By Raylyn Bowers
The final day of our two-week excursion is bittersweet as we begin packing as the sun rises over the canyon walls of Palo Duro State Park. The campground is quieter than any of the other mornings. We are all exhausted but cleaning the tents out and packing our gear into the van one last time is a smooth process.
In 500 short miles, home eagerly waits for us to make it back. Thoughts of showers, comfy beds, and clean laundry dance in our heads as we make our way toward Central Texas in the packed van. Then energy in the air is different from any other day we have spent traveling. It is quieter, more solemn than it has been the rest of the trip.
Lunch is a quick stop outside of Sweetwater where we eat the last of the peanut butter and hustle to make it back into the van to continue home.
As we pull up to the university, many of the students begin talking about how surreal it is to be back. Someone comments about how this feels like just one more stop on our trip. Unpacking is a speedy process since we are all looking forward to getting home.
When the boxes have been unpacked, the leftover food handed out and the coolers cleaned we pile up into the van to be driven to the parking lot where we are supposed to be picked up.
This trip has had ups and downs along the way, but when asked, every student on this trip was able to give multiple examples of skills they have learned or improved on during these two weeks. This trip has given all of us real world experience reporting, writing and filming while allowing us to see some of the most gorgeous places in the United States.