The recap of the Jackson Tour of the US 2017 continues!
To continue the timeline:
July 9 – We flew straight from Seattle to Denver, and then hopped on a bus to Fort Collins
July 10-14 – Whit had a training conference for leading his upcoming team to Paris, and I tried to manage our home away from home, work on my thesis, and still enjoy the town
July 16-23 – The staff conference began and many of our friends arrived in town. We stayed busy attending conference sessions, working on thesis and moving-abroad matters, and hung out with friends.
July 24-26 – We tacked on a couple of extra days to enjoy Fort Collins and get some more work done.
If you’ve talked to us more than once, you’ve probably heard us talk about Colorado. Whit and I looooove Fort Collins! 2017 was our third summer spending time in the fresh, environmentally-friendly, music-beer-and-food-filled city outside the Rocky Mountains.
If you remember, our previous summer experience in Fort Collins was filled with outrageous drama that we still can’t believe happened! Unfortunately, this trip was not without its own housing-related drama. We stayed in an Airbnb and let’s just say it was not the best experience. It could have been far worse, but it was still unpleasant. The one thing I will say about it is some people should NOT be Airbnb hosts!
Anyways, the reason we had chosen to stay in an Airbnb (other than to save money and be able to prepare our own food instead of eating in the gf-lacking dining halls) was to have a home-like experience and a nice work environment, being that we were living like nomads for two months, and I needed to focus on getting my thesis finished.
Since our housing situation was not ideal…. everything got kind of thrown off. I was SO discouraged that I didn’t get much work done on my thesis. But looking back, you couldn’t really have asked for more given such a stressful situation (i.e. address/home-less, in the middle of cross-country travels, preparing to move overseas to a country we had never before visited, exhausted from two years of grad school, not welcome to work at home but lacking other alternatives, etc. etc.).
I did try to not be hard on myself and to give myself rest and breaks so I could be emotionally and mentally rested and able to do my best on my work and to manage my health. But since it was not what I had expected or planned, it felt like a MAJOR bummer! I had wanted to be done with my thesis before we left Blacksburg. And I didn’t finish until November. So every week I thought – let me try to work hard so I can finish this month! And a week would pass and I would feel further behind than I did before!
The moral of the story is master’s degrees are hard. I guess that’s why they’re highly regarded.
The upside is, I got to live in my favorite city for two weeks and spend time with dear friends. This trip was when I started teaching myself that you can be having a difficult time WHILE simultaneously enjoying life, enjoying experiences, making memories, and growing as a person.
I learned that to have a fun time or a fun day or a fun summer, I don’t have to be on vacation, totally relaxed and carefree, not having a trouble in the world. You can work hard, struggle, go through a low point, and then come to Jesus, get out of the house, and find joy in biking down the street, watching the sunset, and grabbing an ice cream cone.
So, our time in Fort Collins looked a little like this:
The house we stayed in was ideally located close to campus (where the conference took place) and close to downtown (where tons of great restaurants are, and cafes where I could work). It took us a couple of days to get our bikes. Getting two-weeks worth of groceries and miscellaneous items (toothpaste, bike helmets) when foot-bound is quite the challenge. I ubered (for the first time – I was soooo nervous!! lol) to the shopping center but I remember pushing my cart full of purchased items across the huuuuuge parking lot to get to Target. When I ubered back home I had sooo many items and felt a little embarrassed, but whatever.
The great thing was, though, that doing normal, day-to-day stuff, we got to walk or bike around the lovely town! I ran into beautiful sunflowers, cute houses, and funny squirrels along the way.
The best part about our house was that it came with the friendliest cat, Harlowe, who LOVED us!! At least we felt welcomed by her!!
Oh man, another *funny* story. When I had seen that Jack Johnson was playing in Denver with Donavon Frankenreiter, I knew we had to go!! Tickets were expensive and sold out quickly…. but then, they released a second date!! Donavon Frankenreiter wasn’t joining, but I still snatched up the tickets. When it came time to go, we were devastated to find that there were ZERO RENTAL CARS IN THE TOWN OF FORT COLLINS!!! I was furious. I cried and hysterically searched for a plan. We almost tried to give up the tickets, but Whit bravely asked his boss if we could borrow her van and she said yes!!
By the time we got it, we knew we’d arrive to the concert after the opener. We were rushing and so stressed. When we arrived, it was quiet and we hoped that Jack hadn’t started yet – and he hadn’t!! Fortunately we didn’t miss anything. But… when we tried to find a seat on the lawn, anywhere on the lawn, no one would budge!! A couple of people were even extremely rude to us when we tried to squeeze in near them. We weren’t trying to take over their space, we were literally just trying to find SOMEWHERE we could watch the show! I was unimpressed with how unwelcoming everyone was. Eventually we sat down and the girl in front of us offered for us to use some of the space from their blanket to stretch out or put our belongings! What a relief.
Despite starting out very stressed and a bit mad at each other (and most of the people around us), we calmed down when the music started and enjoyed the breeze and the mountain view.
After a week had gone by, the conference started up. The first day is always a huge carnival just for staff families. We stuck around after most of our friends left to play and ride carnival rides! The petting zoo is my favorite, plus we got snow cones, and did an obstacle course (which we waited in line for-ever for, but was worth it). We almost didn’t have a way to get home, but hitched a ride with some other people who also stayed until the carnival closed.
The last time we were at this conference, I worked it, which was actually fairly miserable because I had hardly any time to see my friends. This time, I was still trying to get work done in the day, but I attended some sessions and ate meals or grabbed drinks with friends. Yay!!!
Our region had a picnic, and this was another time where not having a car was not fun. (And it’s not that I think we should’ve gotten a car….but it would’ve been nice if the picnic had been hosted closer to campus or if there had at least been a carpool sign-up sheet. Anyway.) We decided to bike and I did not do well. It was BLAZING hot and I was so dehydrated and it was a LONG ride!! (About an hour?) When I got to the picnic I felt terrible, so I just plopped down in the grass and avoided people until I was feeling better. I love staff friends though, because several people came up to me to chat despite me not being extroverted or making an effort.
One of the best reunions was with our tribe from Pennsylvania. We have a chat group called #PreserveForLife – these are the friends we shared an apartment complex with when we worked in PA. I love it when the six of us can be together, and this time we got to hang out with baby Josiah! (Daniel was with grandparents.) We all live far apart now (Pennsylvania, California, France), and spending time together was cherished.
Having a more limited schedule than we were used to (the previous two summers we were in Colorado for 6-7 weeks), we had to choose carefully what activities we wanted to take advantage of. The last time we were around, I got to visit Horsetooth Reservoir, but I wished I had been able to swim. So this time, we (took an Uber and) rented stand-up paddleboards!! Of course almost every other day was perfect until the day we decided to do water sports. It was overcast and then started to drizzle while we were out, but we still had a great time. Whit’s hair was so long and he let it down and we joked that he looked like a wild river man paddling along. (Ps – we also saw someone SUP’ing with their pet GOAT!!! For real!!!)
We went on a hike (another post coming later) one day, and the rest of the time kept doing the things I already mentioned, and we also squeezed in a couple of dates to our favorite restaurants. One of our favorites is Illegal Pete’s, which has a great tacos, a full bar, and an amazing rooftop balcony with twinkle lights.
It went by quick, and before we knew it we were off to the next stop on our Jackson Tour of the US! More coming soon! 🙂