Roadtrip, Travel and Adventure

Day 6: Denver

The morning proved to be a bit chilly, as thick clouds hung in the air and obscured the mountainous backdrop. I just barely managed to unwedge my golf clubs from my packed SUV. After emptying out half of the hundred golf balls I’d stuffed into my bag before leaving home, I hopped into the car with Coach Janet and we drove to Cherry Hills.

Driving up to the clubhouse, I was surprised to see how subtle, even quaint the setting seemed. There was nothing ostentatious about the outside of the building. Nothing to suggest that this was the setting of eight USGA events and two memorable PGA tournaments. But the brown brick walls of the clubhouse held more than just a pro shop: they held ninety years of tradition and class. Inside the main doors, rows of cases displayed tournament paraphernalia and detailed the battles that waged on the course over the years.

Our caddies met us on the driving range and we walked with them to the first tee. Nobody ahead of us or behind us. Just the quiet morning air adding to the thrill of playing such a special course.

We teed off from the whites. I’d been hitting my driver well, so I felt confident standing over the ball. I put it square in the middle of the fairway. It was a short par four, so I only had about 60 yards into the green. I pitched it on… and put it about 6 feet from the cup. The greens were cut and rolled twice; they were absolutely perfect. I knocked the ball into the cup for a birdie.

Now, if the rest of the round had gone that well, I would serious consider going pro. But after doubling the next two holes, I just settled down to enjoying the beautiful scenery and having a fun round with Janet.

After we finished, I met back up with Ten at the house. He had planned out a fun afternoon for us, beginning with a trip up to Red Rocks. Red Rocks amphitheater is this incredible, 10,000 seat auditorium that faces a stage where some of the greatest musicians have played. During the day it is used as a tourist attraction… and a fitness facility. People were running the steps, jumping up them, bear-crawling down them. It was nuts.

We explored the surrounding area a little, finding some amazing vistas overlooking the city. The sun was just setting as we headed off back down into the valley. At the base of Red Rocks, a little town called Morrison boasted a number of hippie/wilderness-y type shops. We spotted a rooftop café and camped out there for a few hours (we’re always looking for a good place to pick up internet these days).  The sun was setting as we packed up.

We concluded the day with a stop at IKEA. It never fails… IKEA can be just as much of an adventure as a hike through the wilderness!

Definitely enjoyed our time in Denver. Looking forward to our next stop: Colorado Springs.

Roadtrip, Travel and Adventure

A Long-Awaited Introduction

I promised a “bio blog” about Ten… and who better to write it than Ten himself? Here’s what he has to say:

I’m not a man of many words, but Debby is making me write this (probably to assure you, her readers, that she is not traveling across the United States with a psychopath). Where to start? Well, I’m a recent Wheaton graduate who is hoping to pursue a career in film. I’ve lived in six countries prior to America and my family is currently in Tanzania, although they are gearing up for a move to Switzerland in July. Thailand, Croatia, Kenya, Macedonia, Switzerland, Tanzania, and America are the places I’ve called home. Why have I lived all over the world? My father works for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) so I’ve had the privilege to travel with him as he constantly moves around the world. Seven countries in the past twenty-two years have given me some incredible experiences and memories and have taught me a lot of valuable lessons. Right now, I have no idea what the future will hold, but I’m super excited to see what lies around the corner. Debby and I have had some amazing adventures, and we aren’t even halfway there yet! Please, keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we head into the unknown and the next stretch of adventures. I’ll be posting from time to time if Debby will let me, but be on the lookout for video blogs made by yours truly!

As you can probably tell, that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Ten’s history. Our car rides have been filled with tales of his experiences abroad. He has an incredibly adaptive nature and has been a pleasure to have along for this trip. I’ll be writing an “Interview with Ten” blog here pretty soon. Feel free to send in any questions you have for him!

Roadtrip, Travel and Adventure

Day 5: Chimney Rock

The battle began at 10:00pm. Our perfectly pitched tent suddenly became the target of hurricane-like winds. I threw our bags into each of the four corners while Ten valiantly attempted to hammer the outside pegs deeper into the sand. The wind and sand seemed to get the upperhand.

“Ten!” I yelled from inside the tent. “Should we move up to the tree line?”

“Probably!” I heard him say through the tent walls. “But I think I’ve almost got this.”

“Almost” was a rather relative term. It took a good half an hour to secure our shelter. By then, the inside of the tent was coated in a layer of sand and a steady stream of it was pouring in through the screened-in sides.

Thankfully, we were so exhausted at that point, we were able to ignore the elements and fall right to sleep.

Another day dawned. The sun rose softly over the lake and the water was serene. We seized the opportunity to shoot the first of (hopefully) many video blogs. Ten is currently editing, but I should be able to post it soon!

Our day’s goal was to reach Denver by 6:30pm. We worked backwards from there, planning out the afternoon’s destinations.

“Okay, this might be kind of random, but what if we follow the Oregon Trail for a while?” I said, tracing the route on the map. A series of smaller highways followed the Trail north and west across Nebraska.

“Sounds great,” Ten responded immediately. After a moment’s pause, he asked, “Debby, what is the Oregon Trail?”

“Wait, what?!” I exclaimed, before reigning myself in and remembering he wasn’t from the States. “It’s the route the settlers took to get to the West coast. Gold rush and all that?”

Ten looked at the route. “What’s Chimney Rock?”

My mind jumped back a decade, to the elementary school days when I spent all my time in ‘Computer Skills’ class playing The Oregon Trail Game. “Do you want to visit Chimney Rock?” the game always asked. “It will cost you 50 food”. When I answered, “Yes”, a picture of the rock formation would appear.

And here I was, suddenly faced with that same option. Only replace “50 food” with “50 miles worth of gas”. There was not a doubt in my mind, though. “Let’s hit the road!” I told Ten.

We packed up and set off. Just a short ways down the road, a blue “Historical Marker” sign alerted us of an important landmark ahead. A large marker was situated just off the road, so I pulled over and we read that the rock ahead of us was known as “Frog’s Head”. Awesome. Two miles later, we found another marker. This time, it said a battle had taken place here. We quickly realized that there were a lot of Historical Markers. And we stopped at every single one.

We’re dedicated Oregon Trailers.

At last we turned off the main highway to get an up-close look at Chimney Rock. A small museum was just off to the side of the road. The ‘free admission’ sign convinced us to stop. A sweet old lady greeted us as we stepped into the room. She claimed to have been descended from several famous excursionists (and proceeded to tell us about each one). The museum was a hodge-podge of “old stuff”: arrowheads from Native Americans, wagon axles, old military uniforms, even an old printing press. Nothing was in cases, so as we toured the collection, the lady would pick up items and hand them to us. While we were there longer than we planned, it was neat to get such a tangible taste of the history of the area.

Minutes after we got back on the road, we caught sight of the Rock. It was not nearly as prominent as I thought it would be, rising only 300 ft or so. But it was a very distinctive feature on the flat plateau. The museum nearby provided a comprehensive history of the Oregon Trail. I’m happy to tell you that Ten can give a full description of it now!

The slight detour had taken us much further north than the Interstate. To get to Denver, we realized we would have to drive southwest, directly through the corner of Wyoming.

“How about we stop in Cheyenne for lunch?” I suggested to Ten.

We were not very successful at finding a “fun” lunch spot in Cheyenne. We settled for a little Mexican joint where Ten could watch the Euro 2012. I’ve got to admit, I’ve started to enjoy watching soccer on this trip. Just a little.

The last part of the day’s drive went by quickly. When we started hitting traffic, we knew we were getting back to civilization. The mountains were a truly blessed sight. The smoke, however, was not. We had heard the forest fires were bad, but seeing huge black clouds hovering over sections of the mountaintop was a whole different story. Please be praying for the people affected by those fires. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed during these past few weeks.

Thankfully, they did not interfere with our travels. We drove through downtown Denver, arriving on the south side at precisely 6:30pm. My golf coach from Wheaton, Janet Moore, had graciously offered us a place to stay the night. It was such a treat to see her and the rest of the Moore family! After a great dinner (and another round of Fro-Yo), we watched the NBA game. *Side note: While I have been a very supportive Oklahoma fan these past few weeks, I was pleased to find out the other day that Lebron is a big reader! Apparently he’s quit watching tv and now enjoys reading books before games. He just went up about 20 points, in my book.*

Off to bed early… My tee time at Cherry Hills is set for 8:03am!

Roadtrip, Travel and Adventure

Day 4: Ogallala

We needed to drive West. That was the only obligation for the day. It did not matter how far we drove, or where we ate dinner, or how many times we stopped along the way…

“Ten, do you realize how free we are right now?” I was almost beside myself with the pure joy of it. “In this very moment we have no restrictions. We are totally in charge of our destiny.”

I took a deep breath, relishing the thought. The next few moments brought a heavy realization, though. We were in the middle of Nowhere, Nebraska. It was a flat sea of bland brown and green stalks. What good was all this freedom, when you couldn’t use it to do anything exciting?

We pulled off to get gas at the next exit. Actually, it wasn’t even an exit. There was simply a gas station off to the side of the highway. We filled up, but couldn’t even go in for snacks because the handwritten sign on the door announced, “Electrical problems. Closed until further notice.”

Turning away from the door with a sigh, I spotted another informal sign across the parking lot. This one held slightly more promise than the previous- it read: “Dinosaur Museum” with an arrow pointing to the left.

Oh, yeah.

We drove down the gravel road, over a ridge, just out of sight from the highway. And there it was: The Nebraska Dinosaur Museum (and Mirror Maze). The girl at the front desk seemed surprised to see us. We paid for two entrance fees and set off to explore. We were not disappointed. Life-size replicas of T-Rex’s arched hungrily over the walkways. Pterodactyls flew overhead. And the mirror maze was quite thrilling.

Immensely satisfied with our adventure, we hopped back in the car. We were all warmed up for trouble now. Or food. Whichever came first.

“Ten, I’m starving.” He perused the Next Exit book, before answering, “Looks like this next exit has a Subway. How does that sound?”

“Perfect”. We drove into a small town, with signs boasting all sorts of historical landmarks. I looked at Ten, “Detour before or after lunch?” He shrugged and said he could wait a bit longer to eat, so I took the first left we came to. There ahead of us was an Old West Museum, set in front of a series of old settlement buildings. We parked behind the museum and examined the houses. One was an old church built in the 1830s; another featured a map of the Mormon Trail on one wall. While none of it was particularly impressive, what really struck me was how much history there was in these small towns. During the 1800s, these towns were part of the lifeline to the West. Nebraska was a hopping place!

We got back on the road after lunch, determined to make some good progress. But, woe is me, a few miles later I saw a sign boasting: “Ironwood Golf Course and Range”.

I managed to convince Ten to come hit balls with me, and we pulled into the course’s parking lot. The course was bone dry and the heat was intense. The man in the pro shop was friendly and admitted that they got a lot of people from out of town stopping by to hit balls as a break from the road. We pulled my clubs out of the car and toted them up to the driving range. I gave Ten a few pointers before he started to hit, but it probably wasn’t necessary. He started hitting like a pro!

The golf balls ran out at just the right time. Another minute and I think we both would have fainted from the heat. What the pro had failed to mention was that the thermometer was pushing 110 degrees! We went back inside for some ice water before loading the car back up.

And so the drive continued. We were hoping to find an interesting place to set up camp, but I wasn’t too hopeful. I figured three fun adventures in one day was pushing the limit.

Ogallala: 22 miles. The sign was posted by the side of the road. “Ten, are there any camp sites in Ogallala?”

He scanned the map. “It looks like there’s a few. Sounds good.”

We made it to town and crawled around the small streets. Everything catered to the town’s singular claim to fame: “Ogallala: a stop along the Oregon trail!” There was a Watering Hole gas station, a Trail’s End laundry shop, and a camping site called the Corral. We looked for something more “authentic” than fast food to eat for dinner… and found the Crystal Palace Saloon. We ate scrumptious bison burgers (feeling somewhat abashed by the giant bison head looming over our table) and eavesdropped on the local’s small-town gossip. I couldn’t help feeling like I was in a different world.

“We should probably try and get our campsite set up before it gets dark. And maybe pick up some water bottles at the grocery,” Ten said responsibly. I drove us over to the local market, grabbing a heap of firewood, as well. The lady at the counter looked at our purchases and exclaimed, “Are you going up to the lake tonight? Oh, I wish I could go. It’s such a nice evening.”

Ten and I looked at each other, our eyes both asking Lake?? I turned back to the cashier, “Oh yeah! We’re looking forward to it.” The moment we got outside I flipped out my phone. “There’s a lake?! Let’s go!”

The lake turned out to be twenty minutes north of town. And it was huge! People were hauling in their boats after a full day of water skiing. Only a few RVs were left along the shoreline; bonfires were just beginning to pop up next to them. We self-registered at the entrance to the park and drove down, right onto the beach. We found a completely undisturbed area and quickly began setting up camp. Fifteen minutes later, we plopped down in the soft, white sand next to our campfire. The stars began to appear one by one and the waves rustled up against the shore.

Freedom. Peace. Happiness.

It’s always an adventure. Next stop: Denver!

Roadtrip, Travel and Adventure

Day 3: Omaha

We expected the flatness. Long, empty stretches of highway lined with cornstalks and soybeans. The sun climbed higher into the sky as we trailed across Iowa. And it was very flat.

I looked over at Ten. “Is there any place to stop along the way today?” He was the official navigator for this trip, after all. Ten checked my iPhone’s map, but quickly set it aside. The GPS has been loading slower and slower the further we get from “real civilization”. Next, he pulled out the AAA map of Iowa. No luck there, either. Nothing looked remotely interesting (or unique. We passed cities called “Oakland”, “Dallas”, and even “Brooklyn”!)

I wasn’t ready to give up, yet. Opening the middle console in the car, I pulled out a book entitled “Next Exit” (an awesome gift from Rodger and Peggy Hall in Indiana). It lists all the upcoming exits and the restaurants/gas stations/attractions located at each. Ten got the hang of finding the right roadway, and started reading off all the exits we would encounter for the next hundred or so miles. I was about to take the book away from him, when suddenly he exclaimed, “Pella!”

Pella? I thought, my mind immediately leaping into archaeology mode. That’s an ancient city located in modern day Jordan; it was one of the Roman Decapolis cities.

Did I mention that there is nothing unique about the names of the cities in Iowa?

Ten quickly erased all thoughts of Romans from my mind. “My old English professor, Dr. Ryken, used to talk about Pella, Iowa all the time. He had this whole spiel on “small-town America”. I must have heard it three or four times. There’s a really good bakery there!”

Tell me no more! We got off at the Pella exit, blatantly ignoring the fact that the sign said it was 35 miles out of our way. As soon as we got off of the highway, the landscape changed drastically. Instead of gliding across a bland plateau, we began rolling through the countryside. Barns sat atop hills in the distance, reminding me of scenery you might see on the face of a jigsaw puzzle. The forty-minute drive flew by. We knew we were in Pella the moment we topped a ridge… and caught sight of a giant windmill. Not a windmill you might see in the hills of California or the plains of Indiana. We’re talking old-school, Dutch windmill. And it was huge! Turns out, Pella is one of the original Dutch colonies in the States. The town square spanned a block in each direction. The central park area boasted of an annual “Tulip Festival”. We slowly drove around the square, giggling over the funny names of the shops (let me rephrase: I was giggling. Ten was rolling his eyes at my giggling). We found the bread shop, “Jaarsma”, and got out of the car. It was only then we noted the large “Closed” sign hanging from the front door. Between our excitement over having arrived in this quaint town, we had both failed to notice that there was not a soul in sight. Apparently, Sunday’s are taken seriously in Pella:everythingwas closed!

While we lamented the loss of our bakery prospects, we were still able to amuse ourselves by taking pictures with all the windmills that decorated the town. Instead of driving back the way we came, we took a smaller highway west that eventually meandered back to I-80. The scenery itself was worth the day’s detour. We reached Omaha by dinnertime and enjoyed a delicious meal with old friends, Dawn and Kevin. Dawn lived with my family in Florida when I was five-years-old. I’d only seen her once in the following 17 years! It was such a treat to catch up with her and her husband. They also introduced us to a new fro-yo shop: Orange Leaf (the Brownie Batter yogurt topped anything I’d ever had at my favorite Chicago shop, Yogli Mogli). I also appreciated the chance to watch the NBA game with true basketball fans.

Another day of travel complete. Next stop: Somewhere in western Nebraska…

Roadtrip, Travel and Adventure

Day 2: Cedar Rapids

“Hey what’s that sign say?” I asked Ten, pointing to the brown sign by the road.

He squinted as it rapidly approached and answered, “Birthplace of Ronald Reagan”.

“Awesome. Wanna go?” I said, making the decision for us as I pulled off the highway at that very exit. We’d been driving a little over an hour and were definitely still in Illinois. Spontaneous side road trips… commence!

We got to a stoplight and turned in the direction that the sign had indicated. Moments later, we encountered another roadside announcement: “Birthplace of Ronald Reagan: 14 miles”.

“14 miles??!” I exclaimed. I looked at Ten. “Is it worth it?”

Ten raised an eyebrow. “Whatever you want to do, Deb.”

He is way too easy to get along with. This will only prove to encourage my spontaneity. Which is definitely going to get us into trouble one of these days…

But today was not that day. I flipped a u-ey and got right back onto I-80 W.

Our day’s destination was Cedar Rapids. Ten and I had packed up my car early in the morning, then gone to breakfast with my parents. They were happy to get a chance to know Ten a bit (the word “interrogation” might be closer to what the conversation sounded like), and we were thrilled to get one last free breakfast (especially at our favorite spot, Egglectic).

Cedar Rapids was only four hours from Chicago. So, instead of attempting another harebrained adventure in western Illinois, I drove until we got hungry for lunch. I dragged Ten into Buffalo Wild Wings in order to watch a few minutes of the U.S. Open. He went rather willingly, saying something about wanting to watch the Euro 2012, whatever that is…

If his name alone doesn’t throw you for a loop, Ten’s story will. I don’t want to give too much away yet, because I plan on writing a full “bio blog” for him soon, but he’s originally from Thailand and has lived in six other countries since then. He has an amazing ability to adapt to any environment/culture that he is around. He’s also got plenty of good stories to share on these long car rides! I’ll be sure to share some of them with you soon.

Needless to say, we made it to Cedar Rapids. My good friend, Chris Johnson, lives in the area and graciously offered us a place to crash for the night. Chris and I went to the same church back in Santa Cruz, California, so we’ve been friends since high school. We told him we were up for anything, so he suggested we drive out to a place that he claimed “would make you forget you were in the middle of Iowa”. My skepticism was quickly dispelled by the park where he took us. A cloudy river meandered through the woods, hedged in by bluffs on both sides. Our hike was cut short, though, as a wedding party started making it’s way down the slope!

As we headed back to town, I still only had one thing on my mind: the golf tournament. I asked Chris if there were any fun, local places that might have the Open on. He laughed and pointed to a sign just up the road. The old, wooden banner advertised a restaurant called “The Irish Democrat”. We pulled into the lot just as it started to rain. The place was rather dark inside, but full of people (let me rephrase: it was full of old people. Apparently, everybody in town who categorized themselves as “Irish” or a “Democrat” was over the age of 65). The food was delicious, though. The specialty was a burger made with egg, bacon, and peanut butter. Yumm…

We finished out the evening with a board game back at Chris’ apartment, followed by an episode of “Sherlock” (a made-for-tv miniseries that is fantastic). After a good night’s sleep, Ten and I tagged along with Chris to church in the morning. All too soon it was time to say good-bye and hit the road again! Next stop… Omaha, Nebraska.

Roadtrip, Travel and Adventure

Day 1: Chicago

Just like every epic novel needs a good prologue to set the tone, my great California road trip deserved an introductory leg. And today was the day for it.

My friend (and official copilot/navigator), Ten, has been living in Wheaton for the last month. Instead of making him come all the way down to Indianapolis to start our journey, I thought it would be beneficial to make one last gander through Chicago. I was glad to have an excuse to see my grandparents and aunt and uncle one last time, and my folks offered to caravan up to the city. I was eager to spend a few more hours with my family, but there was also another reason I wanted to start in Chicago.

I had never been to Wrigley. In my four years living in Wheaton, I had never managed to make it out to see the Cubs play. For most of the town, the Cubbies are not only well-loved, they are iconic. To my family, however, all they symbolize is the epitome of poor baseball. My dad griped the whole drive, comparing Wrigley Field to the Bedouin camps we saw in the deserts of Jordan. But I was determined.

And it turned out to be a fantastic day. The Cubs played the Red Sox. The Red Sox called up Daniel Nava, a good family friend, a few weeks back. We got amazing seats behind home plate, the sun was bright but not too hot, and the stadium exuded everything “classic” about baseball (“It doesn’t smell nearly as bad as it used to,” my dad admitted by the end of the game).

After a fun dinner with Nava’s, my aunt and uncle, and some other family friends, I retreated to my grandparents house for a good night’s sleep before hitting the road in the morning. My Ford is loaded up with all of my most essential belongings. And the future awaits…


Roadtrip, Travel and Adventure

Yellowstone (Lake)

“Chicken dinner!” I yelled, pointing out the car window. Black letters had been painted onto the big white sign in a neat hand:  ‘Chicken Dinner, September 17, 3:30-10:00’.

“What day is today?” I asked, to no one in particular. As I scrounged around the floor of the car looking for my phone, someone in the backseat answered, “The seventeenth! Let’s go!”

Immediately, Derek spun the car around on the dinky country road. We turned at the sign and found a large picnic set up in the middle of a cleared field. Kids were running around and attempting to play cornhole. We pulled into the grass lot and a lady huffed up to our car, “You need to park down there by the barn, if you’re gonna stay for dinner.”

“Oh, thank you, ma’am,” Derek answered politely. “We just saw the sign for the Chicken dinner and wondered what was going on.”

“Well if you want a chicken to-go, it’ll be $14. The money goes to support the Community Children’s Association. They’re’ll be some live music later tonight.”

We held a quick conference in the car. It was determined rather quickly that the price was a bit much and the smell of fried chicken was going to be rather too pervasive if we kept it in the car for the rest of the trip. Derek thanked the woman and drove back to the road.

We were heading up to Plateville, Wisconsin, home to the Platteville Pioneers.  The Wheaton Thunder were playing their second non-conference game of the year that night, and we had decided to make a little roadtrip out of it. Derek had offered to drive and  brought his friend Paul along, while I recruited my roommate Lauren. Jessie was added last-minute, but was a perfect addition to the group.

Derek had found an awesome campsite on a lake (ironically called ‘Yellowstone Lake’) about 20 minutes from the college campus. Our trunk was full of sleeping bags, hammocks, a tent, and s’more supplies. I had made a whole bunch of pb&j sandwiches in the cafeteria that morning and packed them up along with some apples and trailmix.

We found Lake Yellowstone early in the afternoon. The site was packed for the weekend and we were lucky to have a spot reserved. We set up the tent on a flat piece of ground amidst the trees. A picnic bench was situated near the fire pit and we enjoyed our very ‘campy’ meal of sandwiches and apples. I was determined to make s’mores when we returned from the football game, so we scoured the surrounding woods for twigs and kindling. Time was running short, so we grabbed extra sweatshirts and hustled back to the car.

The school was only twenty minutes away, but in our excitement to get there, we lost track of our speed. The long, flat country roads went by so slowly, that we were stunned when the flashing red and blue lights appeared behind us and the cop stared Derek down, saying, “Did you know you were going 82 mph?”


Not a car on the road, not a soul in sight. Apparently, these cops are really worried about all the cows we might hit.

We finally made it to the football game. The bright lights stood out against the pitch black sky. The stadium could seat 10,000 people (almost more than the population of the town). It was an impressive sight to behold.

“Derek, which player should I cheer for?” Jessie asked. Derek was on the football team the last few years and knew the guys well.

“You cheer for Garrett,” Derek replied.

“Who’s that?” Jessie asked.

Lauren and I answered together, “He’s the quarterback!”

We all laughed. Jessie was an enthusiastic fan, but did not quite have the ‘Wheaton football expertise’ that Lauren and I had developed during our college years.

Lauren asked who she should root for tonight.

“Umm… you’ve got Micah. And Debby, you’ve got Colby.”

We joined the Wheaton crowd and cheered as Scott kicked a long field goal to put 3 points on the board. We were down already, at the close of the first quarter. At the end of the first half, the Thunder were still down, but our defense hadn’t let Platteville pull ahead. The second half was when we made our comeback. Garrett, our quarterback, threw some impressive passes (one in which he lost his shoe to an opponent) and our defense stopped the Pioneers with a force like a brick wall.

I joined Mr. Chapman (the dad of Thunder middle linebacker and my good friend, Jordan) at the bottom of the stands. He can never sit still during a game; he beats out a track along the sideline with all his pacing.

The victory was satisfying: 23-14. All the boys that Derek told us to root for played very well (because we were cheering for them, I’m sure!). We went down on the field after the game and congratulated our friends on a good win… And teased them about how they had a four-hour drive home, while we were going to have a camping adventure!

As soon as we got back to camp, we started the fire. Or, at least, we attempted to start the fire. The tinder was damp and none of us had gone the Boy Scout route growing up. We managed to get enough of a fire to roast a coupla marshmallows, but the darkness soon swallowed up the embers. Slowly, everyone drifted off to bed. Lauren crashed early because she’d had a long work shift the night before. Paul crawled into his cocoon hammock. Jessie, Derek, and I talked for a while, but soon started to nod off. The tent was small, but we all stretched out in our mummy sleeping bags and fell asleep. The rain came around midnight and maintained a steady drumming on our tent until early morning. I woke up early, but Paul had risen with the dawn. We let the others sleep, while we packed up. The rain started up again, so Paul and I hopped in the car and talked about books and the philosophical ideas that they raised. It was the perfect, restful Sunday morning. We managed to wake the others up and pack the wet tent. The drive home was rather uneventful. I snagged Derek’s camera and took pictures of old barns we passed along the highway. Nobody managed to do any of their homework, even though we all had that weighing on our minds. Instead, we had a meaningful conversation about our love lives (well, our common lack thereof).

This is what Senior year is all about.