Rock climbing & Darkzone

Since we’d last seen each other when we had the Agora catchup last week (or whenever it was… or two weeks ago, as my journal reveals) Tony & I had been throwing back and forth ideas for things to do, in particular things that would appeal to a wide audience, such as Jess. We came up tentatively with horse riding (among lesser suggestions), and I kept today free explicitly for whatever was decided. In the end, Tony spontaneously suggested indoor rock climbing, which neither he nor I had done before, and which I think has wide appeal, so we went with that (which is to say, Tony went with that; I rang him last night to find out what was happening :D ). The idea was to catch up with people from up the Bundoora end of the world before I leave; I may not have a chance to see them again.

Unfortunately, the only people who got back to Tony on it were Rob & Jess, and even then Jess fell out of contact in recent days and consequently didn’t end up coming – Tony was told to call her mobile after finding out that she no longer checks her old email address, and then Rob revealed today, when we were standing outside the rock climbing place, that her phone was stolen earlier in the week, so that was no good either (and, of course, for universal irony, to email her instead :) ).

So, it was just us three – not that there’s anything wrong with that in and of itself, of course, but I would have liked to have seen Simon, Michael, Jess & many others… now I may not, which sucks, but, such is life.

Anyway, rock climbing… the place we went to was in Nunnawading, and the name of which escapes me right now… we arrived, were shown the basic process of climbing and belaying (feeding and controlling the safety rope for the person climbing), signed away our lives and whatever else as you do, and then kited. The shoes were really uncomfortable. They’re special ones which are largely soft rubber, but with hard heels and toes, suited obviously to climbing. They weren’t quite on the ice skating level of orthopaedic hell, but they were along the same lines.

And then, after some initial test climbs on the really easy walls just to prove to the staff that we’d paid attention to the demonstration, we were let loose to go injure ourselves in novel ways. The place isn’t really that big, I suppose, when you think about it – probably the size of an average house. Of course, it was rather tall – by my guesstimate about 18 metres to the roof, in the tall section. And that’s really high when you’re up there, let me tell you. :)

We started in the easier section, where the climb was more like 6-8 metres, although of course there was some quite challenging sections where the handholds were poor – only one got the better of me, although I went back later to it and gave it a better go. The problem of course is that I’m quite afraid of heights, and start getting nervous and sweaty when exposed to them. Which isn’t conducive to climbing. D’oh. But I wasn’t going to let myself be limited by the fear, so I pushed forth anyway, and had no problems.

We did venture into the tallest section for a little while – Tony tried going up the “very difficult” wall, but got about half way – to where it actually became very difficult – and gave up. Rob tried on another section a little way over, but similarly made it only half way. He confessed that he also has a bit of a fear of heights.

But then we picked a much nicer, forward-slopping section for me to head up, which was actually a really easy climb, aside from the fear factor. I made it all the way to the top, despite that fear, by simply focusing on the task at hand and not looking down. Of course, once I got to the top I looked down for a photo and to tell them I was coming back down, and then the fear & associated sweat set in.

I almost felt panicky at a few moments, actually, which was more scary than truly panicky. But I made myself go all the way up, because of my stupid male ego, and then of course once you’re up there you’ve got several choices for getting down, but by far the best is to absail down properly and calmly. :)

Tony & Rob subsequently went up the same bit, perhaps to appease their egos :D, and similarly had no real trouble. They were quite a bit faster than me, as well – I think I was a bit more scared than I realised, going up.

After that we took a bit of a break for a drink and food or whatever, before heading back into the smaller section – since the big section was at that point packed with people, and there we amused ourselves for a little while longer. Eventually though we all got pretty tired – I started getting blisters on my hands, and Rob had already scraped off a fair bit of skin as well, so we decided to call it a day. We were there for a good three hours or so, in total, which passed really quickly it seemed.

While we were there, and I was mulling over what to do when we finished up, I of course reminded myself that we were on Whitehorse road, the same road on which Darkzone presents it’s entrance. :D So I suggested that, and Tony relented to the idea after a little prompting, so we headed off to that.

And here’s some photos of the three of us. Tony had his camera there as well, and I think most of the photos of myself were on his – I don’t seem to have many of myself, in any case.

Unfortunately, they still have that ridiculous rule where you have to be under 15 years old before 7pm, and we arrived not long after 5pm. Grrr. So, we booked in for two games at 7, and went in search of an early dinner. Now, I really like Chinese food, and I’m not a complete tourist – I can handle the real thing – but it is strangely difficult to find a good place when most of Box Hill is written in Chinese, and in any case closing or closed… we walked through the shopping centre there, which was a real sad state of affairs – the only things open were one Chinese restaurant, Subway and McDonalds. And while we were wandering around enumerating our options, Subway closed. Rob & Tony weren’t impressed with Chinese in general, so we kept wandering… gahhh.

Luckily though we struck a La Porchetta not far from the shopping centre, which seemed to satisfy everyone’s distinct palettes in at least a minimal fashion. Unfortunately I wasn’t hungry at all, really, given it was about 6pm and well before my usual dinner time, so I ate about a dozen callamari rings before giving up. Tony devoured all my chips in no time though, even after his own meal. :) So much for the guy who didn’t want to eat anything oily or deep-fried. :)

7pm rolled around eventually. But first, one thing in particular that came up over dinner were sayings peculiar to people. Rob & his workmates had gone over this earlier in the week, apparently, and been surprised at the words & phrases their peers thought they said overly a lot.

So for Tony we decided “yeeeeaaaaahhhh…” (meaning no), and Rob insisted on “superficial”, although the back joke on that, which I supposedly was there for, I don’t recall. :) He also suggested, of his own volition, …. damn, I can’t remember. It’ll come to me later, like Milla Jovovich (spelling unknown, and not in a physical sense; just her name slipped my mind earlier in the week).

Rob had quite a few, actually, although again I’m having a hard time recalling them. One of them was “sure”, which admittedly he does use a lot, but then so do a lot of people.

I suggested “sneaky ninjas” for myself, which sent Tony off an an animated tale of some time he and Egan walked past each other outside the laundry at college, and I said that, and they turned and looked at each other, and apparently much hilarity ensued. (aside: I also use “ensued” a lot :D ) I don’t recall this in any detail, although it does jog some distant memory, or at least sound like a scenario in which I could find myself. :)

Also, “yeaaaah, no”, which I do a lot these days and even annoy myself sometimes. And the similar “no but yeah”, in response to a negative question presented as an affirmative (in which case, what is the bloody correct answer anyway? Stupid English) :P

But those also are fairly common, I think. I’ve just got them rehearsed down to a fine art in delivery, that’s all. ;)

There were others, for all three of us, but apparently my memory has already gone to bed. I don’t know how it’s sleeping, with the party on next door (actual next door, not Jens; opposite side, in any case, and I can’t imagine his parents playing 80’s rock turned up to 11). [note to self: watch the rest of Spinal Tap]

For me, “redundant” and “evidently” were also put forth. It’d be real interesting to run, say, this journal, through a aggregating script to see which words I really do use most.

We sauntered on back to Darkzone, where we had our two games. The place was packed – I think we were full up in the first game, and actually had people turned away in the second from lack of suits…. I think there’s about 36 or so there – someone came 29th, so we had at least that many, and I’m pretty sure I saw a 35th ranking as well.

Anyway, it was pretty busy and a little crazy in there. The first game was fantastic, though – I didn’t have too much trouble (didn’t get shot much), and for the last half of it Tony & I camped up on the walkway on the far side, which turns out to be a really splendid spot for a pair to sit – it was just a turkey shoot the entire time. More than once a whole boatload of girls (probably 10 or something; most of our opponents were younger than us) meandered (another word I use a lot) through, and it would be a case of just trying to pull the trigger fast enough… I was sure I’d done really well in that game, and it was a lot of fun – by the end I was soaring with adrenaline (not Adrenalin, which is a trademarked form of adrenaline, the hormone), rather sweaty, and fully pysched. I was a little disappointed to only come 2nd – with a score of 13400 or somesuch, although the winner was well about that in the 14,000’s somewhere. Rob came 4th or 5th, I think… I can’t recall where Tony placed – he must have been up there as well, given he was in on the same turkey shoot as I.

In the second game, which ran only a few minutes after the first (we started the first a little late, I think; they made us watch the silly intro video), my plan of attack was to get to the yellow base (up the top) as fast as possible; I figured it’d take everyone else a while to filter up, and that way I’d avoid the pointless suicidal firefights amongst the crowd. Unfortunately, my plan was upset by the fact that as soon as the ref said to go, I picked the nearest apparent entrance, which turned out to be a dead-end very shortly. D’oh! I turned around, but was then swamped by the bajillions of little kids forcing their way in like a violent mountain stream… so, I just stayed where I was, and when we did start shot a dozen of them in the back as they tried to spread out. Muahahahah! :D

I was feeling the strain in the second game, though, and got a bit lazy. There was a girl (well, presumably; she spoke and swore like a bloke) there, probably a similar age to us, with a Darkzone t-shirt on. That was fair warning; she obviously plays a bit. Anyway, she hassled me for the first half of that game, shooting me over and over again in a very unsporting fashion (i.e. just waiting ’till I respawned, then shooting me before my gun became active). She was quite annoying.

Anyway, I figured that while I was losing so miserably – I really felt I was sucking horribly; I seemed to spend most of my time dead for the first half of the game – I should go find Tony & Rob. I went along almost every part of the maze, didn’t see them once. I thought they might have headed up to the good camping spot where Tony & I had been the previous game, but upon arriving there found it occupied by half a dozen or more of the little yellow fiends, who promptly shot me (albeit not before I got a few of them).

I ended up spending much of the game around the lower levels – I did get both bases, simply for the points, but died a lot for them. And yet when we wandered out, surprisingly I’d scored better than last game – 14,000, although still in second, well behind first that was 16,100 or somesuch. I was just happy, though, that it appeared the angry she-man was not, it seemed, the one that came first. :D

After that though, we were at a bit of a loss as to what to do. The next chance to play was at least forty minutes away, and it is pretty pricey really at $7.50 per ten minute game. So, we left. I really just felt like sitting down somewhere nice with a bit of music and a drink, to chat with Tony & Rob. Unfortunately, that basically describes a pub, and there ain’t any within a million miles of Box Hill. Virtually everything was closed, which just makes no sense to me as even sleepy bloody Frankston is still open that time of night – and while we drove for a while down Whitehorse road, we found nothing. Rob eventually pulled into a petrol station, and so there we said our goodbyes and he headed off.

It’s very strange saying goodbye to good friends, even when in this case I may even see them again before I leave (all going well the Thursday before Easter), and in any case I’ll likely visit back in Australia in November or December. It’s hard to find something suitable and, I dunno, dramatic enough (“I love you!” tearfully didn’t seem appropriate at the time ;) ). Ultimately, life is not a Hollywood movie (nor, thankfully, a Bollywood one).

And actually Rob noted that he’ll likely be away on the aforementioned Thursday anyway, so it seems tonight really was the last time I’ll see him before I leave. Ah well… I have seen a lot of him & Tony in the past couple of weeks, so I’m not complaining, but as I said, there just hasn’t been anything appropriately final yet, it seems.

Anyway, of course Tony & I had more time together since we’d come up in my car, so we chatted a bit on the way home, and then for a while outside his place. He at least should be around on the Thursday, :P, so I’ll likely see him again. Indeed, depending on what other plans are made for Monday I might see him then anyway; he’s getting replacements for some rather snazzy hiking boots, which he’s offered to get in my size since he doesn’t actually want the boots that much anymore; he bought them for Nepal and found them wanting anyway, thus why he returned them.

Anyway, we talked about general stuff, but I laughed in particular that he mentioned he wasn’t entirely unappreciative of the fact he’s now visiting hospitals occasionally, as part of his bio-med PhD, and that there are, yes, it’s true, some quite attractive young nurses there. :D

We’d talked a fair bit about marriage, home-ownership and whatnot during the drive, in the context largely of what I’d heard from people last night when talking to them, so this wasn’t some completely random comment, of course.

So, in the context of five-year plans, which also came up earlier in the evening, he said to watch out for him in five years with his hot, rich nurse wife (well, I may have said it, but he laughed, so from the horse’s mouth ;) ), and I similarly said I’d bring along my wife, Lindsay Lohan, and my bajillions of dollars (possibly hers; minor detail ;) ).

I really enjoyed the day – I was looking forward to rock climbing right from the first suggestion, but wasn’t sure how well I’d go. I did better than I expected, actually, in terms of basic capability and upper-body strength, but then was a little underwhelmed on the appearance; it really looks a lot easier than it is. And in a way I suppose it was a good bonding exercise – working in pairs, where you really need to trust the person holding your safety rope to not be an arse and kill you – which I suppose was actually a really nice way of parting.

And interestingly, it inspired me to write this (as well as recap last night’s events). I haven’t been particularly motivated, the last few weeks, for journal writing. And not for lack of content, of course – plenty of craziness with all this moving and so-called holidaying and whatnot… through it all I’ve actually been playing Homeworld 2 a bit, which seems to be my own little indicator than I’m feeling a bit stressed and want to chill. As well as a massive productivity killer. ;)

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