I just spent 4 weeks up in the San Bernardino National Forest in Angelus Oaks, California (Southern California) for my third AmeriCorps project. It’s so hard for me to fathom that our third out of 4 projects is done and over with. Where has time gone?
The population of Angelus Oaks was 190 people, that is a town the size of half of my High School graduating class, pretty small. I loved the fact that we were in a wilderness setting and so secluded from civilization. It took us 40 minutes to get to the closest town. If we went right on hwy 38 we ended up in Big Bear, California, a popular ski resort area and the a left would take us to Redlands California a distant suburb of Los Angeles. Anther hard concept to fathom was the fact that I was so close to L.A. It was nice living the “simple” life up in the mountains; living a life that I previously hadn’t had too much experience with. No cable, no internet, no fast food restaurants, just some mountains, bears, coyotes, bobcats, birds and Gold 4. I really, really enjoyed it.
Work was exhausting, physically exhausting, but
Our view from work
I loved it. We were assigned to a fuel reduction project at Camp de Benneville Pines. I was so excited that my team got assigned to this type of project as we aren’t labeled a “fuel reduction” team and that was such a tough decision for me to make at the beginning of AmeriCorps, whether I should join the fuel reduction team or not. I chose not to and as fate had it, I got to work on a fuel reduction project anyway. It was our job to prevent the spreading of forest fires at their camp. As Smokey the bear says “Only you can prevent forest fires.” I did my part in helping Smokey and reducing the risk of fires spreading. Some days at work the only thing we would be doing would be moving logs, or as they called them biscuits (avg. 40lbs a piece) from one place to another. My body has never worked so hard or been so beaten up: cuts, scrapes, bruises from head to toe. The altitude was a killer as well as we were at 6,800 feet and it was easy to get winded. And although the temperature only read high 50’s -
low 60’s being so high up it could have easily been mistaken for 80’s. For the month that we were there I think that there were only 2 days when the sky wasn’t completely blue. It was beautiful, absolutely beautiful! Even though it was a physically demanding job, I enjoyed the project. It was something that I probably would never get the chance to experience if I wasn’t a part of AmeriCorps. I could feel my muscles growing during this project. Prior to AmeriCorps I could do 3 push ups in 2 minutes, now I can easily do over 40 in 2 minutes. I still hate running but it has become part of my life now, same with waking up early. It’s nice that it’s getting close to summer and it’s so much easier to wake up early when the sun is finally up at the same time we are.
During our time in California I challenged myself to a NO INTERNET CHALLENGE. Basically I wanted to see if I could go the duration of the project without going online. Since there was no internet available at the camp where we were staying or working it was a lot
Katrina and I conquering a huge biscuit.
easier because I wasn’t tempted as easily. On the weekends to keep sane we would go into town where most of my teammates spent the day on the internet, but I resisted and did other things. I went 25 days with no internet, which might seem like nothing, but for a girl who compulsively checks her email when internet access is available it was pretty tough. I did read 3 books though while here which is a big accomplishment for me.
I will look back at my time spent in So. Cal, my third AmeriCorps project, with fond memories and as sad as it was to leave behind I know new adventures in Salt Lake City wait.
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