Monday, December 29, 2008

Episcopal College Gathering, Day One

I arrived in Estes Park, Colorado last night for the quadrennial Episcopalian college student national gathering, themed “Seek, Encounter, and Embody (S.E.E.) the Light.” The retreat began with dinner, a Eucharist, and small discussion groups, all of which I missed because United Airlines is Satan’s preferred carrier. (A four-hour delay for a two-hour flight, only typical for United!)

I’d estimate that there are about 150 students and chaplains here at the YMCA of the Rockies (which is more like a tourist hotel than a Y). (For pictures, just visit their website, I don't have any yet and when I do they'll just be cell phone shots.) I rode the 1.5 hours from the Denver airport in a van with five students from West Virginia, and share a spacious six-person dorm room with two guys – a Harvard senior from Long Island and a Perdue junior from Puerto Rico by way of Boston. The Perdue student is a 37yo IT guru beginning the discernment process for the priesthood. I’ve really enjoyed talking with both of them about politics, international relations, movies, and discernment.

This is my first time in Colorado, and the mountains are beautiful. Wednesday is our free day, and I’ll either go into town or try some snowshoeing. I must admit, though, that things are a little less spectacular than I might have expected. I think this is for two reasons – one, Estes Park is in a valley surrounded on all sides by mountains, so the view of the Rockies is not a sweeping one, and two, semi-arid pine forests, mountains, and snow are what I know living in Coeur d’Alene, ID, albeit not nearly so grand. The elevation is tough, too – 8,000 feet. I think my previous high was Pinetop, AZ, which clocks in at a mere 6,800 feet. They tell us that caffeine has more of an effect on the body at these elevations, and that it’s easier to get dehydrated quickly. I haven’t noticed that about my coffee, but I’m certainly guzzling more water. I also lose my breath whenever I talk and walk on a slight incline at the same time – I’ve really got to lose some weight.

The weather is a tad freakish. We were told to expect highs around 40 and lows around 20 with wind chills of below zero. There’s a high wind warning for tonight with possible gusts of 80mph. So far, though, it’s been rather warm – up around 40 just as I’d grown used to Coeur d’Alene’s 10 – with large patches of snow but large patches of dirt, as well.

While my own day one was little more than a night-time drive in from Denver, day two was great, and I’ll hopefully have that post up soon.

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