Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Is it the Journey or the Destination? Part 2: I now know how my students feel...

I've seen the beginning...
I'm no adrenaline junkie. When I've been at Disneyland, Splash Mountain and the Pirates of the Caribbean is about my limit. I was dragged kicking and screaming into Space Mountain, and came out also screaming, with rubbery legs. Roller coasters unhinge me. So what the hell am I doing, and why?
A few weeks ago I wrote about whether it is the journey or the destination that is important. And it is indeed the journey that is important. I've been to the starting point...
And I've been to the ending point...twice (below). But in-between those two points are 220 miles of wild river. I'm about to go down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon for the first time in my life, spending 16 days to get from Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek. It's both a life-long dream, and just a bit mysterious and scary. The rapids are legendary. There are rumors of stunning beauty and spiritual discovery. There are groovers (don't ask). And I've come to realize that I am (re)learning just what it is like to be one of my students going on a long field studies trip for the first time, being shaken out of the every-day grind and opening up to the possibility of new and incredible experiences.

I am a rank amateur at rafting, so I've been trying to learn everything I can about trips down the Grand Canyon. I have the questions. Am I in good enough shape? Am I going to embarrass myself on the first rapid? What's it like to get dumped into the river? One thing I do know, though. I'm going to live every moment on the river. The sights, the smells, the sounds. So many of my travels have been wrapped up in organizing the logistics, dealing with student problems, keeping schedules and appointments, and making sure that everything goes somehow smoothly for everyone. On Sunday, I become a student once again, both in learning, and in responsibility. I won't be the one leading, I'll be the follower (and the chore-doer; no more of that managerial supervising crap!).

Like I said, I'm not an adrenaline junkie. I'm not too sure how I feel about running the legendary rapids like Crystal, Hance or Lava Falls. But it's the only way to see the heart of the Grand Canyon. I've been all over the rims, and I've been down (and up) four different trails to the river. But I've never been able to explore the river itself, or any of the side canyons that make such river trips so memorable. I'm looking forward to exploring as much as I can.
I am, I admit, an internet junkie, and tech addict. I'm wondering how I will survive 16 days out of contact with the cyber-world. Without my smartphone. Without my laptop. Then again, I hear there is this stuff called paper, and things called pencils and chalk. I'm told I can preserve memories and experiences on beaten wood pulp, so I may give that a try. When I return, I'll see about transferring the paper data to a digital format, and let you know how things turned out.

I won't be totally bereft of technology. I've got two nearly worn-out digital cameras that I'll be taking along. I figure at least one might survive the journey.
It's all the in-between I don't know so much about...

But maybe most of all, I'm looking forward to the time I'm going to have with my brother, my sister-in-law, and my two nephews. Their hard effort navigating the whole permit and organizational maze made this adventure possible, and they invited me along to share in it. I don't know if I can ever repay the kindness. It's going to be a grand adventure!

I might get a few more posts up before I leave, but then Geotripper goes dark for three weeks.
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