Half way through the last four day trip I lead in Death Valley one of my co-leaders verbalized what I had struggled to explain in my own thought process since I arrived.

“I am here, " he paused earnestly, "because I can speak Desert."

At first his remark sent me into peels of laughter that echoed through the early morning sunrise as we prepared bikes for a day of riding. But the more I thought of it, the more I began to agree.

It is strange how you don't know about places that exist in this world. Death Valley. A park in the family of California that had flown entirely under my radar as its brothers and sisters (like the glorious San Francisco, the stunning Santa Monica and charming Pacific coastline) have fought for my attention. And sitting alone in her quiet lovable way, the valley asks for nothing and gives everything in return. Who would know the beauty of a sunrise in the desert, when everything around you is absolutely silent, as the sun slowly pokes through the ranges of the west? Or who could possibly begin to imagine the rich history woven into the threads of the lost 49ers (yep, Dad, how the football team was named! After a batch of lost pilgrims!) who got stranded in the strange fields? Who could imagine that Salt Flats, Bad lands, the incredible heat and arid air could find a little place in a persons heart?

Death Valley continues to amaze and amuse me. Like Clarance and Anita at the Post Office who know my name (Clarance offered me a job). Like Ed at the Valet portion of the Furnace Creek Inn (where we stay in DV) who reminds me of Grandpa Higgins, only addresses me by my full name (he thinks the alliteration is hilarious) the cocktail waitress Lindsay who has lived on cruise ships, traveled the world and is finishing a 6 month stint serving at the restaurant at the inn, and the other people who make this place of silence and endless sand their home...

My time has been spent working in Death Valley and having (very few!) precious days off that consist mostly of wash-rinse-gym-call home- repeat. At the end of this month heading to training and school in Italy will feel... almost like a vacation.

I could go on further to discuss my hospital visit to Pahrump (my first hospital visit as a Leader with a guest- an adorable 16 year old who busted her face up in a bike accident), what it is like to "party" with your two co-leaders in Boulder City (and by party we mean the bowling alley closes at 5:30pm, leaving one sleazy bar with a 60 year old bar tender wearing a shirt that says 'Do me like you mean it' and black booty shorts, a virtual bowling game and a foozeball table) and what a classic trip leading day in the life goes (that will come up next).

I miss you all reading this and my hopes is that composing it makes you feel like I am sitting across from you, hands on my chin, smiling and listening to whats going on. But now to bed... one more day of getting ready for the next trip awaits.

PS: You haven't really lived until you've driven the 215 West into Vegas in Rush Hour. Iiiiieeee!