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.”