Finally I’m here, after failing to get my visa almost a year ago my second visa application proved more successful and so I’m here a year later than planned, and with initial regrets that I didn’t postpone my arrival by a further 6 months: the heat! Summers in the UK usually get no hotter than 90 F with plenty of wet and cooler days along the way, so to be working outside in the sun (rain is a rare occurrence) in temperatures that regularly reach 115 F is a shock to the system and has me immediately questioning my reasoning behind coming here in the middle of summer and not the Spring Semester in January, where temperatures would start off cold but once the summer arrives everyone would be working inside in the shade.
Led by the sagely advice of our experienced instructors steps are taken to mitigate the impact of the heat – days start early, interns are encouraged to take regular breaks to keep hydrated as well as enjoying the occasional iced lollypops, and shirts are ideally lightweight and long-sleeved with wide-brimmed hats and neck scarves, all of which can easily be removed and soaked in water at regular intervals to further regulate the body temperature. Even after being here only 3 weeks we’re all growing accustomed to the heat and adapting well. I felt like the first week took place at full pace despite the heat for whatever reasons but perhaps as we were all eager to get involved and were fuelled by the excitement and enthusiasm for the project and the months ahead.
One advantage of the extreme heat, which my mum would thoroughly enjoy, is the speed with which you can dry your clothes outside – 10 minutes in the mid afternoon heat!
As the only non-American I’m on my own when it comes to trying to get my head around the imperial system. Don’t get me wrong, us Brits are at a half-way house of trying our best to operate fully metric but still retaining a few key imperial measurements such as one’s weight and height. But once you work in construction in the imperial system the banality of it all is clear almost on a daily basis. Multiply 5′ 7″ by 3 anyone?!
Moab has been good to me so far though. Highlights of my short 3-week stay here so far include:
There are (almost) enough functional bikes for all interns who need them, useful for getting to/from work or about town, but having some World Class mountain biking trails on the doorstep gave me the encouragement to seek out a bike worthy for the neighbouring area. A short message on the Moab Community Facebook Group page resulted in a handful of offers from locals for the free use of a good bike for my 5-month stay. A reflection of both the friendly nature of locals and the high regard that Community Rebuilds has in the community, which has been apparent elsewhere throughout my short stay here.
Free use of the public indoor/outdoor pool and gym – not just any pool, but one of the best public pools I’ve had the pleasure of using.
2 day/1 night camping trip to the nearby La Sal Mountains. 16 of us took a 90-minute drive along highways and dirt tracks to camp at Medicine Lake, in the foothills of the highest mountains in the La Sal mountain range. A few of us climbed Mt. Tukuhnikivatz (12,482 ft/3,805m), a couple of hundred feet shy of the neighbouring Mt. Peale, which is the highest in the range and second highest in Utah. Hiking from lush green aspen-forested landscapes to the barren stony screes leading to the summit where we were dive-bombed by playful swifts was memorable.
Living and working with such a variety of people, all with their own interesting story to tell and unique journey in getting here.
Knowing I’m going to be fulfilled and happy for the next 5 months, both during the build and trying to choose from the myriad of activities and places to visit in our spare time.
Moab Fall 2018 Intern – Tristan Wooller