As I write this post, I have approximately 30 hours until I leave Capulin Volcano for the summer. People keep asking me the same question: am I excited to leave?

My answer always has two parts. The first is that I’ve really enjoyed my time and my work here at Capulin. The creativity mixed with the science and outreach, the crew (the picture above is of me and a good chunk of the people I work with every day, camping together on national forest land. It’s a good thing this park has a solid little group of people, because we’re so small and remote that they also end up being your friends for the summer.

The other part of my answer is that while I’ve loved being here, I’m really excited for what’s ahead. Last week I confirmed that I have a position starting in September. I’ll be a hike leader, taking out different groups of twelve year olds each week at an outdoors camp. It also means I’ll be home for six months, which is longer than I’ve been in one place at a time in four and a half years. That means weekends with family and enough time to make a real climbing gym membership worth it. But right now, the single thing I am most excited for is my road trip.

Some of my earliest memories are in a national park. I still have a journal from when I was a little kid documenting the comings and goings of a rabbit (looking back, likely several different rabbits) at our campsite in Redwood National and State Parks. This August, I’ll be taking a big solo road trip to visit as many parks as I can, both familiar and new.

I’m no stranger to road tripping to the national parks. Over the course of the last few years, I’ve visited Joshua Tree, Glacier, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, and Great Sand Dunes. with a variety of good people. On my list for this summer are Rocky Mountain, Glacier, Cascades, Olympic, Redwood, and Yosemite. That’s two familiar parks, four new ones, and 3,000 miles of the great American West. But, this time, I’ll largely be alone. I have friends I can visit on a few of my stops, but I’m not taking anyone on the road with me. As spectacularly nervous as this makes my parents, I know that this is something I need and something I’m capable of. I spent a good amount of time traveling solo in Mexico, and I learned that there’s really something to be said for exploring alone. Without a big group of friends or family, there’s no need to compromise what you see and do or what pace you do it at. You also make connections and put yourself out there in a way you never would if you had a group of familiar friends to stick with. Necessity is the mother of adventure.

Fellow interns, I don’t know where you’re headed after your LHIP positions end. Maybe you’re still in school and you’ll jump straight into another semester. Maybe you’re going to grad school, or maybe you have another job lined right up. Maybe you have no idea. But before you settle down into careers and houses and responsibilities to other people (as rewarding as those things can be), I hope you’ll take just a little bit of time to do exactly what you want. Work hard, live cheap, and I promise you can make it happen.

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