July 28, 2018
Holy cow how the time has flown by! We have had two wild and exciting days canyoning and exploring the town of Venice since we last talked and absolutely cannot believe our Italian journey is coming to a final close. Before we get so sad and sentimental about all dispersing back to our permanent homes in the US, lets reminisce on the amazing times we’ve had together!After a well-deserved extended snooze, we all arose bright eyed and ready to accomplish the town day and canyoning. While exploring the tiny little Italian town, Abby and I crept away from the group and bought water guns. To the everyone’s surprise, she lept out from behind a bush and drenched everybody with refreshingly cold water. This was a hilarious spectacle to see and soon erupted into an all out water war, which was much needed in the hot Italian air. After our afternoon of exploring and running around town, we all headed back to our hotel to eat lunch and gear up for canyoning. We were all so excited for some swimming and were extremely thankful for the hot, sweaty day to make the cold mountain water especially refreshing. While waiting for our canyoning transport to pick us up, we bought a soccer ball, and Sam taught the group a fun game of combined juggling with your feet and dodgeball. Even though the game is called deadball, it is completely safe, we promise!! During this game, Alaina took it upon herself to enter the sideline heckler role and squirt the players with fresh waves of water, increasing the competitive edge and silly laughter. Before we knew it, we were all transported to the canyoning trail head, fully geared up from head to toe, wet suits and all. Murphy immediately started the group off down through the canyon valleys by showing them how to army crawl around the winding bends and rushing water. This creatively unique way of exploring nature’s canyons enabled Murph to find the best hideaways for sneak attacks on unsuspecting group members. Soon the trend caught on and everybody was elbow and knee deep in water trying to surprise the people behind them. It was so fun! Along one of the rocky bends, we came across a huge waterfall that we got to rappel down! Elsie could not contain her excitement at being harnessed into a wildly rushing waterfall and did her first ever front flip into the cascading water. Connor, a flipping expert, utilized his newly mastered climbing skills by summiting a massive canyon boulder and did an extremely impressive jump off of it! The whole group erupting in cheers and whoops, celebrating an exponentially victorious day well spent.With sleepy eyes and excited minds, we all slept soundly that night anticipating the wonders of the city on the water! And boy oh boy was it wonderous! We explored the many winding alley ways, stopped at almost every gelato store we saw (Addie brought the group to her favorite gelato spot that serves raspberry and dark chocolate vegan gelato- YUM!) and dined along the Venetian canal at sunset. Barrett, having been to Venice before the trip, used her navigational skills to lead the group to a local hideaway jewelry store where the girls got to purchase some souvenirs. Elizabeth really embraced the cultural immersion and became a true Venetian by performing her dance moves in the square for fellow tourists. Although no money was gained for her performance, she received laughter and praise from the group that is unparalleled to monetary compensation. Sadly, the sun began to set on our spirited adventures, but we did not go out without a final Moonup in the middle of the beautifully lighted (and slightly flooded) San Marco Square. Once returning to our hotel, Trey convinced the group to attempt an all-nighter on our very last night together. He self-appointed himself as the group DJ and kept the energy high with a wide variety of hit songs, ranging from techno to oldies. This was such a special last group chatting time, and we all conversed until our eyelids slowly gave way to exhaustion.And here we are, in the airport giving our final goodbyes to each other. We all cannot believe that the trip has already reached its final destination but feel so grateful to any of you who enabled us to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime journey together. We have learned so much about ourselves and each other, in a way that could never be emulated in another setting. We are the livers of life and will continue to live wholly and fully!Thank you again for sharing all of your wonderous students, friends, and loved ones with us this summer. Mikey and I are speechless at what has been accomplished and cannot wait to continue to share this journey of life with them!And with that, Dolomites B is officially signing off!Ciao,Mikey and Mo
July 25, 2018
Ciao to everybody back in the states! Dolomites 3B has officially made it out of the mountains and are feeling extremely accomplished and proud. Words cannot describe how grateful we feel to have spent the last couple of days trekking across the breathtaking Dolomite Mountains and to have grown so close as a group. We have fallen in love with the Italian way of life and cannot believe the time has flown by so quickly.
During our days of hiking, we covered an immense amount of land, ranging from freshly cut, vibrantly green grass (sprinkled with vividly colorful wildflowers) to rocky mountaintops overlooking lakes and quaint valley towns. We made many new friends along the way, including a particularly friendly herd of cows- Elsie even got a lick from one (her personal high of the trek)! Leadership styles became very evident during our challenging, long treks: while Barrett giggled her way through the mountain ranges, never failing to give the group comical relief, Abby selflessly encouraged the group with motivational talks and pep ups! During one of our most challenging days of trekking, our group passed a pristine mountain lake, and Addie instantly dropped her backpack, threw off her hiking boots, and full-on sprinted toward the still lake. Everyone, including myself, soon ran after her towards the welcoming water with grins from ear to ear and laughter erupting everywhere. We truly lived in the moment. During a water/rest stop at a hidden mountain retreat, Sam and Elizabeth spurred up a soccer game with a local boy. It was so fun to see the excitement the Italian boy displayed at having a buddy to kick the soccer ball with and soon others joined in- such a fun break that we will all remember.
Before we knew it, through many riveting late-night card games and sleepy early morning coffees, we came upon our final stretch of trekking. Trey and Murphy sprinted in front of the group to victoriously lead us up our final uphill portion of our 4-day adventure in the mountains. Once catching up, Connor breezed past the rest-stop refugio and headed straight to the road where the bus was to pick us up. He purposefully sat down on the side of the grass and placed his hands on the road, commemorating a glorious moment of a trek well completed. It made my heart sing to hear the whole group joyfully describing their day with positive words and happiness- especially Alaina, who has found a new lifelong passion for backpacking!
We are now safely out of the mountains and are overcome by bittersweet emotions. Boy how we have enjoyed having the beautiful Dolomites as our own personal playground! But, also, we look toward our future with excitement and glee for what is to come!
I know everybody at home has been dying to hear from the superstars themselves, so here you go!!!! Yes, you guessed it- SHOUTOUT TIME!
Elizabeth- Wazzz up family! The dolos are super dope! I REALLY don’t want to leave the mountains! I can’t wait to see y’all!
Elsie- hey everyone! Miss you a ton! I am having the best time here…I have met so many amazing people! I hope everyone is doing good…including ranger and keely. See you soon:) love els
Barrett- hi family! Missing yall lots! I can’t wait to hear about what yall are up to, and how Oakley is doing at MBA. I am having the best time on this trip! Super challenging but way worth it. FAM TRIP TO THE DOLOMITES? Love you all…. xoxo Bears
Alaina- hey mom and dad I am having sooo much fun and don’t want to come home! Definitely the most challenging thing I have ever done but I love it so much!!!!! Miss y’all a lot <3 tell mh I miss her too
Addie- hi mom, dad, and brooks!!!!!! I miss yall so much and can’t wait to see y’all soon and tell you about what an amazing time I’m having here! I love you all soooo much!!! Tell Annie I love and miss her too
Abby- hey family! I’m having so much fun here and I can’t believe how soon I’ll see you guys. It’s one of the most challenging things that I’ve ever done but it is definitely so worth it. Say hi to rocky for me! See you guys soon! Love y’all!
Sam- hey family. Miss u so much. Can’t wait to see u. Love Sam
Trey- hey family. Miss everyone back home. Happy to see you soon. This trip is way different than Iceland. Love yall
Murphy- hey mom, hey Greg, sup disabled chipmunk! Just hiked 12 miles out of the mountains and am super tired, everything is great and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!
Connor- hi mom and dad! This has been the coolest trip I have ever been on… I’m not gonna say much but its only because I want to save it for when I get back home!!!
I hope all is well in the USA- we will be in touch soon with more news on our latest, never-ending adventures!
July 22, 2018
Wowee wow wow!!! We have had just an incredible five days since we’ve last spoken! We hiked Passo Campolongo in the high alpine meadows of the dolomite range, with views that reminded the whole group of The Sound of Music! The hike put us right at the door step of our next rifugio where we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon which included some good bonding time around the small alpine lake and a delicious pasta dinner to end the night.
The following we day, we woke up early, packed our day packs, and we headed to Monte Lagazoui where we explored the tunnels dug out by the Italian army during WWI to seize control of the mountain’s summit, which at the time was held by the Austrian Army. Trey found cool piece that was definitely a fragment from some type of WW I artifact. Our whole group pondered how crazy it is to think there are still remnants of WW I lying around today! In the afternoon, we hiked to a rifugio that was named squirrel in Italian. This has become our favorite hostel and home base. The name refers to an elite climbing club, made up of only the best climbers to come from the small town of Cortina.
In the morning we discovered a new passion for rock climbing as we tinkered about the cliffs of Cinque Torri. The mountain is an incredibly unique and beautiful outcrop of dolomite rock. Its name, ‘Five Towers’ in English, describes its fascinating form. Due to a little bit of weather we had to alter our plans, but that did not stop this group from making their own fun! Elsie taught us how to play Egyptian rat slap. We played with the same cards she had on her last Moondance trip! If we weren’t playing cards, we were playing a story telling game called ‘Mafia’. Elizabeth’s stories had us all at the edge of our seats with her creativity and energy. Some serious imaginations we have in the Dolomites!
After a good night’s rest, we caught an early bus and headed into Cortina to make the best of a rainy day. On the way, we discovered that there was a classic cars display. Connor, Murphy, and I went full geek mode on some of the cars. Among the highlights: Porsche 356, Aston Martin DB11 Cabriolet, Jaguar E-Type! Once we got into Cortina, we headed straight for the climbing gym where we really got to push our physical limitations and see where we were at as beginning climbers. Barrett got the highest of anyone up a route rated at 6b. If you can climb 6b, you can climb anywhere in the world that you want to! Sam climbed up high above on a 6a, which is so impressive! In the afternoon, we went and got some gelato while window shopping. Abby discovered this little bakery where everyone bought a small passion fruit tart. Best thing I’ve ever tasted? Perhaps. The food here is hard to beat and it’s certainly a strong contender. Later that night, Alaina had the great pleasure of announcing to the entire group that we would be attending a surprise concert! The band was Italy’s official U2 cover band and they played in front of 3,000 people that night. We had no idea this concert was happening, but as we say, we are living in the moment on Moondance! It was a great way to wrap up the night and enjoy some Italian music.
Today, we climbed via ferrata— our steepest and most technical climb yet. Addie showed strong perseverance throughout the day. Her positivity on the route earned her another round as Leader of the Day for tomorrow along with Murphy. We enjoyed a quick lunch after climbing, and headed to our rifugio where we enjoyed a nice dinner and it was off to bed for these adventurous climbers!
Mikey and Mo
July 17, 2018
Family & Friends,
Mikey and Mary Moran have taken a theatrical approach to your first trip update! Please indulge their goofy sense of humor – Sounds like this trip is off to an awesome start!
(Best if read in the most ridiculous of southern accents. Think silly version of Brad Pitt)
I’ll tell y’all what!!! We have just had the rootsenist-tootenist first few days in them there Dolomiti mountains!! We picked all them city slickers up from the air-o-port-o, and right off the bat I could tell that Elizabeth has never met a stranger in her life. That girls just loves to talk, talk, talk. And I praise the high heavens for it, ‘cause lord knows we were needin’ some help gettin the group shuckin’ and jivin’. Her and Elsie got to conversin’ and soon everybody joined in. After what I might call the smoothest airport day this side of the Atlantic, we loaded that bus and were bound for the mountains.
We got to our hotel and I could not believe our eyes. It was probably the fanciest, shmanciest little hotel I ever did lay my eyes on. Darned thing is nestled right in the middle of the rolling green grass hills of Dolomiti. We spent a few hours gettin some R and R and headed to dinner. We sat down, looked around, and I think the others were a little shocked to see 11 teenage americans stormin the restaurant like it were an invasion or somethin. All was fine though. We kept our cool and maintained a ‘low american profile’. The food is almost as good as my grandma’s cookin. We had a ‘rizzeeotoe’ or sumthin’ like that. I just call it rice. Abby tells me she’s pretty excited about this Italian food thing we got goin on— says she comes from a food lovin’ family. Well Barrett is also excited about the food. Her family comes from Italy a few generations back. She told us all to poor balsamic vinegar on our vanilla ice cream. I told her that’s crazy talk, but she stuck to her guns—claims her grandma taught it to her as an ‘Italian delicacy’. I was skeptical, but I tried it. Girl might be on to somethin.
After dinner we had our first Moonup. Moonup is a nice little family-type get together where we all sit in a circle and talk about the day and what not. We chatted, and at the end, Mary Mo and I picked the first LOD’s (that’s short for Leaders of the Day). Well we were thinkin’ that Trey and Elizabeth were properly bonafide LOD’s considerin’ their experiences on Moondance trips and their helpful, bright attitude all day. So we ended our night on that positive note.
Today was a nice introduction to the mountain climbing thing we’re doin here. We did a special type of climbin’. They call it ‘via ferrata’— means iron way or somethin’ like that. Supposedly, the Italian soldiers used these mountain routes in the world wars. Pretty cool stuff. Murphy, Connor and Alaina hitghtailed it up the mountain, leavin’ us all to sniff dust. All the while Mary-Wilson lugged up her Canon. Thing looks like a brick with a strap and a peep-hole. Must be worth it though, ‘cause that things takes great pitchers and she ain’t bad with it.
In the afternoon we relaxed, did a little lookin around town, and some last minute shoppin to get gear we may have forgotten. Once all that was said and done, we had free time and played cards. We played my favorite game on this planet—spoons. Except we had to call it ‘candies’ because we didn’t have spoons. We had to use these little fruit candies from the hotel that will just make your mouth water thinkin’ about’em. For reference, imagine those Turkish Delight things that Edmund asks the ice queen for in Narnia: he lion, the witch and the wardrobe. Yum. Anyway, Sam must of been cheatin’ or somethin ‘cause I just don’t know how he kept on winnin’. Beats me.
We had another great meal, ate some rabbit and some other cute little critters. Then we mooned up and Today’s LOD’s chose tomorrow’s Addie and Murphy— the first LOD’s chosen by their peers. Impressive.
Well anywho, that’s a wrap. We’re havin’ a ball here in Italy.
Mikey and Mo
July 16, 2018
Hello Dolomites Families!
We heard from our leaders last night, and all students have arrived safely in Venice! The trip is off to a great start. Stay tuned for more news from their adventures.