Bays, Biology, and Pygmy Bisons

Okay guys. This one is so important, I haven’t even taken a real shower yet… sitting here in my grimy travel clothes to get some important thoughts out. Let me tell you about a little camp, on a little bay, on a little side, of a medium-sized island, off of a big state called California. Lost yet? It’s the Catalina Island Marine Biology Institute.

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   Ask  yourself, if you had three science teachers who you absolutely adored, and they came to you with a plan to take a school trip to an island off the California Coast to go snorkeling and play with the Sea Lions, would you also stand up and salute the flag of the United States of America? Probably not, unless you were pretty patriotic and into that sort of thing… but you’d probably sign up wouldn’t you? Great! We have some common ground then.
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   Right off the bat we went snorkeling in blueberry-colored wetsuits. Loved it. A few hours later we went out again after the sun went down and when we had gotten the hang of it, we were splashing the water in the dark until we could see bio-luminescent glitter sparkling around our feet and arms. Later, we hiked to see the sunrise and instead of just that, we were given a morning light show featuring every color in the paint palette, complete with a molten-orange sun, which we realized was not the one moving, we were. For the first time, I actually saw the figures in the constellations as described by their names. A belt, a sword, a bull, a dog, there they were like glittering connect-the-dots with a series of confusing yet compelling stories attached. At another point, I thought I was really cool and painted the seascape while my feet contracted hypothermia in the sand. This morning, leaving, it felt like the final scene to a movie. We were piled on the ferry. We waved goodbye to our counselors and as we slowly slipped away, they waved back and dove into the ocean in waves.
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   Don’t you love being humbled by cool things? Nature for example. I feel like a krill or a plankton right now. I am nothing compared to everything, yet I am something and that’s important too. My religion teaches similar lessons, but it doesn’t sink in until applied and here was a prime example. I found peace in a place where I could accept myself and be boggled by Heavenly Father’s masterpiece at the same time.
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   Unbelievably sad on the trip back home, I wrote down some lessons I never want to forget. Mostly these are for me and my future self, but they’re also yours if you want them too.
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1) My she-homies and I were sitting on a bridge during some minutes of free time at some point with our feet dangling over a stream that led out to the ocean a few feet away, and ironically enough, we were talking about friends who we experienced bridge-burning experiences with and whether or not that was a bad thing. On one hand, some bridges have to go sometime, the “friends for a season” theory, and that can be totally okay and on the other hand, sometimes it’s better to work on the bridge and make it stronger.
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2) How important it is to stay busy, and not be idle. If you run out of things to do, leave your comfort zone. Be interactive with the human race. Push what you believe your limits are. Challenge old doubts and set new goals.
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3) Wake up early and crash hard each and every night.
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4) Kind of a weird but solid sea metaphor: Without Plankton, the entire ecosystem would crash and burn. Without the small things we take for granted, we wouldn’t be here. So appreciate them on a greater scale.
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5) Bison. I apologize, another metaphor. There are small Bison on the island, which are still huge creatures but I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. I thought the counselors were having an elaborate leg-pulling fest when I saw one dozing in the quad when we came into camp. They’re pygmy bison though, their structures have shrunk to adapt to a smaller ecosystem. So don’t be like the bison and get trapped on a metaphorically small island, like your house or a small community. Let yourself move and expand. Maybe that means travel, maybe that means reach out to people you normally wouldn’t, whatever the case; give yourself room to grow and build a larger character.
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6) Your 20’s are a time to go and have an adventure. Take care of your body and get good at what you love while not being afraid to learn something new. Mix it with seeking a great education, and don’t be afraid of smaller schools.
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7) Take advantage of all the natural wonders in your community. Earth is a gift, unwrap it.
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8) Friendship shouldn’t have age boundaries. Don’t prevent yourself from building those bridges just because they happened to be born a year that wasn’t same year you were. And if those bridges stay strong, it won’t matter in 10… 20 years, and you’ll be so glad you made friends with a fifth grader on the way to Catalina Island when he’s a rock star Paleontologist and great listener who you’ll be able to call and complain to someday.
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9) Any idiot can take a picture. It takes someone special to sit, watch, and wait and for something beautiful. Those memories will be more useful to you in your brain storage than in your computer storage. Then take the picture, but let the memory of the moment sit with you.
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10) And lastly, sometimes social media can make us feel like we can never be alone. Like when we’re walking by ourselves, and see a stranger coming from the opposite direction, that we need to pull out a phone and pretend we’re texting or calling someone. You know yourself better than anyone, so why not get to know your own mind and strengths before you put them out in front of the world? Work on not just building a self-esteem, but retaining it, so that eventually, you can be sure of yourself in front of anybody.
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Slideshow time! To set the mood:
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Thanks dear reader for doing what you do best here… have an amazing week!
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-SJT
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p.s.
Oh yeah, guess who said yes?utahlogo
   When the family picked me up from the airport they said that a big envelope had come for me while I was gone with a big red U on the front. We got to the parking garage where I opened it and started bawling into my dad’s shoulder. I’m going to college.
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I Left My Heart @ Camp Ritchie

So last post, I was ready to leave for Girls Camp, and now I’m home and exhausted. Allow me to fill you in on the Oreo filling :) (Ah! Quickly before sleepy Sydney falls asleep on the couch!)

We left in cars. I with my mommy and three friends. All crammed in our little civic and making friendship bracelets.

 

We got there unpacked, boring boring boring. Well here’s what happened on Tuesday and what I wrote in my journal;

July 24th

Today I got tired of people. People are tiring sometimes, especially teenage girls, I’m tired tonight from archery and BBs, plus rappelling but also I started to get annoyed at people’s imperfect-ness. Then we had devotional. It was about a story about a town of wooden people called “Wimmiks”, who judged one anthers actions and appearances using stickers. Kinda mean huh? We do that too shockingly enough, just in a more subtle and mental way. And I realized I had been a Wimmik by thinking that my ways of sinning were somehow more acceptable than the other girls ways of sinning. Just because you sin differently from others doesn’t give you the right to judge them or get tired of them. That’s god’s job. I was humbled and bummed out. Realizing your wrong and being chastened will do that to you… but it makes us better people. But I was still left with a dry, dusty feeling that reminded me of Rango. I just prayed for some intimate inspiration. Hopefully I’ll find it tomorrow but it’s dark in our cabin and Sarah’s complaining about my headlamp light. We’re all exhausted. Thanks for listening.

-JoTo

P.S. Happy 12th Birthday Tyler!!! xoxo :)

July 25th

I’m sitting in my friend’s car on our way back from our 4th year hike. In  a car? I thought you were supposed to be oblivious to all forms of civilization for a week! Yes indeed a car. So you drive down 88, past Kirkwood Ski Resort and Caples Lake, and turn into the El Dorado National Forest parking lot. Past the bathrooms, there’s a 2.5mi trail, that brings you to Winnemucca Lake. The lake could give a Polar Bear hypothermia, but it’s the journey there that makes the journey worth it. We hiked through the prettiest woods you’ve ever seen. Brother W. said, “It’s like we’re walking through a painting”, and seriously, Monet should have checked this place out. Wildflowers outnumbered grass blades and ferns sat scattered like leafy watchmen. Pine trees aren’t exactly Cherry Blossoms, but they looked really good with colorful Indian Paintbrush gathered in bushels around their roots. Fallen logs, ancient and a soft white, lie dappled with sunshine falling from the canopy. As we trekked up and up the uphill, the Pines thinned and we were in an open meadow, aka Poppy-Town. Flowers galore covered the grassy hill like a little city of colorful people. Instead of busting places in little cars and taxis, they all stood static until alternating breezes urged them to dance. We heard running water, and to our delight ran a good-sized summer stream, running the way we would take home. It ran happily over rocks and through small granite formations creating baby waterfalls. Framing the whole stunning picture stood something entirely muting. Mountains patched with icy snow, straight out of the sound of music, or even a dream. sound of music winnemucca hikingsound of music mountains are big had

It was all uphill though, and the girls were tired. I however was high on beauty.

“This is SO Pretty! Look, BUTTERFLY! Augh, I could just live in a SHACK here! Appreciate! Appreciate! Appreciate!” I would squeal pointing to a cluster of flowers or a pool of glossy water. As I was gleefully sharing my feelings, Brother W. stopped me.

“You think THIS is cool? Imagine heaven, and the kingdoms in heaven. No one can even imagine.”

I almost cried when he said that. I’m such a marshmallow. If God could craft such a beautiful place as this, Earth, then what has he crafted for us AFTER this? This is just the Basement!!! Although I may melt my marshmallow-self by just thinking about this, I have been inspired. My soul has drunk from the well of happiness. This was the answer to my prayer. This WAS the answer to my prayer.

Tonight at our fireside I learned that before you go to bed, put on your “PJ’S”.

P- Prayer

J- Journal

S- Scriptures

Cute huh?

July 26th 

Today, the boy-scouts appeared like strapping young specks on the beach across the lake and the girls turned into boy-deprived banshees. We had been at waterfront, basking, swimming, paddle boarding, and kayaking when it looked as if boys started to appear across the waves. We went mad, yelling out “BOYS!” to those unaware. We began paddling in circles, or at least trying to stay in line of sight of the boys camp, without going so far as the speedboat would have to come over and embarrassingly scold us. Turns out, the boys hadn’t sat out just to watch our girly youthfulness or wondered which of us were old enough to date… they were too busy waiting for us to GET OUT! We realized this once our final whistle to get out blew and we scrambled in shivers to the rocks for our towels and shoes. We sat on the rock overlooking the lake, cold, sad, and wet as we watched the strapping specks do cannonballs into the water and tear away on sailboats. To our dismay, scout masters don’t approve of co-ed swimming. Dang.

My journal goes on into hardly legible entries about BB guns and Crafts that clearly display my exhaustion. However, the last night, Friday night, ended on one of the best notes of my life so far. Testimony meeting. It was more than a genius’ idea to end camp with such a spiritually strengthening activity. But again it was more than even that, to another-worldly extent.

Testimony meeting was incredible.  My heart swelled with not pride, but sisterhood and daughterhood, being a daughter of God and a sister to all of these wonderful people here. I’ve never felt so close to God before, but I’m sure the altitude is a contributing factor (; It’s so easy to feel so so so spiritual at camp, because all distractions are gone. The Media, Social Networks, material possessions, CARS are all irrelevant for six days. All that’s left is kindness and love  in the form of delicious food, under the stars and in clean air that provides for the very best of thoughts. It’s more than beautiful, it’s of God. The trick is, (and it’s VERY tricky) is to bring those same thoughts home. Like maybe… in the form of a Journal.

It’s hard to believe until you’ve felt God. If you don’t know where to find him, look to little children or the wilderness. You’ll feel his embrace in the form of Life. I know this to be true. Every last syllable.

-Sydney

Oh and on the way home we stopped at the Ghirardelli Factory. (AKA the place where they make the best Hormone Replacement)

 

The night before GIRLS CAMP!!!

“Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end- the middle’s the most important. Think of… an Oreo cookie! Right now we are in the middle of our lives, and this is the time that matters most. We’ll get to camp tomorrow, and we’ll leave on Saturday. It’s up to YOU what you do with that creme filling.”

Words from a high-adventurer of a sister in the stake, witty and smelling of Hawaii and full of jokes as well as inquisitive wisdom. It was a great talk. Anyways, I’m leaving for camp in the morning. With my dear non-member friend K. who is absolutely stoked about spending a week in cabins in the Sierras overlooking a lake. Yes, a sparkly cold lake. Our volunteer cooks are also food gods. I have to go to my restful slumber party now (excitement will keep my eyes open anyway) but before I do, I want to wish you all a happy mid-summer, and a happy mid-life! Please, Enjoy the filling :)

(Via Sodahead)

Utah Trip… pronounced “Yewtah Chripp”

I’ve flown on a plane solo before.  The first time was out and back to Utah when I was twelve (unaccompanied minor), the second was home from Utah, and this time was out and back from Utah ONCE AGAIN. So many things rock out in Utah… including BYU’s Volleyball Camp. I flew out a few days prior to hang with my rock’n Aunt and Grandma, then to the other Grandparents briefly, and off to camp for the kernel of the trip. It was a marvelous trip.

Things I learned?

• One can have church on a mountain

• Water tastes twenty times better once you realize how good over hydration feels

• All dogs are puppies at heart

• “The Office” never gets old, as well as British “Who done it?” shows. (thank YOUU Netflix!)

• Little recycled clock-compass men are adorable

• Salt Lake isn’t that far from Provo

Saying “Goodbye” is hard

• The friendliest horses are males

• Mountain Air makes for a gorgeous sunset

• BYU is pretty quiet during the summer, until the camp kids come

• BYU truffles are the best in the world…. topping Lindor shockingly.

• Volleyball is nothing more than being uncomfortable in the squatting position, or awkwardly smacking a ball over a net. Tough stuff man.

• Guy coaches are an utter blast

• You don’t have to be some athletic god to play @ college level

• Missionaries love Hi-Chew

• A mob of hungry teenagers can be dangerous

• Seven Peaks is a rip-off ($10 for a plastic doughnut)

• The Cafe is not in the least

Saying “Goodbye” is hard

• Advil can prevent painful misery

• Ice Cream and twelve hours of sleep in a dark Utah basement is the best recovery

• “Crazy for You” is the all-time best American play the U.S. has ever seen. Go see it.

• Do all your wash before going home to make unpacking a synch

Saying “Goodbye” is hard

• Sometimes the best friends aren’t roommates, but strangers on plane next to you.

• Temple Run is depressing

• You haven’t felt statehood pride until you’ve flown over California as a Californian.

•  Saying “Hey guys I missed you!” is really fun.