Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Summer of The Civil War, Colin Powell, Middle School Students, and Groundhogs

Summer has come to Northern Virginia! Though we are still having some beautiful weather on days like today, there are also clear foreshadowings of the oppressive humidity that is to come. Along with the summer weather we are also enjoying lots of bugs, significantly more commemorative events for the Civil War in the near future, and NOT BEING IN SCHOOL! For the past six years summer has meant little different than any other season in terms of my schedule, but this year I once again experienced that feeling of blessed relief that only summer break from school can bring.       

I have continued to enjoy a variety of projects and opportunities at work in the last few weeks. Memorial Day weekend this year marked, not only the unofficial beginning of summer, but also my 29th birthday and the concert on the west lawn of the US Capitol. Even though I am no longer working on the National Mall, because I am still in the National Capitol Region I was able to work the Memorial Day concert and get paid a little overtime. Alison came along and attended the rehearsal on Saturday, which went very well. As it turns out it is good she came to the rehearsal, because the actual concert on Sunday ended up being cut short because of a huge thunderstorm heading for the capitol. It was quite a sight to see the entire audience and all the performers evacuate. I was truly amazed how many capitol police officers showed up from wherever they were hiding to help facilitate it. As the evacuation was about to take effect I passed within a few feet of Chris Daughtry and Selma Blair and a little before it ended Colin Powell walked right in front of me to get into his car. So I got a pretty good dose of "celebrity" sightings before running from the rain and thunder myself. I arrived back at my truck just as the storm was hitting. It couldn't have been any closer!

This past Thursday I spent the day speaking to eighth graders about the Park Service at career day at a local middle school. I put together a powerpoint presentation highlighting the different types of positions with the park service and many of the more interesting and unique things I have gotten to do in the four jobs I have had. I had a lot of fun putting it together and enjoyed the actual presentation as well. It was a great opportunity to tie my experience together and tangibly represent to others why I love my job.  I was one of around 20 different options the kids could choose to learn more about and I ended of giving the presentation 12 times to different groups of kids.  Many of them were squirrely eighth graders, but I had several that were genuinely interested and asked good questions. One boy in particular was quite interested and engaged. In my mind it was worth going just for him!

In the past month several anniversaries of elements of the Peninsula and Valley Campaigns have occurred and I have helped to write accounts of different elements of the story that have appeared on many of the different park facebook pages. The one I am most excited about will post this Monday, June 18, and will actually show up, not at one of the battlefields, but on the Shenandoah National Park webpage.

I had the idea of including the stories of "Stonewall" Jackson's movement of troops through the Blue Ridge Mountains as a part of the larger story of the war and presented a plan of doing so to the chief of interpretation at Shenandoah. After I described what I wanted to do, he signed on to the idea, and I put it together. What I wrote will go up on their website and facebook page on Monday. It was a fun way to use my former knowledge, experience, and connections to accomplish something new.

We put the finishing touches on the magazine I have been working on for the past few months and actually got the physical copies in hand on Friday morning. It turned out well overall. This magazine will be out in all the parks in the region and available for visitors to pick up to learn more information about both the history of what happened 150 years ago and about events that are occurring now. Though I am not officially an author, I did help edit each of the articles you will find inside and  I was the primary designer of the finished product.


Work has also provided an opportunity to enjoy a family of groundhogs who has taken residency under the house I work out of. These are some of my favorite pictures.

More can be found in an album I posted a few days ago.

Alison and I have officially been married for five months. It has gone rather quickly thus far, and we are continuing to enjoy the many blessings of our new life together, and adjusting to all that it means. We now have a plethora of pictures related to the wedding on our wall including a recent addition  of a drawing my sister Callie did of one of our engagement pictures. It is definitely feeling like a home. :)

In addition to my trips to cover anniversary events at Civil War battlefields our hope is to enjoy a few short camping trips this summer and then take a drive up to New England in October to see the fall colors and to visit four of the five states I have not been to (leaving only Alaska outstanding).

The Adventure continues!

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