Monday, August 30, 2010


The squirrels are chattering as I log this journal entry. We paddled the river for
about 6 miles today only to be halted by the wind. I will say it was quite a rush being toward the front of the convoy with waves crashing up to the gunnels of our boat. I am anticipating our paddling and first “official” portage tomorrow, but I’m more focused on the amazing sunset. That and the fact that Canadian mosquitos are quite possibly 10 times more annoying than those back stateside. Have you ever heard of “Bills Super Dinner”? I’m sure it’s a really fine dish. Tonight I had “Chris and Denver’s Super Dish” instead. Let me just say that it isn’t ready to be published in the cook books yet… ya’ll just ain’t ready for it. My tent group has begun discussing things we miss back in the “real world”. [Now that I think of it this would be a pretty sweet TV show… just saying.] The list is mostly compiled of people, foods, and Will Ferrell movies. I am certain this list will continue to grow but I’m sure that December will be here faster than we think. Remember when I mentioned Hogwarts and the Ents? Yep, it all happened.

Live long,
DMWM (Denver Murphy)


4th day on the water

For the first time last night, I got a chance to look up at the stars and appreciate where we are. The scenes we are stepping outside of our tents to are absolutely gorgeous. I just can’t believe that this is only our fourth day on the water. Thankfully, Jeff brought extra food. It blows my mind to even think about the sights we all are going to see. What we have all been marveling at on the Discovery Channel for years is going to soon be our reality. One of the coolest feelings I have ever had is the few times I’ve been somewhere and experienced something, and then afterwards seen it on TV. That is going to be us!! We’ve got a great group, and we’re getting better by the day. Our IP-3 exercise helped shed a new light on my personality, and how I am perceived by others. My chance at this journal makes me want to give a Ninja Turtles movie style breakdown of everyone, but I’ll save that for another day. Still wishing Joe were with us and still missin’ my baby like crazy. Cheers



It’s hard for me to even call this a paddling trip so far. I feel if we have done more walking our canoe’s through the water than we have actually paddling. Nerveless I would be ignorant if I said I had not learned anything up to this point. We have been to two campsites and my tent group and I have started to make yummy meals! Today was also the day of our first portage, WOOF! It was a hot day and the packs were heavy but judging by our debrief I feel as if most of us enjoyed the manual labor. While on the water we achieved the necessary mistakes to now know that things are not always what they seem to be. With the water levels being 30 feet lower than usual the maps are slightly confusing but only with time will the sunshine of our minds clear the fog. On the group aspect we are developing more and more as the time ticks by. Today was the first day that I saw us genuinely working as one. Whether we were portaging our equipment, staying together as a pod in canoe’s or even going as far to the five girls all ducks in a line sitting on a bluff in crouched position getting our “business” done. As Jeff said in debrief he loves hearing the laughter and as do I. I say we keep the good times rolling and work hard. So that way in the end we can play harder, until next time.

Peace, Love, Wilderness


Day number two at the “Back Water Beach” and boy was it a doozy. I feel like a mouse gaining the courage to go out into a field knowing that I may become lunch. We are here to learn and grow, even if that means toes are stepped on, buttons are pushed, and lines get crossed. However, we shall learn just as the mouse learns to hide and dodge. I cannot even begin to imagine what lies in store for us tomorrow. It is our first full day on the river and I cannot wait to get a firm grasp on what a day on the river looks like. I’m also excited to use my maps more and see the contours of the river I have been dreaming about for so long in real life! I mean, who doesn’t love making the thing that they have been longing for to come true? I know I do. We have all been exposed to what is hopefully the last of the quarreling, but I would be extremely naive to believe that. However, for now I can hope that each of us takes what we have learned about the group and ourselves, and apply it. Just like the mouse learns and applies what it figures out through experience.
-Don’t be afraid to thrash, dangle, and bleed.

Ashley VanSpeybroeck


Barely a mode of travel

The wait is over were finally on the water. However, our first stretch of river is barely a river at all, more like a creek. Instead of paddling I find myself scrambling over rocks. At one point my canoe partner Jess got her leg wedged between a rock and the canoe, when I tried to go back to help her I slipped and fell. This basically describes our mode of travel for the first day on the water. After many hours on the river and very little travel we were forced to stop and camp at an open meadow, scattered with moose tracks. We learned to cook in the backcounty or we learned how not to cook I should say. Our first meal was great, after we finished we decided not to hang our bear bags, so hopefully we don’t feed any bears, however I feel like some of us wouldn’t mind seeing one. Even though this day didn’t go as planned I still cant keep the smile off my face, were finally out here, and were doing it. Mistakes maybe plentiful, but the opportunities are endless


Second meeting of the night --- “First order of business: who wants coffee in the morning?” Three hands slowly lift in to the air. “Who wants to wake up 15 minutes earlier to make the coffee?” Three hands slowly lower to the sides where they once rested.
They say that pictures are worth a thousand words and actions speak louder than words but I don’t believe any has come up with something for what just happened. Yea, I just spaced out for about five minutes to allow my creative juices to flow – and I got nothin’. I guess it’s just an ECOEE thing… ha-ha.
Tomorrow we visit the Ministry of Natural Resources. In my mind I envision the facility of Hogwarts, surrounded by a vast old-growth forest of nothing but White Pines. Shortly after our welcome there we will be launching our canoes on to the beastly Missinaibi River. Remember when the elves left with Bilbo at the conclusion of the Lord of the Rings trilogy? Yea, it will be pretty much like that.
Jealous much? I’ll tell you one thing – it beats sitting in a classroom!
Today we crossed in to Canada, where the air is a little sweeter (and colder) and the Maple trees (much like Ents… alright, I’ll cut it out now) can be found all around. At the moment we are bedding down in our tents. The waves of Lake Superior (which is just a few skips and hops away) can be heard crashing in to the sands of a wonderful beach (which happens to be joined with one of our camp sites.) The sky is clear – much clearer than it is at home. I am truly smitten by my surroundings – and it has only just begun.
You’ll have to pardon me for not telling you more about the specific happenings or events that happened today. Use your imagination. Here, I’ll help you… on second thought; I’ve helped you plenty already! Perhaps you should just join the expedition next fall. Or you could subscribe to our newsletter by sending a small gift of $20.00 to Paula in the RPTA office (YEAH, PAULA!) Both of these are completely acceptable things which would be both awesome appreciated. Why should you do it? Because it would help us bring a whole new world to you.
Anyway, tomorrow we are leaving the front country and entering the backcountry (lions and tigers and bears – OH YEAH!) We as a group laugh and play more than I could have ever imagined. Each day we learn more about our roles within the group and how to take the next step on our journey. Adapt, adapt. It’s what we do. More to come…

Denver, out.


Awaiting Canada Jingle

Let us steer down the river and hopefully don’t shiver
Quivering in our boots trying to make our way to dinner
The stars will shine so bright and let us hope the bears dont come out at night.
(Otherwise we might be in fright)
Teachable moments will be plentiful  so our knowledge can grow like little octopus tentacles
We may be stinky like a skunk, but it will not get us in a funk
Because nature is our teacher and we will look up to them as our preacher
Now let’s skippidy do da day… to Sault Saint Marie TODAY!

<3 Jess


Cold Feet

First day on the road. While the chaos still hasn’t slowed, we all seem to be running on empty. I personally am mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. This and leaving my girlfriend puts me in the grumpy state I was in today. I see Kate and Denver and feel somewhat ridiculous compared to what they are going through right now.
I worry about the well-being of our group. I want to be sure that everybody is going into this trip healthy. Being on Risk Management, I want to prevent people from coming into Canada fatigued, waiting to get cold, wet, and sick.
All my pessimism aside, it feels great to be out of Macomb. Makes me feel reassured that this is what I really want to do. Ryan put it best when he mentioned that for so long, young men have been going into the wilderness to find themselves. Hopefully that happens with all of us (women too)
ECOEE is far from perfect, and that is something we all have learned real quick. The way I describe it to many people is that I’m studying abroad, just not abroad. I came into this thinking it was perfect and much more structured. I couldn’t imagine having a list of things to do like Jeff and Kim’s. It’s amazing how much they have on their plates and are still walking, but I can honestly say that I couldn’t be happier seeing the change in Jeff now that we’re away from the University. He’s been smiling more than ever. Canada is creeping on us. And the workload isn’t getting any lighter, just different. Stuck in my memory is the chalkboard at horn with the word ADAPT on it. We all know this is the experience of a lifetime. WE are never going to be able to see our great country like this ever again. But more importantly is us dealing with different personality types, leading those personalities, leading your peers, and leading your leaders. These are skills that no classroom can harbor, and will put us that little bit ahead of everyone back at WIU sitting in a desk right now (suckers). When we are forced to adapt to any situation, that is exactly the ‘real world experience’ that is so often mentioned. Although it may seem like it’s going at a snails pace, we are all making great progress. I see it in all of us. Let’s continue to be the best ECOEE ever.
“There is no right or wrong, just different.”



Hear this ECOEEIANS.

Tomorrow is the day of days. We’ve been doing grunt work for several days now and we are all ready to take residence in mother nature’s humble abode. For our backs may be broken from the weight put on our shoulders, our minds in a fluster, yet we all believe in this thing we call ECOEE. Some of us have taken a few blows, but at this point its okay if you don’t believe in yourself, because we all believe in what we are doing, and that’s the first step in believing yourself. As we leave society and head into the Great Northwoods hear this; Let the cold wind blow over, for the green grass and clover, let the sky weep to the roots of your locks, let it wash away your name and clear away your thoughts, flood your mind with love and your roots will grow stronger, we are all free to be, but for how much longer? We’ve cut down forests and sucked the blood from the land, we’ve fenced out animals and even caged man. To be free is not liberty, but an unclouded mind.


This is it!! The time has come… This is what we have all been waiting for. We have all worked hard to get where we are today to say the least. I hope you all use the itinerary of this trop as motivation in the way that I do. Fantasizing about this great adventure has helped me to harness my fears and frustrations and helped to steady my nerves. More importantly, the meaning of this adventure is born from influencing and motivating one another to make the most of this opportunity. The challenges we are confronted with can bring about both success and failure. No matter what the result, it is up to the group and individuals to pull all the knowledge and wisdom from every experience. We are all in the same shoes here, together to learn and grow and that should not be forgotten. To all of you, let’s make this more than a story, let’s make this a legend.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 9

Today I had the opportunity to spend some time with this journal as I became the writer in Kate’s absence. Side note: WE MISS YOU ALREADY, KATE! GET BACK SOON! Every member of this expedition has already brought so much to the table and I cannot wait to see how this trip unfolds before us.

Many of us are familiar with the feeling of embarking on a major journey or trial. Your first day of college, or at a new place of work. Or maybe even the feeling of that first time out with that someone who had you smitten in three seconds flat. There is a lot of work to be done but the view at the end seems so promising. It’s the tiny glimpses of beauty along the way that will keep you going – like finding a space in the canopy. A space where the stars seem like holes punched in a dark blanket.

Rations have been pulled and the trailers are nearly loaded to the brim. The excitement and nerves are bound up so tight that it’s almost sickening. It’s a one-of-a-kind feeling to say the least. Nearly at the 24 hour mark – IT’S GAME DAY!

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” – Theodore Hesburgh


Day 8

This is it! The time has come…This is what we have all been waiting for. We have all worked hard to get where we are today to say the least. I hope you all use the itinerary of ECOEE as motivation in the way that I do. Fantasizing about this great adventure has helped me to harness my fears and frustrations and steady my nerves. More importantly, there would be no meaning to this semester long expedition without all of you here with me. We have all made each other proud as well as let each other down, but at the end of the day we will always be there for one another. We are all in this together to learn and grow and that should not be forgotten. To all of you, let’s make this more than just a story to tell; we can become a legend.

Day 7

As we the students of ECOEE are moving forward the responsibilities increase. The challenge is laying at our feet for each of us to decide where to take it. As the determination of our group gets stronger every day as we mark our big list of tasks off. Pounding through shake down was one of the two monumental tasks today. Seeing a floor drowned with myriad sets of clothing and equipment pushes our group closer to Canada.
With the conviction of the group shake down, a process that devours time, is completed. The spirit of the group is exceeding the adversities of yesterday’s outcomes. From the ashes of yesterday’s obstacles prevails a bigger and brighter future. There is only a few days left till we are off on an adventure that will shape and form every individual providing us a greater meaning to this thing we call Nature.
Jeff and Kim enjoy the cookies as we play this part of yin and yang, push and pull. To the adventure comes the seekers a calling and what answers back is a surprise to surpass the bounds of anyone’s imagination.

“We must become the change we want to see” ~Mahatma Gandhi

Here’s to living in the moment,
~Evan Kedzierski

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 6

Bang-a-rang is a Jamaican slang defined as a hubbub, uproar, disorder, or disturbance.
This is the word that ECOEE 2010 has chosen to use to conclude our nightly debrief sessions. This is not only a word but generally expresses the way that I was feeling last semester and this summer. Now that I have rejoined my fellow group members I feel as if the negative definition of this expression has vanished and left us with lessons learned. The amount that we all have learned together last semester was tremendous. With a new beginning we all continue to fill our brains with more knowledge as every minute passes. With the group we have established for this trip I feel no more anxiety, stress or pressure about school work. Yet no one in this group can know how the other is feeling unless these feelings are expressed. I can only ask my fellow group members to not bottle feelings and just show it on our sleeves. If you are feeling something, express it because only with communication can we truly learn how to work together and make this work. Knowing that I have everyone around me and hoping that we will always have a positive attitude I have no doubt that we have started something that is going to change us forever. In a way that none of us can imagine, and I have NEVER wanted nothing more.
P.S.- I can NOT WAIT to get down and DIRTYYYY in CANADA, 8 days and counting!
Peace, Love, Wilderness

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 5

The past five days have been rough to say the least. A whole lot of work followed by very little sleep and followed again by even more work. I guess they weren’t kidding when they said do work over the summer. For me it was a struggle to even start the week, having a strong urge to not even go on the trip all together because of situations at home, I have definitely put myself to the test. But a collaborative act from those who care has really helped me to begin to find my place in ECOEE once more. My mother telling me to put my “big boy pants” on, Jeff giving me a supportive and insightful talking to, support from my father and sister and of course the comfort I am finding in my group members. No matter how hard the day, hot the sun, and short the sleep the time I spend with my ECOEE mates has done nothing but give me confidence in the whole expedition. I enjoy seeing everyone helping each other and putting aside there wants for others. Hearing your troubles, concerns and hardships has helped me to deal with mine. So aside from the mushy feeling entry, I also wanted to express how extremely stoked I am to get on the water. Even going to Dixon Mounds has got me excited; dressing up and looking all professional, what a mind job. So everyone keep your eyes wide, minds on go, and your bodies on super drive because you can’t relive your memories, you can only look back on them…Ahhh I can’t end it like that, lets do it the right way BANG-A-RANG!!!!

Pat Croke

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 4

Finally out of Currens Hall! Moving out to Horn Field today made it feel like ECOEE was finally getting started, and that breathed new energy into me. Although our last night at Currens was an epic one consisting of a trip to McDonalds to order 16 small coffees, 2 vanilla ice cream cones, 1 latte, 3 cheeseburgers, 2 large fries, 1 small fry, and a grilled chipotle bbq snack wrap. Goodbye Currens and hello to HFC and the open road which lies ahead. There was only one downside of today. Keenan made an AMAZING lunch and dinner , and since I have to cook in a few days and now I'm intimidated. But seriously, it was delicious.

Anyway, it would be nice to say everything has been fun and games, but we've been working our keisters off! It really makes me think about the commitments I've made to this journey. Not only to the many people involved with making ECOEE happen, but also to myself. I'm financially, academically, and most importantly personally committed to my part in this journey. Thinking about it, this is the biggest commitment I've ever made in my life. Before video games and the internet, before parents were afraid to let their kids play outside, young men went into the wilderness to find themselves, to complete the transition from boys to men, Maybe that's why I'm doing this at the presupus of adulthood. Maybe I'm just young and naive for thinking that. But maybe, by the end of this, I'll know the answer. For now, I'm content just imagining the impact this trip will have on me, and always for the better.

"I read somewhere... how it is in life not necessarily to be strong... but to feel strong." - Christopher McCandless

- Ryan

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 3

Although this journal entry is one more task in an already overwhelming workload, it is one i don't mind. I love my journal, and i love being required to write in it. I think about how little I actually know about my grandparents lives, and it has put me on a personal mission. Bumper stickers from everywhere we go. Winter break, I'm buying an AWESOME chest. Christmas present is getting all of our pictures developed. The material possessions of significance will fill it continuously. I want my kids and grandkids to have something to rummage through to see who I was and what I have done. We are all way too special of a breed for our journeys to be forgotten. I still get choked up thinking about Joe. He should be in this circle with us right now. But if my Dad has taught me anything, it's not to waste too much energy on the things you can't control. I'm hoping once we hit the road, the chaos will die down. If not, then I hope to get used to it sooner or later. I have lost track of the fact that it is an eighteen hour semester, and refuse to simply be 'along for the ride'. It's almost funny to think how people have literally come and gone from the start, but the bond between us is undeniable. We seriously rock. I'm ready to get extreme on some rapids and for once stay up long enough to see the northern lights. "Be better today than you were yesterday" Cheers.

Day 2

Only 48 hours into this chaotic voyage and already we have become immersed. So much has happened in this short time it seems the destination has invaded my thoughts. But wherever the destination it will be the journey that defines us. The little things, like the late night cram session with intermediate breaks at Katie’s dispense. With these stepping stones our bonds will form into boulders which will take residence, forever on the river of our souls.
The sunburn and funky tan lines may fade. The work load may seem at a distant finish. But as we continue deeper let us not forget the simplest of joys, those around us – ECOEE 2010. BANGARANG!

Jessica Wagner

Day 1

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end. At least that is how I feel. I am returning for the second time as the ECOEE graduate Assistant. Although I have been on ECOEE before, I still do not know what the future has in store for us. This is know as the "ECOEE gift" This journey is what we make of it, and everyday a tiny piece of the wrapping peals back as a new memory is created. what i do know is this experience is powerful, one of a kind, and life altering. For Jeff, Denver, Sal, Pat, Katy, Chris, Ashley, Evan, Jessica, Keenan, Ryan, Kate and myself; we will forever be bonded and engraved in each others hearts and souls. Let our journey be full of adventure, friendship, and be what we really need it to be.

Kimberly Janus