The Clemson University student farm was located in a valley right next to the college. It was great to see how another university that had a more developed farm worked. They gave us a tour of the farm and talked about all the interesting things they were doing, like how they planted their crops at an angle to optimize runoff and sunlight capture and how they used ponds to catch water runoff from their barn roof, to reflect sunlight to their advantage, and to regulate the temperature in their hoop houses.
Listening to Prof. Zehnder and Shawn the farm manager about the slope of the beds for irrigation. Courtesy: Christina
The farm was very impressive in how they used intensive permaculture to make sure everything fit together in an integrated system so that everything was benefiting something else. Some of their upcoming projects are to use the farm as a teaching tool and the basis for an agriculture class. They are also working on a system that will compost all of the college’s food waste which they can turn into biofuel and animal feed. Their farm was a really inviting and nice place to be and it was a beautiful evening when we were there. This was a great place on the trip because we were able to see firsthand how people are changing our food system from big business agriculture back to a more sustainable, local, and healthy system. We were also able to take things away from the visit that we can hopefully apply to our own growing student farm in Albion!
Inside the hoop house. Courtesy: Christina
We traveled to the State Museum and the first eye-catching feature is the giant brick building, which isn’t your typical building for a museum. This is because the building was an old working mill and they kept the natural state of the building and some of the open features when they built the museum. This museum didn’t take long to catch your attention, as you enter the first exhibit a gigantic white shark is hanging above your head. Another eye catching feature was, you can see the first floor from the second with the very open floor plan making the flow of the museum better than tons of small rooms. This feature was the idea of and Albion alum David Sennema who did a lot with designing the rooms. The museum really wanted to cater to kids and having interactive exhibits where kids can learn hands onrather than having to read or be lectured to.
Caitlyn frightened by dinosaurs taking over the world. Courtesy: Scott
Ken and James with a glyptodont. Courtesy: Christina
Huntington Beach was our first stop of the trip. We met with Ranger Mike who took us for a walk around the state park and talked about some of its features. There were bodies of water that made up an estuarian system, and these are actively managed in order to increase species diversity where some of the lakes were freshwater, while the others were salt water. This allowed a variety of different species to live here such as alligators and many birds. Ranger Mike also addressed their growing problem with the endangerment of sea turtles. In order to protect them, they are trying to reduce the fox population and restricting dogs to one area of the beach. This reduces the amount of predators in the park that can harm the new sea turtle eggs. They also enclose active nests in large wire cages. After walking through the forest, we went for a walk on the beach and got to hold cannon ball jellyfish that had washed up on the shore. One of the interesting things that we noticed along the coast was the effects of the salt spray from the ocean on the local flora. There were some trees that were completely bald of leaves on the side that was facing the ocean. Despite the rainy weather of this hike, it was informative and interesting to see the different kinds of environments that can be adjacent to each other and also simultaneously work together.
Caitlyn on the hike around the park.. Courtesy: Lauren
Huntington Beach! Courtesy: Lauren
On our field trips the school will be ever so kind and buy the group dinner. We had asked people that lived in the area about good places to eat in town and the consensus was to go to The Mellow Mushroom. With the restaurant being in a college town, it was very eccentric. There was a large tiger in the front lawn and the first floor ceilings were removed to be able to see furniture that was set up around the edges. Even the bathrooms were oddly decorated with graffiti and an Alice in Wonderland theme. The pizzas that we ordered were all delicious and with this good food and unique atmosphere, we all had an enjoyable time chatting about the day’s events and catching up.
Noelle, Hannah, and Heidi in front of The Mellow Mushroom with the tiger. Courtesy: Timbob
Mellow Mushroom sign. Courtesy: Scott
During the first night hike, Mr. Green found a great example of what slithers through the woods, or, as in this case lies too cold to move. Dave is shown showing off his find to any who wanted a “hands on” experience with the creatures of this region.
Mr. Green led us on two separate night hikes. Being that he had previously worked at the park he had many stories to tell along the way. The hikes were a welcomed addition to the itinerary and a worthwhile experience. The South Carolina moon was full as we followed the trail. We called for Owls, listened and looked for more small eyes straying
back at us from the foliage, and discussed different aspects of work in the Department of Natural Resources.
On the second hike the group was much smaller, only three of us went. Mr. Green was still our guide as we attempted the bike trail which circled Lake Marion, a man-made lake mostly for use in recreation. The crisp air and nearly silent woods were broken up along the way by rustlings of brush and our own conversations. We walked until the sounds of civilization crept into our journey about 2.5 miles in, we had made it about half way through; not bad for a spur of the moment midnight hike that will be remembered
for the rest of my life!
Lauren and Sunil wait for breakfast
We spent 4 nights of the trip on the train. I thought a train ride would be a lot like a plane ride, but there is a lot more open space. There were also observation cars and dinning cars. These were surprisingly comfortable and had tables to play card games on. Most of us spent our waking hours on the train in these cars, playing card games. The trains also had power outlets, which was nice because Sunil and I needed to finish a paper.
- On the way to South Carolina. Courtesy: Scott DesRosiers
Camp life is often interesting and full of surprises. This year’s trip wasn’t any different as it was raining whole day of the very first day of camping. Based on popular vote, out team leader Tim Bob decided to spend the night camping instead of spending it in a local church basement offered by former Albion College President Peter Mitchell. Putting up camp in a rain is challenging as you are trying to keep the inside of the tent dry. Luckily, we were allowed to used a shelter in the park to cook our food and enjoy our dinner. After a long wet day, we ate our dinner and were ready for an adventure back to the tent under continuous rainfall. Also, I forgot to mention it was my birthday and, I was rather very surprised that there was birthday cake for me. Thanks to everyone. We went to bed in the relative dry tent; however, I woke up in a pool of water on either side of my sleeping pad. The tent had leaked although it was supposed to be waterproof. Although, I slept quiet well, my sleeping bag and other tent gear were very wet.
I personally enjoy camp life a lot. Cooking dinners are always fun and exciting. Dr. Lincoln is very creative in making delicious and quick camp dinner. We had Taco salad, chicken chilli and spaghetti as our dinners in the camp. Morning breakfast are also very nice. A big mug of cofffe with various cereals and fruits always started the day in high note.
In addition, we made fire around the camp almost every day of the trip. We stayed around the fire and talked about things. Camp fires always provided us with the opportunity to talk about the day we just had or any Albion related issues we wanted to talk about. We also managed to have some s’more at Table Rock State Park.
We arrived at Table Rock State Park late on March 7th 2012. Next day, after some breakfast at the camp and some clean-up, we headed to meet Interpreter Roger Scott. Scott welcomed us in a lodge that was build during recession in order to provide people with employment. The lodge was build by Civil Conservation Corps, and later used as hotel located on a hill right next to an artificial lake.
After looking around the lodge for sometime, we went to the other visitor information station where we were scheduled to meet State Park Director, Phil Gaines. Meeting with the Director was one of highlights and “coolest” parts of the trip. The Director started with the history, mentioning how he went to school with African-Americans for the first time when he was bussed from his rural town into into Greenville in the sixth grade. He also discussed segregation in in the State Park system, and how the state closed all parks at one point, rather than desegregate them. Explaining in his Southern accent, early interaction with African American community helped him understand racial discrimination present in the society.
He then moved forward in explaining the finncial challenges the parks in South Carolina are facing especially parks like Table Rock. The state wants the parks to be economically self sufficient, so the parks must generate revenue on their own to manage the parks . However, the Director explained there is more administrative freedom in running self-sustaining parks as suppose to State controlled parks.
The Director further shed light on the structural make-up of the parks in South Carolina and Table Rock. He also suggested us to visit the Green space in Greenville and definitely walk around Main Street. The final destination for the day was Greenville, South Carolina and catching a train to Washington DC.
The State Park Director explaining us the history of State parks in South Caroline. Courtesy: Tim Bob
We took a lunch break after talking to the Director. In the meantime, some students along with Dr. Doug White played Frisbee while Tim Bob napped in the warm sunny day.
- Tim Bob napping during lunch break at Table Rock. Courtesy: David Green
After lunch we took a mile long hike up the table Table Rock State Park accompanied by Ranger Scott. As we took this very refreshing and rejuvenating hike we were able to wintness some Dusky Salamanders and Water Snakes along the stream.
Hannah Pankratz, a geology major,looking at the rock structures on a hike to Table Rock. Courtesy: Tim Bob
After the hike were then headed to Greenville South Carolina. On the way to Greenville we also stopped at Caesar’s Head and in Devil’s kitchen.
Noelle and Sunli battle for position in the creek. Photo by Dave Green
The Seabrook Kayak trip was cut short because it was too windy to go all the way to the ocean. Instead we paddled around the marshland that was only somewhat protected from the wind. We learned that dolphins will sometimes swim up estuaries to coral fish and trap them up against the shoreline. We also learned about the biodiversity of that habitat. They’re several species of crab that call the marshland their home. Many insects live in the tall grass. Many of us made the unfortunate decision to wear jeans. Sea kayaks are very close to the water and are designed to take on water. They have holes right next to where you sit, so most of us got are jeans soaked. The trip was a lot of fun though and the interpretive rangers had a lot of cool information to share.
In DC we were given free time as long as we made it back to the station in time for the train ride out. On our first stop in DC, we ate at the matchbox, a restaurant with unparalleled sliders and very good pizza. Then we walked up the mall to the Washington monument. It started to rain so most of us found Smithsonian’s to hang out in. We went to a Thai restaurant and I tried Thai food for the first time. All in all, it was very cool to see the nations capital and eat great food.