Frontier Fellowship Report: Gina Abelkop

A partial list of excellent activities done/sights seen during my month as a Frontier Fellow in Green River, Utah:

-Hiking in Arches National Park and watching my brethren climb death-defying heights while I stayed on the ground and took pictures
-Finding a level-one-difficulty geocache at Green River State Park after two hours and two consecutive trips to the park (I got an “I [heart] State Parks” pin shaped like Utah!)
-Eating many cheese fries and donuts at the eatery of champions, Chowhound
-Attending a four-year-old’s “Cars”-themed birthday party complete with “Cars” fishing rod gift
-Hugging any and all dogs I could get my hands on (I really missed my dog)
-Driving out to Lower Gray Canyon/the “beach” to watch the sunset with superstar AmeriCorps VISTA, Ryann Savino
-Cruising down the freeway in a borrowed pick-up truck on the way home from a trip to Moab, windows down & blasting the Dixie Chicks’ “Sin Wagon”
-Playing/losing my first game of Risk
-Reading poems and doing writing exercises with the stellar, smart, fun and funny 11th grade class at Green River High School
-The Sleepy Hollow Motel sign at the top of the street I stayed on, complete with neon roses
-Crazy gorgeous neon orange and electric pink sunsets
-Daytime desert moon in the sky
-Smashing out a pane of glass from a window, to be replaced by Epicenter’s Fix It First aficionado Armando
-The “Murder Room” at the volunteer house
-The many, many wallpapers of the volunteer house (glitter and floral being my favorites)
-Family dinners where everyone kindly provided me with delicious vegetarian options
-The insanely bright multitude of stars in the night skies
-La Veracruzana’s glamorously dressed collection of dolls
-Seeing the Bookcliffs everyday as they frame the town with their magnificent selves
-Dead Horse Point State Park, possibly the most vast and gorgeous desert landscape I have ever laid eyes on/been afraid of literally falling into
-Gotten my photo taken in front of a diner featured in one of my favorite movies, Thelma & Louise
-Watched my first ever wiener dog race and pumpkin chucking competition, both at the Moab Pumpkin Chucking Festival
-Wove a tiny rug at fellow fellow Bennett’s weaving workshop at Epicenter
-Learned my Meyers-Briggs personality (INFP)
-Wrote/sent more postcards in a month than I ever have before
-Slept in a bunk bed for the first time in 15 years
-Visited the Prehistoric Museum in Price (dinosaurs!)
-Bought many exciting items at the Green River thrift store; for example: Pisces mug, set of 2 Flintstones mugs, Scrabble Deluxe, Harry Potter UNO, a $3 paper-shredder, Strawberry Shortcake doll)

And somehow that doesn’t seem to quite cover my month at all. In a state I’d never visited, amongst people I’d never met, I (with the help of the community) created a life in the space of a few weeks that feels dear to my heart, a kind of life I can’t imagine re-creating anywhere else. I miss my friends and family and so look forward to returning to Georgia, but in another dimension (Mountain time) on a strange planet (Utah) lives a really beautiful life. I know others will be coming through and making their version of that life for themselves, and the people who live and work here have made it their primary dimension. Being a Frontier Fellow gave me the gift of so many kind people who I never would’ve known existed if I didn’t come here, not to mention the entirety of Utah, which I’d grievously left out of my imaginings for adventure ‘til I came here. Now I know.

Copies of the “Produced A Pearl: Poems by the 2013 11th Grade Class of Green River High School” chapbook facilitated by Gina Abelkop

Gina Abelkop is a Pisces living in Athens, GA. Her first book, Darling Beastlettes, was published in 2012 by Apostrophe Books. Visit for more information.