June 25, 2019
Surfs up from California!
We couldn’t imagine a better end to our trip. After an incredible time rafting on the American River, we left for San Francisco!
After one of our quicker van rides with lots of sing-a-longs, we arrived at our campground. It was spacious, which was great for running around; plus there was an awesome spot near a river for everyone to hang up their Eno hammocks. Once we had set up camp, we got started on cooking some delicious personal quesadilla pizzas with an assortment of toppings. Margaret and Caden cheffed it up and gave us all very generous portions of cheese! Later that night, we had Moonup under the stars, led by Helen and Beth, who opened the Nug Jug with a riveting and creative story they made up on the spot. We all applauded them! We ended Moonup by doing our favorite – Sally Ups with squats!
The next day was particularly special as it was Miller’s 13th birthday!! We woke him and the whole squad up with music and birthday hats, and of course sang happy birthday in our scratchy morning voices. After a breakfast of homemade cinnamon rolls, we packed up camp and headed into the city by the bay, San Francisco! We had the best time in the van singing along to our favorite songs and listened to a personal favorite, UCLA, as we crossed the stunning Golden Gate Bridge. We couldn’t wait to walk across it and when we finally did, it do not disappoint. While walking the bridge, morale was high and, following Charlie’s lead, everyone shared their happiness by giving high fives to strangers who passed by, making the smile in response. Miller even tried to keep up with a runner who started to race him and eventually won! We had a blast!
Next up was the breathtaking views of Sutro Baths in northern San Francisco. We ate lunch on a big rock that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. Caden’s excitement to explore the area was contagious, and he had everyone wanting to go adventure around the cool coves and rock formations. Miller and Charlie both bought harmonicas at the gift shop which they have continued to play enthusiastically throughout the rest of the trip!
Following our time in San Fran, we hopped back in the van and headed back to where our adventure began – Half Moon Bay! We arrived and were so psyched when we saw that our campsite was close, only a step from the ocean. It was such a beautiful day and so warm that we all decided to change into or bathing suits and go swimming! Margaret showed fearlessness despite the water being chilly by diving right into the waves. Beth got most of the squad to participate in what we called “shake and bake” where we roll in the warm sand and then run out into the water to clean off! We also gave Peter a mermaid tail as we buried his whole body in the sand!
Once we had rinsed the sand off and changed into warm, dry clothes, we got ready for dinner. But this dinner wasn’t a normal dinner; it was Iron Chef! We laid out all of the unused/leftover foods, made two teams lead by the LODs of the day, Kate and Cates, and started the competition. Kate served up a meal that was designed to bring us back to or childhoods, peanut butter pancakes ad M&Ms! It was like dessert for dinner and so yummy. Cates lead the team in making scrumptious tortilla dumplings with an array of sauces. And later, Mia blew us away with her incredible dessert! It was a tie between the two teams as both were so creative and concocted delicious meals.
The next day, we awoke early for our second session of surfing! We could not wait to get back in the water! The waves were bigger, and Helen showed to be more confident by tackling them! Since there were some intense waves, Cates and Hunter took a breather and sunbathed on the beach, greeting everyone with cheers as they came out of the water. We ate lunch at the beach and then headed back to the campsite where we began cleaning! The group also got to take out their tie-dye shirts, which all came out as fantastic spirals!
After a fun and silly cleaning session, we went to Goodwill to thrift shop and everyone found fabulous statement pieces. We went back to our campsite, showered, and got dressed up in our new outfits. Peter went for a business-casual look, while Helen and Margaret modeled their look after Billie Eilish. Everyone was stylin’! We went to get Mexican food for banquet where we gave out superlatives and had so many good belly laughs. We hopped back in the van, pulled into a gas station, and had a glow stick dance party in our beloved van. It was awesome!
After banquet, we set camp back up, brushed our teeth, and prepared for our final Moonup. We had many nugs to give as the trip was so wonderful, and then we talked about our biggest takeaways from the past 14 days, which we all agreed was not enough time. Kate, Charlie, Helen, and Margaret slept outside underneath the stars while the rest of us huddled up in our tents for our last night.
We woke up stunned that it was departure day, but so blissfully happy that we had formed the most amazing bonds and done some pretty incredible things.
Kristin, Thomas & May May
June 23, 2019
Oh hello there from California!!
We have spent the last two days rafting on the American river. The group didn’t hesitate a bit to hop into the water! We began our day with a little extra sleep and hang out time in the morning. Hunter and Kate led the group in some dances from the famous “tick tock” app. After breakfast, though, our morning was quickly taken up by a wildly fun water fight, led by Caden! The boys began this fight after they purchased water guns and attacked the rest of the group. No need to fear, however, the rest of the group, led by Helen, quickly got the boys back by dumping pots and Nalgenes full of water on everyone. A massive water fight broke out, filled with many laughs and screams as everyone was soaked before we even began rafting. Shout out to Helen for dumping a pot full of water on all 3 leaders at once!
In the late morning, we hit the river with high excitement levels. Of course, we began our rafting trip by naming our three rafts: Fernando, Big Bubba, and Trent. Within the first couple of minutes, Miller began the splash war by nailing Big Bubba with his water gun. The splash war lasted all day, resulting in everyone being soaked!! The rapids were classified levels 1 through 3+, allowing many thrills but also time to play and float in the water. Charlie especially enjoyed floating in the rapids, never missing an opportunity to jump off his raft and into the water!! We ended our first rafting day with a massive game of soccer where Mia dominated the entire group, showing off her skills. The game got competitive but always full of laughter with many goals scored and whiffed kick attempts. In addition to the soccer game, Cates got a game of spike ball going. The group created a bracket to deem our winners, Miller and Mia! We went to bed with full bellies after a delicious meal of chicken, beef, and two types of pesto pasta made by our beloved raft guides.
On our second day of rafting, we began our day with another delicious meal. We even had BACON with breakfast, which created a lot of excitement especially from Hunter who dropped what she was doing to get to it! After breakfast, we hopped into Trent, Big Bubba, and Fernando. Some people were feeling sleepy at first, but Beth quickly changed that mood around by hopping into another splash war and sneakily spraying the other raft with the water gun. Peter was not hesitant to hop into this war too and hit Beth back with his water gun. The part of the river that we covered the second day had a lot more rapids, but each raft handled the challenge with ease! We were even able to end our rafting section with some calmer water where Margaret was able to show off her moves off the raft and as always, Charlie was able to float and rodeo on the front of the raft!
We had lots of sleepy people after our long days of rafting; everyone got to take naps in our van ride into San Francisco where we will be exploring the Golden Gate and surfing during the next two days!! We’re already getting sad to leave as our departure day is fast approaching 🙁 But, we’re definitely making the most of the time we have left together!! We’ll see y’all soon!!
Peace and love,
Squad leaders (May May, Kristin, and Thomas)
June 21, 2019
Hello from Cali!!!
We have had an amazing couple days in Lake Tahoe; it is truly one of the most beautiful places we all have ever seen! The water is so clear that it looks like the Caribbean, which is then contrasted by Tahoe’s surrounding snow-capped mountains. Lake Tahoe is the best of both worlds — a summer retreat and a winter resort!
We woke up on Tuesday morning and all got ready for an incredible day of kayaking in Emerald Bay, a beautiful cove of Lake Tahoe. With our life jackets and swimsuits on, we all hiked down to where our kayaks would be put in. It was a gorgeous beachside cove; everyone was itching to get in! Once we got in the water, everyone gave their kayaks a name. Peter confidently decided his boat was going to be called “The Enterprise”, and he practically won every kayak race that we had! Cates was especially great at kayaking, and her bubbly attitude left everyone smiling! Charlie and Margaret rode in a two-person kayak and started splash wars with just about everyone. They kept us all laughing and on our toes! After we kayaked for a little in Emerald Bay, we got to take a hiking tour of an island in the bay; the island had structures built by Vikings who used to explore the lake! We ate lunch on a beach near the island and finished our meal with an exciting game of “Birdie on a Perch”. Kate took the crown on this game and confidently led us back near the boats to continue kayaking.
We finished kayaking with a few more races. Miller and Caden learned how to utilize their paddles strategically to sabotage others in the race. Again, we all ended these games in giddy laughter! After docking our kayaks for the day, Margaret, Kate, and Charlie jumped back into the Caribbean-blue water for one last swim. From here, we left kayaking and went to a local ice cream parlor where everyone got their fill of delicious, creamy goodness! Birthday cake ice cream was a huge hit, and Caden managed to consume the most ice cream out of anyone in the group, deeming him with the prized nickname of “Disposal.”
The following day, we woke up to beautiful weather and all got excited to paddleboard the glistening water of Lake Tahoe. Once we got out onto the paddleboards, Beth and Miller started a vicious splash war that ended with most of us swimming. It was so fun, and the water felt amazing! Mia and Hunter were the first to paddle out by the marina and take in all of the beauty around us. Under their example, Helen led everyone in some tanning and sun-bathing. There is nothing quite like floating under the sun on a crystal clear lake surrounded by towering mountains. It is a moment we will never forget (and we are all tanner because of it)!
After paddle boarding, we went to the Bayview Trailhead to summit Maggie’s Peaks. These two peaks are tall mountains on the edge of the lake; at the top, you can see a panoramic view of the snowy mountain range and the gorgeous lake! Mia confidently led the hike and set the pace for a fantastic stroll up the mountain. Hunter, Peter, and Miller took part in sharing multiple trail riddles. Many were stumped by their riddles, but everyone loved the fun conversation sparked by these exciting games. Once we got to the top of the trail, everything was covered in snow, and we creatively found a way up the trail to avoid the ice. This creativity led us to a BEAUTIFUL outlook unlike anything we had ever seen. One viewpoint depicted summertime with blue water and mountains covered by a sea of trees while the other viewpoint looked like wintertime with its snowy mountains. Charlie loved bouldering the rocks at the summit to get a better view, and everyone managed to pat themselves on the back after conquering the hike! Plus, we had a terrific background for a photo shoot! We ended the day by grilling out s’mores, which Kate could not get enough of! The boys all slept comfortably in their hammocks which offered a stunning view of the starry night!
Now we are on the way to the American River where we will raft for a few days! We are having so much fun and don’t want this trip to end! California has blown our socks off, and we still have more to go!
With full stomachs and happy hearts,
Thomas, Kristin, and May May
June 18, 2019
Greetings from Lake Tahoe!!
We’ve had an incredible few days in Yosemite, learning how to rock climb and looking at the beautiful scenery surrounding us.
We had an early start on Saturday morning to begin our rock climbing section. Despite the early time, we were full of energy and enthusiasm about our day ahead! Our LODs for the day, Peter and Helen, led the charge by helping get the group excited! As we pulled into Yosemite, we were all shocked by the unbelievable El Capitan (or el capitoe as we like to say)! Once we got there and began to climb, Mia jumped right in and didn’t struggle a bit to make it up the rock. Multiple ropes were set out so everyone was able to climb multiple times and the enthusiasm about rock climbing only grew! We ate some yummy sandwiches for lunch accompanied by some Cuties clementines, which were quickly eaten. During lunch we played our favorite game, Big Booty, led by our Big Booty enthusiast, Miller! There were constant laughs and smiles as we played this game countless times. After lunch, we continued to climb while everyone began to get more comfortable with their climbing. Margaret even strapped her GoPro to the top of her helmet as she climbed to capture the unbelievable views and the new skills she just learned! While we were climbing, a bear casually walked by our wall, which sparked a hilarious conversation about what wild animal we would choose to have as a pet and why!
After our long day of climbing, we had a well deserved surprise ice cream stop! The excitement was uncontainable, along with the sugar rushes that came after! Hunter, in particular, was energized by our stop and ran out of the van with enthusiasm; mint chocolate chip ice cream had been on her mind all day! We ended our day with some delicious Pad Thai, made by our cook crew, Miller and Kate. The boys especially were eager for this dinner, so they graciously offered more help in the kitchen! Caden did an awesome job cooking the noodles for the group and offering assistance wherever he could. With our bellies full, we had another great Moonup that was concluded with our best bear roars and went to bed.
With another early morning wake up call to go rock climbing, our LODs for the day, Charlie and Beth, woke the group up and helped get our grits going for breakfast. We were again amazed by the view entering Yosemite; the waterfalls and sky high mountains never get old! We had a more challenging day of rock climbing, as we felt like pros and joked about being ready to climb El Capitan without ropes – “Free Solo” style! Peter, eager to begin climbing, set the tone for the day by quickly climbing the tall route up the rock as we timed him! Everyone followed Peter’s lead and confidently climbed some bigger and more technical routes. Nothing short of impressive!
After a delicious lunch, Cates gave all of the boys ponytails and we braided each other’s hair. This brought many laughs! After we climbed for the day, we found a lake in Yosemite to jump and play in. Helen lead the charge as the water was FREEZING, but everyone followed her and jumped right in. The lake sat beautifully in the middle of the valley, so we swam with incredible views! It was exactly what we needed after a long day of climbing! As we exited the park, we stopped and did a short hike to touch El Capitan and took amazing pictures with Yosemite valley in the background. Beth could hardly contain her excitement, as she explained to everyone how and where Alex Hannold, from “Free Solo”, climbed up El Capitan! We again ended our day with lots of laughs as we played tips and had an eno party before dinner! Cook crew today was Charlie, Beth, and Helen who helped create scrumptious barbeque chicken quesadillas. Our cooking efficiency is becoming top notch as everyone is eager to help in the kitchen and help out to quickly clean the dishes after dinner. Before we went to bed, we had a heartfelt Moonup, bonding the group even more! Again, nothing but smiles and love for one another as we went to bed.
On Monday, we had a much deserved extra few hours of sleep and began the day with the leaders’ favorite, “Davis special” sweet breakfast burritos for breakfast! After breakfast, we packed up camp and did our new favorite exercise, sally ups, to the song Flower by Moby and we all felt the burn! We then hopped into Tomato (our van) with Veronica (our u-haul) hitched to the back, and travelled to Lake Tahoe, having a jam fest all the way there. We played our favorite sing alongs, ranging from Khalid to Thomas Rhett to One Direction, and everything in between! Our personal favorite, of course though, is Best Song Ever by One Direction as the group has created a stellar group harmony to match Harry Styles. We had a fun gas station stop along the way, with Charlie the most excited after he “discretely” mentioned to the leaders every few minutes that we should go to a gas station. We then continued the surprises and had our local food stop at In-N-Out for lunch. Kate couldn’t have run faster out of the van and into line to get that delicious burger and fries combo! The group left In-N-Out, full and happy, decked out in our new In-N-Out hats and newly purchased t-shirts.
Today, we are now at Lake Tahoe and eager for our kayaking and paddle boarding to come in the next few days!
Cates-hey family! I am having so much fun! I loved surfing and climbing; thank you for letting me come on this trip! I miss you and love you! <3
Beth – Hey fam!!! I miss y’all and can’t wait to see y’all! Thanks for sending me on this trip. I learned how to surf, and we finished rock climbing! Miss y’all <3
Charlie – Hey fam! Well I am having so much fun, and I found out I can still surf!
Miller – what’s good y’all? I’m loving it!
Peter- hi guys! I am having so much fun in Cali! So far I have gone surfing and rock climbing. Can’t wait for the rest of the trip! Miss you guys so much!
Kate – hey family! Having so much fun; I loved surfing! Thanks so much for sending me on his trip! <3 Kate
Helen – Hey y’all! Thanks for sending me on Moondance! I loved surfing and rock climbing!
Hunter – Hey family! I love Moondance! I loved where we stayed for rock climbing! I felt like Spider-Man while climbing! Miss y’all!
Margaret – Hi guys! Thank you for letting me come on this trip! I really loved surfing and rock climbing, and I am excited for the rest of the trip!
Mia – Hey Mom and Dad! Love you so much! I’m having so much fun!
Caden – Hey fam! Surfing was a blast! Can’t wait to see y’all!
Peace & Love,
May May, Thomas, and Kristin
June 15, 2019
Hello from California!
It’s hard to believe we’ve only been together for 3 days as it feels like we’ve known each other for so much longer!
We arrived at our campsite in Half Moon Bay on Wednesday evening. It was a bit cooler and there was a light breeze, so we decided to put on some comfy sweatshirts and warm pants. Once we all were cozy and warm, everyone learned how to properly pitch a tent, which we are all experts at now! Each tent group has lovingly bestowed a name upon their tent, each with its own personality. After we set up camp, we played Look Up, Look Down which ended with an intense Veggie Off between Helen and Margaret, where Helen took the win with her depiction of a slimy squash! After eating some delicious pizza together at the picnic table, we walked down the small, sandy pathway towards the beach, just steps away from our campsite. As soon as we began our Moonup, we spotted dolphins playing and jumping in the waves! We felt lucky to have a dolphin sighting on our first night to start off the trip. It just made sense then to end our Moonup with our best dolphin calls.
On Thursday, with bellies full of breakfast burritos thanks to our awesome cook crew, Hunter, Caden, and Margaret, our Leaders of the Day, Margaret and Miller, lead a terrific morning huddle, explaining our itinerary and what we would need for our day of surfing! Although, it was cloudy in Half Moon Bay, Pacifica was all blue sky and sunshine – a beautiful day to ride some waves! After putting on our wetsuits and practicing standing up on the surfboards, we were all eager to get in the water. Charlie made surfing look so easy, and Helen was an absolute natural, despite having never surfed before! We were already excited for the next time we would wake up to the sound of the waves and surf again.
When we returned to our campsite, we spent some time on the beach in the sand before dinner prep. Cates taught the group how to play Spikeball and got a good game going, while others tried to do their best cartwheel. Beth even did a backbend! We had chips and salsa for an appetizer, followed by a feast of burrito bowls. Thanks to Hunter’s can-do attitude when it came to cleaning the dishes, we had a quick clean up and were able to start Moonup earlier. For the Moonup question, Margaret and Miller asked about home, which resulted in many of us reminiscing about our favorite food stops in our hometowns. We ended Moonup with our best seal noises in relation to how we all felt on our surfboards earlier in the day. Since we finished Moonup early, we played Mafia, where nobody could guess that Margaret was the mafia because of how good and sneaky she was at playing the game. After some more rounds of Mafia, we were all ready for bed thankful for a long day in lovely Half Moon Bay.
We awoke early on Friday to travel to Yosemite, starting the day off with a hearty bowl of maple oatmeal with cinnamon and honey. The LODs, Hunter and Caden gathered the group and shared a quote about everyone holding the ability to achieve success, which motivated us for the day. Once we were packed up and got moving, Miller made some awesome song requests that led to the whole van singing and head bobbing. After the long van ride, we were thrilled to get to our campsite. We got settled and piled back in the van for a hike along a cascading waterfall in a lush forest. Caden lead the group on the way up, lending a very helping hand on the tricky sections, and he kept us on route thanks to his fantastic navigating skills. During those challenging sections, Kate’s positivity and fun conversation kept morale high. We were all pretty hot at the end, so we went for a swim in the lake at the end of the hike. We dried off in the sun, hopped back in the van, arrived at our campsite, and prepared a yummy dinner of pasta with Alfredo sauce and chicken. While dinner was cooking, Mia showed off some of her amazing soccer skills by juggling the soccer ball. I think we are all going to learn a few ball skills from her by the end of the trip!
Hunter and Caden lead us into Moonup and asked us what our superpower would be. Everyone gave thoughtful answers, especially Peter who closed us out with an especially creative superpower ability. Hunter and Caden named Helen and Peter the LODs for the following day for their willingness to help! We closed Moonup with our best dance moves!
We can’t believe it’s only been 3 whole days as it feels like we’ve known each other for so much longer! Everyone loved surfing, and we are already looking forward to the next surf sessions. Now, we are onto our rock climbing adventure in the awe inspiring Yosemite! Yahoo! We can’t wait for all the more adventures to come!
Also, shoutouts to all the Dad’s! We wish you a Happy Fathers Day!
Peace & love,
Kristin, Thomas & May May
June 12, 2019
Hi California Families!
The group has arrived safely in the shining state of California and the trip is already on a roll. We are so excited to hear about their many adventures, stay tuned!
– Moondance HQ