Sunrises and Sunsets

“The only thing different between a sunrise and a sunset is what happens next.”

This quote was spoken often in my summer. A favorite quote of our Conservation Director, it was poignant during many a sunrise sendoffs. A tradition within many parts of the department, as well as others at Philmont, watching a sunrise here never gets old. The grumbling thoughts or heavy eyelids I have right before I roll out of a tent or my base camp housing unit are always forgotten and forgiven when I get to watch another beautiful picture unfurl over the Sangre de Cristos.

On the Nautilus, sunrises were a little harder to get up for. Having gone to bed no earlier than midnight each night because of my watch shift, I couldn’t always convince myself to roll out of the bunk and climb two sets of stairs on a swaying ship to get to the best view. One of the mornings I demanded my body cooperate was this one, the sun rising over Catalina Island.

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Now – sunsets, those were EASY! Another benefit of the 8-12 shift meant I always got to catch some colors in the sky as the sun sank over the Pacific. 25 sunsets for 25 days! Below are a smattering of my views.

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So. What happens next?

This question can be weighty. I’ve answered it enough now that I should have a stock answer after these years of seasonal work, going contract to contract, with travel and time off in between – always talking about where I was and where I’m going. Sometimes, I feel like the asker of this particular question is testing me, or secretly envious, so no matter what answer I give, it’s not enough or is flawed. Sometimes, I am the one picking apart the answer, stuck in my own head about what I think I should or could be doing. It always comes back to purpose for me. That and a good phone chat with some of the best people who I see the least. I know these people are genuinely interested in what happens next for me, because they have joy for my adventures.

It still doesn’t make the answer any easier or any clearer. For now, I go with a plan I made a couple months ago and make a new one a couple months from now. Season to season, sunrise to sunset, every day with purpose. I believe in all the past “what happens next?” that I’ve faced, which have led me here. And being here is a pretty excellent feeling.

For those of you I know are still curious, I’ll tell you what’s next. One more summer evening watching the best damn sunset in Colfax County. Some long solo drives in the Silver Bullet with the music blaring and windows rolled down. A stomp-your-feet kind of live bluegrass concert. Some good brews and good eats with the best of friends. A trip home to the Lake. Some damn good times, that’s what’s next.

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