Feb 11

Dreams Do Come True!

Ever since I was child, I have always wanted to go to Old Trafford to watch a Premier League match. For those of you who do not know, Old Trafford provides the home pitch for the greatest football club on the planet-Manchester United. If you do not know what Manchester United is, well there’s a good chance we’ve never met, because within the earliest moments of our acquaintance you would know more than you ever cared to about obsession to the sport of football. Today marks the best day of my life. Several years from now, I will remember Februay 9, 2014 as the day I finally saw a Premier League Match at Old Trafford! How do you describe something so perfect when words can never do it justice. Wonderful? Immaculate? Incredible? None of these even come close to the beauty and majesty i witnessed today. If you ever dare think that I am just describing a silly sporting event, then you had best stop reading and never bother looking at anything I ever post again, as you clearly are bereft of brains and a soul. For those of you who do not fall into that category, read on!

 

Should I ever get married, Old Trafford will be the venue. Yes, that sounds completely ridiculous, but I lead a wonderfully ridiculous life. Adequately depicting the marvels of being at Old Trafford cannot be done. Life throws wonderful moments at us every once in a while, which prove perfect in their intangibility. Only the heart can feel these moments. If my fingers and lips could give my heart a voice, I would write and scream about this day until death swept in and shut me up, but fruits of my fingers and the murmurs let out from my lips fail me time and time again. How do you describe meeting a professional footballer? How do you properly illustrate the way you felt when image image imageJonny Evans heard you say his name, and while Danny Welbeck didn’t stop to sign anything for anyone, and Ben Amos and Fellaini only signed a few shirts and pieces of paper for the flock of children there that day, how do you even begin to explain he amazement you felt when Jonny Evans walked right up to you! i certainly don’t know how. In the same way, I don’t know how to tell you what it feels like to sit in the Theatre of Dreams. Watching David De Gea warm up before the match, or seeing RVP, Wayne Rooney, and Juan Mata get in that last stretch before the official’s whistle starts the first act of the greatest ninth minutes of your life. Even the silence when Fulham scored, the aching way my heart fell out of my chest, words fail again to put these events into perspective. When United scored two goals in a matter of minutes, the jubilation that radiated through the stadium, my soul learned a new dance. Yet the steps of that dance became a bit confusing when Fulham scored their second goal in stoppage time. My jaw drops and someone greedily sucked the air from my lungs. How can you dance if you can’t breathe! Despite my dearth of breath, I began to remember the steps. Never have I seen such a delightful dance.

Sunday, February 9, 2014, was the greatest day if my life. I don’t think anything will ever top it, except maybe my wedding, but I don’t plan on getting married, so this is it. I cannot wait to return to the most beautiful place on earth!

Until next time!

Cheers!

Jan 30

Once upon a time …

imageOnce upon a time … Fairy tales usually start that way right? Well my life isn’t a fairy tale, but it sure is pretty amazing. Today marks my two week anniversary in a magical kingdom. Okay, it’s just Bangor, Wales, but there are castles here and even though they haven’t been used in hundreds of years, a castle really can’t help but feel a bit magical. Thus far, I’ve found myself on the side of mountain, at the bottom of a slate mine, dancing to traditional Welsh music-which felt like I was in a Jane Austen film- dancing to dubstep at a local place, staring in awe at the majestic castles, running from the tide as it chased our feet by the seaside of Lluando, watching various football matches in local pubs, and my favorite part, playing football in Chester, England. These are only a few bits and pieces of everything that has happened these past few weeks. At some point I’m sure I’ll provide a great more detail about my time here, but at present I’m being called away!

Until next time!

Cheers!

Jan 18

First Week in London!

Wow, where should I begin? After a long journey of delayed and missed flights, I finally made it London. The first amazing thing that happened on my trip was miraculously switching with another person on the plane to first class. I had no idea these customers got treated so well. I had a chair (that could recline and massage I might add) all to my self also a TV with a variety of movies to choose from. I had a full course meals starting with an appetizer and ending with a delicious dessert. It was quite the experience flying into Europe with a full and happy stomach.

As I moved into my room, I met a variety of people who are also in my program. For the first couple days we had the opportunity to unpack and do some exploring of the city on our own until the start of orientation on Monday. We all went on a quick walking tour of London that included the British Museum, Buckingham Palace, big ben, the London eye and a variety of other historical landmarks.

After that our awesome program director took us all to a pub and bought us a pint of whatever beer we wanted. However, he ended up leaving all of us there on purpose so we could learn how to use the public transportation systems (aka the tube) to get back on our own, which was not that difficult at all!

Last night the whole group went bowling to this awesome place very close to our residence hall. If you love the show Mad Men like me then you would adore this place because it looks like something they would use on their set.

Today we walked all over London to try to become more familiar with our surroundings and I can proudly say I only got lost twice!

It has only been one week here but I can tell already that I am going to really like it. I am excited to see what other adventures London has in store for me.

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Cheers!

May 25

Day 5 – Time Flies

Our fifth day of this Bio trip, and I really can’t believe how fast the week has gone by. Most of the group is ready to go home, and so am I; but I wouldn’t mind another day or so. Curtis Creek was our first stop today, at an elevation of 1700 feet. The water was really cold, but we got used to it after a few minutes. We found several tiny fish, nymphs, and an ugly grub worm.

Our second stop was at Charles D. Owens park. Here we caught several invertebrates like dragonflies, damselflies, nymphs, and butterflies. Watching Dr. Carpenter chase down insects and other animals was fun and really got me more interested in the stuff we did. We also caught a frog and saw a duck’s nest that contained 8 eggs.

Our final stop was the Western NC Nature Center where we ate lunch and got to see several animals that we wouldn’t have liked to run into like the black bear and timber rattler. We also got to see other animals close-up, such as cougars and otters. The day went pretty quickly, but it was pretty enjoyable.

Jorge

May 25

Day 5 – Learning in the Mountains

Today our class visited the nature center in Asheville. We had been talking about all kinds of animals all week, but some had not made an appearance. We found a few reptiles during the week and some snakes, but some big animals have not been spotted. We visited the black bear first, which was pretty fun to watch. They are some big animals! We saw all kinds of snakes including the copperhead and timber rattlesnake, which are two of the most poisonous snakes around the area. Needless to say, I’m glad they were on the other side of the glass. They are beautiful animals, but this guy doesn’t do snakes. We saw a cougar and bobcat also while there, and, let me tell you, that ain’t your ordinary house cat. They were some intimidating animals. Today we also went to a river to do some sampling of different kinds of animals. We found a few fish and all different kinds of flies. That water was numbingly cold! We got used to it after while, though. Overall it has been an interesting day and a successful week. I learned a whole lot more than imagined. I recommend this class to anybody even if you aren’t a biology major. I’m a business management major and had a great time; so, if my big self can get up them mountains, most should be fine. LOL. Hope everybody gets a chance to experience this trip.

Zack Hicks

May 24

Day 4 – Up to Chimney Rock

Today we started a little earlier than we normally do. On most days, we start at 8:00 AM, but today we started at 7:45. Fifteen minutes of sleep can be the difference in waking up in a good mood or a bad mood for some. No matter what mood some of us may have been in, we all cheered up when it was newt time. We went to the local YMCA to try our hands at catching newts. I believe the first person to throw out a net caught a newt, and the rest of the time at the YMCA was just as successful. We saw several different things including a Canada Goose. After the YMCA, we went to Chimney Rock to hike up to Chimney Rock and Exclamation Point. (This was only half of the day. To find out about the rest of the day read George’s blog). The hike up to Chimney Rock consisted of close to 500 steps that took a toll on your legs. Although the walk was tough, by the time you reached Chimney Rock, it was definitely worth the hard work. If the trek to Chimney Rock was not enough for you, we had a solution for that – The hike to Exclamation Point. Exclamation Point did not have as many steps, but definitely had more adventures. One of these adventures was catching a Black Racer snake. To sum up the first half of the day is a difficult task because you can’t put how beautiful this day was into words. All I can say is I can tell you about the animals, but you have to see the sights for yourself.

Ethan Maske

May 24

Day 4 – Four Seasons Trail and Falls

After lunch, we began our hike on the Hickory Nut Falls trail. The hike was not hard, but the incline was a little steep at some points. The view on the trail was amazing, and we spotted plant species that we had not seen before. At one point on the trail, we came across a bridge. Dr. Carpenter explained how the bridge came to be. The bridge was made because of a landslide caused by excessive rainfall. When we arrived at the Hickory Nut Falls, I was an awe. It was amazing to see how a small stream on the top of Chimney Rock created an amazing view and unique environment with endemic species such as the Yellow Root. At the falls, we also encountered a small Northern water snake, which was very docile and friendly. On our hike back to the van using the Four Seasons trail, we encountered a sickly garter snake. This trail was very peaceful, and I enjoyed the serenity of it until Dr. Carpenter almost stepped on a copperhead, which a fellow classmate and I almost stepped on. The day was a great day, and we ended by experiencing nature at night, which was one of the most peaceful things I have ever done and would gladly do again. I look forward to tomorrow, and my time in the mountains has been well spent.

George Negron

May 23

Day 3 – Ups and Downs

Day three has had its ups and downs. However, even though the rainy weather was against us, we still got to do just about everything we set out to do. We began our day at an art gallery where you could purchase a variety of merchandise. Nobody really purchased anything because it was so expensive, but it was really awesome to see all of the styles of arts that are produced in this area. The highlight of the day was going to Mount Mitchell, which has the highest elevation point that we will reach on this trip. Sadly, the clouds didn’t let us experience what I’m sure was an amazing view. We then hiked a fur/spruce trail that was just awesome. It really felt as if we were deep in a forest. After the hike, the professors treated us to hot chocolate and let us explore the Mt. Mitchell gift shop. After Mt. Mitchell, we drove back down the mountain, which made me very car sick; but I shook it off when we stopped at a random pond on the side of the road. I didn’t see the significance of the random ditch of a pond until Dr. Carpenter told us to really look at it. I have never seen so many tadpoles in my life! There were thousands of them. By simply dragging the net through the water, we would capture at least twenty or more tadpoles. I don’t know why, but I had the biggest urge to hold the tadpoles, and I certainly grabbed two handfuls of them. It was satisfying to say the least. I’m looking forward to day four. I’m sure its going to be an awesome time!

Ericka Skinner

May 23

Day 3 – May 23

The rain made today very interesting. I think I really would have enjoyed the hike at Mount Mitchell, but the rain was a big distraction. The trail was like nothing I’d ever seen before. There were caves, old logs, a lot of stones, and other things throughout the trail. I enjoyed walking through the woods like that though. It just would have been better to do it dry! I think the view would have been beautiful at the top, and it’s a shame we couldn’t actually see much. The museum at Mount Mitchell was pretty cool too. It had so many different ways of seeing the things we’d been learning about. We also went to the folk art center. I really enjoyed it because all of the hand-crafted items were so interesting and beautiful. I can’t imagine being able to make anything like that. I wish we could have bought things, but they were kind of expensive! The jewelry and vases were both really pretty. The Craggy Gardens Trail was also pretty cool. It was a short trail, and at the top you got to go to the balds. The balds were different. I’d never seen anything like this before, so it was good to learn about why they are there. Once again though, the rain didn’t help matters. We couldn’t see the pretty views, and it was a very wet climb. I also enjoyed Bull Creek. This was cool because we got to go off and explore, and try to find new things to identify on our own. Taylor, Erika, and I all were trying to catch the same salamander and he got away from all 3 of us! Overall, the day would have been really good had it not been for the rain. We were all soaked head to toe by the end, but the stuff that we actually did was pretty interesting!

-Elizabeth Webb

May 22

Day 2 – Elevations

Today, we visited various elevations. We began at 2,500 feet, and the highest point was at Richland Balsam at 6,020 feet. As we climbed in elevation, we noticed the trees were not lush and blooming like they were at 2500 feet, but, rather, they were more like vegetation in early spring.

Overall, today was an intense day of hiking, identifying species, observing an elk herd, and riding on the switchbacks. The most relaxing part of the journey was the Chattahoochee Valley. Watching a herd of elk was a rare sight to see. Unfortunately, we were not able to see the bats due to their being ill. We believe they may have WNS or White Nose Syndrome. While we hope they overcome this fungus, it is rapidly affecting thousands of bats in the US.

I have learned so much about the mountains in the past two days. The views are beautiful, and the students have made me feel welcome (I’m an older weekend college student) during this field study.

C. Huston

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