Participant Comments
"American Odyssey is a life changing experience. I truly loved every bit of it because it helped me grow and learn so much. Not only does seeing so much of our beautiful country change you, but I was sort of "on my own," away from those I usually do things with, doing things I have never done (Something hidden, go and find it"I did! ).
This trip has helped me gain confidence. I am much more likely to Go For It now. Not only am I more willing to try something new, but I have become more assertive. I think this has to do with the confidence boost I got. The relationships I formed on this trip are so special to me. I will never forget those that accompanied me on this Odyssey. I love every single person that rode the Bertha E. Lee. Each holds a special place in my heart. I will never forget the people and places of American Odyssey. I will always treasure these memories."

Angie Reid, Teaching Fellow, ASU AO96

This summer two of the ECU Teaching Fellows participated in the American Odyssey Junior Enrichment Experience.
"I was really very glad that Steven traveled with you on American Odyssey this summer. He is truly a changed person. His world is much larger, his understanding has been broadened, and his self confidence has grown immensely."
Theresa's experience on the trip inspired and motivated her as a young educator to serve as a role model and a leader for Teaching Fellows both on campus and in the entire program. She returned to school this year with a tremendous amount of energy, enthusiasm, and a real zeal to begin this role. I feel that much of this is a direct result of her summer experience with American Odyssey."
Dr. Ronny VanSant, Director, Teaching Fellows Program, East Carolina University

"American Odyssey was truly a great experience. It has changed my life in so many wonderful ways. It has helped me grow as a person both mentallyand physically. The trip was filled with so many breathtaking sights and experiences. I wish that I was still on the trip. Those were the best 24 days of my life. I made life-long friends and visited places that I may never see again. I will never forget all the friends and special memories. Thanks, Dad, for putting together such a neat experience for young people and asking me to share it with you."
Katie Barlow, South Rowan High School AO96

"The American Odyssey trip of the summer of 1996 was one experience that I will carry with me all of my life. It was amazing to go to the places that we went and challenge ourselves like we did. We pushed ourselves to our physical limits but never failed to succeed in whatever we tried. I feel that this trip is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I learned more about our country in those short 24 days than I could have learned in any textbook. More importantly, I learned more about myself than I could have learned in ten years.
The things that I learned about myself are really important to me because I think that I am a better person now because I know these things. The trip has opened my eyes to people who may not move in the same circles as me, but still have a lot in common with me. I probably would never have gotten to know them if it wasn't for the trip and and my life would be lacking something that is really important to me now. I also learned that the luxuries of life are not as important to me as they once were. I also learned how to get along with people that I don't get along with better and I came to realize just how emotional I am. My life has truly been changed as a result of this trip.
The American Odyssey trip was one of the most amazing times of my life. I learned more about America and myself than I ever could have imagined. I will never forget it!"
Leigh Butler, Teaching Fellow, UNCW AO96

"American Odyssey should go down as the best time of my life. I wish that it hadn't ever ended because the friends I made and the experiences I shared with each other person will never be forgotten. Everyone was there for each other. Every day that we are apart, I miss them more. I hope that in the future we can get together and have a reunion. This trip has also taught me that there is more in life than modern technology. There is a whole world of nature and personal firsts. My favorite experience and the most challenging was the Grand Canyon. We all pulled together as a team and went from the South Rim to the Colorado River and back in one day. I hope to get to go again to make new friends and see more of our great country."
Chris Burnette, Mooresville Senior High AO96

"I have always loved to travel and this was my first really big traveling experience. I wanted to see what my country had to offer me. After twenty-four long but short days with my new family, I wouldn't trade my experience for the world. Through teamwork and motivation, we were able to overcome all obstacles in our path and succeed in everything that we attempted. This awesome experience will definitely be an asset in my classroom. I gained some great motivational strategies that will help my students succeed.
It is really weird to be away from my American Odyssey family. After being so close to eighteen other people for nearly a month, I know the memories will last a lifetime.
The only thing that I would change about the trip would be for it not to end. I recommend the whole world for this trip. I am very interested in being part of the staff in a few years. I really want to see the experience from that perspective."
Kevin Smith, Teaching Fellow, UNC-W AO97

"It was the trip of a lifetime  visiting places that I had previously only dreamed of going. I strolled through National Parks that are world famous. I rafted on the Snake River. I went to a rodeo in Cody, Wyoming, the rodeo capitol of the world. I hiked from rim to river and back in the Grand Canyon. I frolicked in Disneyland. I camped for twenty-three nights in a row  battling insects, heat, wind, rain, sleet, and yes, even SNOW. I saw God's wonderful and amazing creation first  hand. American Odyssey is an experience that I will never forget! The people that I met will become friends for a lifetime. We laughed, joked, sang, played games, and talked about our childhood and common interests. More important than anything else, I learned  astronomy, geology, spelunking, how to get along with others, how to survive in the wilderness, and about America's history. I will never forget the memories that I made while exploring the Western Frontier of the United States.
Thank you to everyone who helped to make this trip possible.
There is not a day that passes when I don't think about a place that I visited or a person that I met on American Odyssey'97"
Lyndsey Jessup, Teaching Fellow, Elon College AO97

"This journey has meant traveling to far off places and seeing new lands, new people and how they live. We saw what the real "boonies" were, and we also saw some "real" cities. The experience has meant that we had to get to know the other participants as a family would including their hopes, their dreams, and their past experiences. By doing this we were able to better lift each other up. We learned about the miracles of nature which carves out the land and stretches the mountains to the sky. This trip holds great memories which I will always treasure."
Lisa Yontz, Teaching Fellow, ASU AO97

"A trip of a lifetime. My American Odyssey experience was one that I will never forget. What I have done on this 24 day trip is what some can only dream to do in a lifetime. I have gained more from this trip than just 9,850 miles or even the incredible adventure that it was. I now have 18 new friends, a new perspective of America, and a new view of myself.
The experiences I have gone through on this trip have forced me to change my personality. I had to adapt to 18 new people, find courage as we went down the Snake River, show leadership as we came out of the Grand Canyon, and have sympathy and support for my new family members.
I now have traveled across America from coast to coast and now when I look at a map, I don't see the geography, all I see is a Big Page Full of Memories."

Mike Deal, Mooresville Senior High AO97

"American Odyssey was the best thing that I have ever done! Seeing the United States with eighteen wonderful people has changed my life. Everyone on the trip was wonderful. It was a great change from everyday life. The fact that we, as a group, went through everything together made us really close knit. There was a family feeling that added to the comfort and relaxation level of the trip.
American Odyssey was the longest trip that I have ever been on. I discovered a new feeling of independence on the trip. I found out that I am able to enjoy life away from my family and friends. In the process, I was able to form lasting friendships with people whom I'd never met before. I learned a lot about interacting with people. This is important to me because I am going off to a big university this fall. The trip gave me lots of confidence in myself and my ability to meet different people and adapt to different situations.
I loved the simplicity of the trip. It was a wonderful break from the hassles of everyday life. On American Odyssey, your "job" was basically to have fun! Also, it was expected of you to push your limits. One example of this is the Grand Canyon hike. I think that the hike from rim to river should remain a part of the trip. It is honestly the biggest accomplishment of my life. I want future AO participants to experience the feelings that I did after the hike. It was truly awesome!!
It was great to experience things that I had only read about. Now, when I read about places like the Grand Canyon or San Fransisco, I can picture them in my mind. I know that I will never forget the places that I have seen. I loved writing in my journal on the trip. It gave me a chance to reflect on my accomplishments and feelings. In one part of my journal, I wrote that I could "feel myself growing up." This was very true. I found out a lot about how I see myself and how other people see me on this trip. American Odyssey has truly changed my life. I will never forget it or the people who experienced the U.S. with me . When I returned from American Odyssey, I felt kind of down for awhile. I couldn't believe that the trip was over! I missed my AO "family" very much. When I start to feel this way, I look at my pictures and they always make me smile. I'll always remember the trip and all of the wonderful people that experienced it with me. It is truly something that will last a lifetime.
Thank you, Mr. Barlow, for allowing me to take this trip with you. I will definitely take more trips with you in the future.
Tracy Goodman, Appalachain State University AO97

"See the Western U.S. in twenty-four days and have a better time than the 97 American Odyssey group. It seems hard to imagine. It is the special quirky things about the trip that makes it so amazing. The jokes that everyone understands, the stories, the shared moments, and the memories that everyone takes with them. The trip has personal meanings for each also. The person you sat with most often and the people on your van will always be special. The places you'll hold dear to your heart and know that one day you will return to will always stand out. Everyone has a different experience, an experience that is special to them personally. We made great friends, had amazing times, spent hours swapping stories, and discovering each other and ourselves.
For me, the trip was enhanced by reading Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Everything was made better by that book. I think that it would have been a life-changing trip without it also. I loved it.
Tabitha Judy, Teaching Fellow, UNC-G AO97

"My American Odyssey trip was so memorable that even though I went in the summer, not a day goes by that I don't think about the experience. Someone will make a remark or I will see something and I smile and remember a particular event or moment from the trip. I would highly recommend the American Odyssey adventure - What an introduction to our fabulous country  and oneself!!"

Lexi Folnsbee, Junior, East Mecklenburg High School AO97

"Not a day passes that I do not reflect with thanks about my American Odyssey experience. I was a participant on the 24 day Western program that hiked from rim to river in the Grand Canyon and back in one day. We rafted the Snake River in Wyoming, and hiked and climbed in the Sierras, we swam in ice water in Yosemite. We all learned by pushing our limits farther than we thought we could. My life has not been the same since. I now know that I can adapt to almost anything. I have learned that my attitude matters more than my circumstance."
Glenn Barlow, 19, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College AO97

"The American Odyssey trip for the summer of '97 was one of the most memorable things that I have ever done in my life. How do you explain a trip of this magnitude in terms of personal discovery or affect? We started as a family of 19 different people who didn't know each other or what would lie ahead. Little did we know that we would bond to become a great loving, supporting, Family by the end of the 24 day long yet short adventure. There were times that we laughed, and times that we cried. Most of all, through teamwork and motivation we were able to overcome any and all obstacles in our path and succeed in everything that we attempted.
It was a trip that a lot of people dream of taking. We visited places that I thought I would never get to see in this life. Dave, our leader, had so many different challenges for us. As a Boy Scout (Eagle Scout), I had been camping many times, but I think that this trip pushed those camping experiences far past anything that I had ever done. We camped out every night, mostly under the stars and were awestruck by the beauty of the heavens. Each night was an astronomy lesson.
This trip helped many of us become more independent. Some people went from never being in charge of their own money to having to set up their own budget for a month. I along with others on the trip found out that there was so much that we could enjoy being out and away from our families and friends that we had always been with. Through this we had to develop openness to create new lasting friendships. In conclusion, I can say that this trip of American Odyssey '97 was the best thing that I feel you can do to get personal discovery, family orientation and education of our great "out west." There is so much that I will always laugh about and never forget. Things like getting carded in Vegas, asking for a donkey in the Canyon, and the volleyball girls in Colorado. I find myself looking at things each day and just talking to whom ever is with me or just talking to myself saying, "Been there, done that, and DIDN'T FORGET."
Phillippians4:4-7 "Rejoice in the Lord always. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
Eddie Karriker, 21, Montreat College AO97

"Since I was young, my dream was to always travel the Great American West. Opportunities came and went, but I passed all of them up waiting for just the right one. American Odyssey came along at just the right time in my life. Probably the most important thing that I came away with from this trip were the friendships that I developed. Never had I been so close to a group of people as those from American Odyssey. The relationships that were formed and the unity of the group as a whole were an experience beyond anything I can describe. Each person touched my life in some way, shape, or form which has changed me for the better. I also have decided to pursue my lifelong love, geology, as a result of the trip. I am a very fortunate person to have gotten to know David Barlow and the rest of the American Odyssey crew '97. Thanks Dave for all you have done for me. I love you bud. And remember future Aoer's, "KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE GLOBE AT ALL TIMES."
Jason Smith, 20, Montreat College AO97

"When I first approached my parents about doing the American Odyssey trip their reactions were not overly enthusiastic. My mother couldn't believe that I wanted to camp out for that amount of time. My father thought that I should go to Europe which was a dream of his. Fortunately for me my parents are understanding and they agreed that it was my choice.
The American Odyssey trip was a once in a lifetime experience. When it was over, I couldn't believe that the twenty-four days had gone by so quickly. The sights that we saw on this trip were inspiring. I found a great faith in God and the ability he has to change our life. I know mine changed during this trip. Some of our experiences I will probably never repeat, but I know that I learned from all of them and I will treasure every memory that I made. The people on this trip were wonderful. At many different times I was shown how generous they could be. I will treasure my AO "family" always and be there for them if they ever need me. This trip has meant more to me than can ever be expressed with just words. It will hold a special place in my heart and I believe that the experience will help me for the rest of my life. It will give me a base to draw on and experiences that are absolutely incredible to remember. Please call me in the future if you need a counselor."
Becka Lorenz, Teaching Fellow, UNCC AO96

"I want to thank you for putting this trip together. I had a ball. I made friends on Discovery, but those relationships were nothing like the ones I made on American Odyssey. I missed my friends from the trip as soon as I woke up the day after I returned home. Three weeks later, I am still missing my friends. Everyone on the trip gave me a special memory to cherish and for that, I am grateful. Keep in touch because I really want to go again."

Steven Starling, Teaching Fellow, ECU AO96



Laura Carr, Teaching Fellow, ECU
Nancy Carr, Teaching Fellow, Apex Elementary School
Carole Carr, ECU Nursing Major, Graduated 1998
Lesli Peebles, Teaching Fellow, ECU
Sara Williamson, Teaching Fellow, ASU
Shalene Young, Outdoor Recreation Major, ASU
Mandy Thrasher, Teaching Fellow, ASU
Adam Massie, Freshman, ASU
Suzette Gudac, Teaching Fellow, Elon College
Grant Baldwin, CPCC, To transfer to ASU
Natalie Miller, Univ. of Southern California
Sam Mills, Freshman, Lees McRae College
Ryan Faulise, Mitchell College, Mooresville, NC
Carrie Mauger, Mooresville High School
Glenn Barlow, Rowan-Cabarrus Comm. College