July 26, 2019
Hi everyone it’s Molly! We would like to start the final update with some thanks to our fams from our group!!
Brennan “Henlo Mom and Dad, I’m glad I trusted you in coming here because it’s been a unique experience, there isn’t anything else like it thank you and see to tonight “
Hayne “thank you for putting me on this trip it’s been very impactful and positively changed my life. The fact that I don’t want to leave only means it’s all the better”
Elise “hi family, thank you for letting me go on this trip and letting me see this new part of the world. See you tonight!”
Katherine “hey fam, pnw life is awesome I don’t want to leave. Thanks for everything, I’ll see you soon!”
Sarah Grace “can’t wait to see you thanks for letting me come on such an amazing experience”
Kate “hey, thanks for the trip see you soon. I had an amazing experience “
Grace “thank you for sending me on this amazing trip it’s taught me so much and given me so many new experiences”
Henry “hey!! I’m having a killer time up here in PNW. Thank you for everything you do. See you tonight”
Thomas “hey, thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet great people, see great places, and have new experiences. See you tonight!”
Hudson “hey Shawn, what’s going on thank you for sending me on this trip. I’m not ready to leave but I will see you tonight!”
Molly “ hey mom and dad!!! I’ve had so much fun in PNW. Zero complaints and so many memories I need to share! I’ll be back soon enough. MOONDANCE, thank you for the best job ever. I can’t wait to be back in Nash tomorrow and tell you how amazing this group is!!!! Much love”
Steve “hey mom and dad spent so much time in the trees forgot what year it is, see you soon. Moondance, thanks for one heck of a summer -best job I’ve ever had!”
Airport day is always such a whirlwind of emotions. As this group departs to go on to their separate ways I cannot help but think something special happened up here in PNW. From the first day to the last this group stuck together and truly became a family. We started off with debatably the hardest section; backpacking. Last night as we shared our last moon-up we reflected and a lot of us admitted that they did not believe they could do it. Well they did, this group absolutely crushed it. After an epic 40 something miles we floated into the unknown waters of the San Juans. Our ability to trust ourselves and each other was put to the ultimate test. Weather was an element we couldn’t avoid but we didn’t let that stop us. We still laugh and look fondly on all the memories made. We will never forget our wacky guides Tyler and Cory who for a moment were a member of this traveling family. As all activities go on a Moondance trip it was time to pack everything up and hit the road. We pulled into Oregon cheering as we passed over the river into Portland. Climbing brought a whole new world to light for this group. So many students shared last night that this was one of their favorite sections. By this point of the trip we were so unbelievably close and so silly it would be impossible not to have fun. Getting to see every single one of PNW2A conquer Monkeys face will forever be a highlight of mine. I cannot stress enough how tall and extreme this task is. Steve and I both feel it is the coolest thing that Moondance has to offer. We wiped the dust off and strapped into our PFDs to start our last section; rafting. The heat was hot and the water was chilly as could be. We cruised down the rapids laughing the whole way down. Our group loved the perfect mix of chill and thrill!!! It was an excellent end to our trip. It was filled with nonstop conversations, jokes, swimming, and games all day.
Our last days on this trip were something special. You must ask your child about Iron Chef. We let the group split up into two teams and make a meal using what’s left of our food. I was blown away by the meals made. The winning group prepared shrimp pesto pasta, chicken pesto flat breads and a homemade Italian dressing drizzled over fresh veggies- absolutely delicious. We have a few chefs on our hands!
The last morning rolled around and we spent it hanging out and practicing spatula free pancakes flips. We all knew that airport day was coming but we did our best to live in the moment instead of be sad. We ended on a high note, a fire with s’mores after our banquet dinner in downtown Olympia. One last bit of spontaneity from Steve and I, stopping in front of the capital building to play frisbee as the sun set over the lake. And of course, the final Moonup. Normally we share high-low-high but tonight the lows didn’t exist, and we had way too many highs to count.
This is the absolute perfect trip and it was paired with such a fantastic group of young adults. Parents I would like to thank you. Thank you so much for sending your child on a trip of a lifetime and for trusting us. These last 21 days were spent living life to the fullest. So much growth and change has occurred. We all stepped far away from our normal and left our comfort zone. I believe the risk payed off, this group truly transformed. These 10 students acted as one whole, everyone bonded with each other and gave each day 100%. I will miss this amazing group for so many different reasons. I am thankful to have something worth missing, but please let them stay just a little bit longer!!! I cannot wait for them to tell you about all the magic we experienced up here. This truly was a trip of a lifetime and I’m brought to tears just writing this. We hate that it has to end but we understand it’s time to say goodbye. So here it is, our final goodbye and last shoutout for the season. Goodbye PNW, thank you for sharing your wonders with us.
Till next time,
Molly, Steve, Brennan, Hayne, Hudson, Sarah Grace, Katherine, Elise, Henry, Thomas, Kate, and Grace <3
July 25, 2019
Coming to you live from the banks of the Deschutes in Oregon! Since last touching base, we have experienced world class climbing and tackled the rapids of Oregon. We spent the day a highwayman, as Johnny Cash once said, along the coach roads we did ride. We watched our surroundings shift from lush forest to arid, rolling hillside. Prior to arrival at Smith Rock we reviewed the importance of hydration, for our next activity took us from the coast to the desert. Smith Rock is regarded as some of the best outdoor climbing in the world. Several industry leading climbers such as Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold frequent Smith Rock for its myriad of route styles. After securing a righteous campsite we’d call home for the next 3 days, we hit the old and dusty trail down to Steel Head Falls where a little cliff jumping was in order. After a quick hike to the falls, Thomas wasted no time and hopped into the brisk water. The rest of the group quickly followed and enjoyed an escape from the desert heat with a refreshing swim! That evening we prepared an extensive Italian feast coupled with traditional Italian tunes to immerse ourselves in a full dining experience. Who ever said Rome wasn’t built in a day hadn’t met us!
Bright and early we were on the trail bound for the students first day of climbing, many of whom had never climbed outdoors before. Grace set the bar high with impressive finesse, linking advanced moves as she powered through routes. Hudson used his climbing background and attacked the more difficult climbs, executing textbook maneuvers with style. Our guides rigged a small rappel to give us a feel for what to expect on Monkey’s Face and to let us practice with our rappel devices. Katherine peered over the edge, braced against the line taught to the anchor and masterfully zipped down the suspended rope.
Thirty miles south of Smith Rock is a groovy little town called Bend, Oregon. Keeping with the theme of the trip, we scoped out a feeding establishment called the Bend Burger Company- the whole crew enjoyed a cheeseburger and fries. We ended our evening at Bontá Gelato. Another legendary Bend establishment, they have truly mastered their craft- it was several student’s all-time favorite ice cream.
The second day we upped the ante, facing walls twice the size of the previous day. Here we demoed pressed ash and crack climbing, getting a taste of several styles. We were introduced to a new game called the carabiner game- the objective is to clip a small carabiner to someone without them noticing. Kate had a very impressive clip as Steve was distracted with the views of Oregon, she hooked his hood without him noticing! That afternoon we cruised into town for a few dinner essentials. On the menu was a ferocious spread- grilled chicken, sautéed zucchini, fruit bowl, Sarah Grace’s arugula salad, complimented by a charcuterie prelude. Sarah Grace’s exquisite arugula salad is her own creation, complete with a homemade red wine vinegar dressing. Hayne brought our watermelon to life, sketching a face onto it and deeming it ‘Timmy’ – he will be remembered! We enjoyed preparing the meal as a group, many hands make light work!
The following morning we were on the trail bright and early, bound for a trail know as Misery Ridge. After powering through the switchbacks, the red walls know as Monkeys Face revealed themselves. Waiting for us was our next challenge, a 20’ traverse, followed by a small climb and a huge 200’ rappel. Henry handled the route like a champ, finished the climb with ease and safety rappelled down the face. Brennan enjoyed the views that were brought by the clear day, commenting on the visible Three Sisters Peaks that created the rock formations. Celebrating a job well done, the group indulged on a Chinese food feast. Elise recommended we listen to some aligning cultural background music, for an elevated dining experience! We then packed up the van, bound for our next adventure on the Deschutes River.
We were on the water bright and early enjoying the clear morning. Jumping right into the excitement, we were greeted by class 4 rapids introducing us to the fresh mountain runoff bound for the Pacific Ocean. Once on calmer water the guides had a fun team building, boat race exercise where Thomas and Elise went head to head. With the boats connected parallel to each other, the two started floating in the water, the goal to pull themselves onto the boats, crawl across to the other side and jump back in. Elise has an early start but was no match for Thomas’s nimble maneuvers across the boats- impressive! After a long day on the river, we pulled over at camp and set up some shade to relax under. That evening Katherine and Sarah Grace assisted our raft guides and prepared an Italian meal that was enjoyed by all. The piece that tied it all together was undoubtedly the homemade garlic bread. Sad that it was our last activity, we packed up the van one last time for our journey back toward Seattle.
Until next time,
Molly and Steve
July 19, 2019
Hello from Oregon!! Yes this group has left Washington for now, and is gearing up for our next big task at hand: rock climbing.Since we’ve last checked in: The group woke up at the break of dawn to catch a ferry into Friday Harbor. We were all relieved to have a day of travel and rest after our epic backpacking section. On the way to the boat we managed to make a spontaneous stop at the greatest donut shop I’ve ever experienced. We love to treat ourselves over here. We loaded onto the ferry and began the 2 hour trip to the San Juan Islands. While on the boat this group did what they do best, find fun in everything they do!!! We explored the boat and marveled left and right at all the views that surrounded us. It wasn’t long until Grace, Katherine and Elise suggested that we play the groups favorite game; Mafia. Yes we played mafia on the ferry and it was hilarious. Thomas took the reins and delivered some next level narrating. We had so much fun playing that when the boat announced we were arriving none of us could believe 2 hours went by already. We loaded back into Val (the name of our van) and decided to see what island life is all about. We pulled into the bustling Friday Harbor amazed by all the people and different shops that cover the harbor. Kate declared to the group, “well this is cool but I miss backpacking and being away from everything“ we all laughed at how different the islands were already from the northern cascades.While we waited for our meet up with the sea kayaking guides we decided to let some energy out. We pulled up to the local park and played frisbee for hours.
This group is so good at finding fun in the simple things. Once our kayaking guides arrived it finally started to set in that soon enough we were to hit the water and be on our next adventure. Our guides Tyler and Cory gave us a run down on their expectations and set us up with a couple dry bags that we would need to pack all that we could for the next 3 days. After backpacking being able to have multiple bags of items felt like a luxury. Next we headed into the city of Friday Harbor to see what all the crowds were captivated by.Steve and I had the best place in mind to take this wacky group to. Ice cream!!!! We lead them up and down the streets and took a fast right turn into a local ice cream shop, the crowd went wild!!! We indulged on this frozen treat that had been merely a dream while in the back country. Smiles all around and lots of laughter. Thomas, Hayne and Hudson loved this place so much and still felt that backpacking hunger that they couldn’t help but get some burgers too. These burgers were out of this world. Served on a buttery Texas toast, wow everyone was blown away by how good food really can be. Meanwhile the girls and I decided to explore the cute little shops and find some stickers.We headed to the campsite for the night and to the groups surprise it was right on the coast. We even had a fresh water well on our site! Henry led us in a game of jack pot and kept us entertained for hours. Sarah Grace showed us some of her soccer skills as well and we were impressed. Life on the island was treating us well. Katherine and Hayne took dinner to a new level and helped cook up a feast.
It was so cool to see how passionate Hayne is about cooking and Katherine’s ability to make things happen. Brennan suggested we have a fire that night and boy was that a great idea. For the first time this trip we got to enjoy s’mores!!We awoke early and ready for sea kayaking. We headed to Roche Harbor, our meeting place with the guides. Jamming the whole way there to our new favorite genre “Christmas trap” shown to us by the lovely Grace we felt ready to conquer sea kayaking!! We explored Roche harbor and were so excited when Katherine and Sarah Grace found a coffee shop so we could fuel ourselves one last time before our 3 day adventure. Elise and I explored around some more and saw the most beautiful wedding being set up. Hudson and Thomas also scored in purchasing a frisbee. Our frisbee from the day before lived a short life and lays now deep in a thorny blackberry bush. The group was beyond thankful to get a new one in time for kayaking.Once at the docks we were told to load up all compartments on the kayaks with our dry bags. Elise took charge and started showing us how it’s done. Grace helped everyone braid their hair, even Steve and we were ready to go!! Once all our belongings were stowed, we had our safety talk with Cory and Tyler and were off. Our vessels for the trip were sets of tandem sea kayaks that are controlled by a rudder in the back that’s hooked up to peddles and controlled by the person sitting in the back. The person sitting in the front is the powerhouse and provides speed. I was lucky enough to be in a boat with Henry all three days!! Thomas and Elise were together, then Kate and Brennan, Grace and Steve, Sarah Grace and Katherine, Hudson and Hayne.As we got used to paddling, we really settled into the adventure. Kayak conversations flowed so nice, it’s crazy how much you get to know someone while soaring through the ocean. Tandem kayaking requires a lot of trust in not only your partner but yourself as well.
We learned this lesson and got the hang of it quickly. After an hour or two of paddling we arrived to an island for a nice lunch. Yet again a game of mafia began and our mafia obsession escalated!! We hit the waters again with our island campsite destination in sight. Determined to get there so we could play mafia we hustled through the waters paddling with a goal in mind.Jones island did not disappoint! We set up camp for the first of two nights and the group was beyond excited knowing for the first time on this trip we would stay at the same spot twice in a row. This is exciting because it means we don’t have to pack everything up in the morning!Island life is truly the life for us. These last few days have proved this to be true. If there is one thing this group loves, it’s playing games and taking it easy together. At the campsite we played frisbee for hours. Every time someone sends a nice toss Thomas screams CRISPY CHICKEN and we all fall to the ground laughing. Henry and Hudson like to shout out migos terms like “MOMMA” and it’s just so hilarious. This group is fueled by inside jokes and one liners. Be sure to ask us to say hamburger when we get back! We ended the night sitting on the rocky side of the island watching the sunset over Canada in the distance.Our first morning on the island the guides let us sleep in and even woke us up with a warm breakfast of French toast. We hit the water in the same kayak groups and we were off. Today the wind was a bit stronger but we powered through. Kate even found a jelly fish while kayaking!!! It was a moon jelly, they don’t have stinging tentacles so you’re able to pick them up! After a long morning of paddling we hit another island for lunch. Here our guides taught us a couple new games. We decided to teach them a few ourselves. Brennan taught them “there’s a bear”, a game that tricks people into doing funny things. Sarah Grace showed them Johnny Johnny woop. That night more frisbee and mafia occurred again for hours. We gathered a bunch of firewood and made s’mores. After the fire we decided to have an impromptu talent show. Sarah Grace and I did a dance routine for the group, it was pretty fabulous if I do say so myself. Brennan sang us a song. Grace taught us some sign language. Kate showed us her new hand trick. It was all so great. Finally, the last day of sea kayaking arrived and the mood was bitter sweet. The weather was drizzly and overcast. The water was choppy and it felt like we had a far way to go to get back to Val. We did a channel crossing that really put our arm muscles to a test. It was not easy but we tackled it!!!
We even got to see a bunch of harbor seals up close. Our group couldn’t think of a better way to end sea kayaking than one last stretch of tough paddling. As we approached the dock Cory suggested we finish strong with a race. We flew across the water to the docks and ended on such a high note.Our first stop once back on the island was a cute old Victorian home turned into a coffee shop/ bakery. We sat on the patio and enjoyed reflecting on all we’d accomplished. Next we did some laundry and grabbed some more souvenirs. Our night ended at a resort style campsite that even had free showers. We cleaned the sea salt off, put on our clean clothes and enjoyed a home cooked meal together as a family.The next morning we packed up everything yet again and began our long drive Oregon. We made lots of stop along the way to break up the drive and stretch our legs. Costco may have been the favorite stop of the day. As we approached the state line to our surprise we passed the other Moondance PNW group on the road! We pulled over at a rest stop and got to share our stories of backpacking and sea kayaking.A lot of memories are being made over here in PNW! As for now we got to go! Steve and I just surprised the group with some warm Cinnabon’s 🙂 and we are off to the world famous Smith Rock. Till next time folks! Wish us luck we’re having the time of our lives over here but we love and miss everyone<3 don’t forget to check your mail for the post cards we just sent!!
July 15, 2019
Second session has begun and we are overjoyed to report to you with the first trip update! We kicked off airport day with laughs and smiles, quickly building camaraderie as if we’d known each other for years. As we piled into the van, we passed around snacks and embarked on our 2 hour journey to our first adventure, the North Cascades. Upon arrival to the first campsite, we reviewed how to set up our tents, then set out for town for our opening day pizza feast. Inside jokes quickly blossomed and belly laughs filled the pizza joint- we can tell it’s going to be a fun group! After a couple introduction games at the campsite, we hit the hay in preparation for a busy next day.First morning’s breakfast was a big hit – Sausage, egg and cheese English muffins and fresh fruit. All fueled up, we cruised over to the ranger station to procure our permits, food canisters and review the Leave No Trace principles. Highway 20 is noted as one of the most scenic routes for soaking in the Cascade’s brilliance. We pulled off at a local swimming hole for lunch and a quick dip! Diablo Lake is comprised of glacial runoff- brisk, but refreshing!
Back at our campsite, we inventoried our backpacking gear and began preparations for our 6 day adventure. Katherine, Kate and Grace took the helm for our last meal- burgers and dogs! Like a well oiled machine, Katherine would toss one well seasoned burger in the skillet as Kate pulled another off. As Grace wielded the knife, she sliced and diced the meals’ accoutrements, mending the kitchen production together like Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Excitement was in the air as we tossed our packs, brimming with provisions, into the van. After a short hike down to Ross Lake, we hailed a water taxi to shuttle us several miles in to our start point. An hour into the hike, we decided to stop along a cliffside to eat lunch.Henry stared off into the vastness of the Cascades in awe, and took in it’s righteous beauty. Henry and Kate were Leaders of the Day and wasted no time getting the group back on the trail. As a Moondance Veteran and proficient hiker, Kate set a perfect pace to land the group at that evening’s campsite with plenty of time to set up camp and go for a swim! Hudson lead the charge to the water, not minding the lake’s frosty temperature. That evening after dinner, the group indulged in Swiss Rolls and reflected on a solid days work.The next morning we were up and on the trail by 9 am. Grace took the reins and set the pace at a quick clip to arrive at our lunch spot in record time. After lunch, we embarked on the most difficult portion of the hike, uphill switchbacks.
After copious amounts of unparalleled positive mental attitude, we triumphed the segment known as Devil’s Ridge. The group trekked on, deeper into the Cascades, past towering cliffs and snow capped peaks. Hayne noted how the elevation change brought a cool refreshing climate. After a well deserved pita pizza dinner, the gang hit the hay for some ‘R and R’ before another adventures day.Hiking an average 8 miles per day, we continued North. Fatigued legs found a second wind as we passed the Hozomeen Lake marker, that signaled 1 mile remaining. Elise was the first to drop her pack and jump into the lake, and marveled with the other students how blue the water was! A much needed back country shower, coupled with sublime alpine views was the perfect refresher the group needed to close out the backpacking section.We hiked back to Deerlick Campsite the following day a whipped up a backcountry staple- jambalaya, summer sausage and crispy chicken. Brennan kept us entertained with witty campfire humor. Sarah Grace recommended we sauté the summer sausage, which the group quickly took a liking to!
The following day Katherine and Kate led the group back out toward our pickup point. We had a little backcountry celebration for Katherine’s birthday, and she shared her party size Jolly Rancher bag with the whole group. We trekked along singing trail songs, excited to be nearing our destination, and behold, a bear! Standing in the middle of the trail about 100 yards from us was a black bear, which appeared to be the size of a large, furry dog. After much directed yelling and intimidation tactics, the bear scurried back off into the wilderness- what a rush!The next day we set our toward our pickup point with mixed emotions- excited about our accomplishments and front country luxuries, but sad to leave the wilderness. A common theme for the backpacking trip was what we were going to eat upon returning to civilization. A group consensus that Thomas never let us forget, double bacon cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate shake. Hal’s Diner in Skagit, Washington serves up classic drive-in dishes paired with retro decor that teleports you to a time when the key to a tasty tune wasn’t Spotify, but a couple of coins and a few sticky buttons. One Costco run later, we were on our way to our campsite and one well deserved shower.
As the sun set, we gazed over the bay toward the San Juan islands, ready for our next adventure.
Until next time,
Molly and Steve
July 6, 2019
Hello Pacific Northwest Families!
We heard from our Trip Leaders that all students have arrived safely in Seattle, and the trip is off to a great start. Stay tuned for more stories from their adventures.