Here my last post from the Chesapeake Bay RAVE, it’s been 10 days now since i left Pennsylvania, here a summary of those last RAVE days!
I arrived Lewisburg late in the day, what a fantastic place!, historic buildings everywhere and a beautiful old iron bridge, i managed to take some photos in last light of reflections of bridge columns and invasive plants that created a nostalgic river scene , i arrived later in the evening to the Copper Beach bed and Breakfast an incredibly restored 1800’s building which i later discovered that was a hideaway during the slave trade, the owner’s gave me an interesting overview of the place in a Flip camera interview.
Next morning i joined professional river guides and conservationists Alan and Betsy Quant in a Susquehanna river Kayak group expedition , my goal was to document some people/river interactions in this healthy area of the Susquehanna, a wonderful day indeed with a good example of what a healthy river environment should be, this is a couple that really put passion, time and effort to create awareness, great people indeed!
After Lewisburg i arrived Sunbury to photograph the river confluence from Shikellamy State Park Overlook, i take some long exposures of traffic and human occupation next to the river., later that night i drove to Harrisburg again finding lodging somewhere along the highway, i go to bed very tired in the middle of a email session and without taking my day clothes.
Rockville Bridge/Susquehanna River
I arrived Harrisburg finally and Kelly introduced me to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation staff, later that day i drove with Kelly to Rockville Bridge a beautiful iconographic location to meet Brooke Lenker who was my guide in this strecht of the Susquehanna river, i joined him with a group of 8 children between 8 and 14 years old during a 8 mile paddle, this tour happened to end at night with a fantastic thunderstorm/lightning display in the distance.
I left for Lancaster first thing in the morning, on my arrival i met Ashley Spotts a Stream Buffer specialist from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, after having lunch asian style she guided me around to locations that host important issues related to the watershed like farms, cattle and streams, grasess, and residential development.
Petroglyphs on the Susquehanna River, Safe Harbor, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Next day i drove to Safe Harvor to meet Paul Nevin an expert in petrogliphs and native american occupation in the Susquehanna, here a brief story on his fascinating narrative:
These ancient carvings are reminders of Man’s long association with the river. Carved by Native Peoples perhaps 600 -1,000 years ago, the images of humans, birds, and animals, and the tracks they make, and of symbols related to their belief system such as Thunderbirds, Medicine Men, and other spiritual manifestations, offer a glimpse into how these people saw and related to the world around them. Abundant archaeological evidence found on this part of the Susquehanna documents that Native Peoples were here, utilizing the river’s rich resources, for more than 12,000 years. The petroglyphs are perhaps the most striking evidence still visible to today’s visitors to the river. All of the known rock art sites on the Susquehanna occur within a 27-mile longs stretch beginning just below Columbia, and extending to just below the Maryland line – the steepest part of the river. Long believed to be merely “prehistoric graffiti”, it is now known that the petroglyphs are images that convey information about the people who made them, their activities, and their beliefs. Several images at Safe Harbor indicate that these people were recording solar positions and other astronomical events. Other’s may be directional markers. Some imply that this place was being visited for religious and other cultural purposes. Many Native Americans regard rock art sites as sacred places, and believe that the carvings were made here because of the special nature of this place. Presently we can only guess at the meanings of most, but the carvings endure as intriguing messages for us to view with wonder.
Serpent and Human Figure on Little Indian Rock, Safe Harbor, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
With more than 150 images carved onto it’s surface, Little Indian Rock is considered the premier example of Native American rock art in the Northeast United States. This photo shows a three foot long serpent carved in relief, a rarity for rock art, a fully carved human figure with big hands and feet, and several life-sized bird and animal tracks. All of the large fully carved serpent designs at Safe Harbor are oriented to places on the surrounding hills where the Sun either rises or sets on solstices and equinoxes. This serpent is oriented due north. A railroad bridge spanning the mouth of the Conestoga River is visible in the background, and transmission towers delivering electricity from Safe Harbor Dam, just upriver, dot the hillside.
Next day i joined Matthew W. Kofroth, Watershed Coordinator from the Lancaster County Conservation District along with Hedy and Ashley to the banks of the Mill Creek in a stream restoration survey, here a brief descrption:
In order to better calculate the benefit of stream restoration work a stream survey is needed to gather pre-construction data. First a longitudinal profile is gathered from the top of the project area to the bottom to determine the overall slope of the stream section. The deepest part of the stream channel, or the thalweg, is surveyed using a rod and laser level to determine this slope. In addition, several cross sections across the stream are taken to gain a perspective of what the stream profile looks like. If there are eroded stream bank we can then document these through the cross section surveys and after restoration work is completed and the banks are regraded we can figure out how much stream bank now is not eroding away because of our restoration effort. This can give us reduction limits of how much sediment and nutrients we are preventing from entering the stream system and thus the Chesapeake Bay.
i spent my last RAVE day driving through beautiful Lancaster fields, Amish and mennonites pass next to me in their traditional costumes and transportation, time is frozen here, no matter how hard this people work they always have a smile to offer, i decided to park my car and walk my way through a beautiful tobacco field, i can see the silluetes of a family at work, they are Amish, a middle age couple with 4 children, all except a 4 year old girl gather tobacco, the humidity and heat are so strong that my shirt is wet my the time i reach them, they don’t seem to be bother by my prescence, they look at my camera and i decided to flip it to my back, i spent some hours in the field with them learning the harvest technique and remembering some of the things we have forgotten with our modern day lives, we had a wonderful and fluid conversation about live in the fields and how Amish are having a hard time buying land in this area this days, modern tourism (created upon their livestyle) and residential speculation have raised the cost of the land forcing them to migrat to states like Wyoming in search of cheaper lands, what an irony
After an hour or so i decided to venture and ask them if i can document their labor, he agreeds with a smile (i cannot mention their names by request) only asking me as a favor to not be to descriptive/frontal on their faces, the next hour i photographed their harvest laying on my belly and with an occational 4 year old girl riding on my back, i am very pleased with this appoach not only visually but socially.
After Lancaster i head back to Washington DC, i had a long drive in peak hour traffic, what a contrast from that tobacco field afternoon!!
Before my departure i have lunch with Cristina Goetch Mittermeir in DC sharing experiences from the field and general thoughts about the RAVE.
RAVE is over, thanks to everyone involved, now have to work on my RAVE work delivery and the future Exhibit in Capitol Hill!!