I came to realize several years ago that group transport vans hold a special place in my heart. The ability of an expedition, in a van, with fellow adventurers to bring out a feeling of trusting camaraderie in everyone inside of it is something special. These journeys that encourage singing, cheerful chatter, and general contentment are genuinely magnificent and truly unique. Driving back from an excursion is distinctly different from driving to an excursion, though both are special. Embarking, reveals excitement in its purest form. However, contentment reigns when returning, smiling knowingly, as friends doze off, heads against one another’s shoulders, or placidly discussing their favorite moments of the trip. Joyous singing, bickering, and speculating fill the van with a general chorus of noise and activity akin to a bird sanctuary just after the snow has melted away, and all the birds are making efforts to claim the lion’s share of territory.
Returning from an Alpine and Nordic ski hill in the Porcupine Mountains State Park was no different from any other return journey in a transport van. History teacher, Michael Salat drove the vehicle, with Art Teacher, Nancy Schwartz sitting shotgun. The rest of the group sat amiably in the back playing Contact and "Unlimited Questions" (no one was good at 20 questions, so the number needed extending). After making a ten minute stop to pick apples, the van was on its way again, winding down the highway back towards Conserve School, leaving behind it hard work, a chairlift, and some delicious sandwiches.
The last 24 hours had been an incredible and unique experience. We all signed up for a community service project, but what we got was so much more. It began with an hour-long drive to the shores of Lake Superior to take part in this fantastic adventure. Our group bore witness to a wide swath of fall colors, seen through big, puffy snowflakes from the top of a chairlift, all while participating in the community service of trail clearing. As we worked on the trails, we grew warm from throwing and dragging sticks and logs into piles and had to take off our jackets. Immediately we got cold again when we sat down to rest and had to put our coats back on. We cooked s’mores and told stories around the campfire while camping the night before. We woke up to falling snow around our tents the next morning. As I said before, the trip to a place is fun, but the trip back is my favorite. Fresh from yet another adventure with friends, we returned home with even more memories to take with us into the rest of our lives and shape the way we feel about the world.
Photos contributed by Morgan Jones, CS19 (Fall 2019), Sterling Heights, MI.