Saturday, August 21, 2010

Goodbye Rocky Mountains...

Here I am, sitting with Kelly in Denver International Airport. Kelly, Job (one of the other students from Calvin), and I fly out this morning! Because the only person left with a car at SMR had to work this morning, he dropped us off here last night at around 1:00 AM. The three of us took turns sleeping and staying awake to watch our luggage (I think I got 20 minutes total of actual sleep). At 4:00 we watched the airport come to life, and were able to watch our last Colorado sunrise a little later. My plane doesn't actually take off until 10:30 AM, so I'm seeing Kelly off on her plane to Grand Rapids at 8:40 then heading to find my terminal.
Though this summer was an adventure- an experience that I wouldn't trade for anything, I am SO excited to be heading back home to see my family... and though I'll miss the mountains, I might even be a little excited for the good old midwest humidity ;)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's the little things...

Tonight, tomorrow night, AND Thursday night, my roommate Kelly reserved a room at Indian Peaks with her complimentary nights that we get as staff. I am so excited for this "retreat" with my roommates, but I'm also excited about things that I would've taken for granted a couple months ago...

#1) The Bathroom: Having a shower right in my room that is clean, well lit, has warm water (as opposed to HOT or COLD), and has water pressure!
#2) The Bed: Being able to stretch out my legs in bed and not have my feet hanging off, not worrying about the creaking it makes at the slightest movement, and being able to sit up in it without banging my head on the top bunk... (and the mattresses are SO comfortable:)
#3) The Silence: Going to sleep without hearing other people talking in the rooms around me! (I might even be able to take an actual nap tomorrow! :)
#4) The Screens: There are no random bugs in this room- the windows have screens!
#5) The Internet: Indian Peaks has its own wireless, which is faster and more reliable than the internet in Blue Ridge
#6) The Fridge: I don't know what I'll use this perk for yet, but if I want to bring something back to my room that needs refrigeration, I have that option!

It feels like a mini-vacation already :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

One is Silver and the other Gold :)

These past few weeks have reminded me of how richly blessed I have been in my relationships- new and old :)
Since my last post, I was surprised by a (brief) visit from Jerry and Bonnie Van Someren, a couple from my home church who were riding through Colorado on their motorcycle and happened to drive past SMR. Just a few days later, I had a chance to visit shortly with my Uncle John and Aunt Caroline while they were here for their Larson family reunion.
This past weekend I was blessed with a visit from 3 of my high school friends, Kya, Jennifer, and Leanne. Yes, they drove all the way from Wisconsin just to camp at Snow Mountain Ranch (and see me :)! We had a great time hiking (though not all of them went exactly as planned...), driving (Trail Ridge Road... kudos to Kya for excellent driving skills), shopping (plenty of souvenir stores in the area!), and hanging out at the campsite (/in the tent, when the weather wasn't cooperating with our plans). I am so glad that they took the time and effort to make the trip, and hope they enjoyed it as much as I did!
Today was the last day at work for many of my co-workers... it was hard to say goodbye, and the Grill will not be the same without them, but I am thankful for the chance I had to get to know so many incredible people this summer!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Just Jump!

This past Sunday I jumped off a 50 ft. cliff.
Don't worry, the Colorado River was below to catch me and I survived with only a few bruises. I went cliff diving with some girls I work with at the Grill, Kelly, and about 7 more Navigators, and it was one of the most unique experiences of my life. It was completely thrilling and terrifying at the same time... as I was standing at the edge, contemplating what I was about to do, I was told "Don't think, just focus on the voice counting down, and when it gets to 1, just jump!"
In retrospect, that doesn't sound like very good life-advice...

I have been promoted to a Supervisor position at the Grill. I'm excited about my first legitimate "promotion" (it includes a pay raise!), but nervous about the responsibility as well. I have been blessed with great coworkers, though, who I can trust to do their jobs well with good attitudes, so the stress level hasn't risen too much... yet :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Time flies..

Wow, this week has gone by sooo fast! Monday, my family arrived safely at SMR after a long road trip. I took them on a tour of the campus, then we had a picnic supper at Columbine Point. Tuesday we went to breakfast at the Commons (I had to make sure they got the full SMR experience... ;) and had the opportunity to hike 9 mile trail, walk through Grand Lake, and hike in Rocky Mountain National Park to Adam's Falls. It was a beautiful day, even with the 20 minute thunderstorm that blew through. Wednesday, I left in the afternoon for the Calvin LCI retreat. We camped at the Meadow Creek Reservoir at an absolutely beautiful, isolated site. It was a great chance to just hang out and spend some time enjoying creation and each other. Thursday afternoon, after getting back to SMR, Dad, Emily, Katelyn, and I hiked to the first peak of Snow Mountain. Emily and Dad kept going, and did all 5 peaks (after only a few days to adjust to the altitude! :) while Katelyn and I went back down to meet Mom and Justin for a round of mini-golf. I spent Thursday night at the campsite with them (before working a 6:30 shift this morning :P), roasting s'mores and drinking hot chocolate. This morning (Friday), Dad drove me back to Blue Ridge bright and early. The family came to The Grill for lunch, then, when my shift was over, we got in one last hike, to the Waterfall. We said our goodbyes, and they set off for Ontario to visit mom's family there. I miss them already, but am so glad that they were able to visit me here!

Snow Mountain- 1st peak!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Grays and Torreys

This Friday, I had the opportunity to hike my first TWO 14ers*! I went with some other Calvin students, Dave, David, and Melissa. I was more than a little apprehensive about this trip... my hiking companions were more experienced/in better hiking shape than I was, but I went hoping for the best!We set off at 6:30 AM (which I'm told is late for climbing 14ers... it's better to do it earlier so you can be sure to be off the summit by the time the daily thunder-clouds roll in) and drove for 2 hours to get to the trailhead. On the drive, hiking stories that I have heard about other people's 14er-induced sicknesses (vomiting and diarrhea are just a couple examples) kept replaying in my head. The car ride over, we set off on the trail (the trail began at about 11,000 feet... 3,000 feet higher elevation than SMR). The guys set a fast pace, and after a while Melissa and I decided that we would slow down a little (I would say that our pace was still pretty good... we just weren't jogging up the mountain...:). It was challenging, but, when we made it to the top of Grays, I realized why people 'enjoy' pushing themselves to these extremes. The view was spectacular- God's handiwork was breathtaking! However, we still had one more peak to reach. We were able to summit Torreys at noon, and were blessed by great weather... not a thundercloud in the sky! We made it back down safely- the trip home was a quite one... I think Dave was the only one who didn't nap (yes, he was the driver), and that night I had one of the best nights of sleep I've gotten in a long time!

Grays Peak is on the left, Torreys is on the right.
You can see the saddle between them that we crossed to get to Torreys :)

The group on top of Grays...

Raising the bar on top of Torreys :)

*A "14er" is slang for a mountain that is over 14,000 feet at its summit. These are the tallest mountains in Colorado.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Crazy busy, Crazy fun

Wow, I am long overdue for a new post! Time flies so fast here, between work and other activities, that I have a lot to catch you up on. Two Sundays ago (June 27) a group of Calvin students went to Rocky Mountain National park for a hike. The 7 mile hike was a slightly challenging but enjoyable one, though there were a ton of mosquitos throughout a good majority of it. I didn't get bit, but some others in our group were itching for days to come.
Monday the 28th, both of my roommates and I had the day off, so we went for a walk to Columbine Point, waded in the creek, and sat out for a while there talking. Sunscreen would have been a good idea, but since none of us used it, we were in pain the rest of the week (though I have a good tan now! :P). Despite the burns, on our way home we walked past the Rowley Homestead. The old house, barn, and shed are almost 100 years old, and were built and lived in by some of the original settlers of what is now Snow Mountain Ranch. While we were there, we talked with the lady who was in charge of showing visitors around the homestead. She suggested we grab some of the 'pioneer clothes' they have there, and offered to take pictures of us. Of course, we took her up on this! We had a great time, and felt like little kids again in our 'dress-up clothes'. I still can't help but laugh out loud when I look at the pictures that we took!
***more to come about this week... SOON, I promise :) ***

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hiking, Hot Springs, and Laundry...

Since my last post...
Saturday night, I saw Avatar for the first time! (not super exciting, but I felt it was an occasion worthy of sharing :)
Sunday I had the day off, so after church a group of us (I'll introduce you to them in the pictures to come :) set off to hike the 5 peaks of Snow Mountain. The hike was difficult, and there were some stretches of insanely steep path that I questioned why I was putting my body through such exertion (as we climbed the air kept getting thinner, so of course we blamed the frequent breathing breaks we had to take on the altitude!) but we didn't give up, and, believe me, reaching all 5 peaks (and earning the bragging rights that go along with the accomplishment :) was worth every minute of the mental battle!
*just a note... because none of us has a vehicle here, we had to walk to the trail head and back also, which added an hour and a half onto our hike... in total, we were hiking for 5 hours!

The group (minus me :) at the trail-head.
Left to Right: Nathan, Erin, Erin, Pongsuh, Eddie... Back: David

The view from 1st peak!

Such a far view from 2nd!

Erin sandwich! (3rd peak)

The whole group on 4th peak!

We made it! (5th Peak :)

After getting back from the hike and (very briefly) freshening up, a larger group of Calvins and Navigators (employees who participate in another college program here) went to see Toy Story 3 at the theatre in Winter Park (Which is in the basement of a gas station, only has one screen, and smells like musty carpet).
Monday, my SECOND day off in a row (!), Kelly, Julie, Nathan, and I had a laundry party. This may sound like a lame thing to do on a day off, but the laundry building is a good 10 minute walk away, so when possible it's always nice to do it with other people :) I will never again take Calvin's free, conveniently located laundry room for granted again! While we were waiting for our laundry to dry, we played some ladder golf (which Nathan and I completely dominated... sorry Kelly and Julie!). After laundry, Kelly, Julie and I went and sat out a Columbine Point for a while (it was such a beautiful view on such a beautiful day... I'm sad I didn't bring my camera!) then went to the pool afterwards. It finally felt like a normal summer day!
The rest of the week I've been working at the Grill, but on Wednesday night, I got to go to the Hot Sulfur Springs! They weren't exactly what I was expecting (natural bubbling pools of water in the mountainside), they just looked like hot tubs with smelly, kind of dirty water in them. However, they were fed by the natural springs, and the water is supposedly good for your skin and joints, and we left feeling very refreshed and relaxed. That night, Kelly, Betsy, Dean, and I went 'camping' in the clear area behind Blue Ridge.
I saw another 3 shooting stars!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dry Air...

One of the not-so-wonderful aspects of life here is the incredibly dry air. I've been informed that sometimes, when we can see rain coming in sheets out of the clouds over the continental divide, that rain never actually reaches the ground because it evaporates so quickly. Should I believe this? If the speed at which my hair dries after showers and the amount of lotion, chapstick, and waterbottles I've gone through in the past 3 weeks is any indication of how dry the air is here, I definitely believe this "disappearing rain" fact.
But this dry air and the regularity with which I wash my hands as I work (a must when cooking and serving food :) has made the skin on my hands start to crack and bleed. :P I do have the next 2 days off (my first 5 day week since being here...I've had to work overtime the last couple), so I feel like it is time for some intense lotion-therapy :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Winter Wonderland...

I woke up this morning to my roommate Kelly yelling: "There's a bunch of fluffy white stuff on the ground!" So Betsy and I got up to look.
If it weren't the middle of June, I'd say that it was snow...
Welcome to Colorado.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

LCI! (and Work...)

Now that you know where I am and where I live, why am I here?

Calvin has a program here at Snow Mountain Ranch called the "Leadership Challenge Institute". There are around 30 of us Calvin students here working this summer and taking part in the activities of LCI. Retreats and outings are planned for our group throughout the summer, and every Monday night we have a guest speaker come. When they're done, we break off into our small groups (pictures to come of my small group!) to discuss what we heard (and to talk about anything else interesting that is happening in our lives. :)

This past Monday, Henry DeVries came from Grand Rapids and spoke about the different kinds of leadership. Rather than just leading from the front of the group, he described the ways in which people can be influences from the middle, by keeping a team together, or from the back, by encouraging. Each type plays an important role in any group.

Now about my job...

I work in the food service department, and each day makes me not only appreciate dining hall food a little more, but also makes me even more thankful for the on campus job I have at school for the sole reason that it is NOT in food service (though in reality, it's not as bad a job as it sounds :). I've gotten to know some neat people, and the time usually goes by fairly quickly (as quickly as 8 straight hours of standing up can go...).
The first few days I was here, I worked in Commons (the dinning hall at SMR) doing dishes and working the cash register. Monday and Tuesday of this week, though, I started training at the Grill, the restaurant/grocery on site where I will be working for a majority of the summer. At the Grill, I get to take orders from customers, cook food, make sundaes and shakes, and perform any other task that might come up. The Grill is a little more laid back than Commons (during breaks and for supper/lunch we can make ourselves anything on the menu... which might be dangerous :), and I actually enjoy the cooking and serving customers part (and I haven't had any complaints about my cooking.... yet!).

With these two keeping me busy, I have a feeling that this summer is going to fly by!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Blue Ridge Lodge

As promised, here are some pictures of where I will be living for the summer! Blue Ridge is a little removed from most of the buildings, but still within walking distance.

I am rooming with two other Calvin students, Betsy and Kelly :)
The view into our room...

Meet Betsy :)
This bed is the loudest one I've ever slept in. Every time I breath it creaks... okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it is extremely wiggly... I sleep on the bottom, and Kelly has the top bunk.

Our closet/sink/dresser (most of the rooms have two dressers, but we get to make do with just one :P)

The view from our window...

That's the grand tour!

My address (for those of you interested:) is:

Rachelle (*)-STAFF
Snow Mountain Ranch
1101 County Road 53
PO Box 2270
Granby, CO 80446-2270

*Last name here... I just don't want to post it online with my address... :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Colorado at last!

After months of planning, a few hours of stressful packing (thank you, Mom, for helping me unpack and repack my life within a week :), I am finally in COLORADO!
Monday afternoon I set off on a 12 hour drive with two other Calvin students. We managed to fit almost everything we will need for the summer (including two bikes) into a Hyundai Elantra. (No, no one had to ride on the roof!) I had the great privilege of driving through Nebraska, which actually was not as brain-numbing as I was anticipating.

The time was passed singing through "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Wicked" soundtracks and playing an intense version of 20 questions. We stopped in North Platte, Nebraska for the night (and stayed in the same hotel as the Miss Nebraska candidates).
Tuesday we reached the Colorado border. The first couple hours in Colorado were uneventful, except for the sketchy gas station we stopped at in the middle of nowhere. There were a plethora of hunting knives on display right next to the 5 year old Doritos. The bathroom wallpaper was peeling, the water was not potable (not that I'm in the habit of drinking water from gas station restroom sinks). And there were stuffed animals (most of the teddy bear variety) hanging from the decoration? Then the mountains came into view! (they are kind of hard to see in this picture...but they are there!)

We arrived at Snow Mountain Ranch in the afternoon, and after filling out a ton of paper work, getting our pictures taken for our ID's (which all turned out wonderfully after 24 hours of traveling...not) we were able to move into the rooms that will be home for the next 3 months (I don't have any pictures currently, and am too lazy to get up and take one now, but I promise to post some soon!)

(a view of SMR from on top of Nine Mile :)