I have a bumper sticker on my car that says “Life’s Better Outdoors.” One of the main reasons I decided to pursue marine biology/environmental science was my love of things outside. Fresh air, animals, sunshine, there was no way I ever pictured myself working 40 hours a week inside. Growing up, my family frequently took camping vacations. My brother and I became pros at setting up a tent while our parents unpacked or bought food. Since I’ve been living on my own for the past 7 years, I haven’t taken a single camping trip. I don’t have a tent, so that could be an issue.

I have missed camping and one day I made s’mores using a camping stove on my porch. For Christmas, I received a sheltered hammock system with rain tarp and bugnet. I asked for a hammock thinking it would be a lot lighter than carrying around a full tent and I read it was very comfortable. For my summer job as a trip leader I’ll be camping for almost a full month in California. I decided to test out the hammock in the backyard.

Setup took a little longer than expected, about 35-40 minutes. I waited until I was really tired and practically falling asleep on the couch when I went outside. I got in the hammock and zipped up the bug net so I wouldn’t get eaten alive by mosquitoes. I laid in the hammock for about 2 hours without being able to fall asleep. My feet were elevated and my whole body was curved. When I started losing feeling in my feet, I gave up and went in the house to sleep. In the morning I researched “how to sleep in a hammock.” I found out you are supposed to lay diagonally across the hammock so you can be more flat. I tried lying in the hammock that way and it was a lot more comfortable. I will have to try it out another time, and hopefully be able to stay the whole night. Otherwise I need an alternate sleeping arrangement for my month in California.

Do you have a hammock sleeper system? Ever tried sleeping a full night in a hammock? Was it comfortable?

I have been looking at flights to San Francisco for about a month. I knew when I needed to be there for staff training, but wouldn’t pick a date to leave. Now that I know more details about my trip assignment, I figured it was time to book that flight. I was extremely nervous when I found a flight that fit the dates and price range I wanted. I’ve flown lots of times, why was I so nervous to book this flight? I decided to get to San Francisco a few days before I need to be there for training. For one reason to make sure that all of my belongings arrived on time, and also so I can explore the city. I visited for a few days with my family when I was 12 as part of our big road trip. All I remember are trolley cars and Alcatraz. However, this time will be my first real “solo” trip, even if it is only for a few days before staff training. There will be no family members, friends, or even a volunteer group to greet me at the airport when I arrive.

In previous trips I have flown alone, which I have no problem with. This time I have to plan the itinerary of what I want to do, where I want to stay, and how to get around. I realize this is still the United States, so I’ve got the home field advantage. In some ways that makes me more nervous because then people may expect me to know everything already. I am excited and nervous and look forward to pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I finally went for it and bought the ticket – One way to San Francisco at the end of May!

If you have any suggestions of things to see or do in San Francisco, please let me know!

I have officially been assigned as a trip leader for a group of teenagers to Costa Rica and Belize! The trip involves surfing, scuba diving, rafting, zip lining and sailing! I love all of those activities, but am the worst at surfing, so it looks like I'll be getting some lessons and practice in!  I have known that I would be working as a trip leader since December, so I've had to be patient to find out my actual trip assignment. I am thrilled with it, and I will be heading out to San Francisco at the end of May for Wilderness First Responder training and staff training. The hardest thing is going to be packing for camping and cooler weather in San Francisco as well as equipment for Costa Rica and Belize. I am a last minute packer so I doubt I'll be too worried about that until the end of May. For now I need to focus on my schoolwork so I can graduate in May!