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West Coast Settling

I never pictured myself living in California. But as my job search kept pointing west, the possibility became more concrete and I began to get excited about the Bay Area. In the last 10 weeks Lizz and I have settled in and gotten out to explore.

Sunset over the Bay as viewed from the Advanced Light Source in Berkeley

Check out some photos of our new diggs and a video of Spookey soloing an epic line.

Spookey lording over the neighborhood from a throne on our deck

The first leg of our adventure didn’t go as planned. After crawling through Wyoming in a blistering winter windstorm my car blew a belt near the Wyoming/Utah border. AAA towed me to SLC where we were fortunate to stay there with good friends Carl, Tonya and Emma. While surgery was being done on the gold Chevy, we got in some climbing at Momentum, a really impressive gym. Another day of driving then put us at my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Sacramento where we were loaded up with homemade chocolate chip cookies. We finally arrived in the Bay on a Saturday and checked in to La Quinta where Spookey immediately asserted herself queen of the hotel. The next several days were spent apartment searching and getting to know the East Bay.

Potatoes are purple in California

At first we thought we’d live in San Ramon, but after venturing a bit south to Pleasanton, there was no choice. Pleasanton has a welcoming community feel with a quaint, accessible downtown similar to Boulder. Our place is less than 20 minutes from my work and driving always seems to be counter to the direction of heavy traffic. Pleasanton also has a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station less than 10 minutes from our place where we can hop a train to San Francisco, Berkeley and many other awesome destinations. We’ve also had fun in Livermore (where I work), which also has a farmers market and a characteristic downtown complete with a fantastic climbing/water sports shop.

Life in Pleasanton.

Every Saturday, the bustle of the Pleasanton farmers market has the town buzzing as retailers sell fresh foods, plants and much more. A mile down the road from city center we found a great second floor apartment with huge windows and skylights. After three days of unpacking, organizing, shopping and heavy lifting, we were basically moved in – just in time for me to head to work.

A sunny Saturday at the Pleasanton Farmers Market

We joined Planet Granite climbing gym and have been going regularly to keep strong and sane. Planet Granite has three gyms in the Bay Area and our membership gets us into any of them. The biggest downside of our location is the lack of any decent climbing gym in the East Bay. But we carpool and make sure that when we do make the 40 minute drive that we take advantage of our time there by climibng hard and getting in a run or other workout after the session. Planet Granite is like Movement and the Spot put together complete with two huge bouldering areas and tons of climbing square footage, including a 65-foot wall, a bunch of quality cracks and plenty of harder lines to keep me humble. The grades there are much more stout than at the BRC and I’ll only rarely onsight 5.12 and will more than occasionally peel on 5.11.

Lizz has been doing assisted pullups and is getting stronger by the day. Watching her improve with consistent effort has been a true pleasure. I feel like she’s discovering the joy of confronting a climbing challenge and pushing her limits. She just got a new pair of women’s Murias and is ready for some outdoor fun. Rainy weather has spoiled some of our anticipated adventures, but we have had a few days of Bay Area climbing and are looking forward to experiencing Yosemite.

Kim and Lizz take in Napa Valley after a day of climbing at Mt. Helena

For the last month, flowering trees have sweetened the air and we are fortunate to have a cherry blossom reaching over our deck. Spookey, of course, immediately asserted herself queen of the apartment complex and has made a few acquaintances with the neighbor kitties. She hasn’t figured her way down from the deck yet, but if she demands that we let her out the front and keep the sliding door cracked, she can get up to the porch from the ground. This may sound simple, but requires soloing a 5.13d involving a V5 boulder problem linkup to a V10 double dyno. I caught one of her recent adventures on video and the daring ropeless ascent is captured below.

We’ve been able to see long time friends Kim, Joe, Kris and Sara and have already been visited by Charlie and Ian. Even Barney’s group from Boulder made a trip out to Berkeley to work at the Advanced Light Source for a weekend. The synchrotron operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at a cost of $100 million per year. Groups from around the world compete for time there. You can think of it as the best laser in the world.

Work at Sandia is going well so far for me and I’m getting my feet wet by analyzing a bunch of data taken by the previous post doc who left abruptly after getting a professorship in Florida. I’m looking forward to getting in the lab, but have plenty to keep me busy and diving into raw data has forced me to learn many of the big and small problems we’re studying in detail.

The urban hike after bouldering in Berkeley has some beautiful fall trees.

Lizz has worked her way into the San Ramon school district and has assistant positions at two elementary schools. She has an upcoming interview for a position in Pleasanton at a newly-opening private school. Wish her luck!

Our living room. In the corner are 120 reasons to come visit.

So we miss all’ya’all and (assuming Spookey allows it) would love to see anyone so inclined to crash on our couch or wanting to sample some Bay Area rock. Of course, Yoesmite and Tahoe are both only three hours away and offer some of the finest vertical terrain in the world.

Lizz venturing into the Bay on the Ravenwood trail

Starting new jobs, moving across the country and getting accustomed to a different pace of life have all been huge challenges, but being away from our group of friends has been the biggest hurdle.

Tyler - Looks like a pretty cool place! I miss you guys. I’m saving my pennies, cutting coupons out of the Sunday paper, and keeping my beer drinking to only a few hundred per week so that I’ll be able to come out and visit soon.March 27, 2012 – 12:06 am

Tyler - That video is ridiculously awesome.March 27, 2012 – 12:09 am

Doug - That video kicks ass!!

Glad to hear most things are going well for you guys out in Cali. It’s definitely tough being away from all your friends that you used to see on a daily basis. Hopefully Annette and I can make it out there sometime soon.March 27, 2012 – 10:05 am

Andrew Kuklinski - It’s good to see that you guys are all settled in. I’m with Tyler, saving my my pennies and even the pocket lint in the hopes of coming out to visit. Things around here just are not the same with out you guys. Miss you!

Looks like your climbing abilities have rubbed off on Spooky!!March 27, 2012 – 11:15 am

Pam Oviatt - Thank you for sharing this with us – we’ll miss seeing you and all of the fun pictures of “happenings” in Colorado. Best of luck and good thoughts heading your way…March 27, 2012 – 12:17 pm

John Scheer - Like the pictures of your place, and it looks like spooky is real good at the 3-finger pull up! Check out the golf courses sometime. Maybe Liz should take that up, too. We’d love to come visit, but we’re traveling a lot already this year. Ireland in August for a week of golf on some of the world’s greatest courses. 2013 might be looking good!March 27, 2012 – 4:47 pm

Jon - I’ll go Andrew one better … I am selling clothing and apparel knit from my navel lint to get $$ to come out there.

One thing I must mention – just three hours north of the Bay Area is Beale AFB, where a squalling infant was thrust upon the world over 40 years ago. There is a shrine built there visible for hundreds of miles, but also found by following the lamentations of the women. As Lynne Cannon frequently points out, California is the Land of Fruits and Nuts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.March 27, 2012 – 8:27 pm

Joe - Love having you guys here!March 27, 2012 – 10:23 pm

Adam Scheer - My sources tell me that belly button lint is fetching high dollar on the black market these days – upwards of $0.03 per cubic tonne.

Thanks for the comments. It’s great to hear from everyone.

~AdamMarch 28, 2012 – 9:47 am

Tyler - Jon, navel lintl from your belly would have to be far too flammable for use as clothing. Why don’t you use package it as a fire starter, and sell it at REI? Or send it to Adam for thermal decomposition analysis – you could be growing the solution to nearly free energy in your belly button right now. Just think of it… a never-ending supply of powerfully explosive belly button lint. We’d have to get you on a steady diet of bacon, Schlitz and alfredo sauce, and you’d have to give up showering, but it’d be worth it. Assuming, of course, that the resulting release of toxic gases from the new diet wouldn’t scorch the sky, “Matrix” style.

Adam, you’re the expert in this field. Thoughts?March 29, 2012 – 12:35 pm

Adam Scheer - Stink factor too high.March 29, 2012 – 7:37 pm

Tommy O - We’re going to have to assemble a California Crew to pool together and trek out your way soon. Spooky is the shiznit. I wonder what the actual rating for that climb would be in pussy cat. Probably something like PC 17.C. Not her best, but damn impressive. Love you guys, and miss you both.April 24, 2012 – 9:24 pm

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