Blue Ridge Parkway Post Drive and Farewells

Saturday July 12th, 2008  was a day of quickly packing up the remains of our dorm rooms, of saying goodbye to some, for others it is a ‘see you at the next NEH workshop’.   We packed up,  had a quick breakfast and then boarded the bus for a final  drive along the parkway. We re-visited several of the stops we made on our first night here.  Obviously the weather was a major difference We enjoyed sunshine and bright weather today.  We recorded our impressions in our journal ( which was submitted once we returned home).  We reflected on the various lectures from the past week and how it affected our enjoyment of this road.

Amy from Philadelphia and I on the BRP

Amy from Philadelphia and I on the BRP

We then returned to the Campus to complete a on line evaluation for the NEH.  After that, I snuck out to take a few more snaps of campus and the pretty area.  I think that if I had the opportunity, I would love to spend four years studying for a degree here.  The opportunities to learn and grow would be invaluable.

By 2.30pm, I was on the road with a few other participants to the Greensboro Airport , in Greensboro, North Carolina for a 8pm flight. perhapss a long time to wait in an airport, though it was lovely to have the quiet time to sit and read quietly.

My airplane  in Greensboro, North Carolina

My airplane in Greensboro, North Carolina

Recreation and segregation on the BRP

Sarah Potwin at A.S.U.

Sarah Potwin at A.S.U.

Thursday, July 10th. Day 5 in Boone, North Carolina began with an early start. After a quick breakfast in the school cafeteria ( though there was time for a quick latte at the Student Union coffee bar..!) we boarded the bus for Julian Park were we met with Dr. Eric Faruman and Dr. Wayne Williams, both professors in the recreation management department at Appalachian State University. Despite the rain, we met as a group in the outdoor amphitheater to discuss the importance of field trips for our children. Last Child in the woods:saving our children from nature deficit disorder by Richard Lou was cited a number of times. Leave no ethics and outdoor education resources such as Project

Dr. Eric Frauman, Price Lake, BRP

Dr. Eric Frauman, Price Lake, BRP

Wild were introduced. We discussed the role of class field trips for our students and how it can improve their understanding of the curriculm. Field trip management ( risk management) and funding were also reviewed. A planned 2.4 mile hike around Julian Price Lake was cut short due to earlier rains causing the trails to be impassable near the half way point. We examined rhododendrons ( which grow rampant in this area of North Carolina, a water snake and several trees which have been partially chewed by a resident beaver.(One of Sarah Potwin’s favorite animals.)

After a box lunch in the amphitheater, we again boarded the bus to a brief travel to Doughton Park, mile marker 238-245. Historian Elizabeth Hunter gave a brief talk of race and segregation along the BRP. She lead us on a walk of one of the hidden segregated picnic areas, a less scenic location for minorities in the 40s and 50s. Lunch counters could be used by whites only. An immensely scenic location, which takes full advantage of the neighbouring mountains was located higher on a hill in Doughton Park. This location has been maintained today, with advantageous access to washrooms and nearly parking areas. The segregated picnic area is no longer maintained as that the segregation policy of the National Park Service has long since been abandoned. We discussed the notion of who the BRP is for, and providing services for all. Oral history has proven to be an important source of historical information on this topic.

Brinegar Cabin, Mile marker 238, BRP

Brinegar Cabin, Mile marker 238, BRP

Our final stop took us past some of the most spectacular vistas so far on our week of learning. Brinegar Cabin was home to Martin and Caroline Brinegar from 1880 to 1937 when the Park Service purchased it to construct the BRP. The property has been maintained as a traditional Appalachian cultural landscape for visitors. Ironically, the Brinegar cabin offers a much different glimpse into Appalachian living in comparison to the Cone Mansion, which was being lived in at roughly the same time. This location reinforces the traditional public concept of simple Appalachian living, yet demonstrates the hard work required to forge out a living : growing food to be self sustaining, growing and harvesting flax and wool to weave, shoe making etc. It portrays a self sufficiency in pioneer lifestyle ( learned gardening techniques, spring fed water supply).

Our National Park Rangers were excellent speakers, knowledgeable and

National Park Service park Ranger, Brinegar Cabin, BRP

National Park Service Park Ranger, Brinegar Cabin, BRP

willing to demonstrate many of the processes which the Brinegar family used in their daily lives. Strong family values in a pre- industrial time are evident. The Brinegar family were not bothered by a need for a modernity lifestyle. Martin Brinegar is buried at a nearby crest of the Parkway. Caroline left the property in 1937. The National park Service granted the property to her until her death. Though, in 1937 she left due to the interruption of the parkway’s construction in her quiet lifestyle. A heavy machinery ( bulldozer, crane depot as located nearly 150 feet away from her cabin) as well as blasting of North Carolina rock was occurring in the area , both shattering she sense of quietness and autonomy.

Our return to Boone was later than anticipated. Thus, a few fellow participants and I found a place off campus for a quick dinner before returning to my room for reading and writing.

Arrival in Boone, North Carolina

After leaving the Sarasota airport at 7.11am on Sunday July 6th, I was ready for my big adventure. Flying to Boone, North Carolina was a new experience for me, as that I have never flown out of our neighbouring ( and manageabley a smaller airport) and secondly, I have never been to Boone, North Carolina. Many of my Saint Stephen’s students have spoken about it, as that it is an area many know from their summer vacations. I have been admitted to a National Endowment for the Humanities program, titled Landmarks in American History. Its aim is to better equip elementary and secondary teachers with a first hand knowledge of American history. Each workshop is one week in length and offers a different theme from America’s history. While in Boone, I shall be studying the creation of the Blue Ridge Parkway, its benefits and its effects on those who own land in the area.

41 participants from all over the country will be lodging at Appalachian University, the school hosting this workshop. I anticipate that I shall leave with a better appreciation for the natural world around me, a better understanding of history in the Appalachian Mountains as well as between communicating with my students about an area they know well.

My arrival in Greensboro, North Carolina , speedy check into the assigned dorm and then we were off to enjoy a ‘pre-drive’ of the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway. Armed with a notebooks and pen, participants were asked to journal their initial impressions of the parkway. This journal will be contrasted to a second journal entry at the end of this week long workshop.

Initially, I was impressed by the intensive lushness of the plants. Of the carefully planned groupings of trees, selective trimming of branches to maximize views, of how views are structured to get people out of their cars to interact with nature( hiking on trails, picnics, snap photos of the mountains), of how ‘Hillbilly Culture’ is stages for entertainment purposes ( i.e. abandoned cabins constructed by the road side. The every winding curve of the road becomes the driver on, yet slow speed of 35-45 miles an hour must be maintained for safety as well as maximum enjoyment of the natural world.

The Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway hosted a welcome picnic at the Cascade Overlook for workshop participants. Despite the rain, the view was enjoyed by all as we interacted and introduced ourselves.