Tuesday, January 31, 2012

something real

 "Travel compels you to discover your spiritual side by simple elimination: Without all the rituals, routines, and possessions that give your life meaning at home, you're forced to look for meaning within yourself...this spiritual process is not always free of care.  Indeed, if travel is a process that helps you "find yourself," it's because it leaves you with nothing to hide behind--it yanks you our from the realm of rehearsed responses and dull comforts, and forces you into the present.  Here, in the fleeting moment, you are left to improvise, to come to terms with your raw, true self." -Rolf Potts

When I came across this quote last week, it instantly reminded me of a road trip I took in 2007 called Teens' Camping Tour of the West, Inc. (TCTW).  To give a little bit of background on this experience, it was a traveling experience for about a month of my summer when I was 17.  We departed from Davidson College in North Carolina in three vans, and all I took with me was a sleeping bag, a duffle bag, and a back pack.  (For those who know me, this is a BIG deal for this girly-girl).  Among my possessions were NOT a cell-phone, iPod, or any other type of electronic device besides a camera.  My way of communicating with my family involved pay phones at gas stations, post cards, and a display iPhone in the Apple store in Chicago.  For a girl who talks to her mom 13 times a day, this was a real leap of faith.

We saw 23 states and did amazing feats like go to the top of the St. Louis Arch, hike the great sand dunes in Colorado AND the Grand Canyon, raft ride at the Grand Tetons, play in Disneyland, and went to a rodeo in Cody, Wyoming.  This was such an eye-opening experience for me to see more of our incredible country in one summer than most people see in their lifetime.  I have been forever changed from this experience, and I credit TCTW for instilling a hunger in me to learn more about the world and how I fit into it.

Group at the top of the Great Sand Dunes, Colorado
We arrived at the Grand Canyon in the middle of the night and slept at this tourist overlook.  Our first view of the canyon was from our sleeping bags at sunrise right on the brim of the canyon.  I can't even explain the sense of wonder I felt.
The view of the canyon in the morning before we started the hike.
The group together before we started the hike.  We all finished at different times.  I took a particularly long time for me considering my feet were bleeding from blisters 3 miles in to the 12 mile hike.  I also have problems fainting in extreme heat, and it was over 125 degrees F...Needless to say this was an accomplishment of a lifetime that I intend on doing again someday.  I was sobbing when I came out of the canyon from happiness and pride.
This is a stop at Indian Gardens inside the canyon.  We stopped here to rest in the shade before heading out to Plateau Point (quite literally a desert tundra).
Genny and I pretended to fall into the canyon..
A picture with one of my favorite people in the world in my favorite city in the world.  We did not spend nearly enough time in San Francisco, so another visit is on my to-do list.
Before the "Honey I Shrunk The Audience" 4-D show in Disneyland
The Director of the trip, Doug Gill, with me at a waterfall in Yellowstone.  I remember just before this picture he asked, "What is it about waterfalls that makes people love them so much?"  I still wonder..
The group singing a "campfire song" once we returned to Davidson after our month of adventures.
The last time all of us were ever together in front of one of our beloved vans.
This is just a brief glimpse of my month out west.  The TCTW program plans various surprises throughout the trip to teach something new.  From letters in Shoshone to a sip of wine on the Pacific coast, to sitting in the chapel of transformation to staying in Disneyland until closing..this trip created such incredible life moments for me.  I'm sure I'll be doing more posts in detail in the future.  TCTW is a huge part of my life still, even if I'm not physically out frolicking across the country.

"I'm lookin' for something I can really sink my teeth into
Something that shakes my soul and makes me really feel
Yeah what I'm lookin' for
All I want anymore
Is something deep, something ancient, something righteous
Something real"
-Steve Seskin, Something Real

Thursday, January 5, 2012

sweet like sugar

The past four days have been a wonderful whirlwind of a trip to New Orleans to see the Hokies take on Michigan in the Sugar Bowl.  Before I share my thoughts about the game (and we all know that there is plenty to say there..) let me recap my time in this fabulous city:

first night on bourbon street with the boys

lunch at riverfront restaurant on decatur street

with the family in jackson square

fan fest with my roomie 

with the joan of arc statue

loved all the little details of the city..like this quote painted in a store window

hand grenades on bourbon street before the game

mom and me with our game faces on...hokie colored masks
We really could not have asked for a more fun destination for a bowl game.  All of the locals were super welcoming, and the Michigan fans were also very friendly.  As it was my first visit to N'awlins, I was sure to embrace the excess of mardi gras beads and masquerade masks, toasts with tangy cocktails in souvenir glasses, being covered in powdered sugar from Cafe Du Monde's beignets, and a horse and buggy tour around the French quarter.  I simply did not want to leave. 

Now, for the outcome of the actual game... As one of my friends said, "the best team can't always win."  While there were a number of plays that led to our fight for the win in overtime, I truly believe in my heart that Danny Coale's catch was a touchdown.  In spite of whatever  ruling the refs called, Danny deserves credit for his incredible athleticism and natural presence on the field.  I mean, how many other players could have made a catch like that??  He has carried himself with class and grace while showing everyone he is a damn good ball player too.  I am proud to call him a Hokie and a member of the Class of 2012.

I don't know what exactly it is that strikes a chord with me when it comes to Virginia Tech, especially Tech football.  I attribute part of my heart-wrenching dedication to my being raised coming to games and standing by the team, win or lose.  It could also be that my time as a Tech student has connected me to something much bigger than myself.  I love college football, as opposed to the professional league, because it isn't so much about the money as it is about the sheer talent, athleticism, and spirit of universities.  It brings colleges together on a national platform and allows us to share different experiences against similar rivals or conferences or bowl games.  Having mutual respect and sportsmanship towards the opposing team often overshadows competitiveness, which was definitely the case with the Michigan fans; they were so easy to get along with!

I think this loss is more heartbreaking than our loss to Clemson or our loss to Stanford in the Orange Bowl last year.  We weren't outplayed this game.  We earned the title.  A quote from an article on The Key Play blog sums up my feelings pretty well:

"This team won 11 games. The seniors have never lost to Virginia. They've won 3 ACC Championships. We'll be pleasantly reminded of that in Lane until we're too old, too fat, too dead to go to games... I love this team. I love that they finished strong. I love that they contended. I loved that they did more than was expected. I love that the core will be back next year. I love that they broke my heart.  I do. Really. The day I don't care, is the day I'm not a Hokie. That day was not today."
For more insight on the outcome of The Sugar Bowl, check out football player Collin Carroll's article

V. P., old V. P., You know our hearts are with you,

In our luck which never seems to die;
Win or lose we'll greet you with a glad returning,
You're the pride of V. P. I.