The Trip: Camping and Climbing in the Midwest | 1 Month
Traveler: ALee Russell, Email Marketing Project Manager
Where did you go?
I went all over the Midwest from Ames, Iowa to Eureka Springs, Arkansas and St. Louis, Missouri but the main draw of the trip was to re-visit the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. It’s a remote area about 2 hours outside of Lexington, but this little place is a world class climbing destination that hosts some of the best sandstone climbing in the country.
How long was your trip?
Approximately 1 month.
Why did you want to go there?
About one-third of the trip was to visit family and friends but two-thirds of the trip was to rock climb outside of the state of Colorado. I had been to the Red River Gorge a few years prior and I wanted to return to explore more of it.
What was the best moment of the trip?
It’s hard to pick just one best moment! In Eureka Springs we went to a music festival called “Hillberry” and we saw some amazing musicians play. One of the best moments from that was sitting by this massive 30′ x 30′ fire on the top of the hill overlooking the stage and the sea of campers.
Although overall, heading to different and unique climbing walls every day that were beautiful in their own way was definitely a highlight. And it was an extra bonus that I hit my Fitbit daily goal every day!
What was your favorite activity during the trip?
Well, that is easy, climbing of course!
Did you learn anything interesting about yourself?
I learned that although I miss the humidity (and my friends and family), I don’t miss the wet winters. Camping for weeks in the rain can wear me down but as long as I’ve got good company and gummi bears, and a warm shower every once and a while, I’ll be okay.
What was the most challenging thing you did?
Climbing is always mentally challenging. There is my fear of heights (not actually uncommon among rock climbers), there’s the fear of things going wrong with the climbing gear (an almost completely irrational fear), and there’s the frustration with not feeling strong enough. Although I’m a pretty strong climber and I have met many of my previous goals, there will always be people stronger than me and there will always be something that’s unobtainable when it comes to climbing. That is always a mentally challenging feat to overcome. I tend to beat myself up about not being able to climb something that I know I could have climbed. Yet during this trip, I worked on the little goals and pushed myself past my comfort zone, breathing, and staying calm in the moment.
What can’t you travel without?
Well for this trip I couldn’t travel without my computer and Mifi since I worked from the road! Additionally, gummi bears and my most comfortable sweatpants.
What’s the best piece of travel advice you have for someone else?
When taking a long trip, take a minute to think about the things that you use every day and which things are necessary and which things aren’t. You probably don’t need all of those t-shirts, but pick the ones you use the most and make you feel the most comfortable.
Would you rather see a lot of places or get to know one really well?
I would always rather get to know one place really well. Travel is tiring, especially for those of us introverts who need lots of time to recharge our social batteries. It’s much more worth my time to spend a trip exploring one place where I can take my time to enjoy the culture and lifestyle.
What is the next stop on your bucket list?
About 5 years ago, I lived in Vietnam for a year. I would love to take my friends back to South East Asia. Vietnam and in particular, the island that I lived on was on the rise economically and it would be very interesting to see how things have changed. Not to mention the climbing in Vietnam and Thailand is beautiful and the weather is warmer!