AmeriCorps 2020: Arrival

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.

A black-billed magpie.
A black-billed magpie in the field near my temporary home in Boulder, Colorado.

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.

A house on a hill near Boulder, CO
My temporary home in Boulder, CO, as viewed from a nearby hill. Click on the image for a better view.

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.

10 Thoughts

  1. Good luck, Josh! Sounds like it’s going to be another amazing adventure!

    “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
    ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh Josh you’re living the life! How have you been? And what projects you’re involved in? The surroundings look like a dream! I’m sure you had an amazing time and a nice adventure. And Return of the King is my fav too!😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mithai, it’s great to hear from you! I’ve been very up-and-down lately, with lots of positive and negative things happening – but I guess that’s life during a pandemic. Anyway, I’ve mostly been building/repairing hiking trails and doing ecological restoration in the mountains, and I’m starting to get back into writing. I’ll share more when I have reliable internet access again!

      And yes, Return of the King is the best!

      Like

      1. Its always a pleasure for me to hear from you too! You’re doing an amazing and absolutely thrillng job! When I’m watching shows on hiking I often wonder who puts up the trails in the first place. And its such a tough job too. But I’m so glad to know you, to get an idea what happens behind the scenes of all the smooth hikes!
        You’re right there’s always gonna be ups and downs, but given how strong you’re, you’ll thrive through it, like you already are.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Aw shucks, Mithai, thank you!

          It’s been quite an experience for me, too, learning how they maintain the incredible natural areas in the western U.S. It’s also been neat to live in an area where people love to spend their free time outdoors.

          if I could be half as strong as you, that’d be enough to get through anything!

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          1. Well, I’m not exactly in the wilderness right now: I get to sleep in a house and take showers every day. Being out in the wilderness is fun though, once you get used to the discomfort. It’s nice to get away from all the rules of the city sometimes, and just be yourself. The main thing is just to learn how to stay safe, and to start at a level that you’re comfortable with.

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          2. You’re absolutely right Josh! I hope someday I get to learn it too. Hiking is a concept we don’t have much in India. So I never got an opportunity to try it. None of my friends here do it either. Yet since childhood I’ve been very intrigued and excited about it. So hopefully I’ll get to go out there and explore more places in the nature.😊

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