Tag Archives: road trip

T Minus 3 Days till Europe. . .

Back at home for a few days. Beaches is on the Women’s Entertainment Network. I think the girl playing the little Bette Midler is BLOSSOM!

My two weeks in the Southwest were amazing. I spent two great days with Brenna after my train rolled into Albuquerque — we drank good micro-brews, made healthy dinners, ate at quirky restaurants, and smoked menthols on her front porch. I got to meet her boyfriend, Kevin, who was quite nice and welcoming, and see all the cafes Nob Hill has to offer. It was great to catch up with her, talk about our respective futures, jobs, men, and just be real. I definitely felt that I wasn’t able to be real this summer, so it was a welcomed return to normalcy, to my comfort zone, to a great friend.

On Saturday morning, I had Enterprise pick me up at Brenna’s and take me to get a car so I could drive to Glenwood and see Jut. The salesman was a top-notch asshole and flustered me into signing up for some insurance thing, promising he’d take off two days’ worth of charges. I just wanted to get the heck out of there and on the road, so I signed the papers and hit I-25.

The drive to Glenwood was fantastic. Those first few days after YW I felt like everything I did was exactly what I needed at that very point. Spending time with KJ and the conversations we had were what I needed, hanging with Brenna was what I needed, and I definitely needed those 4 hours in the car by myself on the New Mexico backroads. I was only on the interstate for about 60 miles; the rest of the trip was all state routes. When I first saw the mountains on Rt. 180, I started crying — it was a culminating moment of everything that had happened in the past 3 months, and everything that is going to happen in the next 3. It may be cliche, but it was a moment of “God made these amazing mountains, He takes care of this whole wilderness, how can I be so worried about my life, how can I not know that He’s going to take care of things for me.” And I hadn’t really felt that all summer, so it helped me realize how much I needed just to enjoy those days in New Mexico and the coming months.

I rolled into the Ranger Station and Jut was walking to the dumpster outside his apartment — I didn’t even recognize him. I was like, who’s that skinny, hairy kid over there? Oh, it’s Jut!! It didn’t take us long to get reacquainted, but I think we were both a little nervous about seeing each other — 3 months is a long time to be away, and neither of us really knew what to expect of the other after the strange summer experiences we’ve had. But Jut made me dinner that night, we drank a bottle of wine and were quite back to normal.

I got to meet all the people Jut has been working with this summer, who seemed really cool. We went down to Silver City to go grocery shopping — after I planned out what meals we wanted to make and made a detailed grocery list of their ingredients. The next day we went for a day hike on one of Jut’s favorite trails, overlooking the Mogollons and getting my lungs accustomed to hiking at the altitude. We decided to go on a road trip Tuesday, originally destined for the Grand Canyon. We got as far as St Johns, Arizona, when a tire on the rental car blew. I just about flipped, having had enough of the rental car shite already. So we called Enterprise, who connected us with AAA, who were going to send someone out (in an hour) to check out the tire, because I thought rim was bent, and didn’t know how to put on the doughnut. They happened to be doing road work on that portion of 180, and soon enough a few Arizona DOT workers came by and pulled over. They turned out to be really nice guys who changed the tire and pointed us toward an auto shop in St Johns to get a new one and continue our trip. So we went to some hickish car place and bought a used tire for $20; a 14-year-old kid put it on for us and even straighted out the hubcap, which was bent out of shape. We got back on the road and ended up in Flagstaff, where we drank beer, ate hamburgers, and walked around the cool old downtown there. We camped about 1,500 feet above the city at a secluded campground in the mountains, and went for a nice morning hike before heading back east.

Sometime during our driving we decided to abandon the idea of the Grand Canyon (mostly because my dad told us it cost $20 to get in, because of all the tourists at the South Rim and the extra 5 hours of driving to the North). So we opted for Canyon de Chelly on the Navajo Reservation; it took a day of driving on the Res to get there, which is worth it in and of itself. What a flipping depressed place. You forget that places so poor exist within this country. Seriously, by the time we got to the campground at the canyon we were both just drained from the intensity of it. But the Canyon is pretty cool — like a mini Grand Canyon, but you can hike to the bottom, which has lots of green grass and trees and houses and sheep farms still used by Navajo people. The whole thing is run (supposedly) jointly by the National Park Service and the Navajo people, so it’s a bit more cultural than the Grand Canyon.

We started driving back south after the Canyon to go to these natural hot springs Jut had been to in the Jemez Mountains. We got there and shared the hot pool with a bunch of middle-aged Albuquerque hippies, some of whom were nude, and all of whom were obnoxious. But we had a great view of the mountains and it was definitely something I’d never experienced before. The day was still young, so we headed down to Albuquerque and crashed in on Brenna; fortunately we had a 6-pack of Fat Tire to offer. We spent the next two nights there, right in the middle of the killing spree of a schizophrenic man who murdered 5 people, including 2 cops. It was good to be back in the city again, doing city stuff, cafe-hopping, sitting at bars. Albuquerque is a nice place to visit, and I really did like it, but I’m not sure I’d ever want to live there.

We left for Glenwood again on Saturday, just so we had plenty of time to relax and enjoy our last few days together. We cooked a lot and drank a lot of beer, went for a nice hike in the Whitewater Canyon where we hiked during spring break, saw a big old rattling rattlesnake on the trail. Jut took me to this awesome natural pool on the creek, where we stopped for lunch and sunned on these huge rocks. I was glad I got to go to Glenwood and see what his summer was really like. He didn’t let on to me how difficult it was; I knew he was lonely, but didn’t know how lonely. So we had lots of time to talk, to try to explain our summers to each other, even though we didn’t really know what they were like ourselves. We talked about the future too, how it is possible that I might be in San Francisco in a few months, that I can stay with him until I get my feet on the ground, get a job, my own place. It is exciting to think about that — about being in San Francisco, being with Jut, the fact that I won’t be a college student after these next few months, that I will be an adult. Exciting and scary as hell, too.

I got back in the car and drove to Albuquerque, took the car back to Enterprise. Of course, they tried to charge me $500 for it. I tried to be very firm and bitchy, especially about the blown tire pain-in-the-butt, but I just started crying. I told them that this salesman flustered me into paying for the insurance, and told them the deal he pitched to me. They actually honored it and took off the two days, so that is to their credit, at least. I had them drop me off at a cafe on Central, where I sat and felt lost for a few hours. Brenna got off work and I went to her house; she cried with me a bit when I told her about saying goodbye to Jut. We ordered pizza and watched movies with Kevin, and I only had one bout of hysterical crying. Brenna and I had coffee the next morning and she took me to the airport. After a day of flying, I was back in Mom and Dad’s car.

I’m still getting used to the thought that I won’t see Jut until Christmas. Especially after spending such an amazing week with him, really being right back to where we were, having things go even better than I even expected. . .it’s like, Oh, okay, see ya then. It was harder than I thought it would be to leave Glenwood — quite emotional. But I feel incredibly good about us. Compared to the sort of in-between place we were at the beginning of this summer, not really know what was going to happen, I feel confident that our relationship will endure these next few months, and that we will be together. Although our lives are probably going to change more in the next few months than they did in the previous ones, at least we will still be in our normal roles of students — despite new social situations and locales — so there is that to count on. I feel like the bigger obstacle was getting through this summer, and we’ve done that. This fall will be hard, but I feel good about it. I’m excited to go to Prague and tell people my boyfriend is going to graduate school at Stanford. Hot.


Road Trip Map

Road Trip Map
Originally uploaded by Meg Around The World.

A map with our route plotted on it. The far-west destination is Flagstaff, the far-east is Albuquerque, far-north is Mexican Water, AZ, and southern-most is Silver City, NM. Gallup is the center around which we circumnavigated.

“California’s Been Good to Me; Hope it Don’t Fall into the Sea. . .”

I’m writing from the road — I-70 West in Utah. I made a sweet On-the-Go playlist for Tracy, Becky, Stephen and I to listen to — one thing I hadn’t realized I’d missed so much this summer is music. It has been amazing to just listen to good music while driving. There’s pretty much nothing like it. Utah is still gorgeous — amazing rock formations, puffy white clouds, open road. I hope my drive from Albuquerque to Glenwood is as nice.

So, this summer is almost over. We had a great last week. 38 kids — 6 from Denver, 13 from outside Minneapolis, and the rest from Medford, Oregon. All the Oregon groups we’ve had this summer have been really awesome — just good people, unique personalities, kind of hippies. Two of the adult leaders brewed fresh French press coffee every morning, and always saved a cup for me, so that was nice. I’m looking forward to drinking coffee other than the Costco blend, too. The group from Minnesota was probably my favorite church group of the whole summer — they totally redeemed the real jerkfaced Minnesotans we had earlier in the summer. They were just a really great group of kids; their youth pastor was hilarious and always doing crazy stuff with them.

I really connected with a girl named Samira, and we stayed up late talking pretty much every night. It was really the only meaningful interaction I had with a student, one-on-one, the whole summer. She was sixteen, struggling with many of the things 16-year-olds struggle with, but she thought about them more than most 16-year-olds do. She wasn’t a Christian (her dad was Muslim and her mom didn’t really believe anything) and she was just full of questions — from “Do you believe in evolution?” to “How do you know there is a God?” to “How do you know when God is telling you something?” to “Do you think gay people go to hell?” to “Do you believe there is a hell?” I could go on. The highlight was when I used GORP to explain the trinity to her when she asked about that. She told me on Wednesday night how she just wanted to feel God, she just wanted to cry, to be overcome with emotion and know that God was there. On Thursday, I prayed that God would just move, that He would just make Himself so evident to her that she couldn’t possibly miss it. So after footwashing, she says she wants to talk, and fires the questions away again — “How do you know when is the right time to accept Christ?” — and I realized that God was going to use me to move for her, that I was going to answer my own prayer. So, it was cool to be a part of that, and I enjoyed talking with her a lot.

Friday and Saturday were a bit stressful, trying to pack up, say goodbye to everyone, get my travel plans in order for the next few weeks. But we got on the road about noon yesterday, and drove to Richfield, Utah, to spend the night at the Luxury Inn. We will get to Denver today — our goal is to average 75 mph. We’ll stay with our Region at a nice hotel downtown tonight, and then wrap everything up at the retreat tomorrow.

Yesterday, I booked my plane ticket home from Albuquerque and reserved a rental car for Jut and I to drive around the Southwest. I’m pretty much psyched out of my mind to get down there. This summer has been really good for Jut and I; although there have been frustrations with being so out of communication, so out of context with our relationship, I feel 100% positive about it. Being away from him, meeting so many new people, has really made me realize how much I love him, how good our relationship is, how much better he is than anyone else I know or have ever known. So it will be amazing to see him, hang out for a bunch of days, listen to good music, cook good food together, hike around, drive around — do all the things we both like to do so much, and be with each other.

The question of this road trip has been, “So, will you do this again?” My first instinct is a resounding NO. Although this summer has been really great — I’ve grown a lot, have made a lot of great life-long friends, and gotten an amazing working knowledge of the strangest city I’ve ever encountered — there have been a lot of things about YouthWorks (short-term, urban youth missions in general) that I have really disagreed with. I guess it comes down to one of those situations where you have to see if the good things outweigh the bad, and I’m not sure that they do. This summer was frustrating, mostly dealing with YouthWorks chain-of-command issues, having people come to our site and try to tell us how to do things when we’d been doing them well for weeks. I also felt like YouthWorks has grown a lot in the past 2 years, and they have become more about following a schedule, doing things the way they “should” be done, instead of being flexible, caring about people, meeting their needs. It was the little details, the picky-ness, the specifics that I didn’t agree with this summer.

I was also conflicted about the kids coming out for a week and leaving feeling like they had made “such a difference” — this was a summer-long struggle for me, but really sunk in this week. In reality, they didn’t make a difference at all — if they didn’t do the work they did, someone else would have done it, and for many of our ministry sites, I felt like they had to scramble and scrounge up work for our volunteers to do, and we were more of a pain than a blessing. When a youth groups goes to a “mission trip” to a place like LA, it is more for their own benefit than the community’s, and I felt like no one was honest about that. The real reason kids go to the places they went in LA was so their eyes might be opened to another way of life that they had never seen, to be shocked and awed, to be disgusted that people like this way, while they enjoy such abundance, to inspire them so that once they have the means, they might be able to do something to make a difference. But instead, they come away feeling good about themselves, like they’ve helped so many people. That is not the point.

This is the 7th consecutive summer that YouthWorks has been an integral part of for me — that’s a long time. I complain about youth groups that have been on too many YouthWorks trips, because they have expectations of how things should or shouldn’t be. But I’m beginning to wonder if I am falling into that category — if I have taken too many YouthWorks trips and it’s time for me to go. Nadine has talked to me about being a Site Director next summer, and if I happened to be living in San Francisco by next year that could be really cool — but I think I’d probably only consider working with them again if I didn’t have a job by next summer. I think with another year of real-world experience, a YouthWorks summer might be pretty close to unbearable.

It will be nice to get this over and start thinking about Prague. I am getting excited for it — for the complete difference between that and YouthWorks, for the new city to explore, for the people to meet, and for the amazing Czech beer to drink.

I think I’m going to read to try to nap or just enjoy looking out the window. 300 miles from Denver. . .