Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Day One: I woke up at my usual time of 5:30 a.m. We ate a great breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, cinnamon rolls and yogurt. Earlier I had been told I would have the first camp because I had injured my foot. It had healed up enough so that I could hike without much pain, so I ended up in camp #5 at Gentry Creek. I spent the first day building my shelter and gathering wood. I gathered enough wood to last me the whole expedition. At 3:30 p.m. I met up with Joseph for our check in. We talked for a little bit. I didn’t eat much but some young ferns and violets.
Day Two: Last night I woke up constantly in an attempt to keep my fire going, but around 8:00 a.m. when I woke up my fire was completely gone. At 9:30 a.m. I met up with Joe, but I was almost late because I had drifted back to sleep. I set out my fishing line in hopes of catching a fish or two. Near the middle of the day it began to sprinkle and my shelter didn’t leak at all. At 3:30 p.m. Joseph and I met up again. He had only caught one fish. I was beginning to feel weak, so I gathered some stinging nettles, got my fire nice and hot, and boiled some plain flavorless nettles. All I wanted then was some salt. I checked my line before I lay down to sleep, but I hadn’t caught any fish.
Day Three: I managed to keep my fire going all night, but came close to having it go out. I changed my socks this morning and sat around the fire with one sock off for about an hour. Around 9:00 a.m., I checked my fishing line and found that something had stolen the bait. At 9:30 a.m. when I met up with Joseph, I learned he hadn’t caught any fish either. I finished working on The Fountainhead today, and also finished reading The Bourne Identity. The day has been dragging by and I’m having a hard time believing that we’ll be back at the school by tomorrow evening. With this realization, I took some time to look around at nature and to listen to the babbling creek and watch the green leaves dance in the wind to the song of the creek. The moss and ferns stood stark still in contrast to the music and dancing going on around them. I can’t wait for nightfall so I can go to sleep.
Day Four: I didn’t have a fire this morning because I decided to let it go out last night. I took my time tearing down my shelter. My fire pit was nice and cold so I spread the ashes and carefully covered the pit. I wrapped one of the rocks from my fire pit and packed it in my day pack. By 8:30 a.m. my camp was no longer a camp, only an open spot on a rocky hillside. By 11:00 a.m. I had read a good portion of my third book, The Bourne Supremacy. At 11:15 a.m. the guys from upstream came by, and I joined the line heading home.
On the 20th of May, FMA students and staff went on a seventeen mile bike ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail, which used to be a railroad track. The train was made as an easier transportation system than walking over the mountains on foot, or by horse or carriage. It brought timber, iron and other goods to towns on the other side of Mt. Rogers.
When the more modern highway system came into existence, the tracks were taken up and converted into a beautiful gravel trail, which became an ideal bicycling and horse-back riding trail.
We began our journey at White Top Station, a place I remember stopping at during our March expedition. When we saw it last it was covered in three feet of snow.
We rode out, with Mr. Mike leading and 13 others following. We passed a campsite where we stayed in March, right next to a towering trestle bridge. The ride was gorgeous and scenic, following a stream the entire way, and I couldn’t help but smile as I passed through a new green world rather than the snow I saw the last time I was on this trail.
The sky was blue and it was a perfect temperature. We stopped a few times over the first ten miles to let everyone catch up. We arrived at the Creeper Trail Café in Taylor’s Valley for lunch. There we met Mr. Kevin, Ms. Patricia, Ms. Margaret and her youngest son Aidan. We had a wonderful lunch prepared by the FMA kitchen crew, and then Ms. Patricia gave us each five dollars to spend in the café. Most people chose ice cream and a slice of the famous Appalachian Chocolate Cake.
We departed at around 2:00 p.m., a little sluggish after our big meal, but still ready for fun on our last seven miles. These went by fast and smoothly. The trail wasn’t crowded, although we passed an occasional group of hikers or other bikers. We stopped about twenty minutes outside of Damscus, and skipped rocks on the stream and reflected on our day.
We arrived at Sundog Outfitters, where we had rented the bikes, at about 3:40 p.m., disappointed that the ride was over. I wanted more, but I was grateful for the experience. The trail is flat or downhill the whole way, and I recommend it to all families.
Our visit to the Carter Family Fold was an adventure. We had the chance to see where a different and very influential music culture began. We visited the old house on the property where A.P. Carter had lived and played music. It has been moved and turned into the Carter Family museum, but it is the house where Johnny Cash’s wife, June Carter Cash grew up. I had the privilege of sitting in a rocking chair that Johnny Cash himself gave to his wife’s family.
The Carter Family Fold is now a very comfortable building, which, through the help of donations collected by the Friends of the Carter Family Foundation, and grants from various arts and historical agencies, has been carefully remodeled to retain the old feel, but improve seating and sound. Mr. Kevin told us that there used to be old bus seats to sit on and it had a real back-woods feel, which would have been nice to see as well.
The old building seemed to come alive when The Kentucky School of Bluegrass students started to play, and people began to dance. It was a strange kind of dance they were doing. It was almost like tap dancing, but everyone was pretty much doing their own thing. I couldn’t figure out how to do it, so I stayed off the dance floor.
During the band’s break we were all given five dollars to spend at the snack bar, which gave us time to explore and talk to some great people. We met the Dean of The Kentucky School of Bluegrass, who was also one of the musicians, and he told us all about the program’s origins, and then gave us a sticker before starting the second half of the show.
After learning how to dance earlier this month, we had the chance to dance when the band played the Tennessee Waltz. I danced with Miss Hope Allen and had a blast. After our last dance, Mr. Mike and Mr. Kevin loaded us up on Ike, the school bus and drove an hour and a half through a thunderstorm back to the school.
I will never forget my visit to the Fold and hope to one day bring my own family there to share the joy and spiritual happiness I felt.
The morning of the Patriot’s Day Celebration, I got up and helped Mr. Dan and Patrick move the tables and chairs in preparation for a weekend of guests. I was excited for a few reasons, one of which was I knew we were going to be allowed to shoot the musket later that day, and I knew there was going to be lots of good food.
We all dressed in our blue polo shirts so the guests would be able to differentiate between guests and students. If anybody needed something they could just say, “Ask one of the guys in the blue shirts.”
We didn’t have much work to do the day of the celebration because we had done so much work getting ready the day before. When the guests arrived, it was quite fun because I met some interesting people and had some very interesting conversations about politics. It made me feel smart because I actually knew what they were talking about. There were some very good presentations by the guests, some that I could have argued about, and some that I could have just kept talking about for hours.
The musket was cool. It didn’t have quite the kick I expected from a 69 caliber rifle. We were shooting at a book made by the school, called “The Book of Bad Ideas.” The meals were delicious, so good in fact they could have been served at a five star restaurant. Well maybe that’s an exaggeration, but they were very good all the same, but the thing at the meals that was best was, once again, the conversations.
I realize how fast the year has gone by because it seems like the pond was just frozen over solid, but it’s now warm and open, with geese nesting next to it, and bass leaping to eat the bugs off the surface of the water. The snapping turtles are trying to disguise themselves to take a breath of air.
I don’t know where the year has gone, but we are now nearing the end. During this year I have changed a lot. I have learned responsibility and trustworthiness. What I hope to get out of the last two weeks is to learn as much as I can and get a couple more good experiences. I will leave here with a new attitude about people, and a new sense of responsibility and accountability, and, most important, I will leave here a trustworthy person who is respected.
As our time at FMA comes to a close I decided it would be a good idea to find out where all my classmates planned to go, what they planned to do and see, and generally what they’re thinking.
Chana plans to earn money this summer by walking her neighbor’s dog. She doesn’t plan to apply for college yet. Hope plans to graduate from school early and then study zoology or marine biology. She also wants to build a house of her own, climb Mt. Everest, and discover a new frontier. This summer, Jonny will be working with a neighbor doing any jobs that need doing, from fixing a conveyor belt to repairing a sink. He plans to continue his home-schooling and help fix his Grandma’s kitchen. He will also be working with one of his brothers mowing lawns to gain experience so he can start his own lawn service. Joseph is going on to college but is first going to visit some more campuses with his father. He is also planning to take some summer classes at Miami Dade College. Myles wants to apply to college for auto tech, specifically to work on diesel engines. Then he wants to get work at a shop and eventually start his own. Cree will be driving across country before moving to Australia to work. While in Australia he will be studying in various fields, including geology, medical technician, and farm veterinarian. When he has saved enough money he will return home to the U.S. and buy a ranch and board his mother’s horses and other people’s horses.
I plan on heading back into karate, working in construction, opening a small engine repair shop, and continue my knife smithing. I will also work at my parent’s hardware store, find a good working truck, take a year off from school, become manager of a catering business that a friend of mine owns, go to college for auto mechanics and eventually I will own my own business, or multiple businesses.
At FMA we students have participated in various work chores. From the MST to logging at the Mitchell’s horse farm, they have each been a learning experience for us. We have each liked and disliked certain chores, and we have all had our favorites.
Cree’s favorite was going logging at the Mitchell’s horse farm to get wood for the kitchen stove and the furnace. He says that he liked it because it gave him a chance to get off campus, and he also like the logging work and building brush fires with Mr. Kevin. Myles’ favorite is the same as Cree’s, “Because I got to enjoy seeing different things and just doing different jobs off campus.” Jonny’s favorite might surprise some people, because he enjoyed working on the MST (Manure Scooper Troop) and collecting horse manure for the garden. He liked it because, “I got to go off campus, and I got to have a nice long ride in the country. I had a good time with Patrick and Mr. Mike and I got to sling manure which is always fun.” Patrick’s favorite job was mowing with the DR all-terrain mower because, “It is something I know how to do, and I know how to do it well.” Hope’s favorite was collecting buffalo berries at the beginning of the year, “Because it was fun to get to know everyone.” Chana’s favorite was working in the kitchen with Ms. Margaret because, “We had a lot of fun and always finished everything on time.”
My personal favorite was when I got to build a bridge with Mr. Kevin, especially because I spent every day on that bridge until it was finished. It is my favorite because I got to learn how to build a bridge and how to cut down trees with a bow-saw and an axe.
The intriguing thriller V for Vendetta is a movie I would suggest to anyone who believes in freedom. Set in London, in a near dystopian future, the film follows the mysterious V, a freedom fighter seeking to encourage the people to rise up against their totalitarian government. He receives aid from a young woman named Evey, who has her own reasons for distrusting the government, but who is too fearful to do anything about it. Together they create an uprising which results in an exciting and satisfying conclusion.
The Kin of Ata are Waiting for You was written by Dorothy Bryant. It was copyrighted in 1976 and co-published in 1997 by Random House and Moon Books. This paperback edition has 224 pages.
Set on an island somewhere, this inspiring and imaginary fiction tells the story of a group of people who follow whatever their dreams tell them what to do. A man from America has a car crash as he wakes up he finds himself in a cave being cared for because of his injuries. After a while he finds himself following what they are doing and trying to fit in.
Although this is a fiction story, I had never read anything quite like it. People who had no electricity at all, no sense of the years, but knew from their dreams when they should be doing something. They used to plant wherever their dreams told them to in no specific order. Every morning before doing anything else they would share their dreams which someone else so it would be remembered. They had no writing system so everything was taken word of mouth. This book helped me see who I was in some aspects of following who and what I want to be because if they could prove themselves by dreams I could do that and other things. “You have only to want it, to believe it, and tonight when you close your eyes, you can begin your journey.”