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The trials and tribulations of adventuring without a car


One of the great joys of being a college student is the sheer freedom afforded to you when you live away from home and can make your own schedule. We talk as if anything is possible, as if adventure is out there and simply ours for the taking. Often, we’re lucky enough to live somewhat spontaneously — driving to the beach early in the morning or taking the train to the city for the day. But what happens when you’re a car-less freshman attempting to make adventure happen close to campus?

The following story has been adapted from an interview given by Andrew Labott ’20 about his misadventures.

My girlfriend was visiting me one weekend and we really liked the idea of camping and getting outside, so we got a tent from the AOERC. At first, we thought about Uber-ing to a campground, but we didn’t want to deal with having all our stuff of with us in the car and it being expensive. So we decided, “Okay, let’s do something in Stanford — there’s so much land that’s not being used by the university, let’s go find some.”

So my girlfriend, she doesn’t go here, just looked on Google Maps with the satellite view feature and saw this area that was clear and looked good for camping. It ended up being the Dish. We walked essentially almost up to the entrance of the Dish when I realized it was the Dish. So we’re like “Okay, let’s just make this work. We’ll camp inside of the Dish because we’ve condensed all the stuff we needed into like four bags and it’s all on our backs.” We went in and our intention was just to stay there for the entire night and then to leave when the Dish opened up again and it would be fine.

But it turns out the map that my girlfriend was looking at didn’t show the topography of where we were headed, like the vertical changes in land. So we found out that this perfect spot we were heading to was actually down a 100 foot long hill that we had to climb down, which was pretty sketchy because it was steep enough that you had to make sure you didn’t tumble over yourself and drop all your shit. So we get all the way down to the bottom of this huge hill, the biggest hill I’ve ever climbed, and we find that it’s right next to the Stanford golf course and next to some kind of sketchy metal hut thing that’s on private property. Also the barbed wire fence next to the golf course. Anyway, we set up the tent under a little canopy but eventually realized it wasn’t practical to stay there and we weren’t one hundred percent comfortable with how close it was to the golf course.

So we decided to try to leave, but realized two things. One: we didn’t want to try to climb up the giant hill we had just tumbled down. And two: the Dish was closed. So again we looked at the map, thinking it would do us good a second time. It turns out there is a river that separates the Dish from any neighborhoods or access to the street. We ended up trying to cross this creek twice, but it was too much of a river. So we climbed the fence of the golf course and walked around the golf course edge for about half a mile, a little terrified because we thought there’d be golf course police or security. We finally found a bridge that was in use by the actual golf course to cross this river, climbed over it and had to climb a second fence, a much taller fence, because I don’t think anyone expected people to come from where we did in the Dish, so the first fence had been kind of a lame fence, but this one was like a real one. We threw our shit over that, climbed it. Then we ended up in basically the backyards of some people’s houses and we were sitting there trying to collect our stuff when someone came out and yelled at us to move along.

It was around 11 p.m. at this point and we ended up having to call an Uber, which was the whole thing we’d been trying to avoid: the logistics associated with Ubering and having to pay for going off campus. We finally got picked up and got back to the dorm around 11:30pm and just hung out. Yeah, we didn’t go out that night…


Contact Cecilia Atkins with more adventure stories at catkins ‘at’

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