Monday, May 3, 2010
Cannonball Clocks and Running up Giant Obelisks
So I have discovered a new form of exercise... running up to the top of the Washington Monument! One of the other rangers did it in nine minutes last week and that made me very curious as to how long it would take me to do the same. So I decided to try it last Sunday, and managed to reach the top in 8:32, which was better than I thought I could do! Well this has now spurred an unofficial contest amongst us younger rangers to see which of us can get up there in the fastest time. I did it again yesterday, this time in 7:45, so I am holding my own! It is ridiculously tiring. I don't actually know how I kept myself going because I wanted to quit after about 200 feet, and you are going up 500! So my new claim to ranger fame is holding the current record (for at least today!) of ascending the Washington Monument amongst the 2010 National Mall seasonal staff.
After running to the top last Sunday I went out onto the mall for an earth day celebration, ran into some of the navi from Avatar, listened to James Cameron ramble onstage for a while, and got to hear "Sting." That was pretty fun. You don't have things like that happen in most national parks!
I am only a few days away from giving my special program on Joshua Chamberlain at the Lincoln Memorial. I am excited for it! The last pieces of my Civil War uniform are supposed to arrive in the mail today so that I will be able to do the program as Chamberlain himself. I still have quite a lot to do in order to prepare for this program and it is adding a lot of unrequired effort and work to what I would otherwise be doing, but I think it will be completely worth it to be able to actually portray a Civil War soldier and to talk about something I am so interested in.
When I went to go to Lincoln this last Friday I discovered that the stereo had broken the night before which meant I could not play the recording of Dr. King giving his speech for the program. Most people would have probably just canceled the program, but I figured why not go talk about it anyway? It turned out that I had a larger group that was very interested in what I was talking about so I spontaneously decided to give the speech myself. Since I now carry a copy of it with me whenever I am at Lincoln (after giving it myself in January) I simply had to take it out of my pocket. It ended up being another powerful moment for me as I did my best to emulate the spirit and meaning of Dr. King as he addressed the crowd from that same spot 47 years ago. When I finished the program (which ran about 45 minutes) I had not only the entire original group of people, but quite a few add ons as well, about 85 people altogether. One man approached me in tears and thanked me for giving the speech myself the way I did, saying that had I played the recording he would have drifted and not paid attention, but having me actually give the speech held his attention completely and gave it a much deeper meaning and significance. Once again, I was deeply touched by the impact that I can have in what I do here on the mall!
Another great highlight in recent days was a visit to Thomas Jefferson's estate of Monticello. I thought I had a great appreciation of Jefferson before, but after seeing his home and all the fascinating architectural stylings and various inventions contained within I had a completely new love for the man and what he represents! One of my favorites is the clock in the front hall which is weighted with cannon balls hanging down on lines on both sides of the room. It has to be wound at the beginning of each week and then the balls slowly descend throughout the week. He marked the wall where each new day would begin at midnight. The only problem was that there wasn't quite enough wall and the balls would hit the floor before reaching the end of the week. So he cut a hole in the floor and the balls go right on through where they terminate with Saturday's mark in the basement.
Monticello is on a hill in an absolutely lovely setting and this was an excellent time to visit because everything is green and the tulips in his garden added great and colorful variety to the landscape. I could definitely be very happy living there! I am thinking of seeing if I can move in there and commute in to DC!
Resting in His peace,