Last week, our program staff members, Mary Kate Brown, Travis Donaldson, and Zach Saunders took five of our participants on a five-day journey through West Texas. The participants were two college freshman girls, both with one year of sobriety, along with two 17- year-old high school senior boys, one with two and a half years and the other, one year of sobriety, and lastly, a 19-year-old boy with four months of sobriety.
This is their journey as told by Zach:
Road Trip Journal
by Zach
Last week was our first YRC Peer Leader retreat. We left Sunday morning from Ironside for Marfa. Rain was in the forecast for the entirety of our stay in West Texas, the sky was dark and grey, but our spirits were high. Travis and I were wearing matching t-shirts in honor of the occasion. SUMMER TRIP. We took Hwy. 90 for the scenery instead of 18-wheeler filled I-10.
We arrived in Marfa early evening. This small West Texas town is like an Instagram photo with old cars and rustic charm; everything was within walking distance of our temporary, minimalist, totally-Marfa’d home. One of our young leaders, a cross-country runner, was happy to find that we were a block away from the high school track. While eating our perfectly crusted pizza, we discussed the purpose of the trip and our itinerary, lots to see and do. The kids stayed up late as kids’ do, playing cards and watching movies.
The next morning, we ate breakfast at Marfa Burrito and walked around our temporary hometown looking at shops and relaxing at our cozy little home. We had a recovery meeting, made dinner and ate together. Late that night we drove to the Marfa Lights Viewing Area . While we were there, we encountered a king snake eating a rattlesnake. In awe, we watched, like an episode of animal planet right in front of us. Amazing.
We spent Tuesday walking around town and hanging around the house altogether. We attended one of the two AA meetings in Marfa. We all agreed that it was one of the best meetings ever; there was a whole 15 minutes of silent meditation! That evening, we drove to Fort Davis to the McDonald Observatory where we attended a star party. It was a clear night (so much for the forecast!) and were able to see tons of shooting stars as well as several planets. Back at home, the kids stayed up (late, of course!) having fun playing some game where you have to figure out “who’s the cop.” Anyway, it sounded fun. Travis and I attempted to sleep…unsuccessfully!
We woke up early the next morning in order to clean house, pack, and head to our next destination – camping! On the way, we took a tour of the Chinati Foundation, a contemporary art museum in Marfa, which is a one of a kind experience in itself. So much to take in! We left for Big Bend after lunch at the St. George Hotel. We took the back way through Terlingua, it’s like driving through a ZZ Top album. So beautiful and utterly Tejas. We arrived at Big Bend and set up camp in the dark. Most of our kids had never done any camping at all. Our campsite was extremely hot, humid, mosquito-ridden and desolate – a hard night’s sleep. Surely, we could find better digs, so we did, Chisos Basin, gorgeous, 20 degrees cooler and 100 times better. Mary Kate, our very own certified lifeguard, took part of our young group swimming. They also had a recovery meeting, some later saying it was one of the best parts of the trip. The rest of our group went on a 12-mile meditative hike. We saw tarantulas and lizards, but no bears. Altogether once again that night, we made burgers and s’mores on the grill. You could see so many stars. Everyone slept really good that night.
We took the scenic route on the way back to the Big City. We pulled into our familiar home at Ironside that evening with great stories to share with our friends and families and a new found connection made only by walking this journey - Together.
Sightseeing in Marfa
Travis and Zach in their road trip t-shirts all settled in their sweet Marfa home.