Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Day 5: Make Every Day Awkward

Day 5: Over the Hump and Over the Top

Quote of the Day
"Please put your legs together..."
- Haley Toresdahl

Today marked our fourth day of work, which means two things: One, that the trip is starting to wind down (we're over the hump day) and "real" life is starting to come into play again. Two, that we're really starting to smell... Okay, I do admit I usually come on these trips with the intent of wearing the same work clothes all week and showering intensely, but that might not be feasible right now.

Anyway, so we got off to another later start, thanks to one Hank Highfill. Hank slept through our wake-up call, two alarms, and one of your bloggers shouting at him "HANK GET UP!" So yeah. That happened. But we got up and we got there.

As we drove to Rockgate, though, our fears surrounding the weather forecast were slightly realized with the advent of some small rain drops. We would spend much of today battling between the overcast skies and occasionally blinding sunlight. But even still, today was probably the warmest it has been all week.

We were greeted at Rockgate by a group of students from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. As we got to know them, we got to see some of the stark contrasts between Roanoke College Habitat and other schools' Habitat organizations. VCU has nine different alternative spring break trips traveling all up and down the eastern portion of the United States, and each has their own specific mission. This was this group's first trip to Columbia (and for many of them, their first trip with Habitat). Also, their trip was completely student-led. Which is really cool, but honestly, RoCo Habitat would be significantly lessened without Rev. Paul and Jen and Hank.

So, one might think that with a group of now 43 participants, we would get serious work done.


Cornhole and four square were popular staples for much of the day (more in the afternoon) and produced a lot of bonding time with VCU-ers and each other.

To get away from that, here's a listing of the projects that were worked on:

Rev. Paul and two VCU-ers continued the process of organizing the storage trailers. (Rev. Paul got very territorial about this.)

Work continued on El Diablo. We think they made progress today. The El Diablo crew is still holding hope that, by Thursday, they will have a functioning car. Please pray for them. (They'll need it.)

Despite/because of our temperature fluctuations, our large fire from yesterday was a continual focal point of work and maintenance. Due to some interesting and creative fueling mechanisms, smoke eventually took over the entire work site. (You think I'm joking.)

The fire did provide a nice way to deal with briar and rubbish collections that occurred all around Rockgate today, though. The briars and thorn bushes and roots collected in the garden box area were a great fuel for the morning. (And after those were removed, the dirt that had been compacted into the garden boxes was
One of your bloggers took a whack at the No Man's Land that is the small space in between the two large tool containers situated next to the office trailer. The result was a pile of briars, five small (but not discountable) trees, and a piece of wood that was all but liquified.  I conquered it. (At least, I think I did.)
Later in the afternoon, a coalition of VCU-ers, Noke-ers, and Matt attacked a pile of tires that had been sitting behind these containers for years. They were surrounded by briars and thorns and full of water and leaves and quite possibly spider colonies. And there were a lot of them. We all got really dirty (contributing to our aforementioned smell). But, hey, everything is stacked (fairly neatly). And the briars gave way to even MORE things to burn.

Oh, and speaking of things to burn (if you haven't had enough of that yet) another group commandeered StevEarl's truck (driven, remarkably, by Katie, in an almost-frightening showcase of StevEarl's ability to forgive and forget?*) and drove to another site, where they did similar weed-whacking, producing another large quantity of burn-able things. That same group also went out this afternoon on a garbage run around Rockgate.

*For those that don't remember, Katie was driving StevEarl's truck two days ago when she and Shannon ended up wayyyyyy off course. Yesterday morning, Steve presented them both with "If found..." sweatshirts while showing them on a map exactly how far they were off-course.
With all those things to burn, the fire took on many forms, from actual flame to blinding smoke to even a bizarre-looking green smoke (where on earth that came from, I do not know).
As the day drew to a close, a group of both Noke-ers and VCU-ers did Zumba in the middle of the street in front of the trailer-office. This led to a ten-minute "EVERYONE LISTEN TO BRITNEY SPEARS" marathon. And then we left. (Not immediately. But basically.)

All in all today, was a showcase for RoCo Habitat's philosophy life: make every day awkward.

After our day at the site (I'm hesitant to call it a work day), we said goodbye to our new VCU friends and then headed back toward Camp Kinard. Back at camp, we had a roughly-three-hour block of time to clean-up and relax.

This time led one of your bloggers to, for the first time in four trips to Camp Kinard, actually explore the grounds. Camp Kinard is situated on a hill, so that cabins are in a downward slope, eventually giving way to a trail that takes you to a small lake, with a nice dock. There I read for a while, and enjoyed the weather (no rain!). The lake always looks a little bit different, with water levels varying from dock-level to there being dry ground under the dock. Today was the latter, which led to some ill-advised (actually, no-advised) adventuring onto said dry ground. That ground gave way to what felt like quicksand.

After quickly recovering from my proverbial "Help I'm stuck in quicksand and can't get out!" moment, I then ventured around the trail that circles the lake, and then leads to another lake. The whole thing was very serene: a spring-like day, wandering around a lake, and thinking to myself how lucky I am to be here. And I wasn't alone: I encountered six other walkers and three exercisers, all enjoying the serenity of the day, and while I don't know if they all got as contemplative as I did, I'm sure those same thoughts crossed their minds.

I know I go on about family and how thematic a role that plays in my understanding of a Habitat trip, but I think today was more about the role of: this is a break. It's a productive break, but it's a break. And with a break comes the chance to reevaluate your life, decisions, attitudes, and actions. We're lucky enough to be doing that while serving a greater purpose. (And once again, we are darn lucky to be able to do it here, with the people that have become like family.)

After this time of serenity, we took to a restaurant called Shealy's. Shealy's is a Habitat tradition: an all-you-can-eat buffet of barbecue and chicken and all kinds of good things.

A few things about Shealy's:
  • This place is atrocious for anyone who counts calories. Simply put, you're going to eat more. Accept it sooner and you'll be a lot happier. (And fuller. Without guilt.)
  • Usually they put us in our own separate room. They didn't this evening. The result? An exasperated waiter, and likely some exasperated fellow customers.
  • What happens at Shealy's stays at Shealy's. (Not really. But do you really want to imagine thirty hungry college students stuffing their faces as fast as they can. No? I didn't think so. So, just like with the overeating: accept it sooner and you'll be a lot happier.)
In all honesty, though, Shealy's is just a warm-up act for our food tomorrow evening.

So, until tomorrow, when we're currently set to help with concrete (oh, dear, something we can get massively stuck in...) at another site away from Rockbridge, we bid you, dear reader, a good night.

OH! Before we forget, lunch was delicious grilled cheese sandwiches, chili, and guacamole, courtesy of Habitat's Emily! (Thank you Emily!) And our nametags were stripper themed: First pet, first street you lived on. Tomorrow's is yet to be determined.

Okay, that actually is all.

Andrew Dittmar and Mollie Gleason
Bloggers extraordinaire

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