Leaving and Gearing up for The Adventure of Your Life

aka My Last 2 Weeks at Home

**This was written before I left home for 6 months to Senegal, in West Africa. Before I go into the returning home musings I though I’d share something from before I left for some context**

Finally being home after a summer of camp counseling is draining. Though I finally have some time to rest and be alone, I’m criss-crossing the city on my bike (Surley Long Haul trucker to be specific, this bike is the love of my life) trying to see friends and reconnect with them from the summer but also start to say goodbyes. Before every “Goodbye” looking in the top right corner of my watch to see the date and count my days left in the Twin Cities area. As I got more and more trips in on my bike I felt so proud to own the streets on my bike. Last summer I put in 1000ish miles from Seattle to San Francisco bicycle touring with a friend and this summer had some serious road withdrawal. I wasn’t expecting or realizing it until I could be mobile these past weeks in the city, but I love riding to see friends all over and getting some outside time while traveling, making use of a transition. I also realized how important it is to take a step back and enjoy yourself in a quiet place with your journal to reflect, while I’m trying to do all the last minute things I just need to remember that it’s going to be great no matter what.

I’ll be gone six months so I’m really gearing up for the long haul, and have a random assortment of needs and requirements for the clothes I will be fitting into my Mountainsmith 45L pack. I fussed a lot over the pack and it’s viabilities on the trail but also in rugged travel settings. I looked at reviews between teaching activities at camp and finally decided which one I wanted. I sent it to my house. Had a friend pick it up at my house. Then had her call me so she could inspect the pack for me since I wanted to save on shipping. I love this friend dearly and would trust her with my life, so I wanted her honest opinion. She sent pictures and videos, but I was so skeptical of the simplicity of the design, it was almost too good to be true. I decide its the one I want and will be taking it with me for the next six months.

I am heading to Senegal, that’s West Africa. I will be starting off with a Gap Year program called West Africa Semester: Stories of Africa given by a very rad organization called Where There Be Dragons based out of Colorado, with programs all over the globe. So that’s the first three months, then I will stay in Senegal volunteering for 3 month afterwards. I still haven’t really figured out where or what I will be doing the second half of my voyage, and am hoping to encounter a very cool NGO or artist mentor or outdoor org. I’m really unsure about what it will be like to find something like that there, because I don’t have any idea of how it will be.

I’m really excited to go there without much previous knowledge and just go see it and hear it, feel it and smell it. Though I have so many books to read still on my list before I go. I think the thing about leaving in days that slowly dwindle to only the numbers you count on one hand, is that you know you can’t finish everything on your list. It’s just not possible, at every moment when you think of a new thing, it goes on the list. This is how you try an maintain stability in the soon every changing environment.

I think it’s the fact that leaving is synonymous to college but I’m not going to college makes it somehow more sentimental. It’s like a longer six month voyage in which I will not come home, the last time I did this long term was a semester school. I spent the best four and a half months of my life consecutively there in 2013. That was only for one semester, now I’m tacking on an extra 2 months, so it seems like a more looming concept.

I have been thinking a lot about seasons and how I will miss them, in Senegal I will get to see the dry season and the beginning/middle of the rainy season. I have been lamenting that I will miss a peak weak, fall colors, and magical first snows. Though I know I will have many more, it’s still a bit melancholy. I think the big thing especially for me is not being able to ski, I love skiing and ski instructing at my local hill (that doubles as a golf course, in MN we have to take what we can get) and I love the adventures we can have in the city with hundreds of kids each day. I love the way we can be braving the elements of ice and wind in the city, with kids from ages 5 to 16. Of course by then most kids are using our hill, Mount Como, as a springboard for local hills like Afton Alps (owned by Vail…), Welch Village, Buck Hill, or Hyland Hills, and don’t really need lessons anymore. I’m getting winter withdrawal before it even comes. It’s just going to be different cause I can’t ride this wave of stoke into the season, since I wont be able to actually ski. But I really can’t complain, I am so extremely excited for this new experience and just have so many emotions about the things to come.

I’m just so ready for things to change, to see and hear new things but especially learn by doing. I am hoping to meet some incredible people and make powerful connections, deep life realizations about myself, and about the state of our world.

Heading into college, crippling debt, and corporate BS handed to you on a porcelain plate, I really feel lost a lot of the time. The money is so ridiculous I will easily waste it with no clue of what I want to do to contribute the world so I must use it wisely, if at all. I trying to stay open minded because everything might change once I’m back. The only way to find out is to wait and see.

You can follow along on the blog at www.wheretherebedragons.com/blog/ and click the West Africa Semester or you can check out my Instagram where I will feature my new Fayette Chill Gear out and about in Senegal @espizzled ! Don’t forget to check out the new Fall Winter collection, wherever you’re headed this fall and winter, there will be something you would want to wear everyday. Thanks to the gods down at Fayette Chill Mountain Co. I will be sporting my Pruitt Khaki Hat, and two swanky long sleeves the mountain design and the hammock design. Check em’ out they’re juicy and just in time for long sleeve weather! Enjoy!