Bear's Odyssey: 2017

Discussion in 'Adventures & Excursions' started by Bear, Dec 30, 2016.

  1. Bear

    Bear Junior Ranger

    Camp Coddiwomple, Washington
    Sunday, January 1, 2017

    Coddiwomple: To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.

    Howdy Sunshine! Hello America!

    It’s time, again, to grab yourself a cup of joe and saddle up to the digital campfire, for the next tale from the Whispering Wind. Get comfortable and stay awhile. I hope not to disappoint you.

    The Sportsman’s Camper

    The world of teardrop camping is a phenomenal experience into the unknown and yet highly anticipated. It removes the ruggedness often associated with tent camping without removing one completely from the outdoor experience the way Class A, B, C & D campers so often do. Teardropping affords one a unique opportunity and experience to be imaginative, creative, and mechanical as well as an explorer. Like tent camping, teardropping allows one to snuggle up to the bosoms of both Mother Nature (those lives that are rooted, hop, walk, swim, slither, crawl, and fly) and Mother Earth (earth, wind, water, and fire), an experience that cannot be duplicated outside the wilderness. Waking up to these two ladies each morning promises to be exhilarating.

    It is uncharacteristic of this thing called life to give any one of us second chances to explore the euphoric splendor of the majestic spirit that makes up life. That is because we are much harder on ourselves than anyone else can be, and for this reason we deny ourselves of ever fully experiencing the happiness and joy life has to offer. However, camping with a teardrop is like receiving that second chance on life; it’s like a new beginning. It’s like breathing mountain air all the time.

    It has been said that “happiness is just one teardrop away” and truer words were never spoken. This play on words should be a reminder that life can be taken to another level if we are willing to go there. So we shouldn’t make haste of the time we have on planet Earth. Instead, we should be making the most of it and a teardrop camper can help. We can grant ourselves more joy and happiness by removing the ugly from our lives. It can be made easier by remembering this simple apothegm: If you don’t see perfection looking back from the mirror don’t demand it from others. We all know that a kind word and a smile will accomplish a lot more in life than unkind words ever could, so why don’t we practice kindness and compassion more? I, for one, am truly grateful for the masterminds behind Camp-Inn: Cary Winch and Craig Edevold. If not for them and their families the Odyssey over the past eleven years would have been lackluster in comparison. If not for them, I wouldn’t be “living the dream” as I had imagined it to be.

    It is without question there is a world of difference between full-time camping in a teardrop (sportsman) camper and those that simply occupy the hard-shelled tents over a weekend here and there, and during a couple of weeks over the summer—both, however, have their place in this world. Full-timers have to own up to the fact that they’re going to push these rigs beyond their intended purpose, and when mechanical failures flare up there is no one to point fingers at than the person doing the pushing. The sportsman campers (much like synthetic tents of today’s world) were never intended to house someone for the long haul. Teardrop campers were designed with simplicity, maneuverability and short-term compatibility in mind. It is an unreasonable expectation to think everything to be hunky-dory simply because one bought the best equipment the market has to offer and not expect there to be challenges somewhere along the line. Much like the world of tents, if you want the camper to withstand the rigors of longevity and excel beyond its intended design, a little love and tenderness has to go into its care by the owner. No owner’s manual is going to spell that out for you. Even when purchasing a top of the line auto, one still takes it in to the mechanic for a pre-inspection before taking to the road for long distant traveling.

    Preventive maintenance is not an option---it is a given in the full-timers world from the onset of the adventure. One doesn’t take a brand new tent out into the woods without a prior inspection first, or without putting down a ground cloth prior to erecting the skeleton (tent poles and/or stakes). It doesn’t matter whether or not the manufacturer states that the fabric is waterproof and proclaims it to be a four season tent; one takes precautions for peace of mind. Complements of the vibration of the road preventive maintenance with these auto drawn chariots are an ongoing endeavor. In tent camping one seam seals and soaps zippers while keeping a vigilant eye open for holes or thinning fabric. Teardroppers constantly study the condition of door seals and the tightness of nuts, bolts and screws. Because in the camping world, if something is going to go wrong odds are good that it’s not going to happen while sitting at home.

    Because of their role in living the dream, I have been and continue to be grateful for the kindness and generosity extended by Mr. Winch and Mr. Edevold. They are good hearted people that wish for nothing but the best of their customers’ camping experiences. It doesn’t matter to them if you’ve owned one of their campers for just a few months or for well over a decade, they will gladly provide you with the service your camper needs if you simply ask. Someday, because of Camp-Inn’s popularity, the company is going to grow to such a point that the laws of supply and demand are going to force Cary and Craig out of their traditional roles and into more demanding positions of pushing paper from one desk to another, and someone else will be handling customer service. That will be a bittersweet day for those of us who have been spoiled by Camp-Inn hospitality.

    It is a given that full-timers are harder on their campers than the weekender is. Full-timers will push the envelope of what these prefabricated homes are capable of and were intended to be used for. The road vibration will put every nut and bolt on notice and demand more from the adhesive and silicone seals than can be reasonably expected. So when a furnace doesn’t fare well at 22º, frustration shouldn’t be taken out on the manufacture of the camper. Instead, the owner should come to an understanding that the camper wasn’t built with the intention of withstanding some of the harsh elements that winter can sometimes dish out; it is a three season camper with the capability of weekend camping during that forth season---nothing more! The 550 and 560 are not insulated for winter conditions; the onus is on the owner to insulate the cabin if winter camping is on the horizon. The owner should be grateful that such a camper was able to see him through the -40º that a Minnesota winter had to dish out---and I am! And I apologize if my frustration ever got the better of me.

    I do believe the camper was designed to hold up against freezing temperatures---but -40º---I think not and yet it did. No matter what #70’s design was intended to withstand, the quality of its craftsmanship and the grade of wood allowed this structure to laugh at the winters north of the 45th Parallel. And it chuckled at the 110º+ temps the southwest desert had served up. This is more than I can say about the thermometer that was purchased in the Yukon Territory when it was 18º outside---it literally exploded in the Arizona desert a few months later! Such extremes within a few months of one another could have proved deadly for the Stagecoach and yet it held up like a champ!

    When an air conditioner or television doesn’t hold up under the brutal conditions that only years on the road can dish out, don’t vent frustration out on the manufacturer of the camper, they did their research to locate the best products to represent their company. Instead, share with them your experiences; and in the case of Camp-Inn, they will do their best to rectify the situation even after the warranty has expired. It may come at a price but their professionalism will ease the pain. Car dealerships could learn a lot from the founders of Camp-Inn. Their customer service is second to none. I hope I never came across as anything less than appreciative and respectful when addressing these two men and their fantastic team of professionals.

    I’d like to thank Craig and Cary and their families for being an instrumental part of the Odyssey and for helping to make it something special. This past June the Odyssey celebrated its 11th anniversary and the Stagecoach celebrated its 85th anniversary. 85 you ask… If the average Camp-Inn sees the road 3 days a month times 11 months plus 14 days during that twelfth month that would equate to 47 days per year. I think it is safe to speculate that the average teardrop in this country doesn’t spend 47 days (1.5 months) on the road each year. Nonetheless, I’ll stick with this formula. Now divide 4018 days (11 years including leap years) by 47 (weekender) and that equates to 85.49 years for a full-timer. The 100th Anniversary will be reached on May 4, 2018. Unless that log cabin I dream of should materialize the Stagecoach should still be home by then. I think that is quite a testimony for a Camp-Inn product, don’t you? Cary and Craig any recommendations on how we should celebrate 100 years---together?!

    God bless you both and your families.

    Walk in Beauty,

    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
  2. Bear

    Bear Junior Ranger

    Camp Coddiwomple, Washington
    Wednesday, February 22, 2017

    Coddiwomple: To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.

    Howdy Sunshine! Hello America!

    The Appalachian Trail and I have a love/hate relationship, so why keep pursuing it? I've hiked portions of the trail in Maine as well as Georgia, and now would like to connect the dots in between.

    So why hike this trail? Yes, the notion began as a childhood dream, and such shows like Walt Disney's Daniel Boon and Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom helped plant that seed. History books telling of stories of wagon trains, the Trail of Tears and such helped fuel the fire. Stories of endurance and determination fed the imagination. Wilderness stories and travel adventures nurtured belief and possibility. So why not?

    Why not me? Why couldn't I be the lead character of my own story? It won't be easy and I will be asking much of the body, but I know the triune being can do it. The greatest challenge will be to hike from Springer Mountain, Georgia to North Carolina. Once inside North Carolina the psyche will be rejuvenated and ready to tackle Tennessee.

    Given all that I have been through in life there is nothing left to prove to anyone---only to Self. So, why hike 2,200+ miles? For the unprecedented opportunities and experiences. To live the outdoor experience I've only dreamt about. To live in part the way my ancestors did. To challenge the spirit within. To challenge fear...fear of success. To be the man I know myself to be.

    This may be accomplished in four months, it may take four years. Nonetheless it will be accomplished. In a few weeks the trail and I will be reunited and I will thank the Heavens for such a blessing.

    That's it from the road. This is Brother Bear signing out.

    Walk in Beauty,


    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson

    The song "When You See Forever" comes to mind each time I read the above quote.
    Written by Bill Conti, William Dear, and Rudy Pérez
    Performed by
    Jasmin Cruz, Michael Angelo, Kendra Lowe, and Bryan Hernandez
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2017
  3. Bear

    Bear Junior Ranger

    With only a backpack in hand...this time tomorrow, I should be on a train bound for Georgia. Dierk Bentley's song Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go) was released in 2006, just a few months after the start of The Odyssey. Unofficially, eleven years ago, it became the official song of The Odyssey. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

    Walk in Beauty,


    Last edited: Mar 10, 2017
  4. Bear

    Bear Junior Ranger

    Camp Gainesville, Georgia
    Friday, March 10, 2017

    Appalachian Trail: Georgia---third times the charm!

    Howdy Sunshine! Hello America!

    It’s time, again, to grab yourself a cup of joe and saddle up to the digital campfire, for the next tale from the Whispering Wind. Get comfortable and stay awhile. I hope not to disappoint you---then again---I hope to be able to finish this before the library closes.

    The story behind the story
    Read the following story and I'll fill in the missing parts:

    First of all, as the train pulled out of Seattle and made it's way into the Cascade Mountains, the locomotive experienced a electrical-mechanical failure thus forcing a shut down of the engines while inside the Cascade Tunnel, the nation's longest train tunnel. The Empire Builder, as the train is known along the northern route, had to coast backwards out of the tunnel. Thank goodness the engine and compression breaks operate on two different systems. We sat on the west side of the mountain for over an hour while the engineers did their best to address the issue.

    Multiple times throughout the evening, The Empire Builder had to give way to the owners of the track, the freight train industry. By pulling off to the side, we were able to allow the other trains to pass. These waiting periods could last from a couple of minutes to 5-15, but they do add up.

    The blanket of white from the summit of the Cascade Mountains to central North Dakota was spectacular. We were in a winter wonderland that captured the imagination and explored the spirit within. It was awesome and I was experiencing a delightful slice of Heaven.

    A freight train (that The Empire Builder was following from a distance through Montana) hit a pipeline water truck in the blinding snow about six miles outside Stanley, North Dakota. Due to the inclement weather, the emergency rescue team wasn't able to reach the driver in time to possibly save his life. This led to the investigation and clean-up that lasted well over ten hours.

    Once Amtrak was given the green light to continue we ran into another delay a few miles east, the rails needed to be plowed before the train could continue on. All of this was eating up the Department of Transportation time limits that are placed on engineers. So once the rail was cleared and we were rolling again, the train came to another abrupt halt as each of the engineers had reached their daily limit behind the wheel. So, we the passengers had to sit another hour so that two new engineers could be delivered from the east.

    In hopes of settling the nerves of some of the customers, the dinner crew offered a free meal in the form of beef stew and rice pilaf. However, the beef portions consisted of two dime size pieces of meat and no veggies, but there was gravy. The pilaf was seasoned white rice that resembled nothing I've come to know pilaf to be. Nonetheless, it was a free meal. I, instead, settled for four dinner rolls with butter and jelly along with some iced tea. It was filling and satisfying.

    We eventually made it to Chicago 13.5 hours behind schedule, and it was 03:30 in the morning and not a soul at the station was standing by to assist with missed connections (train, plane, bus), hotels reservations or shuttle service, as the station was empty. This would cause me to miss the next two connecting trains, the Capitol Limited out of Chicago and the Crescent out of Washington, D.C.. What none of us knew was while the passengers were sitting on The Empire Builder, Amtrak headquarters was already making reservations for connecting trains. The ticket was waiting at the reservation desk the next morning when the employees walked in. The Union Station manager put us up in the Metropolitan Lounge and allowed us---and there were about 45 of us---to enjoy the comforts of this semi-luxurious room for as long as we had to wait. He also provided water and coffee. Later that morning Amtrak treated us to a Continental Breakfast. It may not have been healthy, but it sure was hearty in the way of comfort foods. Thank you, Amtrak!


    I boarded the Capitol Limited in Chicago heading east and shortly after passing through Cleveland the train came to a halt and we sat for two hours. The cause of this delay was a freight train had died on the track and a new engine was delivered to replace the one that had given up the ghost. I would have liked to have seen how that was accomplished.

    The Crescent was only thirty minutes behind schedule when it pulled into Gainesville, Georgia.

    All in all it was a great trip despite the events, because I met some truly wonderful people as a result of this experience. Stories I hope to share with you in the near future. As for the landscape, I've written about this before with regards to the same train trip east in 2016. So I feel there is no need to repeat it here, even though those entries have long since been deleted to save space on the server.

    (The library is preparing to close, I'll have to complete this another day.)

    That’s it America…reporting from the road this is Brother Bear signing out.

    Walk in Beauty,

    Last edited: Mar 11, 2017
    Mike_Kathi and Evan like this.
  5. Tom & Diana P

    Tom & Diana P Novice

    Probably not what you imagined when you thought about adventure on the rails! Godspeed, Bear.

  6. Bear

    Bear Junior Ranger

    Camp Gainesville, Georgia
    Saturday, March 18, 2017

    Appalachian Trail: Georgia---third times the charm...right?!

    Howdy Sunshine! Hello America!

    It’s time, again, but you won't be needing that cup of joe as this will be a short tale from the Whispering Wind.

    Winter Storm Stella

    The storm that hammered the eastern half of the United States kicked my butt. I hiked up Springer Mountain, the Applachian Trail southern terminus, Sunday afternoon on March 12th. Given the weather reports about the next day that were trickling in from other hikers, I saw no reason for hiking in freezing rain. So camp was set up with the intent of spending Monday on Springer as well. Sunday evening about 10 to 12 of us gathered around the fire ring, given the fire ban in the area the only flames brewing that night were those in the minds' eyes. Throughout Sunday night we were hit with freezing rain, sleet, and snow. Bundled up in a three-season tent was not enough to combat the dipping temperatures. The next morning it was shared that the temps were in low 20s throughout much of the night. I shivered so much between sunset and sunrise that every muscle in the body was sore by the time I decided to brave the next day. Everything hurt.

    Come Monday, another hiker, Craig, and his companions wander into the campground as many before them had. I could sense instantaneously something wasn't right about Craig. I observed his body language and listened to his communication with the others. I shared with his buddies that they needed to get him down off this mountain as many of the signs of hyperthermia were setting in. He wasn't willing to go anywhere. He was through hiking for the day and just wanted to take it easy as he tried to convince everyone that he was feeling better. I wasn't buying it. Again, I tried to convince his buddies to get him off this mountain before sunset, but he wasn't having any of it. At 00:39 that night Search and Rescue teams were summoned to the mountain trying to convince him to leave with them. Again, he fought it. Once he was informed of the weather forecast for the following day and that the team wouldn't be able come back to rescue him, he rode off with them despite his wishes.

    As much as I tried to keep moving around camp the temps on Monday was unbearable for prolonged periods of time. So much of that day was spent bundled in a sleeping bag inside the tent while it snowed throughout daylight. The tent was much warmer than the three-sided shelter that was available. In some ways, I was appreciative of the snow as it acted as an insulator and helped keep the body heat in the cabin of the tent. But with regards to the wind, I could have done without it. At some point I would have to wade through the snow to get to the nearby stream for water, and I would have liked to have done so with a lot less wind.

    The mountain weather report for Tuesday was expected to be worse than Monday. I saw no point to moving forward along the trail only to be hammered by the weather all day. So I stayed upon Springer Mountain with intentions of being in the same place throughout Tuesday. This extra time on Springer wasn't helping the food reserves. I carried three days worth of reserves knowing that a general store was only three days hike from Springer Mountain. I couldn't help wonder how I would be able compete with the inclement weather and freezing temps if these conditions kept up---and I hadn't even moved forwarded along the trail yet. To think, the weeks prior to departing Washington for Georgia, Georgia was experiencing high 60 to low 70 degree temps. My first full day in the Peach State and I am pounded on by snow.

    When Monday night rolled into Tuesday morning the temps lowered to 12 degrees with a windchill resting at 9 below zero. The shivering was replaced with contractions as though every tendon, ligament, and muscle were pulling away from their foundation. I was dressed in every bit of clothing that I had and it still wasn't enough. I had accomplished winter camping before with the aid of a tent, but I had never tent camped in below freezing temps let alone subzero. My initiation into such conditions was not desired nor welcomed. Had this happened two to three weeks into the hike I'd probably have a different attitude then I had being hit with freezing temps on day one and two.

    On Tuesday, I discover there was a man in camp that had no jacket or food with him, though he did have a day pack, sleeping bag and guitar with him. I couldn't help wonder what would send a man into the mountains without food and water if he wasn't running from something or someone. I didn't ask but I did provide him a meal and coffee. It was the right thing to do. Someone else provided the jacket.

    That night wasn't any easier to endure than the previous two; it may have been worse as I do believe the body was going through shock. Wednesday morning was bitter cold and I fought tooth and nail to get dressed, leave the confines of the tent, pack up all gear to make it make down the mountain in hopes of catching a ride into town. Back when I was a young buck of seventeen, I experience a mild case of frostbite along the toes and fingers in trying to be a "Good Samaritan" in helping others dig their way out of an unexpected mountain snow storm. I have been paying for it dearly every winter since. Upon Springer Mountain my fingers and toes were barking at me and it was so painful, which made going down the mountain excruciatingly painful. Once at the trail head parking, I only had to wait two hours before an Uber driver happen to appear to drop two others off....

    Will finish later as the library is closing.
  7. Randy

    Randy Junior Ranger Donating Member

    Stay safe Bear!
    jfocallag likes this.
  8. jfocallag

    jfocallag Novice

    Bear, please stay safe. Warm thoughts coming your way.
  9. Evan

    Evan Administrator Staff Member

    I'm afraid to "like" your post, Bear. That sounds very miserable...
  10. Tom & Diana P

    Tom & Diana P Novice

    Well, the fact that you lived to tell about it says something of you. Whether that's about courage or crazy, who's to know? LOL Seriously, stay safe. I know you will conquer this. Keep those toes warm!
  11. Jenn

    Jenn Junior Ranger

    So even a Polar Bear has his limits.
    I feel so bad for you being so cold.
    Looking forward to knowing you warmed up!

Share This Page