Waterfalls and Warmer Weather

This holiday season was a time for family and friends.  We were lucky to visit with so many special people to celebrate and be merry! It is a paradox for me. I’d like to think we can have these moments at any time, that no designated day is required to bring people together, yet there’s reassurance in knowing that a consistent date, a common time to all, in spirit regardless the individual celebration, that almost demands that, if it hasn’t happened until this point, now is the time to MAKE time.

So, in that same spirit, after a very merry Christmas, we headed out for a much needed road trip.  We left for Florida on Christmas day, in the late afternoon, stopping outside Chattanooga that night. To break up our trip, we spent the second day off the road, takingimg_0473 a hike. South Cumberland State Park is quite the gem situated in the middle of suburbia. With several hiking options, The Fiery Gizzard trail traverses the Fiery Gizzard Creek through the rocky gorge it has been slowly carving out, passing numerous waterfalls and then up to bluffs that offer a vantage of the natural preserve. Although overcast, it was a beautiful break from the pavement.

After a 12 mile hike, we shoved off again hoping to score thrifty accommodations somewhere in Georgia before night fall. But Georgia, now on my shit list, had other plans- first, the fog we thought we’d left in St. Louis caught up with us, then, we hit traffic from Chattanooga to Atlanta. We scoured areas for places to stay the night but found only closed primitive areas or overpriced state parks (call me cheap, but I’m not paying camping prices for a 6 hour parking spot), leaving a rest stop as our only viable option.  The first one we saw was closed yet gave us hope for the next one, 41 miles ahead; however, we became more skeptical when the second said the same, and by the third, we were looking for truck stops that could offer a parking spot until the morning. We thought we had found a suitable spot, no major concerns upon first look – well lighted, 24 hr convenience store and adjoining restaurant, easy highway access- but as we began to snuggle in for the night, the sketchy began to shine.

At first it was just some random hollering from one corner of the parking lot to the other, as if some pertinent information could only be communicated effectively by yelling. Then, the pedestrians began to appear. They appeared from the fog to make the journey across the parking lot to the convenient mart where they would emerge minutes later to traverse the parking spaces closest to us before disappearing back into the night. Occupying a nearby parking spot was a heap of metal that may have once resembled a mini van and, a little later in the evening, we were joined by an additional shit-box that we heard coming well before we saw it. At first, there was no real cause for alarm; however, perhaps so struck by the mood, one of the two derelict vehicles turned on their stereo. It was an inaudible raucous, perhaps a cousin’s underground track, surely recorded in someone’s basement, and on that note, we packed up and were out! We found the only rest stop open in GA and luckily, found some peace until the morning.

We arrived in Florida the next day and set up a base camp with family- lucky for us Mike’s parents reside in East Central Florida, minutes from the ocean.  Furthermore, we were able to reconnect with friends, recently engaged, from our home town.  We are so happy to see both family and friends loving life!

The following day we took a day-trip down the coast to Jupiter to visit Blowing Rocks Preserve, 73 acres of shoreline restored and protected by the Nature Conservancy whose img_0483“craggy limestone shore can force geysers of water as high as 50 feet in the air” during high tide.  As we explored the beach, leave it to me to not pay attention at pivotal moments.  As I became entranced by little crustaceans on the rock, I heard a wave coming in and, being in a compromising position, swiftly raised my head to unite it with the ridge of a very sturdy stone. Luckily, my sunglasses took the brunt of the hit but the force threw them into the water.  Surprising, the same tide that triggered the chain of events that took them off, brought them right back, and I was able to recover with a hat trick. Imagine the look of surprise on my husband’s face when I reached into the ocean and pulled out my sunglasses. But man, my head hurt!

We washed our wounds off at a brewery on the drive home. Islamorada Beer Company, a relatively new establishment in Fort Pierce, originated in Key West, providing a taste of the island in a bottle.  We sampled a flight but, having a 45 minute drive back, didn’t stay long. So, we checked out the merchandise and hit the highway.

Unfortunately, and img_0488regrettably, we ran into a tragedy during our commute back to base camp; a multi car accident shut the highway down one direction and, although we were grateful to be on the opposite side, we too came to a stop. And there we sat. And we had to pee. Now, I have to warn you, what I’m about to tell you isn’t for the squeamish; it’s not for those who wish not to discuss bathroom behavior so openly, so be advised before you continue…

So, we’re stopped, on a 3 lane highway, and we have to pee. Now, I must admit that the complete lack of haste in my evaluation of the situation may make my mom shake her head, but it took me about 15 seconds to surmise the following: I can just pop-a-squat alongside of the car, opening both front and back doors to shield me. Our proximity to the shoulder eliminated vantage points from bystanders; however, considering that the car sat 2 feet off the ground, I would surely be exposed to anyone within view of the car. Next option: I saw that the natural culvert following the shoulder next to us had a bank on the opposing side but, unfortunately, was not high enough to hide me. Final option: just beyond the bank I saw a little break in the shrubbery, just in front of a pasture fence, an animal path perhaps, and saw that the foliage was dense enough to cover me. 15 seconds. I had exited the vehicle and was walking toward the side of the road.

As I made it up and over the culvert bank, I heard a shout from a vehicle warning to look out for gators.  I gave him the thumbs up as I walked into the greenery to relieve myself. Meanwhile, Mike, perhaps with a little more couth than I, was devising his own plan. When I got back to the car I found him using his water canteen as a urinal. We got to drive the rest of the way back with that rolling around on the floor board.

The next day we spent time with family; Mike’s 2nd cousin joined our little reunion, coming up from Miami.  We visited the infamous Ron Jon’s Surf Shop and then had dinner at Squid Lips, a bar/restaurant that boasts an outside patio and beach front service on the Indian River. A nice place to get some good eats and watch the sun go down.

We headed out the following day with two side excursions before leaving the sunshine state. The first was to Blue Springs State Park to catch the manatees migrating up the St. Johns River to Blue Spring, the largest spring on the river.  The 78 degree water gives these water buffalo a warm plimg_0499ace to spend the winter and the crystal clear water gives visitors a perfect window for viewing.

From there we stopped in to gaze in awe at a 5oo year old oak tree at Bulow Creek State Park.  The Fairchild Oak is one of the tallest, live oaks in the state and stood with the expected dignity of something so dominating.  Draped in Spanish moss, some branches reaching to the corners of the canopy, others reconnecting with the earth, this massive tree has stood, a silent witness to the ever-changing landscape.

We spent the following day, New Year’s Eve, in North Carolina, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. We spent the day hiking another waterfall tour at DuPont State Recreational Forest. This recreational area offers a lot more than waterfalls; however, we only had a few hours before we needed to find camp.  We settled for a seven mile hike around the most popular features. Among the four waterfalls, two were especially iconic, having served as backdrops in Hollywood hits: The Hunger Games and Last of the Mohicans.  A little more crowded for our liking, it was an img_0513enjoyable meander in a well-groomed recreational area.

From there we retreated further into the mountains, utilizing a roadside camp in the Pisgah National Forest to host our New Year’s party, which consisted of bean and chorizo burritos, a 6 pack of Yuengling Light, a campfire and, an unexpected treat, just before bed—which was looking to be 10—a few flakes of snow.  Perhaps not enough to dust the ground under our feet with but, just the same, we understood the metaphor it seemed to send.  As we envisioned another year slowly being covered, we sat warm and hopeful for a  new year filled with promise and adventure.  An adventure, perhaps, already in the making.

Stay tuned for details!

And check out pics @ Facebook and @ Instgram

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A New Direction

gear-pic

It’s been just about two years since we stepped off the trail, leaving Katahdin and the 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail behind.  A surreal experience where we embraced wild ponies, waded through an ocean of fresh powder, felt the kiss of the sun (and the bite of the wind), talked to strangers, humbly accepted the generosity of others and loved fearlessly all that we encountered.

Now, in a little less than a year, we’ll be lacing up our boots again, strapping the remaining contents of our materialistic life to the car, and running away.

Let’s back-up…

The re-adjustment after returning from our sojourn, although it looked nothing more than sliding back into the same routine we slid out of, was nothing less than jarring.   The transition from deliberate and intentional living back to a reality of anxiety and accountability was difficult and often over-whelming. 

What happened?

For me:

Even though I had returned to the classroom (my happy place) with a renewed sense of purpose, it wasn’t long before I felt the four walls of my cinder block classroom slowly closing in.  By the end of the year, I felt like I was crawling over my students in a 12 x 12 cell, and like them, I was trying to escape. 

To leave teaching would be like pulling a tortoise from its shell, I wouldn’t survive.  What I’ve come to realize though, is my ability to make an impact through education is not confined to a classroom or dictated by learning objectives.  My students have helped me learn that the most enduring learning moments happen when you forfeit control and allow the environment to intervene.  And this has become the foundation of my educational philosophy.  A philosophy I continue to grow as I expose myself to the magnitude of adventures that abound. So, now it’s time to say go.

——————————————————————————————————————————

For Mike:

We were in New Hampshire, calling it a day in fear of an approaching storm, after accomplishing one of our first real obstacles in the high country: Mt. Moosilauke, the gate-keeper of the White Mountains.  We were in a clearing, looking out at Franconia Ridge, so Mike turned on his phone to snap a picture.  Surprisingly, the temporary lull in the forecast must have allowed for perfect reception because Mike received a message from his previous employer that they had his old position available if he’d be interested in returning. 

So, just like me, Mike slid back into his captain’s chair, renewed with a sense that luck was on his side.  And luck would have it, everything was EXACTLY the same.  And that was the problem.

 We both felt sedentary even though we had been quite the opposite.  Since our return we’ve traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, Nashville twice, Bryson City, North Carolina and Butler, Tennessee; over Christmas we embarked on a pretty epic road trip that took us to the Mojave Desert, Sequoia, Yosemite, Redwoods, Oregon and Washington; we’ve been back out to Colorado and spend most weekends anywhere but home, yet we feel like we’re being slowly eroded by time.  We need to keep moving.

So, we started purging our possessions; we sold the house and eliminated our debts; we’ve poured our time, and extra money, into outfitting an 04 Land Rover with the aptitude to travel just about anywhere, all in the anticipation to reunite with the trail in a year.  In which direction and for how long are welcomed unknowns.  We have chosen a life of unknown possibilities over a life of expected outcomes.  We will take to the trails again and continue our earthly education so that we may share our experiences with others. Everyday something beautiful.  Everyday a new adventure.

Peace.

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Lost Creek Wilderness, Colorado

lost-creek-wildernessColorado, like Tennessee, is a trip we tend to take every year.  Like Tennessee, although a little further, Colorado offers us the closest proximity to a mountain range with some elevation.

Because of our thru hike, and the prep work prior, almost 3 years have passed since we ventured west to the Rockies.  So, we were excited to be reunited with the 14,000 foot mountains that dominate the area (although my lost-wilderness-boulderbrain was dreadfully anticipating the hell it would do to my body).

A new area to us, we traveled south of Denver (our usual go-to was Grand Lake north of Denver) to Pike National Forest, north/west of Colorado Springs.

After stopping at Paradox Brewery in Divide (good beer, great logo), we winded our way up a gravel road to a camping-at-large area just outside Lost Creek Wilderness.  We car-camped that evening, prepping for a multi-day backpacking trip which we embarked on the next morning after a road-side breakfast of chorizo and eggs alongside Goose Creek.

We hiked into Lost Creek Wilderness via the Goose Creek Trail Head and immediately began ascending to Hankins Pass.  The trek was made especially difficult as the weight of alost-wilderness-boulders 1 lb breakfast burrito made its presence known in combination with the normal onset of altitude sickness having traveled from sea level to 8,000 feet and climbing beyond 10,000.  The discomforted was conveniently offset however, by the beauty of a rocky paradise.  Boulder gods stood guard among a rock fortress stretching towards the sky; it was brutally beautiful.

We linked Lake Park with the McCurdy Park trail, camping shortly after the trail intersection.  We had miraculously dodged the potential of afternoon showers and were equally lucky as we slept through dry skies that evening.  The next day we made acquaintances with GPS Ger, a hiker out for a trek along the Frontier Range who coincidentally dominated our conversation with trail directions and travel recommendations.  He was a talker from Toronto who’s “safety plan” included making conversation with everyone he encountered, ensuring that someone would always know his where-abouts as he adamantly shared them.

Our afternoon highlight was the headwaters of Lost Creek, which seemed to appear from lost-creeknowhere, as the terrain was predominantly comprised of various forms of rocks, boulders and stones.  At the headwaters, Lost Creek flows through a boulder jam that can best be described as a stone cathedral.  An archway marks the opening as the water rushes through the gateway into a slot canyon lined by stone soldiers.  We lost-wilderness-historic-siteregret not shedding our packs and wading through the canyon, under the rock archway, flowing with the water until it poured out the other side.  Perhaps another time.

The next day we explored the Lost Park Reservoir Site, the remains of a failed reservoir operation (1891 -1913). The only evidence remaining of a time long ago was the log houses used for employee lodging; simple log cabins, slowly returning to nature.  We reconnected with Goose Creek shortly after, enjoying the meander along the creek as it gained momentum, winding through narrow gulches and wide valley floors.  We were back at the car when the sky opened up; it was a welcomed shower as we headed out to make camp.

We spent the afternoon exploring red-dirt roads before picking a spot to spend the night.  We made our dinner and enjoyed our final evening under the omnipotent watch of Pike’s Peak, recently dusted with snow, perhaps a little more from the brief storm earlier.

It may have been a short trip but it was filled with wonderful weather, beautiful landscapes and the ever present sense of adventure whilst exploring something new.  It’s just a taste of what’s to come…

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Pisgah National Forest

After being cooped up in the classroom for 9 months, I was ready for some much needed rest and relaxation over the Memorial Day weekend.  Doing what we do best, stretching out our holiday weekends, we accommodated our extended weekend with 5 days off to constitute a mini vacation before hitting the summer school crowd, the only thing standing between me and our next vacation over 4th of July weekend.

The bad thing about leaving in such haste is that I’m apt to make careless mistakes, and in this case, we weren’t more than 20 minutes in when I began to notice the err of my ways.  Needing a blanket for our sleeping arrangements, I grabbed a quilted throw from the laundry room prior to leaving, feeling confident that it had passed the necessary sanitation requirements to make it on to the shelf in the first place.  Apparently, that wasn’t the case, as I sat in the passenger seat catching occasional whiffs of some foul smelling offender.  After an odiferous scavenger hunt, I correctly identified the culprit as the blanket I had scored off the laundry room shelf.  It was a putrid combination of animal musk (as if an opossum had laid low for a month or so, wrapped in the cottony confines) and the sour smell of laundry left in the washing machine too long before it’s transference to the dryer.  To make things worse, within the temperature regulated confines of our Toyota, 4-runner, it had no place to escape without passage into my nose first, and apparently, I was the only one sensitive to smell it.

And smell it I did.  For 9 hours.

When we reached our destination, Bryson City, North Carolina, there was a ceremonious eviction of the rank bedding and then a 5 minute cleansing period where I stood waving incense in and around the car and myself, likely resembling some form of séance in an effort to eliminate any remanence of funk from my presence.  To say the least, it made for a longer than usually drive.

Our first destination for this trip was Deep Creek Campground, just within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, where we were united with friends, to enjoy some leisurely recreation together.  Now, if you don’t know anything about Deep Creek, allow me to introduce you to some quite entertaining fun: white water tubing!  We spend the day taking turns running the creek and enjoying the comradery of friendship.

We parted ways the next day to hike individual paths.  Our friends took to a trail in the park, whereas we headed out the Blue Ridge Parkway to find a more shark-friendly trip.  Like most National Parks, pets are not allowed beyond the parking lot and/or a few paved trails, so we ventured out of the park to find something more fitting for us.  We enjoyed a beautiful sojourn along the Blue Ridge before finding a suitable trail.  We got ourselves packed up when it began to sprinkle and, before we hit the trail head, it had become a more persistent drizzle.  We weren’t in but a mile when the persistent drizzle turned into a substantial shower, and we decided to turn around.  We were drenched from head to toe by the time we got back to the car where we stood under the cover of the hatchback as we peeled clothes from our wet bodies.  It wasn’t until I was pouring the water out of my boots that I realized our second error of the trip:  getting every item we brought to hike in soaked the day prior to heading out for a two-night backpacking trip.  It’s one thing to get wet while hiking; it’s another thing entirely to start off wet.  We were going to have to improvise a way to get our clothes dry by the next morning, so we headed back to camp to string a line.  The silver-lining (or perhaps the irony): it had stopped raining no sooner than we had packed up the car with our saturated clothing and wet dog.

All had dried enough, but our boots, by the next morning when we headed out to our second destination of the trip: The Pisgah National Forest.  We utilized the Big East Fork parking area to access the trail which would lead us to Cold Mountain (yes, that Cold Mountain).  Eager to get out there, we ascended the 3.6 mile trail along the Old Butt Knob Trail.  Anticipating nothing more than a glorified meandering (I mean, we were thru-hikers not even a year prior), we were abruptly confronted with the reality that this particular trail showed no mercy and were quickly humbled, as often is the case, by the mountainous terrain.  It didn’t matter where we had come from, or what experience we may or may not have had a few months prior, it utterly and thoroughly kicked our ass.

After salvaging what pride we had left, we continue on to the Art Loeb trail, a much easier feat, to Cold Mountain where we had to turn away from our anticipated summit because of over-crowding.  It was surely a glorious view from up top, but I wasn’t about to fight to see it.  So, we continued on the Little East Fork trail where we found a great camp spot a long a cascading creek; it was a good day.

The next day, in drastic opposition to the day before, we hammered out 20 + miles re- connecting to the Art Loeb trail, traversing the open ridges of Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain.  The panoramas were plentiful and the over-cast made for cool breezes allowing us to stay awhile and enjoy.  We camped in the back country that night, close to the car, allowing for an impromptu run to the vehicle to retrieve 4 celebratory brews from our cooler to conclude our successful trip.

We left the next morning, leaving behind the green mountains, crystal streams and fresh air to return to a sweltering St. Louis to pass the time until our next trip.  We’ll keep you posted!

Check pics on our Facebook or Instagram!

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Westward Ho

How we evaded the weather still alludes us, but I guess it was well deserved after our Utah trip a few years back.  We hit pavement days before the bottom dropped out of the sky and our home was an island amidst all the flooding. Matter of fact, we were snoozing in Mojave when the first drops began to fall at home, and they never quite caught up with us.

We headed south then west, working our way from Missouri to Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.  We spent our first night at a rest stop just outside of Tumcumcari, New Mexico having left the St. Louis area a little after 2pm.  We embarked bright and chipper the next morning and found ourselves navigating the sand roads of the Mojave Desert National Preserve for a parking spot to sleep that evening.  We woke up Christmas morning to a vast expanse of desert flora that dotted the sandy landscape amid toppled mounds of rock, as an appropriate backdrop, before reaching into a blue horizon with a gusty bite; it was beautiful.

From Mojave we headed to Sequoia National Park.  We were excited that we made it there with plenty of light but were immediately discouraged once we found out that a park alert mandated snow chains for all vehicles entering the park after the 11th mile.  Even more then bummed, we were frustrated as this was an item that we had both debated acquiring prior to the departure of this trip; however, for whatever reason or rationale, we didn’t—which did us no good now.  We decided that we weren’t going to turn away from the world’s largest trees when we were camping literally in their backyard, so we headed into town to see about getting ripped-off.

The towns that approach the park are littered with useful or forgotten stuff for tourists, and although I don’t like to consider us tourists, we were in need of what they were selling none-the-less.  Lucky for us we didn’t have to drive far, barely 5 miles outside of the park, to find what we were looking for.  We fell asleep that evening with the grandest gift all: a means to make an acquaintance with Sentinel and General Sherman!

We were up before the dawn the next morning to score a more intimate moment with our trees.  We did our usual morning routine: pull ourselves out of our backseat bed, get the coffee going in the percolator and scramble up some bacon and eggs to wrap in a tortilla or two.  This is all easily done from the back of the 4runner, pulling a drawer from the platform for support and resting the two-burner camp stove on top.

We didn’t make it too far before hitting some pretty sketchy ice, prompting us to ere on the side of safety and put the chains on.  Fighting an obnoxious crowd the day earlier, we were about to have our first experience putting them on when we quickly realized some detrimental issues: 1. They were too big, requiring us to max them out to their tightest adjustment, still leaving them loosely draped on the tire.  2.  They were broken, inhibiting us from tucking the excess cord (which was plentiful) where it wouldn’t create an issue and 3.  They were for the same side tire, requiring us to put one on backwards.  But did this stop us? Hell, no.

We got our intimate experience in abundance: we hiked the Big Trees Trail with the morning light basking the mammoth trunks a golden red hue as their canopy towered in the sky.  We said hello to General Sherman and then paid respects to the Sentinel as we headed out, our intentions to drive through Yosemite on our way to the evening’s post just prior to returning the medal iron medians fastened to our tires that had rubbed marks on them in symmetric intervals.  Nicely, the accommodating shop returned our money even when their policy usually prohibits it.

All the haste to get a glimpse of Yosemite was in vein.  Previous snow had rendered only one entrance accessible and after traveling almost 2 hours to gain access to the park we found ourselves waiting in a 2 mile line to access the fee station to get in!  We went no where for 15 minutes before accepting defeat and turning around; we consequently sulked our way to a rest stop outside of Fresno before putting ourselves to bed.

We had our first, and only, dreary day (although the wind never quite evaded us) as we drove through Humbolt State Park, squeezing inbetween monuments of nature, trees that literally kissed the sky.  The rain started as a light trickle as we entered Redwood National Park and turned to a fine mist before settling on a persistent drizzle as we set up camp under Giants.  The 4runner was nestled nicely within the bounty of 3 towering Redwoods.  What protection they offered from the elements, our canopy nicely accented as we sat under the canvas cover listening to the patter of rain and looking at the trunks of the world’s tallest tree.

From Redwoods we hit the coast and inhaled a nice breath of sun, salt and shore.  Having traveled the coast from Astoria to Newport prior, we were astonished at the superior beauty this stretch had to offer—mainly because this stretched lacked the constant nagging towns that hindered an otherwise unaltered stretch of shoreline that boasted craggy rock outcroppings and towering stone islands just beyond where the tide retreats after stretching it’s fingers out in the sand.

We spent a few days with family, enjoying a homesteading experience worth learning from.  From there we traveled to Kalama, Washington, just 3 hours away, to bring in the New Year with additional family.  On our way to Washington we took a walk in Portland’s Forest Park, an impressive expanse of public accessible trail that allowed us to stretch our legs and remembered how to walk.

We headed out at the end of the week, traveling south and east from Washington to Oregon through the Columbia Gorge, then through Idaho, Utah and Nebraska.  It was a surprisingly quick trip home, leaving at 9am on a Friday and arriving at noon on Sunday, considering time changes and never having to drive through the night.

Having said all this, in reflection, here are a few things that this trip has taught us:

  • We need snow chains
  • We need a means to more effectively carry water
  • A shower would be nice
  • Family is the best
  • There’s never enough time

Check out pics on our Facebook and/or Instagram.

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Living a New Kind of Normal

This school year has been a blur of policies, practices and a try on my patience as I try to acclimate to the world of education again.  My focus this year has been on the implementation and development of a curriculum I’ve poured my heart into.  I piloted wellness programsome of these ideas with sixteen adventurous students last semester when we were on the trial, and this shell of a structure has grown into two classes of over 40 students.  I take this very seriously; maybe too seriously; sometimes students give me that bewildered, questioning stare: “Is she crazy?”  and perhaps, to some, I’m a little over zealous in aspects of interest, of utter passion, whereas often I may seem to have an attitude of dire apathy in others.

Regardless, I have no shame, and since the year has begun, I’ve had the kids making connections between Thoreau and Buddah, thru-hiking and wellness, and service learning and citizenship.  The students have astonished me in their ability to adapt, create and remain curious.  I am looking forward to a year full of adventure and learning!

Check out how awesome these kids are!

  • Here’s a YouTube video of my Eco Lit kids learning how to breath and stretch as part of our first unit that focused on personal wellness- mind, body and spirit!wellness program too
  • The culminating project for the first unit was a wellness program. Students had to develop a wellness program modeled off a long-distance trail of their choice.  Check this one out; it’s pretty amazing!
  • One final highlight, presently the students and teachers are on a virtual race along the Appalachian Trail as each group logs their steps/miles and collectively competes for distance NOBO! Can you guess who’s the tortoise and who’s the hare?!
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The End is Just the Beginning

It took us 6 months to walk from Georgia to Maine but less than 24 hours to get from Maine back home.

We spent our final night in Millinocket gorging on string cheese, ice cream Twix and an obscene amount of McDonalds.  We caught a shuttle into Bangor the next day to pick up a rental and heading south, back home.

We came home on a Sunday and Mike returned to work on that Monday.  It was nice having the security of a paycheck again, but it was an abrupt return to reality.

We’ve been back for a month and so far have had to replace a transmission in one car and an overflow tank in the other, leaving one or both of us car-less for three weeks.  Come to find out that for at least a month, we’ve had no insurance because the Marketplace failed to communicate audit information to Anthem, so they dropped us and didn’t tell us.  And, somewhat expected, we just got word from the vet that Landshark has Anaplasmosis, a tick-born disease that, although treatable, has the poor Shark down for the count.  Needless to say, we miss trail life.

Time has accelerated even more as I enter my eleventh year of teaching, yet I’m excited to share some trail knowledge with my students.  It’s been a journey filled with aspirations, struggles and learning, and I hope to see it begin to fall in place this school year.

9 years ago I started a service-oriented program in the inner city alternative program I taught at that focused on community involvement and urban recreation.  This idea was the foundation of what two years later became TREC (Teaching Recreational Education and Coexistence), a club that, like it’s acronym implied, focused on the relationship between self and nature and the responsible participation in recreational opportunities.

Last year, I created a curriculum for TREC that fostered the 21st century skills already inherent in the program and combined it with a curriculum that focused on eco-relevant literature and aligned it with national learning standards.  I was able to virtually facilitate my first class while on a 2,185 mile journey from Georgia to Maine.

This year I’m excited to continue developing an idea that I’m passionate about; I’ll have the opportunity to fully pilot the course and begin to incorporate authentic learning experiences.

The class objective is to combine Language Arts learning objectives and technical composition skills with eco-based literature and assessment.  The course analyzes various texts and their influence and/or relation to the reader and the natural world.  Students will engage in various authentic learning opportunities that prepare the student for essential 21st century skills.  Discussions will focus on the individual (self-awareness), the environment (awareness, preservation, consumption, conservation, advocacy, etc.) and the coexistence of the two.

I invite everyone to check it out and watch it grow!  Let me know how I can help incorporate it into your school’s curriculum!

studtsclass.weebly.com

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