My son and I took a day to drive through the Blue Ridge Parkway today, from McDowell Co. down through Yancey Co., and along the way we stopped to see the Linville Caverns before headings to Crabtree Falls for a 5-mile hike. The weather was slightly overcast with such a cool, crisp breeze, that one might have mistaken it for fall rather than the midst of summer.
The Linville Caverns are found at the base of Humpback Mountain. In the caverns we were able to see the different rock formations in the limestone and dolomite, including stalactites, stalagmites, and pillars. Logan's favorite part was experiencing total darkness and all the cave kisses he received (when water fell on his face). Although there weren't any bats in the cavern this trip, we were able to see the rainbow and brook trout throughout the stream of water flowing through the rock. After the caves, we stopped off at one of the lookout points on the parkway for a snack before heading toward the falls. Fog was only covering the mountain peaks, so we were able to see clearly into the ravine for miles and miles.
Once at Crabtree Falls Trail, the sun had finally made its appearance of the day and we passed through fields of wildflowers before we hiked the mile and half into the falls. The trail was clear but consisted of mostly rocky terrain with a moderately steep decline. Once at the bottom, we climbed up the base of the waterfall to play in the cool water. We found several butterflies chilling in the mist of the fall before heading back down to slower moving water where we looked for water bugs and crawdads. As we headed up the other, less traveled, side of the trail, we had merely a foot of cleared path and were surrounded by tall grasses. We walked about a mile in before we decided to head back the way we came as we didn't want to run into a bear with her cubs on the other side of the mountain. As we headed back, it quickly became overcast and the rain began to pour. Luckily, the canopy was thick enough to keep us partially dry, but we weren't expecting to come across the path of several fawns flying through the trees and almost knocking us over. We barely saw the white spots on their backs to identify them as they were moving so quickly. As we climbed out of the woods and back to our car the rain increased in intensity which meant for a ride home in the rain, but it was all well worth it the trip.
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Based on the NSTA reading list for environmental science, I borrowed Global Weirdness: Severe Storms, Deadly Heat Waves, Relentless Drought, Rising Seas, and the Weather of the Future, by Climate Central, from my local library. It was an easy read (I finished it in less than 2 days), and although it had a few lulling moments, it kept me intrigued by providing interesting data and keeping topics interconnected throughout the book. The authors assert in their introduction that they wrote the book in order for a sixth grader to be able to read and understand (for the most part) and they do a fabulous job of fulfilling their claim.
The book is divided into four main parts: the science behind what is causing climate change, what's happening now because of climate change, what's probably going to happen in the future due to climate change, and if the effects of climate change can be avoided. The science behind climate change are explained in great detail, but not so in-depth that one would get lost in the content. There are multiple visual aids throughout the text that present the data in an easy-to-interpret format. The authors also keep a neutral viewpoint throughout the book on their own opinion of climate change, and instead, give arguments for both sides of the climate change debate. One fact that remains constant is that the temperature of our atmosphere is increasing, and more impart due to human impact than natural causes.
Climate Central creates a beginner's guide into the world of understanding global warming and why climate change is taking place. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who either doesn't understand what climate change is about, wants a better understanding of global warming, or wants to get a glimpse into the future of Earth.