Saturday, August 15, 2009

So Long, Summer!

I don't think the fact that the summer's over will hit me until I get home and have nothing exciting to do, until I wake up at six o'clock in the morning (not on purpose, believe me) and, instead of eating breakfast with a lot of other people who are also awake at that unearthly hour, it's just me and the cat. I've spent three months with the same twenty people, and five days of each week with only five other people, so it's going to be really weird adjusting to not seeing them every day.

We spent all of Thursday taking down base camp, which was ridiculously fun. The weather's been crazy hot the past few days though, so we were all baking in the sun as we took down tents, washed vehicles, and packed up possessions. That afternoon, we headed down to Lake George to meet up with the rest of the crew for a picnic. That was also when the Olympics took place. I am proud to report that my team won the knot tying, trivia, and haiku competitions, and thereby locked in first place. We were actually really surprised, considering we had no idea how we did in trivia or on the haiku!

Friday was bittersweet. The team leaders took their teams out for breakfast. We went to the Empire Grille in Skowhegan, which originated as a movie set for the HBO movie Empire Falls. Our waitress was not having a good morning though. We thought we had gotten on her bad side, but then we got a free muffin! Apparently, there's this "Sham Foundation" which was started by people involved with the movie that lets the diner give away one free muffin a day. And we were the lucky winners yesterday. Graduation followed breakfast, and it wasn't as horrificly boring as graduations tend to be. The speakers were short and to the point; the team leaders spoke from the heart. After a trip back to HQ and final paperwork, we were free to go.

About twelve of us weren't leaving right away though, so we went to Bradbury State Park, near Freeport, for the night. We did a ten o'clock hike up the mountain (which isn't so much a mountain as a really large hill) to stargaze. And before the night was over, my team shared a really long goodbye which included a massive, swaying group hug. I left early this morning, and my departure was sadder than I expected. I hope to keep in touch with the people I've met, hope to make the most of my experience in the future.

The drive back to PA is a beast, so I'm breaking it up a bit. I cut across Massachusetts to hit Lenox and visit Edith Wharton's estate, The Mount, this afternoon. It's spectacular. Edith Wharton's been my favorite author since my junior year of high school, so it was really cool getting to see where she wrote and lived. She designed the house, and if I ever get enough money, I'm totally building a replica. I'll post pictures when I get my camera battery charged.

Speaking of reading, have I done an update on my reading material lately? Well, I finished Pride & Prejudice & Zombies last week. It was completely ridiculous, but some good light reading. Right now I'm really into Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett. I've been meaning to pick up something by her for a while now, ever since I saw her speak, but I haven't been able to find the book I wanted. I got this one instead, and man, I should have picked it up all those months ago! The prose is gorgeous, and it had me hooked in just a few pages. I definitely need to read more by her.

I'm in Scranton for the night, so it should be a fairly straight shot home tomorrow. I don't actually know how long it should take though, so who knows when I'll get there! My big plans? Some Chinese food and a good movie. :)

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