Monday, September 24, 2012

Friday/ Saturday, going back home....

Friday was our last opportunity to go hiking. we went to see the Double O Arch...
On this trip we really started to discuss what were our favorite moments, we took last pictures and were able to share last moments in National Park together.

We all became great friends, and I think that this helped us also learn communication and learn about our differences. The diversity that we were exposed to every day has thought of how to be more sensitive to our needs and how to be a team player..

I truly appreciate and I am amazed with what our Professor Judy Broookhiser did for us to get such an unforgettable experience. Our program has really a Professor who invests in us and cares to give us as much opportunity to get 'hands on' experience as we can. This really inspires me to invest in others more and help others...

After we cam back from the hike, we headed back home.

Good bye National Parks... and we all hope we will come back there soon!!!!

Last thoughts from the trip... just take every possible opportunity that comes across, because you will never regret and forget moment you got to experience!

Bye Colorful Colorado and Breathtaking Utah!

Thursday, Arches National Park

 The Arches....

On the Thursday morning we left to go to the Arches National Park. The trip was short, but all of us were looking forward to see this beautiful place. Branden was telling us how magnificent that place is, and I was really looking forward to be there. Once we entered the place I was very amazed. The beautiful rock formations, with harshly hot days and cold nights.
Every day brought us something new, not only new landscapes but more and more happiness and surprises. Every minute was different on this trip, and each of those minutes we spend with each other..sharing happiness together in beautiful places :) I felt truly happy... I do not think I was happy like that in a long time... This trip helped me to see the beauty of the world and appreciate it more.

We went on a hike to one of the most popular photographic destinations for photographers... A lot of people have seen this popular Delicate Arch on pictures at some point, but I was privileged enough to stand there and look at it, touch it and just BE there. Growing up,I have never anticipated that I will travel to see places like that My life has become so wonderful....I am lucky, blessed in so many ways...but this comes from being ready to take on challenges and be tougher than hard situations... I think that for young, college students, experiences like traveling give us an opportunity to open our eyes and see possibilities and realize that only sky is the limit....

After hiking we went to Mohab for dinner and to enjoy the local culture... it was just one great experience, and we started feeling this bitter-sweet feeling..we were  going back home next day. But forgetting about going back home, we still had time to go to an interpretative program of the Park Ranger. It was very interesting to find out more about wildlife o the park that we do not get to see there...but it might be much better not to see those scary animals and other 'kissing' bugs :)

Arches National Park helped me realize that there is so much beauty in this world and we do not take enough time to go and discover it. We do not take enough time to walk on this 'wild side' and be a little more spontaneous to not worry about anything and go discover the beauty of different places... travel, and enjoy moments spend with friends in the wilderness.. Not working only in a closed environment in an office setting, but be in the world capturing every moment we can to enrich our life..

Last evening in the National Park was very entertaining, when we all could share our favorite moments from the trip...What was mine? For me it was still exploring the Canyonlands National Park....;)

Come on'....just look where we were at!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wednesday, September 4th 2012

Day at Canyonlands!

Today we headed out to Canyonlands National Park. Edward Abbey said about that place:

“….. The least inhabited, least inhibited, least developed, least improved, least civilized…. Most arid, most hostile, most lonesome, most grim bleak barren desolate, and savage quarter of the state of Utah- the best part by far.”

And he was right,  this is one of most breathtaking places I have ever been to. Canyons all around.. You can feel this peaceful spirit there. You can hear the silence of simplicity, every foot step people make, every beard singing, light wind... every little piece of nature adds some beauty to create this wonderful and unforgettable picture.

On the way to Canyonlands we came up with a nick name for this place, which was 'Candy Islands'..once we got there, I realized  that even though candy does not grow there, this place is like a one big 'candy island' for us. We had a lot of fun hiking on those rocks, challenging ourselves and trying to climb at the very top of each of them.

Of course guys had to climb on all of the NP signs ; ) 

In Canyonlands we met with really great park rangers, who again talked about their life's and again told us some serious as well as funny stories from their work experience.
One of those rangers saw a serious crime, he caught a wild animal sitting in a drivers seat eating chips... haha, I am sure this job never gets old :)
But you really have to have passion to do this job, and the rangers looked like they had lots of fun there. They have a personal connection with that place, and so do I now. I think that was my favorite highlight of the trip... beautiful - Canyonlands.

Our campsite was really great. It was in the canyon surrounded by beautiful rock formation. We ate dinner, and I just thought how luck we are just to seat here, and look around and eat in an amazing place like that! I mean.. how often do we get to eat dinner surrounded with landscapes like that?

Our Campsite... isn't that just beautiful?!

That is where we eat dinner, where do you eat it? ;)

That evening also my friend and I were seating on top of rocks and we were talking about how did life looked there back years ago. How did people describe this place, what had meaning for them? What did people talk about years back? After talking in the dark for awhile, we noticed something really strange on the sky. Bright red light was slowly coming out above the horizontal line.. it was unbelievable... the red color miss led us , because it was moon hat was trying slowly to show up on the sky. Unforgettable memory... memories shared with friends are the most valuable for me!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tuesday September 4th, 2012 Mesa Verde NP

Another sunrise on our trip..this time it was sun rise at Mesa Verde NP. What a great day!

We started the day with eating breakfast with our proud friend, who became a Junior Ranger yesterday (feel free to congratulate him, it is quiet an accomplishment for college student to become a Junior Ranger :) )He was very happy about that!
We had a very busy day planned, so ranger Casey recommended us to get a good breakfast... so we did, pancakes!

That day, besides soaking up information about 1000 years ago, we had an opportunity to go for a hike.This hike was a great experience for us to get out in the wilderness and enjoy the beauty of creation that was surrounding us...

Brandon always said: 'Would you just look at it...?!'  yeah...just stop and look at it, and see how wonderful this place is...

 This trip has helped me to really stop and 'look at it'. Slow down, and find the real joy in life... Is this the technology? is this the fast life style and it's speed? is this money we have? no... for me it is the beauty around, the joy of simple lifestyle...the landscapes, the unforgettable moments of the unexpected wilderness.. the sunsets, the sunrises... the moments shared with friends :)

Would you just look at it....?

Monday, September 3rd Great Sand Dunes NP & Mesa Verde NP

Monday was a busy day for us. In the morning we met Ranger Katherine Faz, Acting Division Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services and  Educational Technician from Great Sand Dunes NP to talk about her job and her work dynamics.. It was a very interesting experience to hear from a ranger about different aspects of her work. It is very interesting how rangers become rangers, how powerful in employment process is volunteering and how big influence social and communication skills are to perform the job successfully. Katherine Faz told us a lot about her way to this job, and it probably made us all wonder if we would like to have similar job? Being a ranger requires a lot of traveling, moving from place to place, being ready to change environment/ friends. It has a lot of advantages,  because you can see new places, meet new people...but if you do not like changes, then you might not adjust to the job very easily. Even though rangers work in one of the most beautiful places in the world, personally I would not like to become one because of lack of patience to answer the same questions over and over again... and I think I would not enjoy wearing the same clothes everyday :)

After morning with Ranger Katherine, we left for Mesa Verde NP. The way there was great! Again those landscapes make the trip thousand times more attractive. We had more time to bond with our group and just enjoy time spend together. It is very hard to believe how well we all got along together.

After getting to the National Park, we set up our was unbelievable where we stayed at. We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner surrounded by amazing and beautiful mountains, where every sunset added a new spark, and every sunrise was an unforgettable one.... I am just speechless.

In the evening we had an opportunity to go to an interpretation Park Ranger Program. It was a very memorable moment.. We had one of most charismatic rangers talking about stars... Well, stars that we could barely see :) The clouds were covering most of the stars... but our very professional interpreter helped us to get the most out of our experience anyways.

The evening was followed by coming back to our campground.. where we were very afraid of bears. Bear warnings were everywhere! I guess Yogi Bear is real and he must really love getting into other people' food :)
Personally, I was afraid of those bears, but on the other side it would be kind of fun to see one... from a distance ;)

That's where we are at, where are you? :)

                         Brandon says good night!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sunday, September 2nd Great Sand Dunes National Park

Because all of a sudden we were not in Kansas anymore,
we all together entered Colorful Colorado.

So which direction are we supposed to go guys?!

Going to Colorado has always been my dream, and I was there sharing this experience with my new friends. I felt like a child getting a candy. And that was only the beginning of that wonderful adventure. The sign also said the truth Colorado is very Colorful. Driving through valleys and mountains of Colorado made me feel like home. Finally, on a higher elevation, scenic view landscapes out the window. Unbelievable feeling. What else could we ask for? Writing this blog, I am just speechless, because there are really no words to describe beauty of this place and landscapes. I can just say, that those pictures will be forever in my memory and I do not even think that anything could take them away from us....

In the afternoon we finally made it to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. It was unbelievable how beautiful this place is. Incredible landscapes of moving sand dunes, that weather conditions, time of the day, temperature or season would change how they look like. To be honest, I felt there super small... huge mass of sand around and compare to them we looked like tiny ants.
We decided to climb those dunes and climb the highest one. You would think that it is easy, but quickly we had realized that climbing something with moving surface is a challenge. After an hour we were standing on the top of dunes, and it was a wonderful feeling! Feeling of a great accomplishment ... feeling small watching this unbelievable sand box. Climbing dunes we were able to meet other people and talk to them and encourage each other not to give up, but climb. Random/ unknown people but we had something in common.. the same goal. To reach the top!

We finished our day with a campfire...and went to sleep!
The day was amazing!

I encourage you to read next post to see what has happened next... :)

Traveling September 1st, Saturday

We left Murray on Saturday September 1st. We had a group of people who did not really know each other. Among nine students who went, we had two international students. DaaHee from South Korea, and me, Polish girl. All diversities in our group made the journey much more fun and entertaining.
On Saturday night we stopped in a motel in Dodge City, Kansas,  where we stayed one night to get ready for Sunday. We could feel this 'Wild West' spirit in this city. People say, that this is the point where true wild west begins, and they are right about that.

At the evening we went to a Mexican restaurant to get dinner, which was the real beginning of our group bonding process.
Our super fun waitress made our experience in Dodge City even more fun!

After great dinner, we played cards... oh boy!
 There was a lot to loose in this game :)
We decided to play poker.....using skittles, which made our game much more entertaining. Nobody wanted to loose skittles, so we all were focused on winning and serious competition.

After long game, DaaHee won... Korea's Victory :) I think it was all because of his serious Poker face :)

This experience, playing together, really helped us to get to know each other and become much better friends. This bonding experience has started an amazing journey... Journey to the first National Park- The Great Sand Dunes.