Saturday, April 14, 2012

Field Trip

On my, I'm tired. Through and through tired. I haven't done much today - didn't even paint at the farmhouse - and I'm still tired. It feels like I might be tired the rest of my life. You see, I went on a field trip. On a school bus. With children. Overnight. Oh, my.

Every spring, the fourth grade at Highland Elementary, where I'm the librarian, goes on an overnight field trip to Jamestown, Yorktown, and Colonial Williamsburg. Fourth graders spend their entire school year studying Virginia history, so a trip to Virginia's Historic Triangle is a given. For years now I've helped prepare the kids for this great trip by doing a book unit with a delightful little ghost story set in Williamsbug. We study a map of the Historic Area, learn about some of the important buildings, and look at lots of photographs of this amazingly restored colonial city. This year I was invited to go along on the trip. I love history and, although I've been to Willliamsburg and Jamestown before, it had been a long time and I was delighted to get to go. And it was a great trip. But my goodness, I'm tired!

We left Highland County on Thursday morning well before sunrise. Robin took me to meet the bus at 5:30 a.m., which meant I got up at 4:30. Ugh! One might think that ten little fourth graders would be on the quiet side at that early hour, but oh, no. They were all bright eyes and chipper, talking and laughing like they'd been up for hours. The first leg of any trip out of Highland County heading east is always crossing the mountains. If you've never done that on a school bus, consider yourself blessed. Then it was four hours of humming down Interstate 64 with the vibration of the bus such that taking anything but blurry photos was impossible. We did get to see a pretty sunrise though, and the rest stops were timed just about right for me. That's always a plus.

Once we arrived in Jamestown, there was no stopping and not a minute to spare. We gobbled our packed lunches and headed off with our tour guide to visit the Jamestown Settlement. This included a super museum, called The Gallery, a reconstructed Powhatan Indian village, the three ships (Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery) that brought the first colonists across the ocean, and the reconstructed Jamestown Fort. It really was amazing to see just what these people were up against in their effort to establish the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Call me a wimp if you like, but I don't think I would have fared very well, had I been among them. After seeing the reconstructed Jamestown, we headed to Historic Jamestown and toured the actual fort site, including the archaeological digs currently in progress and the Archearium, a museum that houses over a million artifacts recovered at this incredible site. Archaeologists have discovered the footprint of the first church built in the fort, including the chancel area. Believe it or not, they think they have pinpointed the exact spot in which Pocahontas and John Rolffe stood to exchange their marriage vows! How cool is that!!

By the time we finished our tour, the kids had absorbed about all the history they could handle for one day, so it was off to a nice park in the woods for some play time. There we had the usual kid events: a scrape or two, some tattling, and the constant herding that children away from home require. And tell me why the thing that excited them most during the whole two days was something they see on a regular basis here at home: squirrels! Go figure. Pizza was delivered for supper, after which we checked in to the hotel and the kids headed for the indoor pool. I accompanied the bus driver on a run to gas up the bus and buy some sandwich fixins' for Friday's lunch. I also had to buy a new SD card for my camera since I took so many photos that I filled up the card I've used ever since I bought my camera five years ago. I don't think I've ever taken that many pictures in one day: probably about 300! I couldn't help it! There were so many marvelous things to photograph. Thank goodness for digital photography. If I still had to use 35mm film, I'd have to take out a loan just to get them all developed and printed!

Friday morning came all too soon, even though the girls in our room went to sleep easily. We lumbered into Colonial Williamsburg, where we met our guide for the morning. Mr. Andy was a wonderful host, and took us to many of the buildings mentioned in the book I read to the kids. The Historic Areas is a magical place, where past and present mingle together easily. Spring is a lovely time to be there. Vegetables and herbs are growing well (we can't even plant here for another month), grass and shrubs are a brilliant green, and flowers bloom all over the place. I even found a hedge of wisteria that, even though not quite open yet, smelled heavenly. It was humbling to sit in rooms where the likes of George Washington, Patrick Henry, and other founding fathers lived and worked. I'm still marveling at the sophistication of colonial life (particularly the architecture) without our modern conveniences. I like to think I would have fared better in Williamsburg than Jamestown. And I took another ton of photos, by the way.

Friday afternoon was spent at Yorktown Victory Center, where the kids enjoyed touring the soldiers' encampment. As for me, I was running out of steam. I wish I'd worn a pedometer. I bet I walked ten miles in two days. Thank goodness the weather was just about perfect. The breeze was a bit chilly at times, but for the most part temperatures were quite comfortable, requiring only a light jacket. The sunshine, beautiful blue sky, and bright white clouds couldn't have been prettier. After a trip to the gift shop (another kid favorite), we boarded the bus for the five-hour ride home. Traveling this direction, the twists and turns of Route 250 across the mountains were the last leg of our journey, and when the bus pulled in to McDowell, Robin was waiting for me.

I slept in til almost 7:30 this morning. The first two hours I was up felt pretty good, like a normal Saturday. And then the fatigue hit like a ton of bricks. I took a nap, and haven't done much in the way of work. Still, I'm tired. But I'll get over it. And what a cache of memories I have to ponder! Despite the bus ride and all the walking, herding and disciplining that a field trip involves, it was a fun and fascinating two days. It will be a sweet nugget to think about for a long time.


  1. Oh my teachers do so much that goes unsung! What a great post.


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