Bear's Odyssey: The Next Decade

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

  1. Bear

    Bear Junior Ranger

    Camp Coddiwomple, Washington
    Sunday, January 1, 2017

    BEAR’S ODYSSEY:
    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.

    TEARDROPS:
    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 and yours.

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

    Walk in Beauty,


    BEAR
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
  2. Bear

    Bear Junior Ranger

    Camp Coddiwomple, Washington
    Wednesday, February 22, 2017

    BEAR’S ODYSSEY:
    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,


    BEAR

    “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: Apr 4, 2017
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  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,

    BEAR

     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2017
  4. Bear

    Bear Junior Ranger

    Camp Gainesville, Georgia
    Friday, March 10, 2017

    BEAR’S ODYSSEY:
    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.

    AMTRAK:
    The story behind the story
    Read the following story and I'll fill in the missing parts: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-st...n-gets-stuck-in-snow-13-hours-in-north-Dakota

    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!

    AMTRAK or BUST

    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,

    BEAR
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2017
  5. Tom & Diana P

    Tom & Diana P Novice

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

    Diana
     
  6. Bear

    Bear Junior Ranger

    Camp Gainesville, Georgia
    Saturday, March 18, 2017
    BEAR’S ODYSSEY:
    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 for 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 as the first flakes began to fall, given the fire ban in the area the only flames brewing that night were those in the minds' eyes. Despite the ambient temperature the stories being told were warming the hearts of everyone participating. Throughout Sunday night we were hit with freezing rain, sleet, and then snow. Bundled up in a three-season tent with a bag rated for 40° and lined with a fleece liner 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 were unbearable for prolonged periods of time. So much of that day was spent bundled in a sleeping bag as the snow continued to accumulate around the tent. 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. So I saw no point to moving forward along the trail only to be hammered by the weather all day. Instead, I opted to stay upon Springer Mountain with the 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 along with six days worth of planned meals knowing that a general store was only three days hike from Springer Mountain. I always like to carry extra with regards to food---Mother Earth can be unpredictable when you're in an unfamiliar region. This unexpected storm was going to require burning more calories to keep warm, which meant eating more food. 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°s to low 70°s 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° with a windchill resting at -9°. 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 am an accomplished winter camper but had never tented in subzero conditions before. My initiation into such conditions was not desired nor welcomed. Had this happened two to three weeks into the hike, I'd probably would have a different attitude then I had after being hit with freezing temps within a matter of hours on the first day followed by a relentless beating for the three days that followed.

    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. 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. Unfortunately, it wasn't without a certain level of pain. Back when I was a young buck of seventeen, I experience a mild case of frostbite throughout 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 that decision dearly every winter since. Upon Springer Mountain my fingers and toes were barking at me as it was excruciatingly painful, which made going down the mountain pure agony. Once at the trail head parking lot, I only had to wait two hours before an Uber driver happen to appear to drop two other hikers off.

    Continued...

    As I write this the cold of that mountain still haunts the subconscious. I've been off that mountain three and a half days and I'm still cold down to the bone. I've spent the hours since leaving Springer either standing beneath hot showers or fighting off the chills and the uncontrollable shivering beneath a pile of blankets. The thermostat in the motel room is set a 80° and it feels like 40. Each time I go outside to cross the street to eat at a local eatery, the wind whips up and the body loses nearly all control of muscle function as the muscular system commences an uncontrollable shivering in response thus causing a momentarily loss of balance. Where as earlier in the story I shared Craig was experiencing hyperthermia, I believe I had been dealing with hypothermia. The shivering, lightheadedness and fatigue were certainly key indicators. At one point upon that mountain, I stood up and nearly passed out and there was no one around to call out for assistance.

    The hours spent in the sleeping bag provided much opportunity to reach out to the Heavens. During one conversation I asked the Great Spirit about the attempts at hiking the Appalachian Trail. The first attempt in 2010 ended with a bout of hemorrhaging. The attempt in 2016, I left the trail due to a family matter. And this year, the unexpected snow storm. "So why is it God, it appears as though you want to keep me from this trail? Its as though you are protecting me from something?" In response came, "I'm protecting you from your Self." Coming from the Holy Spirit that was a very sobering thought to take onboard.

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


    Walk in Beauty,


    BEAR
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 1, 2017
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  7. Randy

    Randy Junior Ranger Donating Member

    Stay safe Bear!
     
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  8. jfocallag

    jfocallag Junior Ranger Donating Member

    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!
    Diana
     
  11. Bear

    Bear Junior Ranger

    Camp Coddiwomple, Washington
    Sunday, March 26, 2017

    BEAR’S ODYSSEY:
    Appalachian Trail...Goodbye my friend
    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.

    ITS OVER

    The Great Spirit's response to my inquiry was a very sobering moment for me as was shared in the last segment under "Continued". It is with much ado that I bid the Appalachian Trail (AT) farewell. I feel no need to hike it's bounty ever again. To do so would be to ignore the sound advice from Heaven and only a fool would do so deliberately. I don't know if I'll ever strap on a backpack again for trails in other parts of the country; it is too soon to tell and there is no need to make such a decision anytime soon.

    I re-boarded Amtrak five days after coming down from Springer Mountain; time was needed for recovery and to rebuild strength so that I could even accomplish such a task. The throat is still raw and I can't help wondering if prolonged periods in subzero temps may have burned some of the tissue. I landed back in Washington this past Friday, having spent parts of five days on the train. I can't begin to express the gratitude for having arrived safely back at base camp. In many ways Camp Coddiwomple feels like home, but home is where the heart is and the heart longs for northern Maine this time of year. I still dream of that log cabin in the Allagash Wilderness of Northern Maine.

    As I sit here to share with you my experiences, the cold of that mountain is still running through my veins. I'm chilly and I'm sitting in a heated building. I can't help wonder after enduring Winter Storm Stella if the body chemistry has been altered forever. Only time will tell...

    Thank you, All for the well wishes---and Evan---I don't wish to press the like button either. I'd never been so cold in all my life. I hope that I will never travel down that road again.

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


    Walk in Beauty,

    BEAR
     
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  12. Inn42

    Inn42 Junior Ranger

    Smart decision, Bear! It seems as though the stars weren't aligning, so it is wise for you not to tempt fate.

    One thing that happens as you age is that your body loses subcutaneous fat. As it does, it becomes more difficult to maintain your core body temperature in cold temperatures. It is a big reason why you see retirees flocking to the south in the winter - it becomes harder to maintain comfort in frigid temperatures. Those that do stay active in such temperatures generally have to adapt - with better insulating layers, shortening their time outside, or using artificial heat sources. Of course all those options would add significant weight or bulk to your backpack, so there quickly comes a point where long distance hiking in an area with limited access to supplies becomes more and more logistically challenging.

    There are plenty of other challenges and lots of ways to have fun. Good luck on your next challenge!
     
  13. Handben

    Handben Novice Donating Member

    I would second Steve and Alea's point of view. I'm only 45 years old but feel as though the days of carrying a heavy pack with all my survival needs for a week or so on my back are behind me. One of the main reasons for purchasing a teardrop is to comfortably enjoy the out of doors. I do very much enjoy a good hike but would like to have a comfortable bed and a good meal at the end of the day. I think that with a little planning it is possible to use the teardrop as a basecamp and do day hikes between campsites. Sure there are stretches of the AT that this won't work (The northern and souther termini being examples). However the sections I am more familiar with - Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania are mostly day-hike-able, provided you've coordinated a drop off/pick up transportation.
     
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  14. Inn42

    Inn42 Junior Ranger

    That's a good point. There is no shame in doing an extended trip in stages. And that can help to avoid the unseasonable temperature extremes that Bear has encountered.

    We met a couple of guys last year who had a goal to bicycle across country together, but they were working and couldn't get sufficient time off. They split the task into three pieces and completed one segment each year for three years. In the end, they had cycled coast-t0-coast. There wasn't any reason (fitness-wise) why they couldn't have done it all in one year (provided they didn't need their jobs)...
     
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  15. Bear

    Bear Junior Ranger

    Gentlemen,

    I appreciate your input as it may serve the greater community without us even knowing it.

    Walk in Beauty,

    BEAR
     
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  16. Bear

    Bear Junior Ranger

    Camp Coddiwomple, Washington
    Friday, March 31, 2017



    THE ODYSSEY
    In life, it’s not where you go---it’s who you travel with.” ~Charles Schulz
    The best part of life’s journey is who you get to share it with.” ~Mickey Mouse

    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.

    MEMORABLE MOMENTS ALONG THE RAIL

    Travel out to the eastern seaboard was not without its adventure, most of which has already been shared. Now I would like to share the more intimate stories.

    As it was shared in an earlier story, the east bound Empire Builder was 13.5 hours late pulling into Chicago, the eastern terminus. The prolonged voyage created an opportunity to get better acquainted with a mother and son dual from South Dakota. The elderly mother is hobbled and uses a wheel chair for greater mobility. The son had retired this past December after twenty years of service with the National Guard. Our careers, his and I’s, overlapped ten years, so there was a common thread there that we could relate to. We shared war stories and discussed the burdens and joys of a military life. More interesting to me was their life as farmers. When he wasn’t donned in this nation’s uniform, he was plowing fields in the Artesian State. It was interesting to interview a farmer to learn his take on government control regulations that had hamstringed the agricultural industry. His mother was just as insightful---if not more so---beings that she had been in the business most of her adult life. It was appalling to learn how much food sits rotting in silos across country, because Uncle Sam pays the farmers not to sell their goods for reason I could barely comprehend. Most enjoyable though were the laughs. It was apparent to this soul that laughter was often administered as the best medicine through both the good times and bad and it kept this family strong.

    The hours spent onboard the east bound Capitol Limited came with it an unexpected responsibility. The seat that I was assigned sat me next to a young lady, Molly, on her way home to New Jersey, if I remember correctly. The moment I was seated and comfortable the doors flew open from the spiritual world. In a flash, Molly’s deceased mother was reaching out to me, followed by a grandmother, aunt, uncle, friend and canine. All had words of love to convey. Not an easy undertaking if I decided to accept this enterprise. I didn’t know my audience and had nowhere to go if she began to think I were nuts. Yet, the spirit world was pretty persistent in asking---more like insistent---that I put on my medium hat (figuratively speaking) and carry out the task of relaying communications. There was nothing abnormal in such requests and certainly not unreasonable; I see spirits accompanied with most people, and am often asked to pass on word of their presence. Only, I am not readily to do so unless the conditions are right. And if I learn that the receiver is a Christian or Catholic, all bets are off that the person will be open minded enough to accept communications from beyond the grave.

    Molly, a Christian, was surprisingly receptive, especially when I started to describe her mother to her in detail. I not only described her physical appearance, I enlightened her to the meaning of her mother’s name. I shared with Molly a keepsake that she held onto that once belonged to her mother, as well as a story of a treasured memory that only the two of them would know. Molly asked questions and received answers, which brought tears to the occasion. When she asked why this was happening now, I shared that the answer was twofold. First, she had spent many nights crying in bed in hopes of hearing from her family, in particular her mother. Each time she begged for word from Heaven, she could not hear and/or interpret the communication sent in response. Second, the spirits knew I’d have a difficult time rejecting their request to use my gifts, and knew I’d be as gentle as I could be with her, meaning Molly. After several hours of playing messenger, I took a leave of absence to the observation car so that Molly could be alone with thoughts and digest the information that been given to her. By the time I returned to coach, many stops had been made in the interim and more passengers had exited the train than had boarded. This left plenty of empty seats to nest in, so I parked myself three rows back from where Molly was seated. The next morning Molly thanked me profusely with tears in her eyes. I was grateful this was one time I didn’t opt to ignore the Heavens.

    Also onboard this train, I would get my first glance at another passenger---a woman with kindred eyes. In passing, I’d acknowledge the beauty they projected and silently couldn’t help wonder if she, too, was Heaven’s messenger. In return, she’d greet my eyes and smile with a smile of her own and a “thanks”. Our paths would only cross twice on that train, both times she was seated and I was passing through the aisle. Both encounters were enough to ignite a tingling sensation within the depths of my Being. Normally, such experiences are an indication that at the Soul level our paths have crossed before, and perhaps reside within the same Soul Circle. I just knew that in a previous carnation or energy form we had shared time together and were certainly no stranger to one another.

    The Capitol Limited would pull into Washington, D.C. and it was here that I would play the waiting game before boarding the Crescent train to Gainsville, Georgia. It was too beautiful a day to spend it indoors, so I exited Union Station to hangout along the plaza in front depot in hopes of getting some flute time in. Low and behold, there she was seated beneath the statue of Columbus. The angle eyes that I couldn’t stop thinking about upon first introductions was there on the plaza enjoying the warmth of the Sun. In passing I said hello and only a few paces from where she was seated I rested my pack and took out the flute. Now I had hoped the flute would be an icebreaker in starting up a conversation. In the few moments it took to carry out this action---she was gone.

    I couldn’t believe my luck upon entering the southbound train that we’d walk the concourse together and board the vessel at the same time. Seated and waiting for the conductor to scan tickets before moving about the train, Angle Eyes reached me before I could seek her out. As she sat down beside me, my smile stretched from ear to ear and my heart began to race. We’d spend much of the next twelve hours in each other’s company conversing with ease, which is highly unlike me. Chatting with her was like talking to a friend I had known all my life. The similarity between our two lives is uncanny.

    The Great Spirit has reminded me on multiple occasions that there are only two root emotions in life, and all other emotions can be linked back to fear or love. In the company of Carrie-Anne (a.k.a. Angle Eyes) there was certainly not an ounce of fear to be found. So that meant love was at hand and I could feel love stirring within. This feeling has been a foreign entity throughout much of life. There is a difference between knowing, experiencing and feeling loved. One can know they are loved without actually having experienced or felt it. One can experience loving acts and not know it’s true identity and not felt what was being projected. One can feel love before knowing and experience is aware of the events unfolding. I have known the love of family and more friends than not, and I have experienced loving acts. However, it has been the rare occasion that I felt love as the motivating force between two people no matter the relationship, whether it be parents, siblings, spouse, or friends and peers. Some of you are probably saying, “Nonsensical.” But it is true, but Carrie-Anne is one of those few individuals that I cannot say that about. And because of the scarcity of such an experience, I’d like to take this moment to share a few intimate words with Miss Angle Eyes, wherever you are, in hopes that she may stumble upon this ballad of sorts…

    My love for you may be fleeting or it could be life long---only time has a way of knowing. But either way the love is genuine. The love I felt for you doesn’t come around but once perhaps twice in a lifetime. It is rare but true and as honest as it is sincere. It can move mountains and soften the waters because it has the strength of a Sequoia and the gentleness of a rose. I write to you not from a position of expectation but of sheer delight. Thinking of you brings with it joy and happiness. For a mere moment in the space-time continuum I felt as though I was someone; I mattered to someone. For a mere moment, I experienced Heaven on Earth and it was amazing. I suppose anyone who has ever met you has experienced similar feelings. You are truly a blessing from above; a gift from the Holy Spirit; an answer to a prayer. I for one am truly grateful for having met your acquaintance.

    The months preceding our introductions, I had been asking the Great Spirit, “When would I experience divine love in the form of a woman?” Repetitively I asked, “When would I know the experience of unconditional love?” Though our time together was a blink of an eye in the history of the universe, the experience was as miraculous as it was surprising. I asked and Deity responded---with you.

    I still believe that to be true. The energy change that occurred within me while in the presence of your company was divine. There wasn't an ounce of toxicity to be identified within the fibers of my being. I was overflowing with love---unconditional love. That was my experience. It doesn't imply that you were experiencing the same. God came to me, through you, in response to my prayers. It wasn't your prayer to experience unconditional love, so you may not have identified the energy shift or aware of what was happening as it was happening.


    As a token of my appreciation for you having answered the call, I wanted to give you something from the heart---something made from my very own hands; an expression of my love and thanks in the form of the handwritten word: Truth. Joy. Happiness. Love. The core of my being. (Such has been mailed already.) Though to some it may not seem enough, but I sense that you are not the norm and would appreciate such sentiment. Nevertheless, even through these eyes it doesn’t feel like an equal trade given all that I received during those few and yet all too short hours together.

    I don’t know if our paths will ever cross again---I’d like to think so but I don’t live with the illusion we will make it so. Unfortunately there are no guarantees in life, so I’ll gladly accept what I have received and will treasure it. Thank you for the gift of your time, conversation, intellect, wisdom, smile, and laughter and beauty; each was precious gift in their own right. You are a precious individual and a wonderful person, and in my book that makes you even more beautiful, gorgeous and sexy as a woman.

    As I’ve been writing this the song We’ve Got Tonight by Kenny Rogers has been playing. I’ll always associate that song with a special night conversing on a train:

    youtube]C3BuITOx3Cs

    Thank you for being you and always remember you have an open invitation to join me in my camp wherever that may be.

    Walk in Beauty,

    BEAR

    Upon exiting the train, I stood in the train yard and flashed the symbol for Peace Be With You followed by the American Sign Language for I Love You. In return, Angle Eyes flashed I Love You as well, as her train was now headed to Atlanta.

    In the days waiting to board the next train, I spent the hours trying to thaw out and get well. I only left the motel room to walk across the highway to visit the Waffle House; the only eatery within a couple of miles. As part of my ministry, I make it a practice to find the good in people and express such the moment it is discovered especially those in the service industry. It doesn’t have to be complex; it can be something as simple as physical attribute---recognizing a beautiful smile. The Great Spirit has made it clear over the years that the most important thing we can do for one another as human being is to empower another by giving them back to themselves. Compliments, words of encouragement, adulations, affection (hugs), demonstrating appreciation and approval empower others to be themselves. As a society we have trained ourselves to make it all too easy to tear one another apart verbally, when so much more can be accomplished by building each other up. It takes no more energy to praise than it does to criticize, but we are quicker to do one than we are the other.

    Having worked in the food industry on more than one occasion, I was quick to learn that in the restaurant business employees are the escape goats to everyone’s problems. Customers are quick to complain and slow to complement; quick to write out a discrepancy and slow---if ever---to jot down gratitude. I make a practice to break out a pen whenever I can, when sitting in a restaurant, to share with management the positive in my observation. I know from experience the written word---good or otherwise---becomes a part of an employee’s file for the annual evaluation, advancement, and service awards. But the spoken word of kindness is soon forgotten the moment the ugliness of a complaint is lodged. With each visit to the Waffle House a note of encouragement was left with management about her employees. I even wrote a kind word about management to management only I didn’t know the gal was in charge. One of my notes even made it to the district level as they were being forwarded by management. I’m told some of them can be found in Waffle House’s Facebook page. The one that got me was when I praised the only male employee. He was a master chef and had the work ethic of a Marine only he had never served in the military. Upon reading my words he found himself fighting back tears, which led me to doing the same. It was as though the man wasn’t accustomed to hearing a kind word let alone one that praised his efforts. There was reason to celebrate when I got back to the motel room as I know I had done good. What a great feeling that was.

    Ten days after exiting the Crescent, I’d return to the Amtrak Station in Gainesville, Georgia to re-board the train to head north and then west. Winter Storm Stella had kicked my butt, and it is with some certainty had I stayed the course the severe cold would have done its darnedest to turn me into a casualty. Onboard the Crescent heading toward Washington, D.C., I observed a young mother exhausted by her efforts to comfort her toddler. The toddler, who appeared to be about 12-15 month old, would express no compassion for her labor of love. Scream---boy did that little boy have a set of lungs on him. I saw no one trying to come to her rescue, so I offered the sound of music. In playing the flute, the boy mellowed right out. Resting against his mother’s bosom he closed his eyes to rest and after a few more songs, I thought I had him right where mom wanted him. Returning to my seat to rest my eyes, as it was well past sunset, it didn’t take long before the vocal cords of that little one were being tested again. He would air his grievances all throughout the night, and the moment the Sun was peeking above the horizon the child was out for the count. Not much sleep was had that night, but it did my heart good to know how powerful the instrument of peace can be when called upon.

    Unfortunately, though, the man that took the seat next to me, in the middle of the night, was fully awake when that boy finally went to sleep. And this was no ordinary gentleman; he was the kind of man that liked to hear himself talk. All efforts to get any sleep were vetoed by this individual. So I took my blanket and pillow and moved to the observation car and crashed there until it was time to switch trains. Despite this, I had the satisfaction of knowing I had tamed a savage beast---the relentless toddler.

    An opportunity to make a difference didn’t present itself on the westbound Capitol Limited or The Empire Builder. I was too exhausted from the Crescent to be awake for long on the Capitol Limited. And I found the staff for The Empire Builder to be very irritating. In riding my nerves the way they were, I thought it best to keep to myself and try not to interact with others. When the train’s schedule called for prolonged stops along the way so that people may get out and stretch or light up cigarettes, I saw an opportunity to play the flute. Little did I know that I would strike a chord with one of the passengers. I wasn’t attentive to who was riding this train, but one of the commuters approached me to give thanks. He was a member of the Lakota tribe and the Native American flute that I was playing resonated with his spirit. He praised me on my skill numerous times. I accepted that as a high compliment. I was grateful for his presence as his words had changed the chemistry within when he delivered a little sunshine to an otherwise gloomy train ride. Thank you, Sir.

    That’s it for this story. Looking back I can now see where I had made a difference is a number of lives, and I can see those who had made a difference in mine. I am grateful for opportunity, experience and the means to be in the right place at the right time. I thank the Heavens for each blessing. I thank you the reader for being interested enough to invest time in these stories.

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

    Walk in Beauty,

    BEAR

    P.S.: Photos were added to a previous story above.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
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  17. Bear

    Bear Junior Ranger

    Camp Coddiwomple, Washington
    Monday, April 3, 2017

    ODYSSEY:
    "The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway." ~ Henry Boye

    Howdy Sunshine! Hello America!

    It’s time, again, but you may not need that cup of joe as this will be a short tale from the Whispering Wind. Get comfortable though---you may enjoy it.

    HOWE SWEET HOME?

    March 2017 may go down as one of the more challenging months The Odyssey has endured. First to be bit by Mother Earth's freezing cold in Georgia to being bit by a pit bull in Washington.

    The events that I am leading into occurred during the period of Friday, March 24 through Sunday, March 26. I had just returned to the west coast base camp a matter of hours on Friday, March 24 having spent parts of five days on a train traveling from the eastern seaboard, before a party of five and a pit bull pulled into Site #30 well after sunset. I wasn't aware of their presence (as I was asleep in the Stagecoach) until they made it known with blaring music, and this was well past 22:00---the commencement of the quiet hours in camp.

    The next morning this party of five wandered down to the beach with their free roaming canine (meaning unleashed), who wandered into my camp site, Site #35, and then into my neighbor's site, Site #37. This dog startled both of us especially her, as this breed frightens her. Neither of us were aware of there being a dog in camp until he freely explored our sites. I acknowledged the presence of this joyous bunch with a howdy as they walked past my site on their way to and from the beach, but I didn't wish to get too close to that dog.

    Through much of Saturday, the host from Site #1 and I were combing the campground for winter fallout and cleaning up deadfall. Afterward, the host and his girlfriend would invite me to dinner. While dinner was cooking, my neighbor stopped by to ask if I could help her after dinner with the leveling process of her camper. When I returned to Site #1, it was easy to see that the host had invited others to join him at his campfire. As I entered the site, Bowser, the pit bull, commenced to growling his disapproval at me. I tried to ease his comfort and mine by talking to him, at the same time I deliberately tried not to look the dog in the eyes---it is unwise to look an angry dog in the eyes. During introductions Bowser leapt at me even though one of his two owners was by his side; the dog was not leashed. Though the dog was aggressive at that very moment I wasn't met with nashing teeth.

    The site host did his part to remedy the situation and provided a rope to Bowser's owner to harness the now agitated dog. As the evening progressed and the host and his girlfriend were chitchatting with their new acquaintances around the campfire, I noticed Bowser had tangled his leash around an electrical cord. In an attempt to comfort Bowser, I fed him food I had no business giving to him. I was hoping this action would allow me to get close enough to untangle the cord and rope. That was a BIG mistake on my part---an error in judgment. A wiser and logical move would have been to inform the owner(s) of the canine's predicament and to let him/her handle it, especially given how the dog introduced itself when I walked into the site. But my heart got the best of me and I tried to handle it on my own. Foolish---absolutely foolish and a lesson learned the hard way. Once my back was turned and I was bent over trying to free the rope, the pit bull wrapped its jaws around my left forearm. Had it not been for the thick jacket and thick shirt that I had been wearing at the time, it is with certainty the canine would have broke skin.

    As I walked away from the growling canine, with arms in the air, one of Bowser's two owners expressed her concern for both the dog and I, and I appreciated that. She asked me multiple times if I were okay and I acknowledged I was. Physically---I was. Only at the time I didn't realize I was slightly in shock. It was like a PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) moment given I had been attacked by two wolf hybrids in Wisconsin a half dozen years earlier. After the occurrence this woman did what she felt was right and returned to her site with dog in tow and the rest of her party following, understandably so.

    What I shared with this gal after Bowser bit me was that he was not to be punished; he sensed something was wrong and was doing what dogs will do---and I still believe that. I still don't know why he jumped me and it really doesn't matter to me. Let bygones be bygones. I just hope that he is okay and is over whatever was bothering him that night. For all I know, the potato chips that I had given him could have set him off. I was wrong for trying to handle the tangled rope on my own. Now having said that, I don't ever wish to see that dog in camp again.

    The campfire was smothered shortly after the incident, the host and his girlfriend retreated to their camper and I headed back to mine. The next morning, shortly after sunrise, I left the campground and when I returned just prior to sunset both Sites #1 and #30 were empty.

    When opportunity presented itself five days later (as I don't own a cell phone, computer or any other technological marvel for communicating with people in British Columbia quicker), I thought it best to notify the host member for Site #30 as well as the board of directors for the campground of the events of that night. This so that the site host would be made aware and could protect herself in the future, by not permitting that dog to ever again come to this members only campground. The last thing she needs is to contend with a lawsuit over something that could have been prevented.

    What surprises me is how Bowser's owner responded---she went on the defensive when there was no need for it. She made it clear in her email that she was no stranger to the campground, and if this is true she should have been aware of the dog/leash requirements and been aware that dog breeds with a history of aggression---such as Rottweiler, Pit bull, Irish Wolfhound---were not permitted in camp. Also, given that she is permitted to use Site #30 there must be some level of relations between her and the member who owns Site #30. And if relations---such as friendship---does exist between the two of them, why did the owner of Site #30 have to hear the news from an acquaintance (me) before hearing it from a friend? This woman had five days to inform the owner of Site #30 of the circumstances, before I had access to a computer, and she didn't capitalize on it---why not? Then again, why didn't Bowser's other owner, the grandson of the owner for Site #30, inform his grandmother of what had happened? That says something about how these two millennials view family and the campground.

    I for one am glad to see March ride off into the sunset of history's annuals. Amen.

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

    Walk in Beauty,

    BEAR
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
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  18. Bear

    Bear Junior Ranger

    Camp Coddiwomple, Washington
    Wednesday, June 21, 2017

    Summer Solstice

    ODYSSEY:
    If you could go back and do it all over again. I WOULD!
    The Odyssey---not life!

    Howdy Sunshine! Hello America!

    It’s time, again, but you may not need that cup of joe as this will be a short tale from the Whispering Wind.

    HAPPEY ANNIVERSARY TO ME!

    Since no one else will say it, I will: Happy Anniversary to ME! The Odyssey turned 12 today and in teardrop time that is equivalent to 93.234 years. In teardrop time, the 100th Anniversary will come to be on May 4, 2018; 48 days shy of The Odyssey's 13 Anniversary. Craig! Cary! Is that as exciting for you as it is for me?! I'm asking in advance that you free up your calendar next year on that date, as I plan to be in Necedah celebrating with you and your wives. I have much to be thankful for and much gratitude to share.

    I'll see ya next time when I bring you up to speed on life after the Appalachian Trail.

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

    Walk in Beauty,

    BEAR
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2017
  19. Betsey

    Betsey Camp-Inn Staff

    Belated Happy Anniversary Bear! Hard to believe it's already been 12 years. And your anniversary day is also a triple event day in our family...It's Craig's birthday....and his younger brother's...and it's the Summer Solstice!

    Look forward to celebrating with you next Spring...will mark May 4 on the calendar!

    Safe travels!

    Betsey
    :)
     
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  20. Bear

    Bear Junior Ranger

    Yahoo! Thank you, Betsey! Looking forward to the time together. To start with, I'd like to treat you, Craig, Holly and Cary to dinner at the finest restaurant in the area. Of course, I'll need help in determining where that is. I sure do owe you four a great deal of thanks for the roles you all played in The Odyssey exceeding all expectations. I love ya all.

    Walk in Beauty,

    BEAR
     
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