fleeing irene leads to a revelation: i miss climbing outside

Last weekend, A. and I planned on dipping our toes in the hot summer sand at the beach since the summer has been so hectic and we haven’t had any beach time and I looove beach time. But, as everyone knows, mean Hurricane Irene was staring down the east coast like a school-yard bully, so instead we ran in the other direction.

We got in the car on Saturday morning about 10 a.m. A. kindly asked me not to look at a map — he wanted to drive and see where we ended up. We listened to Car Talk and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me! as we drove west under the gray skies.

When we hit Winchester, Va., we stopped in an independent coffee shop in the town’s historic strip and got a chai and egg sandwich on thick homemade multi-grain bread. And then we continued on toward West Virginia, where the skies turned blue with a few clouds dotting the sky. We passed a wind farm and then after a few wrong turns, we found a short hike in Canaan Valley.

After stretching our legs, we continued to head west toward Deep Creek, but every lodge was booked by those who evacuated, so we drove on to Morgantown, W.Va., where we ate burritos and fish tacos.

Across the street was a small gelato stand — we ordered kids-size mango and oreo cheesecake. Finally, we found a hotel at 9 p.m. and played scrabble on the king-size bed.

But my favorite part of the trip was the next morning, when we hiked into Coopers Rock, a rock-climbing mecca for those who boulder. I did my prenatal exercises (kegels, pelvic rocks, you know, the usual), while A. traversed a wall several times and solved a hard problem.

And oh how I miss climbing outside. I love the damp, fresh smell of the woods and feeling the hard rock against my hands. And I love resting on a log and watching A. work his muscular magic.

I was getting really strong before I got pregnant — I was climbing twice a week at the gym. A. jokes that he got me pregnant because he was worried I’d be better than him when he got back from Afghanistan (he actually loves it when I’m a strong climber). His scheme worked. When I tried to hop on the wall when I was about 16 weeks along and carrying an extra 20 pounds, I could barely finish one of the easy climbs. I was pathetic. And any risk of falling, even with the pregnancy harness, wasn’t worth it. So I decided to hang up my smelly climbing shoes till after the baby arrives.

As soon as I’m able, I hope to get back on the wall and we hope to eventually plan some climbing trips with the little one. A., the non-planner, is already planning several years ahead: He put a kid’s harness on our baby registry.


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