July 31, 2017
Our final trip update!! It’s been a wild two weeks with our Colorado Trail crew, and we’ve loved every minute of it. We’re headed back from the airport with an empty van, but wishing we were still bumping amazing tunes with our kiddos!
July 30, 2017
Even though it’s only been a day since we checked in, a ton has happened! Day 12 brought just as much excitement and fun as all the days leading up to it. We started our last day of activities on the water to raft the Royal Gorge! Before we could take on the string of class four rapids waiting for us in the Gorge, we got to warm up with some class threes. Billy, since we had one more person than paddling seats, jumped to the front to be the raft’s, as the guides call it, windshield. From the third row, I could hear excited yells and laughter. Our time in Browns Canyon showed, as we fell right back into paddling rhythm. Lunch came and went in a hurry and before we knew it we were in the Gorge. The beautiful, sheer 1000 ft rock faces on either side would make the rafting worth it alone, but the Gorge also offers some of the highest quality rapids the country has to offer. Ella, completely fearless, had taken over the windshield position in my raft and got absolutely soaked on our first class four rapid, sunshine falls. Sledgehammer, diddle diddle, boat eater, and wall slammer quickly followed. After making it through the biggest rapids of the Gorge, our wonderful guides, Josh and Rapha, pulled inside an eddy and let us all go cliff jumping! Sailor, always at the head of adventures, sent it off the rock with a sweet front flip, showing us all how it’s done. Others did gainers and cannonballs and I’m happy to say no one attempted the classic belly flop. After the quick break, we were back in the water to finish our day of rafting. Once we reached our takeout spot, a full on water war unleashed. Although I’m not sure how it started, I have my suspicions that CeCe and Sam had something to do with it; the two of them always know how to make the most of small moments. Alliances were formed and broken, but one thing is for sure, no one was safe. It was the best way to end our last day of rafting, but our day was far from over.
It was time for…IRON CHEF!!! Elizabeth and Will, the day’s LODs, were captains of the two teams and the challenge: create a signature burger. As both teams were deciding on their ingredients, an unexpected and fearsome dark horse entered the competition…a vegetarian team. Upon reaching our campsite, the battle begun! Caroline, Matan, and Ella made up the vegetarian team and put their own spin on the classic grilled cheese: using provolone as their base, they added Mac and cheese and a cucumber, mayonnaise, pickle juice mixture as well. I was hesitant at first, and maybe it’s because my stomach was growling, but they were delicious sandwiches! On the meatier side of things, Elizabeth’s group was creating a masterpiece called “the cage.” I saw a lot of effort during the cooking showdown, but I don’t think many matched the determination that Henry and Houston put into their team’s cage burger. It had lettuce, tomato, scrambled eggs, a patty, and, best of all, Cajun cheese fries. Last, but not least, Will’s group tried to improve upon a classic and coined their burger the “all American BBQ burger.” I saw a lot of vision out of this team and a desire to outdo all previous attempts. It had a patty that was 50% beef 50% pork, American cheese, bacon, barbecue sauce, sautéed onions, and jalapeños. Kate showed great EB and kept everyone motivated while Cole, going the extra mile for his team, toasted the buns so they had a perfect crunch. The burgers (and the grilled cheese) were all delicious; Liz, Oakes, and I had to make a tough decision. When all was said and done, though, one sandwich stood out…and the winner of Iron Chef CT 3B was…the all American BBQ burger! Each team truly surpassed my expectations and created dishes that were great – the best part of it all was seeing the kids work together and have a great time. We ended the night with a dance party in the rain and a heartwarming Moonup. It’s strange to think we only have one more night with this great group of kids. In the short amount of time Liz, Oakes and I have been with them we have seen them come together as a family and grow as individuals.
We are dreading the drive to the airport and wishing we could start the trip all over again!
July 29, 2017
Bear Creek Trail in the San Juan Mountains brought laughter, struggle, triumph, and a lot of joy to our group these last few days! On our first day of the backpacking section, we left our campsite at Ridgway late morning after a hearty egg and bratwurst breakfast, loaded up the Uhaul, and off we were to the mountains! Once we arrived to the Bear Creek trailhead, we ate a quick lunch, went over a couple key rules and regulations in the backcountry, and then began hiking. Henry and Ella, our LODs, lead our group on the toughest day with high energy and enthusiasm. We hiked nearly 8 miles, mostly uphill and with our heaviest gear load, to a campsite called the Horseshoe. Once we got to camp, we quickly set up our tents and the tarp for the kitchen because a storm was rolling in fast. We got everything up just in time, while everyone recuperated in their tents, the LODs began cooking dinner, chicken pesto pasta! As the sun set, the thunderstorm went on. It was a beautiful site, to our left was the most orange sky covered in fog and to our right was nothing but blue skies. Although our dinner was late, it was worth it. We then had Moon Up, with the question, “if you were to create any type of shoe, how would you describe it in 5 words?” Let’s just say we’d all be very unique shoe designers.
The next morning we woke up around 7am and ate oatmeal for breakfast. After packing, we headed deeper into the woods. We hiked in multiple open fields full of flowers and animal tracks. One that stood out to us all was the field with sunflowers taller than ourselves. We hiked a little further until Sailor pointed out our next campsite. We all explored near the river and in the field before we began cooking dinner. William and Kate cooked chicken pad Thai and later led Moon Up with the question: if you could turn into any animal what would it be and what two things are you buying after Moondance?
On our last full day of backpacking we started early after a big breakfast of hash browns and sausage. We hiked all the way to the first campsite, closest to the trailhead so our next day wouldn’t be too difficult. On this hike we traveled on a familiar path, which was comforting to most. We arrived to our campsite safely and all bundled up in our tents as the rain slowly went away. In the meantime, Will, Sailor, and William made oatmeal under “Tarp City”. While Sailor and CeCe prepared some delicious pizza bagels, Cole and Sam kept everyone entertained by “swaggin and saggin”. Dinner was followed up by an awesome Moon Up – we were asked a question that challenged us to open up and trust one another. Everyone was incredibly supportive towards others and it just showed how much love we all have for each other. To wrap up the night, we closed by bring out DOUBLE STUFFED OREOS!
Our last day on the trail was short; we hiked a quick two miles to the trailhead. Then we surprised all of the students with a town day in Telluride. We went to several local and souvenir stores where everyone picked out fun items. Matan and Sailor bought some trendy sneakers covered in polka dots. After our shopping was done, we went to Steamie’s Burgers for lunch, where everyone loaded up on food none of us had to make. Later we drove towards our campsite, Five Points, in Canyon City. While Cole, Sailor, William, and Sam climbed up the mountain in our campsite, Elizabeth and Kate played some mind blowing card tricks. For dinner, Houston and Caroline cooked pasta for dinner and lead Moon Up with the question: who is someone who has inspired you? The last two nights have been very meaningful discussions where we all have opened up and learned so much about one another. Although backpacking has come to an end, everyone is very much looking forward to our last day of rafting!
All the best,
Creed, LT, and Oakes
William- Hi, I’m doing good. Went to Telluride today, and also got out of the forest. Didn’t buy anything because we’ve already been there, and wanted to buy something in Wyoming. Love you!
Elizabeth Jeffries- Hi mom and dad. We went to Telluride and I bought some things. We also just finished backpacking today. See you guys soon. Love u
Kate Dann- Hi fam! Miss you all and can’t wait to see you! I’m having so much fun and love being disconnected. Can’t wait to tell you guys all about it! Love you all️️
CeCe- whats up!??? I’ve been praying for you guys and I miss everyone sooo much! I hope all the animals are good and I’ve been running into Roby (Michaels friend) and I’m having such a fun time here! Xoxo see ya soon dudes, CeCe
Caroline- hey!! I miss and love y’all (plus Lulu). We just finished our 4 day backpack and I should’ve worn the shoes before camp. I hope Memphis is good and can’t wait to be back:) I’ve been thinking about y’all lots!!
Ella- sippin my Arizona tea and feelin like a queen
Henwy- Hey mom and dad how’s it going can’t wait to see y’all in a couple of days! I am having so much fun. We went to Telluride today and I got Charles a funny shirt he will think it is hilarious. We hiked a lot on the backpacking trip we got back today. Can’t wait to see you. Love you ️
Sammi: Hey mom and dad! I’m having so much fun at camp. I miss y’all a lot and I can’t wait to see y’all in a couple of days. Love y’all
Matan: ️️⛰⛰ Its been fun, see you soon. ️🇺🇸 go Murica ☠️
Will h:Hey mom and dad! This has been so much fun so far. Can’t wait to come home and see you soon. Love you.
Houston Johnson : Hey parents. This is so much fun! I am making so many friends. We just finished our 25 mile hike. It was amazing. See you soon!
Sailor: hey guys sorry if the bears didn’t get the post card to you yet. I’m having a great time at camp. We just got back from a 24 mile hike. Miss you and love ️ u sailor.
Cole Sabia, Hey Mom and Dad!! I’m having a absolutely amazing time at camp! I’ve met so many new friends over this 2 weeks! We just got back from a 25 mile hike in the San Juan mountains witch was very fun and hard. We just also went to Telluride and that was very fun and a all around a awesome town! Mom you would love it! I really liked climbing the sand dunes and rock climbing also!! Im sad this 2 weeks are almost over! I hope you guys had a great time in Saint Thomas enjoying the sun and beaches!! And Nico if your reading this before I’m home I hope you had an amazing trip as well ️️ u guys and miss u!!! See you soon -️️Cole
July 25, 2017
Hi from a rainy evening at Ridgway State Park! The students are hard at work setting up tents and packing for our upcoming backpacking section in the San Juan Mountains. It’s been a long, long day (but an amazing one!) since our 2:30am wake-up call in Great Sand Dunes National Park. We got to bed early last night in prep for our sunrise hike – everyone was ready to hit the hay after a fun-filled day of ziplining in the Royal Gorge.
Before ziplining, we spent our final night in Salida, one of Creed, Elizabeth and I’s favorite spots. The leaders of the day, Cole and Elizabeth, cooked up quesadillas for everyone before leading a hike up to the top of a nearby hill to watch a stunning sunset over the Arkansas River and the Collegiate Peaks.
We woke early the next morning and headed out on our drive to Cañon City and the Royal Gorge. The drive to Royal Gorge winds through red rock canyons along the Arkansas – the perfect drive to get everyone pumped up for a full day of ziplining!
Our course around the Royal Gorge overlooked the Sangre de Cristo mountain range and spanned several acres of beautiful desert land. Our guides helped us spot some local wildlife, including chipmunks and tarantula holes (no actual tarantulas, thankfully!). Our 9-line course ended in a double zip line, where we could challenge each other to a friendly bet to see who would win. After a lot of back and forth, the come-from-behind winner was CeCe while she raced Ella. Their bet was to shave Ella’s eyebrows (one bet that we won’t be following through with), but everyone had a good time imagining someone having to be eyebrow-less for the rest of the trip.
After ziplining, we all piled in the car and headed south around the Sangre de Cristos to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. After a delicious dinner of jambalaya prepared by our wonderful LOD’s Sam and Kate, and a birthday celebration of Creed complete with chocolate cake and singing, we all got to bed early in preparation for a big day.
Today we woke up at a ridiculously early hour in order to catch the sunrise on the highest sand dune in North America (Star Dune), and it was so worth it!! After a grueling 3 mile hike we finally summited Star Dune around 5 in the morning. Once on top, Will kept everyone’s spirits high with his constant encouragement of everyone in the group. Henry and Houston broke out the “sand board” – a sand snowboard that we rented for the morning and shredded some dunes. Cole, always one to try new things, was the most persistent about mastering the sand board, and Matan kindly offered to carry it for someone else during one particularly tough uphill climb.
After a beautiful sunrise, Sailor surprised everyone with his natural talent for photography. Everyone got a solo silhouette shot on Sailor’s camera! William kept everyone laughing on the way back down with his impression of a lizard slithering down the dunes, while Caroline and Elizabeth Oakes took turns creating some sweet GoPro footage.
We’ve loved seeing how much the group has bonded in the past few days. The Sand Dunes hike is a special time – it’s a tough hike with a really sweet reward, and we’re so proud of everyone who pushed themselves physically and mentally to reach the top. Sand Dunes always brings the group together, but backpacking is where the magic happens. Creed, Elizabeth and I are so excited to make new memories with this A+ group. We’re hard at work prepping for our hike through the San Juan National Forest, and we’ll check back in in a few days!!
Cece: Yooo miss y’all soo much I’m having a great time and making new friends 🙂
Matan: Hey guys, I hope you guys are having fun in Colorado, i know I am! Love you and I’ll see you at the airport.
Houston: Hey guys! I am having so much fun. I hope you are too. Tomorrow we are going hiking. Love you!!
Ella: Hey y’all, Dad, please pay my phone bill so I can call Granddad and y’all at the airport. Having fun – just went on the sand dunes.
Caroline: Hey guys I’ll see y’all in exactly a week (today is Monday)!!. I’m having so much fun and miss y’all bunches!!
William Diman: Hi Mom and Dad and Betsy, having a fun time, miss you. See you relatively soon!
Elizabeth: Hey guys hope you are having fun! We were just at the sand dunes! Going backpacking tomorrow! Love you!
Sailor: Hey Mom and Dad, I’m having so much fun on Moondance I hope Gavin had fun at camp! We are leaving to backpack tomorrow, love you and miss you. SPW
Henry: Hi Mom and Dad I am having so much fun on the trip. We did the sand dunes at 2:30 this morning which was so much fun. The sunrise was so pretty. Love and miss y’all so much. Tell Charles and Ruby I said herro.
Sam: Hey y’all!! In having a blast hereon Moondance. We woke up at 2:30 in the morning to climb the highest sand dunes in the US. I miss y’all so much and can’t wait to see y’all.
Cole: Hey guys, I miss you guys so much!! But I’m having so much fun on Moondance! This morning we woke up at 2:30am to climb the sand dunes!! Miss you and love you
Kate: Hey! I miss you guys so much! We did the sand dunes today! I’m having so much fun! Love and miss you
Will H: Hi Mom and Dad! I miss you guys and I hope you are having a good time with no kids. The sand dunes were really cool, and we are going on our 4 night backpacking trip tomorrow! Love y’all!
July 23, 2017
You can rest easy; your kids are no longer with strangers. I’m happy to say we are all family now. When we last checked in, I’ll be honest, we had begun to smell. Luckily the past two days on the Arkansas River have helped the stench along with bringing us closer together.
Day 4 began with high energy and an eagerness to get on the water. We were at River Runners by 8:30 and in our rafts in less than an hour! Sam and Will, without hesitation, took the front two seats in one raft; their enthusiasm alone could have propelled the raft straight through the rapids we faced. Before long both raft groups had found their strokes and looked like experienced paddlers! After going through the monstrous House Rock rapid and the speedy Silver Bullet, we stopped for lunch. Here, Billy and Henry showed off their corn hole skills, taking on all who were bold enough to challenge them. Scared of being embarrassed, I maintained my position as a spectator. Soon enough though we were back on the river to enjoy some calm “boogie” water before reaching our campsite along the river, upon arriving at Browns Canyon Creek, we explored our home for the night. Sailor, who always brings fun ideas to the group, motivated us all to hike up the hill side. From there, we got to scout the first rapid of day 5, Zoom Flume! Upon coming back down, Harrison, Tee and Niki had prepared an awesome dinner for us – the kids jokingly said they should be our chefs for the rest of the trip. As night fell, Caroline and Will, the day’s LODs, facilitated Moonup. I’m unsure if it was having to work together to get through rapids or the “groover” talk the guides gave us, but I felt all of us grow closer that night. We ended the day the best way I know how, with s’mores over an open fire and stars lighting up the night sky.
Day 5 brought a hunger in our bellies: some of it was satisfied by an incredible breakfast, but most of it could only be filled by the excitement the day’s rapids would bring. Before we could send it down the river, however, we got to enjoy a relaxed, easy morning. Some kids hiked up on rocks, some elected to fly fish, CeCe on the other hand, decided to post up by the water and socialize with each passing raft. Cole and Elizabeth, as LODs, showed tremendous leadership by heading a trash sweep around our camp – seeing kids buy into the LNT philosophy is an extremely rewarding part of these trips. With all that done, we hopped on our rafts and were on our way! I can happily say that through Zoom Flume, the Big Drop, Staircase, and Boat Ripper not a single kid fell out, though we were all drenched like we had gotten tossed. We took lunch just after Sidel’s Suckhole; a beautiful little spot that allowed us some shade and the opportunity to see other rafts go down the rapid. As we wrapped up eating, Niki and Tee set up a makeshift slide with their rafts. Finding one could not slide down it, quite frankly, at all, Ella was one of the first to roll down into the water! Her ability to change the situation into something fun made it a memorable moment for everyone. Back in the rafts, Twin Falls, our last rapid, came quickly. With all the previous experience earlier in the day, it was no challenge. What was challenging, however, were the riddles we did for the remainder of our time on the water. Let me tell you, I have never seen someone crack as many riddles on their own as Matan did – the guy gets them as easily as a two piece puzzle. Sadly, we arrived at the pullout spot and our time on the water was done. As we all grabbed our gear and waited to hop in the bus back to River Runners, Kate was a tremendous help and aided the guides with loading the rafts up. I’ll also add, she helped me with my golf swing, so all my future golf success goes to her. The day ended with us back at Hecla Junction for another wonderful Moonup and night. It’s exciting to see these kids become family with one another and it’s the most rewarding part of Oakes, Liz, and I’s job to help foster and be part of it. Thank you, parents, for having such incredible kids and giving us the opportunity to spend two weeks with them. We’re already five days through and I’m hoping the next nine do not go as quickly as these past days have, but that’s thinking a little too far ahead; for now, we’ll continue to live in the moment.
Until next time,
Creed, Elizabeth, and Liz
July 22, 2017
Hey, what’s up, hello from the beautiful state, Colorado! Creed, LT, and Oakes eager and ready for third session – after arriving super early to the airport for our first students, we were able to get out of there around 2pm. We loaded up our van and headed towards Lakeview Campground in Almont. Although the drive was incredibly long, we had awesome jam sessions in the car and all began getting to know one another. We stopped for some pizza in Salida and then continued on. Once we arrived to Lakeview, we taught everyone how to pitch a tent and had our first Moon Up – we shared why we all decided to take part in Moondance this summer and then announced our LODs (leader of the day), for our first day of rock climbing, Cece and Houston! Quickly after Moon Up, we bundled up in our tents to get fully rested for our first day of activity!
Day 2 consisted of a lot of sweat and laughs. We woke our LODs up around 7:45am so they could lay our breakfast, muffins and bananas, and lunch. We then made our sandwiches, filled up our water bottles, and drove 20 minutes towards Mike and Annie’s, which is where we climbed. Annie, one of our guides, met us in the parking lot when we’re picked up gear. Then we hiked about 5 minutes to the rock walls, where we met up with Alex and Mark. Everyone was about to bale and climb. Matan but his fear of heights aside and challenged himself by climbing one of the rock faces. Cece, Kate and Caroline also pushed themselves by trying different climbs. We then drove to Crested Butte, where we went to Third Bowl for some ice cream! Creed then took a group of boys to a fly shop, Oakes went with a crew to a donut shop, and LT and Billy went to a bunch of different shops collecting business cards, one of William’s hobbies. After a fun day in Crested Butte, we drove back to Lakeview. Creed and Oakes took some people down to the lake, where everyone dunked their heads in the freezing cold water before it started looking like it was going storm and then we left. For dinner, Houston and CeCe cooked turkey fajitas – they were scrumptious. While dinner was being prepared, everyone else played multiple games of Mafia. During dinner we all went around and talked about our most favorite vacation. Then we cleaned up and had Moon Up. After multiple nugs were thrown out, the question was asked: what is your most embarrassing story? LT and Oakes closed Moon Up by singing Stand By Me. Afterwards, Will lead another game of Mafia as the narrator. We all then went to sleep and rested up for the morning.
Today we woke up around 7am and cooked some, as Sam would say, “beckfest” – which consisted of eggs and bacon!!!! Our LODs, Ella and Henry, did and EGGcellent job preparing and cleaning the meal. We then packed up camp and drove towards Second Buttress for our last day of climbing. William and Oakes had created a bet yesterday – timed climb, best two out of three. As of yesterday it was tied, the bet was neck and neck and so today was the championship round! William ran the route four times before the timed race and as LT said accurately, “Hard work beats talent and talent doesn’t put in hard work” and with that, William crushed Oakes in the last climb. Houston also did an awesome job climbing all three routes and reaching the top of them all – his patience and determination got him there! After a long day of climbing, we thanked Mark, Annie, and Lee for hanging out and teaching us more about climbing before parting ways. We then left Almont and drove towars our campsite outside of Salida called Hecla Junction, which sits right on the Arkansas River. Once we got to our campsite, we set up tents and quickly went to the river. Sailor was “sending it” the entire time and most everyone got in the water. Creed took Sailor, Cole, and Henry fishing afterwards and then we started cooking Mac and cheese + bratwurst for dinner. We then hung out for a little, more Mafia and truth or dares, then we had Moon Up. The question was, what is your dream job? Our answers ranged from wildlife photographs to CEOs to FBI agents! LT and Oakes then again closed Moon Up with another song, Flowers in her Hair by the Lumineers. With plans of a full nights rest, we will be fully charged for whitewater rafting tomorrow!
CeCe: hey “you guys”!! Tell duke and Lexi and Luna I said hey. I’m having a blast:))
Caroline: Hey!! I miss y’all a lot but I’m having a lot of fun. It’s so much better than TVRC. LOVE YALL!!
Ella: hey y’all! I’m having so much more fun than CHC and have made a bunch of friends! See y’all soon!
Matan: Hey guys! I hope you guys are having a great time. I definitely am. I miss you and I’ll see you soon.
Cole: Hey guys in having an amazing time! I made so many great freinds! Hope you guys are having a great time in saint thomas!! Love you!!
HENRY: HI MOM AND DAD HAVING A FUN TIME IN COLORADO WE ARE GOING WHITEWATER RAFTING TOMORROW AND I AM SO EXCITED LOVE AND MISS YOU miss you too Charles and ruby
will: hi mom and dad colorado is really fun. i am very exited for the rest of the trip. love u and miss u
Sam: hi mom and dad! i am having a great time in Colorado, and I can’t wait to see y’all.
Elizabeth: Hi mom and dad! I am having so much fun in Colorado. I also can’t wait to see u y’all. Hope u are having fun in Vail.
Kate: Hi mom and dad! I’m making great friends! I miss you guys so much! Love you and can’t wait to tell you all about it!
Sailor: Hi mom and dad, I’m having a lot of fun at camp. I’ve maid some friends, can’t wait to reunite with yual your truly. Sailor.
Hey parents! I am having the time of my life! This is truly an amazing experience! This is better than any camp that I have ever participated in! It is so much fun!
William- Yello mom and dad, having a bunch of fun. Love you and miss you. Will be home “soon”.