It is with great sadness that I write you all my last blog, as I fly back to New Jersey for the summer. I stayed a few days after finals to go camping in the area with a few of my closest friends. And boy, did those few days make a huge difference. On Wednesday night, my friends and I went out dancing together and slept the night at our friend’s house in town, who had an open house that night. We danced and sang our hearts out that night, and came back and snuggled closed in our sleeping bags until we reluctantly fell asleep – though if we could have stayed up and talked forever we would have! The next morning we made eggs and bacon together while humming to Jason Mraz and Andy Grammer. The warm sun streamed in and for the first time we were enjoying each other’s company in a cozy home environment rather than the usual cafeteria, crammed dorm, or study lounge. It was sheer heaven. I will never forget that morning. As terribly sad as goodbyes always are, I was so relieved to have them spread out the way they were. That Thursday morning, we said goodbye to three of our friends. Then we set out to search for a campsite. So three of us piled into the Jon’s pick-up truck on this hot sunny day. There was not a cloud in the sky and all of these green, open spaces glimmered more than they ever had before. Or maybe it was because it was one of the last times I would get to enjoy them before returning to New Jersey’s suburbia. “I can’t believe how beautiful this is,” I said as we cruised across a bridge with cows and wild flowers in the distance. “Oh, I know – I would move to this part of Iowa in a second. It’s amazing.” It was then that I realized just how much I was going to miss this place. We came across a few campsites, and finally decided on Chimney Rock, a gorgeous campsite right alongside the Upper Iowa River, complete with limestone bluffs, eagles, ducks and on the other side, a field of high grasses to run through. The first night, we were the only ones there. We cooked our brats over the fire and reminisced on our wonderful year together. Then we set out into the open field to lie down and look at the stars. We counted the satellites, pointed out constellations and ‘oo-ed and ah-ed’ at the shooting stars. Never have I seen that many stars in my life! Eventually we dozed off and awoke to the bright sun. After toasting bagels over the fire, we all hopped in the truck again and drove to a point from which we would tube down the river and wind up back at our campsite. We didn’t anticipate just how long this ride was going to take us, as the water was pretty low and slow-moving that day. Several of us had places to be by 2 PM. And what we had expected to be a two or three hour ride turned into a five hour one! But we couldn’t help but not worry as we floated down on that hot gorgeous day, the sun kissing our faces…Who could fret on such a relaxing ride? We passed a deer running through the water, a beaver, and several eagles flying overhead – it was incredibly picturesque. And the limestone bluffs followed alongside the river the entire way. All I could think was, “The fun is just beginning. Do I really have to leave this place?”…The next day my friend and I road-tripped over to Chicago together. We talked about what great friends we had, and tried to come up with ways to survive the summer without each other. Three months is a long time to be away from the people you love. When it came time for her to see me off at the airport, a few tears were shed and we turned around reluctantly to head back home. I will miss you, Luther. Until August!