After the whirlwind that was round 1 everyone was given a break, 10 days to do with as they pleased. While I would have been perfectly content staying on campus, enjoying the quiet, I was overdue for a holiday at home, after being away for so many. It was nice to be home, I caught up on a lot of sleep and spent time with family, but after a few days I began to grow bored. The longer I sat around 'relaxing' the less I wanted to head back to NCCC, instead I started looking up flights to Europe and Asia, despite knowing that I would go back to Colorado. The day I left campus I decided to change my return flight, combing back on New Years Eve to hang out with a few new pals, rather than scrambling to find plans at home. My flight arrived late, so our plans were also a bit ad hoc, but I was happy to be back in my element. I relished the two days I had on campus with only a few others back, but that quiet quickly disappeared.
Corps members began arriving on the second and with them came the noise, smell and chaos I was used to at the campus in Aurora. We began training again on the third with a recap of safety briefings, conflict management and how to achieve the work/life balance that most of us were missing, but most importantly was the time we spent preparing for round 2. Earth 4, the team I lead was preparing to partner with Habitat for Humanity St. Vrain Valley in Longmont Colorado and while I was initially not exactly thrilled about this project (building outdoors in January) my excitement grew quickly. The staff in Aurora gave nothing but glowing reviews for the sponsors and continually told us how lucky we were to be partnering with this group, I was just hoping that mother nature would be kind to me for the coming six weeks.
I kept four members from my round 1 team, and had a few new members with whom I'd only said a few words, I was unsure about team dynamics, but again my fingers were crossed. We spent an afternoon preparing our project brief presentation, creating a team charter, brochure and also getting to know each other. Friday January 4th was spent mostly preparing for the move, it was nice that we didn't have far to drive and could avoid some planning logistics, but we still had to pack and clean campus. With this being our second time doing so, everything went more efficiently than the first and we were ready to leave by Friday afternoon, van and cargo packed with enthusiasm at a high.
Saturday morning the entire corps was up early for a final check of rooms and common areas, packing of vehicles (which we had mostly completed the night before) and a final send-off from staff. Like I said, our drive was short, just under an hour, so in no time we were at our new home, a three bedroom house in Longmont, 20 minutes from Boulder and about 45 from the heart of Denver. We were met at the house by Rebecca, the volunteer coordinator for Habitat St. Vrain, briefed on a few rules and expectations and then set free for the following three days. Working with Habitat the work schedule is typically Tuesday through Saturday so after our arrival we had two full days to settle in, grocery shop and explore the area.
Thankfully there were no issues selecting rooms and sorting ourselves out, the five girls opted to take over the (semi-finished) basement, naming it the "she shed" while the boys split up between two of the bedrooms, leaving me with the third. Honestly, the ability to have my own bedroom during these spike placements has been a total life saver, and I realize I'm lucky to be in such a position. Some of the other team leaders are currently sleeping on cots in shared rooms, again I thank my lucky stars.
Our first day wasn't too exciting, mostly grocery shopping and settling in, but Sunday we decided to take advantage of good weather and our new city and drove over to Lake Macintosh. Rebecca had recommended it to us as an easy yet beautiful first 'field trip' and her advice was much appreciated. The lake is only about 15 minutes from where we live and offers breathtaking views out towards the Flat Irons. The entire loop around the lake is only about 3 miles, but it offered a nice Sunday walk and introduction to the city. We finished the day with a trip to Boulder, arriving just as the sun began to fall behind the mountains, with a quick stop to Goodwill (thriving seems to be a popular pastime of Americorps NCCC teams) and then a walk down Pearl Street, capping off the evening with team dinner.
Monday morning everyone was off to a slower start, Lily made the team homemade, fresh baked Cinnamon rolls which I'm sure will be requested again soon and we had our first official team meeting. After that was finished a few members took care of issues with our vehicles, while the rest joined together for a walk around town; Starbucks, shopping and exploring. I had planned to join, but instead realized I was in need of some alone time. I walked to the local library (only about 30 minutes away) got myself a card and got lost in the stacks. I always have my kindle on hand, but there's something different about having an actual book to read with pages to turn, and so I walked home with three in my bag. The first few days away from campus were going great which gave me high hopes for the following weeks to come. While we were enjoying the free time everyone was ready to meet the Habitat staff and get to work, building, renovating and revitalizing houses.
A Year of Service
My life, being anything but predictable, has taken another turn. Rather than moving to Jeju, South Korea - my original plan for Fall '18, I'm going to test drive Denver, CO and its surroundings, an area people just keep telling me "I'd love".