First of all we wish everyone a happy new year!
Kristal spent most of the holidays visiting family out in Alberta. From what she tells me it sounded like good times were had by all. I spent Christmas back home on the farm, and had some friends over in Ottawa to celebrate New Years Eve. Here we are at midnight testing out the smoke detectors in my house, which, incidentally, do work.
We both got some climbing related items as gifts for Christmas. Kristal recieved a copy of 'Climbing Self Rescue: Improvising Solutions for Serious Situations' (something we probably should have picked up ourselves before we left last April). I got a copy of 'The Rock Warriors Way: Mental Training for Climbers', which I'm pretty excited about. I can't wait to improve my ability to wage war on the rock!
Over the holidays we also changed the look of the blog a bit and added a map up over on the right. It's a regular old interactive google map, so you can click and drag to pan, and zoom in and out (assuming of course that it works). The red circle represents where we currently are, or at least where we were when we last updated the blog. The green path is the summer trip, the orange path is the fall trip and the blue path will be the current winter trip. The yellow dots are the climbing destinations we've been to, and you can hover over them to pop up their names.
I also added the ability to comment anonymously, so no more using the old 'you need and account to comment' excuse.
We left for this trip yesterday, and it has so far started off with a bit of uncertainty. Although it is well documented that you may only stay in the United States for six months on any given visit, there is a bit of a gray area, subject to some interpretation by the border guards, on how long you may stay in any given year long period. The onus is on you, the foreign visitor, to convince said border guards that your intention is not to actually ditch your homeland and become an illegal immigrant. Saying things like 'We're not exactly sure when we'll be back' probably does not help your cause.
The border guard who handled our case was pretty gruff, and even used the old 'interview them separately to make sure their stories match' tactic to try and poke holes in our ridiculous claim of taking a year off to go rock climbing. There was a lot of nervous waiting on our part, during which we contemplated what else we might do for the winter if we were denied entry. Our second plan of visiting New Zealand started to seem like it might have been the better choice. In the end the he called us up, casually handed us our passports, and simply said 'have fun'. We were in!