Saturday, November 16, 2013

11/16/13 Kevin Williams

“Sea Life”
Kevin Williams
 Today we woke up to a beautiful sunrise on the sea, laying on the beach with plenty of sleep, a perfect start to any day. So far our time in Baja, California has been spectacular. We have seen pelicans fishing daily, a dolphin swimming joyously, and a grey whale coming up for air while feeding. The amount of life next to a desert is unreal. Today we paddled out to an island where many of us got to see sea lions for our first time. As we approached many of them jumped into the water but while we were sitting in our kayaks they decided to show off in the water giving us free entertainment. You could never get the experience we had at any aquarium, it was truly spectacular seeing all the sea lions on the island and watching them swim in the water. As we got to our camp along the shore we busted out our snorkeling gear to see the vast amount of fish, stingrays, and sea erchints. It was a truly beautiful day seeing all the life present in the ocean and ended even better with a great stir-fry made by Liz.
“Any glimpse into life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way” -John Muir

Friday, November 15, 2013

11/15/13 Cassandra Roy

Welcome Back!
Cassandra Roy
“When one door closes, another one opens”
 Today was the last day of our backcountry portion in Baja California. We awoke from Catavina; having slept under a starry night sky surrounded by group members in a Mexican desert. Five a.m. came and our group of 14 loaded into the vans and headed to Ensenada. Hours later we arrived, and the town was packed full (The Baja 1000 race was this weekend as well). No sooner were we out of the van than did our group take off to shop for the 2 hours of time allotted. You might be thinking that 2 hours is more than enough time to go shopping, but it was not even close; so many shops, so much to see, and so much to buy. It seems as if two hours was over in a snap of my fingers.
 But what seemed to come even faster was Francisco’s departure. Francisco, or Tati as Jeff likes to call him, was a friend, a guide, and an overall wisdom giver. The two weeks spent with him at Casa Azul was truly an eye opening experience and myself, as well as the rest of ECOEE, cannot thank him enough for everything he did. Sadly all good things must come to an end and Francisco left our group in Ensenada. 
 Back on the road we went all 13 of us to head back to San Diego. With a few wrong turns, the help of a man on a bike, getting the vans split up, and going through border control; we arrived back at San Diego State University within 10 minutes of each other and back into Jim’s graces.
“Do not be mediocre, be exemplary”

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

11/12/13 Quinn Moore

"Bitter Sweetness"
Quinn Moore
 As I awoke this morning, at the crack of dawn roughly five am I thought to myself “this is way too early to wake up and still function properly!” Once I got out of my bag, I started to prepare for the day. While I was getting ready I realized with a bitter sweet sigh that is was our last day of the backcountry portion for our expedition. I was fairly sad that this portion was ending. After the group finished eating and cleaning up breakfast, they then began to pack up their kayaks. The group packed the kayak’s and got out on the water in record time! After that the group headed back to our final stop, Casa Azul. Once we reached the house it meant the end of our sea kayaking expedition in Baja California. Realizing how close the end of the backcountry was for us I started to get mixed feelings and thoughts. I started to think of our first day on the Grass River in Canada, when we stopped at the first campsite that left a bad taste in our mouth! The site was atop a very steep hill and the widow makers surrounding the site didn’t make it any better. Widow makers are dead trees that can fall down at any moment by the way! I remembered how inexperienced the group was. We even had problems setting up some of the tents! No one knew how nervous I was because I have never been on a long canoe trip like the one we had. I reflected on how I have grown since the trip, and it makes me feel proud. Back to matter at hand. I don’t know how many pots of boiling water was spilt that day, but let me tell you we wasted a ton of fuel trying to cook one meal for ourselves! I remember the stories Jeff told us during dump school, and how uneasy everyone was to go to the bathroom in the woods. At this point we were all strangers to one another; we didn’t have the emotional connections yet. The next though that flooded my mind was about our first rapid. One of our boats tipped over and another one went down the wrong way. Man Jeff was very upset with us that day! The next thought I had was about the day we got off the river. I won’t go into a lot of detail but let’s just say it was very long and very cold and it had to been the worst day on the expedition! After the group finally paddled back to Casa Azul sadness started to build up in my heart. This trip marked our final stop in the backcountry. No more funny moments with one another, no more time without the temptation of technology, no more emotional rollercoasters, and finally no more pooping in the woods. The last one I wasn’t so sad about though. The cleaning tasks kept my mind off of my negative thoughts for a while but eventually they flooded my consciousness once again. After dinner I got ready for bed, and I laid awake for a long time before I finally was able to rest my mind. Before I dosed off I was able to write my tale in this journal. As I wrote in this journal I said farewell to the backcountry experience. It was a long and difficult experience but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world!
   “Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it” – Confucius
   “Roses are red
   Violets are blue
   Farewell backcountry
   I’ll miss you too”

Sunday, November 10, 2013

11/10/13 Andrew Busker

  Andrew Busker
Once upon a time there was a mouse, but this mouse was not some ordinary mouse. It was a kangaroo mouse. It had big black feet, white fur, little black beady eyes, and a long skinny tail with an adorable puff of fur at the end. This mouse enjoyed scampering and hopping around as it scavenged the sand on the beaches of Baja California during the cool desert nights. It never enjoyed being out in the hot sun, so it slept in late and came out to explore the sand under the bright moonlight as usual. But one night the kangaroo mouse discovered something different. These large things were on top of the sand! And these large creatures laid between these large things! There was something else different as well: a delicious smell, but the mouse had to move about these strange, scary things to get to this delicious smell.
So it sat a moment and debated whether it should stay or should explore. Curiosity grew inside the mouse and it quickly scampered to the edge of these large objects on top of the sand. “Oh, cool.” It thought, “I can squeeze myself underneath most of this weird thing.” And so the mouse moved toward the small, keeping itself close beneath the smooth, large object and the fine sand at its feet. It grew really close to the source of the smell when the large object above it moved away, exposing the kangaroo mouse to these bright, blinding white beams. Terrified, the mouse began to hop around the large creatures in hope of finding a dark, small place for it to feel safe. It took a few moments of panicked hopping before it found a divot between the sand and another large, smooth object and felt safe again.
Frustrated that it was so close to the source of the smell and it ran away, the mouse decided it would try to reach that delicious item. It scampered along the edge of the curved, long, tall objects and was nearly to the source of the smell when that object moved too! The blinding lights returned and the mouse began to panic. After hopping two large jumps out of fear, it remembers its challenge to itself. The kangaroo mouse mustered up the bravery to find the source of the smell despite the bright lights and the loud noises coming from the large creatures. The mouse darted to the left, the right, then under a corner of white material, and finally it arrived to the source. It picked up the little tortilla crumb and nibbled on its delicious new find in silent victory. The kangaroo mouse scampered away from the large objects and creatures until it reached the green plants by the sea water. And then, it found a new smell.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

11/05/13 Shayla Hill

"Kayaking and Sand Sculptures"
Shayla Hill
This morning we got to sleep in a little bit and we woke up at seven rushing around to get out into the water in our sea kayaks. As we were all putting our cots and sleeping bags away, Francisco was hollering to us, “Come on! Hurry up! We gotta go!” By the time I got out to the beach all of the kayaks were already out on the sand. When Francisco says it’s time to go he really means business and he means right now. =) It was time to take full advantage of a learning experience while the wind was calm and time was something that we didn’t have much of.
 Most of our group had never kayaked before so we got to get comfortable with it and the feel of the kayak. We paddled around for a few hours and then headed back into shore just before the winds picked up again. After we got everything cleaned and put away we walked over to the museum in town. The museum was full of so many neat things about the ocean life and the history of the people here in Baja California. It was small but abundant with information and even though it was only open from ten to one every day, I could have easily spent the entire time there.
 Once three o’clock rolled around Francisco informed us that there was going to be a sand sculpture competition for the local children for conservation week and they needed some judges. Three members of our group volunteered while the rest of us joined in on the fun of building sand sculptures. Two hours later the judges had to declare who the winners were for the sand sculptures. I’m so glad I wasn’t a judge because they were all so good. All in all it was a great ending to a wonderful day because we all got to play in the sand like we were six again.
 “A life spend making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” –George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, November 3, 2013

11/03/13 Cassandra Roy

Welcome to Baja California
Cassandra Roy
 We left San Diego State University and Jims wonderful hospitality this morning at 6 a.m. All 13 of us loaded into the vans to continue on to the next leg of our expedition, Mexico. We began the drive in high spirits, bellies full of donuts thanks to Jeff. A short while later we arrived at the border. Now I was expecting a search or at least a stop to see everyone’s passports but after a quick glimpse of the vans we were free to pass. What I saw next was nothing like I expected; houses on house, a huge border wall, and graffiti everywhere. For some reason I did not picture Mexico as such since I had had my visions set on the beautiful sandy beaches.
As the cities got smaller we picked up the infamous Francisco; a close friend of Jeff’s and our instructor for Baja California. After all the stories we were finally meeting him and now Baja California’s portion of the trio was coming into realization. We drove farther and farther and soon all of the towns disappeared and the desert surrounded us. Cacti, shrubs, and rocks became our scenery and what a beautiful sight it was. 12 hours later we finally arrived; Casa Azul sat waiting with the beach only hundreds of feet away. A new adventure is awaiting us and I know we all cannot wait to begin it.
“Live the life you love and love the life you live.”

Monday, October 28, 2013

10/28/13 Quinn Moore

     “A new day, a new experience"
Quinn Moore
 Today stated off as any normal day for the ECOEE group. We all rolled out of bed and wiped the sleep from our eyes before we began our day. As I ate my delicious breakfast I thought to myself “today is a new day, let’s hope it is a good one!” Today the group was headed to Los Angeles County Science School. Once we packed up all of gear we headed down the road to the school. Once we arrived at the school the feeling of the group was excitement mixed with nervousness. The group had a mixture of these feelings because we will be spending the entire week leading and teaching fifth graders. Upon our arrival the group exited the vans faster than I have ever seen before. Our meeting with the executive director Greg went well because the whole group talked about our experience in the outdoor education field. Jeff mentioned to the staff that each group member had an outdoor education topic to teach, and they quiz us on our knowledge. I became a little worried because it’s hard enough to teach people that I have been living with for the past 70 days, without having to teach hyper ten year olds. After our enlightening meeting the group gathered around the dining hall to wait for the kids to arrive. Once the kids arrived in four school buses we proceeded to unload all of their suitcases. Holy cow I never realized how much stuff these kids would bring for five days. Some of these suitcases were heavier than the pack I carried in the mountains. After the dump truck size luggage was brought to the cabins it was unloaded once again. After that mess was dealt with we proceeded to the meeting spot where we were going to be assign kids and cabin numbers. Walking into the amphitheater and seeing all the kids brought back the fun memories of the time I worked at a summer camp. After Kevin and I received our kids for the week we took them back to the cabin to unload their luggage. After a few small name games, and after their luggage was unloaded the rest of the night consisted of campfires, night hikes, and scavenger hunts. Our night ended at 9:30pm and I know I was happy to end that early and I think Kevin felt the same way. When I finally laid down on a real bed I thought back to my childhood experiences of dissecting owl pellets, and science experiments. I realized these kids have a great opportunity to experience a lot this week, and I am looking forward to helping them along. As I write in this journal I thought to myself “man I finally have some free time, and I’m spending it thinking about owl pellets!”
     “Roses are red
     Violets are blue
     These kids are crazy
     And so am I”
·  Quinn Moore

Monday, October 21, 2013

10/21/13-Adventure Is Out There

Adventure Is Out There
Elizabeth Flesher
Technology. What an interesting thing. Turn your coffee pot on and put the coffee grounds in the filter....viola you have coffee. A turn of the knob in the shower and you have hot water to wash the dirt from your skin. Turn your car on, go where you want. Don't know where you want to go or how to get there....pull out your smart phone or GPS. Wow, what an easy life it is.

Today in the backcountry marks day 8 of no shower and boiling water for coffee with the grounds right in your cup. It also is the first day we get to navigate our way to Jackass Lake using only our maps, compass, and natural landmarks. Jeff went over maps with us again and how to take a bearing, which most of us forgot how to do. After the lesson we got our packs on. By this time Jeff was gone and on his way. 10 college students were left to navigate 1.6 miles.

Our hike led us up a mountain and then through a gorgeous valley. Motivation and encouragement kept the group going. 1 mile felt like it was 4 as elevation increased and backpacks wore down on us. We kept going.

6 hours later we knew for sure we wandered in the wrong direction. Right during this time I thought about my GPS; it always knows where I am at and what direction I need to go. However, it was our turn as a group to be that GPS. As I discovered we are one indecisive GPS with fingers pointing in multiple directions; unsure which way to go.

We decided after a long time to hike up to a trail we passed along the way that hopefully will lead us to Jackass Lake. 5 o'clock rolled around and we saw a sign that read Jackass Lake with an arrow pointing straight ahead. What a relief! It only took us 7 hours to get 1.4 miles. A familiar voice was heard in the background calling out. It was our professor Jeff. He walked down to us and guided us to lower Jackass Lake. Most of us were relieved to set down our packs and start dinner. I ate 3 bowls of soup myself, which is unusual.

I laid down on my air mattress and thought about what a simple life it really is in the front country. For some reason however, I feel this is the real life. A true hard days work.

I remember hearing people preach that it's not about getting there but the places and people you meet in between. It took us 8 hours to hike 1.6 miles but I saw gorgeous mountains in the distance and I got to hike one of those gorgeous mountains. I saw people help one another out and smile towards each other. I wouldn't trade anything for the experiences we share together, even though a hot shower is tempting. I am grateful for every opportunity we have had on ECOEE.

I leave you with a quote from John Muir, "I went to the woods to live deliberately. To front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach. For not when I came to die discover I had not lived."

Sunday, October 20, 2013

10/20/13-One Step Back and Two Steps Forward!

One step back and two steps forward!
By: Norris Andriuskevicius 

            With all of the things we as a group have had to endure such as the government shutdown, car wreck, group dynamics discussions, and more, today will go down as the toughest day of ECOEE 2013. Expecting to wake up to go hiking, we were instead having a serious and difficult about sacrificing some of our freedom to oversee a group member who breached the contract. As Petzoldt believed, people are of the greatest importance, and before you could take care of others you must take care of yourself. As the great philosopher Lao Tzo shares “Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment! Before we were able to finish our discussion, the group member had decided to take the burden off of us, and had the courage to make the decision on his own to no longer carry on in our expedition. It was a moment of mixed emotions, heart-felt goodbyes, and final words and thoughts shared. Over the course of ECOEE dating back to the beginning of the Spring semester I have seen this group member make great strides in progressing to become a better individual who had helped this group, and himself. From the many conversations shared with him he was certainly a loving and caring individual for every person in this group, had cared for how the group was developing, and how ECOEE was changing him as an individual. I think the same could be said for how every group member had felt about him after we have all become friends and have grown to love each other. He had filled our hearts with laughter, gave us insight on his perspective, and overall built relationships with each and every one of us in his and our chapters of our books of a lifetime. I respect him for his decision, and know he will be greatly missed and certainly remembered. But most of all, I believe I can say for the group, we hope and have faith that you will take all of the positive steps you have made, learn from this lesson, and continue to make progress and take steps towards bettering yourself as an individual to make a difference in other peoples lives. I’m going to leave this with a final quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “ What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

10/19/13-Rest and Reflection

 Rest and Reflection  
Quinn Moore
            Today as I awoke and proceeded to unzip my sleeping bag I realized with a great triumphant sigh that today is Saturday! You know what that means, some well needed time off. As I packed my pack I thought to myself “man this pack is 105 liters and I still can’t fit all of my stuff in here.” I grabbed my food bag from the tree it was sitting in, and for some reason I thought of Star Wars episode six when Chewbacca sprang the trap set for him on the forest moon of Endor. Thankfully it wasn’t a trap, so then I proceeded to stuff my food bag into my already cramped hiking pack, and I sat down to eat breakfast. Once I finished my breakfast I put on my pack that weighed as much as a Volkswagen Beetle and headed down to the meeting spot. We had the weeks LOW debriefs, which went off smoothly, but it brought back some recurring thoughts. I started to think about the day we all went climbing.
            I was so proud of the group and the members that conquered the climb and their fears. Then I thought of how happy I was to climb to the top, even though it took me over a half hour! Next I thought about our day of repelling, and how emotionally tiring it was for some group members. Again my admiration for the group rose to great heights. The group accomplished a lot in the past few days and it brought great joy to me. After we had our tent mate evaluations, and received our new tent groups each member proceeded to their new sites to settle in. As I made my way up to Nightwatch, my new site I couldn’t help but think “man why do I need to climb up here I never lost anything up here.” Hiking to the site made me feel like a gladiator struggling to survive in the arena. Once I finally made it to the top I let out a sigh of relief. After a small congratulations to myself I turned around and I looked off into the distance, and I realized that even though I struggled at every step, I couldn’t help but love the beautiful view before my eyes. The view itself made my struggle worth it. As I write in this journal, and look out at the horizon I realized that I am lucky I am not terrified of heights!
                                                Roses are red
                                                Violets are blue
                                                I really miss Roxanne
                                                And you might too
-       Quinn Moore

Friday, October 18, 2013

10/18/13-Like A Tree

“Like A Tree”
Cassandra Roy

            Another day comes to an end for ECOEE 2013; and with that once again we are filled with more knowledge, more trust, more power, and more warm fuzzies as our group likes to say.
            Our tent groups awoke this morning and started the hike to our meeting spot for the day; which for most was a 20 minute uphill hike. It was on this hike that some of us encountered a grand tree; the Jeffery Pine. Like this particular pine our group started small. We grew from the ground up, starting as strangers and becoming our own diverse group. Like the Jeffery Pine we have faced winds in the forms of arguments, snows in the forms of accidents, and slopes in the form of the government shutting down; but as with the pine we have not let any of this stop our growth as a group. We will continue to grow, to trust, and to love one another despite what is thrown in our paths. S0me may even say that these roadblocks are not really roadblocks at all but another way to learn and to grow.
            Today, for example, we used a fixed line to climb/walk up a truly terrifying mountain. Only after accomplishing this task were we expected to repel off the other side. Now if there is one thing to know about the Jeffery Pine it is that when a twig is broken a certain aroma comes out. To some it is pineapples, other violets, others vanilla, and the list goes on and on. I think of today’s experience and our group as each of these twigs. Some of us had the smell of fear, others excitement, other’s nerves, and some pure enjoyment.
            Our group together can form this tree. We grew together to form an amazing spectacle; one that can withstand almost anything that is thrown at us. We all differ but in the end it is our roots that keep us together.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

10/17/13-Reaching Higher Heights

Reaching Higher Heights
Kevin Williams

            Today was a day of raw emotion, ranging from anger and fear to joy and the feeling of accomplishment. After days and days of learning how to climb we were finally prepared to actually climb. Jeff showed us how he sets in the ropes using the bolts Summit has in place for participants in their program. After that we headed to the bottom for the long anticipated day of climbing. Mixed emotions ran through the air as we began tying ourselves in looking up at a wall of stone. Some group members were excited, while others were scared but regardless it was a task to be accomplished. I was the first to climb on the far right side and I was a little nervous but was mostly excited. Thinking it’d be easy I found myself having difficultly as I was near the top but strong words of encouragement from below kept me motivated to get to the top. After reaching the top I felt a great deal of accomplishment and even better I felt a stronger trust toward my group members who made sure I was safe all the way up and all the way down. That was great and all but what I thought felt even better was belaying others while they climbed, motivating and cheering them on to help them accomplish a task they didn’t think they could come close to. That feeling was far better then what I gained from climbing myself and it brought an even greater sense of accomplishment than I could gain from myself alone. Overall, not just for myself but for everyone, we have gained so much from this day, whether it was overcoming fears, pushing ourselves further than we thought, or coming together better as a group, we have all reached higher heights by climbing which will benefit us all greatly as a group.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

10/16/13-Word of the Day is Patience

“Word Of The Day Is Patience.”
Emily Chathas
                  Today was filled with laughs, learning experience and being called out for own faults, completing tasks that wanted to be; achieved, anger, annoyance, and the last one lots of warm fuzzys. Today is a day that I know I will remember and I’m glad I get to share with you all on how it was. This morning I woke up and it was cold and my tent-mates and I were dreading opening up the tent to get out. But after we finally got out, we all did our normal routine to get the bear bags down and get breakfast going. Cassie, Liz, and I do a really good job at working together to get things done. Next thing that happend was we met up with rest of the group and had our morning debrief. Andrew had told us to get pen and piece of paper and to write our names on it. After he told us that we were going to do, which was to pass it around to each person and write a positive thing about each person, I was very excited and eagerly waiting for it to happen. While it was happening I thought to myself that each person plays a role in this group of ECOEE 2013 it wouldn’t be complete if one was missing. The group finished up and it made my heart warm to see the smiles on people faces when they read all positive notes people wrote about them. Our group calls them warm fuzzys. The big thing that was on todays to do list was to practice how to belay someone while climbing, but Jeff had the plan that his good old friend Paul Petzoldt did with him; which we were going to the same thing that he done in the past, which was practice belaying each other in groups. But the key thing was if you did something wrong or were called out, you and rest of the group had to start over and go to the back of the line. I could see the patience running thin and peoples wanting to do it right quickly. But I know for myself and some others that they enjoyed the learning experience today and realized each step is important to get to the next. Even in the end, I had got called out by some members for putting gum underneath a stone and leaving it. I definitely did not like getting caught, but it happens. I leave you with this, our group is learning a ton about climbing, learning to appreciate one another more, and also enjoying incredible scenery we get look at each morning and night. Couldn’t be more thankful for everything!  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

10/13/13 - "Day 64"

"Day 64"
Shayla Hill
Today was a struggle for many of us in our group. It was the first day of our backpacking expedition. After breakfast this morning we learned how to pack our backpacks from Emily. Like always, it may have taken us longer than it should have, but we got it done and started our drive up the mountain.
            Once we reached our destination to leave the vans behind and start our hike up we all took a minute to get a few pointers from the all mighty Jeff. So far only one of us can put on the pack like him by throwing it over your head. Eventually we all had our huge packs on our back and started up. Little did some of us know exactly how much of a challenge this was going to be.
            Not even forty yards up with this huge eighty five pound pack on my back I, myself was thinking you’ve got to be kidding me! I’m going to either fall backwards all the way back down to the bottom, or fall forward right on my face! I kept going on step at a time though, constantly telling myself that I can do it. The group as a whole was motivating each other all the way up.
            Even though our first stop for a break wasn’t that far and we could still see the vans down at the bottom, it was absolutely beautiful. All of that muscle burning hard work was so worth it. II had immediately forgotten about the pain of getting to where I was. Once everyone had caught up, we continued on to one of the first campsites for part of the group.
            Yet again we did it! A lot of us didn’t think we would be able to make it and we did. These next couple of weeks will most certainly be a challenge for our
group, but I know we can do it, because our group doesn’t give up, we keep on keepin’ on.
            “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

Thursday, October 10, 2013

10/10/13-Winding Roads

Winding Roads                 
Andrew Busker

John Muir said “I heard the mountains calling and I must go.”  Today we heard the mountain’s call as we left Nevada and drove toward the Sierra Nevada mountain range.  Soon, the voices of the mountains deafened our ears as we changed in elevation, only to be relieved by moving our ears as we changed in elevation, only to be relieved by moving our jaws or chewing gum.  At this point, we not only heard their voices but felt their might as we curved around bends, climbed their backs, and rode the brakes down into the next valley.
We hoped to drive through Yosemite, to at least see the mountainous splendor, but the weather blocked that pass, extending our drive by a few hours.  These few hours sometimes felt like ages when the roads became so winding that I had to pause my work to prevent carsickness.  For others, the difficulty was the fluctuating pressure in their ears, and for some, the winding roads really tested their bladders.
In the evening, we arrived at our destination: Summit Adventure in sunny California, except it was dark by the time we got there.  Our arrival made me think of how we got here.  Not just the winding roads, but how the people in the group ended up here.  From the individual to each year’s ECOEE, not a single one has shared the same path.  Each person has a different backstory that is comprised of a multitude of decisions that ultimately led them here.  Our group has faced a multitude of unforeseen events that, no matter how straight of a shot it looks on our itinerary, have created this winding path of an adventure we’ve called a semester.  Our decisions, both personally and collectively, have woven a patchwork which will become a quilt of our ECOEE 2013 experience.
In Dr. Seuss’s book Oh, the Places You’ll Go, the character goes through the ups and downs, winding and straight that make up life.  The ECOEE has certainly felt this character’s winding path, yet it is the journey that matters, not the destination.  I end this message with a quote from one of my favorite books:
“You’re off to Great Places, Today is your Day!
Your Mountain is waiting, so… get on your way!”

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Elizabeth Flesher
How to tell someone how you feel; when should you speak up? The one thing that I took from today was when Jeff sat us down and asked us how we felt about the past couple days and our experience. Why should you speak up? If you go through life thinking everything is good and never realizing your faults, how will you ever grow as a person. It is easy to pick out things about the other people you don't like, and it is human nature to justify reasoning for the way you act. One thing I was taught growing up is to always tell people how you feel. Being with a group for 4 months everyone needs to be honest with other or issues will never be settled. 
       When should you speak up? This is the question I ponder all the time; if you speak up too much no one wants to listen and if you don't speak up enough no one will ever hear your voice. 
       Differences, everyone has them......we were all raised and taught different things. So who is right? There is never one right way to do something, we all want to have things our way (some are more vocal about it then others). The couple of things I have learned over the past couple months are learning to love yourself and striving to do your best. In the end the battle is only with yourself. Who you want to be and where you want your life to take you is up to you. Remember, every moment is a blessing, every opportunity we have makes us stronger, and every day spent on ECOEE changes us physically, emotionally, and mentally. I leave you with this quote, "love the life you live and live the life you love."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

10/8/13-Hiking the Hills

Rogelio Hernandez 10/8/13    Hiking the Hills
It was a high day of advantage! The sun was shining, the grasshoppers were hissing and Kevin was waking us up at 5:30 am.  The day started right, we had a fire going, we took down the traps and breakfast was served right afterwards. We took all our passive aggressive anger from the night before and turned it into a happy go lucky day.
Today the group decided that we wanted to take a hike into the mountains of Utah. The misty mountains... where treasure is hidden for us around each corner. And was it everywhere we hiked. Massive cakes of cow poop around the valley of Utah. It was like if the cows had pre-thought or fore-sighted the fact that we were going for a hike. The hike itself was one of challenge. It was my first experience, foreshadowing what was coming in California. It gave me time to reflect on the difficulty that canoeing had on the group for the first week. Paddling 2.5 miles in 5 hours, compare what we did today 3,800 feet, 6.8 miles under 4 hours without packs. Now match that to carrying 80 pounds of weight and going 7 miles a day. What a task that’ going to be for the group.
As I write this journal in my warm tent, I believe that each individual has the will to hike the great mountains of Ansel Adams wilderness. Members will have strength of a bull the quickness of a jacklope and the wisdom of an owl to carry us to our next challenge. The challenge of the mountains. 
Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end –Edward Waymper. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

10/6/13-What a Visit

What a Visit
Kevin Williams

            Waking up this morning I was excited to visit Red Cliff Ascent with former ECOEE member Kelly Bauer. This place is a therapeutic program for at risk youth that ranges from drug use to gang activity. We picked up Kelly from her house in Cedar City and drove an hour to enterprise, Utah where we met two of Kelly’s colleagues. There we talked with them and asked them questions about the program. After that we drove another hour to Red Cliff Ascent’s base camp called outpost. There we were able to meet a group of at risk youth and were able to talk to them about why they were there and how their experiences there were. Gaining a deeper insight by talking to the participants we were on our way to go spend a night as they did at Red Cliff Ascent. Going down a gravel, bumpy, dusty road, BAM! We were hit by our other van. Everyone in my van was ok, but I looked in the rearview mirror and the ECOEE minivan was dented in and smoking. I hopped out to find everyone was out of the minivan being taken care of by trained WFRs we had on our course. Emily and Shane were sent to the hospital to get a better diagnosis by the doctor, which ended up with Emily getting 4 staples on the top of her head. While all the hospital stuff was going on, the rest of the group went with Kelly to dig a fire hole, set up a sleeping and camp area, collect firewood, and carve our own spoons. Waiting for the rest of the group to get back I sat around the fire reflecting on how well the group responded to help one another right after the incident; the WFRs instantly went into their modes from what they were taught, while other group members assisted in any way possible, listening to directions that were given. Overall today was unexpected, confusing, and a little scary for most; yet everyone handled things well and worked as a team better than ever before. It was a very unfortunate day that ended with everyone safe and warm eating dinner with one another. I can say everyone was extremely grateful that no one got seriously injured and we can keep on keepin on with our expedition.  Every experience out here is teaching us more and allowing us to grow stronger as human beings.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

10/5/13-A stationary day

Day 56 (10/05/13)- A stationary day
By:Norris Andriuskevicius
            “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you go, they merely determine where you start.” -Nido Quebin
            Waking up in the morning I was grateful we were able to sleep in a little longer this morning. After an egg and potatoes breakfast we moved on into the now very familiar Saturday schedule which include the LOW debrief and transition into the new LOW’s. From the feedback provided and the past weeks experience it seems the LOW’s had done a great job! After the government shutdown, our previously planned route to go to Yosemite National Park had to change, and the LOW’s had choose to go explore the beautiful Mountainous region of Utah. As I write this journal I am surrounded by red mountains, cliffs, and valleys.  Today was also a day where we were able to enjoy the good weather, with blue skies the reminiscent Summer warmth of the sun lay upon my skin. The LOW’s  had came up with a great idea of a group-building experience, and a good training session for our upcoming week hiking the Sierras in Ansel Adams wilderness for two weeks. We then split the group into two teams on a large grass field, and played a recreation touch football game in a very nice setting. With any game, things had got really competitive over game rules, something that should’ve been discussed before we started. As we ran touchdowns into the end zone, it was apparent that our lungs will get some exhausting experience being highly active at high altitudes of 3,000-5,000 ft above sea level. Being the furthest West I have ever been, I have to make note again on the beauty of our environment in Utah. With a high head lift you are able to witness the majestic mountains, and the weather associated with the mountains includes warm days and and freezing nights. Today, we had a special guest from last years ECOEE visit our camp, Kelly Bauer. Tomorrow we are going to go visit her workplace with youth-at-risk at Red Cliff Ascent, where I have a great feeling we are going to be learning and experiencing some shocking and interesting things. The group also reviewed it’s standing in the group development phase, which we agreed is steadily improving.

Friday, October 4, 2013

10/4/13-A poem of chaos

A Poem of Chaos
Elizabeth Flesher
The government shut down, oh no what to do?

Should we pack up and leave to Kalamazoo?
Our plans that we make almost always go wrong,
But that is okay because we are all so strong.
The LOW’s made a plan by making a call,
To Ogden Nature Center this very cold fall.
We woke up at 7 to be there by 9
And discovered this place to be mighty fine.
Bird houses covered the path of our first walk,
And we met with Susan to have a great talk.
A “tee-tee” a “tee-tee” a kindergartener let out a yell
A tee pee he meant
which Susan did tell.
Edible and medicinal plants were taught on the walk,
As the centers ravens and hawks let out a squawk.
Chi-ca-go Chi-ca-go said the the California Quail,
As it sang its song and let out a wail.
An eagles nest which is 8 feet long,
Fit 26 children as they wallowed along.
As our education came to an end,
We all gathered around in a circular bend.
Mary the director told us how things are ran,
And then we began our way back to the van.
Tyler’s 24th birthday is on this October 4th day,
So let’s all shout out hip-hip-hooray!
A book was given by Jeff and Shane,
That may or may not have given him fame.
“On the day you were born” the book was called,
which Tyler read aloud and never stalled.
We packed in the vans and continued along,
On this journey of life that makes us strong.
A city called Cedar we are adventuring too,
And to our surprise Kevin never even let out a “moo”.
6 hours later we unpacked our tent,
and ate out until we all were spent.
Goodnight to all, goodnight we all say,
Until we meet tomorrow during the day.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

10/3/13-In the midst of chaos

--> "In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity."
Tyler Schrapf
                  Being the resident poli-sci major on the trip, I have been getting a lot of questions from my fellow expedition members about the recent government lockdown that is currently plaguing our trip. This morning I could not get my mind off the current political situation at hand and on to more important matters such as scheduling events as a leader of the week, or how to handle the days logistics for getting out of Jackson; so around 7 AM I caved and started the day off at chow circle with a quote from Benjamin Franklin – “Those willing to sacrifice a little freedom to gain a little security should deserve neither and will lose both.” I could not tell how well these words sank in, but I feel like a lot of freedoms have been given up recently. Our very own country is not free to roam, the most beautiful and moving places are locked away for the time being, putting our group at an impasse.
                  Alas, there is hope. As leaders of the week we buckled down and made phone calls to various outdoor education centers. I somehow managed to talk the Ogden Nature Center in Ogden, Utah into letting us do a two hour job shadow and a one hour administration question and answer session on one day’s notice. Tomorrow there is a concrete plan, and our education requirements are being met. As each day passes, we must condense an entire semesters worth of planning into one night as leaders of the week in order to insure that our groups educational standards are being met.
                  Utah is proving to have a lot to offer, as we move across the state, I see nothing but unscarred beauty. There is an extensive state park system and plenty of opportunity for private and non-profit administration/outdoor education programs. The most important and critical thing to keep in mind as we move into the upcoming weeks is to remain positive and to to create the best educational experience possible.
                  As a general statement for those who are wondering, today went well. We learned about running a private touring business for Yellowstone by a man simply named Jason. Driving through the Cache National Forest was beautiful beyond imagination, and . . . We had pizza for dinner. Today was a good day.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

10/2/13-Fall Cleaning

  Fall Cleaning
Emily Chathas

What did ECOEE 2013 do today, you might wonder? Well our day started off with some delicious breakfast burritos made by Kevin and the other cooks for the day. Soon after I saw all our belongings being piled tall outside the trailer by Jeff, and I could tell how his face had this stern look that today was not going to be a good one. So, everyone gathered around as Jeff told us that we are messy college students and we do not take care of things well, such as our own things, food, and the group’s items.  It was time to reorganize and clean everything from the back of the trailer, to the inside, and both of the vans. While doing this, I really saw the group work together and be effective while cleaning and organizing everything, which was nice to observe and do as well. But, the question is how long will this clean trailer and van last? We will have to see! Another part of our day was that we went to Teton Science School, the Jackson Hole campus, and got to talk to Josh who is on staff. He actually has talked to past ECOEE groups. During our visit I really enjoyed myself and took a lot of what he said and learned from it. I really liked that when he was giving us a tour of the campus he would stop and do some teaching of outdoor education. He talks about anything from quaking aspens to the topographical display of the Grand Tetons. I really enjoyed his teaching style and how he engaged the group by asking what we observed when looking at something. I feel that is such a great way to get an understanding of where the people you are teaching are at. You can gauge what to talk about first, how basic it needs to be, and so on. I plan and hope to use that method of teaching when I do my own teaching on plants, shrubs, flowers, and cacti. Our group headed back to camp with knowledge and tools to use from Josh. Lastly, if you wonder what the weather has been like here in Wyoming, it’s been raining -- and a lot of it.
“Sometimes you have to watch someone love something before you can love it yourself.“ Donald Miller

Monday, September 30, 2013

9/30/13-Plan to Play

Plan to Play
Cassandra Roy
My quote of the day was once spoken by Peter Drucker, “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” ECOEE 2013 has been planning this expedition as a group since January. Others have been planning for this since before college; even selecting this college because of it. In whatever way you look at it this group of 14 people has been planning for this semester, month, week, day for a very long time. But the real question is; how far can plans take you? I, myself, have made plans that change or just never occur; as I am sure have most of you. During our spring semester we planned this 120 day expedition. Every week we revise our schedule and every night we revised that schedule. Today, for example, we changed our plans of spending our last day at Yellowstone National Park. We took the time to plan stops at geysers, hot springs, self-guided tours, visitor centers, and even to see Old Faithful. So what does all of this planning mean to the group? As I quoted earlier planning is only good intentions unless they are followed by hard work. Now I am sure that my entire ECOEE ,including myself, would agree that planning in itself is hard work. So you may be wondering what hard work I am talking about. I have realized during this expedition that none of our plans, none of our hours of talks would mean anything if this group did not try to follow the plans. We can only talk so much, but it is our actions that truly matter. Without the entire groups hard work and effort this expedition/group would not be where we are today. So this journal is my thank you to the entire group, for making ECOEE 2013 work, and making it an experience that I will never forget. -Cassandra Roy

Sunday, September 29, 2013

9/29/13-Early Rising

                                                                   “Early Rising”
                                                                   Quinn Moore

            This morning I had a very interesting dream about school bells and alarm clocks. During my extremely weird dream I realized the noises I was hearing during my slumber were coming from my tent mate Andrew’s watch. I was upset that I heard his alarm go off at an early 4:30 am. As I laid awake in my sleeping bag, still drowsy, I thought to myself why on earth would I agree to get up this early again! I thought I learned my lesson when the group left Horn Field. Meanwhile I was still in my nice warm bag dreading the moment when I had to get out of my warm sanctuary; I remembered why we all agreed to get up this early. The whole group was looking forward to the possibility of seeing grey wolves early in the morning. Even though it was very early, I don’t think I have seen the group get ready so quickly! Once the vans were loaded the group got on the road and headed to our destination. Once we arrived at our stop, the whole group waited in the vans for about an hour hoping to see a glimpse of a wolf. Sadly no wolves were present, so it put a damper on the groups moral. After our depressing moment we got back on the road and headed back to camp. While we were driving we saw a grizzly bear off in the distance running through a field. I guess seeing a grizzly bear makes up for not seeing some wolves. Who am I kidding it was an awesome sight watching such a big animal running through the plain. Our next stop proved to be much more successful. It seemed like fate intervened because lone behold a bunch of people were scattered all around their cars looking at a pack of wolves! Some of the people had some high powered spotting scopes, that we kind enough to let the group look through. Off in the distance we were able to see an outline of five grey wolves feeding on a carcass. A park ranger was present as well and he gave the whole group a special interpretive talk about the wolves in Yellowstone. His name was Ranger Rick, and taught the group with almost as much enthusiasm, as the group had about wanting to learn about wolves. After our talk with Rick we got back on the road to see some more amazing sights. We had several more breathtaking stops before we arrived in Mammoth Hot Springs again. The group had about an hour of well needed free time before our next scheduled interpretive talk. The interpretive talk was very informative but not as exciting as Rick’s talk. After the talk the group headed back to the campsite to start dinner. After dinner and our daily debrief the group’s moral seemed a lot higher. The night before the group had a serious talk about the group dynamics and the problems the group faces. Today the group seemed to come closer together and our bonds strengthened. As I lay here in my tent writing in this journal I am looking forward to tomorrow’s plans. We are going to Old Faithful tomorrow and I have been looking forward to seeing the geyser for some time now. I have been looking forward to it because of an inside joke between my parents and I. So in closing goodnight to all and I hope everyone’s day was as exciting and educational as ours!
                                                Roses are red
                                                Violets are blue
                                                I don’t miss Roxanne

And neither should you!

Saturday, September 28, 2013


 Andrew Busker
Here we are at Yellowstone National Park, the first section of land in the nation to be recognized as a unique, beautiful are worth preserving, worth saving.  Like experiential learning and outdoor education, many people realized its effectiveness and deemed it worth preserving, worth saving.  37 years ago, the founders of ECOEE were aware that this unique program was worth saving, worth preserving.  Over the past couple days, the group has grown aware of our condition and we are now putting in the effort to save the group from our problems, to preserve the things our group does well.
Yellowstone National Park is home to the largest volcano system in North America and is the only place in the world to have this many volcano-related features packed into the area.  A massive chamber of magma lies only 5 miles below the surface, yet despite the uncanny closeness to the hot depths of the earth, the Yellowstone area is fairly stable and has not been home to a long time.  Some say that it is only a matter of time.  So far, our group has functioned in a similar way.  Each one of us has frustrations, irritations, and struggles with the group and ourselves that act like magma chambers flowing underneath our smiles and behavior.  Despite these frustrations, irritations, and struggles, our group tries to function and remain stable.  There has not been a large volcanic eruption in our group in a long time.  Today we made sure that it would not just be a matter of time.
Tonight we sat around a lantern and shared what we would like to accomplish as a group and established rules to assist in the attainment of our goals.  Unlike the magma chamber that is always flowing, always heating up the water in Yellowstone National Park, our frustrations, irritations, and struggles with the group and ourselves now have the opportunity to cool, to become a solid core behind our smiles and behavior.  Sometime in the future, our magma chambers will heat and a geyser of frustration will spew forth onto the group, but now, with the help of our new goals and clear rules, we will be able to effectively handle that frustration and turn it into a beautiful part of our group, a part of the group worth preserving, worth saving.  If the instability of Old Faithful draws a crowd that remarks in its beauty, then this group can turn its problems into a strengthening bond that makes us all proud.

Friday, September 27, 2013

9/27/13-In the eyes of the buffalo

--> In the eyes of the buffalo
Kyle Pickett
At the beginning of the semester we were asked by Doc Lupton, “What do you think you will see if you look into the eyes of a buffalo?” Today I was able to get close enough to one to truly ask myself that question. This experience happened in the afternoon after we left our campsite to head for Mammoth. The morning before we left had been slow for the group. We didn’t have anything set up and some of us had no idea what we were doing for the day. Because of this our group spent a portion of the morning talking with Jeff and Shane about what our goals for the group were. This question was left open to the group and we all discussed what we thought needed to be done. After formulating a plan for the day and an idea about what we wanted to talk about, we decided to head to Mammoth Hot Springs to learn about the park as well as do some homework. While we drove towards our destination the question that was asked by Jeff kept running through my head. What goals did I truly want for our group and what needed to be done to make our group better? This thought was still in  my head when we got to see something amazing. Walking down the road we were driving on were three bison. The one in the front was he. As he walked down the road he kept inspecting each of the cars he passed by while the two behind followed along. When he started to pass our van his head turned towards the door and I felt he was looking straight at us. He was close enough you could almost see yourself in his eyes. After this experience my head was filled with what happened with the buffalo and what Doc had asked us in the beginning of the semester. I wondered what I truly saw in those dark solemn eyes and how did this experience relate to me? When I look back to the experience with the head buffalo I see something that relates to our group. In the head buffalo I saw how dead set he was on moving forward. His mind on what was ahead. But I also saw how curious he was to the things around him. Yet while he was curious to what he saw he was determined to move forward for the group. He was protective and thinking about his herd. When I look at this I see something that our group can take advice from. For we are a curios bunch. Always eager to move forward and learn. Yet while we do want to do these things we forget about the group and what they need. As leaders we should be able to find a balance with what we want and what the group needs. For if we are able to we will be able to accomplish whatever goals we set for ourselves in the future.

“A man can fail many times but he isn’t a total failure until he begins to blame someone else for his own deficiencies”- Waite Philips