Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Much Needed Vacation (and photos!)

Hi all,

I'm going to try and keep this post short and sweet so I can include photos from my adventures in Casa Grande and beyond (thank you Starbucks WiFi).

First of all, the Grand Canyon/weekend in Phoenix was so much fun! I had a great time working/running the 5K at the zoo and was really proud of my time, considering my training and how hard we've been working out on the trail. Setting up for the pet walk at Tempe Town Lake was also a good time and I mostly enjoyed it because it was a gorgeous day and now I know how nice of a location the lake is. I was so happy to see my parents at the Grand Canyon and it was an absolutely AMAZING experience to see one of the natural wonders of the world (and the best-known, I found out). The weather wasn't the greatest (snowy and cold when we got there) but the sunrise on Monday morning was absolutely amazing).

Right now I'm in a Starbucks in Phoenix, anxiously awaiting Erick's arrival into the airport. I'm so happy to have him visiting me and I can wait for the fun we have planned for the weekend (not forgetting the community build in Casa Grande, of course).

ALSO, BIG NEWS, I found out my project for next round. I'll be working with the Grand Canyon Trust, on the Pariah Plateau/Pariah Canyon/various places of the sort near the border of Arizona and Utah. I'm really excited for the project, my shuffle TL, and the team (my roommate Kristen is on it!)

Anyway, I don't want to talk for too much longer, so I'm going to pop some photos in here and call it a day. Hope it's warm and snuggly wherever you are!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Claw Hands, Canyons, and Bears...OH MY!

Hello friends,

I’m once again writing to you from my obviously cozy cot in the aquatics center in Casa Grande, Arizona. We’re almost 6 full weeks into our project (that means 2 to go), my claw hands are as vicious as ever, and my blisters now go unnoticed. We’ve built about 1 ½ miles of trail here and we just keep on moving.

Our preferences for our next round projects were due today. It’s what we call shuffle round, meaning that we are all mixed up onto different teams with (probably) a new team leader, to give us a break from our team before we come back together for 10 weeks to finish out the term. Since we can only choose from projects that the team leaders in our unit have, we only had 7 choices. Casa Grande was an option again and, though I really love it here, I don’t think my hands could do another 2 months of trail building. My first choice is a split project, half near Tuscon working on a farm/community resource center, and half up near Flagstaff working on national monuments. My second choice is working with the Grand Canyon Trust, some of which is backpacking around. Then Arizona State Parks (3 state parks in 2 months), a Nature Conservancy in Texas, a local project, Joplin Missouri, and back here. I’m hoping for my first choice of course, but any of my top 3 would be really exciting (and pretty warm, being in Arizona).

In other news, we’ve been working pretty hard off the mountain too, with lots of weeks that seem like 6-day work-weeks. We worked a day-long event alongside the local rotary club at the health center…I colored. We also spent last Saturday cleaning up the mountain parks where we work for our “Day of Service”.

This weekend we’ve got more fun coming up. We’re waking up at the crack of dawn on Saturday to head up to Phoenix for the day. We’re starting with volunteering at a 5K at the zoo (so exciting!) and I’m running the race as well. Then we get some down time (and free entrance to the zoo) before heading to Tempe Town Lake to help set up for their pet walk the next day. We were supposed to be working there until 6, but we’re leaving a bit early because the head of Parks and Rec in Casa Grande got us FREE HOCKEY TICKETS to see the Coyotes from the luxury of the mayor’s box…so sweet. We’re really excited about this, obviously. THEN, a group of us are spending the night in Phoenix, getting a car, and heading up to the Grand Canyon to meet my parents and stay the night, before returning to Casa Grande on Monday (we have the day off...thanks presidents).

Next Thursday, Erick is flying in and we’re spending an extended weekend together (and he’s going to build trails with us at the community build on Saturday). I’m SO excited to see him and to get some time off.

I think that’s all the excitement for now. I’ll post back when I find out what my project is next week (and when we’re SO close to returning to Denver for transition week). I promise to try and get some photos in here soon too, the internet is just too slow at the house to upload them.