This is our first day without power and there is a chill in the air as I walk out to the kitchen from my sensational sleeping bag, Sea to Summit have excelled making me comfortable in this dark house that is powerless to warm even its exterior at the moment. I light the gas burners on the cooktop and hope that they will take the edge off this cold Kentucky morning and help raise my enthusiasm.
Oh well today is a rest day and we are happy that its Wednesday, it means the Rockhouse opens at 12pm and lunch will be burritos and Kale salad Barbacoa, life is truly good in the gorge and we are settling into a great rhythm. We even have our own little nuances for our morning ritual. I have my black coffee and Monique has her cups of tea and then off to do our washing.
The laundromat provides an insight into life in Stanton Kentucky and allows us to find out from the locals where the “best” coffee in town is. with a thick southern accent “Bruen’s Restaurant down back yonder, “best in town!” We put on our washing and head straight down back yonder to find a cream brick building that looks like closed down ten years ago with a faded memory of Bruen’s Restaurant on the exterior wall. This is where we are going for breakfast and Monique and I put on our sceptics hats and head towards the door.
Bruen’s is old Kentucky at its finest. I feel like I have walked in to the opening scene of a movie and I am about to these famous words “ya ain’t from round here, are ya? But it didn’t come. Its awesome,… the old men are sitting with their gaudy cowboy shirts on and baseball caps and their wives are sitting silently beside them. The men exchange pleasantries while the women just nod……..I find this very amusing, yet somewhat sad that life in Stanton is like this. Ironically these people all seem really happy. They are interacting as they have for decades and there is a contentment I feel as I watch this scene.
Monique and I both order the Pancakes. Mon’s plain as they are with maple syrup and butter and I dive in and get bacon as well. Looking forward to a good hearty meal, Monique says surprisingly “Look at the price! We figured we would pay about ten bucks for our breakfast combined including bottomless coffee. In Australia we would pay thirty five dollars for a breakfast like this, but given the socio economic situation in Stanton and the surrounding areas, ten bucks is reasonable I guess.
We head back to the Laundromat to check on our washing and it is almost dry, Mon did a dryer run to put our clothes in the spin dryer while her second coffee was cooling and posted a letter. We had about ten minutes to go before our clothes were ready and we were the only people in the place.
All of a sudden I see Monique trying to figure out how she can jump in the washing trolley and proceed to ride it down the main floor. This had to be done and we decided to put one foot in the trolley and ride it. It is on video and may well be available to view, pending Monique agreeing to post it. I realise at this point in time my climbing partner is as cheeky as she is strong and wants to play. So from this day forward we are in silly mode where we can be and have as much fun as possible when possible. We then head up to Lexington for some supplies and to kill a couple of hours in our rest day.
We head to the Rockhouse for a relaxing afternoon and chill before going over to Olivia’s for dinner and to farewell our Spanish friends as they journey home to continue on another wonderful life adventures. Dani and Marionna have been a delight to spend time with. They are fun and willing to get involved in whatever is happening. Twice during this week we have been at Joel and Mel’s place and Dani has walked outside after dinner with a big smile, looked at Joel and I and said in this excited voice “Jacuzzi Time!” and it was strip down to your underwear and in the hot tub we go. Apart from it simply being fun it was a great way to unwind after solid days of climbing.
I have felt very humbled to be in this situation and this place with such an amazing array of vertically impressive talent. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would climb with, be inspired, coached and motivated by such great people. I was gob-smacked to belay Dani on a suspected first ascent; Southern Pump 5.14c (8c+) was a link up of the classics Southern Smoke and Fifty Words for Pump both 5.14c . This was a sensational ascent by an incredible athlete.
When Dani showed me this line he said “Craig, its logical no?” I never thought I would hang out with this guy and his gorgeous partner Marionna Marti; also an incredible climber who made me smile and laugh a lot during our first week in Kentucky. So amazingly accepting and accommodating of the newbie in the ranks.