My name is Sarah Roche, I am a senior at the University of Mary Washington majoring in biology and double minoring in chemistry and neuroscience. This will be a blog that compiles all the work I complete for my Digital Storytelling course. I've dabbled in photography and I'm a Twitter veteran, but otherwise the digital world is somewhat foreign to me. Follow me as I tell the story of my summer in sunny California, scroll on to see how I got here.
Last summer, I spent four sweltering months in a sixty year old apartment in Charlottesville, Virginia. The conditions were less than ideal. I was living with my twin sister who was having trouble finding a job, we didn't have air conditioning, our sinks and shower never seemed to drain properly, rent was expensive and every afternoon I had to clamber into a pair of khaki skinny jeans and earn minimum wage decorating donuts in a shop that also lacked air conditioning. I can only describe that summer as "sweaty." Regardless of the humidity, I had a lot of fun exploring a more southern portion of the state I was born and raised in. I learned how to live on my own, pay bills and even saw what it's like to act as a parent to a rebellious teenager (read twin sister). Virginia has lots of beauty to offer and the Blue Ridge mountains will always feel like home to me, but this summer I've embarked on a different adventure.
Immediately after the spring semester of my junior year at Mary Washington, I set out on a six day bike ride with my Dad. We rode a total of 334 miles beginning in Washington D.C, rolling through Harper's Ferry West Virginia, Cumberland Maryland, Confluence Pennsylvania and eventually ending in Pittsburgh.
We rode about 65 miles the first four days and 45 miles the last two days. We rode through several inches thick muddy terrain and 25 mile an hour headwinds that slowed our pace to about 6 miles an hour, we met Trump supporters sitting on their front porch drinking from mysteriously dark mason jars and talking about their unemployment, we met wannabe-cosmopolitan West Virginians and numerous other bikers. On our final day of riding, we were able to watch our beloved Washington Nationals get absolutely crushed by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After a few days of recovery, I began to prepare for my true summer plans: A job as a camp counselor at a park at Lake Tahoe in California. This job somewhat serendipitously fell into my lap thanks to my best friend, Ian. Having spent several weeks of my spring semester arranging for this job, Ian's family agreed to allow us to stay in their vacation home in Tahoe City. On June 7th, we embarked on our California trip, starting off with a two nights stay in San Diego.
Having visited San Diego last year, I already knew of the beauty of the Sunset Cliffs and the boardwalk by the famous beaches. But we enjoyed our brief stay there and eventually headed up the coast on the 101 to Huntington beach in Orange County, staying with a wonderful friend of Ian's.
The next day we rolled through Los Angeles, Sea Cliffs, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and finally ended our evening in San Mateo. The drive was one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. To our right stretched amber fields at the foot of lush green mountains, and to our left the pacific ocean licked at the feet of monstrous cliffs jutting out from the highway. Every few hundred miles the landscape changed dramatically. We saw beaches and desert mountain scapes, farmlands and the beginning of the massive forests of northern California. The next day we explored the amazing city of San Francisco before finally making our way up to the famed Lake Tahoe.
Hitting our fair share of California traffic, we finally made it beyond Sacramento and began gaining elevation. As we climbed, the temperature dropped and snow began to fall. Eventually, we were blindly driving through a blizzard in June, the snowfall was significant enough to block our view of Donner Lake (which I took to be a bad omen given the story of the Donner Party: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donner_Party). We spent the night shivering by a wood-burning fire, temperatures dropped below freezing, a 70 degree temperature difference from my previous summer.
But once the snow cleared up, we began our work as camp counselors and have been having the adventure of a life time. Tahoe has a unique kind of beauty beyond the crystal clear water and snow caps of the Sierra Nevada. Here, everyone slows down. Everyone is in a state of relaxation, there's a sense that there is no rush and that every moment is a good one.