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2,000 Miles to Washington D.C.

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12_9_14Student Response (Lower)

12_9_14Student Response (Upper)

 

Dave and I began portaging our canoe when we reached Annapolis, Maryland. We walked for about 30 miles with the canoe on a cart. As we reached Washington D.C., we were walking on city streets and sidewalks. We passed people waiting for the bus, walking on the sidewalk and visiting local stores. Many of these people would ask us what we were doing. We would stop and tell them about how far we had paddled and our goal to reach the U.S. Capitol. We told them all about the Boundary Waters and the Wilderness Act. Most of these people signed our canoe by the time the conversation was over. What would you do if you saw someone walking down your sidewalk with a canoe?

Our portage came to an end at the Anacostia River. We put the canoe in the water and started paddling again. We paddled past big buildings and a stadium. When we reached the Potomac River, we turned right. There is a big airport along the river. We watched planes taking off and landing. Here we began paddling upstream for a few miles.

From the river, we could tell that we were near the National Mall when we saw the Tidal Basin and the Washington Monument. Dave and I were so excited to have finally made it to Washington D.C.!

All these people greeted us when we arrived at the Washington Canoe Club. Photo by Nate Ptacek.

All these people greeted us when we arrived at the Washington Canoe Club. Photo by Nate Ptacek.

We paddled for a couple more miles. People in canoes paddled out to meet us. Some of these people were our friends from Minnesota. Some of the people were from Washington D.C. We were happy to see them! The weather was chilly and rainy. I was surprised that so many people came out to see us, even in this weather!

We landed at the Washington Canoe Club. After a few minutes of greeting everybody, we were in a car driving to our first event. The next few days are a blur. We met many people. We gave several presentations. We participated in a fun event for kids in a park. Dave and I made one out of five different stations that students visited. We showed kids our equipment, told them all about Paddle to DC and we showed them interesting things from the animals that live in the Boundary Waters. About 150 students from Washington D.C. area schools were there.

45 Minnesotans joined us in Washington D.C. Photo by Nate Ptacek.

45 Minnesotans joined us in Washington D.C. Photo by Nate Ptacek.

The Chief of the U.S. Forest Service came to this event too. He told us that the Forest Service would accept our canoe. The canoe will be on display at the Forest Service Headquarters in Washington D.C.!

Now we are driving back to Minnesota. This trip will be much faster than our 100-day journey by canoe. We will keep doing presentations about Paddle to DC. Soon, we will be guiding dogsledding trips for the winter. I hope that you learned a lot during Paddle to DC. We would love to hear from you about your favorite topics and parts of the website. We also want to know if you have suggestions for how we can make our online adventures better. You can share your ideas with us through email or by making a comment to this post. Thank you for participating. I hope you have a great school year. Keep exploring!

The post 2,000 Miles to Washington D.C. appeared first on Wilderness Classroom.

Greetings from Washington D.C.

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We finally made it to Washington D.C.! Our expedition took 101 days. When we paddled up to the Washington Canoe Club on the Potomac River, we were greeted by friends from Minnesota and canoe club members. Some people even joined us on the water, paddling canoes. The weather was cold and rainy. We were so happy to see our friends. We have spent the past few days talking to elected officials, telling them what a special place the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is. This last week has been a whirlwind. I will be able to write a longer update for tomorrow.

All these people greeted us when we arrived at the Washington Canoe Club. Photo by Nate Ptacek.

All these people greeted us when we arrived at the Washington Canoe Club. Photo by Nate Ptacek.

The post Greetings from Washington D.C. appeared first on Wilderness Classroom.

Crabs and Shellfish in Chesapeake Bay

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12_1_14Student Response (Lower)

12_1_14Student Response (Upper)

In last week’s Cast YOUR Vote, students decided that we should study the crabs and shellfish of Chesapeake Bay. You are in luck, because many different types of crabs and shellfish live in Chesapeake Bay.

Dave found a horseshoe crab exoskeleton.

Dave found a horseshoe crab exoskeleton.

Did you know that crabs are arthropods? An arthropod is an animal with an exoskeleton (skeleton outside of its body) that molts to grow. Shellfish are mollusks and crustaceans. Most mollusks have a shell and a body part called a foot, which helps them move. An oyster is a mollusk. Crustaceans are animals that have several pairs of legs and a body made up of sections that are covered in a hard outer shell. Shrimp, lobsters and most crabs are crustaceans. Here are lists of the crabs, other crustaceans and mollusks found in Chesapeake Bay.

Dave checks out a fiddler crab.

Dave checks out a fiddler crab.

Crabs found in Chesapeake Bay:

  • Atlantic Ghost Crab
  • Blue Crab
  • Chinese Mitten Crab
  • Common Spider Crab
  • Fiddler Crab
  • Hermit Crab
  • Horseshoe Crab
  • Marsh Crab

Other crustaceans found in Chesapeake Bay:

  • Common Glass Shrimp
  • Mantis Shrimp
  • Devil Crayfish
  • Skeleton Shrimp
  • Barnacle

Mollusks found in Chesapeake Bay:

  • Arks
  • Atlantic Oyster Drill
  • Atlantic Ribbed Mussel
  • Bay Scallop
  • Eastern Oyster
  • Hard Clam
  • Knobbed Whelk
  • Zebra Mussel

There are so many interesting crabs and shellfish found in Chesapeake Bay, I can’t describe them all here. I picked two to tell you about: blue crabs and barnacles. I hope that you spend some time learning about all the others!

Blue crab. Image source.

Blue crab. Image source.

Blue crabs get their name because they have blue-tinted claws. They are a very popular type of crab to catch, because of their tasty meat. Blue crabs live on the bottom of the ocean. They are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. They eat mussels, snails, fish, plants and dead animals they may find on the ocean floor. The number of blue crabs has decreased in Chesapeake Bay because of over-harvesting and changes to their habitat.

We found these barnacles on a rock.

We found these barnacles on a rock.

Barnacles are crustaceans. They live on rocks, docks, walls, boat hulls and other hard surfaces in the water of Chesapeake Bay. We see a lot of barnacles as we paddle during low tide. There are actually four different species of barnacles that live in Chesapeake Bay! Barnacles are small. They have six overlapping shell plates and a flat base. There is an opening at the top of the barnacle. Two valves open and close like a trap door. The valves open and close and feathery fingers stick out to sweep tiny bits of food into the barnacle. They eat plankton and other small things that are floating in the water.

 

Resources:

http://www.chesapeakebay.net/S=0/fieldguide/categories/category/invertebrates

http://www.nwf.org/wildlife/wild-places/chesapeake-bay.aspx

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/blue-crab/

http://chesapeakebay.noaa.gov/fish-facts/blue-crab

 

The post Crabs and Shellfish in Chesapeake Bay appeared first on Wilderness Classroom.

The D&R Canal

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11_24_14Student Response (Lower)

11_24_14Student Response (Upper)

After we left the busy port of New York City and Arthur Kill, Dave and I paddled on the Raritan River. Then we took the D&R Canal to the Delaware River. The D stands for Delaware and the R stands for Raritan. The Delaware & Raritan Canal has a long history.

Our coldest day of the journey happened when we were on the Raritan River. We wore many layers of clothing under our dry suits to stay warm. The dry suits would keep us dry if we were to get splashed or accidentally fall in the water. We also wore winter hats, mittens and big boots.

We were happy to reach the D&R Canal. It is narrow and surrounded by forest, so the wind didn’t bother us much. A trail runs along the canal, so we saw several people out running and walking. We would duck for low bridges so we wouldn’t hit our heads. Every few miles we came to an old lock that we had to portage around. We had some help on the portages from our new friends, Monica, George and Leona. Monica paddled with us for several miles and George later switched places with her. We used George’s cart on the portage. We even had a nice picnic lunch together.

Monica, Dave and Amy paddle on the D&R Canal.

Monica, Dave and Amy paddle on the D&R Canal.

The main canal is 36 miles long and there is a 22-mile long feeder canal too. When the United States entered into the Industrial Revolution in the early nineteenth century, many canals were built. The canals were used to transport resources to manufacturing centers and markets. The D&R Canal was built through New Jersey as a safe route for transporting resources between Philadelphia and New York.

The D&R Canal was built between 1830 and 1834. By the 1870s, the D&R Canal was one of America’s busiest canals. Most of the cargo that traveled through the canal was coal from Pennsylvania. Barges full of coal were either pulled through the canal by a team of mules or pushed by steam tugboats to New York.

Amy and George portage past a lock on the D&R Canal.

Amy and George portage past a lock on the D&R Canal.

As railroads were used more and more around the end of the nineteenth century, the canal was used less. The canal closed in 1932. The state of New Jersey bought it to use as a water supply system. A large stretch of the canal became a state park in 1974.

As we paddled on the canal, we saw several blue herons. People ran and walked on the path. We even saw one man paddling a kayak. I thought it was really great that this waterway and surrounding forest have been preserved.

 

 

Resources

http://www.dandrcanal.com/history.html

http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/drcanal.html

http://www.dandrcanal.com/gen_info.html

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