The South

Hey everybody!

It is stinkin’ hot down here!!! We just completed our 8-day trail work project outside of Columbia SC. It was an amazing project despite the heat and the swimming humidity.

We lived in a dirt warehouse with sleeping mats on the floor. There were no showers, so needless to say, we were fithy and smelly by the end of the 8 days. Every morning we drove 30 min out to the Palmetto Trail. The Palmetto Trail is a trail that stretches across the state. what is interesting about this trail is that Americorps NCCC has built 70% of it so now that it is being shut down, there are not many volunteers working on it.

Our job on the trail was to build railings on one of the tenth of a mile long bridges through the swamp. These bridges are old Civil War railroad trestles that were used to transport Confederate supplies though the swamp. The Union troops (or Yankees as they call them down here) found out about the supplies and destroyed the train. There are still artifacts that are found in this area such as cannon balls, railroad pieces, and musket shells.

To build these railings, we had to nail brackets to stiffeners, then attach support beams to the stiffiners. We then placed these beams every 8 ft. Another group was nailing 2x4s into the brackets. We developed an effective system, and were able to complete the Bridge in the alloted time, which the site supervisor didn’t think we would be able to. Also, we had to take 1.5 days off because of the rain. The rain makes the red clay roads impossible to drive on so we were not able to make it down to work. In facct, when we tried, we got stuck and had to push the van out of the mud for 3 hours (why we don’t have 4-wheel drive is beyond me).

The trail was beautiful. 20ft below us was a cypress swamp with aligators, beavers, and cottonmouth snakes. It was amazing to look down while working and see all these creatures swimming. We also saw many butterflies, owls, turkeys, and deer.

The only bad part wbout the project was the heat. It is stupid hot down here. It would get to the end of the day and we couldn’t form articulate sentences, and every movement was in slow motion, which is hard when you are hammering. Also, we worked with some other volunteers for a few days who were a little sexist. they would say:

“Hey honey, let me screw that in for you, you will probably drop it aver the side, and we cant have that” (a new guy siad this after we had already installed 3/4 of the railings).

or “let me get some strong guys to help me lift this” or “where are all the guys?”

On the rainy days we went to local museums and learned about the natural history of SC as well as the military history. Reading about the Civil War was very interesting. Even more interesting was the exhibit of the old Confederate flags that used to hang outside the State House. The plaque read that it stood for southern pride and solidarity, but “some people” thought it “offensive” so now they had to take it down by law…

However this new law didn’t stop the confederate flag being hung on every other building in Columbia…(I’m getting a little tired of the heat, the sexism and the confederate flag). We also visited Charles Sumpter’s grave (for all you history buffs out there).

So I leave for Nashville tomarrow where we will be working 100 hour weeks!!! I think I will be life guarding…alot…which in Easter Seals means cleaning up a lot of fecal matter!!!

Hope all is well with everyone!

i miss you, keep writting!'