The Never Ending Year

I often forget that I began blogging about this experience to document my goal of “completing a long term, live-in, volunteer experience”. The year took so many twists and turns; it’s nearly impossible for me to look at the last twelve months of my life as just a volunteer experience. Continue reading

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The Small Things

Since May, I’ve been looking forward to this past week and holding onto it as if it would be my savior from this program. After four straight months of being in Crown King, in small town CK where everyone knows everyone and regular excitement is hard to come by, my team and I would finally be leaving to go back to campus.

North Highlands isn’t the most exciting place in California; it’s far from it actually. The minute I get onto Watt Avenue, I’m immediately reminded of why I despise the area. Filth and graffiti everywhere, buildings with no character, a long list of recently committed crimes labeling the people who inhabit the town, and a general lack for natural beauty showcased in many other areas of my home state. Continue reading

The Final Countdown

June was destined to be a particularly difficult month for the team. The fire department was working to complete 40 acres of defensible space as per a grant agreement that ended June 30th. The state crew assisting on the project were quite shy of their promised acreage, leaving our team with a lot more work to do than initially anticipated.

Fuels reduction is the largest part of our project and likely the most disliked aspect of our workload. Imagine if you will a line of twenty people stationed between a chipper and a few sawyers watching as the sawyers cut brush. Your sole purpose for the next few hours is to stand idly by and pass brush from the person in front of you to the person behind you, eventually making its way up to the chipper where it will be chipped to small pieces. Words are not enough to describe the monotony of the work and the lack of stimulation experienced during a normal workday. Continue reading

11 weeks down

This week marks the longest any of us have served on one project. It’s funny how slow each project dragged on for me, yet the project I’ll be at the longest has flown by.

A lot has happened in the past two and a half months here in Crown King that would be difficult to summarize in vast detail. Instead I’ll give you a quick run down of our time here. Continue reading

Crown King

I’ve found that in this great state of perpetually misty weather and outdoorsy PNW culture, my team and I stand out like sore thumbs among the throngs of locals. With the constant flow of Patagonia-wearing, man bun flaunting individuals as far as the eye can see, our combat boots and tucked-in-grey-shirts-with-khaki-cargo-pants look doesn’t allow for much discretion. While in uniform, I’ve come to expect odd glances from others and the occasional, “are you on work release?” from a concerned tax payer as they hand over their social security card and bank account information. Continue reading

Vegas Grime

I’ve never understood the appeal of Las Vegas but seeing as how it’s the most accessible city near Death Valley, Cooper and I decided to swallow our sense of dignity and spend the weekend together in the city.

In true us fashion, we couldn’t sit still long enough to even sleep. After a night in Vegas, we camped at a questionable half-trailer-park-half-campground in North Vegas. When we first got to the campsite we walked in circles before discovering the tent-camping area; a small circle of dead grass in the middle of the park that most likely served as a bathroom to all of the miniature poodles the RV campers owned. With military jets circling the campground in thirty-minute intervals and the nearby hotels looking like a great front for “activities of questionable morals”, we were antsy to explore elsewhere. Continue reading

Reasons to Celebrate

This weekend I had the chance to spend time with my parents who were nice enough to fly all the way up to Seattle to see me. I realized recently that, since graduating from college last June, I’ve spent about two weeks total at my home in Encinitas making 2014 the year that I have been away from home the most. For those that know me well, my parents included, it’s odd for me to willingly choose to be away for so long. I love all of the wonderful things that welcome me home each time I visit from the warm beaches to my incredible family to the Mexican restaurants on every street corner. Encinitas is a fantastic place that I’ve grown to love increasingly more each year. Being away for so long has really taken a toll so having the opportunity to see two of my favorite people couldn’t have come at a better moment.  Continue reading

Successes

Between round one and two, I had a fifteen-day break. After more then four months in the program and having endured a more untraditional track then most corps members, this break was the opportunity I needed for mental clarity and to refocus.

Round one challenged me in ways I never imagined possible. In a lot of ways I’m still reeling from the effects of the round and trying to understand the impact it fully had on my emotional, professional, and interpersonal growth. This program causes you to question who you are and what you believe in, and I’ve appreciated those opportunities to really assess myself and the world. I’m continuing to learn a lot and I’m beginning to grow more receptive to the adaptation and change brought on by this program. Continue reading