Cue Willie Nelson singing “On the Road Again” one more time!
Some of my richest memories at Grand Canyon University have been traveling with my friends, exploring all that Arizona and the surrounding states have to offer. During my first two years at GCU, my friends and I spent most of our time hanging out and enjoying campus, but by the last two years, we began to spread our wings and adventure off campus. In our travels, I not only discovered new sites, but also discovered the absolute joy of community.
My freshman year, my roommate and I decided that we were going to save money by not going home for spring break and instead travel to the Grand Canyon, making several stops along the way. At that time, making the drive to Flagstaff, spending the night and then driving to the Canyon was a significant trip! We discussed driver’s schedules and planned our stops to the T. We had a blast seeing all sorts of animals and sites for the next four days.
During my sophomore year, we expanded our horizons a bit more and two other friends and I took off to Santa Barbara for the week of spring break with almost no plans at all. We had PB&J’s for every meal and planned the day’s activities by looking at Pinterest in the morning and then relying on Google Maps throughout the day. We experienced so many stunning beaches and little restaurants – it was there I discovered a love for spontaneity and good stories.
By my junior year, we were eager to travel and wasted almost no weekend. At this point, I had accumulated a Walmart tent, a blue camp chair, one small cooler and a hammock, so the possibilities were endless! We camped Labor Day weekend, only to learn how hot desert camping can be. Next, Lopes Venture took up one full weekend and prompted us to explore all of Downtown Phoenix and most of Sedona. There were many random trips to Flagstaff, first for fall leaves and then for snow, a packed van trip to Zion National Park and one grand spontaneous drive to La Jolla, California. Of course, we took one more trip to California for spring break because the first year was just too much fun, and there may have been one incident where we accidentally camped in the snow for my birthday. Not to mention that ridiculously crazy weekend participating in Questival in Tucson!
All in all, traveling has become such an incredible gift in my life, and this year is no different. With each daytrip, road trip and camping trip, I have been blessed with the opportunity to truly get to know people – both old friends and new ones. There is no denying the comradery and community that occurs when you are setting up tents in the dark, taking the wrong exit in another state, pausing to take pictures with dinosaurs on the side of the road or running on coffee just to see the sunrise. When you travel with people, you truly get to know them – who they are, where they come from and what they want in life.
For these reasons, I will continue to say yes to my friends as we dream up crazy adventures and plan to fill my car to its utter capacity. These trips are never comfortable, rarely practical and always begin with “On the Road Again” blaring, but the relationships that have been developed through them are treasures I would not trade for the world. Thank you, GCU, for providing me with a community these past few years to explore with one day and then go to class with the next!
Grand Canyon University is a thriving Christian university in the heart of Phoenix that provides an incredible student experience. To learn more about campus recreation, visit our website or click the Request More Information button on this page.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.