Geography Pupils Travel to the USA
The Geography Department ran a very successful trip to the western United States over the February half-term. Thirty pupils from Forms IV and V attended; three members of staff also gave up their own holiday time over the break to supervise the trip: Alastair McConnell (Head of Geography), Shiona Scott (Teacher of Geography) and Sadia Hussain (Teacher of Biology).
The trip departed from Glasgow for San Francisco on Sunday, 10 February; they spent the first day in San Francisco and voyaged over the bay to Alcatraz Island (otherwise known as ‘The Rock’), which served as a federal prison from 1933-1963 and is now a national landmark. The tour of the prison was, of course, an experience in itself, whilst the boat trip into the bay afforded superb views back over the city. The group then toured the highlights of the city, including the famously twisting and precipitous Lombard Street, Ocean Beach, Twin Peaks and the Transamerica Building. In the evening, they devoured some very authentic and delicious Chinese food in the city’s thriving China Town.
The following day saw the group visiting the Golden Gate Bridge and, just outside of San Francisco, the Muir Woods National Monument. The pupils wandered through this majestic grove of Giant Sequoia Coastal Redwoods which the Scottish expatriate environmentalist, John Muir, fought so hard to save. ‘The pupils really enjoyed this part of the trip,’ said Mr McConnell, ‘The way the sunlight came slanting down through the trees was beautiful, very striking.’ From there, the group travelled to Bakersfield and then, the next day, visited an almost temperate Death Valley.
Death Valley is the lowest, and therefore one of the hottest, places in the USA—though in February, it was a mere 18 degrees. From the bleak, empty desert, they hit the neon-lit strip of Las Vegas: itself an on-going experiment in urban planning, the city’s hotels and casinos are constantly being demolished and re-built in ever more spectacular fashion.
St Valentine’s Day was spent touring Hoover Dam. ‘The focus of the trip was the Management of the Colorado River (Hoover Dam allowing desert cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix),’ said Mr McConnell, and Geography pupils conduct a case study on the topic in Higher Geography. The group then spent a full day delving into the history of a part of the famous Route 66 and also took great delight in a very cold, flying visit to the Grand Canyon.
The final day saw the pupils exploring Montezuma Castle National Monument, the impressively preserved ruins of the Sinagua people’s cliffside homes. The trip wound down with some shopping in Phoenix, before the group headed home to Britain in the evening. They arrived back in Glasgow on Sunday, 17 February, meaning they had a mere few hours to adjust to the seven hours’ time difference before facing class again in the morning. It was certainly worth it, however, agreed all those who travelled west; it was a most successful adventure.