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For all my talking about Joshua Tree National Park, I never mentioned what a Joshua tree was or even looked like.

Above is a Joshua tree. There you go! There are also many farther away in the picture. Now moving on…

Working with a group of people in the desert is an experience hard to ever accurately illustrate in words. Every person on this trip contributed in their own, personal way, all the volunteers from their various states and colleges and experiences, and our amazing SCA leaders Tyler, Peter and Alex, who proved to be both patient teachers as well as inspiring friends.

Our cook/logistics person Haley did a fabulous job with keeping up the morale during early cold mornings and tired nights. All the rangers and SCA members who worked and visited with us gave us the support we needed, helping us appreciate that what we were doing and working towards was important and valued by many.

It’s these kinds of memories, such as listening to Ratatat in the van while cruising through the desert towards our next work site, or watching the people around me push through their tiredness and discomfort to stay enthusiastic, that will stay with me.

I know that readjusting to “civilization” will be strange, where we live in small conditioned spaces and licking your plate clean is considered a breach of etiquette instead of a meal not wasted. However, just knowing that out there is land which patiently endures the heat and the rain, massive smooth stones stacked and scattered, animals and plants that continue to survive a spectrum of extremes- this keeps some small part of me calm, energized and all the more determined to protect this special space.