Thursday, July 27, 2017

100 Different Ways to Say "Weed-Whippin'"

Week 8
            The weeks are only going by faster! Week 8 has been completed with Maintenance and it felt like I was back home working during my summers again. Having an extensive background in both groundskeeping and landscaping, I was glad that I was able to lend a hand to the maintenance staff during one of their busier times of the year. Conveniently enough, I made it just in time for the toughest projects for the seasonal staff and on the hottest week of the summer! Coincidence? I think not.
            The days consisted of a 6am start and 2:30pm finish. I personally enjoyed these hours because I could finish my workday and still have some time to spend in the afternoon. The first project (complimented by the photo with the footbridge) required a crew of five to clear the underpasses and sides of the footbridge so that it was maintained and groomed. This being said, the bamboo that is native to the area in our workspace grows back with a vengeance every couple of weeks. In order to provide safe access to the footbridge for inspections and make the walking trail below the footbridge accessible to visitors, the maintenance staff and I used tools to clear the space and clean it up as well. This project was probably the most challenging in my opinion, mostly because the stalks of bamboo that needed to be removed were averaging at fifteen feet tall.
            Another project that we embarked on was similar to the first. We needed to clean up underpasses and sides of every bridge that traffic crossed over the Colonial Parkway. Close to ten bridges were included in this project but with the help of the staff, we completed this project within the day as well.
            The project that gained the most notoriety over the years however, always appears to be saved for ProRanger week. Being that I’ve been working so hands-on over the weeks, I was glad I could get my hands dirty on this project. Jones Mill Pond is an area along the Parkway that visitors can park and view the pond in an effort to better understand the landscape around Yorktown during the American Revolution and Civil War. This area around the pond however, can grow rampant with invasive plants and can overgrow into areas where visitors have access. We used a tractor with a “long-arm” on it (almost like a mower that extends quite far) to clear the way around the pond in addition to the number of weed-whackers (pictured) for every maintenance worker on the ground. As you can see in the photo with the vest that I wore, I would clip the weed-whacker to the harness so that it could rest on my hip during the hours that I used it instead of having to hold it over the course of the workday.
            We were able to complete every project tasked to us and I even got to jump on one of the heavy duty mowers and cut some of the 10,000 acres of the park. As I mentioned earlier, my experience in groundskeeping made me quite familiar with the machines that the employees at Colonial use and so cutting with it was nothing new to me. It took me back to my summers before this internship and I was quite nostalgic of those days. I was thankful that they let me go for a few laps on the mower. When the weather got to be quite the nuisance (upwards of 110 degrees with heat index), the maintenance staff used time wisely by washing trucks under the cover of shade to remain cool. We washed nearly fifteen trucks inside and out over the course of the week, so that the division could retain a professional appearance.


Maintenance, as you can expect, undoubtedly is crucial to the park as is every division. With so much to be covered and maintained year-round, the maintenance staff works tirelessly to ensure that the park is protected and accessible to future generations.  

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