Nothing like loosing your wallet in a foreign country..

It happened today. We were running errands. Last stop: getting some propane. We had a stressful moment when Elaine realized she had lost the wallet somewhere between the grocery store and the propane shop. We looked everywhere: in every grocery bag, in every little hiding spot we use to stash important stuff but we couldn’t find it. It had to have been left in the cart or something. The only comforting thing is that the passports weren’t part of it, safe and sound. The only thing left to do was to drive back to the grocery store to look for it. YES! someone had returned it with ALL the money($50) and the cards in it!!! Thanks a million to that awesome person!! Faith in humanity is restored, we will keep on paying forward with the good Karma.. you never know when you’ll need it!

Apart from being notorious for its awesome bouldering and its rock art, Hueco tanks has to be known for the crazy winds it gets. We had for a day straight, winds hovering around 30 miles/hour but gusting well over that. The van was rocking but we managed to get some sleep at night anyways. The wind was one thing, but with it came very cold temperatures… It might have been the coldest temperature we have had to sleep in so far. In fact, there must have been some rain overnight as the one side of the van was covered in ice that night.The following night we treated ourselves to the heat of our furnace which made it super comfortable.

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I asked the campground host if there were tornadoes frequently happening around here but thankfully, the mountains around are apparently preventing those from forming. On the other hand, it isn’t rare to see decent size dirt devils forming.

Hueco Tanks is a very organized place compare to all the other places we have climbed at so far. Lots of rules and specific ways to do things. The park and the road are only open from 8 am to 6 pm. The way to access the park is a bit unique. The park is split in two sections. The North Mountain and the rest. On North Mountain, they allow a maximum of 70 people at any given time. That way they can control and “protect” the area and help reduce the human footprint. When you think about it it makes a lot of sense but it’s also a bit of pain. You can reserve your spot in the park and that’s what most people do. They usually reserve their spots 3 months in advance but there is also here some rules that must be respected. Otherwise, with no reservation you can just show up at the main gate and hope they have spots available(aka people with reservations that do not show up). Some enthusiast even drive to the gate at like 6 am(or earlier) and wait for the park to open. We tried that one morning but we aren’t really good at getting up early and didn’t really perform well that day. The other morning, we showed up at 9 am and had to wait 5 hours to get into the park. In the end, it’s really annoying but we got used to it and climbing here is awesome!

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On busy days you have to wait in line to get in.. Only 70 people allowed for self-guided tours on North Mountain

 

On top of all the rules, there’s a 17 minutes educational video you MUST watch at least once a year before you’re certified to enter the park. They give you a card that you MUST show every time you want to enter the park. Also, they call the North Mountain a “Self-Guided” area and the video is doing a good job at explaining you what they’re trying to protect, mostly rock art painted by natives a while back.

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Actual artwork seen there

 

The problem is that North Mountain is only a third of the size of the park. The only way to access the other parts of the park is to go on Volunteer guided tours which are $2/pp or Professionally guided tours which start at $15/pp but more realistically are at least $25/pp for the day. Although $2 is not that much, it’s not negligible. Furthermore, on volunteer tours, it seems like you don’t have much say with regards to where the volunteer will take you, making working on projects difficult if you and your volunteer aren’t working the same stuff. With all that said, the good thing is that North mountain should have enough stuff for us to keep busy for our whole time here and then some.

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Climbing wise, we are trying hard to push our limits a bit further and challenge ourselves everyday. Good news! Elaine’s skin is almost back to normal but bad news.. she’s now having some hamstrings pain from heel hooking… She will have to take it easy for a few days.

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Financially, we are managing to save money even though we have to pay $1.33/pp per night to camp. We’re hopeful that Thailand will be the same way and that we will succeed at living a whole year with our initial $15 000. Perhaps it helps that we’re really good at making sure we don’t get ripped off when we buy stuff, mostly at the grocery store. Once again people, always double-check your receipt and make sure to take advantage of the Scanning code of practice(aka SCOP) if it’s available where you live.

Oh we had some luck at dumpster diving, in a dumpster we never anticipated to find food. The dumpster of a Subway restaurant! These guys threw out lettuce that was a day past the best before date but was clearly in good shape in an air tight bag. There was also a bunch of slightly bruised tomatoes. Many dumpsters are locked around here but time will tell if we will be able to find some more goodies.

Party!

Party!

The same people we hung out and climbed with in Bishop were all in Hueco Tanks last week. Since it was Solveig’s birthday, everyone got together for a pot luck and for a Margarita party night. The food was delicious but the margaritas were awesome! You wouldn’t know you were drinking Tequila if someone asked you, and even less so the beer added to the mix to add some fizz. I’m pretty sure those were my first margaritas but it sure will not be my last 🙂 I’ll spell out the recipe right here so I don’t forget. Feel free to try it out, it’s delicious.

1 part frozen limonade concentrate(the ones you add water to. Juice would work too)
1 part water
1 part Tequila
1 part ice
1 bottle of Corona.

To make it simple, Rick(a local, former professional bartender) was simply using the whole can of concentrate and using the then empty can to measure everything. Pour some ice in your cup then fill it up with the mix.
All the people at the campground came out on the porch and we even got some dancing done. It was an great evening with great people!

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Another tradition among the climbers at Hueco Tanks is to go for the $5 burger night at Crave downtown(40 min from the campground). We had to skip it last week due to our budget but thought we deserved it this week. Drove down with Conrad and Kristine. Unfortunately, as we were ordering our burgers, we found out Elaine couldn’t get the $5 burger with a veggie patty and she would have to pay full price ($13). She just left and waited for us in the van. It is a good deal and the burgers were great but we won’t go back for sure…I can’t just have my girlfriend waiting for me in the van while I eat a burger… Oh and here they don’t cook ground beef thoroughly.. kind of crazy to be asked how cooked you want your beef patty!

We have been on the road now for 8 months but it really doesn’t feel that long to us. I think the van living suits us very well and makes us happy. We are making do with the little money we allowed ourselves to spend and are satisfied with what we already possessed. We are also becoming pretty creative stove top cooks and sponge bathing is now the new best thing… showers are SO overrated! 😉

Our  budget for this week is now $208.55 CAD for food & fun.

Jan 19 –Feb 25 : Weekly & Totals since we left 35 weeks ago.

Fuel: $44.49 / $4617.10
Food: $22.19 / $2350.53
Fun: $44.34 / $4860.40

Total for the week without fuel: $66.53
Total with fuel: $111.02
Total spent since the beginning: $11828.03

Total budget: $15756.21
Budget left: $3928.18

E & M

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Partying it up with margaritas!

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That’s what happens when you wake up at 6:30 am to go climbing.. you don’t. You don’t climb and you just nap in the sun instead.

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Conrad setting himself up for a nap too!

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Super intricate problem.. without less than obvious knee bar beta, this would never go.

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The McFarlanes being silly!

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Poker night on the porch!.. somehow it wasn’t windy that night!

 

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Diva likes to nap on our couch

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Elaine working on Serious Attitude V4.

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Another of Elaine’s project: Dilated pupils V4



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