Monthly Archives: November 2014

Unwelcome visitor :(

Who knows where it came from, for all we know we might have packed it in from the crag as there was one roaming around the day before.

It started while I was cooking some breakfast, frying some eggs as usual. It had happened to me before so I knew I didn’t imagine it. From the corner of my eye I saw something move across the narrow floor between the couch and the cupboards. There is no way around it, we have a mouse  in the van!.

As you can imagine, every corner of the van is packed with things. Whether it’s underneath the couch, on top or inside or around the cupboards, there is stuff everywhere. So having a mouse sharing your living quarters is bad for every reasons. It could poop on your plate or in your drinking cup, it could chew on your climbing rope to build a nest or it could come and crawl on you while you’re sleeping. We had an emergency to deal with. 

At first we got as much stuff out of the van so that we could hopefully send it on it’s way. We opened all the doors with the intent of simply push it out with a stick if we found it. I did find it, under the coach, with my face a short distance away from it. It might have been 2 feet away from me but however small this thing is, it felt like it was much closer. I may have screamed a little after spotting it behind a biking helmet I had just moved. These things move fast, much faster than I could ever move if it had made a jump for my hand or my nose.

So Elaine got a broom stick and started pushing it towards the back of the van which had a fully open door. Unfortunately, the mouse didn’t jump out as hoped for. It sneaked behind the wall where there was no more hope to get to it. It had found a small opening and although we banged everywhere to get it to come out, that was the end of the first battle. The mouse might be our new permanent roommate. Ewwww!

Next step, getting some traps. We bought four sticky mouse traps and two regular ones that squishes their neck. Having dealt with mice before, I swore to never use the sticky ones again as they aren’t very humane. It doesn’t kill them and therefore you have to handle a live mouse if it gets stuck to it. This time, time was of essence and we didn’t feel like there was much clearance to set the regular traps where we though we might catch it. We set up the regular traps in the hallway while we went climbing. Combined with the sticky ones, we were hopeful to catch while we were out having fun. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. The mouse is still alive. Or is it gone?

One thing I know from my previous battles with mice, don’t ever think the mouse is gone. Don’t assume there’s only one mouse too. We made our way towards our sleeping spot and turned on the heat from the furnace as usual. That did it, it got the mouse moving. We could hear it walk around. After a while it clicked that perhaps it wasn’t walking around but potentially stuck to the thing and fighting for its life. We looked around and bingo, The mouse was trapped!

Of course it got trapped to the sticky trap. I am a big wuss when it comes to mice and I’m very thankful that Elaine was there to deal with it. She stepped up to the plate and engaged in the last step, the removal of the mouse. With her work gloves on, she used a pair of vice grip to pinch the trap while I assisted the best way that I could by doing nothing 🙂

Elaine also known as "the pest control guy"

Elaine also known as “the pest control guy”

Game over

Game over


Actually I did contribute. Elaine put the trap in the garbage can and I had to walk the thing (as it’s still fighting and moving to get itself off the glue) to the garbage bin. I apologized for doing what I was doing and ended it by disposing of a living thing in the garbage bin. 😦

Besides that, we took many days off this week, three in total. Not sure if we felt tired or lazy, and Elaine also has a bit of a cold but in any case, we have been watching a lot of the show The Walking Dead. I think we are at Episode 35 now.

Dumpster diving is going well too. Still eating lots of breads and eggs from the bin. Yesterday we got 5 lbs of shredded cabbage so if you have recipes we welcome them 🙂

We hit Wild Willys hot spring on our day off. We forgot to take pictures of it so you’ll have to click on the previous link if you want to see what it looks like. We spent two days there and so far it may be the best hot spring we have been to. It’s fairly large and the water temperature is just perfect. The only disadvantage is that you have to walk 4-5 minutes to go from the car to the pool.

Weather is getting nice with highs in the low 20 Celsius. No need for long johns underneath the pants today. The holds might have been a little greasier but it was nice to feel the heat again.

Our  budget for this week is now $195.02 CAD for food & fun. 

Nov 20 – Nov 26 : Weekly & Totals since we left 22 weeks ago.

Fuel: $80.31 / $3534.35
Food: $51.26 / $1674.85
Fun: $16.76 / $3230.74

Total for the week without fuel: $68.02
Total with fuel: $148.33
Total spent since the beginning: $8439.94

Total budget: $15756.21
Budget left: $7316.27

E & M


Posing for your viewing pleasure 😉


A classic V4 3 stars in the Sad Boulders area


Elaine on that same V4. Work in progress


Kristine on that same V4 .. it’s coming!


Trying to stretch it out before trying a V7 .. Keeping the send for another day 🙂


Elaine on Molly (Sad boulders) V5.. it’s coming!

Happy boulders parking lot

The hike out of Happy Boulders


Facing the sun.. she usually smiles 🙂

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Dirtbagging skills (… Dumpster diving!)

All layered up… it gets chilly at times!

We are still in Bishop and still loving it here! The weather is a little cooler now…nights are sometimes below freezing. Climbing in the shade is a bit cold and you for sure need a thick jacket but in the sun it’s pretty good. We have been bouldering quite a bit more lately, our  fingers skin is having it pretty rough so we took more rest days than usually. Elaine did her first ever V4 “Beer tumor Right” and is now working on a V5 with Kristine. After a few days, I finally sent “The Hulk” V6 and now working on a V7. It’s all very exciting!!!

Heavenly Path (V1 highball) in Happy boulders

Heavenly Path (V1 highball) in Happy boulders

Elaine working Solarium, a classic V4

Elaine working Solarium, a classic V4

We have added a new tool the our box of “how to dirtbag it”. As the title says it, we have tried and succeeded at dumpster diving. Don’t over think it, dumpster diving is what it is, looking for stuff that is still good to use or eat in a garbage bin. It may be frowned upon by society in general but for having talked about it with other climbers who are living on a small budget/in a van, dumpster diving is pretty amazing. It does feel awkward to do it in public and in broad daylight but it’s totally worth it and sort of feel like winning at the lottery 🙂

At first I didn’t think about it, but dumpster diving (aka Freeganism) helps reducing food waste. It doesn’t take much for a produce to get discarded,a little black spot or a bruise. We also witnessed grocery store staff filling up carts with almost expired/ day old bread, pastries and cold cuts and throwing it all in the dumpster ….it really makes you think about waste/environment and what you can do as an individual to reduce it. Over the last week, we have had good luck finding products that were just about past their “best by” date. Here is what we were able to salvage:

  • 2 x 2 Litres of Orange Juice
  • Much more bread than we were able to eat or give away
  • Over 5 lbs of tomatoes
  • 1  giant honeydew
  • 1 cantaloupe( Elaine couldn’t find anything wrong with it…it was delish!)
  • MANY dozens of eggs
  • yam potato
  • 5lbs of frozen chicken breast (cooked it all, have been eating it for two days.. all good!)
  • 4 packs of “Donettes
  • A full game of Pictionnary

I wish we could do more dumpster diving but most places either lock up their bins or use a compactor. In any case we are saving a bunch of money and it’s kind of fun to eat random things.

Otherwise life is still good. In anticipation of the Xmas holidays, we bought and installed some LED Christmas lights. They look awesome and provide a warm & low power light source. I only wish they would blink to make it awesomer 🙂

Christmas lights

As usual, more pictures below the budget with some captions

Our  budget for this week is now $190.92 CAD for food & fun

Nov 13 – Nov 19 : Weekly & Totals since we left 21 weeks ago.

Fuel: $79.10 / $3454.04
Food: $53.69 / $1623.59 (Includes $16.95 for propane)
Fun: $40.55 / $3213.98 (bought a 26oz of Bacardi Rum with a $2 off coupon.. cost $8 USD!)

Total for the week without fuel: $94.24
Total with fuel: $173.34
Total spent since the beginning: $8291.61

Total budget: $15756.21
Budget left: $7464.60

E & M

bishop gravel road

Improving the road by digging out a boulder.. you don’t want to puncture your oil pan out in the sticks

best picture of me

My best picture .. 🙂

volanic tuff

Elaine being pretty in the hueco 🙂

van living

Killing time doing some Sudoku or something like that

Boxer dog

Bella, also known as Shit-Face McFarlane .. dogs just love eating poo

boxer dog

Diva, aka the Other Shit-face McFarlane


First flapper of the trip 😦

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Sun, coffee and climbing

Wow we are kind of wordless this week. We are really starting to settle into a routine that we really like.

As dreadful as mornings were when we used to work, waking up is now something we’ve come to really like. We go to bed fairly early around 9-10 pm.. and we sleep until the sun rises around 7 am. The thing here is that so far, morning are absolutely gorgeous, there are never any clouds and hardly any wind. As the nights are fairly cool, reaching around freezing temperatures, the feeling of warmth from the sun coming out is peaceful and comforting. So after making coffee, we will sit somewhere outside or in the front driver seats, enjoy the view, listen to a great local radio station while slowly sipping on our cups. This will usually go on for while and at some point we will then cook breakfast, always consisting of 3 eggs each and served most of the time in a wrap in the form of a burrito. And by then it’s now at least 10 am. Time to start thinking about what we are going to do that day, pack up our stuff, some snacks for the lunch and go out and do our things.

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The sun sets pretty early now and by 5:30 pm, you would better be on your way back to the van already otherwise you will need a headlamp to see where you’re going. Evenings are pretty random. Some nights we will have a glass of wine (or two…), some nights we are with Conrad and Kristine and will play a game of Settlers of Catan or go to the Hot Springs, other nights we will go shopping, get some water, or move closer to where we’re going to spend the day tomorrow. At least the options are many around here when it comes to parking for the night.

This life here is very simple, living on very little. Yet, it is so nice to be free to do as we like all the time. Sure we do wish we could enjoy some more of the material or comfort things but in the end, the advantages sure outweigh the inconveniences.

We had a few days off last week and we were given the tour of a nearby real hot spring by Conrad & Kristine. These hot springs are unlike anything we’ve seen before. They are of a simple design in a semi-wild environment. There’s a gravel road to go to it and there is a man made pool the size of a small hot tub with a tap to regulate the amount of new hot water to let into the pool. It can accommodate around 6 people and the best of it all is that there is no cost to it. Absolutely free.

Shepherd Hot Springs

Shepherd Hot Springs

Climbing in the Gorge is awesome!!  The Gorge is separated in 4 areas, so far we visited only two of them. The rock here is different and  we are now more used to it. Most of the routes that we had climbed so far are beautiful lines (we try to stick with the 4-5 stars).  Some routes are so long that you need a 70m rope + the stretch to make it to the bottom.  Those longer routes are good for the endurance.  We really enjoy it here.

Central Gorge

Central Gorge

Quick news!

  • Conrad found some engineered wood 2×6 and we cut some pieces to carry with us… we sleep level all the time now!
  • The mixed veggies we added to the can of tomato sauce had potatoes in it.. tasted funny with the pasta 🙂
  •  We are dirtier than ever as it is so dusty around here, yet we are cleaner than ever as we hit the hot springs frequently!

More photos below with some captions.. Cheers!

Our  budget for this week is now $187.90 CAD for food & fun

Nov 6 – Nov 13 : Weekly & Totals since we left 20 weeks ago.

Fuel: $33.90 / $3374.94
Food: $104.17 / $1569.90
Fun: $8.56 / $3173.43

Total for the week without fuel: $112.73
Total with fuel: $146.63
Total spent since the beginning: $8118.27

Total budget: $15756.21
Budget left: $7637.94

E & M

Driving on one of many rough dirt roads around bishop.

leveling blocks

Our new leveling blocks.. made at no cost using a Dollarama saw!


Men at work… thanks for the planks Conrad!

Central gorge descent

The actual approach/descent into Central Gorge. It’s not as bad as it looks as most of the loose stuff is not where you step.


The view once you reach the bottom of the Gorge

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Living the life on a mellow morning

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California rocks

There’s no other way to put it. Rock climbing & bouldering in Bishop, California is the bomb. Originally we only planned on doing one week in Bishop but now we are looking at staying for at least a month. I’m going to try to describe briefly what it’s like to be here be telling you about our last week.

The van is doing better than ever. Not wasting anymore propane to the leak is awesome. We had some colder evenings and nights here so we have been using that bonus propane to keep ourselves warm with the furnace. Besides the evenings, the days are really warm. It’s probably going up to 25 celcius. Weatherwise, this is what we had been hoping and looking for so we are extremely happy about it.

We rope climbed only for one day so far but let me tell you that it was super duper. The area is called Owen’s River gorge. The guidebook give stars to the routes and we only climbed routes with 3 to 5 stars (5 is the most). The 5 star one was splendid and we cannot wait to climb more of them.

Cake in a panAs the weather was a bit cooler for a few days, we decided to go bouldering not too far from the rope climbing area. That spot is called the Buttermilks. We did that for the last three days and today was our rest day. No more skin left on the fingertips! We were able to meet up with Conrad and Kristine and that’s always a good time. They baked a cake in a pan to try it out (based on our initial success) and that was a big hit. It made a massive amount of cake but somehow there was no leftover 🙂 One notarious moment was when Conrad flipped the caked in the pan to cook the top a little more.  He pulled it off like a pro and the caked was cooked to perfection throughout.

bishop boulderingbishop - bowling pin

wilderness toiletCamping is free and each crag have a few camping options. Most importantly, there is free camping. It’s dispersed camping so there isn’t any running water, facilities or even garbage bins. Using the washroom involves digging a hole 6 inches deep.. it’s not that bad. The worst about it is the dust.. very sandy in Bishop and we’are always dusty.

franzia wine in a boxThe deal of the week was a 5 Liters of wine-in-a-box made named Franzia. We had seen in many times for a low price since we entered the USA but never dared trying it. As Canadians, that much wine for $11 USD can only rhyme with disgusting. Anyways, we tried it and honestly, it’s the best bang for the buck when it comes to wine. It has 12.5% alcohol so it’s real wine. The only better deal for alcohol beverages is strong alcohol. Today we saw a 60 oz of Bacardi Rum for $17. Crazy… 3 times cheaper than Canada. I don’t understand how come everyone isn’t drunk all the time down here.. 😉

Tonight we are going to a family dinner/night thing put on by a local on a weekly basis. Will tell you more next time about it but it sounds like it’s oriented towards climbers and it’s close to being a pot luck but not quite.

Random pictures from this week are below the weekly budget. This week we added captions below some pictures.

Our  budget for this week is now $185.62 CAD for food & fun

Oct 30 – Nov 5 : Weekly & Totals since we left 19 weeks ago.

Fuel: $167.25 / $3341.04 ($98 USD for mechanic last week)
Food: $108.38 / $1465.73
Fun: $45.08 / $3164.87 ($36 CAD for guidebook)

Total for the week without fuel: $153.46
Total with fuel: $320.71
Total spent since the beginning: $7971.64

Total budget: $15756.21
Budget left: $7784.57

E & M


This is how you cut your hair on the road!!!


Famous Ironman Traverse V4

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Not that easy to gather firewood in the desert..

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Elaine carrying the gigantic bag of tortilla chips


What a view…tough life!


Diva having trouble dealing with the heat


Working on V9 Soul Slinger


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