Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Power Trip by Cole

Although all of the power trip was exciting, here are a few of my highlights: touring the coal fields of Kentucky and West Virginia,lobbying against mountain top removal coal mining in Washington DC, and going to Ocracoke island in the outer banks of North Carolina.The Power trip was incredible and I would like to thank all of the people who welcomed us into their homes.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

March 18 - Day 18

Today was the last day of the trip so we drove home from Atlanta. We stopped to have lunch at a Subway and spent the rest of our Kitty money. After that we went back to the bus and drove back to AMS. Once arriving at the school, we cleaned our stuff.

That is how our awesome trip ended.


March 17 - Day 17

We slept in and then ate breakfast. Then we decided what we wanted to do with our $99.74 in our Kitty fund. We finally decided on ice cream and a rental movie.

Then we went to the Fernbank museum to tear our some English Ivy and other invasive species at the site of an old garden from the ‘30s. We did that for a couple of hours before eating a late lunch of the usual (tortillas, crackers and the options of tuna, peanut butter and jelly, or cheese, ect.) in the museums cafeteria.

Afterwards we took the hour drive home. Everyone hung out for a while before dinner. After eating some backed potatoes we decided to just watch some of the movies Liz (our host) owned. Some people went and got the ice cream to bring back for the movies. The group split up to watch the movies (the girls and Todd watched “How to Loose a Guy in Ten Days” and the boys watched “Meet the Fockers”). After the movies we went to bed, ending the last full day of our trip.


March 15 - Day 15

Today we went to the Proximity Hotel. The Proximity Hotel was given an award, because it is one of the most environmental friendly hotels in the world. We toured this hotel; for example they have huge windows to allow more natural light in, like that they don’t have to turn on the lights that often and they have solar panels on their roof, to heat up their water.

After the tour we went to the Bistro, attached to the hotel, for lunch. I got steak and fries, it was great.

Then we took a drive over to the Greensboro Montessori School and planted two trees in the school’s garden.

We were invited to have supper at “the land” with the school’s kids. They cooked spaghetti over the fire. Every three months the school goes out camping on “the land”. While there are there they build shelters to sleep in and have classes.

After May treated us with ice cream and showed us a movie.


March 16 - Day 16

Today was a long day of driving.

When we woke up, there was a delicious breakfast of yogurt, fruit cereal, a kringle pastry and orange juice laid out on May’s (Toms) kitchen counter. After eating, we packed up our stuff and tidied up a bit around the house. Then, we headed towards Lexington, NC to check out a solar farm.

The trip to Lexington took about an hour. By the time we got to the (Sun Edison) solar farm, everyone had just about melted into the seats of the bus. Nobody really wanted to get out and be functional. But all of us eventually stepped out of the bus and into the cold air. For an hour, or so, we were shown the solar panels and electric equipment of the farm and told numbers and statistics about how much energy each block of solar panels creates, how many homes the farm supports, etc. None of which I can remember at the moment. The tour ended just about when our brains were at their capacity for new information.

After the solar farm, we drove. And drove… and drove. And drove some more. For about six hours we drove. Until finally we ended up in Cumming, Georgia at the home of Liz Lorrendo, a family friend of Meghan’s. We were fed delicious baked ziti and rolls and the best salad I’ve ever had. Really, I never thought I’d like salad that much. While we were eating, we were told the story of how, when Meghan was five years old, she and her friend planned to run away and marry Michael Jackson. What a day.

=) Emma

March 14 - Day 14

In the morning we woke up super early to eat breakfast at 7:30, when we got in the dining room we found that we were the only ones there, besides the cooks. Everyone else was really impressed that we had gotten up that early, and we responded with, “Our trip leaders made us”. Oh if only we had known everyone else was going to be late for breakfast, maybe I would remember what happened today

So we left our cabin after breakfast and packing around 9 o’clock, and got to the lemur center around 10:00. It was cool, there were lots of different kinds of lemurs, they are really cute.

Well yeah, most at least, there is this kind of lemur that smells really bad because they have these oil glands on the top of their heads. The fur on their head is really slicked and greasy, and when they mark their territory they just rub the tops of their heads anywhere and it smells really bad. Yeah, and the males have more oil on their heads then the females because supposedly they are usually the ones who are more territorial.

So anyway, after that we rode in the bus for about a half of an hour, before we reached the Duke energy envision center. I must admit I was pretty out of it by then, the words on the big board beside our little desks that we were seated in, were moving around and the side of my head was pulsing the whole time. Ah, day 14 of fieldtrips, not my favorite. Duke energy envision center was basically about 5 years into the future; the whole idea was that our kitchen appliances could communicate with each other, when the humans are gone, then they could tell each other to turn off and on, so then we could save a lot more energy than normal. We watched a lot of cheesy videos about teens living in the world that 2015 is supposedly going to be like. But, we got cool pens with wind turbines on the tops.

After that we drove some MORE, and then we finally reached Caleb and Anne’s house where we celebrated Alessandra’s birthday and had ice cream cake. Then, after that to wrap it up, we stayed over at the Schopler’s house, so that’s about it wait oh yeah, they have a cat well actually they have two cats that look alike but that was nice, basically the highlight of that day J


March 13 - Day 13

Coming soon

March 12 - Day 12

What a beautiful day it wasL

Ok so get this: the first day in Ocracoke was gorgeous, the sun was out and there was a cool breeze. We got bikes and rode them around the island. But today, well let’s just say was totally opposite, it started to rain last night and it did not stop until 4:00 today (or some where around that time). After it stopped raining we rode our bikes back to the bike shop. As we rode the bikes, we had no choice but to go thru deep puddles. Some of us got wet, well I didn’t because when the puddles came up I quickly put my legs on the handle bars and rod right thru it (now that was grand).

Anyway we went to a museum in Ocracoke, Preservation Society is what it is called. There we learnt about the history of Ocracoke, especially about the people who have lived on the island over the centuries.

After that we went back to the Inn to eat dinner and get ready to go to the club called Howards Pub. We went to see some kid play guitar and sing. He was good but me Ariel, Emma, and Gressa got distracted by a very pretty guy. He just kept on talking to us; we weren’t really paying attention to his words. Yep, he was really cute! He gave us his number (which I don’t remember) but did not tell us his name… How rude!

So that was our day and yes it was a beautiful day.

Imani Marquita Gouveia

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March 11 - Day 11

1. First full day in ocracoke

2. Feasted on pancakes

3. Lazed around on the beach

4. Quesadillas!

5. Bike riding, more beach time

6. Water was cold (Gressa turned blue )

7. Cole didn’t catch any fish

8. Reverse osmosis water plant

a. Take salty sulfury water from ground

b. Filters through membranes

c. 65% is now drinkable

d. Now none of us will ever feel the same when we drink out of the tap here

9. Ocracoke specialty: taters, fishies, egg, bacon (it was pretty yum)

10. Girls did girl stuff (teehee)

11. Guys were obnoxious-shock

12. YAY! Cat fight!

13. Todd modeled his yellow full body wet suit

14. Michelle brushed little children’s and kiddies’ teethers

15. Sleepy sleepy time.


Friday, March 12, 2010

March 10 - Day 10

This morning we cleaned and left the Overstreets’ house with one of their private jets. After one minute of flying, we landed at the American astronaut base. Then the jet doors opened and five big guys armed to the teeth came to us and told us, “follow us to the space ship; we are leaving in ten minutes for the moon. Pack your stuff.” Nine minutes later we were ready and in the space ship and we heard the countdown:

Five Four Three Two One


The space ship exploded and we all flew away and landed next to David’s house in Ocracoke, except Ethan Rountree, who may be in outer space for all we know. But we had a party to celebrate Ethan’s death anyway. Sorry Bethany.


March 9 - Day 9

Today was very long and busy. We got up early and put on our fancy (business casual) lobbying clothes. We ate a breakfast of bagels and got on the road. We found out that, unfortunately, our West Wing tour of the White House with Nate Tibbits was canceled by the Secret Service because people would be working late that night. We took the normal White House tour and then met up with the commie trip afterwards. The trips mingled and talked for half an hour before taking their own separate ways.

Then we continued on to the Alliance for Appalachia headquarters and picked up the information packet/books to drop off at senators’ offices. We were all pretty nervous about the lobbying, but it turned out to be easier than we thought (we stopped at 35 offices!).

Then we went back home to chill for an hour before putting on even more fancy clothes and driving back into D.C. We were supposed to arrive at the hors d’ oeuvre session in a building close to the capitol at 6pm, but due to traffic and parking issues we arrived 20 minutes late. Most of the good food was already gone but we got some soda, veggie sticks, and nasty cheese. Mmm! It was loud and packed and basically was an awful waste of time (I predicted beforehand that it would be something along those lines.) The only good thing was that we got a picture with senator Cardin from Maryland who was anti-mountaintop removal. We left hungry and tired.

On the drive back, we decided to get pizza with some of our kitty money. Someone called the Overstreets to see where we should get it. John said that if we ordered the pizza, he would pick it up. We called up the place and ordered. We got back and ate the pizzas. John didn’t tell us how much they cost so we could pay him back (a good example of the Overstreets’ hospitality). Then we went to bed. Blog to you on day 17. Thankya, blessya , and God bless the pee trip.


March 8 - Day 8

Governement PRG and Gemestones

Today, instead of taking the Metro, we drove the van into town. Since we were early for our 11:00 appointment, we went to the White House Visitor’s Center. After emptying our pockets in order to step through security, we spent half an hour looking at pictures of paintings and people and little models of buildings and read cute, touristy little blurbs about them.

Then, we walked about two blocks to an office building called a “think tank”. There we met with a woman named Sharon Burke who works with the Center for New American Security. Sharon’s job is to think of things that could happen in the future and think of ways to deal with those situations. Specifically she works on environment and resources (climate change, fossil fuels), but other people in CNAS work on military scenarios. About a year ago, CNAS put together a scenario about the year 2015. In this scenario, the earth is running out of natural resources and numerous natural disasters have hit worldwide. People from all over Europe, Asia and America came to Washington D.C. to act out this scenario. People played the roles of the governments of different countries in the scenario and discussed what to do about these issues as if they were real countries. The game took 6 months to plan and lasted two days.

After talking with Sharon Burke, we went to the Appalachian Voices headquarters to eat lunch and learn how to do drop-off lobbying. We came up with a few beginning lines of what to say to whoever we got to speak to, then added parts of our about our own experience with Mountain Top Removal and why we want it stopped.

The last stop we made was the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. There are lots of bones, and quite a few stuffed animals jumping out at you from the walls. There were huge, colorful gemstones and glowing minerals and weird insects. Eventually though, the long day began to wear on us and we got into the van and drove back for the day.


March 7- Day 7

Hi folks! Today, we went to a meeting to learn how to lobby. We got up early in the morning to ride the Metro to Washington D.C. When we got there we walked a few blocks to go the building where the Alliance for Appalachia was meeting. Then the AFA gave a few presentations about mountain top removal to the rest of the people who were going to lobby with us. At about 2:15 we left to see the monuments of Washington. We saw the Washington, Lincoln, Vietnam, and WWII sights then we took the Metro home.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

March 6 - Day 6

Today was basically drive, rest stop, drive, rest stop, drive etc. But since that is only a few words long I will extend it by resorting to great detail.

This morning I woke to Michelle saying, “Wake up darling children”. But then I fell back to sleep, thinking that it had been my dream. We all had a pretty horrible sleep I think, due to the puppy that we found shivering beneath the porch. I keep thinking that it is a rat, and we weren’t very sad when we had to leave it. So we drove for about three hours while we all read our books, played magic, and blared our ipods. By the time we reached the Food Lion I was STARVING!!!! We stumbled out of our bus and gathered together in a Quakerly circle, beside a highway and a parking lot. After that, most of us decided to purchase lunch, instead of the usual pita, tuna, humus, and cheese. Afterwards we returned to the stuffy, crap filled bus and tuned back into to our blaring ipods and new fatty snacks from Food Lion. So we drove, and we drove, and we DROVE. Then after a few more gas station stops we finally reached our home away from home J. I enjoy the trampoline, and the sweet tennis court, and of course the ping pong table down stairs, VERY much! Showers were lovely and we are all very clean and refreshed. Currently I am sitting on a stool in the kitchen, with an empty bowl of vanilla ice cream and a cup of water. Ah well, that is all I think…we are waking up at nine tomorrow unfortunately but ya know that’s the city life!


March 5 – Day 5

In my opinion, today was one of the best days of the trip so far. This morning I woke up and was immediately in the daily grind. I quickly packed my things and headed upstairs. The very first thing I looked at was the coffee pot. It was empty but there was a slight drip indicating that a new pot of my favorite morning drink, that I am usually so deprived of, was brewing. I then looked around and ate a few pieces of turkey bacon and half of a bagel smothered in cream cheese. I poured my coffee and indulged. Then we packed our things and thanked the Bowles for their great Southern hospitality and we set off. We picked up the girls from the other house a few miles away and got on the road towards Bob Evans to meet Larry Gibson. We waited for close to thirty minutes and he did not show. We then called him and he said that he was not going to meet us at Bob Evans and we would instead meet him at his house.

If stress was a bomb we had Hiroshima dropped on us. We then headed to Larry’s house. When we got off the highway the roads were covered in coal trucks hauling the evil black substance to the nearest power plant. We drove for at least thirty minutes until the road became gravel. We continued for another fifteen minutes and we began to really see destruction and snow - lots of it. Fairly quickly our two wheel drive bus got stuck. We had chains and now it was a matter of getting them on. We had two shovels in the car and it was time to dig.

That is more snow than I have ever seen at less than two thousand feet elevation. On the right side of the bus there was close to two feet!

Eventually, we got out of the snow drift and made it up to Larry Gibson’s house. We finally got inside of his small but cozy cabin and he began speaking to us. I found myself in awe of what he said he had more passion when he was speaking than any four men that I know. His thick, rough accent gave his ‘’speech’’ a whole new dimension. If I had to describe it in one word it would be BEAUTIFUL .

We then went to what Larry calls Hells Gate and for a reason if I had to describe in one word what I saw there it would be HORRENDOUS. I think most will agree.

That mountain used to be higher than the place we were standing. There were two people that we met with and we went to a restaurant that I thought would be close but it was nearly an hour away we went into this local diner and the woman almost got mad at us because we were ordering very large burgers and when Aristide who is relatively small ordered the largest thing on the menu the woman popped her hip and said in a thick accent, "Do you even know what a mountain burger is? It is close to one half pound of beef!" He decided to go with the smaller cheese burger while Isaac and I decided to take the challenge of the mountain burger. It had been maybe eight hours since our last meal and I almost inhailed my burger and when Isaac did the same a different lady came out and said now y'all must be hiding half of those burgers. We shook our heads with satisfaction.

Once we left the diner we walked down the road to the Coal River Mountain Watch headquarters where a woman named Lorelei gave us a speech about her experience and about how Coal River Mountain Watch was trying to get a windfarm on coal mountain instead of blowing it up to get the coal. I thought that, that part was very interesting because about a week ago I watched a movie called Coal Country and a lady who was in the movie was at the Coal River Mountain Watch building. We then went and saw Marsh Fork Elementry School where 1200 feet above the school is a 2.8 billion gallon toxic sludge pond and the earthen dam could give way and wipe out the school. We drove for close to an hour and a half then we got to the church where we are sleeping and had a stir-fry dinner then I blogged and went to bed.

-Cole Curtis

March 4 - Day 4

Today we went to the John E. Amos coal power plant in Charleston, West Virginia. This coal plant is the third largest in the United States.

A dude named Joe Hayner told us about AEC’s (American Energy Company) power plants around the country. AEC has many power plants around the country. John talked with us for a while about how power plants work. Then we picked out hard hats and got to go on a tour. First we got to see the pile of coal – 1 million tons!

Then we saw the cooling towers. These cool millions of gallons of water that flow in a closed circuit to cool the steam produced by the burning coal. Lots of water vapor is produced in these cooling towers.

After this we got some sweet ear plugs – safety first! – and went into the building where they incinerate the coal. It was very noisy and hard to hear anything. Each floor got hotter as we went higher up the building. We got to see where they incinerate the coal powder and the outside of the turbines that are spun around 3600 times/minute by the steam. There were a lot of danger signs!

After the stellar power plant tour, we came to Steve and Susie’s house – some Quakers who hosted a potluck and housing for us here in Charleston. They have a passive solar house and lots of garden space and trees. My favorite part of the day was playing soccer at the lunch rest stop and eating ice cream at dinner.


March 3 - Day 3

Today was our visit to the Appalshop here in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Appalshop started as an organization for high school students. Today, Appalshop is a non-profit organization producing original films, video, theater, music and spoken word recordings supporting the community and issues, mostly involving mining, which has been a part of Appalachia’s culture for years. Appalshop’s ultimate goal is to enrich education through media.

During our visit today, we toured Appalshop with Robert Salyer and were described all the jobs that went on there. Most of these people were film makers. We saw the archives of Appalshop’s films and got to see up close what it was like to make, edit, and watch a film. After that, we got a taste of the films that were created there. One that we watched was called “sludge”. This film described the sludge spill that happened in 2000 in eastern Kentucky. The last thing we got to do was appear on Appalshop radio with Wiley Coyote where we got the opportunity to talk about things and stuff (like our trip and our school). Now, at 9: 13 pm we are enjoying the hilarity of Nimrod Workman (an Appalshop film from the ‘70s about a funny old dude).

When we got back to the community center where we are staying, we met Nell, a woman who had been cooking for the potluck all day. The food was interesting and traditional, including Salad with bacon grease, pinto bean soup, cornbread, and red velvet cake. And of course, how could we survive without Ale81 (Kentucky ginger ale) and many moon pies. You know; things and stuff.

Ariel Lindeman

Thursday, March 4, 2010

March 2 - Day 2

Today we went to Oak Ridge National Laboratories. There were guards with guns who checked our identities.

We went to listen to a guy speak about biofuel. He told us that they are developing new technologies that turn plants into gasoline. They are working with switch-grass and poplar trees.

We visited the Spallation Neutron Source, the SNS for short, where they shoot a proton beam at 8/10 the speed of light and pulse it into a blob of liquid mercury. This hammers it hard enough that it throws off neutrons and allows scientists to preform neutron-scattering research. Although most people don't know it, neutron-scattering research has a lot to do with our everyday lives. For example, things like medicine, food, electronics, and cars and airplanes have all been improved by neutron-scattering research.

Neutron research also helps scientists improve materials used in a multitude of different products, such as high-temperature superconductors, powerful lightweight magnets, aluminum bridge decks, and stronger, lighter plastic products.

In another building is the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences where they do research with very small things.

After lunch, we saw the fastest computer in the world! It was very cool. Soon there will be a newer and faster computer invented. Then we saw the 27 screens that display the data of the supercomputer. We learned about “French awesome nuclear things”, also known as a fusion reactor that the French are working on.

After that we got lost and drove up the tallest mountain in Kentucky and almost ended up in Virginia. Then, in a moment of desperation, we ate at a McDonald’s. Finally we found where we were supposed to go – the Cowen community center – a great end to a great day.

Aristide & Michelle & Alessandra sat here while we wrote.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

We're Hittin' the Road, Jack




Driving Distance



March 1


Windrock, TN

(near Oak Ridge, TN)

161 miles

Buffalo Mtn. Wind Farm

tour 2pm

Windrock, TN

(near Oak Ridge, TN)

Looper Mtn. (near Mt. Vernon, TN)

32 miles

Spend the night


March 2

Looper Mtn. (near Mt. Vernon, TN)

Oak Ridge, TN

31 miles

Oak Ridge National Laboratory tour @10 AM

Oak Ridge, TN

Whitesburg, KY

149 miles

Spend the night @ Cowan Community Center

Wednesday March 3

Appalshop- watch films, service work, potluck with community members


March 4

Whitesburg, KY

Charleston, WV

164 miles

John Amos coal fired power plant tour near Charleston 2:00


March 5

Charleston, WV

Kayford Mountain

39 miles

Visit Kayford Mountain, see mountaintop removal

Kayford Mtn.

Whitesville, WV

40 miles

Coal River Mountain Watch- see Marsh Fork elementary, meet Dustbusters, do service work

Whitesville, WV

Kopperston, WV

44 miles

Staying @ Kopperston Comm. Center


March 6

Kopperston, WV

Washington, DC

340 miles

Drive and get settled


March 7

Lobby Training with Appalachian Voices 9:00 am


March 8


Visit museums and monuments


March 9

White House Tour

Dinner with legislators


March 10

Washington, DC

Ocracoke, NC

362 miles

Drive and get settled


March 11

Ocracoke ecology

Reverse osmosis plant tour


March 12

Work projects


March 13

Ocracoke, NC

Chapel Hill, NC

188 miles

Hang with Quakers @ Camp New Hope, presentation at 3:00 if we can make it


March 14

Chapel Hill, NC

Raleigh, NC

34 miles

Duke Energy Envision Center Tour



Chapel Hill, NC

(Schopler's House)

40 miles

Tour Lemur Center and stay at Schopler's house


March 15

Chapel Hill, NC

Greensboro, NC

42 miles

Proximity Hotel Tour 12:00

Plant trees w/ Greensboro Montessori School after hotel tour.


March 16

Greensboro, NC

Atlanta, GA

330 miles

Duke Solar storage center 11:30

Oconee World of Energy if time


March 17

Fernbank Science Center- Habitat restoration


March 18

Atlanta, GA


265 miles

Go home!