Water & Peace

500 Miles of NC
by Meagan Knowlton -- November 2nd, 2015

In the space of 1.5 weeks this October, I had the pleasure of both hiking up mountains and mucking around salt marshes. I would like to recount some of my (mis-)adventures from traveling all across the wilds of North Carolina.

In environmental school, we commonly talk about North Carolina being divided into three distinct geographic regions:
1. The Mountains: the western region, covered in (surprise) mountains.
2. The Piedmont: a rolling-hill type terrain in the central part of the state.
3. The Coastal Plain: the eastern part of the state, very flat comparatively.

The Eno quarry all dressed up for fall.

The Eno quarry all dressed up for fall. Durham is beautiful.

How many of these regions did I visit in the space of 1.5 weeks? Great question. Let’s make a quiz out of it.

Problem #1. Circle the best answer.
Meagan went to ________ regions of North Carolina within 1.5 weeks.
a) 1
b) 2
c) 3
d) none of the above (Hint: this one is wrong.)
Answer: c) all 3!

Trip #1: The Mountains
I first traveled to Asheville to pay homage to the glorious fall colors. I wanted to catch the peak leaf season but was unfortunately a week or two early. My friends and I were outside in the rain all weekend, and we loved it. Rain can’t stop environmental management students from pursuing the fun of the outdoors!

The view from the Blue Ridge Parkway (before the clouds descended!).

The view from the Blue Ridge Parkway (before the clouds descended!).

My friend and I went driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway to catch some autumn colors in action. The clouds decided to thwart our mission and completely covered the mountaintops by the time we got to the peak of one mountain. Oh well, I have some great pictures of clouds.

A cool tree up high in the mountains.

A cool tree up high in the mountains, after the clouds descended.

Trip #2: The Piedmont
Durham is technically in the Piedmont, so it wasn’t that different geographically, but I took a trip down to Charlotte for a conference. I had the fortune to receive funding from the Nicholas School to attend the National Association of Environmental Management (NAEM) forum on environment, health, safety, and sustainability.

To boil it down: I got to eat good food with amazing corporate sustainability leaders (my idols!). I heard inspiring talks about “connecting” and “synergy” and “public-private partnerships.” These may be buzzwords for now, but they represent truly innovative and exciting approaches to business strategy and sustainability.

My view of Charlotte as my friend and I left the conference and headed back to Durham.

My view of Charlotte as my friend and I left the conference and headed back to Durham.

 

On a personal note, I also felt that the NAEM conference introduced me to a world in which I felt I “belonged.” As one sustainability director phrased it, he said his job is to connect people– he’s a “connector.” That sentiment resonates with me.

I thrive off teamwork, collaboration, and solving puzzles. I was glad to be surrounded by successful professionals whose skill sets I relate to.

Or I could own a gelato shop. Either way, it’s a win-win.

Trip #3: The Coastal Plain
My final travels of October involved a field trip with the Wetlands Ecology & Management class, led by Dr. Curtis Richardson.

Our entry to the wetlands.

Our entry to the wetlands.

I’m going to leave you on a cliffhanger for this last one. My next post will detail the many misadventures of Meagan in the marshes. Till then, here’s a teaser.

Problem #2. How many times did Meagan fall down (to much hilarity) on the Wetlands Field Trip?*

a) Once
b) Twice
c) Three times
d) She never fell down. She is perfectly composed at all times. (Hint: this one is wrong.)

Answer: c) Three times. *Note: I am not injured. Wetlands just knocked me off my feet with their beauty.

Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean, as seen from the beach behind our weekend rental house.

Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean, as seen from the beach behind our weekend rental house.

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” – John Muir

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