College Friends in China and Los Angeles

Starting the walk up and down the Great Wall at Mutianyu

Dinner potluck party at Esther's home
My friends from high school and college are all around the country and the globe, so I was blessed to see three college friends this past February before starting a new vocation on Raspberry Hill Farm in Sullivan, WI. I started the month with a two-week trip to southern China to pay a visit to my friend, Esther, who works for the State Department at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, a city of 18 million people. She will be there for two years, starting back in November, so I was glad to have the opportunity to see her in her new realm of work and society. While she worked most days, I took my time to read and do CrossFit work outs, knowing that once I returned to WI, I would have a lot of items on my plate, transitioning into a new career. I enjoyed seeing her home, meeting her friends and eating and cooking together. She even hosted one of my friends from high school, who happens to be living about an hour-and-twenty-minute train ride from Esther’s place. My friend, Bethany, and I toured Guangzhou, including a stroll on Shamian island where the old U.S. Consulate used to be in the 1800’s through the mid-1900s when the Chinese finally opened their city to foreigners, the “white devils.” 

Bethany and I went to a traditional tea shop in Guangzhou.

Push ups on the Wall, of course!

On our last weekend together, Esther was able to get Friday off, which allowed us to fly to Beijing to see the Great Wall and visit some famous sites in the city proper. The Great Wall was incredible; we saw a 1.5-mile section of the Wall, measuring a total of 5,500 miles (with 342 miles being found in the Beijing area). Most of the Wall is in ruins, but the section we traversed, Mutianyu, was carefully reconstructed to its former glory. We walked up the steps to access the Wall, which is set in hilly terrain in this particular place, and took the Wall to the right followed by a return and jaunt to the other side of the restored section. Impressive as I expected, we took so much pleasure in capturing photos from every angle and picnicking on one of the ledges built up around a stairwell. Packing a picnic lunch was the best choice we could have made, as we were on the wall for six hours, and it was quite the hike, up and down stairs and inclining and sloping parts of the Wall walk. What a memorable experience! With one day remaining in Beijing, we hit the highlights of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, including an eery visit to the mausoleum of Mao Zedong, who has been frozen since his death in the 70s. There was too much smog (about five times the pollution levels of L.A. on its worst day) and too much dreary cold to feel enthralled about my time spent in the city of Beijing, but I am glad to say that I saw those historically significant places. 
Sunset at the beach
From Guangzhou, I took a direct, 15-hour flight to L.A., where my friends, Allison and Armando, are medical residents. Another friend from college joined us a day later, and we spent the week together. They live in a suburb of L.A. and have access to a myriad of geographic wonders, such as the beaches, mountains and arid places. We went to the San Diego Zoo, Temecula (wine country), Big Bear (in the mountains) for skiing and Ranchos Palos Verde for the beach. Due to our full schedule, the time passed so quickly. The week was over before I even knew it, and I was traveling back to the Midwest to visit my sisters and brother in MN and to pack up my belongings to bring to Raspberry Hill. 

By Big Bear Lake: It does not look like skiing weather, does it?
I have moved onto the farm, and will start work next week. I will be working part-time on the farm and part-time at the nursing home in Jefferson, where I have been working on-and-off for the past year. Once the summer begins, I will work less at the nursing home and more at the farm, as my duties will require greater dedication. I am looking forward to seeing how everything comes together: the 3/4-acre garden, the animals, the orchard, the summer programs, the volunteers and interns, and the camps. My blog will continue to detail my crazy adventures, as I become a Wisconsin farmer and educator. My passion to serve others with the love of Jesus, and my desire to eat well and live sustainably will surely meld well this year, as I take risks and step intrepidly into a field of possibility. I hope you follow along!


There are few things as wonderful as seeing old friends. Looks like you all had a grand time :)
Anonymous said…
Thanks, Kels. Enjoyed the read. Blessings on your new venture. Menorah

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