Trails and Wallpaper

July 15, 2013 Posted by: Mahin Jalalkhan

This week, we were carted away to the Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences, which is more commonly referred to as 'VINS'.  We worked in tandem with a trail crew composed of high school aged youth who were mostly from neighboring Hanover, New Hampshire. The Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences was working on a joint project with Rivers and Trails, seeking to implement accessible trails for those with mobility disabilities. The trail on which we worked, therefore, had to comply with certain requirements per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The process by which a trail is created is time consuming, I've learnt. My fellow interns and I worked at VINS all day, put in a considerable amount of effort and work, and yet hadn't finished – which is perfectly acceptable, incidentally. This speaks to the immense amount of planning and working which is inherent to creating trails. Furthermore, I also discovered that in spite of the number of requirements needed in order to comply with the ADA, that that needn't require trail planners to follow those requirements to the letter. For example, one criterion of ADA trails is that they have a grade of less than 5% (that number varies depending on the length of a trail). However, that does not mean that trail planners must use the lowest possible grade, because the maximum grade is 5% and trail planners are at liberty to set the grade at the highest acceptable grade.

Friday, July 12th, 2013
I helped today's morning mansion steward by sweeping the porch and placing photos of the exterior of the house outside, on a bench.

Chiefly, my duties that morning were to man (or is "wo"man more apt?) the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park desk at the Billings Farm and Museum. The Farm doesn't open till 10 o'clock – much like the Park in that respect – so during the time preceding my shift at the farm, I picked up a box of brochures from the Carriage Barn Visitor Center, because the supply of park brochures at the farm was rapidly depleting. En route to the farm, I set up two traffic cones. [An aside to those driving on Route 12, a traffic cone indicates that you ought to slow down a bit – just joking! (I'm serious though.)]

At the Billings Farm and Museum, I welcomed visitors and fielded all their questions.  Whilst at the farm, I had the opportunity to use my French language skills with two visitors who were visiting the Woodstock area, and I am pleased that I was able to help them schedule a tour, and furnished them with pertinent brochures.

Later, in the afternoon, I was a mansion steward. I had learnt that throughout the day, a pair of professionals who specialized in conserving older houses was working in the parlor to restore the impeccably detailed wallpaper that had been installed in the 1800s by the Billings family. They were removing the dirt that had accumulated on the wallpaper, adding adhesive to pieces of the wallpaper that threatened to fall, and re-painting certain sections that lost their luster. Never before had I learnt of such a job available in the National Park Service, but in hindsight, I suppose someone has to ensure that a centuries old house stays upright.  


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Last updated: July 15, 2013

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