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Recreated Fort Watauga

Today, I will take you to one of the old frontier posts in colonial history. Nestled in a valley along the Watauga River, Sycamore Shoals State Park is one of those fun, fascinating, and worthy destinations for a fun day trip for those in Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee. This State Park offers a few things for families and people of all ages to enjoy.

Sycamore Shoals State Park 70-acre stretch that sits along the Watauga river and historically was one of the main river crossings for the area. Historically speaking, Sycamore Shoals is rich with lore and events. The colonial settlement was one of the first outside of the original 13 colonies. The settlement played a significant role in the Cherokee Wars in the 1700s. The settlers would also take part in the Overmountain Men’s victory against the British in the Revolutionary War at King’s Mountain. Sycamore Shoals was the mustering site for Major Ferguson and the mountain men who would fight in the arguably decisive victory in the Revolutionary War. Another particularly interesting aspect of Sycamore Shoals is that this area is claimed to have been the birth site of the first independent democratic community in North America with the creation of the Watauga Association in 1772. …


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Photo by Marcel Strauß on Unsplash

I am sure many of the conservative readers will look at the title of this article and probably be outraged. But I implore you to just hold on a minute and bear with me while I explain this concept. I am an alone Democrat in a family of many conservatives, so I have learned to either bite my tongue or create some good arguments. This idea is one of those arguments that I have made before that even made my stubborn father concede I had a good point. …


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Photo by Josh Miller on Unsplash

I had one of my friends the other day send me a Snapchat the other day that frankly surprised me. It was a snap of him putting together an AR-10 that he had purchased the parts for and was putting together himself. Now I didn’t find the idea of him shooting or handling a gun all that shocking since we both were raised in households that had guns in them. We have at that point even been shooting together multiples times, including the time I took one of his exes to shoot her first gun with us. …


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Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

I know that I have already written one article on why everyone should go canvass with a campaign. However, as everyone is also aware, COVID-19 has changed the world vastly and campaigning has not been immune to those changes. Canvassing has lost a lot of support due to the face to face interaction required by it and therefore many campaigns have had to turn to other methods of public outreach. …


*This is normally where I would put the map for you to get your own view of the park, however it seems that due to the small size of the park, VA State Parks didn’t bother to make a map.

Widewater is an unusual state park due to its small size. Most state parks that are this small are usually centered around a certain historical or geographical feature such as Fort Washington National Park, Natural Bridge State Park, or Natural Tunnel State Park that make them unique. In the case of Widewater State Park, I couldn’t find anything that was overwhelmingly special about it. This conclusion might also be influenced by the fact that when I visited was during the COVID-19 lock downs. Therefore park facilities were closed, which also deprived me of a park map which I normally collect that could inform me of a particular landmark. …


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Mason Neck State Park is a ~1800 acre state park in Northern Virginia that is roughly 15–30 minutes outside of Washington D.C. Now I have to admit, I have visited a number of parks and state parks around D.C. and so far this has been one of the better ones. I’ve decided while I am staying in D.C. for the course of my graduate school years, I will make a point to visit as many state parks in the surrounding areas and write about them to create awareness about how amazing these state parks are!

I particularly am a fan of state parks due to my love of the outdoors and especially hiking. State parks offer more than just hiking though, as Mason Neck will show as an example. Another reason I really enjoy state parks is that due to their generally smaller size, they are more time friendly for those who may not always have a weekend, or a day, to devote to hiking. There are usually shorter trails that can still be very entertaining to undertake, while still being easily doable in a couple of hours or less. A short trail at the end of the day in a state park is always nice,especially for someone who has a busy schedule. …


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A Tuareg family takes shelter from a sandstorm at Lake Banzena. It has not rained for months and the area is suffering from the most severe drought to hit Mali in 29 years. Photo by Abbie Trayler-Smith made available by ARTSTOR.

Since the 1960s, the Tuaregs of Saharan Africa have launched multiple rebellions against the Malian and Nigerien governments. The latest round of armed rebellions happened in 2012 in Mali which has severely destabilized the country. Since then France, the United Nations, and other nations have intervened to support the Malian government. While that conflict also has ties to other international Islamist terrorist groups due to initial alliances in the rebellion breaking down, the Tuareg’s fight has little evidence that their fight is tied to Islamist extremism. Instead, when we peel away the superficial layers of the conflict, we see that the Tuareg have been involved in a fight for what they claim are indigenous rights to their native lands. …


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Photo by Darren Halstead on Unsplash

Embarrassment is a common theme in Trump’s presidency. This article is also just another person just adding their opinion to the miasma of writing on this subject. After the crazy State of the Union (SOTU) address last night on February 4, 2020, I felt compelled to write a response.


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Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash

2020 is right around the corner everyone and you know that means! Time for all the campaign calls. We have all had these kinds of phone calls before. The phone calls from a political campaign asking us to vote for a candidate, ask us to volunteer for the campaign, to donate to the candidate, or to even answer a survey about that candidate. It’s annoying and can be extremely frustrating especially when you have those calls at inconvenient times. …


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Photo by M. B. M. on Unsplash

On October 9th, 2019, I have added yet another moment to the list of moments that have left me face palming in response to a presidential comment. In this circumstance, this was President Trump grasping at metaphorical straws to justify abandoning the U.S.’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria. This spat of Trump’s foolish attempts to defend his policy decision to pull back troops from the northern Syrian border to allow the Turkish military to attack the Kurds comes in the wake of swaths of bipartisan condemnation. One of the many different justifications that Trump has given was to downplay the alliance the U.S. …

About

Ben Padleckas

Graduate Student in International Security, Political Junky, History Buff, Star Wars Fan.

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