Monday, July 14, 2008

Dangers of Running

Getting to the Audubon Center at the Francis Beidler Forest has never been easy, even for locals.  We're not really near anything, though Harleyville is the closest landmark that shows on the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) road map.  We've included a map in our brochure, because the SCDOT map creates confusion...not because of the map's design, but because many individuals that struggled in geography class (help can be found here) see intersecting lines on a map and assume an intersection in the real world.  This is the case with Beidler Forest Road and Interstate 26.  Our map clearly states "NO EXIT," but that does not deter individuals from driving to that point between the actual exits at 177 (Harleyville) and 187 (Ridgeville) and being surprised.  In the end, faulty maps are always to blame for the additional 20-30 minutes of drive time.

Even if one were to follow the directions to Beidler Forest explicitly, the dirt road named Mims Road made it an experience to get from Beidler Forest Road to our driveway, especially after a rain.  Red pudding would not be an exaggeration when describing the mile of Mims Road after a moderate rain.  Sticking to the ruts and accepting that a full-service car wash was in the car's future was the stress-free path.

A few years ago, Dorchester County's 1% tax for roads got Mims Road minimally-paved.  Gone are the days of heavy dust in the dry season and slip-n-slide, white-knuckle steering in the wet season.  The last obstacle for most drivers is the rock driveway from Mims Road to the nature center.  The downhill speed limit of 20 m.p.h. is seldom exceeded by non-staff, non-pickup vehicles due to the threat to paint finishes from stones kicked up from the driveway's surface. This surface provides a durable road while allowing water to penetrate, thereby preventing oils and other pollutants from being washed down the driveway and into the swamp.  However, the surface is unforgiving to young campers moving at high speed without full mastery of their bipedal locomotion.  Today, Ada put a right knee and a left palm hard onto some of the largest stones laying between the nature center and the art activities in the outdoor classroom.  It is said that artists must suffer, but knee bone on rock is a tremendous cost.

Having witnessed the fall of Ada, we admonished her fellow campers for running along the same stretch of treacherous driveway.  "There will be no running!"  Having said this, 6-year-old Grace, one of the twins and no more than three feet tall, asked in all seriousness, "What about skipping?"  Well, of course that is allowed in any summer camp.  Pleased with the answer, Grace skipped...well, to the wildlife observation skills session.  We realized then that we, and likely many others, need to incorporate more skipping into our daily lives!

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