Outside is Presidential

Aaron, like a true historian, is thorough and digs deep, rarely content for casual chit-chat and one word answers. He sparks the type of conversation that can make the two hour car ride to Guerneville seem to short. Luckily we had a day on the trail to come. We loaded up on citrus and hummus from the farmer's market; and bread and snacks from the pastry mecca that is Wildflower Bakery in Occidental and made for the redwoods.

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There's No Place Like (Home) California

People love to talk about culture shock and other similar things. The pains of leaving a place like Paris, a vibrant canvas to the grey drab of boring old America. But why the negativity? Sure its sad to leave, but there's a positive side to coming home. The positive side shined for me. I always figured, leaving is inevitable, at least I'm going home to California. Of course I'm biased since I've lived there most of my life, but I think California is freaking awesome. Warm weather and a vast diversity of of stunning natural landscape makes it a stellar place to both live and adventure.

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Suburban Escape

I recently went home to the Bay Area for Spring Break. The Bay Area is one of those places where one can drive for hours and still be in Suburbia. Using San Francisco as an epicenter, the development stretches for miles in all directions from the city. This is mitigated by the fortunate proximity to the Pacific coastline, much of the land to the west of the development is unadulterated and natural. My great friend Walter and I take all advantage we can of the gems of nature that are so precariously close to housing. We love to go on all the best hikes and climbs, but on Thursday we explored the very edge of suburban development and natural conservation.

During a great hike at Edgewood Park, we spotted a giant boulder in Emerald Hills that we had both heard of and knew we had to explore it. Our first thought was to trek to it, but we didn't because we didn't want to trample any natural ground for wildflowers or animals. We drove around until we saw the boulder on the side of a small street, in someone's backyard. Cutting through the backyard, we crossed a creek, went up a big hill, and got to climbing up the boulder. It was surprising to see such a big rock in the middle of a neighborhood, but more so to see that it was covered in graffiti and trash. That was a disappointment.

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Our greatest surprise came when we made it halfway up the boulder and could walk all around it, it turned about the be a park, Handley Rock Park. It had rules, parking spots and a picnic area! We didn't let that phase us and from the top enjoyed an incredible view of the whole Bay Area, and Edgewood Park, where we had just been.

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Such a place, should be sacred, as it is very important to hold close to the our ability to access nature. Parks in cities and towns are a great idea, because they leave something we living plants and open skies. However, the disrespect is appalling, as evidenced by the treatment of Handley Rock Park. It hurt to see it so mistreated.

Solitude and peace can be found in nature, be it the deepest back country or a simple backyard. Regardless of the proximity to our daily lives, we mustn't let our bad habits continue to infiltrate the natural world. It is said that people don't realize the importance of things until they are gone, but it should never have to come to that in the instance of parks and nature.

Unsure priorities

As excited as I am for it, the proper language seems to be that the summer looms ahead. By that I solely mean that I'm quite conflicted in regards to what I should do this summer. The problem is that there is a number of things I am passionate about, and they will get split in the passions I will and won't be able to pursue for the summer. Option number one is to stay in Tacoma. The motivation for this is bike racing, and living in my great house, with possibly some great friends. This would be great because I'd be able to ride like a fiend, race a lot, and most likely speak and study a lot of French in preparation for the fall. The problem is that I haven't found a paying job or internship yet.

The other option is to go back to my utopia in the mountains, Camp Tawonga. I had an incredible time last summer, due to the combination of stunning landscape and very high quality colleagues. I would work a counselor job this summer, which would be fun and rewarding while difficult at times. It would also look good on a resume. The problem with this is that counselors work about 20 hours a day, 6 days a week. It would mean two months without a bike, and very minimal time to practice my French, read alone read in English.

Either choice necessitates sacrifice, but promises hard work with tangible benefits. It depends on if I decide to prioritize cycling, my camp experience, boosting my resume or my French preparation. Although it goes against all that I believe in, money is one of my guiding factors in this decision. Seeing as I am going to live in Paris for a year starting in September, the more disposable income I have the better. I find solace in my confidence that there isn't a wrong choice. I've learned to minimize thinking based on "what if," and to put most of my energy into what is in front of me, therefore I will be able to devote myself to my choice.

At this moment, I don't know what will spark the decision in me. But I look forward to seeing what I choose and even more so, for the summer to actually happen.