July 29, 2019
We can’t believe this day is finally here! We are empty nesters! Everyone has made it to their final destination or flying cross country. The past two weeks have been absolutely incredible, and it’s all thanks to our amazing group! Although the wound of our friends leaving is still fresh, here are a few of the last things we did together!
On Saturday, we woke up to the sun beating down, so we were all very excited to get wet in the river! Just outside Cañon City, we met up with our old friends, River Runners, and put in just above the Royale Gorge. Because of high waters, the gorge was commercially closed until about two weeks ago, so our group was super lucky to get to raft the famous section of river. The morning brought plenty of splashes with continuous Class 3 rapids like Spikebuck, Five Points, and Three Rocks. In one boat, Thacher might not have been the paddle leader, but rather shared his voice by leading the raft in bangers by Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift. Quinn kept the boat in check by stroking harder than anyone. Clarkie reminded us the importance of following the guide’s directions and river safety. In the other raft, Jack C. and Geyer sat up front while Stella C. vocally motivated the group. The chilly water felt refreshing as we splashed through some big waves. For lunch, the guides provided a wrap- assembling station with the best chocolate chip and snickerdoodles ever!
The little waves of the morning were nothing in comparison to the grand rapids of the afternoon. Happy and fed, we popped back into the same boats and flowed towards the gorge. With over 1000ft cliffs and a bridge that was at one point was the world’s tallest suspension bridge, it was a sight to behold. We would’ve just started at the towering rock formations the whole time, but the whitewater kept us occupied. We dug into each stroke with all our might to make sure we hit the right line, and it paid off! We hit each wave head-on for maximum fun! Stella W. and Hall ended the day by stepping out of the comfort zone of the boat and rode the bull. Once we finished, everyone could have rafted the same section two or three more times. It was an absolute blast!
Back at the campsite, the girls and the guys split into teams for COT 3B’s Iron Chef competition. The girls pulled out all the stops and put together the most beautiful taco bar. Quinn made homemade guacamole while Aggie treated us with her mother’s special chicken. Stella W. browned the ground beef to perfection. Clarkie and Maggie chopped the plentiful fixins. And finally, Stella C. orchestrated the group to impeccable presentation. On the flipside, Hall and Thacher split off into their own group to create the tastiest Philly cheesesteak in the Rockies! Not to mention with a side salad and the judge’s favorite drinks, chocolate milk and kombucha. The creativity was not lost with Geyer, Wyatt and the Jacks as they made onion rings and chicken wings with 7 sauces, each escalating in hotness. Let’s just say, Addison couldn’t really handle the spice. All in all, the night provided maybe one of the best dinners of the trip. Although, the girls took home the gold in the end.
The next morning with no activities to go to or people to meet, we slept in and helped ourselves to a massive pancake and bacon breakfast. As the last meal we cooked together, we savored every last second and crumb! After, we headed north towards Denver and unpacked at our final campsite. We tidied up, and after a long week, took a much-needed shower. We were all relieved to have our hair return to its normal texture. Before our banquet dinner, we dropped by the local Goodwill to dress for the occasion. The outfits were outstanding, and you might just need to see the pictures to believe the ensembles. We hit up a hibachi restaurant in Colorado Springs and helped ourselves to fried rice, miso soup, and the meats. As if that wasn’t enough, we completed the meal with DQ blizzards. In a slight sugar coma, we Mooned up for the final time and drifted off to sleep.
This trip was splendid, breathtaking, tremendous, remarkable, awe-inspiring, humbling, and truly a once in lifetime experience! Thanks to the families for sharing your awesome kids with us! Thank you also Aggie, Geyer, Jack C., Stella C. Wyatt, Clarkie, Quinn, Hall, Thacher, Jack A., Maggie, and Stella W. for the best summer ever! Yall are incredibly special and taught us more than you know. Hopefully we can meet again one day!
Ellie and Addison
July 27, 2019
Howdy! We are out of the woods and although a little stinky, we are thriving! Our backpacking trip was definitely an adventure, but in the end, we wouldn’t change a thing! Here’s what went down…
Last you heard, we were driving to the trail head. After a beautiful, windy drive through the edges of the San Juan National Forest, we arrived, backpacks packed, and legs ready. BUT, due to lightning in the area, we spent some time together in the van aka “The Jah Mobile” (we are learning a lot of new teenage slang). All was well because we jammed to some tunes until the rain calmed. We set sail and began to climb up the aspen covered trail. About 30 minutes into the hike we ran in our fellow Moondancers of COT A who so kindly shared that they saw lightning in the area. Safety in mind, we turned around and headed back to the van. We drove away from the storm to a campsite down the road. Although things didn’t go as planned, the campsite ended up being cool and private. We spent the night cooking some fried rice, Moonup and went to bed early.
The next morning, after some oatmeal and grits, we were ready to travel back to the trailhead and give backpacking another go. The day started off with a beautiful partly cloudy sky. We stomped up and down through the trees and fields. Boss Hall set a speedy pace while Clarkie, Aggie, and Stella C. entertained us with a plethora of funny stories. We took a break for some lunch in a heavily wooded campsite along the trail. Energy refilled, we hopped up and started walking again. With the afternoon came a good bit of rain, but we persevered. No water could stop us. As we arrived at our campsite, the rain chilled and eventually ceased. After a long day of hiking, some took a quick power nap while others chatted in their tents. We regrouped for a big mac and cheese dinner much to group’s pleasure. Jack and Wyatt almost made us choke on our noodles because they were cracking us up by imitating a Youtube Top Ten video. As the sun went down, our LODs, Aggie and Jack A., led us in Moonup where we all shared our most valued commitments in life. It was awesome to hear what everyone puts time, effort, and energy into!
Tired as can be, there was a no movement until late morning for the crew. Only Quinn and Ellie woke up relatively early for short hike through an avalanche and forest fired damaged area to a picturesque field filled with wildflowers. Back at camp, everyone eventually crawled out of their tents to the smell of backcountry pancakes. There must have been something in the water because after breakfast energy skyrocketed and soon enough, we were back on the trail. Due to our shortened trip, we headed back to the trailhead. Hall, Maggie, Quinn, and Stella W., the front-runners, spent time talking about their families and future hopes and dreams. The middle boys, Jack A., Jack C., Thacher, Geyer, and Wyatt passed time by singing “100 Bottles of Pop” all the way through. Pretty impressive. Aggie, Stella C., and Clarkie once again swapped outrageous stories in the caboose. As soon as we knew it, we were already out our planned campsite for the night. Determined to keep going further, we ate some lunch and continued toward the trailhead. Ultimately, we reached the perfect campsite to make our last day a super easy hike. We circled round the whisper lites (our backcountry stoves) for chicken quesadillas. They and some homemade pita chips were a huge hit. Stella W. and Geyer, the LODs, guided us in many Nugs and a discussion of B+ superpowers. Maggie would have good handwriting. Wyatt would be able to look at a book and know what it was about without reading. Jack A. wanted to be able to fill up her water bottle at any time. All very creative! Subsequently, we climbed into our tents and hit the hay.
Just as the sun rose, Stella W., Hall, and Clarkie woke up early to get some fly fishing in with Addison. Although, they didn’t catch anything, the water was refreshing, and we got some great pictures! The rest of the crew surfaced a bit later, and we packed up camp after a quick breakfast and commenced toward Telluride. We reached the gorgeous valley just in time for a yummy burger lunch with ice cream for dessert! Shout-out to the Moondance ice cream budget! We bopped around the stores and perused the t-shirts, hats, and stickers. With success shopping, we bounced back into the van to drive across the state again.
We can’t wait to go rafting again tomorrow but are in shock that the trip is almost over! Catch ya when we’re off the river!
Ellie and Addison
July 23, 2019
What a time the past couple days have been! We have travelled all over the state, had once in a lifetime experiences, and loved continuing to grow closer.
Sunday morning, we woke up bright and early and had a hearty breakfast. Van full we drove to ZIP LINING! Woot Woot! We arrived at the course overlooking the beautiful canyon and Arkansas River. Harnessed in, everyone flew along the wires. The first few of routes like Fluffy Bunny, Rainbow Sparkles, and Disney Memories supplied ample fun, but the last lines, Death One, Death Two, and Zippideedo Death got the blood pumping. Stella W. managed to perfectly pose during each ride for the best pics. Jack A. let out the loudest warrior cry that west of the Mississippi had ever heard! Overall, zip lining made for a great morning. Psyched from soaring high, we piled back into the van and headed south to the Great Sand Dunes.
We ate a satisfying lunch on the way and got to the campsite earlier than expected. All of us were excited for a little down time. Quinn was the first to set up her new Eno, and the rest of group followed to make a hammock city. Jack C. led some of boys on an exploration around the desert-like campsite. Aggie enlisted Maggie, Thacher, and Hall to brush out her luscious locks while Clarkie created intricate braids on anyone who wanted. Wyatt, of course, was cracking everyone up with his hilarious stories. After some great conversation, walks, trips to the gift shop, and naps, we chowed down on spaghetti with marinara and alfredo with some broccoli. As we were cleaning up, we watched the most vibrant sunset across a hundred miles of plains and into the mountains. We couldn’t believe the reds and pinks of the clouds. The LODs, Stella C. and Jack C., led us in a deep Moonup where we learned a lot about each other that wouldn’t come up in normal conversation. We headed off to bed to prepare for our sunrise hike in the dunes!
At a bright and early 2:45 am, everyone rose to the tune of “The Circle of Life” from the Lion King. Some were more excited than others to say the least, but as were got closer to the huge piles of sand, everyone was on-board for this incredible experience! We traversed the chilly moat and started upwards through the soft sand. Although we crawled on hands and knees at points and our calves cramped, we made it to the tallest Sand Dune in North America by the 5:45 sunrise. The huge bowls and cliffs made for the perfect sand boarding arena. Geyer, the maniac, flew down the steepest slopes and over jumps. Hall got in of the action and dove down every downhill he could find. At one point, Wyatt and he got a good amount of air time! We stared at weird, new creatures that we found in the super unique ecosystem. Quinn wrote a huge “Live in the Moment” across the mound while Stella W. cleanly wrote Moondance in cursive. We left our mark for sure. After hours of fun in the sand, we trudged back to the campsite for surprise showers and breakfast. Everyone was able to finally clean well and refresh and then dig into pancakes, bacon, and eggs. Definitely the treat we needed after a long and early morning!
Maggie and Geyer, the LODs, led camp pack-up and clean-up, and we were off again! Waving goodbye to the Sand Dunes, we caught up on some much-needed sleep (except for our driver, Addison of course! Huge nugs!). We curved through the mountains to the west side of the state and landed in a Walmart to restock before backpacking. Eventually, we made it to the beautiful park with a view of snow-capped rocky mountains, blue lakes, and evergreen covered hills. We unloaded and enjoyed a big hamburger cookout with some caprese salad. Wanting some more sleep, we Mooned up early and wrapped ourselves in our sleeping bags.
This morning we carefully packed our backpacks and are currently on the road to the trailhead in the San Juan mountains. We are super eager for the next four days in the backcountry! I’m sure we will have plenty of stories to share when we get back!
Ellie and Addison
July 23, 2019
Thanks for tuning in again! We had an incredible past couple of days, and we are so excited to share some of the highlights with you! So, let’s get to it!
Last you heard, we went to bed in preparation for whitewater rafting. The next morning, our LODs, Clarkie and Thacher, woke up everyone and led camp break down. We crowded around for a big breakfast, loaded the van, and followed the river upstream to the rafting headquarters. With not a cloud in the sky, we zipped up our wetsuits, booties, and life vests pumped to float the river on such a perfect day. We shuttled to the put-in, locked in our toes, and were off to the rapids. With water levels lowering after a record high snow season, we were lucky enough to explore some new parts of the river. As soon as we were on the river, the bumps, waves, and splashes began! Paddling all together like a Navy Seal team, our two rafts dodged huge rocks and swirling holes with the help of our awesome guides of course. Class 3 rapids like Frog and House Rock pushed the rafts around a good bit and soaked us head to toe, but everyone remained in the raft; even Maggie despite her clearly being our best swimmer. Veteran rafter Stella C. and adventure seeking Clarkie led one boat flawlessly though the technical river. While in the other boat, Hall aka Halsey aka The Beast, paddled with such grunt force he probably could have gone down the river alone. The cool water felt amazing as the sun beat on us. Arms a little tired after a full morning of pushing and pulling, we dug into a delicious lunch prepared by our guides. After some wraps, chips and salsa, and hummus, we warmed up in the sand and played some volleyball.
Back in the rafts, the rest of the day was a little less intense. With smaller rapids, we were able to mess and play around. Trying to stand-up paddle on the raft, Wyatt “accidently” went for a little swim. Turns out, Wyatt loves the water, and it was hard to keep him in the raft for the rest of the trip. Stella W. and Addison played a game of “Trust” with the paddle grips which ended with Addison out of the boat. A little way down the river, we unpacked at a cool campsite right by the river. Once camp was set up, the girls caught some rays on the raft. The guides cooked up great chicken curry with fresh vegetables and some cheesy rice. Everyone licked their plates clean! As the sun went down, Quinn and Hall led us up the mountain behind the campsite for a sunset hike. We climbed up huge sandstone outcrops to see three 14ers, the river, and a fire red sunset background. As we came down, we could smell a campfire rolling, and Jack A. already roasting a marshmallow for smores! Around the campfire, we debriefed the day and Mooned up. Once the fire was out, the night sky lit up with stars. Everyone stared up in hopes of seeing a shooting star. Jack C. and Aggie led the group in bottomless conversations before we all passed out.
We slept in the next morning and woke up to the smell of eggs and bacon… and the sound of HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO STELLA W! 14 has never looked better. Thanks again to our wonderful guides! Hungry for more rapids, we slid into our suits and back into the rafts we went. No one feared the whitewater this time as we conquered more Class 3 rapids like Zoom Flume, Staircase, and Pinball. Thacher counted off the strokes in his raft to make sure everyone was in sync. During a calm stretch of water, everyone dipped into the water to splash around. We took a quick pause for some lunch and chowed down on some tacos. With no time to digest, Wyatt, Jack, and Quinn raced each other to see who was the fastest wetsuit runner. After, we went straight back into rapids and whitewater. Stella C. popped off the raft during in one of the big holes, but expertly climbed back into the boat with a huge smile and of course a sassy comment. As we pulled up to the take-out, everyone rejoiced that we would have one more day of rafting at the end of the trip. With so much of the day left, we ran into Walmart where everyone spontaneously bought some birthday treats and water guns! Excited to use the toys, we bombarded the river shore and began ruthlessly squirting each other. No one could out run Geyer’s top notch gun. Maggie, Clarkie, and the Stella W. teamed up and soaked everything in sight. Soggy but refreshed, we continued the party festivities for with a piñata, BBQ dinner, and ice cream cake. Entirely content, our LODs, Stella W. and Wyatt, led a fun Moonup complete with a record number of Nugs.
Rafting was so fun, and we can’t wait for what zip lining and the Sand Dunes have for us. Till next time!
Ellie and Addison
“I’m having a great time! Can’t wait tell to see yall! Happy birthday, Mom! I have a surprise for you.” –Jack A.
“Hey Mom and Dad! I miss yall, but I’m having a lot of fun! Love yall!” –Aggie
“What up? I’m having fun! Thank you for sending me on the trip” –Wyatt
“Thank you for sending me on this trip! Don’t worry about me… I’m having a lot of fun!”–Jack C.
“I’m having a great time! Thanks!” –Maggie
“I’m having a lot of fun, and I miss you!” –Stella C.
“Tell Grayson happy birthday! I miss you!” –Quinn
“I’m having fun, and I love you!” –Clarkie
“I wish Luke and Dad a happy birthday! Miss you guys!” –Stella W.
“Tell Gray happy birthday! I miss and love you!” – Hall
“I love you!” -Thacher
“Colorado is the best! Thanks!” -Geyer
July 19, 2019
Hello out there! Welcome to COT 3B’s trip updates!! Although you might not get to experience Moondance firsthand, we’ll try to paint you a nice picture so you will feel like you have been here. So, let’s get started!
There once was two lonely Moondance leaders, Addison and Ellie, who roamed the complex terminals of the Denver airport, but on July 16th EVERYTHING CHANGED! In a blink of an eye, 12 new awesome, crazy, fun, excited, beautiful, courageous people came into our lives. Once we picked up Aggie, Stella C., Jack C., Wyatt, Geyer, Jack A., Stella W., Clarkie, Quinn, Maggie, Thatcher, and Hall and loaded all the baggage into our spacious Uhaul, we just knew that this was going to be the BEST TWO WEEKS EVER! Packing into the van, we headed south. Although the drive might have been long for some, our crew kept things incredibly entertaining. Between introductions, Aggie’s riddles, the creation of a playlist, and an intense debate over whether Atlanta or Philadelphia was the greater city, there was never a moment of silence. “We have cream cheese and Verizon!” Jack C. and Thatcher, the Philly natives, proudly yelled. We picked up some pizza from a local restaurant and unpacked at the campsite. After a quick intro into camping etiquette and camp set-up, this group were already pros. Pretty soon a whole little town of blue and gray tents were up perfectly. As the sun went down, we circled up for our first Moonup, a nightly gathering where we go over the day, share compliments or “Nugs”, learn more about each other with a question, and pick the Leaders of the Day (LODs). As tradition has it, we all shared what we were excited for and nervous for on the trip. It was really cool to have everyone open up, and it was only the first day!
The next morning, the LODs, Quinn and Jack A., didn’t even need to wake up anyone because everyone was already up! Thank you, eastern time zone! So, our early risers scarfed down some breakfast and loaded up the van to our first activity, rock climbing! We parked on the side of the road and after a short hike into the woods, we stood before a massive 60-foot rock wall. Some would be a little scared at the sight, but COT 3B harnessed up and put their game faces on. Our awesome guides taught everyone how to belay, the climbing commands, and how to get up that wall as safely and effectively as possible. Quinn, the climbing queen, was the first to scamper up the wall with ease. Throughout the day, every single person belayed and climbed to the top! Even though the middle route was the hardest of the three possible ropes, Geyer had no fear and was at the top in no time! With some down time between climbs, the group played the game, “Psychiatrist”, where Clarkie had to identify the pattern or “disease” that the group had. Through questioning, she figured out that the people wearing Nike shoes were always lying while everyone else told the truth. Tricky stuff! We climbed, sang along to some tunes, chatted, ate, and climbed some more till early afternoon. After we were too wiped to pull ourselves up any further, we headed into Crested Butte for a town day! We sent some postcards (parents be on the lookout for those), cooled off with some yummy ice cream, and shopped around the cute little town. The Stellas got some stickers to show off their trip to Colorado. Wyatt tried on some really cool sunglasses, but, alas, didn’t commit to the purchase. Overall, trip to the Butte was a success! We ended our town evening with a big dinner at a local restaurant with everyone’s favorite meals. They even gave us some Wikki Sticks, so obviously Quinn made herself Harry Potter glasses, Hall made a cube while Jack A., Stella C., and Aggie made a beautiful flower garden. Stuffed, we went back to the campsite, Moonup’d, and hit the hay, ready for another day of climbing.
Bright and early again, everyone jumped out of their sleeping bags and enjoyed a big breakfast of bagels and fruit (with Philadelphia cream cheese). Our new LODs, Hall and Aggie woke up everyone with excitement for the day. This time we packed up and headed to a different rock climbing spot but in the same general vicinity. We hike up this steep mountain to a sharp jut of granite with the most amazing views of tree and snow-covered mountains. Back at it, everyone roped in and was on the wall in no time. Maggie climbed up a very challenging rock in, no joke, less than a minute. Jack C. and Wyatt climbed with their packs in order to get the perfect gram. Thatcher placed each foot and hand so perfectly that he might be ready to Free Solo El Cap. Stella W. was a super star belayer as she instructed each one of her climbers what to do from down below. A lot of climbing, belaying, talking, and snacking in the sun worn us out again. We thanked our guides for another awesome day, and we were on our way to a new campsite on the Arkansas River. Once there, we all, hot and sweaty, ran into the river with a big splash! So refreshing! Chilled, we laid out on the hot rocks and let the sun do its job. With camp set up, it was nice to have some down time just to spend with each other either playing Spike Ball. Hungry, everyone did their part to create a bountiful feast of burritos complete with sautéed veggies, chicken, cheese, lettuce, salsa, corn, beans, and rice. As we stuffed our faces, our counterparts, COT A, arrived at the same campsite. We mingled and played a giant game of “Hay Barn” together. Our very own, Stella C. won the entire 30-person game! Round of applause please. We said goodnight to the fun other Moondance group, Moonup’d, and headed to sleep.
Next on the docket: white water rafting! Everyone is so pumped, and we can’t wait to tell you all about it when we get back!
Ellie and Addison
July 16, 2019
The whole Colorado B teams has landed and the group is off!
More to come soon!