Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day 95 November 23, 2009 Peace, Love, and Happiness!

November 23rd, 2009 Day 95

Wow! Day 95. Sounds strange because this trip has gone by so fast. At times I have felt is creeping by and other seem like weeks and days. Through al of this I have learned a whole new spectrum of things. How to live with 13 people through hard times and bad is a challenge. Dealing with these times makes me feel so much more confident with dealing with people in the future. It will make big things in the past with friends and family seem so small. Even through hard times, we all have grown to love each other. Seeing these gorgeous places together we have appreciated them as one. If we ever visit in the future we will remember and laugh at these times, I have no doubt about that. Personally I don’t think I will fully understand what I have learned and seen until I return. Our minds overwhelmed with the work load, unable to grasp fully what this has done for myself. Experiences take some time to sink in, or something else will happen that will later make a connection. Seeing the Grand Canyon and how huge this is makes me think of people saying pictures don’t do justice. In a way I feel the Grand Canyon like my life, all stopping at different points and places and it looks different, but still your life. ECOEE has been that first glance I saw it was almost disorienting but comforting. We have all been overwhelmed but loved this experience. Peace, Love and Happiness.

I love you all - Cassi

Day 94 November 22, 2009 Down to the nitty gritty!

Day 94
22 November 2009

Today ECOEE went their separate ways to take care of what each of us needs to take care of. We’re three days from the end of the road and its crunch time, but it seems like we’ve been crunching for three months now, so where is all of the six packs of abs at? All joking aside we are nearing the end of ECOEE 2009, and there’s a strange mix of anxiety and apprehension to go back home. I can say that all good things must end, but that would be cliché; I could say that this has been the best day of my life, but that would not give this trip justice; I could say that I’m ready to turn the van around and do another three months on the road, but I would be lying.

To quote from Sam Negri’s Earth’s Mystical Grand Canyon, “The best explorers are seldom as brilliant as they appear years after their death. In the earthly excursions that established their fame, they often stumbled, miscalculated distances, encountered unheard-of diseases, and sometimes suffered the ridicule of those who had stayed at home with the dog, the pipe, and the afghan.
But for most of these adventurous souls, there were other rewards, the deepest of which remain vague to this day: it is the joy of discovery. It is not only the palpable world, but the invisible hand that stays beyond it, beckoning the traveler from the beaten path to the trackless wild.”

We are our own community, free to roam amongst the societies of North America. We are like a blossoming lotus of discovery comprised of our individual petal of energy. We were only a seedling in August, but are now in full bloom. The season is changing and some petals may feel wilted, as eventually we all will, and be blown in our own direction. And when we have had time to reflect on the sum of the parts that adds up to ECOEE 2009, we will fully appreciate this social experiment.
Look around, both at where we are, and into the eyes of your comrades. Realize that even though we may have compulsions to strangle one another in these tough times, WE will make it through them. When we look back ten years from now all of the small rifts, and full fledge fights will become belly laughs, and the only thing left to talk about will sound like the beginning of a classic book, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

Thank you all for the greatest experience of my life. Please forgive my shortcomings, faults, and explosions – just like an old football coach of mine would say, “if I yell at you, it at least means that I haven’t forgotten about you.” I will never forget you all and this incredible opportunity.

Peace Love Happiness
Ronald Lloyd Wildermuth III
“Uncle Ronnie”

Day 93 November 21, 2009 Grand Canyon!

Saturday, November 21, 2009-Day 93
“For this is what America is all about. It is the uncrossed desert and the unclimbed ridge. It is the star that is not reached and the harvest sleeping in the unplowed ground. Is our world gone? We say ‘farewell.’ Is a new world coming? We welcome it – and we will bend it to the hopes of man.”-Lyndon B. Johnson
Today was perhaps the most interesting wake up time and process yet since waking up with ECOEE. What time was it? Five, Six? What about midnight? Oh how technology can fails us when relied upon as our phones read pacific time even though we were in the mountain time region. So we woke up a little late needless to say and in order to keep to schedule, plans for a cooked breakfast were scrapped and our days’ chef, Josh Boyer, made some peanut butter and jelly from scratch, JUST KIDDING.
After breakfast it came time to officially hit the road for our final trip destination, the Grand Canyon. It really was crazy to sit in the van before my siesta and think of all the places we have been and things we have done and how this really is the last thing on our list and how fitting that it is a huge hole in the ground as when ECOEE is all said and done there will be a similar felling sized hole in my mind that this trip once filled. So now onward we go with no turning back except in the form of memories, from Canada, to Yellowstone, to the Tetons, to Yosemite, to Joshua Tree, to Baja, California and on to Grand Canyon.
Soon on our van ride we had to stop for groceries and lunch in the parking lot in good ol’ tailgating fashion. Food through our stay in the canyon was purchased including cold cuts for lunch which helped us avoid a two meal day of peanut butter and jelly.
“Each of us has a spark of life inside us, and we must set off that spark in one another.”-Kenny Ausubel
Finally we arrived at camp in the canyon and set up our portable homes in the form of tents, this is a change from sleeping under starlight as the low temperature for the day was 18 degrees. This excitingly was my first night in Peppermint Patty due to the girls of the group routinely inhabiting the tent, and not a moment to soon! At three we journeyed to the visitors center and took notes for our critiques that we will be hammering out the next few days. Included in this trip was a lookout of the south rim which was awe-inspiring. I cannot wait to see more of what the Grand Canyon has to offer.
“Nature never repeats herself, and the possibilities of one human soul will never be found in another.”- Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Day 91 November 19, 2009 Heading Home!

November 19th, 2009 Day 91

Our first morning back in the states was an early one as we woke up once again before the sun to clean out the classroom that that we called home for the night to repack the vans and trailer for our trek back east towards Horn Field and Turkey Day. The logistics of packing took a different route this time as we were trying to leave out only what we were going to need for the last 6 days of the trip. Jim met with us in the morning and talked to us about how he got involved in the recreation field and what is going on at Aztec Recreation. Aztec is one of the best recreation centers that I have seen on a college campus that offers something for everyone at a reasonable and fair price. Jim spoke on Aztec Adventures and told us about all of the trips that they take for fun as well as college credit. I wish that I could go on an expedition for a class. It was interesting to hear of all the different partnerships and relationships that Jim and his employees have made to help them become what they are and be able to offer a wide variety of activities. After the meeting it was time to load the vans and head out of town. After a quick grocery run to the local Walmart that was conviently located in the Westfield Mall we headed to camp for the night at Cuyumaca State Park. Tomorrow is our last pro-visit for outdoor education and our journey to the Grand Canyon begins.

Day 89 November 16, 2009 Going Going Gone!

Josh/ Day 89/ 11-16-09

Today was our last day at Casa Azul. It was our last day to rest and glance at the beautiful view that Bay of L.A has to offer. The day was a little sad. Hitting the nail on the head with how the day felt was when we broke our good neighbor John’s botchy ball when we played our last game here in the sand. In a way it was kind of humorous, probably because I wasn’t the one who broke it. When we left Bay of L.A. we stopped for lunch at a restaurant and ate some great food talked and watched T.V. After we made our way to a campsite in the desert an hour south of Ensinada. We arrived there and the desert surroundings were very neat, especially when the stars came out. There is cacti everywhere, bushes, long singletree like plants, and mounds of rocks in different locations. It reminded me of a setting in Dr.Seuss. To end the night Pete started up debrief. He asked a good question to start it off. He asked, “what have you gotten out of our time in Baja California or out of this whole experience personally?” The whole group came up with many answers and reasons with a lot of insight. It was all quite moving. I felt it was a great way to end our very last night here in Mexico, and I know that we will never forget our time here for as long as we live.
Josh Boyer

Day 88 November 15, 2009 Leaving Baja Ca.

Day 88 November 15, 2009
Suddenly it seems we have begun to turn the bus around and take our Baja Ca and other opportunities home with us already. So soon it also seems that we have already left and distanced the experiences we had just weeks ago and here we carry along neither here nor there yet nor back behind but here. The work to be done is nothing for us. Cleaning and organizing is something our group can find the collaboration whenever it is necessary and we completed the tasks that the end of the sea kayak adventure asked for. So Casa Azul is ready for another trip as well as our preparations for the return to the States and itinerary ready for completion. We discussed today about what we can do to satisfy some concerns regarding returning home in time to make the upcoming holiday most convenient. IT didn’t come as a surprise that most of the group has been feeling the urge to get going as soon as possible. But as I looked around the bay today and saw its beauty from a few new angles on a run with Pete, I felt nothing but the urge to stay. As we made it up high along a mountain trail with a local canine companion to join us and noticing all the others which lined the streets guarding the streets. In the bay you can see a few of the boats harbored and the spread of houses which create the old fishing town. You could see the light blue of our residence and the shape of the white sailboat statue near the entrance to town. I pondered about how much of the town has changed into eh past years through changes from mining and the addition of a road that could lead you in. Just how short of a visit we have had but how much we accomplished. We have meet many friends and talking with them their graciously smiling faces encourages me to return because I feel there are more to share here and more to be learned. For me it is to go diving under the water and to hike up into the mountains hoping to continue discovering the treasures the natural resources here in Baja Ca have for any visitor. But I will not forget that this beauty exists because of the creation and timelessness afterwards. I am thankful for the experiences that ECOEE has offered me and especially thank of the members of our lovely group. We will always be connected and now while we have the time right now, let’s not worry too much about what will come like homework or finals because it is here, the beauty sunny Mexico air that we will miss in just a few days.

Day 85 November 12, 2009 Sea Lions!

November 12th, 2009 Day 85

As I awoke early this morning earlier than normal I couldn’t take my eyes off of the sky and moon. It was a place I felt at peace and never wanted to leave. As I was laying I started thinking about the question was had previously been asked what is ECOEE?
- ECOEE so far has been the hardest, but experience I needed the most in my life right now.
- I have seen places and met people that will be lifelong friends and family.
- It has taught me that no matter how hard things get in life, everything will be ok.
As we are challenged everyday we are slowly learning the deeper meaning of ECOEE, one they cant put in a class description course book. We have individually all figured this out on our own. Its slightly different for all, just like our days here. Today for instance paddling, all chatting about different things makes us all grow closer. Getting to see the sea lions play and simply live free was very inspiratual. As I look back on my day I couldn’t of had a better one. Waves now rolling in another awesome nights sleep ahead of me in this relaxing environment.

Love you all, Cassi
Whatever tomorrow brings ill be there with open arms and open eyes.

Day 84 November 11, 2009

Day 84 11/11/09

Dear Mom and Dad,

Mexico has been amazing. We have seen so many things that are beautiful and inspiring. Seeing an actual whale, fin whale to be exact is something I’ve wanted to see live. If feels good to be on the water paddling again, sleeping on beaches and have all the stars in the sky as a night light. This place has a much different feel then Canada but at the same time it feels quite the same. There is both large, majestic creatures that roam anywhere they please. There is also this weird feeling of being able to wander anyplace we choose with respect to the wildlife. Cooking in the backcountry in both places seems very similar. A mixture of noodles, cheese, a little of this, a little of that. No matter the combination it is always good.

As I lay here in the same clothes I’ve worn for the last week, I think of home and the family. I miss the card games and monicals, Barb and Tony coming over, and I miss Goliath but not really. I miss our talks and being able to come home on sundays for church and the best meal I’d get all week. I miss the things that I thought were necessities but are really just things I took advantage of. I now see that to be happy it is not my T-shirt collection, the number of movies or video games I have. Its first of all being happy with who I am. On an expedition, we the leaders, are supposed to take care if four things, ourselves, the group, the gear, and nature. I find myself wanting to take care of nature more. Both at home and here. Right now we are surrounded by so many endangered and precious ecosystems.

For one of our lessons today we picked up rocks and underneath were so many life forms. A sea cucumber that said “don’t touch me” and others I have no idea of their names. They are just as important as everything else. Several are snorkeling now and after the amazing finds I’m sure several more will want to explore the ocean or at least the few feet we are brace enough to swim in.

Tomorrow our journey will continue again. Hopefully we will see something else that will be beartiful or amazing. Either way I have nothing to complain about here. This is paradise and its time for bed.

Love ,


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 82 November 9, 2009 Preparing for the water!

Day 82

We started off the morning today with delicious French toast sticks, along with potato casserole, peanut butter, strawberry preserves, and maple syrup on the side. Following the wholesome meal, half the group left to go on the boat at 8:00am, and the other half went to the turtle sanctuary to do our service projects. We then all met up at twelve, shared some stories about our time, and then had some great egg salad sandwiches and cheese quesadillas. Fransisco taught us about how to clean the kayak’s properly to get rid of all the sand and salt. I tried to pay attention intently because our kayak expedition begins tomorrow! This will be our final water expedition on ECOEE. This time let’s do it right, lets learn and perform as leaders, and let’s finish with the seven principles of happiness in mind, (honesty, humility, forgiveness, generosity, courtesy, patience, and kindness). The group then got the food and personal gear ready, with instructions form Kim (LOD), we had an early de-brief, ate pizza for dinner, received awards from Elizabeth for our hard work on the service projects, then we got our final gear packed and ready to go. As I lay here now while writing this, I am filled with joy and excitement, because for the next 6 days and 7 nights we are taking it back to the backcountry once more. And I’m glad to do it with the 12 peers and instructors that I call my ECOEE family. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jacob Boyer

Day 80 November 7, 2009

Saturday November 7, 2009-Day 80
Today began slightly earlier for me as we once again put to test our new and improved cook group system as Grant, Matt and I whipped up toads in a hole featuring potatoes. It was a great start for a day full of kayaking. There is something about waking up on a out of this world comfortable cot in the slightly salty sea air just as the sun is rising that bewilders me and makes me feel lucky to be a part of this planet, group, and all the experiences this life we are living leads that really makes a person glad to just get the day going more than just about any other place in the entire world.
With that being said we cleaned dishes after eating and had some down time as we waited until 8:00 for Elizabeth to arrive and the half of the group going through sea kayaking practice soon after. The rest of us prepared our rations, cleaned and then shopped for some exclusive items that should fill out the planned meals of the particular LOD’s upcoming days. Sooner than we thought the kayakers for the day made it back to shore and greeted us with stories and jokes about their day on the water as lunch was prepared and served. Post cleanup some productive free time was given to the group where we journaled, planned and prepared lessons, and some went to stores around this little town which represents a small town feel with enough culture and history as New York City. At 1:00 we met at the beach for a hilarious personal hygiene lesson by Jake featuring Harry Hygiene in all his glory, small legs, arms and all with an oversized head covered in sun block, tooth paste, and our personal favorite food..humus. Let’s only hope our fine group stays true to the concepts taught in Jake’s lesson especially as we set sail, or paddle, in a couple of days.
Soon after Jakes lesson we jumped in the kayaks for our first go at the sea with the entire group. It was a lot different riding in the tandems but with some practice became an equally enjoyable experience. We continued kayaking for a couple hours trading places within our diamond formation until we once again reached shore and put the kayaks to sleep upon arrival. What a fun day with ECOEE on the water and a tease of what is to come!
For dinner our neighbor John continues his gracious hospitality representing the peninsula of Baja California as he again gave us two fish and a bucket of clams. Tomorrow we look forward to sharing our thankfulness to live the privileged lives that we do by cleaning up an area of need, it is good to be a part of ECOEE!

Day 79 Training Day!

November 11th, 2009 Day 79

Today was the best day of my life. Finally we did what we came to Baja California to do. Today was sea kayaking training day for half of the group but before we could bit the water, Matt gave everyone an introductory safety lesson on how to properly dress for the water and a basic rundown on paddle signs. With our new knowledge it was time to hit the water with Jeff and refresh our paddling skills. While we were on the water the other group was hard at work back on the porch of Casa Azul packing food for the trip on the water. After our morning of paddling strokes, T- rescues, and a quick trip to the lighthouse we put the boats to sleep and met up with the other half if the group at the museum where everyone was able to look back in time of Baja De California to see how the way of life has evolved here and what different species of animals call this peninsula home. It also gave us the opportunity to pick up gifts for friends and loved ones. With some time before lunch everyone split up to explore the town and check out the different markets and stores around the Casa. After a delicious Midwestern lunch of Chicago style hotdogs and potato salad we went to our classroom for the day on the beach and listened to lessons from Cassie and Kim on geology and conflict resolution. The group quickly realized that we had no future in music and should stick to recreation after Christine’s attempt to teach us a song that involves both rhythm and lyrics. While the cooks started to work on dinner the group had some more free time to explore before Elizabeth’s presentation on Sea Turtles and what efforts are being done to help protect them. Afterwards Ron fried up another backcountry fish that we got from our neighbor John and added it to Christine’s dinner. With full stomachs we enjoyed the rest of the night said goodnight to our new friends and went to bed.


Day 78 November 5, 2009 Mexico!

November 5th, 2009
Day 78

Think of what to write about today all I can think of is: We’re in Mexico!!! THE END…

It’s difficult to capture the culture shock we thirteen gringos have experienced south of the imaginary line that separates the United States and Mexico, but to me, that was the last line that we have seen. Many of us have commented how we have never seen such a place where the new is built next to the old; pride allows progress to grow beside it; and how what is “simple life” to us is simply life here. It makes me think of the basic blessings of my life and most of my thoughts boil down to one underlying theme that, “water is like life: they are both great.” I remember when I used to let the hot shower run for ten minutes before I get in to let the steam build up in the bathroom; today I was ecstatic to have water pressure hard enough to clean suds off my body. Today we also ate at a restaurant owned by a friend of Fransisco where a lot of ECOEE-ians had their first tastes of clams and calamari. We were treated like royalty by our gracious hosts and the amazing food was Fransisco’s words personified, “this is why friends are more important than money…” While we dined there was home video of Dia de los Muertes from four days ago playing on a television ten feet from our table. All I have to say is: this is the way that I want to be remembered. There was singing, dancing, young girls passing out flowers: a true celebration of those who had lived, rather than mourning of those who have died. Watching the celebration was another scenario where this culture lightens the lines that are often times made bold in our culture, by trying to draw the living closer to their ancestors; like the ancient tribes who scribed the cave paintings.
The comic relief of the day was during out 6500+ peso effort to clean out the Mercado. The clerk was as good of a sport as one could be checking out nine carts worth of food at this tiny store compared to the mega Wal Marts that we normally look for. The clerk and other customers may not have been too happy, but the manager was all smiles to see us take over one of the three lanes for twenty minutes to get the stockpile of food that will be the bulk of our food that needs to suffice the majority of our twelve days left in Mexico. The next challenge is for us to fit food, forty gallons of fresh water and, some where, our bodies into the sea kayaks in a few days for our last back country adventure of ECOEE.

I don’t want to end on a depressed note so:

For every road that you risk to cross,
In every maze in which you get lost,
Whenever you don’t think you can pay the cost,
Don’t want to walk to your car to scrape it clean of frost,
Or just want to run from the city and all of that damn exhaust;
Remember to tell yourself: This is my Life and I’m the Boss

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day 76 November 3, 2009 Last day of mule packing!

November 3rd, 2009 Day 76

Our last day to see the murals of Baja California is a sad one for me. This spot is truly a hidden oasis in this remote area of the sierras. The culture and heritage was have experienced through these murals and interpreting stories of our own. The painters created there masterpieces of human and animal figures. Rock Art including overlapping images of men, women, deer, bighorn sheep, rabbits, and birds. Many in black and red and some in both colors. Arms on the men and women were always up some half red and black, some all red, and some all black. All of the animals seemed to be in motion or action. The vultures or birds we viewed were always in flight as well. These murals could be stared at for hours upon hours and we could see and notice something different. Coming to camp we all got a chance to ride around on the mule with our guide Ramon. He guided us around camp and gave us an opportunity to get pictures taken so we have a souvenir to take home and show our families. Getting to know what Ramon does and how to pack a Burro is something I thought I would ever get to see. This trip has given me so many experiences, I would never of gotten the chance to have, and I am very thankful for that. Even thought there is a language barrier between us Ramon is giving in everyway possible and made this trip unforgettable for me. He is by far one of the most simplest and happiest people I have ever come by and is very inspiring. All that glitters is not gold! Peace, Love and Happiness.

Day 74 November 1, 2009

Josh Boyer/ Day 74/ 11-01-09

Today was our first day of backpacking in Mexico. We all woke up from the sounds of bells and chimes banging together from the burros that were walking around in the distance. We had breakfast, got our packs together and hiked down to Guadalupe to drop off our bags of food, pots, and pans to leave for the burros to carry that were going to meet us at our destination. We also met Ramon there in Guadalupe. It was interesting to see how the villages there were like. The houses were made of slabs of wood with dried palm tree leaves for roofs. There were donkeys in front hanging out in different spots and poo around in big clumps. Chickens were running around eating seed on the ground, and everything was very run down. It was interesting to see the artifacts that they had there. There were about fifty arrowheads hanging up on the outside of one of the houses. It was also interesting to see that they had solar panels powering a lot of the houses. It really shows the changing of times. As we took our descending hike there were a lot of senses being used. We could see far down a valley with tons and tons of cacti and plants that covered the whole area. There is lots of green here surprisingly, since we are in the desert. At certain times you could smell something sweet from the flowers that were along the trail. It is very fresh smelling to get a scent of the different plants and earth. As we were hiking you could feel many rocks slipping from under your boots and jagged edges. The day was very long, but a great experience, and tomorrow is another day.
Josh Boyer

Day 73 October 31, 2009 Baja California!

Oct 31 2009
It doesn’t feel quite at ALL like a typical Halloween except perhaps for the gorgeous orange sunrise brimming the horizon over the waters of the Bahia of LA. Or perhaps cause it ends very similarly with another orange and beautiful sundown at a little of the road campsite near the small village of Guadalupe. Oh yea, and did I mention we are in MEXICO! We spent the morning getting ready for the day of travel and logistics prep for a short pack trip to explore some old caves or some nationally protected anthropologic prehistoric sites if you want to be exact. We are going to see six caves over 16 km. Our morning breakfast of eggs and green/red peppers started our new adoption of Francisco vegetarian diet which I am personally excited about. We drove back to the main drag of Highway 1 than took us to a larger town of Guerrero Negro meaning the “Black Warrior”. The town is known for taking whale watching tours. We stopped for gas, water, and groceries the three pivotal ingredients to all road trips especially through the desert. The scenery flattened shortly after hitting the road as we headed south for the 28th parallel which separates Baja from Baja Sur (South) and leads us into the Vizcaino Desert (a part of the Sonoran). The land was covered in cardones which look strikingly similar to suaroro as well tall and skinny sirrius and elephant trees. These odd looking trees dotted the landscape. Barrel and ciollas reminded me of Joshua Tree and we gradually made our way through military checkpoints. We stopped for lunch along the road just after the turn off to San Francisco range. The rest of the way the road tried to the minivan it took many hours to navigate. We stopped to sign in and document our visit.
The desert is beautiful.

Day 72 October 27, 2009 Rock Climbing with Jeff!

October 27th, Day 72

It was another early morning at Indian Cove for us as we woke in time for the beautiful sunrise. The thought of a solo definitely put people into a better mood and we packed camp after breakfast in hopes of not being there for the night. When everything was put away we headed down to meet Jeff where we were going to be having climbing school 101. Jeff went over some more of the fine points of rock climbing as well as his methods that weren’t covered as well the previous days with ARC. When everything was covered on the ground we broke into groups of 2 to head up onto the wall and practice setting anchors on our own. Jeff would come by with advice or just smile so that he could have a teachable moment later which happens to be one of my favorite parts of the day. When everyone was close to being done and we got to the “T” of EARNST it was time to put our skills to the test and rappel off. Once down below we had time to climb our hearts out and enjoy the fruit of our labor. In the early afternoon we cleaned up and headed back to camp for our solo talk with Jeff and possible ideas that we could do with our time. Jeff then took us off to our respected places for the next 36 hours and our solo was underway.


Day 71 October 26, 2009 29 Palms Marine Base

Day 71 10/26/09

It another amazing morning in the desert. The mountains to the east have blocked the sunrise again but have allowed for enough sunlight to get through so we can get the day started. Its a 6 a.m. chow circle again, not because we are climing today but because we are heading to the local marine base to learn how important it is to have recreation for today’s soldier.

When we first got there Jeff went into the security gate to get a visitor pass for the vans. It seemed like a very long time and led Matt to think they took Jeff hostage and that our now objective was to break him out. Then Jeff showed up and our worries went away.

The first person we met was a friend of Jeff’s named Skip. Right away he was very friendly and generous. Our meeting with him went very well and he even brought in the rest of his staff to answer any questions that we had. After all the questions, he brought in a bunch of sweat shirts that he raffled off to our group. The lucky winners were Kim, Grant, Jeff and I think Pete but I’m not sure. Then they started handing out shirts to us from previous years and most had different sports on it. Then he showed us his equipment rooms and storage rooms.The next moments were pretty surprising because they just started pulling things out of boxes and handing it to us. Then we wnet to another part of the recreation side of the base. The next building was similar to a store but really just rented out great and supplies to the soldiers and their families. The system that they have lets them rent out a lot of gear for very cheap so they can use the free time to relax and take a small break from the life of a soldier.

One of the nicest things Skip did for us was allow us to take a shower at the rec. center. Then we headed back to camp for lunch and lessons. The lessons are obviously getting better which is a good thing because we did so many today. One of the lessons had us exploring for what lives in a small area of this desert. This was my favorite because I found a baby mojave rattlesnake. After the lessons were over with we headed into town for pizza and the football game. When we got there we found out the pizza joint was closed but luckly right next door was a mexican restaurant with the game on. This meal was especially good because a generous man named Clyde paid for all our meals. Today was a very good day, we learned, we showered, we got some free stuff. Time for bed.

Nathan Barr

Day 70 october 25, 2009 Rock Climbing day 2!

Josh Boyer/ Day 70/ 10-25-09

Today was another day that we had to wake up for 6 A.M. chow circle. We woke up early so we could get a good rock-climbing site since we were going rock climbing again with our new friends Christina and Dan. We arrived at our destination called Dairy Queen rock and had to climb lots of large rocks to get to the rock face. Kim had said that she probably couldn’t even do this because of the pain in her knees, so Dan and Christina adapted and made the decision to go to a different rock front to climb. We went to Hemmingway rock. As our instructors went to the top of the big rock to set up ropes that we will climb with, lots of people kept on showing up. And since we had three parts of the rock marked out and had a group of eleven people just sitting and waiting, many people were getting upset. There’s a bunch of sweet climbing spots that these climbers wanted to do, and all they saw was a group of crazy people sitting and taking over the spots. The climbing went pretty well. The rock today was a lot higher than the rock from yesterday. Although not everyone climbed today, the one’s who did climb seemed very happy after achieving the height. I had a good time seeing how the ARC instructor’s taught and ran a program. It was enjoyable to talk with them and get to know them. The instructors and the students from San Diego State were leaving today. Farewell and we will see you Thursday as we make our way to visit San Diego State. It should be a good time and I’m looking forward to it.
Josh Boyer

Day 69 October 24, 2009 Rock Climbing!

Saturday, October 24, 2009-Day 69
Today was a day looked forward to a great deal by the majority of the group because it is the day ECOEE begins a weekend full of rock climbing. The great people of Aztec Recreation Center helped teach us the necessary terminology and skills of climbing rocks as we switched our instructor Jeff with theirs. This also meant it would be our first day without Jeff which was a very different feeling.
Dan and Christina, the ARC instructors met with us a little after 7:00 a.m. at our campsite to pick us up and take us to the Atlantis wall. Even with breakfast being late we adapted towards still being ready for Dan and Christina in time by preparing lunch while breakfast was being prepared. We soon arrived at Atlantis wall where we did some boulder hopping along the path to the top of the wall.
We soon reached our destination and began to learn all about setting up the climbing equipment around trees, boulders, and in cracks of rocks. Once we learned about that it was time to rappel down the wall so that we could climb back up it. We went down the wall one by one, more fun for some while scarier for others. When we all reached land Dan and Christina taught us more about climbing in the form of belaying each other. From there we were turned loose to climb and try to reach the top of Atlantis wall. We continued this for much of the day as the group appeared to have much fun as a whole.
Around 2:30 p.m. we discontinued climbing and headed for what we would soon find out was our old camp as the cub scouts had pounced on our sites since they were not reserved for the day. From there we traveled to our Aztec friends’ sites and set up camp there.
Jake and his chef crew began our Chinese dinner and the rest of us scattered doing little jobs and the like. Tomorrow we look forward to Dairy Queen wall in hopes the group can have fun trying to conquer that wall much like Atlantis. While heights are not my cup of tea I am happy to as always be experiencing new things with the ECOEE family.
“Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast…a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 66 October 21, 2009 Joshua Tree!

Day 66 10/21/09 Joshua Tree

We awoke to another beautiful morning in Malibu. We were given a late breakfast time so that the group could sleep in after a long day at LACOSS. ECOEE left there and was on the road by 10 am. After driving by some very expensive beach horses and apartments we were in the heart of L.A. We got to see from the freeway such sights as the Staple Center and the Hollywood sign. At about 1pm we stopped just outside the city for lunch and a break from sitting in the vans. After a sandwich and a brief call to grandma we were back on the road. Our objective for driving today was Joshua Tree National Park. We stopped again for a brief grocery run and at a visitor center once we got into the town of Joshua Tree. After some purchases and a brief drive we are here in Joshua Tree. It is something a lot of the group has been waiting for a long time. We arrive in the early afternoon, and once the tents are put up we were free to go while the cooks got supper ready. Jeff, Sean and Phete quickly scaled he boulders that were connected to our camp in site. This motivated several others in the group to try out some of the those climbs and eventually we became bold enough to venture out into the rest of the area. Ronny, Christine and I went to a hill on the other side of the road. This was quite an adventure and had several scrapes and stories by the time we raced back. At the chow circle I realized that I didn’t have a quote so I’ve decided to put it in here. “Better to live in a desert then with a quarrelsome wife and ill tempered wife.” I have no idea about the wife part but after spending a few hours out here I would say that living in this desert is quite fun even though there are mojave rattlesnakes, tarantulas, scorpions and several creatures that would be hazardous to encounter. As we go to bed it feels very strange because just a few days ago we were at times knee deep in snow. Tomorrow we are going on a hike that is splitting ECOEE in half. This will be very fun and challenging at the same time but as Calvin says “be prepared”. After everything we have gone through there is no doubt in my mind that we will. Time for bed.

Nathan Asaph Barr

Day 65 October 20, 2009 LACOSS Visit

Tuesday, October 20, 2009-Day 65
This morning we awoke from the comforts of the outdoor science school LACOSS’s cabin beds. This was different from the front porch of Summit Adventure that we have been calling home. 7:00 a.m. was the time for chow circle leaving plenty of time for the group to eat breakfast, clean up, shower or the like and join Christine for a little or a lot of help on what to look for out of outdoor education programs as we write our critiques.
At 9:15 a.m. we began walking down the path of LACOSS randomly splitting a part from the group to join the gatherings of eager children planning to take part in a day of outdoor education. Jake and I separated from ECOEE to join a teacher named Julie for her classes’ day of Outdoor Ed. We began the day watching the kids answer nine different questions about sea shells and sea stars and I took note of how a “no wrong answer” approach was adopted by Julie as the kids answered the questions aloud.
From there we walked to the beach which was a part of the largest body of water I personally had ever seen, the Pacific Ocean. The waves were crashing and the wind was blowing as several surfers were doing their hobby and even more LACOSS children were piling on the shore. Immediately Julie spoke about tides and waves, including their differences and what causes them. From this we met up with another group of students including Nathan and Grant. This is when the life forms in tide pools were discussed, mainly that of the commonly called Sand crab. The life processes of these crabs were taught and the group then played a variation of Rock, Paper, Scissors which moved you along these life-lines.
Eventually we were to all attempt to catch sand crabs but first we had to wait for the tides to grow so we stopped for lunch.
“I don’t call it spare change because me and my cats share things.”-Howard Bailey Jr.
Soon after lunch it was time for crab hunting which the students thoroughly loved and enjoyed, especially the proclaimed “MVP” who captured no less than six crabs.
After the hunting it came time to part ways from the students and meet up with Greg the site director of LACOSS to ask questions and listen in on processes surrounding the school that I’ll never be allowed to work at. When this finished the group debriefed, ate, and was set free for a final night at LACOSS, J. Tree tomorrow!!
“Live High, Live Mighty, Live Righteously.”-Jason Mraz

Day 64 October, 19 2009 Malibu CA.

Day 64

Sean (FOD) woke us up at 7:00am for chow circle. His plan was to have the chefs for the next three days to go shopping right breakfast, so he woke up the chef’s going to the store a little earlier, to plan and get a bit more ready for the day. While the chefs left for the store, the rest of the crew stayed at Summit Adventure and got all the gear and equipment in the vans to get ready to leave. While shopping, Shane and Christine left to get an oil change on the mini-van, and Pet, Cassie, Kim and I hunted for our food. We did well splitting up and gathering our list, but the problem was that after we bought the food, our bill came out to be $442.00 for three days. We were about $200.00 over budget. What can we do to help keep the budget lower next time we shop?
1. Buy generic products
2. Compare prices
3. Buy in bulk
After shopping Sean took us on an 8-hour drive to LACOSS in Malibu California. Malibu was beautiful and lavishing. I could tell we were all excited to be here, because the group jumped out of the vans with smiles on their faces, and right away they started playing haki-sac, or playing in “The black hole”, a game they had at LACOSS where a black fence was placed in a circle, and in that circle kids played dodge ball. We then met with Greg (director at LACOSS), got to our cabins, ate dinner, and rested up for an early morning the next day as we meet with LACOSS, follow the instructed groups, and find out the logistics of how LACOSS works.
Jacob Boyer

Day 63 October 18, 2009 Cleaning Day!

October 18th, 2009 Day 63

Today is our last full day at Summit Adventure. The amount of time we have stayed here its starting to feel like home. Many tired from Madera Peak yesterday, today their may be time to rest and relax. Nate our FOD still had a list of chores for us to do as a group. We needed to get our tents torn down and packed up, get the vans and trailer clean, and also clean up Summit. Breaking off into groups to all get the chores seemed to be the most effective way. Pete, Grant and I tackled the van and trailer cleaning and finding many things we had lost along the way. Others worked on tents and getting Summit cleaned and ready to go. Once we had our chores done we had some time to ourselves to do homework and get ready for our lessons that we needed to be presenting soon. Sean, Matt, Pete and I walked to the store to get some personal items and snacks for the next few days. This gave us a chance to check out Bass Lake a little bit. We all got a chance to see some of the car show going on. This day was different than any other. Early on during the day Jeff, Christine, and Kim took off for a day full of grading. This was a weird day for many of us. We usually have a meeting for the FOD and AFOD and we had to figure these out on out own as a group. This led us to make decisions just as students. It was a good day for us to trust in our own ideas and decisions although it was strange and may exited to see our family back together at night. Peace Love and Happiness.

- Cassi

When man moves away from Nature his heart becomes hard – Lakota

Day 61 October 16, 2009

October 16th, 2009 Day 61

Jake gave us the morning to do whatever was needed individually especially our newsletters and journal entries. Other people took the time to work on committee work, do lesson plans, and work on other assignments. It was nice to have the morning to just relax to some music and work. Grant prepared one of my favorite all time lunches of salami, cheese and crackers. While we were eating Jeff talked about the history of Summit Adventure and how they have evolved. It was cool to see everything that Jeff either built or helped to create to make this place what it is today. After the history talk Jeff took us over to the logistics trailer to show us where the courses plan their trips out of and also where gear is stored and checked out of. The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to chopping and stacking as well as continuing to work on individual assignments. After a delicious stir fry prepared by the cook group we had debrief where we found out about the hike that we where going to go on the next day. Jeff gave us a refresher on map and compass to help us get ready for the summit that we were going to shoot for atop Madera Peak. Before we split up into groups to find a way to the top we took a break for cake and a toast to Kim and Matt to celebrate and wish them a happy birthday. After refueling with a delicious cake made by Christine we were to work making TEC’s for the next day. When everyone was done we brought the group together to make one final plan that we were going to travel on. With everything prepared we all went to bed to rest for the next day. Sweet dreams fellow Ecoeeians and I cant wait for what tomorrow brings.


Day 60 October 15, 2009 Summit Adventure

Josh Boyer/ Day 60/ 10-15-09

Our fearless facilitator of the day Cassie woke everybody up for breakfast and for us all ready for our day. After we all ate breakfast and cleaned up, the whole group left to go on a little hike at Tuolumne grove. During the hike there was much to see, there was huge Sequoia trees at multiple areas. The biggest Sequoia was called grizzly den. This tree was large! It was nine stories high, which is taller than the statue of liberty. There also were lot of birds chirping and you couldn’t of picked a perfect day to hike. When we came back to Summit Adventure we met with Tom Smith who helps run this place. He talked about what Summit Adventure does and is offering for paid participants. Summit Adventure does and has done a lot of trips from hiking to mountain climbing. Some times they have father and son trips, and some times they have trips for high school students only. All of these trips are centered on getting people closer relationships with one another, and since they are a Christian based company, the more people who come closer to God the better. They do and have been doing great work for many people, and they are a sense of fresh air from lots of other wilderness adventure companies.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day 58 October 13, 2009 Yosemite Institute

Day 58, 10/13/2009
After a bagel breakfast with all the fixin’s, Pete lead us to our 8:15am meeting with the Yosemite Institute Outdoor Education staff. They briefed the day on topics such as: weather, rock falls, Columbus day, and tomorrow’s meeting location. Then each of us broke off and paired up with an instructor. I had the absolute pleasure of spending the day with Robin and the Rockers. The Rockers were a 6th grade group from Presentation middle school in Sacramento. Robin was an Angel, sent down straight from Heaven!
Due to inclement weather, Robin made the decision to change the days itinerary. Since it was a geology day we first went to a sandy beach on the Merced river to play a game called, “Rockity, Rock, Rock, Rock”. This game was a blast, and taught the students about the rock cycle; as well as sedimentary, metamorphic, intrusive & extrusive igneous rocks. From there we went to Split Rock and Indian Caves to learn more about the geology of Yosemite.
After that we walked to the Awahnee hotel for lunch and designated journal entry time. Which Shane and I both agreed was a good idea. Then both of our groups joined up to play a game of toilet tag. At 3:20 class was over and ECOEE regrouped to head to our 4:30 meeting with Mara of the administration team. On the way there we made the best of the monsoonal rain by stomping in all of the biggest puddles we could find. After the meeting we went out for pizza; then headed to camp to tear down tents in the rain, and head south for Summit Adventure. That’s all for now. One love.

Matt McCabe

Day 57 October 12 2009
What does one feel in the presence of one of the largest organisms to ever grace this earth? Does one feel awe and wonder? Does one feel excitement and joy? Does one feel serene and at peace? What about at the base of a monolith, a shear wall of rock jutting out into the sky, a million years old? Is it possible to comprehend, or is just the thought too overwhelming? The answer to all of this is yes. One feels these emotions and thoughts, not separately, but combined in one big confusing inexpressible wave. There is a beauty in every place, and too often it is hard to uncover. But here, in Yosemite, the beauty is so prevalent it cannot be missed. There is something old and archaic about this place and it emanates from every bough, stream and precipice. What comes over you when you stand small before a tree that is older than the language you speak? Do you weep, for your insignificance before something so aged and so wise? Or do you stand a little straighter, shoulders back, taking a lesson from the tree? Look at the scars from the fires. Look how the tree still stands. A giant sequoia's bark is 10 times thicker than a sugar pine of the same size. It survives the fires of nature each time, and grows a little more nonetheless. We can all learn from the trees we saw today in the Tuolomne Grove. No matter what fires may come and even after the most difficult of times, grow a little more, and eventually you will tower over all else.
Here we sit, in the great valley of Yosemite, with a cliff on each side. The mountains tower above, silent, strong, having seen and known more than we could in a thousand lifetimes. What can we learn from them? May the clouds pass over you, may the elements batter your face, bu through it all, be solid, resolute, and if you never cease to inspire those who see you, you will unending shine in the light, and you will always come out on top.
So, my friends, as we continue on this journey of ours, be strong like the mountain, resolute in your goals. Stand tall like the sequoia grove, and grow from our fires. Together we will make it through. And no matter what, never lose that feeling from today, that jumbled confusion of too many emotions to count, and remember why you are here. We are all ECOEE, and we are the babbling brook, the raging rapid. We are the timeless tree, the mountain most high. We are the wildfire racing through the underbrush. We are whatever we make ourselves. We are ECOEE 2009, and that alone is something.

Day 55 Mono Lakes Bay

Day 55
What a strange world we live in where white painted land stretches across desert like surroundings. What a strange world we live in where coral reef structures are no longer submerged in a deep sea but jet from the land and lake like towers. What a strange world we live in where a beach is blanketed with black flies that swarm away as a whole, where brine shrimp dance aimlessly in the salty waters waiting to be the next gull meal. Mono lake is full of wonders and beauty that is so strange to me. One tiny part of the country can be so vast in life and beauty. Mono Lake serves as a lesson to us all. To value everything from the tiny brine shrimp, to the swarms of black flies, and to the California Gulls who call this place home. What strange places will we see next?
Love, Kimosabee

Friday, October 09, 2009- Day 54
“If I can stop one heart from breaking I shall not live in vain, If I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain; Or help one fainting Robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.”-Emily Dickinson
Oh what joy to finally awake in a tent to the conditions of the outside. Yes the ground was harder, yes the breeze was colder but nothing beats sleeping in the outdoors under natures’ mercy. I missed greatly the aspect of emerging from the womb that is my sleeping bag and joining the rest of the group for the activities of a bon-a-fide ECOEE day.
Upon awakening we joined together for our first group cooked breakfast which was a welcome change from my usual two hotel pastries, two hotel sausage patties and bowl of Total. After this was finished we broke up and did the many cleaning duties required with breaking down a camp. Then Grand our FOD, recognizing the desire to explore the surroundings turned us loose, challenging us to find things around us that would use our five senses, well four if you weren’t okay with tasting random things on the ground. After finishing this we joined together to learn how to sow up our holy drying thingy and tape up our rips and tears we may encounter, which I have with my sleeping bag. Then we caught up on the readings of this here journal I am writing in and departed for California, another first state trip for me.
“There is no serenity so fair as that which is just established in the tearful eye.”-Henry David Thoreau
We stopped for lunch along a rest area of some sort and ate a good amount of recent meals’ leftovers and the usual choice of cold-cut sandwiches and P,B & J. After this was finished we hit the road again and truly began to feel the south western heat as we turned on the A/C when Matt needed the windows closed to make calls for his FOD day tomorrow.
Along this trip portion we rode along California highway 120 which was seemingly a roller coaster featuring an ample amount of hills to ride up and down. We eventually arrived at our campsite for atleast the night and began to do the usual jobs required to set up camp.
“Your disability is your opportunity.”-Kurt Hahn
Pete and his crew made a delicious dish and we had to break everything down completely to keep Smokey away. This is my first time in California and what a great introduction, first the hills and now sleeping by a waterfall!
-Shane Johnson

Day 53 October 18, 2009 Salt Lake City

October 18, 2009 Day 53
Waking up to our last morning in our hotel was nice. I think many of us were ready to be back on the road and outside again. On the road we were again with about a 10 hour drive ahead of us. With a stomach full of the hotels continental breakfast we were ready to go. We were all looking forward to seeing Great Salt Lake along the way. Many of us studying and sleeping the van ride was pretty laid back, although many of us pumped from the waffles at breakfast. We stopped for lunch at a old heritage sight that from the parking lot looked pretty festive. In the afternoon we stopped at the Bonneville Salt Flats. This was unlike anything I had ever seen before; it looked like snow, but salt instead. Many of us running around like little kids, we were all very excited to see this, getting some pretty good pictures. Pete also got his urge to shimmy up a light pole taken care of…which was very entertaining to watch. After we all rounded up again some were still getting some last minute pictures of this beautiful sight we were at. We were off to our campsite next.

Journal Entry 52 October 7th, 2009
Written by Sean Stowell

Waking up to another breakfast from the hotel was very convenient as we were suppose to be ready to leave by 9:30am. Turns out the vehicle situation of needing a new battery and two oil changes would take longer than anticipated. Most people used this extra time to put the final touches on their lessons. It provided me the opportunity to draw some pictures for my interpretation lesson. Once everyone got back to the hotel we quickly got ready and headed out to the Grand Teton Visitor Center. This visitor center is the nicest we have seen yet. They have a movie theater, LCD screens built into the floor, and several very well put together exhibits. After looking around for sometime we started doing lessons. Cassi started us off with a geology and fur trader lesson that told the story of John Couture. Lewis and Clark’s expedition was then explained by Pete. I gave my interpretation lesson on environmental issues regarding snowmobiles in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Nate split us into groups to learn about 10 different kinds of clouds. Next up was Shane with a fun Outdoor Education lesson on habitat and homes. We constructed home advertisements for marmots, ospreys, and pronghorns. As Shane asked if anyone had any questions we caught a glimpse of the first moose of ECOEE. We stopped to watch him only to realize that he was coming right toward us. Once he was close Jeff told us he was making that noise because he was rutting. After the moose had left Pete did a lesson on the trees in the area. We returned to the hotel and Ron and Jeff went to get food before Matt’s lesson and debrief. Kim had everyone write down reasons why they really appreciate one another on individual paper. This will be a great thing to look at if we are having a bad day. As I put the finishing touches on this, one thing comes to mind….

All You Need Is Love

Day 51 October 6, 2009 Teton Science School

Day 51
October 6, 2009

Today we were planned to go to the Teton Science School (TSS). Shane the F.O.D had us wake up around 8:00am to eat, get our things ready, then head off to TSS, which was about 10 minutes away. When we arrived, we were greated by a man named Joe Petrick. Joe explained the philosophy, and history of TSS, and then took us on a tour of the school, while answering lots of questions along the way. The TSS’s mission is simply: people, nature, place, education, and trying to make connections between these four words with their students. The school teaches from pre-school up to senior year of high school. The teachers and teachings are set apart from any other school because, not only do they teach the regular curriculum, but they also use experiential learning and Outdoor Education to help the kids learn through holistic. For example if a teacher is in his/her classroom, teaching a subject and suddenly an animal walks past their window, then that teacher will stop what he/she is doing, focus in, and have the kids learn about that animal. Then they will go back to normal teachings. Some other things the school does is; go on wildlife expeditions through safari rides, teach winter ecology, flora and fauna, teach instructors from other schools that don’t use this style of teaching, and they also have a Journey School where the kids are involved in a two to fifteen day camping expedition in the backcountry. The school has a supply room so the students can be prepared for the elements before they head out on their journey. TSS was very interesting to me. As I was walking through that place all I kept thinking about is: why didn’t I have a school like this when I was growing up? But who knows, maybe some day I’ll end up coming back and working here. Only time will tell.
Jacob Boyer

Peter Collins
October 5th, 2009 Day 50

Today was ECOEE’s first morning in the hotel. We arose to a breakfast that we didn’t have to cook for the first time in a long time. Everyone was very well rested as we met for our latest morning meeting of the trip at 10 am. We had the morning off for everyone to work on lesson plans that they had to work on before we were to leave the Rocky Mountains. Everyone was very busy in their rooms trying to get as many resources and lesson plans completed before we were to meet at 3 pm to head to the Elk Preserve so that we could get lessons done. Christine started the lessons talking about the predator and prey relationships with wolves, Ron spoke on wildflowers with emphasis on the sage brush and rabbit brush. Sean then talked about the endangered species of Yellowstone and the different levels involved with ranking endangered species. After a short walk across the street and up the hill Shane talked to us about the migration patterns of the Elk in the region and why they keep moving. Jake then talked about the local bison and how the Indians used to use every part of the animal without wasting a piece of it. Grant then finished the day off teaching us about how Chief World Wide Web would use his surroundings to build a shelter in the snow. We returned to the hotel to debrief the day and give feedback to everyone that presented today. For dinner everyone went out on their own to satisfy their own taste buds. When we returned some of us went for a nice soak in the hot tub to rest and relax in the jets, then it was off to bed.

October 4, 2009
Day 49

Well, to answer Jake’s questioning of what we will still see while in Yellowstone? The answer is, not much. Last night, FOD Sean asked the group to submit (secret ballot style) what members need – not want – in order to be successful during our last week in the Rocky Mountain Ecosystem. There were many requests for time to work on lessons and, that coupled with the report of eight to twelve inches of snow heading our way, Sean had to make the executive decision to pack up camp and hit the road.
We drove though west Wyoming, into Idaho and despite popular belief, I was in awe of the simplistic beauty of this land. I had the weirdest urge to stop and get a baked potato just to try out these “Famous Potatoes” but, I’m content with seeing historic buildings. We drove past the original WEA headquarters and one of Paul Petzoldt’s old houses in Victor, WY. There are scattered houses across the land and it’s insane to imagine what this place looked like when Petzoldt was the only land owner. While in the town of Victor we stopped to stretch our legs before making the trek over Teton Pass.
Even though we’ve had a battery that doesn’t like to start, frigid wind and snow that began dropping in clusters as we began the ascent – there is nothing that will slow us down. There is absolutely nothing that can stop us; no force in this world could turn us around; NOTHING – except for that highway patrolman. Even though this Iowan complains about being surrounded by a bunch of Illinois natives, it was a strike of luck to be from Western Illinois because the officer was a Peoria native.
We still had to turn around and take the long way around the mountain. Our drive ended in Jackson Hole, a tourist-supplied cowboy town. We had our quickest set up of camp as we checked into the 49er Inn and so begins the next chapter of ECOEE 2009: ECOEE stays in a hotel. However, a new environment, not the challenge that we think of for ECOEE but no matter the challenge, a new place has a new set of challenges. And, the new setting for a few days shall challenge this motley crew to be socially appropriate.

Day 48 October 3, 2009 Mammoth Springs

Josh Boyer
Journal entry day 48, 10/03/09

It was an early morning as well as a cold one. It seems it’s been getting down to zero every night at this time here in Yellowstone. We ate an amazing breakfast of biscuits and gravy and we literally stuffed our faces with it. The morning was foggy as we headed with our two vans to see sites that, for the most of us, haven’t seen before. The day was full of first time experiences for many. There was a lot of wild life that we all got to view. There were many bison around, and at one time got reaching distance away from a few of us. We saw different birds that we normally would never see at home. We also saw a couple creatures that I know I was exited about and that are fairly rare to see and they were bears, one black bear and one grizzly bear. They are very strong animals physically and compared to the food chain, and it is cool to see them in person. We also saw some mud volcanoes which are interesting. It’s crazy to think about that there is a huge middle crust of molting hot lava and gases. The steam from the center of the earth is rising and has to go somewhere, and it escapes through these geysers and mud volcanoes. Also it was great to see the two major falls that are here in Yellowstone. The view of them was pretty astounding. During the end of the day we went to Mammoth. It was pretty much a town, but there was a visitor’s center and National Park Rangers that patrolled the area. Mammoth use to be home to troops of the U.S. Army back when Yellowstone was first established. They were there because the Army was the first ones to manage this park and because back then there was still Native Americans who roamed about. We saw a lot today and there was a feeling of accomplishment as we all settled down and were ready for bed. There’s only a couple more days here and I wonder what more new things is there to see and do while were are here.

Day 46 October 1, 2009 Yellowstone! Madison Campground

Day 46 October 1st, 2009
Nine o'clock this morning brought a new experience on ECOEE, waking up to snow. After finding our campsite in Yellowstone's Madison Campground late last night, snowflakes falling all around, we exited our tents this morning in the frigid air to find the ground powdered white. One glance up showed the full splendor of our surroundings that, once hidden by the cover of night and shrouded in clouds, now broke through in this crisp mountain morning. Peeking through the gaps in the pine trees that stood tall all around, snow dusted peaks towered over all else, blue skies as a backdrop, a sight to start any day off right.
After a heart, but not necessarily healthy breakfast of oatmeal and, of all things, peanut M&M's, which shockingly tasted fantastic!, we loaded into the vans for the drive to Hebgen Lake, the site of a 7.5 earthquake in 1959. FOD Ron planned to have us stop at the interpretive center, but we arrived to find it was closed. Instead we spent 15 minutes exploring the banks of the Madison River, scouting the rapids out of habit, and viewing the remains of the rock slide caused by the earthquake left scarring the side of the mountain. Cassi gave us the story of what happened, explaining how the disintegration of the mountainside crushed the campsite below it, leaving 28 people dead. The mammoth boulders serve as an eerie reminder of the ugly side of Mother Nature; the side that leaves carnage and destruction in its unpredictable wake.
Cold, hungry, and wary, we moved to Big Beaver campsite, where we ate lunch before our meeting with the Forest Service at 3. Todd Stiles, a recreation manager with the Forest Service was more than happy to answer our many questions, both about the service and himself. We learned that the best way to describe the difference between the National Parks and the Forest Service is that “Forests are open to the public unless specifically closed, while the Parks are closed unless specifically opened.” Todd even eased some worries about where forest rangers go on vacation. Thanks to him, Matt's head may not explode.
After a meal of monstrous goulash, I sit by myself looking out over the valley where the Gibbon and Firehole Rivers converge to make the Madison River. The moon glides through patches in the clouds, illumination the mountains and rivers one moment, then stealing away again the next. This is my classroom.

Day 45
Most of us had a very restless sleep last night. We were all on night watch to keep a watchful eye out for the hoodlums that are notorious for destroying camping gear and jumping on tents in the middle of the night. The torrent winds almost sabotaged our morning’s breakfast burritos but the gang managed to hustle and break down the gear before any major catastrophe. We drove to NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School, to gage a more comprehensive picture of what the organization does and how we can apply it to our classroom. The mission and values that propels NOLS is its commitment to wilderness, education, leadership, safety and the community ultimately creating leaders who better society. I feel like what I viewed today such as the ration room, the gear transition room, and the debriefing room had a sense of familiarity to it. In 1965 legendary mountaineer Paul Petzoldt founded NOLS during a similar economic recession and the Vietnam War. 45 years later we find ourselves in a situation where life is confusing, uncertain, and at times scary. These are the times when leaders are made, not born. These are the times when we need organizations like NOLS and programs like ECOEE to mold leaders that we have the strength and courage to get us through times such as these, and times such as then. We left NOLS and headed out for Yellowstone, just in time for the snow. Driving through the winding roads with aspen and pines hugging them, I looked down to see gray-blue water streaking through a canyon. I looked in front of me to see a few elk crossing the road. I looked to the side of me to see hazy mountains with snow covered tips. All around me there was beauty and amazement. Never in my life have I felt so blessed to live in such a beautiful place. America- with its amber waives of grain, Purple Mountain’s majesty, above the fruited plains, this is my home, and I will never take it for granted again. Thank you ECOEE.
Love, Kimberly Rose Janus

Day 44
September 29, 2009

We had chow circle at a pleasant 8:00am this morning, which Nate our F.O.D for the day, had set up. As we woke up, the sun was shinning, the clouds were parted, and the blue skies were out. What a gorgeous morning to wake up to, here in Wyoming. Our goal for the day was to travel around 285 miles to our next campsite in Lander Wyoming. When we stopped for lunch, while on the way; Nate had us make a choice: either to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or pick from a possibility of: McDonalds, Taco Bell, KFC, or Subway. Not surprisingly the group chose to eat fast food. When we arrived to Lander after the rest of the beautiful scenic van ride, Jeff pointed out to us, a building that was once a hotel but Paul Petzoldt bought out. He made it into the NOLS headquarters. After that we strolled into our FREE campsite, just pass a baseball field. Upon arrival Kim caught a glance at a little doe, and was frantic to find out what type of deer it was. It turns out that it was a baby Mule Deer. I know one lucky someone who is going to enjoy a chocolate malt. After we set up camp, Nate had the Chefs, Sou Chefs, and Deserters, come up with a list of food we will need to buy for the next five days in Yellowstone. The whole group then went to the store to shop for this list, accept for Matt, Pete, and I, who had a small list because we were only Deserter, Sou Chef, or Chef once out of these five days. Our job was to set up the kitchen before the group got back. We saw that the clouds were coming in pretty thick, off in the distance so we went to go set up the tarp first. The tarp was a failure because the viscous wind kept tearing through it. As we were cleaning up the tarp, a cop rolled by and told us to look out for any suspicious people at night because they had problems in the past with kids coming in at night and jumping on tents. Then we set up the kitchen and everyone else got back form the store, which I heard went pretty smoothly. We ate a nice meal of pasta with garlic bread, salad, and chocolate cake for desert. During de brief Josh (the F.O.D for the next day) told us we were going to Yellowstone tomorrow, and that tonight we were going to have each member of the group stay up on grave yard shifts, to make sure no hoodlums broke our tents. Yellowstone here we come!
Jacob Boyer

Day 43, September 28, 2009

Waking up in Nebraska was a great feeling. I knew for certain that we were finally back on the road. I knew we were heading to the buttes and plateaus of Wyoming; and I also knew all of us big kids were going to spend an hour in the candy store known as Sierra Trading Post. After a few hours of driving we stopped for lunch at a historical train depot/ WWII plane crash site. There were fourteen American men who died about two miles from the site as their engine failed and the crashed into the ground during training. It was kind of discouraging though, because the site was not maintained well and did not have a feeling of appreciation.
For lunch we had peanut butter sandwiches with a variety of options. Personally, I chose Peanut butter, dried pineapple, Craisins, strawberry jam, and a hint of maple syrup - this is highly recommended. From there we drove on and stopped out the border for a photo op. with the Wyoming border sign. Shortly after that we had our chance to shop around at sierra trading post. I think just about everyone walked away with something. I bought shoes, and a lightweight fleece - both at 60% off. Finally we arrived at our beautiful camp site at Vedauwoo surrounded by giant rock formations. Grant gave us an hour to roam around. Sean and I took this opportunity to go scramble up the rocks. We made it to a point where we had a great view of the Rockies to the West and air pollution to the East. After a fine spaghetti dinner and debrief; it was another early night for this Ecoeeian. Good night.

Mathew McCabe

Journal Entry Day 42 September 27th, 2009
Written by Sean Stowell

Knowing we push onward today made the late night and early morning much easier. We had the tastiest non-healthy breakfast that an ECOEE group has probably ever had. To celebrate Jeff’s belated birthday we had moose track ice cream, strawberry rhubarb pie, and German chocolate cake. Good thing this is not about getting in shape (Isn’t round a shape anyway?). Wanting to get out of Macomb & Illinois & Iowa & Nebraska (almost) I volunteered to be the first driver of our newly acquired minivan. After Driving for several hours we stopped at a rest stop and threw around the football. We took a short lunch and headed to Mormon Island State Recreation Area in Grand Island, Nebraska. While waiting for dinner some people set up tents, some set up slacklines, and some people disappeared. Dinner was great with a main course of a huge tamale pie.
My Quotes for today were:
“Leaders are not born. They are made. And they are made like anything else, HARDWORK. And that’s the price we will have to pay to achieve that goal or any goal”
Vince Lombardi

“Intelligence without ambition is like a bird without wings” Salvador Dali

“Adopt the pace of Nature, her secret is patience” Ralph Waldo Emerson

After Dinner we debriefed the day and Kim’s FOD experience. The day seemed to go better than I thought in retrospect. Kim’s questions for facilitating debrief were very timely and important. When Grant took over his questions were about what we needed to do to advance the group to the next level. So now everyone should know what they need to do….So how are you going to do it?? How are we going to do it?

And to quote a friend of mine:
It Ain’t Easy (NATHAN)
{But it’s worth it}(ME)


Saturday, September 26, 2009-Day 41,
Today was more like just a night for ECOEE 2009. Fresh off of having yesterday off as well as today until 7:00 p.m. we had not been together as a group. This was a different turn of events for the group after being together non stop for the forty previous days.
Most group members hung out with family and friends, some went all the way home to do so while others such as myself had them visit them in Macomb. It seemed as if the break made the group happy and provided us a refueling stop for the next amazing eighty or so days. I think I speak for the rest of the group, even though that’s a no-no under the rules of proper feedback, when I say that we are ecstatic to be heading out west tomorrow with no close return to Macomb in sight and I am even happier to be doing so with this group of people. Nothing can describe the feeling surrounding me now as I think about how much we will get to see and do over the duration of the expedition that is ECOEE.
So after arriving at Horn at the assigned time of 7:00 we were briefed by our FOD of Sunday that we would be taking care of some last minute things like organizing our personal things, Dropping stuff off at Horrabin, and shopping for the next few days’ meals at Wal-Mart. After that we were informed we would be sleeping in the lodge and waking up at 6:00 a.m. to eat breakfast and then hit the road at 7:00 a.m. I’m ready for the travel and even more ready for where they will be taking us as we enter the second part of this journey of a lifetime that surely will never be forgotten.
Shane Johnson

Day 39, September 24, 2009 Another day to clean

Today was another early morning for the group so that we could get a head start on the day to finish cleaning the gear and repacking the trailer for the next part of our journey. After breakfast Sean gave everyone a job to start on and before we knew it we were a well oiled machine pumping out our tasks. Time seemed to have no relevance as everyone would just seem to finish one job and get straight into another one without fuss or complaining. It was a little interesting dealing with the weather all day trying to get gear cleaned and dried with the impairing threat of rain. We were forced to adapt to the circumstances by finding different ways to hang things to dry inside the building. There were tarps hanging in the bunk house from corners of the bunk beds while bills bags found their drying place under the front porch of the lodge. Some tent rain flies were thrown over bunk beds to dry out while Grant and I played Tetris with the tents under the tarp trying not to take up too much space from Christine and Kim who were unpacking and reloading the trailer. After lunch we made a run into campus to drop off and pick up gear from Horriban and Currens. We put all of the backcountry gear away and exchanged it for the climbing gear that we will need in Joshua Tree. At Currens we picked up mail and our extra personal belongings from Jeff’s office to sort through and bring with for the rest of the trip. We also took time to look at Jeff’s personal books and check them out for the next leg of the trip as we will be heading to different ecosystems and landscapes. When we got back to horn the cleaning was finished and all that was to finish loading the trailer. I think we now have the most organized trailer in the history of ECOEE and I will be shocked if we loose anything,. With what I think was the earliest debrief ever the group talked about the day and when to meet back up on Saturday night. Everyone said their good byes and we were finally on a much needed break. Safe travels to everyone as we head our separate ways and I can’t wait to see ya’ll when we get back.

September 24, 2009 Day 39
Peter Collins