Friday, May 7, 2010


The good part about having gone through graduate school is the obligatory, soul-searching adventure that one must go on the summer after receiving one's degree! I am currently trying to plan some sort of an adventure with a fried of mine and it got me thinking about all the other adventures I have had the good fortune of going on.

In high school I spent each academic year working at the golf course and doing odd jobs in order to save up enough money so that I could go on a two week summer volunteer retreat with my youth group. The summer after 9th grade I went to Tijuana to work at a day care center in the city and make and distribute food to those people who were living in the local garbage dump- most significant experience in my entire life. The following summer I rode the train from California through Nevada and Utah to get to Denver, where we did some volunteer work, and then went to Colorado Springs for some relaxation and white water rafting. The next summer we spent a few weeks on the White River Apache Reservation in Arizona learning about Apache traditions and helping to build a community center. We also got to see the Grand Canyon and hike the Canyon de Chelly. The following summer I found myself in Juneau and then taking a small plane and then a boat to get to Sitka, Alaska where we helped to maintain a college campus and I ran through the woods like a speckled sprite! So many amazing memories!

While in high school I went on other trips too. I spent time in both Eugene and Portland, Oregon with my sister, hiked in Yosemite, went to Lake Tahoe and the surrounding areas for countless camping and ski trips with friends, and to Kansas City for a wedding. I took a road trip with my parents through Nevada and Idaho to get to a family reunion in Montana and then we explored Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Oh, and of course I spent several weekends running around Disneyland!

In college there were various road trips and bizarro adventures: a Route 66 cross-country drive with two of the loudest, craziest dudes I know (complete with a near death experience involving an overturned semi and icy roads); drives from the Bay Area to Arcata to hang out with friends; Fung Wah bus rides to Boston; a bus trip to Washington DC for the final exhibition of the AIDS quilt in its entirety and my one and only march on Washington to date; an epic Greyhound ride down to New Orleans, so I could hang out with friends, drink on the street, stay in a youth hostel, and rent a car to drive to Florida to get fake nails and eat a seafood supper; the foolhardy trip to Graceland for the 20th anniversary of Elvis's death that entailed our car/hotel being stolen and the four of us never actually getting to see the inside of Graceland because we were too busy drowning our sorrows in free alcohol at a casino in a nearby town!

After graduating from college I started teaching high school in the South Bronx and had the opportunity to spend the summer in North Carolina with a group of my students at the Outward Bound school. We went hiking, rock climbing, and white water rafting and wrote a lot of poems.

Two summers after graduating college I took the backpack-through-Europe trip of my dreams. I started in Barcelona with my best friend, and then we traveled to Madrid, Bilbao, and San Sebastian before we parted ways- her to meet up with her brother, and me to join my cousin in Switzerland where I windsurfed over the Alps and almost killed myself and a cute elderly couple when I was riding a bicycle a million miles an hour straight down a dusty, gravelly path. Then I went solo, took a train to Paris and spent a week not talking, napping in museums, writing in my journal, and eating bread with lots of butter. After that I found myself in Brussels for a few days before I headed off to Amsterdam. I had a friend who was house sitting in a small town outside the city, so I spent the last few days of my two month trip hanging out with him in a fully hooked up mansion surrounded by tulip fields.

After my Europe trip I went back to teaching, which meant I had winter breaks, spring breaks, mid-winter recesses and summers free for more exploring! On one such break I spent a ridiculous week at Club Med Cancun but luckily managed to escape for a day to go to Chichen Itza and climb the Pyramid of Kukulkan.

Somewhere in there I spent a weekend in Chicago with a friend who was interviewing for graduate schools. Later, I went to Philadelphia to visit that same friend when she was in graduate school. And later still made the trip to see her in Iowa City where she was actually teaching graduate students!

Once I took a ten day trip to Rome with a colleague. There were lots of cats.

My best friend from high school and I spent a week in Athens and then we met up with my parents and explored the surrounding areas for another week or so. Another time she and I rented a truck and took a road trip from NYC to Tennessee to whoop it up at Dollywood, a Dolly Parton themed amusement park. Perhaps I should say "the" because I can't imagine there ever being another one.

I spent a month one summer, supported by an NEH grant, studying Shakespeare in Ashland Oregon, drinking unprecedented amounts of Pinot Gris and singing songs about dead birds. For about a year after that I dated a guy who lived in Seattle and so I went to visit him in that fine city several times. We went on a road trip up to Vancouver.

I've been on short trips to various cities between NYC and Manchester, New Hampshire such as Cairo and Hyde Park in The Hudson Valley, and Cape Cod and North Hampton in Massachusetts.

Another time I went exploring Austria and Hungary with four fabulous friends. We drank a lot of wine. Ferf!

And one of those fine ladies even decided that she wanted to travel with me again. And Again! We spent two weeks touring China. We started in Beijing and walked The Great Wall, went to Xi'an and hung out with the Terra Cotta Warriors, ventured to gorgeousness that is Lhasa, Tibet, and then on to Chongqing for a cruise down the Yangtze River which brought us to Shanghai. After two weeks of eating the same four or five vegetarian options the tour provided me I was never so happy to eat Pizza Hut as I was in the hotel in Shanghai! I think it took us less than two minutes to eat an entire large pizza!

The following year that same lovely lady and I hiked the pristine mountains of Peru along the Lares Trek and explored Macchu Picchu. Apparently some sort of Peruvian bacteria was also on vacation that week, exploring my gastrointestinal tract. I have never been so sick in my entire life! But it was still an amazing trip.

Wow, that's a lot of adventures! No wonder I feel so old! But, I wouldn't trade a single one of them! So, I'm taking suggestions; anyone been anywhere they'd recommend?

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