AT Hike, Pearisburg to Blacksburg

This week I spent four days hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail near Blacksburg, VA. Here’s a short breakdown of the trip and some photography from along the way. Day 1 – Pearisburg to Rice Field: Start near New River/Pearisburg, VA. Approximately 2.3 miles moderate climb to crest of Peters Mountain, then follow the ridge line 2.1 miles to Rice Field, with great views over West Virginia. Cold night, but the most beautiful place for a shelter. Day total: 4.4 miles, around 2’15” hiking time. Day 2 – Peters Mountain to Baileys Gap: Excellent conditions in the morning, cool …

Terre-de-Bas tourist center inaugurated

This news dates back to March 16, but I just recently found the picture that truly drives it home. This time last summer I was in Guadeloupe working with a group of students from VISIONS Service Adventures on a project to convert an open-air pavilion into a tourist welcome center for the small island of Terre-de-Bas. We left the project substantially built but unfinished — lacking paint and many finishing touches. Well, the local community stepped up to finish the job in style. The new tourist welcome center was inaugurated in March, in a ceremony that included the mayor of …

My (authoritative) guide to visiting New Orleans

Introduction New Orleans is justly famous for its food, music, and Mardi Gras celebrations. In some ways, it has more in common with some Caribbean communities than it does with other, more uptight, American cities. Embrace the relaxed way of life; don’t spend all your time rushing from place to place. New Orleans grew up around the curve in the Mississippi River that gave it the name “Crescent City”, and there’s no north-south-east-west grid to help you get around. Instead, directions can be given as “lakeside” (generally, north), “riverside” (generally, south), “upriver” or “uptown” (generally, west), and “downriver” or “downtown” …

Spring in Seattle

The season seems to bring highly variable weather. Rain, sun, wind, snow, even hail: we’ve had it all. Snow in the morning… …Sun in the afternoon. The pictures above and below were taken within a couple hours of each other. As they say, don’t like the weather during spring in Seattle? Wait 10 minutes; it’ll change.

The house

As promised, here is the house in Seattle that I am working on. It is a partial renovation; the existing house, which had no foundation to speak of, is being supported on a temporary structure (one of the wooden beams is visible under the house) while we pour a new concrete foundation. In this photo, the concrete footings have been poured, and the metal sticking up out of the ground is the steel reinforcement that will tie into the foundation walls. The new house will keep features of the old, while expanding in front and gaining a second story as …

Update: Seattle!

According to my rough calculations, around 26 million people worldwide have died while waiting for me to update this blog. In order to stop the situation from getting any worse, here’s a quick look at where I am and what I’ve been doing. August-December, I was in Virginia, spending time in my hometown and working as a programmer for Uncork-It, a small media & communications firm. I claim no mastery of programming, but I did some interesting work in PHP to set up an internal key inventory system for a department at Virginia Tech. I learned a lot and enjoyed …

New tourist welcome center for Terre-de-Bas

The Office de Tourisme of Terre de Bas asked VISIONS to help convert an open-air pavilion near the port into a tourist welcome center where information about the island and its attractions could be displayed to the public as they disembarked from the ferries. Measuring just over 5 by 6.5 meters (17 by 21 feet), the existing structure included a roof, posts, and partial walls. The project entailed creating an information counter, office space, and display space that would occupy the rear two-thirds of the pavilion. This space would need to be fitted with awning windows and doors so that …

8.22.11 – Looking for a more substantial look for Southern Live Oak after the minimalism of the past year, I’ve switched to The Morning After for the blog’s new theme. Let me know what you think!

Guadeloupe, le bilan

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent six weeks as a summer program leader in Guadeloupe for VISIONS Service Adventures. It was great! The work was very intense and often stressful, but it was worth it to experience a new and special place alongside a great group of staff and participants. (Bilan is the French word for assessment or report and in Guadeloupe it also referred to our group debriefing and sharing session, held every other day.) Read on for more pictures and words!

Je vais à Guadeloupe!

I’m lucky to have found an excellent summer job, one that will take me back out of the country for about 5 weeks this summer. I’m heading to Guadeloupe, a French island in the Caribbean, as a trip leader with a program called VISIONS Service Adventures. VISIONS runs community service programs for teens that blend volunteer work, cultural immersion and adventure. Here’s some information from VISIONS’ own website: In Guadeloupe, we’ll be living in a fishing village on the small island of Terre-de-Bas. Our service projects may include renovating public buildings, paving walkway,  landscaping, and trail maintenance. Participants will work with …