This post is the first detailing my experiences in an AmeriCorps program in Boulder, Colorado, through an organization called American Conservation Experience. Please see this post for background information.
On July 6, the day had come for me to fulfill my commitment to American Conservation Experience (ACE) and AmeriCorps. I was up at 4 A.M., and on a flight to Newark by 8:25. From there, I boarded a plane that would take me to my new home of Boulder, Colorado.
It was a strange experience. For one, I was flying just as COVID-19 cases were surging in the United States, and it was odd to see major airports like Denver International looking so empty.
More unusual, however, was my lack of feeling about what was about to happen.
During the start of previous adventures – such as heading to California for graduate school or Belize for archaeology – I’d been a bundle of nerves. Today, as I began my five-month term with ACE/AmeriCorps, I was strangely calm, as if this were just another day. I didn’t know what to make of this, so I chose to take it as a positive omen.
My flight landed at Denver International Airport nearly half an hour early. Nevertheless, after a short wait my crew leaders, Nick and Kiersten (AKA Bonesteel), picked me up and drove me to the house where my crew members and I would be spending the next five months.
It took us nearly 45 minutes to reach Boulder, which was the cleanest, freshest-looking town I’d ever seen. All the lawns were perfectly trimmed, the Whole Foods and REI glittered in the sun, and nearly everyone appeared to be fit and under the age of 40.
We didn’t stop in Boulder, however, but drove straight through it.
We followed a gently-sloping highway out of town, and then made a sharp, left turn onto a dirt track. We traversed this deeply-rutted path until we reached a single-story house on top of a hill.
This would be my new home.
Upon entering the house, I found four people waiting for me. There were Clay and Maggie – two of my AmeriCorps crew members – along with Victoria and Shay, who worked for ACE. Clay was friendly and full of energy, and led me to our shared room.
Once I’d unloaded as many of my belongings as I had patience for, I joined the rest of the gang in the living room. We talked for a bit, had dinner, and in the evening we gathered in the living room to watch The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Now I was truly in my element. I loved the Lord of the Rings, having read the books and watched the films many times, and the Return of the King was my favorite.
I was astonished that this, of all ways, was how I was beginning my time with ACE. Could this mean that I was in the right place?
Only time would tell. Reassuring though it was to be around Tolkien fans, I’d yet to perform any work – which I knew would be hard. In two days I’d find out if I was up to the challenge.
I still don’t have regular internet access, so please forgive me if it takes me a while to respond to your comments.