I'm not gonna lie, it's been a rough year.
This is the month that truly kicked off my desire to see more of the deserts of Southern California. It was also a month of firsts for me: I visited my first National Park and attended my first passive protest march. I also hiked Prospect Park, UCR Botanicals, and the Historic Citrus Park.
This was the month I crossed off five SoCal Inland towns off my too-see list. I explored Lake Elsinore, Perris, San Dimas, Riverside, and Oak Glen. I hiked Walker Canyon and Bonelli Park.
This was the month I gave up hunting for a job after 6 long months. I reached out to Lake Perris and March Air Field Base Museum to volunteer and Lake Perris gave me a job as an Interpretive Specialist. This is a month that will forever be in my memory as a turning point in my life.
I spent this month building up my hiking tolerance and knowledge of local flora/fauna. With my new job came the expectation that I would lead guided nature walks and campfire programs. Basically, I finally got to live my childhood dream of being one of those cool summer camp guidance consulars. I hiked the Jaegar Desert Institute multiple times, Cajalco Canyon, and biked across the Lake Perris Dam.
I spent two weeks in Manhattan (including celebrating my 24th birthday), graduated from Columbia University, saw a Broadway Musical and finally checked seeing the Oculus off my bucket list. I did some light trails at Antelope Valley's Indian Museum and Mount Rubidoux. I also got to see the Mormon Rocks.
This was the month I put my conditioning to the test with a 8 mile Mount San Jacinto hike. There is just something so epic about this mountain. This was also the month that Kim (pictured next to me in this photo) worked crazy, yet enjoyable, hours at work. But really, crazy hours, how did we even do that Kim? Many, many, a night was spent pouring over that exhibit project.
This month wrecked me. Before going back through my year today I had completely forgotten just how much the pain of loosing my dad actually eclipsed the entirety of my year. Looking back now, I can see the moment when 2018 was severed in two, between the months when my dad was alive and the months after he was gone.
I did so much in this month. Golly. Trekked out to Los Angeles, visited the Pechanga Cultural Center, Malki Museum and the Mission Inn in Riverisde. Drove down to the beaches twice, through the Cleveland National Forest, stopping at every beach between San Clemente and Newport and even hiked Will Rogers and Crystal Cove State Park.
This month was insane. I visited three different states (Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska). Spoke at my first academic conference, hiked the Indian Canyons in Palm Springs, Garden of the Gods, and met with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. My two week Colorado trip with my mom was some of the most precious memories I have.
This was the month I fell in love with the Mojave Desert. One of the most beautiful moments of 2018 was the roadtrip my dear friend Kim and I took out to Providence Mountains to meet with the Nüwü (Chemeheuvi) peoples. That weekend trip in a questionable van took us all the way across the Arizona border and back to California. I also attended two Halloween Scary nights, a wedding in Astoria, NY, hiked Mt. San Jacinto again and Cuyamaca State Park.
This was the month of my exploration of the foothill towns that rest at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. I visited Chino, Rancho Cucamonga, Asuza, and trekked once more out to Hollywood for my first red carpet screening at the Chinese Theater. As far as hiking goes, this month was light, with just one out-and-back trek through the Hidden Preserve at Mt. San Jacinto.
This month, grief hit me hard, I had been hurt by a brief fling with a military guy, realized I was trying to find "rescuers" to take me away of a crumbling family structure, and spent many days hiking around Yucaipa and Oak Glen, sipping $5 hipster latte's, and reading YA novels. I'm still reeling from this month and trying to find myself post-July 2018. Some days are worse than others and some days there's a really good sunset slinking down over the Mojave.