March 18, 2010 - 8:13 AM
By the time you read this, I'll be on my way south for spring break. I'd estimate I'm somewhere around the Oregon/California border right now, wandering my way through the Redwoods and running along beaches somewhere.
The goal, of course, is the Sonoran Desert south of Tucson, Arizona. I'll be spending the week volunteering with No More Deaths, a humanitarian aid organization that works to end suffering and death of migrants on the US/Mexico border. I'll be spending spring break in a tent with six of my closest personal friends and surrounded by other volunteers beneath a beautiful Arizona sky. My days will be hiking caches of water onto migrant trails and providing emergency food rations and First Aid to anyone we encounter who needs the help. It will be beautiful, sometimes tragic, and always inspiring.
But today's task is the road trip. It's about the journey, not about the destination. Last year our group blasted down I-5, making killer time but feeling the soul-crushing monotony of the flat California highway eating away at our mental state. This year will be different. This year we're making the slower but much more beautiful trip down highway 101, the coastal route. We're talking huge trees, beautiful coastal vistas, high cliffs, and hopefully a few brief beach stops. It adds more than four hours to the drive, but it will be worth it. I love the ocean so dearly, but haven't spent time on the coast since the summer. I can hardly wait.
Other attractions of the coming journey include a night spent with my roommate Lesley's best friend from middle school, a night with roommate Devin's older sister, and a lunch with some Hindu nuns. That's right: we'll be stopping by to visit Lesley's aunt and to meet the nuns in Santa Barbara. I am so excited to meet them, and to see this place that Lesley talks about so often. I am, however, a bit concerned about what one wears to meet the nuns.
The other big event of the trip is a series of birthdays. My friend Olivia and I will both be turning twenty-two in the desert. Last year this included a round of happy birthday singing, plus a trip to the self-proclaimed "oldest continually operated bar in the American Southwest," in a little town named Arivaca. It was the perfect place to turn twenty-one. I think a double birthday of twenty-two should be just as fabulous.
I hope you're picking up on the general excitement of this trip, and the huge potential for photojournalism. Not only will I be taking pictures every chance I get, but I also borrowed a little video camera from the Annual Giving Program to document our trip. If all goes according to plan, the results will be hilarious, educational, heartbreaking, and entertaining.
I'll be absent from the blog for the next week and a half, since there's precious little electricity out in the middle of the desert, and no internet to be found. I'm pretty excited for the opportunity to get back to the basics of life: a tent, food, good friends, and a cause.
I can't wait to tell my stories when I get back. Wish me traveling mercies, as writer Anne Lamott would say: safe travels and a clear road.
You'll hear from me when I get back.