Saturday, November 19, 2011

I Want To Be A Peregrine Falcon

The birds were incredible today! I've never been that close to a bald eagle before! The hawks were awesome and after watching the documentary, I want to be a peregrine falcon in my next life, just saying'.

After our tour of all the birds, we painted birds cages and did some landscaping. It was nice to escape the desert for a day, stand under some trees that tower over me.

simeon paints bird cage

The team had some great laughs on the ride home, you should hear Shauna belt out some Green Day! Who knew?! We the team dynamic is high, it's high. When it's low, it's low.

However, I am feeling more and more comfortable here as the days go on! It's beautiful! I enjoy doing physical training to the sound of howling coyotes, I'm learning the curves of the road, I'm still looking for that damn bobcat and  I actually said the words, "I can't wait to slip into my sleeping bag tonight and zip up my tent," the other day!

team physical training: 5am

Friday, November 18, 2011

Stone Hedge

The wind is so intense tonight. It's almost as if the team is standing around our tent trying to shake Simeon and myself out. In a way, the flapping tent is somewhat soothing.

Earlier, some of us sat outside and watched the RV's pull in for the weekend. Then we sat around the fire to listen to Michael read aloud and eat fire roasted skewered marshmallows, yellow peppers and garlic bread.

We have an Independent Service Project coming up on Thanksgiving to serve dinner at Town Hall in Julian, California and I am stoked to see the birds at our Birds Of Prey service project tomorrow!

We have physically been overexerting ourselves and verbally working out frustrations on team dynamics. It seems like the team deconstructed itself a few nights ago instead of building a little community. Next week, we'll probably be digging through the same ruble trying to reconstruct the mysterious pyramids built by Green Team 7.

Somehow, we always end up standing at the foot of Stone Hedge, confused of how it got there but taking our steps in stride. We come out strong.

The longest 10 months of my life is well underway.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Italian Ice

Two words: Italian Ice.

It's the little things that I spent all week long thinking about in the desert heat that got me through our first work week. As the end of our first week of service in the desert ends, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited that there are only five more left. I'm pushing myself really far and am proud of my own hard work.

While I wear holes in my gloves by digging dirt, I can't help but think ahead about my post AmeriCorps NCCC plans but the simple thoughts are what got through week 1. Thoughts of italian ice.

I've been dreaming about my parents, their house, places in my home town and most importantly, my Grandmother lately. Meme was alway such a huge part of my life and it scares me to realize that she won't be there when I get back. 

In the dream I had last night of her, it was as if she never left however I knew that wasn't the case in reality. It hurt to see her, I looked away and I sobbed into someone's arms. I sobbed in my dream and I'm sure I was talking in my sleep.

I've finally begun to grieve in my sleep since I've hardly had time to grieve when I'm awake during the past two months!

Lately, I've been digging out hundreds of pounds of dirt for erosion control. I'm heaving wheelbarrows for five straight hours. I'm lugging logs across sandy lots to the log splitter to make firewood. I'm hacking away tall reeds of marshland grasses with axes, polanskis and mcclouds.

I know my guardian angels are proud of me.

i was proud of me when i climbed this rock wall camp mendocino 

Earlier this evening, I sat in the recreation room as my team mates caused chaos around me. I sat at my computer and put in my ear buds to block out not only Michael talking to himself but Kayla and Lindsey giggling in the corner, Nick, Shauna and Akina singing Disney theme songs and Britt and Jenna right outside the door cooking dinner.

I could block all of it out except the smell of dinner. Spicy chicken, parmesan couscous with onions & peppers and the mixed carrots, beans, zucchinis and squash lay roasting on the grill.

As my mouth salivated and the volume level rose, my team leader Cydne sit on a folding chair in the middle of the room, hunched over, sleeping mask on, ear buds in, legs up on the table… passed out cold.

Yeah, this is my team. This is my life. Simeon has the right idea of walking down to the wi-fi internet connection.

Now, as I lay in my tent, thoroughly enjoying my surprise cup of lemon italian ice, I listen to the owl that I finally spotted earlier, hoot in the distance.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


As I write this, I'm trying out a new location to write from. It's 8:30pm and while the team is in the hot springs, I'm in my tent. I can tell I'm getting comfortable with my surroundings because I'm sleeping without socks tonight. I'm listening to the coyotes in the near distance, call to one another from across the sands. They sound smaller and younger than the packs I've heard in Vermont from my Aunt's porch.

I'm nervous that there are scorpions hibernating under each of our tents since the rain fell.

A roadrunner, the first I've ever seen, followed me around the work site with a family of wild rabbits. I still need a name for my new road running friend. I tried to catch him (and I say "him" because I saw his little pecker… okay, bad bird joke) but my teammate, Nick reminded me of Wild E Coyote's unsuccessful attempts. 

The bobcats are cool to spot but mountain lions scare me. Ranger Mark says that they are always watching.

We have a fire pit and a propane grill to cook on. We eat a lot of granola, snack bars, trail mix and lately, chocolate covered coffee beans! We only make things that we can cook on the grill, like the quesadillas, burgers and dogs and tonight we made a really good chili. One big pot thrown right on the grill. We want to start using the fire pit soon!

Today, my team split up into  a couple groups and worked on different projects. By doing so, we all maintained a positive attitude, the day flew by and we got the perfect amount of work done. I planted 30 cacti and 1 tree! When you're digging cactus holes all day, you have a lot of time to think. We've got about 10 or more trees to plant tomorrow and already started digging massive holes for them to dwell. Another day of pulling thorns out of my hands and body lies ahead.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Steel Toed Boots

     First day of work. Lots of thorns. We planted 30 or so cacti today, pruned thorny desert shrubs and pulled desert mistletoe out of mesquite trees.

     The days are warm, the nights are cold and windy as hell!

     If I'm not use to these steel toed boots by the end of 6 weeks, they may end up being the death of me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lemon Honey, Hot Springs and Coyotes

     I'm just sipping on some lemon honey tea. The drive here was so long. Two days of being crammed in the van. Thank god my team rides in the van together well. Most of us just sleep until we get our second wind. My teammate, Lindsey is my favorite "safety," the person who rides shot gun in the 15 passenger van. Even though we never know where the hell we're going, we are both from the same area in MA so we chat about our favorite restaurants and laugh about the concerts we've been to.

     It rained our first night at camp Agua Caliente. It was a relatively quick storm and made the desert smell like licorice. I went to bed while the rest of the team went to the hot springs.

     The hot springs, by the way, are two out door pools and an indoor 30 person jacuzzi. All three are "naturally fed" by the natural hot springs but are all chlorinated. I find the natural hot springs intriguing but I'm not a huge fan of jacuzzis. Its a bit too much like a human stew. Supposedly though, the showers we use in the pool room are naturally fed by the springs too! 

     On our day off yesterday, we went into town early for errands and didn't get back until 10pm. Some of the girls went straight to bed but most of us stayed up around the camp fire and told scary real life stories. A few of my teammates have been sleeping outside by the fire. I however, will not be doing that. We heard the coyotes around 4am this morning in the near distance.

our tents

     I just can't wait to start working tomorrow! Dad told me to take it day by day. I'll soon acclimate and feel more comfortable living in the desert. It's great that we have the recreation room to use for storage, hangout and a kitchenette! We got a propane grill tonight too. I think we're trying to make quesadillas. 

     My Team Leader, Cydne praised me for my positive attitude and leadership role today. She encouraged me to become a team leader.

     I hear we're weeding around pools and planting cactus tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Deep, Desert Sands of Agua Caliente

Excerpt from Green 7 press release…

  A newly formed AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) team are serving in Anza Borrego Desert's Agua Caliente campgrounds, enhancing San Diego County's Department of Parks and Recreation by preserving the desert's mineral hot springs and natural and cultural resources. The team assist the community of Agua Caliente and it's surrounding campgrounds by increasing resources to maintain and enhance the quality of life that provides protection for the regionally important natural hot springs and the deep, desert sand lands of the Anza Borrego desert.

The team removes invasive vegetation around the mineral pools into which the Park's hot springs feed. The Corps Members duties also include brush, branch and dead tree removal, erosion control, cleaning drainage areas, installing horse corrals, realigning rocks and grading campgrounds sites around Agua Caliente. Furthermore, they have been removing mistletoe that suffocates Mesquite Trees in nearby Camp Vallencito. The team assists the community of Agua Caliente and it's surrounds campgrounds by increasing resources to maintain and enhance the quality of life that provides protection for the regionally important natural hot springs and the deep, desert sand lands of the Anza Borrego desert.

Lindsey Roland, a Corps Member, expresses her enthusiasm for Round One by saying, "I am excited to experience desert life, day in and day out for our six weeks in Anza Borrego. Also, I'm excited to learn about the various tasks it takes to run a park successfully and thirdly, I am most eager to see our team in action!"