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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Friday, August 1st 2014 - Chickahominy Riverfront Park to Chuckatuck Creek

Our last full day of the Lower James River was very bittersweet. We woke up to a few rain showers, but that didn't dampen our spirits. Breakfast was a little delayed because the pot our cooks used to boil water had some chili still in it. So while the cooks restarted boiling the water, the rest of the team broke down camp and packed the trailer with the canoes and some gear that Jessica would take back to Richmond for us. Alice and Kirkland prepared a serve-yourself oatmeal breakfast with the help of Kyle, and then after that we started to shuttle gear to our mode of transportation for today, the Spirit of the James. This 44-foot  pontoon boat took off from the Chickahominy River on our way down the James River shortly after.

Our first stop on the river was in front of Jamestown Island, at a weather buoy. Georgia and Kyle talked to us about the functions of the buoy and how easily accessible the information is online. On the way to our next stop, the team got some much deserved rest. 
Comfy seat, and the lull of the boat engine, put these weary travels to sleep
Sleeping photo bomb!
Payback photo bomb
So sleepy
Sleeping twinsies
Post-nap exuberance
When we reached the second stop, at the discharge canal of Dominion’s Surry Nuclear Powerplant, the group did a little science. We collected a pail of water from the normal James river, and another from right outside the discharge canal. The group discovered a double digit difference in temperature, which affects the fish who live in the area surrounding the canal.  

Doing some investigative science
Next we were off to see the “Ghost Fleet” on the James, but were stopped by the Navy and told to stay close to the shore because they were conducting a practice drill. As the drill was conducted and we slowly made our way to the fleet, many people slept on the pontoon boat. As we passed the fleet, Bri and Kyle searched the names of the ships such as the USS Cape Johnson and the USS Shenandoah, and told us some history about their commission in wars from World War I to the Gulf War. The remainder of the trip was very rainy and wet. As we pulled into Chuckatuck Creek, a group of dolphins passed by the boat.

Looking at the ghost fleet
Ghost fleet
Once we reached the dock, an interviewer from the Suffolk Herald interviewed J.W. and Elle about their expectations for the trip and how the trip has exceeded them. Karla, from the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance took all of our gear to the Nansemond River Community Center, our “campground” for the night. Carly told the group the history of the NPRA and the fishing and boat-building communities of the Nansemond. After her discussion, the leaders went into the kitchen to prepare tonight’s seafood feast of blue crabs and oysters. A few members of the team had never picked crabs or tried oysters, so the experience was new and delicious.

Karla from the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance sharing her work with the team
It was a Chesapeake Bay feast
The aftermath
Getting ready to try a raw oyster!
Tonight the team performed our projects that were assigned on Monday. The projects were fairly opened ended, everyone had a chance to express how the trip affected them in a creative way. Once everyone had presented we all gathered around to hear the story of how Kyle got hit in the head with a ghost. After that the group mossed up and down for one final time, then headed to bed.

- JW and Dylan 

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