I Found Life in Death Valley

Every year my little family takes a pilgrimage to Death Valley National Park. It is always sometime in March or early April. The tradition was started when my father-in-law lived in Death Valley Junction with his parents and took care of the Armagosa Hotel. After he was married, he and his wife lived at the hotel and had their first child there. It became a part of them and borax was in their blood. After moving out, the kids grew and the trips started. Each child got married and every year the trips became part of their tradition also. It became a family reunion, of sorts, each year.

When I joined the family it became part of my family tradition that started with learning and exploring and enjoying. We go to see the same sights every year: Bad Water, Devil's Golfcourse, Artist Palette. We visit the hotel and hear the stories about living there and what it used to look like. We learn from the ranger talks every night at the Visitor's Center. And we try to see something we have never been to, each year.

But it has become something more for me as a teacher. It has become a time to rejuvenate, learn, and prepare. After the first couple of years I started bringing a few things I could work on while in Death Valley. I started with the plays my class did at the end of the year. I would work on each Shakespeare play by bring the audition papers and deciding who would be each part. We were coming in the first part of March back then. When we decided to do movies as a grade level, I would work on finalizing movie parts. Then I started to bring a book to read that had to do wi what we were learning as a team and pull out my favorite parts.this year I have a grat book by Richard St. John, "8 to be Great". We are preparing for end of year testing and the kids have Spring Fever. I need a break and this is my time to reflect on what needs to be done and come back ready to focus the students, because I am focused.

We have quite a few breaks through the year, but we load them up with yard work and vacations that make us more tired. Each year we need to take a little focus time to recharge. No expectations, no agendas, just focus time. Read a book to get us back in the game. Ponder the happenings of the year so far. Far away from the things that will get us back into the ruts, yet close enough to keep us focused on the end result. Students.

Thank you, Death Valley. Thank you for getting me back into the groove. Thank you for allowing me the time to use your beauty, your hikes, your space to clear the cobwebs of repetition and see through a new lens at the time I need new focus. And thank you, sweetheart, for providing me with the opportunity to be in Death Valley each year.

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