June 24, 2019
Our final few days with this stellar crew were spent focusing on each other and living in the moment!! On the last full day, we used almost every form of transportation: ferry, fourteen passenger bus, airplane, tram, and our feet! Once we arrived in Rome, we settled down in our hostel and prepared to venture out as tourists. We took a tram from our hostel to the center of the historical Roman city but before reaching the Pantheon, we obviously had to stop and eat some yummy gelato.
At the Pantheon, defined as many gods, we began our visual journey back into ancient Rome. There, we saw the first and second kings of Italy, as well as the first queen. Before leaving this historically significant monument, the students had to take a farewell photo shoot with the leaders. Afterwards, we decided since everyone had collected so many coins, it was necessary to visit the Trevi Fountain to make a wish. We were swaddled by old buildings as we walked towards the fountain and through smells of freshly baked bread, Nutella and pastries as they were creeping out into the streets. Eventually we made it through the crowds and were able to flip a coin into the fountain! Our next stop was the Spanish Steps. Along the way street vendors begged us to buy their goods, but by this point we were experienced tourists and didn’t budge. The Spanish Steps were so crowded hardly the horse carriages could pass. It was also incredibly hot so after a minute of looking around we found ourselves near street performers in the shade.
The first act we watched was a fire dancer! He was doing tricks and flips to entice the crowd in observing his unique talents. After his performance we then listened to an Italian man sing several American songs like “All of Me” and “Hallelujah”. For banquet we ate our final Italian dishes and cheered to our time spent together. After dinner, you can probably guess, we ate gelato one more time! We walked the streets of Rome stumbling into more musical street performers. Eventually we made it to a park where we had planned to do our final Moonup, but we had to leave because the park was closing. We ended up doing Moonup in our hostel all sitting on bean bags. It was a time of reflection, appreciation, and lots of love.
As we parted ways and said our goodbyes this morning, feelings of thankfulness and a realization that the bonds formed over this trip are like no other and will be hard to explain. It overwhelmed many of us. Although we are sad it is over, boy are we glad it happened! And with that, we would like to share one final nug to all:
Peyton – thank you for your photography skills and love for country music! Your fashionable ways and mysterious demeanor will be missed.
Barlow – thank you for your outrageous sense of humor and willingness to find comfort within discomfort.
Reid – thank you for your humility, selflessness, always leading by example and for taking a risk as the only rising sophomore!
Chase – thank you for your empathy towards others, ability to embrace others and love for all Moondance games.
Sydney – thank you for being tiny, but mighty. Your wit and silly self was so fun trying to keep up with.
Nico – thank you for your thoughtfulness, leadership and for serving as the modernized dictionary.
Grace – thank you for your stories, inclusiveness towards everyone and for your kind heart.
Isabel – thank you for your levelheadedness, wisdom and for seeing the positives in any situation.
Bella – thank you for your consistent songs, encouragement and standing up strong after each fall.
Jake – thank you for your determination and knowledge as well as insight on what surrounded us and the world. Also, for being 6ʼ9”
Sarah Grace – thank you for your bright smile, contagious laughter and desire to dig deeper.
Johnny – thank you for perspective and enlightening us all on such a wide variety topics. Also, for your enticingly high, contagious energy.
Our group was full of rockstars! Henry and I feel genuinely blessed to have been impacted by each person. We only wish for lives with more happy tears, smiles, laughter and a lot of love for new people and new places. Thank you to each person who contributed in enabling these students the opportunity to explore and adventure Sardinia! It was a trip of a lifetime!
We will see you later!
Our deepest gratitude and love,
June 22, 2019
We’re here to tell you more all about our adventures! We began with a delicious breakfast at our hotel before walking to the crag for a little bit of climbing and relaxing on the beach. Johnny and Jake couldnʼt get enough of the routes our outfitters set up as they tested their abilities by trying all of them. Chase was also eager in showing how she has conquered her fear of heights by climbing as well. While at the beach, Bella, Peyton and Isabel scrambled across the boulders and found spots to jump safely into the ocean. The water is unbelievable, beautiful and crystal clear! We walked back towards our hotel and ended up eating gelato and walking around the town. After finding some fun souvenirs we cleaned up for a dinner of risotto and pasta. For Moonup we went to the beach where our LODs asked us to share a memory when you got in trouble as a kid, a very entertaining question. The we turned in for the night in preparation for tomorrow!
The Sardinian trip goes on a ferry again but this time only for ten minutes! We began our journey to the archipelago islands in a spacious bus in order to get to a port town. Thanks to Nicoʼs incredible music taste, the drive went by in a flash. We dropped off one of our guides at the airport and we were sad to see him go early. Bye Christo!!
After arriving, Barlow and Sydney motivated the group to stay positive while carrying our luggage to the hotel. And Peyton was so generous to carrying extra bags! Once we got to our lovely hotel, we quickly changed into our beach wear, applied sunscreen, and strapped on our sandals to walk down to a granite beach. Intimate conversations occurred on the walk about searching for ones individual place in his or her family.
This beach was a very different beach than we were use to due to the numerous rock surfaces jutting out of the blue emerald water. Some kids had the chance to jump off rocks and into the water, others laid out and soaked up the sun. We all enjoyed an afternoon snack before walking back to the hotel (almost everyone had ice cream twice in one afternoon!). We found our hotel rooms to be adorable and lovely, and so glad we could relax.
For dinner, we feasted at a pizza restaurant and had the opportunity to witness some Italian biggest fails on the progenitor outside. Johnny loves some slapstick humor! Right before heading back to the hotel to go to sleep, the group somehow ended up in a candy shop, therefore, everyone experienced a huge influx of energy.
We ended our day with Moonup and generated a lot of meaningful thoughts to how we have become the people we are today. We are so fortunate for those that challenge but also support us!
Sun kissed, full bellies and biiiiiiiiig smiles pretty much sums up today. We went sailing on the most amazing boats and were able to enjoy our last day in Sardinia together. To begin we ate a scrumptious breakfast, scrambled eggs were an option, and walked to a dock where two sailboats were awaiting our arrival. We spilt in two and sailed towards some beaches. Everyone had so much fun in the water and we were ready for some lunch! For lunch both groups ate pasta and had delicious appetizers as well. Once arriving to the second beach, boat 1 decided it was time to have the speaker back. As an act of rebellion, boat 2 decided to not return it. Quickly Jake, Nico and Reid swam all the way over to boat 2 and searched it entirely. Grace was determined not to give up so quickly and convinced them we had let an Italian borrow it while on the beach. The hunt for the speaker continued and the determination to find it was unstoppable. Eventually Jake caught on it was still on boat 2 and used sneaky tactics to locate it. The battle of the boats was at its peak. Everyone was swimming back and forth trying to retrieve it, but at the end of the day boat 2 lost. The day was relaxing, but also exciting and although we were on two separate boats we still experienced the day together in a special way. Upon our arrival to the hotel, everyone showered and we walked to dinner. We ate pasta and salad then enjoyed Moonup on a dock near boats. Tomorrow we will be waking up early to fly back to Rome! We truly canʼt believe we are about to leave our beloved island.
Ciao, Oakes and Henry
Grace- Hi mom and dad!! Canʼt wait to see you guys in Rome and tell you all about Sardina!! Give Margo a hug for me!!
Johnny – shalom mother and father. Very excited for this next week. Brian, prepare for osmosfeez
Jake- Shalom, can not wait to see you guys.
Isabel- Hi Fam. Iʼm so excited to come home and tell you all about my trip and show you all the pictures! Love yʼall.
Sydney- Happy late birthday Dad!! Canʼt wait to see everyone and show you all the pictures. See you soon!
Reid- Hi mom dad and Ebbe I am having so much fun, sorry I missed Fatherʼs Day dad weʼll have to go fishing at the lake soon! Love you all
Nico- Hi Mom, Dad, and Cole, I am having so much fun in Sardinia! I canʼt wait to see you guys and Happy Late Fatherʼs Day Dad! Love you guys!!
SG- Hi mom, dad, Wilson, and Virginia! Iʼm having so much fun. Canʼt wait to see yʼall!
Barlow- Hi everyone! I miss you people like crazy! I canʼt wait to tell yʼall all about Sardina! Give the puppies kisses for me! I love yʼall!
Chase- happy birthday Ben!!!!! And good luck at states mom i bet youʼre crushing it!! Love and miss all of yʼall so much
Bella- hey everyone! I miss you all so much but having a lot of fun! Canʼt wait to see you in 2 days and tell you all about this amazing place! Love you guys and happy late Fatherʼs Day Dad!
Peyton- thanks for the trip! See you soon.
June 20, 2019
SARDINIA is so so beautiful and wild!! Before setting out on our six-day trek, we feasted at our hotel, eating an assortment of fruits, pastries, yogurt topped with granola and honey, and strong Italian coffee. Harnesses, helmet, clothes, and too many paprika Pringleʼs were crammed into our duffels as we ventured down to the Santa Maria Navarrese Marina to board our first speed boat of the trip. WOW is the water blue! Everyone was stunned by the transparent teal water that somewhat resembled Sonics ocean mist. After a quick fifteen-minute boat ride, our guides (Michele, Luka, and Chisto) jumped out onto a rock to help guide everyone to shore. Good thing Michele told us to bring extra water because it was hot out on the coastal trail. Only the professional hikers, like Barlow, brought camelbaks to increase their water intake. Fifteen minutes into our hike, we heard bells jumbling from the shrubs and out popped a couple of goats. Shepherds let their goats free all day in order to roam for food around the trail and at night come back home to be milked and fed. It is amazing how they always come back even if they are miles away from home! It wasn’t long (twenty minutes) into the hike until everyone was huffing and puffing with sweat rolling off our chins – we were climbing up some serious terrain! Pictures cannot capture how beautiful the sea and coast look from such great heights. Despite the elevation and heat, we boosted our energy with sharing a pack of Oreos. A special thanks to our LODS, Johnny and Sarah Grace, for channeling Motti Mottiʼs (a necklace with a traditional Sardinia mask strung to it that the LODS wear) superior reviving strength. I can say without a doubt, that we single-handedly enjoyed lunch with the most beautiful view! It seemed as if we were on top of the world!! To say a photo shoot occurred would be putting it lightly, I think everyone’s cheeks were sore after smiling so much. With three hours down, we still had some trekking to do. Chisto showed us our first traditional Shepard hut, which was made of dried juniper tree trunks and stones. On our descent down, the question “what animal do you identify with most” was posed, and Isabel said a sea turtle and over the course of a few days, we understood how similar they are! The dust began to settle, and our feet began to drag when we approached the large family operated farmhouse with over one hundred twenty goats!! The group had some free time to learn some new games like YEEHAW (Henryʼs favorite) and master our disguises with playing signs. We had the opportunity to explore the old farmhouse to see the complexity and detail that went into the design of the house (there was a sink hidden by a wooden carving of a snake). And then suddenly we heard bells, bells, and more bells, all the goats were coming in to get milked! We are so fortunate to be able to see how the mills get milked and then to see that milk be turned into goat and ricotta cheese. We feasted like Sardinian kings that night. Fresh ricotta stuffed ravioli overflowed from our plates, lamb and goat crispy as BBQ made some people cry (Barlow) because it was so delicious! Tonight we learned that in Italy, people enjoy their long dinners, sharing food family style, and high pitched belly laughing (Jake!). Our stomachs fully satisfied, we ended the night under the stars and fell fast asleep.
Day five was going to be a HOT day, so waking up to 90ʼs pump up music was necessary to pump everyone up. After a carb-loading breakfast, we climbed aboard a pick-up truck and vintage Land Rover Defender to get to our starting point for the day. Luckily, we did not have a super long hike that day and instead, the group nestled in between to ridges in the mid afternoon with a beautiful fjord directly next to us. This area served as our camp for day five and not only provided an afternoon of swimming in the saltiest water ever, but also a nice recovery nap from the past two days of hiking. Reid entertained the whole group by skipping rocks the farthest and having the most precise aim in our homemade “skeet shooting”. As our bellies began to rumble, we turned around to find Luka walking down with a dripping bright cherry red watermelon. Dinner was prepared by the guides and filled everyone with yummy vegetable rice, hard boiled eggs, salami, and cheese. After dinner there was a fifteen-minute-long battle over the possession of the Nutella spoon. At Moonup, each person told the group the most influential person in their lives and this space of vulnerability opened up the entire group for the first time. We continued to learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, but a tooth brushing party had to take place to end the night. The towering walls beside us bounced back our headlamps as we bobbled our heads up and down to our teeth brushing movement. The coolest part was the impromptu shaded puppet Johnny and Barlow preformed (we never quite understood where the dog went). Today was a very fun day!
Day six was our biggest day of hiking and that meant waking up early and Nutella at breakfast. Everyone was in great moods even if they didn’t get the best night’s sleep because today we were to conquer the high heat! Jake and Grace (the LODS) gave us a deeply inspiring and motivational quote right before we set out. Our feet and mental strength were tested for the first few hours as we climbed to the top of the Sardinian coast. We were immediately rewarded by the jaw dropping view we had at lunch. Tiny white boats created bubbly white wakes as we stood 2000 feet above them eating yummy sandwiches. Just before leaving the group witnessed Barlow and Bellaʼs Hannah Montana dance, it was quite impressive! Then we hiked and hiked some more, and everyone stayed positive regardless of hot sun. Our hard work, determination and sweat stained shirts guided us to travel more than eight miles to some delicious gelato, a shower, and a bed to sleep in!! For dinner, the group walked down to Golgo, an Italian restaurant overlooking the valley. The clouds settled down, creating an Icelandic-like landscape. Again, our bellies were overfilled with delicious ravioli, tasty olives, goat, and dessert fried ravioli filled with ricotta. Nugs to laughing so hard to the point of crying, toilets without lids, and the seven items youʼd bring on a spaceship if you had twenty minutes to pack! We shuffled back to the hostel and fell fast asleep. Day 7 began with a delicious breakfast at our Refugio including yogurt, bread, jam and fruit. Then we piled our gear and hopped into our cars which took us to our trail head. The hike began on a smooth path which quickly turned into big boulders and steep descents and ascents. After crawling through a small hole in a large rock face, we took off our packs for a lunch break. Later we hiked until we reached a large cave resting above a cliff. It was here we repelled 148 feet down leading us to our campsite for the night. Once everyone completed this section, we took a tour inside a very popular cave called Grotta del Fico, which translates to “Cave of the Fig”. Shortly after our tour, Jake and Henry arrived! Due to Jakeʼs foot injuries prior to this trip, he needed to take a rest day. We all swam in the ocean and climbed on the rocks surrounding us. We ate bread and carrots as snacks and all made friendship bracelets out of paracord. For dinner we ate pasta and enjoyed Moonup right on the water beneath the moonlight. As LODs, Chase and Peyton asked our group about our dream jobs and biggest fears. It was exciting to hear everyone share their individual aspirations. Afterwards we spread out at our campsite and went to sleep.
Rise and shine, itʼs 5AM which means the sun is coming! On day 8 some of our group woke up this early to see the sun peaking over the horizon across the sea. Thankfully, Henry and Nico were able to capture an incredible time lapse. It wasn’t until later when we actually woke up to pack and eat breakfast. We transferred to a small beach where we had a morning dip. The water was amazing, crystal clear and surrounded by exposed cliff faces. We gathered our belongings and began our hike with the only way Italians know how, a steep ascent. Due to steepness on several sections on our trail, we used a hand line to protect us when coming down and climbing up specific sections. Reid was a pro! He didn’t hesitate at any of these challenging tasks. The trail continued towards an exposed scree field where we saw several big pieces of quartz, they were beautiful. Our trek ended with a section of Vera Ferrara, which differs from rock climbing, but essentially is clipping into chains and climbing rock. We arrived on a beach and treated ourselves to a well-deserved break. Once we walked towards our campsite, we continued treating ourselves by buying ice cream. We showered! We saw three kittens! We ate a delicious dinner of meat and pasta! We then had Moonup where Sydney and Bella, as LODs, asked us about the coolest place we have ever been. Our group is full of world travelers and ones who pay attention to where they are and often feel appreciative.
On the last day of our trekking section we hiked for only a few hours alongside the coast. It was absolutely stunning! The combination of rugged mountains and blue water is overwhelmingly beautiful. Once we arrived to the beach we ate lunch at a restaurant, where almost everyone enjoyed a drink that resembled a frozen lemonade and fries. Then we walked towards the beach and got on our boat which brought us to Dorgali, where we will he staying for the next two nights. We were feeling victorious and Peyton couldn’t help himself but sing country songs while riding through the winds. After being reunited with our full luggage and unloading it in our rooms inside the hotel, we split into two groups. One went to the beach and the other explored the town and ate gelato. For dinner we ate risotto, beef and vegetables and then walked back to the beach for Moonup. Tomorrow will be an exciting day rock climbing and on the beach, especially with Grace and Isabel as our new LODs!
Oakes and Henry
June 15, 2019
CIAO friends and family all the way from Sardinia! We have been traveling a lot these last few days, but luckily have begun our epic 6-day backcountry trek.
After everyone made it to the Atlanta airport on Day 1, we shortly boarded our plane and flew to Rome. Upon our arrival we met our drivers who brought us to our hostel where we stored our luggage for the day and then ventured off for a pizza lunch. This was the moment when we realized our Italian was subpar. We then took a tram towards Via S. Pietro in Carcere and walked to the Colosseum. We tried getting tickets; however, the wait was too long. Instead we explored around it and had a photo shoot. After we walked back towards our tram and explored a less touristy area called South Maria in Trastevere. We ate our first gelato and then watched spray paint street art before eating a traditional Italian dinner.
While at dinner some decided to discuss “If you were on a deserted island, what three things would you bring?” Shout out to Sarah Grace’s mom because you made her list…until she swapped you out for a Baby Bottle Pop (that is a candy)! We walked back to the hostel from dinner after we made one more gelato stop for those who didn’t eat it earlier and had our drivers bring us to our overnight ferry, aka the BATMOSHIP, as Johnny called it. Surprise! This wasn’t any old ship; it was actually Batman themed. This was a hilarious experience for all of us, especially for Jake since he had to duck the majority of the time since he stands 6’8” mighty and tall. We threw our belongings into the rooms then met for our first Moonup on the top deck of the ship under the sky featuring Moondance gear and pizza bites. After a solid introduction to what Moondance is all about, we went to bed because our morning wakeup call was very early.
Day 2 was a beautiful morning because we rose just as the sun did, brought our gear to the lobby of the ferry and exited towards our van that welcomed us to Sardinia. We grabbed a quick breakfast and drove 2 and a half hours south towards Santa Maria Navarrese. Prior to our arrival the LODS (leaders of the day), Isabel and Nico, as well as Sydney, assisted in picking out lunch for the group. We took it down towards the beach and ate it with an incredible view. Reid and Barlow were ready to jump in and swim out to the boulders peeking out of the water. Grace and Bella got in too but also enjoyed playing “20 Questions” on the beach.
After the beach, we went to the park near our hotel and talked about LNT (Leave no Trace) and after Peyton played soccer with local Italian boys. Then our outfitter guides for the trek explained the plan and gave us additional gear. We then walked to a rock face where we climbed up to then come down/practice repelling. Chase even outcome her fear of heights! As a treat to ourselves we got gelato and had some down time before our incredible four course meal where we ate foods like salmon ravioli and octopus. We closed our day with Moonup, discussing what TV or Movie character would you want to portray and also the explanation of one of your happiest days. We are all so excited for what’s to come on our trek and will update you all very soon!
Sending so many love beams because we already feel thankful and excited!
Until next time,
Henry and Oakes
June 12, 2019
Hello Sardinia Families!
We heard from the Leaders early this morning that the group has arrived safely in Rome. They are headed to their hostel for the night, and the trip is off to a great start. We cannot wait to share more stories from their adventures. Stay tuned!