Resting our feet…

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Upper tidewater James

After 11 days in “the field,” the Footprints group broke down camp at the VCU Rice Center in Charles City County and headed home on Friday. The group will spend 2 nights at home resting and recuperating. I imagine this will entail copious amounts of non-camp food, time with friends and family, and a fair amount of time lying in a comfy bed… It will certainly include unpacking and doing laundry, changing batteries, and repacking for leg two of the class, which starts on Monday with a backpacking section in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Camp at Rice Center

Camp at Rice Center

I hope the weekend includes time to reflect on all of the things we have seen so far. I think it will. Undoubtedly some friends and family will be curious about the experience, and I believe they’ll enjoy hearing about it, and seeing pictures on our Instagram feed (check out #fotj2014) or Facebook page. Like how we sea kayaked down the river, followed by bald eagles, osprey, and heron; how we camped out at Presquile Wildlife Refuge, with the place virtually to ourselves, and watched a Christmas-like lightning bug show; how we learned about James River fish from some of the most electrifying biologists in Virginia; how we ran into Bill Kelso, the famed archaeologist who discovered the original Jamestown fort after 350 years; how we learned from Matt Balazik, a premier sturgeon researcher, and heard a 7-footer pass near our boat; or how we talked for an hour with Charles Carter, a member of 12th generation of the family that owns Shirley Plantation. I could go on…

Shirley Plantation from James River

Shirley Plantation from James River

As a professor, the course has regularly exceeded my expectations. I have found the intersection of history and biology to be the most fascinating part. The two disciplines inform each other in integral ways, and overlap in ways that I didn’t expect. I believe it’s made teaching this course a real learning experience for everyone involved, and I’m glad to have been a part of creating a novel way of studying the Humanities and Sciences. I’m looking forward to leg two! Can you tell?

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