199: Suffering epic drone crash, emotional swings
Word to the wise, Phantom 3 Drones fail as submarines. Photo: Eva
The propellers of the quadcopter, Dorsey, clip the iconic sheer limestone island cliff known as The Face. Like a Rebel X-Wing flown by an unknown pilot on the attack of the Death Star, Dorsey bounces away from the face, spinning out of control as I wrestle to disable the auto-return.
“Eva, watch out,” I scream, as the out of control drone slams back into the wall,before plummeting from the sky.
Moments ago, Eva sent the beautiful route License to Climb on the 50 meter karst face, streaked with browns, blacks and whites. The route is one of only three on a island with less square footage than middle-class home.
This is what it looks like when you lose control of a drone and it hits a limestone cliff. Video: Isaac Stone Simonelli
Dorsey struggles to get her blades above her as she wildly makes an attempt to survive, unaware of what happened and blind sided by the entire massive piece of earth. With a sickening crunch she bounces down the jagged rocks at the base of The Face. Blades still spinning, trying to catch air, she crashes through a few small trees and shrubs that try to hold onto her, careening toward the murky water below.
Three bounces down a long slabby pieces of limestone, she makes one final leap into the air before disappearing beneath the surface of the bay with a splash.
“It's there,” Eva shouts, pointing to where Dorsey entered the water. “It's not too deep.”
Leaping from awkward, misshapen rock to awkward, misshapen rock, I bounce like billy goat toward where Dorsey made her final descent.
She was taking the last shot of the day. I didn't even need it. Maybe if I rescue her quickly enough the water damage won't be too bad.
Skidding down the rock surface, I pull up short of the sharp shells clinging to the base of the rock, exposed by the low tide.
“Where?” I ask.
Jacob, who is giving Eva a belay, points to where he saw it disappear. Our boat man, Chu Bien, passively looks on, seemingly unaware of what happened.
I jump into the water, then duck dive toward the bottom.
It's not there; as in the bottom isn't there.
I dive again, opening my eyes in the murky water. I have about 20cm of visibility. I can't see the bottom.
Heart pounding, breathe coming in and out faster and faster, I make another dive.
“Here?” I ask Jacob.
“Yeah, a little closer.”
“It's deep here,” I call back.
At this point, I just want the SD card back. I want that footage. It's the most epic drone footage I've captured and I want it. If the boat driver could drop a line, maybe I could follow that down and look around. However, his basket boat is idly drifting at a safe distance from the cliff face.
I climb out of the water, further slicing my feet and hands on the sharp shells. Water drips from my shirt, pants and climbing harness.
This morning, I arrive at Eva's room, where she's finishing up some final packing for the trip out to The Face. It's a 90 minute boat road through the iconic island dotted Halong Bay, which makes the trip worth the effort, especially as there isn't much climbing to do once you're there. Three climbing lines have been bolted on the enormous rock face, plus one dirty, super difficult extension. There is photographer's ledge, which is an easy slab climb that you bring your camera up. There is Night Rider, a very difficult 7b+ route. And finally, there is the route we're going to be working on: License to Climb (7a+). Though I'm not confident I'll even be able to make the climb, the ride and the chance to see Eva bag a route on this legendary wall is worth it in itself.
“Should we bring the bean bag?” Eva asks.
The pair of us spent plenty of climbing days shoulder to shoulder in a big bean bag on the bamboo platform below of one of our favorite climbing walls in Phang Nga Bay and at the base of our “home” crag Chong Plee, in Krabi, Thailand.
Chu Bien, the 63-year-old basket boat driver that Eva adores, isn't at the pier when we get there.
Originally, Marry-Ann and Markus were going to join us. However, they both bailed last night.
“So, it's just us?”
“No, we're picking up Jacob. He did the overnight.”
Chu Bien chugs up to the pier, his face heavily worn, but smiling. His little basket boat, with it's woven, tarred hull and weathered floor boards is covered with by a tarp roof.
Chu Bien fought int he war against the Americans. Today, he's taking us out to climb. Photo: Isaac Stone Simonelli
Eva settles down on the far side of the small boat to keep it balanced and we're off.
Silently, the boat slips through the sea of limestone islands. Tall, yellow grass sprouts up from every crack their shallow roots can get hold of. Where several generations of grass have already died and decomposed, larger plants, scrub bushes and a few daring trees, make their claim to the precious soil.
A silence, a silence that I'm comfortable with, hangs in the air, between Eva and me. Chu Bien is lost in his own thoughts, navigating through the floating villages. A dog on one of the floating platforms eagerly watches humans netting fish from one pin and tossing them into another.
“It's such a beautiful day,” Eva says, which is a point she keeps returning to, seeming to be lost for conversation outside of a general optimize for the weather.
She's not wrong. It's an extraordinary day. After nearly a week of silver-gray skies, the sun has broken free and fills the blue chasm. Its warm is a counter balance to the crisp cool of the early morning air.
The Junk ship used by Asia Outdoors for the overnight is moving toward us by the time we spot it.
We're running a little late.
Rob gives a little dance at the stern of the ship, to which Eva replies from the bow of ours.
Jacob jumps of the Chinese Junk and into the basket boat, his bags, bananas and three beers in tow.
Eva and Jacob chat a few meters away, near the front of the boat, while I'm lost in the sound of the engine below the floor boards.
Jacob is writing in his dairy. Eva is writing postcards. I didn't bring anything to read or write, so after flipping through Jacob's copy of A Brief History of Nearly Everything, I pull up my hood and settle into the boat for a nap.
I must have slept longer than anticipated, as it seems like we're arriving at The Face moments later.
“That's it,” Eva says pointing.
“The one to the left or right?” I ask, unsure of exactly what she's pointing at.
“That one,” she says, still pointing the same way.
Jacob and I look at each other, unsure of exactly at what we're supposed to be looking. My eyes settle on a wall face to the left that is nice, but nothing worth writing home about. However, Chu Bien chugs past it and suddenly it become very clear at what Eva is pointing.
The Face is gorgeous. At this distance, the vertical limestone face is featureless, streaked with browns, reds and whites. It's a Native American sitting at a poker table, unperturbed by the quality of the cards in his hand, as he owns the whole casino – and the house never loses. In the same way, a climbing wall never loses. It is never conquered; one single line is merely understood. There is very little as beautiful in the world as coming to an understanding with something so ancient, something so powerful, something so beautiful.
The black tires strapped to the front and corners of the basket boat bump into the sharp shells at the base of the slab of rock leading up to the climb. We scramble out with our gear before Chu Bien pulls away to anchor a little ways off shore.
We make our way over large boulders to the belay point for License to Climb.
“Pee break,” Eva announces, hopping away to relieve herself.
Jacob and I spend some time looking at the line, trying to sort out where the anchors are. He finds them.
Not able to see them myself, I place them further toward the top of the cliff face, where there is an intimidatingly bulge.
I can't imagine sending that section, making it without a single fall.
“Thanks for putting up the laundry the other day,” Eva says.
“Yeah, no problem.”
“I appreciate all your help. It's just been really weird for me because I've gotten so use to being independent and doing things myself. So having someone come and do things for you...”
“Yeah, I understand.”
“Also, you have to worry about if their entertained or taken care of. It was the worst when my parents where here, as they were like, 'what about us',” Eva says, trying to make the conversation sound a bit more general.
Eva is the first on the wall. Hesitantly, she works her way up, small finger crimpers, pinches and pockets matched with delicate foot work. She pauses and shakes out her arms and hands. She pauses again. She hasn't found the flow of the route. It looks like she's got Sending Jitters.
“Take,” she calls out. I pull in the slack, taking her weight on the rope.
Several takes and several falls later, she makes it to the anchors, which ended up being about 10-15 meters lower than I thought.
Disappointed, Eva comes down. However, she went first, so she has plenty of time to rest and give it another attempt.
I'm up next.
I'm lost in the wall; the rest of the world ceases to exist.
There is no love. There is no fear. There's only climbing.
The pieces of the climb come together one move at a time. My weight shifts to free up a foot, which moves up to another tiny hold.
There's blood on the wall. Why is there blood on that finger pocket? Eva must have been bleeding, but it's still wet. I look at my fingers. My dried hang nails have ripped and are bleeding a bright red. I cake them up with chalk.
“Ahhhh,” I scream, moving off a left hand pinch to another hold.
I'm not a vocal climber, but groans and small screams slip from between my cracked lips as I push forward.
Breathing hard, I try to refocus, slow my heart rate.
“Feet, feet, feet,” I remind myself. “Where are your feet. Look for your feet.”
It's the second time I've stood at this micro-rest, body pressed against the limestone, refocusing on my foot work. Climbing is all about good foot work, especially this climb.
I'm five meters from the top. My foot work is steadily degrading. Tunnel vision is tightening up around my hands as they go from shitty crimper to shitty pinch.
I pop off the wall.
“Fuck!” I scream.
So fucking close to flashing the route. So fucking close.
Shaking out my arms, I allow my heart rate to slow.
Back on the wall, I stretch up for a narrow finger ledge next to the next bolt. I clip the rope.
My body is so tired. I have no endurance.
I make a desperate throw to the final hold. It's a jug – so solid. Dangling there from one arm, my other hand matches, my feet find some friction and I clip the anchors of the route.
I didn't send it, but it was not a bad first attempt.
“Nice job,” Eva says, giving my a high five.
I go to fist pound Jacob, who gives it a high five. Then I go for the high five and he fists pounds.
“We officially have the most awkward secret hand shake,” I tell Jacob with a laugh. It looks stupid. It feels stupid. And it's agreed that we're going to keep using it.
Jacob, six foot, four inches, gets on the wall and starts cruising up it.
“So any big climbing goals after this?” I ask Eva.
“No, I don't think I'll climb much. Part of coming here was getting it out of my system.”
It's a sad answer that I don't really understand, as if she's trying to ward off something that I don't see.
“I don't think I'll be climbing this hard again.”
“Yeah, well living the guide life like this is pretty perfect for getting strong. Any other plans.”
“I think I'll visit him [ex-boyfriend] in Spain before the end of the year. Well, the end of 2017.”
“That's great. I really liked you guys as a couple. He's a great guy, and he took such good care of you,” I say, meaning it. When they got together, I was so happy for Eva, as I was still dodging relationship statuses, and I loved guy. He's a beautiful, interesting, fun man – hard to go wrong there.
Jacob, who has recently recovered from a mountain biking accident and has been climbing hard for the last five or so days, is struggling on the wall above us.
Despite our encouragement, he ends up throwing in the the towel on the route, coming down so Eva can make a second attempt at sending it.
Eva, who was dead set against the drone filming the first time due to it being “so loud”, bows under pressure from Jacob to let us get Dorsey up in the air.
“Send it Eva,” I say.
“No, I'm just going to climb.”
There is a small half meter by half meter area that's flat enough for the drone to take off from, though landing is going to be a serious issue.
All Dorsey's lights are flashing, but it can't get a GPS location, which is begging for trouble. I can't even set a home point for her to return to.
“Okay, so these conditions are terrible for flying,” I announce. “But, since she's still having problems from water damage and I've already committed to buying a new drone, we'll go for it.”
Dorsey gets air and perspective as she climbs up and away from the extraordinary piece of rock.
The GPS starts working. I set the Home Point. Now, if I lose radio signal with the aircraft, she'll be able to ascend to 30 meters and find her way back to me.
The view is mesmerizing. With the drone hovering close to Eva, I'm totally unaware that she's cruising up the climbing like EZ Ease in his 64.
Eva makes the anchors and lets out a triumphant yell, her voice tiny in the expansive island dotted world surrounding us.
The drone flies in close.
“She sent it,” Jacob announces.
I hoot back to Eva, so pumped for her. What an extraordinary climb.
Check out The Face. Video: Isaac Stone Simonelli / Music: Fleslitch
“Give a little celebratory dance for the drone,” I call out to Eva, moving the aircraft in closer.
She gives a little fist pump, the drone starts to swing away and around the island after the close up.
It's the final shot.
All three of us on convene at the edge of the water, starring into it's murkiness. Dorsey is down there somewhere.
Eva hails Chu Bien, who pulls in his fishing line and begins the process of starting his boat.
“It's pain for them to start and stop the engines. He'll probably leave it running when he gets here, so I'll go back up and start packing up the rope,” Eva says.
Jacob wants to help find the drone, but is uncertain what can be done.
“Yeah, best if you guys go pack up everything and we'll see what can be done when he gets here.”
Chu Bien saw it all.
With limited English, he's still studying the language, he mimes out that the drone split into two parts on its final bounce before it landed in the water. He points to where they went in, noting where the current might have taken the pieces as well.
From somewhere below the floorboards, Chu Bien unearths a large sedimentary rock, ties it to a fishing line wrapped round a block of Styrofoam and begins lowering it. The rock keeps going down, farther and farther.
“How deep is it?” I ask.
He shakes is head and pulls the line up, testing another area.
With his thick, war-hardened hands, he signals that one area is about four meters deep, while another is five.
I jump back into the water. From under another section of the floor Chu Bien pulls out a pair of old-school scuba diving masks. He throws me one.
It's not a good fit, but I attempt to make the dive. Unable to get to my nose to equalize due to the mask covering it, the pressure on my ears quickly builds, becoming painful. I come back to the surface.
“I can't equalize,” I tell Eva, swimming over to hand the mask back to Chu Bien.
Eva mimes the problem to him. He understands.
In her hot pink sports bra and faded turquoise pants, Eva jumps into the water, followed by Jacob.
Jacob attempts to dive down, but quickly comes to the surface.
“I can usually dive to five meters, but it's scary when you can't see anything,” he says, treading water next to us.
I've settled down since my first attempts to dive to the bottom. My heart rate is slower. I focus on my breathing at the surface as Eva ducks into the water. She quickly comes back to the surface, before making several more attempts.
I can't help but think that this isn't the safest way to be freediving.
I take a deep breath and dive.
Through the milky water brown lumps appear on the side of the rock face, I can't tell if they are plastic bags or some sort of marine vegetation. There is red line stretched through the water. Then, there's the bottom.
I turn around and relax. Allowing my natural buoyancy to take me to the surface.
At the surface, I slow my breathing, relax, take a deep breath and dive again. This time knowing where the bottom is.
Once I hit the bottom, legs frog kicking the whole way down, I begin to carefully scan the area, swimming slowly as I go, remaining completely relaxed despite having only 20cm of visibility.
The white arm of the quadcopter, surrounded by yellows and browns, comes into view.
I reach out and pick up my baby. Hopefully the footage will be okay.
Triumphantly, I slowly surface, the drone held above my head like the Holy Grail.
Jacob and Eva cheer. Chu Bien even seems impressed, giving me a big thumbs up and a toothy grin.
We carefully clamor back onto the rocks.
“I can't believe you found it,” Eva says, glowing with the buzz of an adventure.
“I can't believe you sent the route. That was fucking amazing!”
We both look up at the route. I wrap her up in a big bear hug from behind. She's relaxed and we're both high from having had our own successes and having witnessed each others' win. It's like old times. There's nothing complicated or weird, just two friends chuffed to be hanging out.
Back in the boat, we all have a celebratory shot of tequila before passing the bottle back to Chu Bien, so he can join. Jacob cracks open our beers and we sit back, eating cashews and bananas.
“Yeah, so I use to do freediving training back in Phuket,” I explain to Jacob.
“I bet you didn't expect to get practice here,” Eva points out.
It's perhaps the first time since I've arrived in Cat Ba where I feel like Eva is relaxed and being completely natural around me. There isn't anything romantic about it in the slightest, but there doesn't need to be. This is what I love in my friendships.
Chu Bien offers us a cigarette, which we all politely decline to take.
He's taking us by Streak of Lighting, which is a 7c+ deepwater soloing route, another classic. The tide is too low to try it, not that any of us would have a chance on such a route, but Eva's not had the chance to see it.
It's a beautiful line. Eva's talking her way through it with a lovely excitement.
Poor Jacob starts to get a little sea sick, but we make it back to shore without him losing his breakfast.
“Can you give me a ride to town?” Jacob asks. He's on a time crunch. He's got to catch a ferry and book some miles on his bike to catch up with friends.
“Of course, man.”
Eva, for efficiency's sake, wants to run three on the bike into town so she and I can go directly to Butterfly Valley to climb.
I'd prefer to take Jacob and then come back to pick her up, rather than having to get everything sorted now, but I go with the flow – she's not very compromising.
“I'm going to run in and top up our waters,” Eva says, outside the Asia Outdoor's office.
Ten minutes later, I'm trying to sleep with my head on the handle bars of the bike while I wait.
What the fuck can take so long? She seems to have no respect for me or my time. How long does it take to fill up a bottle of water?
“You okay? You look tired,” shes asks when she final comes out.
“Tired of waiting. Let's go.”
“Sorry, my manager had to bitch at me for some things I didn't do right. One last attempt to prove they're in control.”
It's reasonable, but I don't care at this point.
“Oh, we need a bailout beaner. Can we go back to the hotel to see if anyone is there to borrow one from?”
It's getting late by the time we arrive at Butterfly Valley. Arjun has started to clear away an area for bouldering and is like a puppy with a new toy that he thinks everyone needs to fully appreciate. Eva, isn't listening to him, but is trying to get a bailout beaner in case we don't finish one of our climbs; she doesn't want to leave her gear behind, as she's leaving town very, very soon.
I walk back with Arun to look at the bouldering problems. They're awesome, the rocks are sharp and there is lots of cleaning to do, but it's super cool to see him opening up new possibilities.
Eva has wandered up hill to see if she can get some gear from Markus. Tired of waiting, I head to the route we're going to climb: Upsyndrome.
Eva makes the first attempt, smoothly getting to the crux – the hardest sequence of moves on the climb. I'm call out encouragements and we start trying to piece together what she needs to do to make it happen. Over and over again she tries it this way and then that way with no success.
I'm a patient belayer. Sitting on the rock below her, I make sure she knows that I'm with her and I do my best to be helpful.
It's a process. The sky is starting to darken.
It hits me. Hits me hard. I'm unhappy. I'm unhappy because I'm not able to be myself around Eva, because of how she's acting. I have these warm, hands-on friendships with all my friends, guys and girls. Eva is hardly making eye contact with me. Since I've been in town, I can probably count on my hands how many times she looked into my eyes.
Eva does a lovely switch foot move and then gets her right foot up high and she's over the hump of the crux and clipping.
“Great job!” I call out.
“Why didn't I do that originally. Now that we have the beta, you'll be fine,” she says.
She constantly does this when you climb with her, demeans any potential successful climb you might have because you're tall or have beta or something.
Eva takes a rest.
Up a bit of slap, she gets stuck again. So close. It's a tough spot.
Time slips by, we talk through it. I try to be encouraging and helpful, though at this point I don't care in the slightest. I can imagine that she'll get to the top and say it's too dark for me to get an attempt on it.
I'm not enjoying climbing with her at all.
Eva hits the anchors.
“Okay, coming down,” she says.
Awesome, she's not going to block me from trying the climb.
An Italian guy wants on the route next, but I tell him there probably won't be day light left once I'm done – who knows how long it will take me.
I cruise to the crux, make the move and clip. It's a compressed move on the bulge, which means my hands and feet are close together, sending my fat ass away from the wall, pulling me down.
Back on the wall, I make it to the top area, where Eva is stuck. She's feeding me beta, but it doesn't seem like the right way to do it. I spend several minutes fluffing about.
She starts ragging on me with some of the other Asia Outdoor guys who are nearby. It's supposed to be good-natured. But given, all the encouragement I was giving her, I'd like a little fucking patience and understanding instead of the boyish, ego bullshit.
I finally commit to the move she keeps telling me to make.
It's not easy, but she's right.
“Want me to clean the route?” I ask, so we don't leave any gear behind.
“I think I want to try it again if that's okay.”
Back on the route, attempting to send it, Eva is cruising.
“Please stop talking,” Eva shouts down from the top, as she tries to put together the last move.
I'm silent. I always tell climbers to tell me when to shut up, because sometimes you want perfect silence.
So that's not a problem, but it is a cherry on top of the Shit Fudge Sunday of my current mood. This whole time, I've been telling Eva that it's cool if she wants to go do things with just the AO crew or her roommate, neg electing the fact that I might need a break from her myself – it hadn't occurred to me.
Now, I do. He attitude sucks and I'm finding it shaping me, shutting me down.
Eva makes the move and gives a triumphant yell.
She's bagged another project before departure day.
“Ah, so amazing. Thank you so much. Sorry about that,” she says.
“No worries at all. That's why I tell people to tell me when to shut up.”
“I already had so much going on in my head. Thank you so much. I couldn't have done it without you,” she says.
I don't know what she means.
“Sure you could have. You nailed it.”
Back at her room, Eva is looking for people to come to dinner with us.
“I had first dinner, but can do second dinner later,” Arjun says.
“I'm going to head back to my room to shower,” I tell Eva, tired of running on her schedule.
“Okay, we'll let you know when we're going to dinner.”
“Right, I'm pretty hungry, so I might get something first. But let me know,” I say in a montone voice that I've been developing here. I don't know if she gets it, but basically, I've got no interest in spending any time with her right now.
Back in my room, feeling a bit unwanted and unhappy. I contact a girl I know to see if I can't get a couple sexy photos to brighten my day. I send her a couple provocative photos to prime the engines so to speak.
Though I'm willing to go for an Anthony Whinner bulge photo, I'm not a fan pictures of the wee little pipe floating around, so we end up on Skype instead. Edward Snowden, I don't want to know.
“Hey, we finally made to dinner. We are at My Way, ordering now. There is no internet in the hotel. Sorry I didn't answer before,” Eva writes. “I'm so tired... I might just write letters tonight and then crash.”
“Okay. Unless, you want to have a hot chocolate? Could write letters with a coco. I've got plenty of work to do as well,” I offer, because it's hard not to keep trying to be a friend and land some quality time.
She shoots down the idea.
“Sorry ! 😞 My fingers hurt so bad and everything is hurting haha.”
“It's okay... thanks for hanging out and climbing with me today.”
“It's like the old times 🙂”
“Welcome. For a moment it was... Which was great,” I reply.
“So Connor wants to drink wine and eat cheese and crackers on the roof... I'm going to go eat cheese and crackers, but probably not going to hang out much. you're welcome to come, Marry-Ann is coming too..”
“Yeah, she just told me... Which was funnily awkward for a moment. Thanks for the invite. I might join.”
“Just to warn you, I'll be quite unsocial... I'm so tired...haha.”
“And [you] feel super weird around me 😛. Don't worry though, I'll be just hanging with the crew.”
Unlike Eva, Marry-Ann legitimately wants me to join, so I do. I pull up to the hotel.
“Isaac! Get up on the roof,” Eva yells, her voice unencumbered by posing or concern. She yells out for me again, a friend calling up a friend whose presence they legitimately would enjoy.
The crew is up on the roof sharing a couple bottles of wine.
Conner has hurt is finger again, so it's only Rob and Arjun working on the bouldering wall. The wal is lit by three head lamps.
I strap on my shoes and join them, taking a sip of someone's bottle of wine.
Rob starts out with a killer dynamic move in a game of add on, where each climber takes a turn at adding one move to a sequence, developing a new bouldering problem as we go. Both Rob and Arjun are much stronger than I am. At first, I can't make the starting move. However, they're not about to let me give up and keep encouraging me until I finally stick it.
That's what I'm loving about this group of people; it's why I'm up on the roof right now. Not because of Eva, but because these guys are both inspiring and encouraging. They're friends.
It doesn't take long for my right shoulder to start acting up. Conner and Markus, who were attempting the lift from Dirty Dancing, with little success, have made their way to the small roof over the stairs, which stands about three meters above the rest of the rooftop. We all join them, bringing the crash pads up.
The night air is cool, but not cold, with the stars shimmering above us in the dark sky. Marry-Ann is smoking a cigarette, despite having allegedly quit. The smell of smoke is nice and conversation is as easy as the silence that occasionally settles in among us. Eva's fallen asleep.
“Yeah, you guys have a good jam. The whole group does,” I say.
“What do you mean,” Conner asks.
“Like strawberry jam.”
“Oh, like apple jam or peach jam,” chimes in Arjun.
I start to argue that you can't have apple jam; it has to be jelly, but Arjun's moved on.
“Do you guys remember Blue Pepsi?”
“Wait, Isaac, what do you mean? You guys are killing me,” Connor whines.
“No, but what about Code Red.” “Dude, they still have Code Red. What about Pepsi Black, where it was espresso flavored.”
Eventually, Arjun and I stop rifting, how we ended up where we did with just the thought of jam is nearly inexplicable outside of the fact that Arjun was part of the conversation.
“I don't know Conner. Like, you guys are very supportive, inspiring. There's the competition, but it seems healthy. It seems like a really good thing. Maybe I should give Asia Outdoors a one in six chance of having me apply. It'd be pretty sweet climbing here with you guys.”
“Marry-Ann, what do you think?” Conner asks.
Marry-Ann shares my sentiments.
“About ready?” she wants to know.
“Sure, we can go,” I say.
The outside gate has been locked. It's impossible to get my bike out.
“Looks like you'll be sleeping in strange beds,” Conner says, willing to host us at the hotel for the night.
“Ah, it's okay. We'll jump the fence,” I say.
I give Conner the keys to my bike, so he can take it to work in the morning – he's opening.
Marry-Ann is double-time marching up the hill back into town. I'm doing my best to keep up. We start a light jog on the steep down hill back to town.
A quick hug good night and she heads up to her room, while I walk back to mine.
I arriving on the fifth floor only to realize I need to got back to the ground level to buy a water.