Category Archives: Miles

My Last Blog Post

In this blog post (my last) I will be reflecting on the trip that we have just finished. Right now it is weird to think that this trip that we have spent so much time planning and then doing is finally over. I think I will miss some parts of the trip, like seeing all the cool places, but I am definitely happy to be going back to school and being around other kids.

Give three words that best describes your trip. Explain why you picked them.

Long (and Short)
The trip seemed to last a long time but looking back now, it seems like it went by quickly.

Before this trip I didn’t know much American history, but now understanding the history can help to understand the country now.

The RV was a fairly large RV but nothing compared to a real house and sometimes it felt very small.

What are some important things you learned about America?

One important thing that I have learned on this trip is how the government works and what the different branches can and can’t do. For example the President can’t make laws but he or she can veto them and stop them from being made.

I learned from this trip that America is always changing. I think that one of the reasons for this is that people are coming from all over the world with different ideas and beliefs and sharing them with others.

Another thing that I learned from this trip was that the ideas that America was founded on are ideas that had never been tried in the modern world. I think that America had a lot of things that they tried that no one else had done before.

In what ways do you think you grew this year?

I think that I have a much better understanding of American history and people from this trip, and also the process  of writing blog posts. I think that over the course of this year my writing improved and I think I got better by writing a lot.

If you did the trip for another year, what would you do differently?

If we had another year to travel then I would spend more time in places, especially California, so we could see more of what there and also to have days where we only did work and days where we relaxed.

What was the hardest part about living/schooling on the road?

The hardest parts about living in the RV were not having other kids around to do things with,  being within 35 feet of the same four people for most of the time, and having a bed that deflated every night.

Twenty years from now, what do you think you’ll remember about this year?

Twenty years from now I will remember the national parks most I think because they are very unique and stand out apart from the rest of the trip. Also the ranger books, because we spent a lot of time arguing about doing them. I think I will remember it being hard to always be moving and packing up the RV. But I also had a lot of fun with my family that was memorable

Would you ever do a trip like this with your kids? Why or why not?

This trip had many fun things in it but I wouldn’t want to do it again because I have already done it. I also think that if my kids lived in America there wouldn’t be a need for a trip like this because they would already learn American history in school and we could see places in America because we would live here.

Three Favorite Photos

These are three of my favorite photos that I took using my iPod.

Painted Desert, NM

Painted Desert, NM

Wild flowers in a state park in CA. Edited with Color Splash

Wild flowers in a state park in CA. Edited with Color Splash

Trees in Yosemite NP, CA

Trees in Yosemite NP, CA

Four Foto Friday – The Great Lakes Region

We started this week off in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and have made our way to just outside Ann Arbor, Michigan. This week has been a fast week, moving from place to place.


Racing in the Lazy River

While we were in Wisconsin, we stopped at the water slide capital of the world, Wisconsin Dells. In Wisconsin Dells, we stayed at the Mt. Olympus Resort. We were only there for one day so we stayed for five hours. At this park all of the outdoors water slides were closed for the winter, so we went on the indoors water slides. My favorite water slide was the biggest one that was at the park. On it we went in two person tubes down it. It had two water falls and half of the slide was with a closed top and half with it open. My other favorite part was racing the rafts on the lazy river. Even though the whole park wasn’t open we still had a lot of fun on the indoor water slides. I also liked that because it was off-season and there were not many people there.

Captured German U-Boat U-505.

In Chicago we drove to see the Museum of Science and Industry. First we explored the exhibit about extreme weather and natural disasters. There we learned about tornados, tsunamis, and avalanches. After this we moved on to the Numbers in Nature exhibit where we learned about all of the mathematical formulas that can be found in patterns in nature. After, we saw the only German U-Boat to be captured in WWII, the U-505. I really liked the U-505 exhibit because we watched movies on how it was captured and then we saw it in the museum. The last thing that we did was my mom and I saw the D-Day movie and Owen and my dad went to the human body exhibit and chemistry exhibit. The D-Day movie was good because it showed what happened on every side (Nazi Germany, allied forces, and the French resistance). It also showed where the armies landed on the coast and which country they were from. Another thing about the movie that I liked was they talked specifically about certain vehicles or tools that were essential to taking the beaches at Normandy.

friends collage for fff

Top: the Pospichals, Middle: Ms. Mack, Bottom: The Burkes.


Over this week we have seen many people in Minnesota and Illinois. While we were in the gopher state of Minnesota, we saw the Pospichals who used to work with my parents at ISB. Next we were in Chicago where we saw my 6th grade homeroom teacher, Ms. Mack, and went to have  stuffed pizza which I didn’t eat but everyone else liked. Then a few days ago we went to see one of my mom’s friends from UConn and her family outside of Chicago. While we were there Owen and I had lots of fun playing capture-the-flag and nukem with their kids.

Rvs through time exhibit

RVs through time exhibit.

On Friday we went to Elkhart, Indiana to see the RV Museum and Hall of Fame. We started out by going to see some of the modern RVs and motor homes. In the modern section they had two big 35-40 foot RVs and a few smaller ones. I liked the smaller RVs because they were old RVs that had been renovated. Next we went through the history of RVs exhibit. There they had old RVs from different time periods. I really liked this part because it was interesting to see how the RVs have changed. Compared to even the nicest old RVs ours is very nice.

We have 12 more days to go on our trip around America and still three more states till we get back to Connecticut. This will be my last Four Foto Friday for the year, although I will still write more normal blog posts.

America is… Diverse

A couple months ago I wrote a blog post called Changes in the Deep South. Now my dad asked me to write a second one. For my second America Is… project I have decided to write about how America is diverse and how this makes America what it is today. On our trip we have seen many different types of people, cultures, and religions in the states we have visited and the effect they have on an area. Some of the most noticeable were the Mexican influence in the southwest, the French influence in New Orleans, and the Chinese influence in California.


An Adobe House In New Mexico

When we were visiting Texas, the Southwest, and Southern California we saw a lot of Mexican influence in the food, people, and culture. Many of these states used to be part of Mexico.In 1836 Texas seceded from Mexico and became a republic and later its own state in 1846. Then in 1848 California, most of Arizona, about half of New Mexico, as well as other states became territories of the United States. Today many people in these places speak Spanish, especially in the more southern parts. Another Mexican influence on these areas is the architecture. Many of the buildings in New Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California are adobe buildings and houses. When we were visiting in Santa Fe almost every building was built out of adobe and in southern California there are many Spanish Mission style houses. Art and music are also influenced by Mexican culture. In many of these places we had radio stations in Spanish. In San Antonio, we visited a museum and saw the work of Mexican-American artists. One giant difference that is everywhere in the Southwest is Mexican food, such as tacos, quesadilla, sopapilla, green chillies, and my favorite, fajitas. Overall much of the Southwest is influenced by Mexico still today.

Floats Being Prepared For Mardi Gras

Floats Being Prepared For Mardi Gras

Another culture that influenced America is the French. New Orleans used to be part of France until 1803 when it was bought by President Thomas Jefferson. Besides the French there were also many Cajun people in New Orleans. The Cajuns were French speakers from what is now parts of Nova Scotia, Eastern Quebec, and Maine. Now there is a large French influence on the traditions, food, and many other aspects of life in New Orleans. When we were there Mardi Gras was only a few days away. Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is one of the biggest celebrations in New Orleans, one that was originally French. The food of New Orleans was influenced by the French and Cajun cultures for example we had French beignets and Cajun jambalaya. While we were in the city we went to look at the French quarter were we saw many houses and buildings that had a French style of architecture like wrought iron balcony rails. This combination of cultures creates one of the most unique cities in America.


China Town In San Francisco

When we were in California we saw how people coming from China have influenced the state now but also in the past. During the time of the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882-1943) very few Asians came to America. Today, people coming from China and other Asian countries make up some of the largest groups of immigrants to America. In California we saw the influence that Asian cultures have had on this region. In San Francisco we went into Chinatown. While we were there we went to a museum about how the Chinese helped to shape America and especially California. It showed how expansion of America was made possible by the Chinese laborers who built the railroads and then when gold was discovered in California ran undesirable businesses like laundries, restaurants and did manual labor. Even outside of China Town there were many Chinese food places and many Asian people in general. While we were in these Chinese parts of town it was fun to see food and gifts that we saw from China here in America. Overall I think that the Chinese have helped to shape how America has advanced by creating the railroads and influencing California.

These are some of the ways that our country is culturally diverse and how this diversity affects certain regions today. In America there are many other ethnic groups such as the Irish and Italians in New England, the Mormons in Utah, African-Americans in the Southeast and northern cities, and Scandinavians in the northern plain states. Overall I think that this cultural diversity is a big part in America being what it is today: a free, prosperous, industrious, and technologically advanced country with many opportunities for everyone in it.

Four Foto Friday – Canyons of Nevada and Utah

On our last full day in Las Vegas we went with our friends, the Merritts, to see the Hoover Dam. First we went to see Lake Mead, the lake created by the dam. Right now, the lake has much less water than it used to and has a large white ring on mountains surrounding the lake where the water level should be. When the lake is full it has enough water to submerge the whole state of Connecticut ten feet deep in water. After the lake we went to the visitor center to learn about the use and production of the Hoover Dam. After the visitors center we went out onto the dam. The dam was gigantic, over 700 feet. If you looked down you could see where the water came out and made a new river, but looking down made me dizzy. On our way home from the dam, we drove to a trampoline park called Skyzone but it was closed. That night I was sick so it’s probably a good thing I wasn’t jumping around.

After we left Las Vegas we went back to Zion National Park for the second time. While we were in Zion we did a hike that took us through the longest slot canyon in the world. A slot canyon is a canyon that is significantly higher than it is wide. This one was about 25 feet wide and 100-150 feet high. This was my favorite hike that we have done on our trip because the hike was in the river. At the start of the day we went to a store outside of Zion and rented dry suits that looked a bit like hazmat suits. When we got to the river we started to walk on the side where it was dry, but Owen and I went in and found out that if we lay down in the water we floated. Once the water went up to our chests the suits would inflate like a ballon and it felt like an octopus sucking you into the suit. Inside the suit it was really warm but if you touched the water with your hands it was freezing! My favorite part was on the way back going down river; you could just lay back and float along down until it was to shallow. Another really fun thing that I did was go down the rapids. I really liked this because it made me go a lot faster but some time I ran into the rocks. Hiking up the canyon was also fun because I would try to walk up the rapids. We also learned that where the water was dark it was deeper. Some of the deeper parts were up to ten feet deep! I really like canyoneering in the Narrows and would love to go back again.

After hiking in Zion we made a short drive Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce is not actually a canyon but a huge natural amphitheater carved out of the mountain face by erosion. At Bryce some of the coolest things are the rocks. My favorite rock formations so far have been the hoodoos, which are large but thin spires of rock that have been left after a mountain face erodes. While we were driving we saw a prairie dog crossing sign and then a few seconds later the prairie dogs. These were the endangered Utah prairie dog and they were on this patch of land right at the intersection. The cars zooming across the road didn’t stop them from running out into the road and if a car stopped they might go and walk around it and sniff it. In the park we also saw huge ravens and a herd of pronghorns. Next we took a hike at the top of the mountain at 8000 feet altitude. This was a really cool hike because it goes right to the edge of the mountain were you can see out arose the canyon/amphitheater. On this hike we saw the oldest species of tree, the Bristlecone Pine. On the way back out of Bryce we saw an amazing arch called the Natural Bridge. We still have another day in Bryce and we are going horseback riding in the canyon.

Yesterday, we decided to go biking on a canyon trail close to Bryce National Park. We only have three bikes with us on the trip so only me, Owen and my dad went. When we got there we took a trail called the Casto Canyon Trail. This trail was really hard to go up because it went right through a dry river bed with lots of rocks and sand. On our way up we saw a hoodoo right off to the side of the trail. When we got to it, we found that hoodoos are very fragile and we could just rip off chunks of rock with our hands. Though the trail was hard to get up, going down was easy and incredibly fun. On the way down we got going really fast and the trail was a bit twisty and it was fun to go around the corners. We have done a few mountain bike rides, but this one had a unique setting with desert plants and red canyon walls.

Four Foto Friday – NorCal Coast to Mountains

We started this week between Santa Cruz and San Francisco on the California coast watching sea lions and surfers.  Then we headed to the  Sierra Nevada mountains and ended in beautiful Yosemite National Park hiking up giant mountains and to gorgeous waterfalls.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 9.05.42 PMAlcatraz Island:
When we were in San Francisco we went to Alcatraz Island. I really liked the audio tour that was narrated by the prison guards and former prisoners. Some of the most fascinating things they talked about were the one successful escape from Alcatraz and the privileges that the prisoners got. It was an ingenious escape and the people were never found again; they just disappeared.The privileges that the prisoners got, other than basic food, water and shelter, had to be earned. Also they had some prison cells furnished so we saw what a typical cell would have looked like. Last, we saw an art exhibit by Ai Wei Wei, an artist from China. He had three pieces of art; the one that I found most interesting was the one about political prisoners.

IMG_6964Mountain Biking:
While we were staying near San Francisco we went biking in Big Basin Redwoods State Park near the ocean. I really liked biking here because there were so many cool trees and plants, like coast redwoods. During our bike ride we stopped near a river and saw a newt! The newt was swimming in the water and looked exactly like a salamander. It was a really muddy trail, about wide enough for two people to walk on, with steep drop-offs where you could fall right off the side, which I almost did.

DSC_0656Yosemite Water Falls:
Yosemite National Park is one of my favorite parks so far in America and, while there, we did lots of activities. Some of my favorites were going to see the water falls. On our first day, we did a moderately strenuous hike to see the Upper Yosemite Falls, one of the highest on earth (2,425 ft). On our second day, we did some easier hikes to the Lower Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Falls. All of them were pretty, but you can only see them in the spring because they dry up during summer.

DSC_0672Yosemite Hike:
We did several hikes to get from place to place in Yosemite. All of them were in Yosemite Valley, which is a huge place and, even still, it’s less than 5% of the total national park. Besides the waterfall hikes, we did a ranger guided tree walk. This was very informative, but the ranger leading the walk kept getting distracted and talking about birds or animals and a lot of things that didn’t have to do with trees. This was OK because we learned about a variety of things, but not as much about the actual trees. We saw many black oaks, incense cedars, ponderosa pines, and my favorite, giant sequoias.

We still have one more day in Yosemite and so far it has been really great. Next we will be going to Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park.

I have written many blog posts about the activities that we have been doing in each place but not much about what we do when we are not visiting places. In the RV we are doing a lot of work but when we have free time reading, playing computer games, and watching TV are some of my favorites.

Reading Books: I have read lots of books on this trip. Some of these my parents assign but some I choose to read for pleasure. These are some of my most recent favorites.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.31.03 PMUglies series
By: Scott Westerfeld
The Uglies series is about America after a huge catastrophe that wiped out most of the population. Now, hundreds of years later, civilizations have rebuilt themselves and in the new world everyone over the age of fifteen is made to look pretty. In the book, the main character is a girl named Tally. Her friend runs away to live with a group of people in the wild without being made pretty and when a mysterious group of people, called Specials, threaten to keep Tally ugly forever she is thrown into the wild to track down her friend and lead the Specials to the smoke, a place for run aways to live. These books (Uglies, Pretties, Specials, and Extras) make a really great series about a place that seems to be perfect but actually has many secrets.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.26.41 PMLorien Legacies
By: Pittacus Lore
This is a series about a group of nine human-looking aliens who were sent to earth from their planet, Lorien, which has been destroyed by a different group of aliens called the Mogadorians. At age fifteen only six of them are left; the first three have already been killed by the Mogadorians. Soon the six aliens left start to get their legacies, superpower-like gifts that are given to them by their planet. As the six meet each other and one extra alien no one knew about, they start to battle the Mogadorians to help save the Earth and Lorien. I really like this series because it is incredibly interesting and has action, superpowers, and adventure. The first book in the series was also made into a movie in 2011.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.29.08 PMThe Academy
By: Chad Leito
The Academy takes place in a world that is being destroyed by an infection known as the Wolf Flu. One day Asa, the main character, is kidnapped by mysterious men working for the biggest company in the world. The company that kidnaps him is the only people that can manufacture a cure for the wolf flu because they are also the people making it. Asa then ends up in a training facility somewhere in a snow-coated landscape.When he arrives Asa and other kids who have been kidnapped are told that they are going to be turned into soldiers who will make sure that the secret of who makes the infection is never found out. I really liked this story it is a great dystopian book that is like a cross between Harry Potter and a prison camp story

Playing Computer Games: I don’t usually play many computer games, but this is one of my favorites to play in the RV.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.39.56 PMSid Meier’s Civilization V: A Brave New World
Civilization is a game that you can buy on Steam for $29.99 . It is a strategy game where the object is to take over the world in one of four ways: military victory, diplomatic victory, scientific victory, or cultural victory. This game is also loosely related to world history, for example the leaders are all great historical figures. One of my favorite features of this game are the simulations. Simulations are specially made mini-games that are based on historical events, like the Civil War, American Revolution, the Fall of Rome, and many others.

Watching TV Shows: One of my favorite things to do in the RV when we have Wi-Fi is to watch TV shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime. I especially like to watch these four.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.33.21 PM
Sherlock (Netflix):
This show is based on the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but it takes place in modern London. It has the Sherlock Holmes character, but with all the modern technology and language. This is one of my favorite shows because it has lot of funny dialogue and quick-paced action.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.34.55 PM
Elementary (Amazon Prime): 
Also based on the Sherlock Holmes stories, Elementary takes place in New York City where Sherlock and his partner, Joan Watson, solve homicides that are too complicated for the regular police. I also like Elementary because it is shorter than Sherlock and has many twists and turns.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.38.45 PMScorpion (Amazon Prime): Based on a true story, Scorpion is about a group of geniuses working with the Department of Homeland Security to solve problems with their minds. Scorpion is very interesting because it is not only about crimes but sometimes rescuing people or saving people from disasters.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.53.06 PM

Psych (Netflix): 
Psych is about the son of a police officer who tricks the Santa Barbara Police Department into thinking that he has psychic powers. To do this, he uses his incredible observational skills. I really like this show because it is really funny and still interesting at the same time.

I really hope you liked this blog post and will try some of my recommendations. If you have any suggestions about other TV shows, books, or games please tell me. I’m always looking for new things to do.

Four Foto Friday – New Mexico


Cute Javelina

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park – Carlsbad, NM: While we were in Carlsbad we went to this zoo where we saw the native wild animals of New Mexico. We saw lots of snakes, wild cats, and other animals. Some of my favorite animals were the mountain lion, the javelina, and prairie dogs. They also had buffalo, bobcats, and some scorpions and spiders. A lot of these animals had different adaptations that helped them live in the desert. The living desert also had many different types of cactuses and other plants.  Most of these plants had spikes though and looked quite different from the plants in other parts of the country.


View from the slopes

Santa Fe Ski Area – Santa Fe, NM: On our first day in Santa Fe we went to Santa Fe Ski Mountain and went snowboarding. Because we hadn’t been snowboarding very much before, we took two lessons that were two hours each. During the first lesson, Owen and I both fell a lot and got pretty tired. Then, after a two hour lunch break, we started our next lesson. During this lesson, we went on a few harder slopes and tried those but mostly stuck to the easy ones. My favorite part of snowboarding was going through the fluffy snow off to the sides near the trees. My dad also skied the same day.


Cave Dwellings at Santa Clara Pueblo

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center – Albuquerque, NM;Museum of Indian Arts and Culture – Santa Fe, NM; Puye Cliff Dwellings – Santa Clara Pueblo, NM: This week, we have been learning about the Native Americans. First, we went to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center where we learned about the 19 Pueblo tribes’ art and culture. Next, we went to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. At this museum we learned more about their culture than art, and this time it was about Native Americans in general. Then, we went to the Puye Cliff Dwellings on the Santa Clara Pueblo Reservation and looked through the caves. Also at the caves, our guide told us what it was like to be a Santa Clara Pueblo Indian now and about their daily lives.


Crushing sticks with a tractor

Mr. Bob from ISB; The Goodwin family from ISB; Gene H. and Barbara H. from AES: This week, we have seen many friends. Mr. Bob from ISB met us at the ski mountain and then we had dinner with him that evening in Santa Fe. Next, we went with Mr. Bob to the Goodwin’s, one of my dad’s former students and his family, for dinner that night. We also saw Gene and Barbara, who my parents used to work with at AES. While we were at their house and orchard in the mountains, we got to drive the tractor and collect wood piles from the trees. Seeing all of these friends was really fun and we learned a lot about Santa Fe from them.

Changes in the Deep South

What is America? This is the question that my dad asked me to think about as part of a new series of blog posts. For this first one, I chose to write about “Change” and to connect the topic to some of the places we have visited and things we have learned so far. As we continue our trip, I plan to write more posts that describe the country in different ways. Here is my first “America Is” essay:

Over the past few weeks we have been traveling throughout the Deep South learning about the history of Africans in America. We learned about slavery, the abolition of slavery, reconstruction, segregation, and the civil rights movement. Something that I have realized about America is that it is always changing and trying to make itself better.

Penn School where former slaves learned new skills.

Penn School where former slaves learned new skills.

In 1865, slavery was ended and for a while life was better for African Americans. This time was called reconstruction. Reconstruction was lead by a group of Radical Republicans and during this time many African Americans were elected to office where they could help other blacks gain their rights. New schools were created to give the new free blacks an education and to teach them how to do different types of work. One of these school was called the Penn School, which we visited in South Carolina and saw old pictures of black children learning new skills and trades. Reconstruction was a great time for the former slaves, but soon would come a time that was almost as cruel as slavery itself.

Reconstruction was stopped when President Johnson pulled the troops overseeing the rebuilding of the South. Without the army there, the former Confederate commanders attacked blacks and terrorized them. Groups like the Ku Klux Klan attacked and prevented blacks from voting. Soon without blacks voting against them, the former Confederate leaders were elected to various offices in the government and passed laws to make it harder for blacks to vote. The new leaders also made it OK to segregate buses, schools, and most other aspects of life. During segregation many African Americans were beaten, jailed, harassed, and even hung for things such as talking back to a white person. At the Civil Rights Museum, I saw exhibits that showed politicians and even a police chief talking about how the blacks didn’t deserve to be near them. For nearly a century after the Civil War, life in the South remained separate, but unequal.

March on Selma picture from the Civil Rights Museum

March on Selma picture from the Civil Rights Museum

In the 1950’s and 60’s, people started to protest the treatment of blacks in southern society. After Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat to a white man, people started the Montgomery Bus Boycott. One movie that we watched, called the Long Walk Home, takes place during this time and is about a white woman who starts driving her black maid to and from her house. Later she drives for the carpool that is helping the bus boycott. During the boycott, black people refused to ride the buses and, almost a year later, the Supreme Court ruled that Montgomery segregated buses were illegal. At the Civil Rights Museum in Atlanta, we also read about how protesters would stage sit-ins at white-only restaurants and would refuse to get up. White people got so mad at this they would go and beat up the protesters while they sat there peacefully and would not fight back. Later, in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his I Have a Dream speech in Washington DC. The next year, the Civil Rights Act was passed and the year after that the Voting Rights Act was signed. All of these events were changes that came about from people, blacks and whites, standing up and doing what they felt was fair and right.

America is always changing and trying to make itself better. Because of these changes, African Americans have gained rights such as the right to be free, the right to vote, and the right to equality under the law. Even today, as seen in the news, people still sometimes think of blacks differently and treat them with prejudice. Hopefully in the future all people will be considered the same, both by laws and in peoples’ minds.



To Be a Slave

TScreen Shot 2014-12-08 at 10.54.37 AMo slaves, it was clear that slavery existed for two reasons: free labor and the money that was gotten from the fruits of that free labor and from selling slaves. (Lester, p. 32)

This is a major point in Julius Lester’s, To Be a Slave. This is a book of short quotes and stories of people that had been slaves and were now free. Three of the main topics of the book are the living conditions of slaves, the rebellion of slaves, and the songs that slaves sang. Here are some excerpts that show what different parts of slavery were like and some connections to what I have seen, read, and watched about the slave experience.

We entered some negroes’ huts for their habitations can not be called houses. They are far more miserable than the poorest of the cottages of our peasants. (p. 62-63)

These are the words of a Polish poet who spent two weeks at George Washington’s house at Mount Vernon and described the houses of the slaves that worked there. During the time of slavery, the living conditions of the slaves varied. Some would have little cabins with one family each and others would have one room for 10-15 people. When we went to Mount Vernon we saw the quarters that the slaves lived in. In many of them, multiple slaves would sleep on the ground or on planks of wood.  Some of the rooms had rags that the slaves were using as blankets and a small fireplace. Overall, I think that the description of the slave quarters are accurate and I would not want to live there for even a day let alone my whole life.

It was not uncommon for escaped slaves to hide out in the woods. Sometimes they did so for years. During the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many slaves ran away and livd with the Indians. Others escaped and created their own settlements. (p.121)

When slaves would run away, many times it was to the North, but sometimes they would create their own small settlements in the swamps or on the coast. Here they could live free and create their own culture. They also would face many difficulties like slave catchers and storms. In The Patriot, a movie about the revolutionary war, the main character and his family go to live in a settlement on the coast with escaped slaves. While they are there they see how the escaped slaves fished and hunted for food and built houses out of the things that they had around them. Today we can still see evidence of the Gullah culture on the coast of the South East.

The big bee flies high,
The little bee makes the honey.
The black folks make the cotton
And the white folks get the money. (p.114)

This was a song sung by slaves while they worked in the fields picking cotton. In the slave culture a big part of work was singing. Singing would help them to pass the time and to connect with other people. One example of this was in the movie Glory, which is about the 54th Massachusetts regiment (the first black regiment). Before they go to battle at Fort Wagner in South Carolina the whole regiment gets together and sings songs around the campfire thanking God for the opportunity to fight for their people. The soldiers would also sing when they worked cutting down trees. I think that all of these show how important singing was to them as a way of entertainment and passing time and of following their religion.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 10.56.25 AM

54th Massachusetts singing before battle.

Overall, I think that this was a great book that really shows what the different aspects of slavery were and what it was all together. I think that one of the reasons that this book is so accurate is that all of the quotes and stories are told by real slaves. I would recommend this book to people who want to learn more about slavery because this is a book of what the slaves said after they became free and they were the only ones who really knew what slavery was and how it felt to be a slave. As you read this book you might feel infuriated by the treatment of the slaves, but you should still read this to understand the history of our nation.

Top Three in DC

court room

Supreme Court room

During our time in DC we admired the buildings where the people who run the government work. The first of these was the White House, then Congress, and finally the Supreme Court. When we went into these buildings, it was interesting to see the differences in the style. The White House is the smallest with many different colors (like the blue, green, and red rooms) and lots of paintings. Although we didn’t get to see the west wing where the president works we toured the east wing where the first lady works. We also walked past the place were the president makes many of his speeches. The best thing that we spotted though was one of the presidential dogs. In Congress there are so many sculptures almost every where you look you can admire the sculptures. In the Capitol building each state gives two statues of who ever they choose to be put on display in the building. Also the ceilings are super high with paintings on them. Although we didn’t get to see where the House of Representatives and the Senate meet, but we did view the rotunda and where the presidential inauguration takes place. In the Supreme Court when you walk in on the bottom floor it is like walking into a museum. They have exhibits about the Supreme Court and the justices. On the top floor where the court is, it is very plain marble with lots of big velvet curtains. The court was a large room with nine chairs at the back for the justices and other seats for the other people in court. I really liked seeing the different architecture and furnishings of the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court.

arlington 2

Graves in Arlington Cemetery

Arlington Cemetery was cool because it was so big and had so many people that served America in some way. Throughout the cemetery there are Presidents, Congressmen and women as well as people who have served int the army. One of my favorite memorials was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I liked the changing of the guard there because it was interesting how the biggest ceremony at the cemetery was for the people no one knew. My other favorite place was the JFK memorial because it was interesting to see where he was buried and to learn about him and what he did. Overall I think that Arlington Cemetery has some of the most influential people in American history and it was cool to see where they were buried.


Newseum exhibit on First Amendment

One of my favorite places in DC was the Newseum because it was interesting to see how the news works and how it has changed over time. A good exhibit that they had that showed this was called News Over Time. In the exhibit there are pieces of new from the times of the American Revolution (about the 1770’s) to now. My other two favorite exhibits were the FBI exhibit and the First Amendment exhibit. In the FBI exhibit they showed the news papers and video from 9/11 and the UNI bomber and other things about gangsters and terrorists. The First Amendment exhibit was about the use of the First Amendment in real life. In this exhibit they showed different cases that had to do with the first amendment (sometimes the cases even ended up in the Supreme Court). I think that this was a great museum about how the news works and how it has changed.