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Final Reflection-
How can I put final words on something so extraordinary? A lot deals with the memories and experience that I would take back on such an occasion. For the second time, I encountered another opportunity of a lifetime: to live on a boat for a week and explore. My definition of exploring is meeting new people and seeing how their life is different from mine, opening my eyes to beautiful new scenery every day, getting a head start on a possible future career, and just trying to find something new from my everyday life. With my trip on the Mississippi, everything and more was accomplished.

Last year, I said that my trip had changed my life, and that was true. This year, something different happened. I became somewhat of an experienced explorer. I saw the river and what it did, but now I completely understood it. It was like returning to home and finding something that was lost for a year. My one hundred-mile upstream expedition set a path for my future.

Before I left for the trip, I pondered about how I would deal with everything, since it wasn t new anymore. But I pushed those thoughts back, because everything was new, and I didn t know it. There were six new people, fifty miles of new river, and the first time I would be filming such an extravagant event. The only obstacle I had to hurdle was the fact that I was battling mononucleosis at the time. It did set me back at moments, but I tried so hard not to let it win. When I say nothing can stop me, well, one thing can. Sometimes I missed out on great conversations, because I was too tired, but there was no way I was going to give up being part of a great crew. I did everything that they did, but I probably had a different perspective on it, due to having my mind set on not over-exerting myself. But there were so many other things that I have to remember from my adventures on the river. All the laughs we had as a crew and the entire media profile to summarize the events. Working as production assistant helped me out immensely. It gave me a perspective on the years to come and if it was what I really wanted in life. So far, I haven t changed my mind.

I've learned quite a lot from these adventures of mine. One, being that kids can have a great impact on your life, no matter who they are. I conversed with a classroom back home while I was on the latest trip and they had so much fun learning about water. When we visited classrooms, I saw the smiling faces and heard the laughs that were produced from my thoughts. That was probably one the strongest memories I have of both trips. And last but not least, I learned that the best thing you need to survive is people. The crew made the trip for me, this year and last. We all trusted each other and with that, you can have nothing else. The great times we had will always remain in our minds and when we look back at them, we ll just smile.

When I look back on the two trips I just sit back and think about how lucky I was to be able to do so much. It s not an everyday occurrence where you're asked to travel up the Mississippi River and study anything you want. For me, that just puts me up another level toward victory for my own personal goals. I ve met some great people along the way who taught me so much. All my gratitude is poured out to those people who will never fade in my mind.

May 10, Wednesday
I can't even explain how cold it was this morning, but luckily, blankets were thrown on me until I couldn't move. After the long boat ride, we finally arrived in Lansing, Iowa. I was feeling more tired than ever, but Peggy gave me some instant vitamins to pep me up a bit. I think that kept me going for an hour or so.

Our scavenger hunt was a very strange one. One question was to find the most odd thing in a store of a million things. Jamie and I found a green bull head candle, how strange. That store was amazing though. I had to carry my backpack and a camera bag, not leaving me much room to fit through the tiny aisles. Some of us got lost, and most of us knocked down several things trying to walk up and down the aisles. My other search was for Keebler Elf cookies, but I had no luck in finding those. I'm afraid these small towns just don't support the cute little elves.

Jamie had this wonderful idea to dye her hair and have me do it. I didn't say anything, I just did it. Fortunately, we caught this event on camera, while I laughed hysterically. We left Lansing and headed into another long trip upstream. Matt, Thor, and I had to cook dinner, but couldn't decide what to cook, so we ended up having spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, hummus and pita bread, and mozzarella sandwiches. That was quite the dinner for being on a boat.

By this time, I was in need of music, so I just sang, not caring who heard me. After a while, the song that was being written for Ike was done and it was time to practice. I'm not that great of a singer, but it sounded great. We performed a mini show for Ike, which put smiles on all of our faces. Becky and I wanted to be real women, so we started our own little campfire on the beach. We did succeed in making a wonderful fire, just big enough to roast marshmallows.

As the night carried on, sparklers were lit and marshmallows were burned. When the fire finally died down, I asked myself how I had the energy to do everything earlier in the day, and never did figure it out. Maybe I'll figure it out tomorrow.

May 8, Tuesday
It was decided that Jamie and I have a hidden source of energy that can come out during anytime of the day. Sometimes, that could be a bad thing. After we got our giggles out, Matt and I went out on a bird watching excursion with a man who calls himself Hawk. It was cold, but I thought it was a great experience.

By this time, I was overcome with tiredness, but decided to hike the Effigy Mounds anyway. I was dragging along, but I am glad that I went along with the crew. After that, I came back to the boat and took a nice nap. Jamie and I had a few more laughs, I can't even rememeber what they were about. Later, we jammed ourselves into the van and headed over to take showers. Indeed, that shower was nice. We then went back to the boat and watched our interviews that I filmed earlier. They turned out great, except something went wrong with the microphone. I'll have to re-film a few interviews later. Jamie and I were still laughing, this time it was probably about those crazy Minnesotans. Overall, this Tuesday was magnificent.

May 8, Monday-
Yet again, I woke up not knowing what the time was. It could have been six or it could have been seven, but whatever time it was, it was too early. Yes, I must say that I am a girl of sleep or I can just blame it on the mono. For some reason though, I have had a lot of energy; I think I'm just sleep deprived. After the turtle rescue mission, we had a small banquet at Doug's. We eventually pulled the spoons off of our noses and walked down to the Guttenberg Elementary School. The students had lots of questions and surprisingly, they remembered me from last year. After that was done, we moseyed on down to the docks and had ourselves a game of cards. We didn't really play anything, we just threw the cards around, hoping it made sense to everyone else. And now I'm here, in the rain, waiting for my voluptuous veggie burger.

May 7, Sunday-

I woke up to the wonderful smell of coffee this morning. Even though it was early, I put my mind to work and tried to remember what had happened the day before. We have done so much already, making me realize that we have so much more to do. I learned a bit more about the video camera and feel quite comfortable behind the machine. I am also learning about the tricks to video work and everything else that comes with it. It was decided that Cassville and I just weren't meant for each other. Last year, I had mixed feelings about the tiny town and now the feelings are still the same. I talked to a few locals and had a few laughs, but that was about it. I tried to fix my tan lines, but you can guess what happened: they got even worse. Oh well, on with the rain!

May 6- So yet again, here I am, traveling up the Mississippi River as I have already done one year ago. I am still excited as ever for the next week to come. I traveled all day, by plane, by car, and through several states. Iím tired, but my curiosity keeps me running on the edge. The sun was shining and relaxation was set into my over-run mind. I took off my watch and now, it could be whatever time, and I would still be smiling. I made dinner with a new crew member and the memories from last year rushed into my mind. Oh how I thought I could get away from porta-potties, the smell of oil, and yes, the very confined kitchen. What will the next day of documentation bring? I guess you wonít know until it happens.

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