't get his butt off the ground. Next time, Baka, next time.
At the end of the summer, right before I left, I managed to cross one thing off my bucket list. There is a place in Reno called the Little Shop Of Horrors. It's a 120 foot cliff, that I have never, ever gotten to rappel. Well, I pulled it off right before the end of the summer. Setting this up, then climbing over the edge was truly nerve wracking.
You can't tell, but the rock is a little overhanging. So once you're past the first ten feet of the top, you're just hanging in open air. It's an amazing feeling. So amazing that I rappelled it twice to make sure I'd remember it.
My friend Seth moved to Colorado this summer while I was away. Two days ago he just free soloed the Third Flat Iron, a 1,200 foot cliff. He did it with no ropes, and no protection. He said it was the most peaceful feeling he's ever felt. That's my new goal. Someday, I will free solo that cliff.
And lastly, I'll finish this off the same way I usually end these updates off. It doesn't matter if you have a disease. It doesn't matter if you have depression. It doesn't matter if you feel completely bogged down. Go out, and find beautiful places. Do beautiful things. Even though I have conditions that try to limit me in a lot of ways, I get around it, and I do what I love. Last year, I only found one amazingly beautiful place: That cliff in South Lake. I'm happy to say I found three this summer. So, I present to you, this year's beautiful places.
Arches National Park, Moab, UT.
Carson City, NV in the background, and the Sierra Nevadas.
Washoe Lake, NV, and the Sierra Nevadas. Tahoe is right behind that mountain.