Wednesday, December 26, 2012

12/3/12 - Dalton Schaller

Today marks day 115 of ECOEE. This trip has been so long and we have seen so many cool places. From the beautiful lakes and rivers in Canada, to the various desert national parks, such as Arches, Bryce, Zion, and Death Valley. We were even able to see Yosemite and the Grand Canyon as well. To top it all off we were able to witness the many neat places that were in Baja California.

However, we now find ourselves looking to the end. Trying to finish final projects, evaluations, and gear cleaning before day 120 comes around. We are finding that we are becoming very tired while still trying to do the best we can. Yet, there is still rarely a time when you won’t see a smile on all of our faces or hear the laughter of our group. We are still getting along and enjoying every minute of ECOEE that we can. Soon enough the trip will come to an end and we will have to figure out what will come of our lives so we make the most out of this long and hard trip called ECOEE.

12/01/2012 - Cody J Presny

Here I lie in bed, contemplating the day’s events. Today I received extensive feedback from both my leader and my peers. I heard the good, I heard the bad, and I heard the ugly. It was pretty nerve racking to say the least, but I am fortunate to have had the experience. I am grateful to be surrounded by such honest and caring individuals.
But enough about me, this is the group journal. The gang rose to enjoy a scrumptious breakfast cooked by the one and only Dalton Schaller, and his lovely assistant Sarah Welsh. After breakfast the group got down to work evaluating yours truly. For hours they toiled, taking only short breaks to cook lunch and finish some last minute expedition chores. They seemed to have accomplished a lot in the limited time. I take pride in the efficiency of our group. After hearing all that they had to say, we moved on to the important task of our second to last low debrief. It was out with the old and in with the new, as Dalton, Sarah and I assumed the role of the final low team. We ate a savory Italian dinner in an elegant Italian lodge, and then began our personal homework. As the night draws to a close, I can’t help but be thankful for my ECOEE family and the experience as a whole. I have learned so much about myself over the course of this trip; it has been a truly wonderful experience.

11/29/2012 - Jon Manuell

Today I awoke with little sleep. I was lucky enough to be the first to be evaluated by my instructor and peers. I had little sleep because I could not help reflecting about how fast this adventure has passed. It felt like just yesterday I was sleeping in this same bunk nervous not truly knowing what to expect. In My reflections of the past one hundred days I did a lot of thinking about self-achievements, inner growth, and overall leadership qualities . When I awoke in the morning the main thing on my mind was not to fight my feedback but embrace it, knowing ultimately in the end it will help me be aware of my faults. After the fact of being evaluated, I may not agree and understand all that was stated, but in the end it is all going to help me become a better leader in one way or another. I feel a great weight off my chest and personally I am proud of my triumphs, still learning from mistakes, but growing as a leader every day I am with you guys.

11/28/2012 - Ruby Fernandez Lopez

Today was our last day sleeping in our good old friend the Thermarest and a big sleeping bag, as we took down the tents and headed out to Macomb I had a bittersweet feeling of the last transition that is already starting.

I remember us back in Canada saying 120 days is too far ahead I don’t think we will be able to make it. Now it is the 111-day and I cannot believe we only have a few days to go.

It is really nice to have a nice shower and not worry about frozen fingers while taking down tents but honestly I would miss the sunrises in Baja, the long hikes together, the meaningless conversations that we have, the mountains, the stars, the peace and quietness of the outdoors and finally being able to share all these experiences with every single person in the group.

It is incredible to think how much you can learn from people being here has made me realize how each of us have unique qualities that have helped us to overcome every obstacle in the way. I am really happy to be here and hope opportunies to meet each person in the group. All the different environments that we would be in my mind forever and all this wouldn’t be possible without each person here. So lets take the last days that we have and enjoy the last portion of our expedition.

11/27/2012 - Kelly Bauer

When I read this to you all it will be right before our last van ride together because today our destination is Macomb, IL. Today we fill the van for the last time for our last long journey together and even though we will all be busy typing away and working on our critiques and trip plans, I want everyone to think about all the memories and fun we’ve had in this van that’s become a second home. From our first ride in Walmart back in August we’ve formed, stormed, normed, and performed in this van and today we unofficially start adjourning by saying goodbye to our traveling white home. Remember when Jeff first showed us the “organization” of the trailer? We even took pictures to try and remember where everything belonged. Now I could probably find something in that trailer easier than I could in my own room.
Tonight is also our last night of the front country and camping. For the rest of our expedition, camping is no longer “in-tents”. Over this next week and a half I will definitely miss being able to say goodnight to everyone and hearing “Hey…Hey….Hey” from a nearby tent accompanied by the occasional flash of a fuji film. Truthfully, I am excited to wake up warm tomorrow but I will miss every other aspect of sleeping outdoors. Last night I watched the moon travel the sky through our tent . As I watched its dance it was joined by a chorus of coyote howls. In Canada we fell asleep to loons, wolves, and what we thought were bears. Before this trip I would have jumped at rustling sounds nearby me but now I can’t sleep without them and the occasional howl of a wild animal. I will also miss the stars and the many nights I slept with my contacts in even though I shouldn’t just so I could star gaze deep into the night.
It’s been amazing sleeping on the beaches, slinging my hammock in the Sierras, and waking up to frost in Colorado. Looks like I’m going to need to find someone crazy enough to do some winter camping with me soon because I’m not ready to say goodbye.

11/26/2012 - Ruby Johanna Fernandez Lopez

Today we woke up in the beautiful Grand Canyon. It seems like yesterday when I was running in the Canadian embassy in Colombia trying to get a visa to go to ECOEE. Now that I look back it was worth it. As soon as we walked at the rim it was awesome to see and being able to share this experience with this group. In my mind I thought about all those beautiful places that we have been together. Also so many memories like printing in the bathrooms, doing homework on a beach, preparing meals and so on.

It is easy to say that I am certainly happy of where we are and everything that we have gone through. While we were sitting at the amphitheater in the canyon waiting for our first interpretation, I couldn’t help to think about the huge impact that each person has brought in my life. Things like putting make on with the girls after a month in the back country, Dalton’s quote “It’s the idea”, Jeremy dancing like a robot, Kelly and her Hoola-Hoop, Cody trying not to be an uncle tom, Jon trying to speak Spanish and roll his eyes and finally jess eating a bunch of candy are good things that I will always remember.

Now we have our last days in ECOEE, lets enjoy and give our 100% as always and take day by day this amazing experience that we are all part of.

11/25/2012 - Jon Manuell

It has become a constant theme lately waking up at 6:00 am. I was extremely happy seeing the group performing this morning getting ready to leave. Being ready to go early we said our goodbyes to generous Jim. Jim for our brief encounters was most hospitable and eager to help in any way possible with a smile on his face. Before saying our final goodbyes he gave us some Yum Yum Donuts and we hit the road. It felt really weird being in the front country again, dealing with loads of driving, cooking again, cooking in a giant kitchen, and having tons of homework. The big difference this time is that we are on our way home. The last transition has come so fast and after one last adventure to the Grand Canyon we have complete our journey. I have dealt with many transitions in the past but none like this… Time to get back to HFC and face the real world.

11/24/12 - Jeremy J Naberhaus

Today was a very different day. I found myself packing away things that I wouldn’t need for the rest of the trip. And for the first time of all of ECOEE it was backcountry stuff. It was strange putting my boots in a bag and saying “I don’t need you anymore” Today was also strange because it made me relies that for the rest of the trip I will be using my hands to type and write instead of holding a paddle of feeling the rough touch of the rope. But that is ok like Bruce from Breckenridge said “your best days are always a head of you.”

On a side note today was a productive day. My peers I got a lot of homework done. And we were able to get an entertaining and educational talk by Jim. We also got the van and trailer all sorted out. The other lows and I planned our rout for back home. We have made a little pit stop in the Grand Canyon. I was not excited about going there in till right now as I write. Just when I thought the adventure was over I found out we are going to a very popular park I can’t wait!!!

Jeremy J. Naberhaus

11/22/2012 - Jeremy "Jer Bear" Naberhaus

Today is thanksgiving, but a thanksgiving unlike any other. This was not filled with gluttony and football. This was the first Thanksgiving that I put true thought about what I am thankful for. I believe this was a result of seeing people less privileged than I for almost a month plus hours of thinking time in the van. I am thankful that ecoee has made me thankful . as I am sad that this trip is coming to a close I am excited to go home and tell my mom and dad how lucky I am. I also need to thank many friend and even some teachers. One thing that I forgot to mention at dinner when we mention what we were thankful for was the earth and sun for providing me with what I need to live. But right now as I write before I lay my head I feel the need to thank my new family, my ECOEE family. I am thankful to have a family not because we have the same blood but because we have spilt blood and played in the mud each other. I am thankful to have what use to be 8 strangers a few months ago now being by my side when I need it. Tomorrow we have to say good bye to Francisco who was only with us for a few weeks but he too has become a part of the family. I am thankful for happiness and wisdom that you have brought to this group. This may not have been the best thanks giving in regards of being able to eat till you pass out. Or watching football with friends and family. But in terms of the true meaning of Thanksgiving (thanks) this was the best,

-Thank you Cody for reminding me to smile.

-Sarah for making cloudy days sunny ones.

-Thanks Dalton for your generosity and helping me every time I asked for it.

-Thanks Jess for being chill.

-Kelly for being all you can be all the time.

-Jon for your double chocolate pudding dance, I will use it every chance I can.

-Thanks Ruby for being like a sister to me.

-Thank you Jeff for the skills you have taught me. And putting up with me. Good night

Jeremy J Naberhaus.

11/21/2012 - Jessica Sauer

Today we left Casa Azul for our last time. That means that my entry written in the San Pedro Martirs was correct and that before we could even realize it the weeks started to turn into days. This was day 103 and in less than 2 days we will be back in the states preparing for our final transition, life back in the real world. I look back on today and think of all the ways this trip has changed each of us. This afternoon, for the first time in I don’t know how long the group had time to pretty much do whatever we wanted and as we laid on the beach I don’t think 10 minutes went by without one of us complaining about being bored. As most of our days seem to fly by, todays minutes seemed like hours. I couldn’t figure out how laying on the beach was more of a punishment than cleaning or being in a “go, go, go,” mindset, but that is what it had turned into. I talked with Kelly about things I had done in the past that I regret, and the amends I want to make in the future. As I lay here writing this journal, I can hear the deep breathing of the others and I can tell that most of them are sleeping. I look at my watch and it is 8:02 pm. To repeat my quote of the morning: “Returning home is the most difficult part of long distance hiking. You have grown outside the puzzle and your piece no longer fits.” In our case it was a bit more than long distance hiking, but I think the principle will still apply. We have spent the past month in beautiful weather, sleeping in places that I only dreamt about in the past and we are now heading back to the Midwest in the winter. We have spent the past 3 ½ months with this group of eight and we are now heading back to our school of 14,000. This journey has helped each of us grow in so many ways and I hope that each of us continues that growth, rather than transitioning back into our old puzzle pieces. HAPPY THANKSGIVING ECOEE FAMILY!!

11/20/2012 - Sarah Welsh

The backcountry adventures are no more and soon we will be packing up our gear and heading back to Horn Field. It seems unreal all of the things we have accomplished as a group. I have seen things I never even knew existed. I think the realization that people back home just won’t understand all of the crazy adventures we have had like we do is finally hitting some of us. How do you explain living in the wilderness for this long? This time of year is a time that has always been really important to me. I am always with a lot of family celebrating Thanksgiving in a big way. This is my first thanksgiving away from home, and although I miss tradition, I’m really excited to spend the holiday with this group. We have been through a lot and the thing I am most thankful for this year is the group I was put here with and all of then new friendships I have gained. I’m thankful for the adventures we have embarked upon, the knowledge I have gained, and for all the days when dinner didn’t stick to the pot and my water filter worked right the first time. Yes, I guess my list of things I am thankful for has changed this year, but as usual, I am thankful for where I’m at and what brought me here. Happy Thanksgiving friends,


11/19/2012 - Ruby Fernandez

Do you remember me? Is Ruby the storyteller. The last time I talked to you I told you about some ECOEE warriors that were traveling through many places looking for personal growth and experiences. Well the warriors are now in a completely new environment and here is what is been going on with them.

A warning sign with a red sky woke the warriors up. I saw them getting into their ships and sailed against the wind to their destination. The leaders Sarah and Kelly took the warriors to a beautiful place called Casa Azul. As soon as they got there they ate diamond pancakes and a powerful hot drink that gave them strength to complete a new task.

The warriors clean their ships and armor and hag them in the beautiful castle. In the castle the warriors divided, some of them went to the sea and other clean their gear. After such a difficult day the leaders Ruby the dragon, Jeremy the Bear and Cody the coyote had time to relax. At some point I saw the whole group talking to their chiefs apparently they found what they wanted which was personal growth.

Now is time for me to go and let the warriors relax. We will see what new adventures they have as their adventure is almost ending.

11/18/2012 - Jon Manuell

Well we made it to triple digits as a group in one piece. Looking back I cant help but smile reflecting on achievements and trials we have overcome. In the last one hundred days we have seen, traveled, and overall experiences more than most people would in one hundred years. We have spilled blood, poured sweat, and shed tears knowing in the end it will all be worth it. The initial days crawled by, but as the days passed the momentum built, our skills were refined, and our confidence grew; not only as individuals but also as a group. These days turned into weeks, and then into months, We conquered canoeing in Canada, the front country and numerous National Parks we visited did not even see what hit them, and now in Mexico we have made it to our final day of kayaking tomorrow. We have had injuries, illnesses, and setbacks along the way but they were mere obstacles in our path that we got through together. Knowing that seven individuals are there for you is a very powerful feeling. The last one hundred days, I will remember forever. We now have 20 days left and our group has formed, stormed, normed, brief streaks of performs, and now almost time to adjourn so I for one will make the most of these twenty days and hopefully transform.

11/17/2012 - Cody J Presny

Today is day 99 of ECOEE 2012, holey moley. Today was a good one, we started at Punto Quemado, a lovely little beach resort just south of Punto de Don Juan. We knew that today’s paddle would be a short one, but we did not take our time getting in the water. The sea was calm today; my paddle seemed to slice through the crystal clear water like a machete through a watermelon. It was smooth sailing to say the least. We arrived at El Pescador only an hour or so after we left. We ate lunch and jumped right into the first activity of the day, low debrief. Even though it began to rain, the debrief went swimmingly, and after its conclusion, Jeremy, Ruby, and myself were able to assume our positions as this week’s lows. We used today as a day to get stuff done. We wanted to finish three interps and three lesson debriefs; everything was finished earlier than expected. We heard a moving interp on migration, from Jon, an adventurous presentation on great explorations, and a fur trade interp from yours truly. We were privileged to witness a school of dolphins pass by as well; a true spectacle. After some intense snorkel action, and a lovely feast, prepared by Sarah and ruby, we all retired to our quarters. A peaceful end to a beautiful day in Baja California.

11/16/2012 - Dalton Schaller

Today was the day that many of us had been looking forward to for a long time. We were finally able to set out on our sea kayaking portion of the trip. With just a few hours of preparation in the morning we were finally able to set out into the Bay of Los Angeles. Along this paddle, I was able to achieve a couple of important desires that I had for this portion. The first part was simply to get back out on the water. That is one thing that I have always enjoyed and knew would be accomplished once this time came around. Also, I was highly looking forward to seeing many different animals along this portion. From the start we were able to watch seagulls and pelicans flying around and diving at the water for fish. There was even some kind of new and interesting type of grebe swimming near us. We also saw many fish jump at the top of the water while we paddled. After arriving at camp we did a few normal tasks and then saw a seal swimming by the beach we are at. Later we saw a raccoon wondering around the beach. Now, to end the day I am going to go to sleep on a beach, looking up at the sky and listening to the waves and occasional coyote howls.

11/15/2012 - Kelly Bauer

Today we left the cave paintings of the canyons. We’ve been through many transitions and left many beautiful places but today was the hardest for me to say goodbye to. Seeing 4,500 year old paintings was a magical experience and the challenging hikes through the canyon walls added to the thrill of the experience. When we awoke this morning the mood was less lively than usual. Not only were we leaving this magical place, but one of our members would not be joining us on our last hike together. Today Jon rode the burro up the canyon so that tomorrow he will hopefully be better. He was with us in spirit though with ever y step and meter we increased in elevation. Even harder than leaving the canyons was leaving our guide and new friend Ramon. His fresh fruit, stories, and singing made him fit right in with our crazy ECOEE family.
Tonight we are back in Casa Azul, but unlike the quiet town that we stayed in last time, the time is alive with spectators of the Baja 1000. Watching the racers I was jealous at how much of this beautiful peninsula they are traveling but these drivers are not experiencing any of this lands resources to the depth that we have been. We are learning the culture and history of Baja, California and I love traveling here.
Tomorrow we paddle out for the last portion of our trip so goodnight, Buenos noches and I really hope this race quiets down at some point tonight.

11/14/2012 - Jeremy J Naberhaus

-These boots that I wear have some rips and even some tears.

-They have trudged on a mile long portage and now on ground prettier than a mirage.

-They have stepped on many new places and with me have seen many new faces.

-They scattered in august back at horn field now for donkeys they stop and yield.

-They have hiked many miles and heard many songs and headed stories of homes that people have longed.

-They got dirty in the first bog and have climb over many logs.

-They have seen us laugh and even some tears it has seen us make memories that we will remember for years.

-They have crushed many cans from dinners that we have made and kicked many rocks to clear my bed before I lay.

-They have seen us storm and in Canada seen us norm will they hike the way to see us perform?

-They have been with me when I have carried many pounds, and helped me lift some people off the ground.

-They have been thought so much dirt and mud and even some blood.

-It feels like just yesterday I was buying them with my credit card but now I look back at the good times and the hard.

-That made me relies that my boots are like my ECOEE friends they are rough and tough and will be there till the end.

11/13/2012 - Dalton "D-City" Schaller

Today I was able to gain an appreciation for the Native American culture of the area. A majority of the day was spent hiking along the riverbed and along the canyon walls. Many of those locations were probably places where the Native Americans had probably traveled in the past. They had probably hiked along some of those paths in order to gather plants for food and medicine as well as using them for hunting. Then we were able to ascend up the side of one of the canyons along a path to some cave paintings left by this past culture. Along the way we past one section where there were a few painting and you could see signs of fire smoke. This place was probably where some of the Native Americans were living in the past. Many of them probably called that small hole in the cliff wall their home. It was pretty awesome to be able to see something like this in person. Then we were able to finally see the two cave paintings that we hiked so far to see. Witnessing the first one was pretty awesome by itself by then we went on to the second one which was even more incredible. We could see so many different works of art, each having its own special meaning. All of them being thousands of years old and having something different to say as a part of this spiritual area. It was all truly incredible to see and tomorrow we get the pleasure of exploring more of this incredible environment and we get to see another set of cave paintings.

11/12/2012 - Ruby J Fernandez

From the perspective of the cool goat:

The wind woke me up, another day with this bell on my neck. I went this morning as usual to hang out with the other goats. On my way there I cross next to some tents and one of them was completely down. The girls on the tent seemed confused; I guess that is the new way to use a tent.

As soon as I saw my friends I put the bell on my neck and started heading to Guadalupe. I saw my good friends the mules, Poncho one of the mules told me that he was not very excited because he had to work today. They had to carry a lot of weight and they were getting ready to do so. When I finished talking to them I saw the kids coming toward us. The mules told me that they were the people that they had to work for.

I left and say hi to bow the dog, he is a peculiar guy. He almost pee in one of the kids, it was kind of funny. I saw the kids getting ready and going towards the canyons I was going there too so I decided to do it and keep an eye on them. I was in one of the hills when I saw them going down the canyons. Let me tell you that path is really rocky and only goats like me can handle it pretty well. I think they noticed me because I heard them saying what a cool goat! They went all the way down to Santa Teresa, there they rest and eat last time I saw them they were next to a fire. Now is time for me to go to sleep and get this bell out of my neck.

Good Night

11/11/2012 - Cody J Presny

It is day 93 of ECOEE 2012, and what a long strange trip it’s been. As I watched the sun rise over the Sea of Cortez this morning, I couldn’t help but think back to some of the places we have been. We have slept through the frosty nights in Colorado, trudged through the frigid waters of the Missinabi River, and hiked the high peaks of San Pedro Martir Mountains. Now we are in the heart of beautiful Baja California. In my eyes, these 93 days have flown by, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.
We spent most of today driving from Casa Azul in Bahia de California to Guadalupe. We Briefly met Ramon today, our noble and steadfast burroero. He was nothing but smiles, and I am sure he will be an entertaining and enjoyable new team member. As I lay here I cant help but to smile. Maybe it’s the 30 some odd cookies in my tummy tum talking, but I am in love with where I am, and the people I am with.
Good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the sand fleas bite.

11/10/2012 - Sarah Welsh

Sarah Welsh 11/10/12

Sung to the tune of Feliz Navidad

I woke up this morning

To a hot cup of coffee

I woke up this morning

To a big bowl of Tasteos

Some packed up the food

And I did my laundry

Then went to the museum

While some stayed on the beach doing their research

But we’re all here at Casa Azul

Where palm trees sway and whale sharks rule

We pack our food to put on Ramon’s mules

I hope we ride them from the start

Jeffrey’s not feeling well

We hope it’s a short spell

‘Cause it won’t be swell

If we all start getting sick right now

We went out to eat

Bon apatite

The Fresca was so sweet

And the salsa none so far could beat the heat

And we’re all here in Casa Azul

Where palm trees sway and whale sharks rule

We get feedback that rules are for fools

We packed our bags now we shall depart!

11/09/2012 - Jon Manuell

Being on the move almost on a daily basis it is hard to imagine what the next day will bring. Today I awoke on sandy beach to a beautiful sunrise over the Sea of Cortez in the Bay on L.A.. This place is chocked full of culture, new beginnings, and adventure. It is a beautiful place that will be our home base between canyoneering and sea kayaking. The sounds of the crashing waves and the stiff winds are a warning and a reminder that this place as beautiful as it is needs to be respected. With this in mind, I arose from my sleeping bag ready for whatever was thrown my way. As the day passed I did a lot of thinking about how completely different this land is compared to the rest of our travels. The language barrier alone is a dramatic difficulty that makes me wish I payed more attention to my spanish classes, the currency makes me second guess each transaction I make, the lack of water here reminds me of how wasteful I am back in Illinois. I feel for the first time in all my travels as a stranger, zero control over my surrounding environmentally, and culturally both. In saying that I am much more aware of my actions knowing my instincts will guide me along my inner journey in creating a better sense of why I am here and how I can evolve into a better me. Being able to adapt is an integeral aspect of not just leadership but overall life and gaining knowledge. This place is an eye opening experience that I will not take for granted. I am truly happy for this adventure and am excited for the next several weeks to come. I will not truly grasp how this is a once in a life time opportunity until it is over, but in the mean time I will strive to take in every moment and experience I physically, mentally, and spiritually I can.

11/8/2012 - Jessica Sauer

Looking back at this experience I think about being in Canada and thinking that the days on the beach in Baja California would never come. It is now day 90 and the days are flying by faster than ever. After spending just over a week of hot days and frosty nights in the San Pedro Martirs, today we finally arrived to the Bay of LA and it was beautiful. We are in a small town with a huge view and great food. I look back to when we were sitting on the beach at our first campsite in Canada and I was bundled up in my winter jacket, taking in as much of the sun as I possibly could. Today we stepped out of the van at Casa Azul and it was like we walked into an over, I was ready to embrace the heat. Our next transition has begun and I know this will fly by too but now that we are here, I am looking forward to learning more about the history and culture of Baja California.

11/07/2012 - Kelly Bauer

Today started like any other day in the backcountry, our alarms went off earlier than we’d like and we crawled out of our cozy sleeping bags to start our day. We started boiling water for hot drink and hot cereal since it was only 9 degrees Celsius and then we changed into our stiff, cold hiking clothes. But today was also unlike any other day we’ve had in the San Pedro Martir’s because instead of following cranes to another campsite, we followed an old dirt road back to our van. The hike took a little two hours and before we were ready to end we were greeted by our not so white van. We changed, wiped our smelly bodies with wet wipes, threw away our trash from the last nine days, and packed up to leave another beautiful place. We thought we were headed to another campsite but we were all surprised when we pulled into a motel this afternoon. Ready to set up our mega-mids in the parking lot, we were even more surprised when we found out we were getting rooms! We had an hour and a half to get showered and clean before dinner but the girls spent the first thirty jumping on the beds and dancing to music we haven’t heard in months on the tv. No longer smelling like rotten cheese, we regrouped at six and met for a delicious meal at Miguel’s. No mac, no bisque, no TVP, and no freeze-dried veggies! Only delicious Mexican food!! Tomorrow we’ll have another delicious meal here for breakfast before we head to Casa Azul
Buenos noches ECOEE!

11/06/2012 - Sarah Welsh

Written from the view of the cairns.

Cairn 1: Well, at least they saw me today. I heard from cairn 1 on yesterday’s path these kids didn’t even see him, and he’s a big guy!

Cairn 2: The kids seemed alright when they were passing me. I saw a few wrong turns as they climbed up the mountain, but ultimately they came back to me and carried on.

Cairn 3: Yep guys, sorry to disappoint but this water hole you were at a couple days ago is not much more than a puddle now. Between the sun and the cows, and now you guys, I suppose this water will be completely gone in no time.

Cairn 4: Some say they have seen me before and some say they haven’t. It was a brief stop for them here.

Cairn 5: They have been sitting next to me for awhile now snacking. They seem confused and three of them went off to look for other cairns. Good luck!

Cairn 6: These kids dropping their packs right next to me looking all confused. Wonder if they know about the old run-down camp right around the corner.

Cairn 7: Finally, this group is back. Now they can clean up all the stuff they left next to me last week. Gosh, some people’s kids!

11/5/2012 - Jeremy Naberhaus

Hi Steve Irwin here. And I am watching 8 ECOEE students all alone in the Baja wilderness. I try to stay down wind and far away so they won’t smell my sent. As they awake from what seems to be circus tents they drank a magic potion that made the little tan one and the big pale one with fur on his head happy and energetic . They headed over to the other habitat where they formed an alliance with the other tribe. They sat while one talked about water. After that they headed to the watering hole where they performed what I think was a musical ritual. They packed up stuff and headed past this big pile of rocks, and wondered around stopping to talk and turning around quite often. Once they found a series of piles of rocks and headed in the north west direction they were pleased and at ease. They met up with the 2 elders. The group gathered to talk about the bearded one’s lesson. Then feeding time came once again. The group with all females and one male eat the crikey out of rice and sweat corn bread. Shortly after they returned to their tents to get some sleep.

Jeremy J Naberhaus.

11/4/2012 - Dalton Schaller

Today was the last day of our solos. This would be the last chance we would have to reflect on our lives for a long period of time. So from the time I woke up until the time that Jeff came to get me, that was what I did. I contemplated on memories from the past, what I was doing in the present, and what I wanted from life in the future. For quite a few hours I sat there thinking on those things, with the occasional break to watch animals. Then, Jeff came to get me and he told me to head back to his campsite for the group debrief of the solo experience. While waiting for everyone else to get there we were told to remain silent. It was quite difficult for everyone in the group not to talk to each other, especially after two days of being alone. However, the last two people finally arrived and the debrief was able to take place. During the debrief I was able to hear about everyone else’s experiences and then share mine as well. Once we concluded the debrief we had a visit from a couple of true vaqueros. Apparently, it is possible that Sarah might be running away with them, but we will have to wait and see. To end the day we went to our new tent groups and started to re-set up camp and prepare our meal for the potluck. As one big family, we ate dinner together and then the LOW’s briefed us on the day to come.

11/2/2012 - Jessica Sauer

At 12:00 sharp each of us was blind folded and preparing for our solos in San Pedro Martir National Park. I waited and waited until finally it was my turn to follow Jeff to my home for the next couple of nights. The first thing I did was find a nice shady place to hang up my full dromedary. I then found what I thought was a nice spot to lay out my sleeping bag and began to explore. I had a pretty big area of land but I found my favorite spot to be on top of a rock where I could comfortably sit in the sun. I sat up straight on that rock and took in the land around me. I could hear a wood pecker digging into a pine tree behind me, and the wind blowing through the trees ahead. I opened my eyes to see a humming bird feeding from the rose sage below, and I felt completely at peace with this land. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to be here, but at this moment I was comfortable. I found myself in my sleeping bag before it was even dark waiting for the hours to move faster. At many points in the middle of the night I no longer this was a good place to sleep but I sucked it up and the morning light quickly joined me. I finished up the last of my trail mix for breakfast and was now only left with cheese. I went back up to the rock and wrote in my journal wondering how long this solo was going to last. The wind had picked up since yesterday and it was probably the strongest it had been since we arrived. The feeling of peace was slowly slipping away and I began to become restless with this place. It made me realize that the days are not the same without the nine other group members and I was sick of being alone. At 22 years old I wanted nothing more than to hear the voice of my mom and have her tell me all about what was happening back home. For the first time in 84 days I really cried and it felt great. I thought about how I still had 20 plus days until I could talk to my family but then I realized how wrong that statement was. At some point tomorrow, Jeff would lead me back to the new family that we have all created and we willd have the challenge of making it through the mountains and back to the van on our own. I know that as a group we will be able to accomplish this task and I am looking forward to celebrating with fresh hot food and clean water.

12/2/2012 - Jeremy Naberhaus

What a day what a day. I woke up to eat my 7:00 breakfast. It was a yummy meal of fruit and toast. After I was done eating I went to my cabin to work. My mind often wondered because I was thinking about my seven peers and what they were saying without me in the room. I also could not focus because I had to get through Jeff the terminator Tindall before my peer debrief. It was like I was a gladiator waiting to walk into the ring full of lions. But don’t worry guys by the end of the debrief you were more like kittens rather than lions. Well now that I think about it more, you were like fat cats that just eat to much. After my evaluations I felt at peace with ecoee and started working. Jon, Ruby, Cody and I cleaned the kitchen while Dalton and his angels did a magnificent shopping run. We ate dinner as the lovely smell of rat waste filled the air and the sound of sweat music filled our ears. After a long day full of concerns and worries it is good to get some rest.

Jeremy J Naberhaus.

1/11/2012 - Ruby Fernandez

From the perspective of Kevin and Robin:


We woke up early this morning to make coffee, 6:40am to be exact. I heard the girls saying it was time to wake up and make breakfast. I woke up and I saw them making coffee and oatmeal. On the other end of the trail I saw the guys heading up the mountain to get water for everyone.


We started our hike at 11:00, everyone seemed in a good spirit. We started hiking next to a water bend and had some stops along the way. I was way behind Jeff and for some reason no one seems to acknowledge me. Well only Francisco called my name while we stopped twice. Anyway on the way back to the valley, Francisco told us to pay really close attention to the features because we were going back to ourselves. I hope I can be the navigator and Robin the sweeper. Some of the feautures I have on my mind are Gary the Rock, the canyons and the footprint rocks. I hope I can remember all this on my way back. After 2 hours we saw the valley, by the time we got there everyone seemed tired and sunburn. We found water next to cow poop and found a cool old cabin.


As soon as we got to the valley we set up camp and had a debrief on Dalton’s and Sarah’s presentation. Some positive and negative feedback that in the long run will help us to become better outdoor leaders. Francisco gave us his insight about the group and told us that we needed to be passionate about our profession so other people can have meaningful experiences. After debrief the girls and Cody made a great pizza!!! And a cake!! Now Im too full to keep writing so I will just go to bed.

10/31/2012 - Kelly Bauer

Day 82 – Wednesday – October 31, 2012
Backcountry Beatles
Picture yourself in a group on a mountain
With Juniper trees and baby blue skies
Somebody scouts as you hike past the pine trees
That grow so incredibly high
Columbine flowers of yellow and red
Growing on the river bed
Look for the rocks stacked up neat and high
And we’re gone
Hiking in Baja, California
Hiking in Baja, California
Hiking in Baja, California
Follow them down to a trail through a canyon
We carefully tread making sure not pass one by
Everyone smiles as we hike past the sage bush
Whose medicinal properties we did try
Within a few weeks we’ll be at the shore
Ready to kayak away
So stuff down your packs and get ready for more
Cos we’re off
Hiking in Baja, California
Hiking in Baja, California
Hiking in Baja, California
I’ve just seen a place I can’t forget the time or place
where we just hiked
this is the life for me and I want all the world to see
I love living in the backcountry
Hiking yes we are hiking
And we keep moving from day to day
Hike! I need more mountains!
Hike! Not just any mountains!
Hike! You know I need these mountains!
When I was young, so much younger than today
I never needed any of these challenges
Not in any way
But now those days are gone and I feel so muscular
I got a taste of the backcountry and now I just want more
Hike with me if you can we’re going down
And I do appreciate when water’s around
Hike with me if you can we’re going down
Won’t you please please find water with me
Let me take you down cos we’re going to
Baja, California
It’s day eighty-three
There’s nothing to storm about
Baja, California forever
Living is easy in mega-mids
Evaluating all you see
It’s getting hard to finish assignments
But it all works out
It doesn’t matter much to me
Let me take you down
Cos we’re going to
Baja, California
It’s day eighty-three
There’s nothing to storm about
Baja, California forever

10/30/2012 - Cody J Presny

Night number two in the backcountry of Baja California. Strange weather up here, hot in the day, below freezing at night; much different than Canada. We no longer can depend on the buoyancy of our faithful canoes to carry the weight of our gear, now we depend on our backs. We are feeling the effects of high altitude and heavy packs. I for one love the challenge. I have never felt better. I’m dirty, I’m sore, and more willing to continue on tomorrow. We trekked only a short distance today. We walked from our campsite in the aspens to the base of two peaks: Scout and the Blue Bottle. Here we dropped our packs, loaded our day packs, and began our accent towards the mouth of the Blue Bottle. This peak is the 2nd highest in all of Baja California. From the peak we could see for miles. Though it was a bit hazy, we could still clearly see the Sea of Cortez in all of its glory. I am eager to see what lies in the days ahead.

10/29/2012 - Jessica Sauer

S-witching from the front country into the backcountry

A-dapting to the environment, leader, and challenges

N-ew trails to hike that will push us each day.

P-acks that carry our lives for the weeks to come

E-lectricity is forgotten, and “real life” turns into faint memories

D-irt is no longer dirt, just an extra layer to keep us warm

R-ebuilding our group to work as one rather than 10

O-pening new doors to new lands we have not yet traveled

M-arching not to our own drum, but creating a new heartbeat that each of us can follow

A-cquiring new skills and testing our abilities and strengths

R-outes being discovered with each step we take

T-he last portion of our journey has already arrived, and I know we can make it our best adventures yet

I-ndividual challenges we will overcome as a group

R-ising and falling with the sun each day

S-ooner than we realize, our last few weeks will turn into our last few days

10/28/2012 - Jon Manuell

Well, well, well, another transition today. I for one am quite glad to leave the front country. Do not get me wrong the amazing National Parks and Monuments, the professional visits, and numerous states we passed through were life changing experiences but I have a back country itch to scratch. This itch has been a constant has been a constant that has made getting my homework, lesson plans, and overall structure possible. After ending my back country adventure injured and in a lot of pain in Canada I am truly excited to get back out into the wilderness healthy and ready to learn. Like in Canada it is my first time in this country and I want to see what challenges it has to offer. Baja California is completely new to me from the culture, to the landscapes, and the fauna and flora around me. I feel blessed to have the opportunity with the amazing people around me. This country may be new but i plan on getting the most out of it personally and as a group. The bond we have is unmistakable and I am fully confident that we can achieve just as much if not more than in Canada. In closing I want to say I love each and every one of you and also warmly welcome Fransisco to our group.

P.S. HAppy Birthday Jess!!!

10/27/2012 - Sarah Welsh

Today we woke up to an early start, Gotta pack our stuff before we do depart. First decision of the day was Cheerios or Cap’n Crunch. Sorry Jeff, no more Cheerios for you to munch! Rations got pulled, there was flour everywhere, 20 lbs. no less, I got no room to spare. Later at Wal-Mart, I got more food. McDonald’s again, not really in the mood. 8 lbs. of Pepper Jack we want that cheese, And don’t forget the 6 pepperoni sticks please! Rations were pulled; time to switch over to gear, My bag was stuffed full, there’s no room in here. Took my last shower for about an hour, Hope after 1 month without I’ll still smell like a flower. Now the groups doing homework and stuff, 20 pages of notes that should be enough. Last day of computers and technology, Were getting out of the U.S., yeah we’re gonna flee. We pick up Francisco tomorrow in Ensenada. Jess’s birthday eve, we should get a Piñata. Early start tomorrow and I’m about to go to bed, Goodbye USA, to Mexico we head!

10/26/2012 - Cody J Presny

We drove from Malibu to San Diego State University, today. For the past week, the gang and I have been working at LACOSS (Los Angeles County Outdoor School). The experience was very influential for me, as I hope it was for the other ECOEE students. We helped out as counselors to maintain the fifth graders from Marengo Elementary in South Pasadena, California. My cabin was awesome; I was assigned to ten kids, they were all individual and awesome in their own way. The week had its ups and its downs, but I enjoyed myself all the same. We said our goodbyes today, it was heartbreaking, well that might be a bit melodramatic, but nonetheless, I hated to see them go. We traveled to San Diego after debriefing with the LACOSS staff. We met Jim Lustig of SDSU, and let’s just say he’s a character. We went to Super China Fun House for dinner, where we would meet Jess’ Aunt and Uncle, Sarah’s Uncle, Jess Wagner and Katy Doolan. The dinner was great, best in California. We rationed, then worked on some course work. I’m sleeping now, so goodnight guys.

11/23/2012 - Kelly Bauer

Day 105 – Saturday – November 23, 2012
Today we begin our last transition of our 120 days together. Our backcountry days are officially over and we left Mexico to start preparing for our return trip home. We’ve transitioned many times as a group from Horn Field Campus back in August to now. We began by transitioning to living as traveling, homeless students when we said goodbye to our friends and family. After a month forming and storming in Canada, we transitioned back to civilization and front country living.
We thought Baja, California would never come but today it is officially over.
Today was also unlike any black Friday that I’ve ever had. Instead of leftover turkey and pie we a delicious meal prepared by the Qumiai people with fresh cheese and handmade tortillas. Instead of witnessing the buying frenzy of America’s culture on black Friday we took part in a Qumiai ceremony and learned about the arts and crafts of their culture. Instead of saying goodbye to family after the holidays, we said goodbye to our guide of the last month Francisco, who has become a part of our ECOEE family. And today we didn’t wait in line for door buster deals but waited in a line of cars for hours as vendors tried selling us oversized baskets, churros locos, and hello kitties before the border.
Adios Baja, California.

10/21/2012 - Sarah Welsh

I woke up this morning with yet another spider in my sweatshirt. Surprisingly, this didn’t even phase me and as I brushed it off, I realized I am becoming way too accustomed to the wilderness. It’s crazy to think we are already on day 72 of living out here. We are going through the motions of waking up, breaking camp, getting on the road, and falling asleep in yet another beautiful place. Like my BFF Jeff says, the scenery can change but in a lot of ways, we are doing familiar tasks. I was pretty excited to get to Malibu tonight and get in my hour and a half on the beach with the girls, but I can’t let the morning go unmentioned. In wondering what was taking Jessica so long to check the van and trailer prior to our departure, we realized she had dropped a pen into the engine. Jeff wasn’t so clean after that incident! Then, about ten minutes into the drive we stop for gas and all but me, Dalton, and Jeremy break down the door running across the street to get their Starbucks fix. It’s amazing how addicted to “hot drink” we have become. Kelly came scurrying across the street with her triple espresso and agave power bar looking like a crazed cat-lady, hippie. Just what she needs, more caffeine… Jessica comes back with her grande salted caramel frappachino, which seems to be a new favorite. Cody and Jon come back with their, I’m guessing black coffee. And then there’s Ruby, attempting to cross the four lanes of California traffic with both her and Jeff’s drinks in hand. She won this game of frogger, but lost the battle of pleasing Jeff. Gosh Ruby, no soy! We drove on and stopped at a water visitor center. It had some neat displays but they were no match for the water safety video. I now will feel safe if I fall in any aqueduct! LACOSS tomorrow and I’m hoping these kids don’t eat as much sugar as we do!

10/20/2012 - Jessica Sauer

Written from the perspective of the California natives we met today… The worker from D’s Wash and Dry: Another Saturday stuck in the Laundromat. At least I have Brennan Frasier to keep me occupied. Great, now I can’t even enjoy this movie, a huge group of people just came in and they don’t even know how to use a washing machine. What are they from the wild or something? They’re finally finishing up, silence at last. Good luck to the coffee shop I heard they were headed their way… “5 minute warning! Coffee shop is closing!” Thank goodness my boss isn’t here today I am closing this place down right now. The only people that are even in here are all of these students and they aren’t even buying anything. They can go sit at McDonalds and use out Wi-Fi for free for all I care, as long as they get out of here…McDonalds employee: This is weird, a rush at 3:30? This is supposed to be slow shift of the week. What a strange group, who comes into McDonalds on a Saturday afternoon to do homework, they aren’t even ordering anything. I’m surprised the boss is letting them just sit here. But then again, I’m sure she doesn’t want to do anything right now either. I’m starting to hear them talking about getting hungry but they still haven’t ordered any food. Oh, well I guess they had the right idea, I’d pick Pizza Factory over this junk any day too... Mike from Pizza Factory: Well look who’s back, good old Jeff Tindall bringing in a new group of kids to fatten up with my delicious pizza. Man I love this guy, always buying way too much food when he stops in. I’ve gotta keep him coming back, hopefully some throwing some coupons at him will do the trick. Sounds like they’re headed to Sierra Lanes, what a good group of kids spending their Saturday night bowling rather than next door at the mini mart… Man all of these kids with their debit cards, they sure are a pain in my butt. But at least I made some money off of them. Well look at that, the girls are blowing the guys out of the water! That’s always nice to see every once in a while. Well, their hour is up. I wonder if I’ll ever run into that fine bunch again…

10/19/2012 - Jeremy Naberhaus

Today was a pretty good day. The reason why is because we got to start it later than normal. We had French toast at breakfast, then a debrief lead by Kelly. The debrief was nice for me because it helped me learn from my mistakes from the day before. We than packed up and the LOWs for next week met with Jeff. While they were doing that I and others did homework and I got to read First Blood for 15 minuets which was nice because I am at an action packed part of the book. We than all hopped into the van for a long bumpy ride downhill. While going down Jeff told us all about his good times that he had living and working in these beautiful mountains. One of his memories being him and his peers riding a skate board down the hill using a 2X4 as a break. Once we got to Summit Adventures we had a meeting with Gramm. He started the meeting by showing us a video made by Tim Hansel. It was a great video not just because of the awesome 80’s styles but also because it had the same sound track as Rock IV. We also took a look around and Jeff told us about the old days and how it use to look. After Gramm left we all took showers and went out to eat. It was a lovely meal in a lovely place. It was also nice to watch a game and even nicer to see the Cardinals losing. Today was also good because 52 years ago a great man was born… my father Brian J Naberhaus. Because today was his birthday I gave him a call to let him know I love him and to tell him about the past few days. I told him how some of us are stressed and flustered about the school work. In our conversation he told me he was proud of me and the people that I am with. That we are special people for doing what we are doing and not to give up. My dad use to hug me everynight. So in honor of Brian I am going to try and hug everyone before we go to bed.

Jeremy J Naberhaus

10/18/2012 - Ruby Fernandez

From the perspective of Ralph the hunter:

Today I woke up pretty early; I took my gun and gear and headed towards the nearest campsite. When I started walking to the trail I saw a trailer and some people there. There was a lot of commotion, apparently someone faint, her name was Sarah. I saw a lot of people trying to wake her up and I try to stay out of it. As I started heading to my destination towards Jackass Lake I saw the same van that I saw 20 minutes ago, there were some students they pass me and I started hiking up the mountain.

I set up my gun and my gear and I decided to switch spots because I saw the same students working with some maps too close to me. I wanted to see what they were doing and got up closer. I noticed that the instructor divided the group in two and told them that they should find a certain mark and go back to the Balls. Both had to find a tarn which I knew where it was.

I started hiking up towards Jackass lake and I stayed there to hunt. I could hear from the distance people saying “Im not a deer don’t shoot me” which it was pretty funny, off course I was not going to shoot them I don’t like white meat. Anyway I saw one of the groups getting really close to the tarn but instead of going right they kept going up. They were even really close were I was. They saw the lake and decided to go back. I decided to go back as well, on the way there I saw the two groups heading to the balls. I also noticed two different tp’s and some notes on each of them. When I got closer I saw one of the groups going uphill again. I know they were not in the right spot and those tp’s were landmarks for the other group to see. Wow it must suck to go back again while the other group is chillin.

I stayed close to them trying to get some deer, it was getting late so I decided to go back to my campsite. While going back I saw the whole group going back as well and I got scared because I saw their instructor hiding in some trees. I said hi to the instructor and I asked him what are you guys doing? Which he response was what do you think? Anyway the group was going towards some dangerous part and the instructor stopped them by saying “if you go that way you are going to die” it was true.

After that they headed back to the van and I heard them saying “I can’t wait to eat and sleep”Im pretty sure they will have a great night of sleep. I’ll just do the same and rest for another hunting day.

10/17/2012 - Dalton Schaller

There was a group of excited travelers that were traveling all around the continent in search of new adventures. Today the group happened upon their next great adventure. This adventure was a very demanding challenge for many members of the group. It started with a small hike that went pretty high up. There were many in this group that appeared like they wouldn’t be able to make it however, they pushed on and made it their destination. Once their, they met with a very experienced mountain man who began to teach the group about how to climb rocks. This continued for many hours when finally he led them to the top of the rock and the group set up anchors and were able to repel down. Then after that they were able to start climbing. They climbed routes called skyline, pregnant lady, mother bear, and father bear. Some of those routes proved too difficult for many group members but some succeeded in the climb. After a while of climbing the group was ready to head back and eat dinner. They were hungry and tired, but still excited for the next part of this climbing adventure.

October 16, 2012 - Cody Presny

I don't know how to interpret today's events, because for me, I saw many of
them through a Vale of fog. I got about two and a half hours of sleep last
night and I found it extremely difficult to make my way out of my sleeping
bag. We ate breakfast then packed the van and trailer; we were leaving
Yosemite after five arduous days of hustle and bustle. We took off and first
made a stop at the El Capitan viewing field. After seeing a few climbers
toil up the massive rock face, we were off again, this time headed towards
Mariposa Grove. When we arrived, the group was dumbfounded by the size and
sheer gnarnis of the Grove. We were walking through the grove when something
strange happened, I heard singing. I heard the most beautiful melody sung
in the most angelic tone, but when I looked around to see where it was
coming from, I found myself alone on the trail. I turned again and saw nothing,
no one was there, it was only me and one of the large sequoias. The singing
continued and as I drew near to the mammoth of a tree, it grew louder. Closer
and closer louder and louder; the once soft and somber tone was now blaring in
my ears, nothing else could be heard, or felt, or anything for that matter.
I wanted to turn back but I couldn't, I had lost control of my body. My feet
continued to shuffle forward, and my ears felt as if they were being crushed
between two granite slabs.
Someone make this stop, please I beg of you, I
thought incapable of forming words. I stopped moving at the base of the
giant, I fell to my knees, and the song seized. Silence fell over the grove.
I felt a thousand stares pierce me like sharpened daggers through a
warm stick of butter. The silence was deafening, even more so than the song
that echoed only moments before. I began to raise my glance upwards towards
the crown of the great giant. I could only stare, immobilized by some
greater force as I witnessed the great beast draw nearer. The silence was
broken by the sound pf roots being ripped from the flesh of the earth. The
great tree was falling, and it was to take me with it. I closed my eyes and
feel nothing, I see nothing, I hear nothing, certainly I must be dead,
crushed under the weight if a thousand trees. I open my eyes to find myself
in the back of Van 99, it was all a dream, and a very cliché ending.

October 15, 2012 - Jon Manuell

When I read this to you all it will be right before our last van ride together because today our destination is Macomb, IL. Today we fill the van for the last time for our last long journey together and even though we will all be busy typing away and working on our critiques and trip plans, I want everyone to think about all the memories and fun we’ve had in this van that’s become a second home. From our first ride in Walmart back in August we’ve formed, stormed, normed, and performed in this van and today we unofficially start adjourning by saying goodbye to our traveling white home. Remember when Jeff first showed us the “organization” of the trailer? We even took pictures to try and remember where everything belonged. Now I could probably find something in that trailer easier than I could in my own room.
Tonight is also our last night of the front country and camping. For the rest of our expedition, camping is no longer “in-tents”. Over this next week and a half I will definitely miss being able to say goodnight to everyone and hearing “Hey…Hey….Hey” from a nearby tent accompanied by the occasional flash of a fuji film. Truthfully, I am excited to wake up warm tomorrow but I will miss every other aspect of sleeping outdoors. Last night I watched the moon travel the sky through our tent . As I watched its dance it was joined by a chorus of coyote howls. In Canada we fell asleep to loons, wolves, and what we thought were bears. Before this trip I would have jumped at rustling sounds nearby me but now I can’t sleep without them and the occasional howl of a wild animal. I will also miss the stars and the many nights I slept with my contacts in even though I shouldn’t just so I could star gaze deep into the night.
It’s been amazing sleeping on the beaches, slinging my hammock in the Sierras, and waking up to frost in Colorado. Looks like I’m going to need to find someone crazy enough to do some winter camping with me soon because I’m not ready to say goodbye.

October 14, 2012 - Kelly Bauer

Day 65 - Sunday - October, 14 2012
Written from the perspective of the cashier at Degman’s Deli…
8:47! This group is getting here earlier and earlier every morning. They’re hard at work already…well, except the one that’s using his laptop as a pillow. He kind of looks homeless. They must have a lot to get done because I’ve never seen people drink so much coffee! They keep calling it hot drink though, I don’t know what that’s all about. This morning seemed like something didn’t go according to their schedule. I overheard the small tan one and I think they were supposed to meet with the great Ranger Shelton but it got pushed back to tomorrow. I hope t isn’t because he was to bust getting interviewed by Oprah again. I really hope they get to meet him, he’s the best interpreter I’ve seen at this park.
11:00…they must be getting restless because they keep getting up to walk through the park for some fresh air.
3:00…I think this group hates the music here just as much as I do. If I have to listen to the Time Warp one more time I am quitting. It seems like these guys are really trying to get a lot of work done so they can make the most of the rest of their time here in Yosemite. I overheard them talking about going on a group hike tomorrow, the weather should be perfect I wish I could join them! They also keep talking about boot dancing?
5:00…They’ve all left back to their campsite, sounds like they’re having chili mac for dinner. Sounds delicious. This Deli’s closed so I’m outta here. Can’t wait to see this crazy bunch again tomorrow.

October 13, 2012 - Sarah Welsh

Sang to the tune of Barenaked Ladies “One Week” It’s been 3 days in Yosemite, Dropped our bags, Kelly and I went to an interp. on trees. 5 hours in the bathroom typing, Paper after paper about this place that we live in. 3 days since Death Valley, Scorpion in the bathroom hope that it don’t sting me. Yesterday saw a bear in a tree, But it’ll still be 2 days that I’m in Yosemite. Hold it now and watch the ground squirrel, He’ll make your fist curl, As he’s sittin’ in our spice kit. Chicken was delish, I prefer the beef, Cause it’s never touched a frying pan. Hot like Saracha when I bust rhymes, Big like Jeffrey Pines, Because I’m all about the value. Jeremy and Will Smith god the mad hits, You try to match wits, you eat French toast and break a belt loop. We cannot fake it, we won’t break it, we will do our best on these critiques. Cooking meals and spinning wheels we’re so tired but we’re hoping for an A or B. We hope the deer will stay clear because Ruby will plow through them. Beginning of the trip we sign a full value contract, we keep our brains intact, but why were typing in the bathroom people have no clue. We cannot help it if they think it’s funny when were there, Printing our papers other campers shoot us blank stares. A ranger brings us on a night walk, We learn of animals traveling on a night stalk. I cannot help it if I wore this outfit yesterday, I got no money and I cannot pay. It’s been 3 days in Yosemite and we still got 2 days in this beautiful country. Still got 2 days in this pretty country. Hope I see a Sequoia it is the one tree, I want to see before we flee. Still be 2 days till we leave Yosemite

Saturday, November 24, 2012

October 12, 2012 - Dalton Schaller

Yosemite is an amazing place. Where else in the world are you able to wake up and have the first thing you see, be a giant rock face shrouded in fog. There are so many beautiful and interesting things to experience in Yosemite. From looking at all the incredible rock faces, that are various shapes and sizes, to seeing all of the wildlife that Yosemite has within its borders. You can see animals as small as the many ground squirrels and stellar jays to the larger mule deer and black bears. Going around in the day you can see all of those things that all of the other visitors see all the time, but then you can go out at night and Yosemite appears to be an entirely knew place to experience. The same fog covered cliffs that were admired during the day look even more miraculous when pressed against the starry night sky. It is what some would call a picture of a picture. Looking at the clear night sky alone can seem too incredible for words with all of the bright and glowing stars and the faint signs of the Milky way mixed in with them. All of these things are so much to behold and can be witnessed in just one day at the incredible Yosemite National Park. I can’t wait to see what another day there can offer to our group of travelers.

October 11, 2012 - Jessica Sauer

I woke up this morning before my alarm even went off thanks to the many obnoxious ravens that were cawing and flying around. This type of bird was like nothing I had ever seen. With their dark black feathers and extreme size, I couldn’t help but think of 15lb overweight cat Shadow, who waddles just as much as they do with each step. Waking up to the ravens wasn’t that best alarm clock, but the sooner I got up the sooner I would be able to see more of Yosemite. Just driving through the park yesterday, I had seen enough to know this was going to be my favorite stop so far. The rest of the morning started off great when I woke up to French toast, my favorite breakfast made by chef’s Sarah and Kelly. After a quick clean up the group was ready to hop on a bus and head towards the Visitors Center. Once we were there almost all of us watched a movie about the spirits of Yosemite which gave us a brief history of all the beautiful places the park had to offer. After seeing the portion of the video about the giant sequoias in Mariposa Grove, I knew I would be satisfied staying in this place forever. Before I could get to the sequoias, I knew that I had a lot of work to get done so the other girls and I headed to Yosemite Lodge hoping to find a nice place to do some work. On our way, we ran into Cody and Jon and they continued with us to the lodge. It was strange seeing animals so comfortable with humans in their homes, Ruby almost ran directly into a deer and it didn’t even seem to notice. After walking through crowds of people we finally decided the best spot to plug in would be a small little lounge that had a few baseball fans watching a game. It started off as a nice quiet place but by the time the afternoon was over it was packed with die heart fans. No longer thinking it was a good place to study, I headed back to camp with Ruby, Jeremy, and Dalton to get in a quick nap. After a quick meal and clean up, the long day of homework ended in the best way possible, with a long hot shower.

October 10, 2012 - Cody J Presny

Didn’t wake up last this morning, maybe I’m getting better at this early to bed early to rise nonsense. I did wake up in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Death Valley, though the name might seem a bit menacing, Death Valley is a wonderfully salty place. I rose to find a one legged grasshopper in my boot, I picked him up and he promptly sprung toward my face, striking me square in the forehead. Of course, I took this as an omen, a spiritual sign if you will. I have been reflecting on the matter on and off all day, but still don’t know what role this phenomenon plays. What I do know is that the obviously weak and injured creature saw my boot as a temple; a place where he would be safe from the imposing threat of death. In finding him, I damned him; I cast him out into the world, a world not fit for a dismembered grasshopper. I most certainly sealed his fate, and for this I feel remorse. If I could have done more I would, but dwelling on things like this is fruitless. I can only take solace in knowing that my boot was a leather sanctuary for this little piece of life, even if it was only for a brief while. I can not dwell on the bad fortune of this sorry soul. I must smile, hope for the best, and carry on his legacy to another day.

October 9, 2012 - Jeremy Naberhaus

(To the beat of the Fresh Prince of Bellaire theme sone) -West Illinois born and raised In Macomb is where I spent most of my days -Reading and studying throwing the Frisbee outside of school. -When an outdoor guy who was up to no good said you want to leave your neighborhood? -I paid the money and my mom got scared She said; “why you only bringing three pair of underwear?” -I whistled for the van and when it came near I finally realized a whole semester with no women or beer. -If anything I thought this van is where? But I thought forget it, yo Jeff give me fresh air. -we pulled up to Death Valley about 60 days later What I am doing now is nothing greater. -The outdoors is my kingdom and I’m finally there I’m out y’all the name is J-bear Jeremy J. Naberhaus

October 8, 2012 - Jon Manuell

Today started quite hectic to say the least... Cody the chef of the day decided to sleep through his alarm like usual and the entire group as well were late to rise. With a professional visit quite early in the morning we had to abort the original and settle with cereal instead. Also with such time restrictions Cody did his best to throw together a canned ham salad sandwich for most and a mayonese, onion, and celery sandwich for Kelly. After a great quick scat lesson by Sarah we piled into the van. We headed into the tiny town of Enterprise to check out what Red Cliff Ascent had to offer. We were greeted by a recent WIU alum and we jumped right into a drum activity that was extremely interesting. I must say Jeff and Dalton were very enthusiastic. After that we were lucky enough to be driven out into the back country where the wilderness therapy took place. We broke into two groups and went our separate ways. My group was first introduced to the antelopes which were mostly girls and introduced ourselves and our program followed by a demo of setting up a tarp that would withstand snow fall. We said our goodbyes and headed to the eagle camp consisting of the boys. There, my group was able to make fire by hand using a bow and spindle; i think it was a first for all of us starting fire by friction. Lastly at the end of the visit we were shown the beauty of a keva, which is a underground ceremonial chamber. It was a truly unique experience and i loved every second of it. Back on the road towards the Red Cliff headquarters Jeff and "Medicine Bull" shared old troubled youth stories and before we knew it were back to our van and continue down the towards Death Valley. On our way we stopped at an In and Out Burger just outside sin city. Never been to Las Vegas, it was very cool seeing to lights in the night sky. We stopped our journey that night slightly early just outside the city. Well its late and time for a much needed shower and another nights sleep under the stars.

October 6, 2012 - Kelly Bauer

The ECOEE tribe had a very different start this morning; their first meal was to to be had until 9:30 which gave most of the tribe some much needed rest from a late night of hunting and gathering. The tall one they call He Who Flies With Birds was appointed chef for the day and He Who Dances With Bears also awoke with the sun to assist in preparing a meal that would fill our hungry bellies. However, the great cook book went missing when the white horse was taken this morning for an early ride by our mysterious leader He Who Sits Like A Rock. He Who Flies With Birds followed the old ECOEE Tribe saying and chose to instead adapt, improvise, and overcome. The old saying held true and they prepared corn bread, eggs, taters, and fruit for the entire tribe. After the tribe filled their bellies it was time for the weekly ritual in which leadership is passed from three chosen members to the ext chosen group. The one they call Dragon, the Fisherman, and He Who Dances with Bears spoke to the group and shared with us the wisdom they gained from their experiences. They also voiced their concerns with the tribe’s development. He Who Sits Like A Rock, the elder of the group, led a discussion and many of the group members also voiced their opinions and shared their feelings about our group’s development. In order for the tribe to progress through the ancient stages of development, communication is essential and after today the ECOEE tribe can again move forward. After the meeting the tribe split up for the afternoon to explore their new surroundings. Some went hiking, others used the time for self-reflection, and the girls use the time to explore the cultural significance of Ruby’s Inn and eat some ice cream. The group met after for a last view overlooking the Hoodoos before splitting again. I joined the Dragon to learn about the stars above from a wise man of the area they called Dark Ranger Ron. The tribe has all retired into their teepees and so will I, Goodnight Moon. -Kel

October 4, 2012 - Jon Manuell

Waking up this morning was a truly unique experience. It was my first night sleeping under the stars. The weather was brisk, the air was dry, and my spirits were high. The desert land in Utah is a mysterious place full of exotic wonders. I cant help but truly appreciate the ever changing history around me of thousands and thousands of years of always changing rock formations, arches, and natural landscapes. After a wonderful breakfast we were back on the road towards Escalante. The drive was long flew by at the same time. The views around me were constantly changing around every bend down the road. Our first stop along the way was Capital Reef National Park. The visitor center was very neat but left me yearning to explore the land around me. Back in the van we then drove to our next surprise stop was at Anasazi State Park Museum. It was an incredibly small park that crawled cultures from the past. The museum did a great job of putting you into shoes "or lack of shoes" of where and when the natives lived. Once we departed the last stretch of driving was through beautiful mountainous desert land that sprawled miles and miles across the horizon. We finally made it to the Escalante campsite where we set up our kitchen and prepared for the nights meal. I felt extremely lucky to get some free time with Cody to explore our home for the night. After our adventure we retuned in time for a fitting hispanic meal cooked by Kelly and Sarah. As the night came to a close I am extremely excited to fall asleep once again under the majestic Utah sky.

October 3, 2012 - Jeremy Naberhaus

I awoke the morn under the empty sky’s, the smell of sage still strong on my hands. Who am I you ask? I am the hunter. What do we hunt you ask? My tribe and I hunt for information and knowledge. Today we hunted for information on the National Parks and how to interpret. My tribe and I hopped on the white stead, we named it Ford E 350, and it had power of many horses. Our first hunt was a bountiful one. Full of facts, advice and information. The best part was we did not have to ride far on our stead to get there. This was good for the stead was pulling a heavy wagon. The tribe and I went to continue the hunt for interpretation. But before we did we had to change the stead’s oil. The tribe and I had to go to hunting lands that we have never been to before. The tribe’s elder has told some tales of this hunting land before, but when the tribe asked specifics , the wise one would say; “what do you think?” the new hunting land was a strange and beautiful place. We found our prey for interpretation it was found in the form of Stephen. The tribe knew from the beginning that this prey would be weak and not fulfill their interpretation appetite due to the fact that his name was spelled with a PH instead of a V. After that we hopped back on the stead, and picked up the wagon and went back to camp. At camp we had a meal that tasted as if the gods themselves made it, and for deserts we ate cake of cheese made by the small funny talking one of the tribe. After that the tribe had a meeting then went to bed in the wig-woms Jeremy Naberhaus.

October 2, 2012 - Cody J Presny

Let’s talk about the desert for a moment. Top to bottom, there is no greater setting. A place where the coyote’s howl breaks the midnight silence, and the hallow wind sweeps and slithers through the cracked earth below. The feet of the prowling fox silently stalking a desert hare. Creeping closer, mindful of each footstep, careful not to cause a sound, careful not to misplace a stone, lest she lose a meal, and return to a den of hungry pups. For centuries, sages and shaman have traveled to these places. Release the clutches of ego before you enter. Free your mind, and I promise, your body will follow. Take off your shoes, feel the soft sand between your toes, it’s like nothing else in the world. You can take the forests, the oceans, the Plaines, the jungles, the snow, the sleet, the ice, the rain. I’ll keep the deserts and sit atop them. On amber cliffs that rise to see the heights and horizons from years and years ago. Where the sun rises over the eastern ridge and casts shadows longer than the rocks have lived. With a sudden burst, and last calorie burned, the mother pounces. With one fierce strike, her jaw wraps around the now helpless hare. Victoriously she raises her head, prancing, one paw in front of the other. Desert dawn and the land is awake. Find shade, the sun can be cruel this time of time, she will take everything from you and return nothing. Respect and don’t take for granted the desert, the desert, the desert.

October 1, 2012 - Jessica Sauer

Our group woke up this morning to a delicious breakfast prepared by Jeremy and Jon. It was liked so much that some people even went back for sevenths and eighths. After we all got the sites cleaned up we packed the van and trailer and we were on our way to Colvig Silver Camp. After many twists and turns down beautiful farm roads we made it to our destination. Right off the bat Jamiee, our tour guide for the day gave us a better introduction than we could have asked for. Giving us pamphlets and charts, and answering most of our questions before they were even asked, I felt well educated on the way Colvig Silver was run. The biggest part that stood out to me in her introduction was that the camp was privately owned and I was curious to see if that would make any significant differences. We started our tour around the 650 acres of land and it was one of the coolest summer camps that I had ever seen. The layout of the camp was open and hilly which had to give the campers and staff and great workout each day. A few people seemed like this could be a possible summer opportunity to help build up resumes while enjoying the beautiful wilderness around them. As we said out goodbye’s we headed towards Durango to spend some much needed time in the library. After lots of typing, searching, and printing our time at the library was up and we had to continue our road trip. We had a slight change of plans, and the LOWs decided to drive straight to Hovenweep National Monument. The climate changed once again and I do have to say, it was very nice knowing that I wouldn’t be waking up to frosty grounds. The desert was warm and dry and it seemed like everybody loved it. After a great cowboy stew and cornbread dinner followed by debrief, I prepared for bed eager to wake up and learn about the next portion of our journey.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sep 30, 2012- Dalton Schaller

Today the ECOEE group prepared to set off on another adventure. One filled with many new and amazing sites as well as some perils along the way. To start the adventure we all had to be well fed. Chef Cody stuffed us with pancake battered jelly sandwiches and some pancakes to top it off. After that we cleaned up our area and set off on the long path ahead of us. The journey was going smoothly for a while and we were seeing many of the same sights. Then the sights began to change. Before we knew it we had gone from trees everywhere to a lot of shrubbery and ranches. It was almost desert-like. We continued unwavering down our path until we reached a town called Gunnison. There we needed to eat our second meal of the day and decided to have it at a place called McDonalds. However, some of the group appeared to be worse when they left than when they arrived. Nevertheless, we continued on our path towards the site called Purgatory. We continued for a while and as we went further the scenery began to change again. This time it was full of tall mountains with many jagged peaks and a lot of trees. We went along and up the mountainsides and found that we were slowed down by curvy paths and being trapped between drop-offs and giant rock faces. The group kept pushing through and we got past that difficulty and were close to our next temporary home of Purgatory. Little did we know that it was a very hidden site and we were forced to settle for a new stopping point. After arrival we ate our dinner and prepped for our next journey to a place called Colvig Silver in Durango. Dalton Schaller

September 29, 2012 - Sarah Welsh

Note: This journal entry is written through the eyes of Bryan from the Welcome center, somewhere in Colorado that I will not mention. My theory is he was very nervous so he was hiding, but watching us. I peered through the window of the visitor center as the students from Western Illinois University piled one-by-one out of their van. I have been very anxious about this moment for the past month, ever since Jeremy called me. They started coming towards the center and as soon as the first one opened the door, I bailed… I left a note on the counter telling my fellow employees to cover for me. The students just looked so professional in their navy blue polo’s; I did not feel that I would match their expectations. Originally I hid behind the desk while the students asked where I was. As they continued on touring the welcome center, after my co-worker made up the lame excuse that I was refereeing a soccer game, I snuck out. I watched from behind the horse-drawn-carriage as the group split apart to wander the city for awhile. The girls went left and hit up some local souvenir shops and Starbucks. I laughed as they claimed a man in a referee shirt to be me, and the littlest one, they called her Ruby, stalked him in a tree for awhile. It humored me. I took a walk over to see what the guys were doing and first noticed them in a second-hand bookshop. One bought a Sylvester Stallone book (this must have been Jeremy, the one that contacted me, because he seemed like a guy that would enjoy Stallone). I then trailed them over to the Celtic Festival where they enjoyed music and even engaged in a boot dance. I watched as I enjoyed a delicious sandwich made for me by my wife. She makes great sandwiches. The group met back at their van and I brushed past them just in time to hear where they were headed next. They were going to Dillon and then on to the Dam Brewery for dinner. I am upset with myself for chickening out of the appointment today, but it appeared that they still had a good day. Oh well, I am looking forward to another sandwich when I get home. Bryan (AKA, Sarah)