Once upon a summer

Nine and a half years ago, I had the most unbelievable summer. Somehow, I’ve only mentioned it here in passing, a long time ago, but here is what I said:

“…moved into a 2000 Nissan Frontier with my friend, Meredith.  We embarked on a three month journey around the country, which is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done.  Peaked at 20, such a shame.  We spent time in West Virginia (New River Gorge), Philadelphia (this kid we met at the NRG paid us money to move him from his dorm in Philly to….), southern Illinois (there are rocks there.  seriously.), Wyoming (Wild Iris in the Wind Rivers Range), British Columbia (Squamish), California (Yosemite, duh), and Idaho (City of Rocks).  I could spend an eternity talking about this trip, and probably should at some point.  This was the defining experience of my life thus far; it is when I found my confidence, it is when I learned about friendship and adulthood and dumpster diving, it is when I tore the ligaments in my wrist that kept me at UGA for grad school.”

I found the journal I kept during the trip, and I ran across the photoalbum (an actual ALBUM!) the other day, so I’m going to post some excerpts. This trip was, as I said, a defining experience. But since I said that back in 2009, I’ve had some bigger things come along, and the memories are getting crowded right out of my brain, as memories sometimes do.


5.22.2004 – Day 2. Roger’s Campground, New River Gorge, WV

Got to Roger’s at 6ish, after missing US 19 and making our own route for a bit – and paying an extra $1.25 toll – damnit. This place is pretty nice – someone’s yard, basically. Roger is kind, sits around and bullshits with everyone. Alex is here too, and Bash (a friend of his from Chapel Hill). Played Dominoes Muthafucka last night, then spades. And it rained :(

The truck was comfy – see how long till I detest it. Today we are climbing easy, maybe trad a bit and I’m excited.

Mere, Roger, and me


Climbed at Butcher’s Branch today. Beautiful, gorgeous day. Sunny and shady and breezy and warm. Trail was switchbacks, murderous for me on the way out – I just go slow, get winded so easily on that stuff. Anyway everything was vibrantly green with sun filtering through. Crossed a pretty creek waterfall, unfortunately these are allegedly sewage runoff so no refreshing dip after climbing. The rock was beautiful also, great features and colors.

Mere belaying



Went swimming down at Summersville Dam – very nice, more enjoyed the ride though. Alex and Mere. Good talk about life, and what you’re supposed to do with it – we three have so many opportunities, and some would say we’re squandering them, wasting time and not appreciating how we got here – we are so fortunate to be economically comfortable, sound body and mind, etc. – so lucky to have been born to this, rather than where 90% of humans are… and here we are, rather than trying to help others in some way… we are taking the summer off of our ridiculously difficult lives as college students to climb, and forget about the world, what day it is, what terrorism is currently occurring and where, what hunger or disease is ravaging what country… live in my bubble of happiness. But what should I be doing differently? It can be construed as indifference of selfishness or maybe ignorance/naivety. I’m not sure… from that extreme, even establishing my life, working for my own livelihood is selfish. And maybe I am just selfish – I want others to have happiness and opportunities, but not at the expense of my own. I just want everything to be good magically.

Everybody, be kind. I was 20, and hanging out with English/Philosophy graduate students. I’m betting this will only get worse.





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3 Responses to Once upon a summer

  1. Stephanie M says:

    You know I’m from WV, right? And while I grew up closer to Charleston, I’ve certainly been the places you mentioned. How fun. Who knows, you might have driven past me on the freeway or something. Bizarre.

  2. HereWeGoAJen says:

    This sounds like an amazing trip. I’m jealous of past you.

  3. Erica says:

    I just want everything to be good magically too.

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