Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nearing the End of the First Project

Fall Creek Falls State Park, Cascade Falls

part of the Cable Trail

It has been two weeks since my last feels like not much has happened and yet that time is flying by so fast. We only have two more weeks here at Fall Creek Falls before moving on to the next project. I have really enjoyed working on two different state parks, as well as meeting new people and doing new things. One of the major things that I have been working on this past week is running more consistently. I have found that I actually like to run. Also found a really fun trail to hike/climb. It is called the Cable Trail, which is the perfect name since the trail is about a 45 degree slope to climb up and down over rocks. I had a blast climbing the trail by myself.

Jessie and Jon (one of the seasonal rangers)
Work-wise things have been going well. We are getting close to the end of the trail at Cummins Falls, then there are some finishing touches to do at Cummins Falls before the grand opening of the park. At Fall Creek Falls, we have been working on trail maintenance, started building some bridges for the trails, as well as making signs for the trails and clearing a new trail. All in all, we have been very busy with work and trying to not get bored in our down time. The closest internet is 5 miles from where we are living, the closest gas station is 15 minute drive, and the closest Wal-Mart is 45 minute drive away. Basically, we are living in the middle of a state park in the middle of nowhere.


This week we found out were we are heading next, the only information that we know so far is what city we are working in and who we are working for. We will be in Tuscaloosa Alabama working for Habitat for Humanity for the next couple of months. I am really excited to be working with Habitat, since it will be construction work!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Some Pictures

a kumquat tree

the best smoothie place in Vicksburg!

the smoothie sign

Travis and G helping clean up my dorm floor after the water main broke.

Cummins Falls, we are building the trail to this waterfall!!

Jessie with a 4 yr old box turtle

Cellus with the same turtle

The view from the overlook on Easter morning at the sunrise service.

a log in the way of the trail

I chopped through it myself!!

Round 1 Midpoint

 These past couple of weeks have been very difficult for me, mostly rewarding but definitely difficult. About two weeks ago, I got really sick. I barely had any energy to move let alone to try to work hard physical labor. For three days I tried to work through it but by the third day, Max (my team leader) and I decided it would be best to see a doctor and make sure that there was not anything seriously wrong with me. Basically the doctor told me that I have overworked myself and my body just needed a rest. I ended up taking the next day off of work and slept all day and all night. I was able to work on the last workday of that week, but I made sure not to push myself too hard. That weekend most of the team decided to go out of town for the weekend, so it was just Dave and I staying on site for the weekend. It was a very nice relaxing weekend for me, I was able to catch up on sleep that my body so desperately needed. Also, I was able to go to a sunrise service for Easter Sunday at the park. It was the first time that I have been to a sunrise service that I can remember. It was also really nice of Dave to offer to take me to church before I had a chance to ask him.

This last week was a good week, but at points stressful. Monday I still wasn't feeling the greatest, so I worked at a slower pace than I normally would. Tuesday I felt quite a bit better, went for a jog with Jessie in the morning, worked all day, then was able to do PT in the afternoon without totally exhuasting myself. We played soccer as a part of PT and I had forgotten how competitive I can be when I am motivated to be. It was a lot of fun. Wednesday I worked all day and felt pretty good. Thursday I chopped through a fallen tree all by myself. I was very happy to complete it by myself without needing to ask for any help. The last part was really difficult to chop through, as it was an old oak tree. Friday we had the day off from regular work (instead we worked on Saturday) so we did an Independent Service Project (ISP) at a senior citizens center. Because Max got sick, I was the one in charge of figuring out what project to do and was the temporary team leader for the day. It turned out to be a decently good day, it was a light day of work and most of the team was able to rest in the afternoon, which was very much needed. Saturday we worked around Fall Creek picking up trash off of some of the trails in the park. Sunday was the day that was my favorite and least favorite at the same time. We were able to sleep in, and went rock climbing and repelling in the afternoon. I repelled both cliffs that they set up. The first one was Copperhead Rock-50 feet tall, the second one, Buzzards Roost, was 150 feet. I am scared of heights, so I was very nervous about backing myself off the edge of a cliff, but I am so glad that I did it. It was the most exhilarating thing that I have done in a long time.   

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Project (Round) 1--Week One

This past week has been a very long, stressful and wonderful week all rolled together in one.  Last Sunday was a long day for me.  Due to team stuff to prepare for our first project, I was not able to go to church.  We spent most all of the day together as a team trying to prepare for meetings on Monday and Tuesday before heading out on Wednesday. 

Monday was induction--so now I am officially an AmeriCorps NCCC member.  The speeches were good and somewhat moving.  The rest of the day was spent in meetings.  Tuesday was an insane busy day for me--we had cleaning like crazy to do and I needed to also pick up the tools for our project, then had a meeting in the afternoon and room inspections in the evening.  If we (even one member of the team) did not pass the room inspections (including the bathrooms, lounges, and kitchen) we were not allowed to leave until it was corrected and reinspected.  We also had our presentation in the morning, which went decently well.  The room inspections passed with only a few minor issues to be corrected.  But that night around 10 p.m. the water main broke in our building.  It made for a very long and busy night right before leaving early in the morning on an eight hour drive.  Wednesday was the travel day--a very long travel day.  We had two vans to drive, the passenger van and a cargo van.  Three times during the day the vans got separated from each other and one of them (the cargo van each time) got lost.  The last two times we got lost, I was in the cargo van with Dave--the worst part was that my cell phone had died right as we got lost and Dave didn't have a cell phone at the time--so no way to really contact the other van.  Thankfully we were able to find the other van without too much trouble.

Thursday was our first day on our project site.  We are working and living at a state park with waterfalls similar to Ithaca, NY!  Most of the day was spent in orientation and seeing different parts of the park.  We came back to the ranger house that we are living in and worked in the afternoon clearing the yard and chopping some trees.  We raked the leaves into a pile and burned them, the ranger working with us (Stuart) also told us that we could have campfires whenever we wanted.  I smelled like wood smoke when we were finished working!  It was so much fun!

But I think Friday, Saturday and so far today have been my favorite days this week.  Friday we traveled to Cummins Falls, a newly acquired state park that we are building trails for.  In the morning we were able to see the falls and climb down to them the old-fashion way--climbing down the rocks with a rope tied to the trees.  I could and would do it every day!  Then after lunch and a short-ish rain shower, we were trained on the basics of trail clearing.  We spent the rest of the afternoon clearing part of the trail.  A lot of hard work, but so rewarding.  Saturday was a nice relaxing day for me.  I was the first person up, so I decided to explore some of the trails around our cabin.  Ended up going on over an hour long hike, came back, relaxed for a while, then did PT as a team.  We did a caterpillar run (where the person on the end sprints to the front and sets the pace until the next person reaches the front).  I was pretty happy that I almost made it to the end without slowing down---right before the last corner I needed to walk for a little bit, but I was hanging in there with some of the guys (Max, Kevin and Alex).  I really enjoyed the challenge of PT.  After supper, we played hide and seek in the dark.  Our cabin is right next to the woods and most of the girls and some of the guys were scared with how dark and creepy it looked.  That and I hid too good, we played it twice and they couldn't find me either time.  It was so much FUN!!  Today has been nice and relaxing as well.  I have been enjoying being able to relax, not sure how often we will get weekends with nothing planned on them.

Looking forward to this next week, it will be hard work but also a lot of fun!  Next time I hope to put some pictures up as well.

Week 3

3-17-12 (Saturday)
Saturday was interesting.  We had "tool" training all day.  Basically we went back to the two houses that we had worked on gutting the week before and worked on some rebuilding of those houses.  Mostly it was prep work for making the houses livable again.  Most of what my team and I were working on was pulling nails off the studs so that drywall could be hung.  Also, we worked on supporting some of the studs with L-braces.  After lunch we were able to hang some insulation and a 4x12 sheet of drywall.  It was nice to be doing construction again.

3-18-12 (Sunday)
This morning a group of us went to an African Methodist Episcopal Church.  It was interesting and the members of the church were very welcoming.  The church was very glad to see us there as visitors.  I really enjoyed the sermon.  It was about Josiah and how he repented and turned toward God.  The pastor kept making the point that there is nothing new under the sun and that God has a special plan for each one of our lives if only we will dig deep enough to find it.

3-19-12 (Monday)
We had classes in the morning, then headed out for a camping trip in the afternoon.  We went to Holly Springs National Forest.  Even though we got lost on the way to the park, we were still able to get a good campsite.  It was next to the lake with a dock at the site.  By the time that our supplies came--they were packed in a cargo van for the whole group, not just our team)--it was dark.  It made for a very long day by the time we finally ate supper and set up our tents.

3-20-12 (Tuesday)
We worked most of the day digging up campsites that were rarely used.  It involved smashing concrete and taking apart picnic tables.  A fun day, but physically intense.  As we went to make supper, we found out that the main part of supper somehow had never been packed to take camping.  Therefore most of the team went shopping for supper, I was too tired to go shopping and stayed at the campsite.  By the time they got back with food, it was pretty late.  Again, a very long day.  We decided to sleep on the dock instead of in the tents that night.  It was nice to look up at the stars, but it was a bad night sleep wise.

3-21-12 (Wednesday)
Ropes course day--we were kinda robbed though, a rain storm came in well we were still at the course.  I enjoyed doing all of the low elements, and pushed myself through my fear of heights and climbed a 30 foot wall and zip-lined to the bottom.  It was really scary, but I had fun doing it and would do it again!

3-22-12 (Thursday)
We went to Jackson because the state congress wanted to give us an award.  My team was not one of the teams chosen to be presented with the award.  Instead, we went to the old Capitol building, which had been converted into a museum.  I really enjoyed touring the museum.  In the afternoon we had some more classes for specialty role training.  Dave and I are what is called VST (vehicle, safety, tools), basically, we are in charge of the van, safety wherever we are, and taking care of the tools.  Heidi and I are Peer Helpers, which is basically like a counselor only without all the training--we are there for the members of the team and if need be refer them to a team leader or the counselor.  It was also one of my team-mates (Alex) birthday.  His parents had arraigned to get him a cake for his birthday and Max (our team leader) let me in on the secret and picked it up from the office and hid it.  It was a fun night.

3-23-12 (Friday)
In the morning we had our last PT as a Corps.  Afterwards we worked on a presentation that we needed to present that day.  Max also asked me (spur of the moment) to be his assistant team leader for this project.  It wasn't really a shock that he asked me, it was more of the short notice and the added sense of responsibility that threw me for a loop for a little bit.  The rest of the day was spent in meeting aver meeting.  After the meetings, I fell asleep until supper time, then went straight to bed after supper.