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.