Wednesday, August 27, 2014

In Defense Of Mediocrity

Today was a great celebration in mediocrity. I woke up early - 5 am - but it was dark and cold outside so, instead of jumping out of bed with alacrity and running 20 km backwards wearing a 30 kg backpack, I staggered outside - completely stiffened up after a night in bed - took a leak, crawled back under the covers and promptly fell asleep until the sun rose. Then, I drank a couple of cups of tea while I did some super easy word puzzles - absolutely badass no cryptic crosswords or super extreme sodukos. Breakfast was bacon and eggs, no juiced greens, pureed beets or chia seeds soaked in quoll piss, just plain old bacon and eggs washed down with black Woolies coffee. About as mediocre start to the day as you can get. 

Finally, I packed a lunch, a thermos of tea, and my bouldering shoes and chalk bag, and, set off to stroll past Alice Springs to the Telegraph Station for a day of bouldering. I set a really mediocre pace, about 4 or 5 km an hour, which is really easy considering the path is completely flat. By the time I got to the Telegraph Station a couple of hours later, my thirst had passed mediocre and all I could think about was getting a drink of water, and sitting with my swollen feet up for a minute or two. I'm not sure what the deal is with my feet; it could be the hard path, the poor quality shoes I own (La Sportiva trail running shoes suck), or just a bit too much pounding on feet that are half a century old lately. 

In any case, I filled up my water bottle - I had such a mediocre day that I did not want to carry it full to the Telegraph Station when I knew I could get water there - and sat in the sun for a while watching the parrots squabbling in the grass. I desperately wanted my thermos of tea, but, if I drank it now, I'd have none left to drink before I had to walk the 8 or 9 km back at the end of the day. Most people, being way less interested in mediocrity (or much less a tight-wad) would drink the thermos of tea and then go buy another cup from the kiosk. But, Doug and I didn't get to retire at a shockingly early age by spending $5 for the privilege of watching a barissta wafting a three cent tea bag over a too small cup of not quite boiling water, so I saved the thermos for later. 

 Hard to say which of us (me or the birds) is the bigger galah

The inevitable could be delayed no longer, mediocre bouldering beckoned. I'd like to write about how I sent a bunch of V5 highball routes, but, once I got up and started looking about for boulders I realised how appallingly stiff I felt from the mediocre workout I'd done the day before. But, I was here to boulder and boulder I would. Or wouldn't.

From a distance, the landscape around the Telegraph Station looks as if it would yield a plethora of short, mediocre boulder problems and, likely it would if the rock didn't have the consistency of Weetbix soaked in milk overnight. Everything broke. The footholds broke, the handholds crumbled, I seemed to be able to crush - literally not figuratively - entire boulders in my hands. 

This was all to the good really, as all that walking in those crappy shoes wasn't making me any more limber. I was secretly quite happy to revel in my mediocrity and saunter back to a picnic bench in the sun for lunch and my thermos of tea. After a while, I figured I should start wandering back. There were more boulders on the way back and even while I was luxuriating in all this mediocrity I thought I really should pull at least a couple of problems so I filled up my water bottle expecting a powerful thirst to overcome me, and trundled back along the path. More crumbly Weetbix rock, and me getting less and less inspired as the sun warmed my back and made me feel drowsy.

I ambled into Alice Springs, my pace much more mediocre on the way back than it had been on the way out, much more in the 3 to 4 km hour range, nowhere near badass and really quite sub-mediocre. Passing the library, I decided to call in and have a browse. I love libraries. Inside it was cool, quiet and there were infinitely comfortable seats. I settled down with some back issues of Wild and began reading about other people's badass bushwalking trips through trackless Australian bush - truthfully most of them sounded horrendous. Bushwacking in Canada, even in the infamous Gold Range, pales in comparison to bushwacking in Australia. In Canada, you know the bushwacking is a time limited offer. Gain a few thousand feet of elevation (at the most) and you'll be up in the alpine. In Australia, the bush just goes on and on and on with no respite. Australian bush is wickedly scratchy too. 

Reading about all those badass adventures was really tiring me out, my feet were beginning to throb, and I desperately needed to take a leak after the litre of tea I'd drunk at the Telegraph Station. There was, however, no way I was going into one of Alice Spring's talking public toilets. If you've never experienced these space age contrivances you should. They are silver metal and look a lot like Doctor Who's Tardis but are a lot less comfortable inside. You push a button and door slides open to reveal a wretched piss spattered interior with no toilet paper or other conveniences. As soon as you step inside, the door slams shut and a voice blasting out at about 300 decibels announces that you have 10 minutes remaining before you will be summarily ejected. An old Australian ballad that has a tag line about "The Alice" begins to play and the ten minutes is counted down with such solemnity you could be mistaken for thinking your at a NASA space shuttle launch. Good luck trying to eliminate anything with that stress hanging over your head. 

Anyway, just as I was pondering all this, I saw Doug coming into the library to do some printing. I was able to get a ride home, avoid the Tardis toilet, not boulder a single real problem and have a day of stunning and unmitigated mediocrity. Now, if only I'd taken a selfie looking poised and together in my best duds as I pulled a V10 highball on a single pinkie finger to post on Crackbook.

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