Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Uncle Tommy & Aunt Becca

The VanNieuwenhuyzens
Tommy's sister (Sandy), brother-in-law (Duane) and 2 nephews (Grant -6 and Will-4) have been living in Okinawa, Japan for 4 years now.  Duane is an endodontist for the Navy and Sandy has been busy raising the boys and learning and navigating Japanese culture.  In March, TC and I jumped on a plane and flew over the Pacific to Okinawa to visit our beautiful family.  I had never officially met these guys aside from Skype and Tommy hadn't seen them since they left the States.  I love children and have never been an Aunt before so I was full of excitement to meet these boys and to get to know my new brother and sister better.  Duane and Sandy have really embraced living in another country and instead of living on base, where it's fully America, they took the leap to immerse themselves in the culture.  The boys go to Japanese school and both have done well in learning the language.  They have fully explored the island and taken advantage of all it has to offer.

 This was a huge benefit to us because we had the best tour guides one could find!  Our 10 day trip was jammed pack with really seeing Okinawa and spending time with our awesome family.  The boys took about 15 minutes to warm up to us and immediately called us "Uncle Tommy" and "Aunt Becca", which might have been one of my favorite things.  :)  We spent lots of time watching Tommy and Grant chase each other around with their endless energy in an effort to wear each other out, eating DELICIOUS Japanese rice and other cuisine, laughing at Will referring to Tommy as my husband and all the other odd things just-turned-4 year olds typically don't say.  We got to go to a military resort on the Northern part of the island and climb on the limestone crags near the sea and watch the boys try climbing for their first time (they definitely got some Caldwell climbing genes), and also meet some local climbers.

Grant showing us his awesome climbing skills!
The boys unfazed by the huge snake at Okinawa World.
TC and Grant having a push-up contest.
BROTHERS!  Will's 4th birthday.
Running up the rocks.  Barefoot and with sneakers.  So hardcore.  :)

Sandy loving snorkeling for her birthday!
The sweet aquarium.

Colorful fish at the market.
I walked away from this trip grateful for family, wanting to raise future children in another country, loving the Japanese culture.....and so psyched on Japanese rice.  Thankfully Sandy sent us a huge bag to hold me over until our next trip.  

Arigato-Gozai-y-mas Duane, Sandy, Grant & Will!

Dream Team

On the road again.
Back in February we loaded up the van and headed south to Vegas.  Tommy has spent some time in Red Rocks before, but this would be my first time checking it out.  My only other time around Vegas was a super quick stop to see the strip in the middle of the night on the way to Yosemite last fall.  I reluctantly put $5 into the slot machine and out came $215 (I decided that would be my last time to put money into a slot...my luck was used up).  This trip we were prepared for whatever - we had crash pads, a desert rack, sport draws, and ice climbing gear and skis for a quick stopover in Telluride.  The van makes it a bit too easy NOT to go light and fast.  We showed up in Telluride just in time for a big dump, and after a day of leg burning powder and TC spending some time working with Clay Wadman on a topo we were ready for some sunshine.  

Alex crushing (I think it was a V12).
We started driving south and made a quick stop at Arches National Park to dig our lugs into some red dirt and get the blood flow back in our legs.  Tommy was hopeful we could climb in Zion or at the Cathedral, but some fresh snow made warm Vegas win out.  When in Vegas we got in touch with friends Alex Honnold, Chris Weidner, Heather Robinson and Jonathan Siegrist.  We had a blast bouldering, TC and I did some sport climbing and enjoyed a mellow day up Dream of Wild Turkeys.  TC and Jonathan also had an exciting day on the Buffalo Wall.

I was itching to jam my hands into some cracks and TC wanted to cover some ground so on a warmer day we decided to make our way to Zion National Park (which wasn't all that warm in the morning).  Alex happened to be heading that way, too and asked Tommy if he wanted to join for a quick run up Monkey Fingers (12b) before Tommy and I were going to start up something.  Alex wrote about this on La Sportiva's Blog.  After Alex and TC braved the cold and literally ran up the route Alex soloed up Monkey Fingers and we had decided to climb it as well.  It was super fun, but I was quickly humbled on the splitter face crack realizing I need to learn to thumb stack (it's now on my to-do list).  I ungracefully made my way up the crack with a tight belay, and on we went.  The forecast for the next few days looked unpromising so we got back in the van to drive back to Vegas.

TC and Alex after topping out Monkey Fingers
After TC and Alex had some fun climbing together they committed to heading to Yosemite this May to have some fun on the big granite walls we all love.  Today is Tommy's 4th day in the Valley and they've already climbed a couple of big walls and are heading up for some more.  Tommy has been so focused on his Dawn Wall project for the last 5 years that he hasn't gotten to just climb lots of pitches in Yosemite except for my 25th birthday on the Salathé.    He seems SO psyched to be covering ground and is having a blast with Alex.  I personally think they could be a big wall dream team!

Smiling before I'm about to get my butt kicked on the splitter.
Trying to figure out thumb stacking.
TC and Chris before heading up to the Buffalo Wall one early morning.

PORKCHOP!  So fun!!

The Bathtub - I was psyched to do this!  A V5 - Lynn Hill did the FA.

TC sent!
Gotta love our vacation home.
Dream of Wild Turkeys
I'm crazy about this guy!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

5Point Film Festival

If you have never heard of the 5Point Film Festival, you need to check it out.  This amazing film festival was founded by Julie Kennedy and built on 5 points:  Respect, Commitment, Humility, Purpose, and Balance.  Here's the link, be inspired and save a spot on your calendar for next year.


In January 5Point put on a dinner for donors called the 5-5-5 dinner.  The night consisted of 5 beers, 5 courses and 5 stories.  Tommy was asked to come as one of the 5 story tellers and I was the lucky girl to be his date.  Here's a little glimpse of our delectable dinner! 

Fourth Course!

This year was my first time at the event and it will definitely not be my last.  The films they choose to show and the people involved really make me feel blessed to be a part of this community.  It's truly mind blowing and moving and I cannot praise it enough.  Seriously...check it out - and don't hesitate for a minute to fly in just for the event.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Key West

Well, I suppose it's an understatement to say it's been a while since my last post, BUT...I have good excuses:  we were on the road.

It seems like Tommy and I have been on the road since the beginning of 2012 (some might say the beginning of our marriage).  Thinking about it, I think it's accurate to say that we have spent more days of 2012 falling asleep in random beds than our own.  I'm finally getting a chance now to sift through pictures snapped along the way, so you can walk through our recent travels with me.

To confirm the craziness of the schedule, recently at the 5Point Film Festival in Carbondale someone came up to me and said they wanted to hear about our travels and asked about our trip to "China or somewhere in Asia", and my response was, "Hmm...well, we were in Vegas for a bit, and we just got in from Europe the other night, but China...nooooo-oooh wait...Japan...yeah, that's right, we were in Japan".


Here's a few memories from the latter part of our trip to Florida in January.  

From L to R:  Adam, Bruce, Susan, Me, TC
We got to spend some sweet time with our friends, Susan and Bruce and Adam, in Key West.  Susan is an Estes Park-ian in her soul and Bruce used to live here, too.  Now they are living the beach life in Key West and Bruce is building his own catamaran (which is nearly ready to drop in the water and take for a ride), and Tommy is dying to make a sailing/climbing trip work out with Bruce.  And Adam...I don't know if words could ever do justice for Adam, but he is a longtime friend of Tommy's who apparently walked into the world of climbing, dominated, and then moved on.  Now he loves business start-ups and cougar hunting and guarantees us a sore belly from all the laughs when we are graced with his presence.


Captain Caldwell driving the sailboat on our wine tasting-sunset-boatride.  He did quite well.

Adam and Tommy
Catching the sunset.

This is normal.

TC climbing on anything and everything (Dry Tortugas National Park).  We had to take a boat ride here (90ish miles from Key West)...it was a rough boat ride and I lost my breakfast over the edge.  Ooops!

Awwwww.  Photo by Susan!

Some sweet band playing at the Green Parrot.  And yes, he is playing the Conch.