July 26, 2021
And so it ends. Here’s to the faithful departed. The last of our dearest children have abandoned us, and we are left, in the words of the late Hank Williams, “so lonesome I (we) could cry” at the airport. We’ve had an incredible last few weeks together, and the two days since rafting have now flowed onward, as streams to the ocean. We are going to miss these kiddos and the times we’ve had, but will always cherish the wonderful memories.
On our drive back from rafting, we took a break from the desert heat to stop off at an Oasis, if you will, to grab some super yummy milkshakes thanks to the excellent insider information garnered by Peter from our raft guides. Apres shaking, we continued onward and upward back into the great state of Washington to hunker down for the evening. We pulled off at the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for another Jem super chef burger cookout, including the long desired pickles for Celia. Once again, we had to tip our caps, but that did not stop Jack from valorously competing with and antagonizing our head chef in whipping up some great bacon to go with the spoils. Next AM in the morning, the last of its kind, after an excellent night’s sleep Ben B helped out with some spontaneous, sparkling, sumptuous, scrumptious, succulent, spirited, serendipitous chocolate chip and fresh blueberry pancakes for all, woowooo the best! From thence we travelled hence to our final campsite of the journey, the arrival upon of which we henceforth proceeded to out propeller and do some cleanery and chop chop. To start, Lara led a noble charge into the teeth of the van to really deep clean that stinker, tag teaming with Ben C, who got us all fired up with some classical music on the stereo. We similarly packed up the tents and got the pots and pans spick and span like a Moondance van, even leaving enough time for Jake to show off the arm once more with the pigskin.
All donesies and ready to go, we hit the thrift store for some good outfits and had our final banquet dinner at the local pizza joint, where Jack as always created chaos in mafia, and we reflected on days gone by. Apres za, we hitched up wagon and returned to our campsite for one last reflective moonup, led by Kate, complete with a sincere group rendition of “American Pie”, and night under the stars in the great outdoors. We finally dozed off while gazing mystically once more up into the great yonder, reminiscing on our adventures with each other and sugar plums.
Red dawn guiding our way as is tradition, we rode out somberly this morning towards the rally point at the SeaTac airport, enjoying one last van ride song sesh. One by one we fell today, different flights scooping up our children left and right, symbolic of how we are all scooped up by life’s different currents are we not? We truly cannot thank you enough for sharing your wonderful children with us this summer, we miss them dearly already! And so it ends.
July 25, 2021
Land hooooo!!! Raise the top sails ye brigands, and port to!! PNW Pirates here back from a swashbuckling, rapscallious adventure on the Deschutes. We’ve had such an incredible time rafting through the golden, rocky and wide open Oregon hills under the warm sun on ye refreshing mountain waters of the Deschutes.
Upon arrival to our campsite from which we would raise anchor the following marnin’, after a couple “arrrgh!”’s and “avast ye!”’s, we quickly found ourselves arms raised in an all out water gun fight, as is known to happen with treacherous pirateering bands such as ourselves. The game soon would turn into “let’s take down Ben C” as he was impossible to chase down, speed kills you see. After arduous pincer, surrounding, amphibious, flanking, subterranean, enveloping, and aerial maneuvers, coupled with some well timed betrayal from Jake, previously serving well as Ben’s bodyguard, we finally took down “the ghost” with a successful splash firing squad and settled into camp. We then took a dip in the refreshing Deschutes, where Peter paved the way for a few trips around the naturally occurring lazy river. After a glorious feast of mac and cheese, with added bacon cheffed up by Ben B, we met with our guides and settled into our quarters under the night sky for a good slumber. We raised anchor early the following marnin’ with our fearless guides and hit the waters, rife with wild horses and beautiful scenery roaming the shores all day. Celia soon took the lead in a cappella river shanties of yore, while Lara insisted on “riding the bull” through multiple wave trains. We stopped off on a sunny bank for lunch, where Kate showed us up in walking the plank for a splash off the rocks, then sailed onwards towards our port for the evening. We ended our riverfaring with a fun rapid the guides even let us swim through, before settling into our riverside campsite nestled in the golden hills. Pirateering, pernicious, pickled, peppy, punctual, ped-legged pirates such as ourselves always enjoy a good round of cards, so we wasted no time in getting a game of Capitalism going, where Jem immediately established himself as all time president. Apres cards, we dove into a feast of pesto pasta, which filled the port barrels of our tummies quite well, apres which Jack generously offered to help clean up. Apres dinner, we mooned it up in here and then snuggled in to our last night truly in the backcountry, enjoying a full moon and bright stars which lit up the entirety of the cozy rolling grass hills surrounding. It was actually so sick.
Next marnin’, we scurried out of our bunks with the red dawn and raised anchor for the last time on that fountain of the gods also known as the Deschutes, setting our sights on Maupin, our pull out point. We galavanted through many rapids, which even sent Ben B swimming on one occasion, as well as engaged in much raft warfare between ourselves and others. Again, pirateering pirates we be. Kate here proved herself an exceptional rapscallion, constantly sneakily throwing her shipmates off the plank at the opportune moment. With favorable winds and currents, we kept our heading and safely reached Maupin, enjoyed a hearty sailors luncheon, and are since on our way to our next campsite, excited to close out our last few days strong!
July 23, 2021
Howdy partners!!!! PNW 2A here checking in from the desert! We’ve just completed our climbing section at Smith Rock, culminating in the entire group traversing across and rappelling down the famed Monkey’s Face this morning. We’ve had an incredible few days of climbing, and are excited for our last activity!
As soon as we arrived in Smith Rock after a road trip, we were ready to get some energy out. Peter rented out a bike buggy from the campsite general store while Ben C gathered a group for basketball then impressed us once again with his swift hustling back and forth on the court. As the desert evening breeze helped cool us down, Jem cheffed up a bowl lickin’ dinner of hibachi chicken fried rice. Our first day of climbing next morning, we started early to beat the heat and met our climbing guides Nathan and Dana to go through some demos and jump into our first climbs at world renowned Smith Rock State Park. In no time Jem was climbing every route with speed and ease, a true natural, while Jake served honorably as our “fresh prince of Belay”, getting each kid up and down the routes. After a morning of climbing, we took a trip to a local waterfall where we did some cliff jumping and rock lounging under the desert sun. We all kowabunga’d off rocks (yippee!!) and Kate showed off her sharp swimming strokes in the beautiful water oasis. Once back at our campsite with hungry tummies after a fun filled day, we indulged in a delicious chicken curry ramen courtesy of our fabulous Lara, before cozying in to a heartfelt Moonup as the sun set on Mount Hood towering over the desert in the background.
The next day our guides took us across the river and to a different part of the park to try some new routes and practice rappelling in preparation for Monkey’s Face. Here Celia coined a new type of climbing activity…swinging, scooting, bopping, badoinking, lolligaging, and laughing around while hanging on the rope of the rock wall. After another eventful day in Smith Rock, we headed to Bend for our greatly anticipated town day. We strolled through the streets, visited the farmers market, and munched on “best in Oregon” burgers and milkshakes at the yummy local burger joint. As we waddled back through town, Ben B motivated us to spend a little time in the river park, tossing the frisbee, practicing handstands, vibing and relaxing. Next morning, we woke up under the stars ready to conquer the highlight of our time at smith rock, the monkey face. As Gandalf told Aragorn long ago, so too we on our third and final morning of rock climbing after a strenuous hike up misery ridge, “at dawn, look[ed] to the east”, and lo and behold what a sight we saw. Radiant, resolute, radical rays of light shone forth through the open sky and illuminated the face of our long-awaited monkey, as the light of a warm hearth draws out the face of an old friend. Our face time began with a traverse across to the mouth of the monkey, a short climb up the nose, and a 400-foot rappel down the rock, wuhhohhh!!! Jack was kind enough to demo the full route for us with ease and grace, even pulling out the NYT while in the mouth of the monkey for a nice read (inflation am I right people???). Now looking easy peasy lemon squeezy, with desert rocks and snowcapped mountains in the background, we soon all achieved our quest to conquer the monkey’s face and paraded back to our van as conquering heroes of old. We are now heading towards the Deschutes River to get ready for our last adventure of the trip, white water rafting!
• A team
July 18, 2021
Arrrrrggghhh ye scalliwags!!! Seafaring pirates we be!!! PNW 2A here checking in off the high seas of the San Juans, headed towards Smith Rock after making some great memories. As we took the long ferry ride from Anacortes to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, rife with scabrous sailors and pirateering pirates, over the beautiful islands and waters we passed through. Upon arrival to the island, we explored the cutie little ole town of Friday Harbor, before having ourselves a night at camp. To start us off, Jem cheffed us all up with some incredibly seasoned burgers and dawgs, complete with bacon, tomato, lettuce, ketchup, caramelized onions, and cheese on top, with watermelon, grapes, and chips on the side. Post feast, we hit the field upon which Ben B showed off with some Odell Beckham-esque end zone grabs in football (red, white, and blue edition), followed by Ben C running circles around everyone in an old fashioned game of football (rest of the world edition).
Next marnin’, dry bags packed and sails ready to lower away, we arrived at the historic Roche Harbor ready to rock, rendezvous, rally, represent, reck, and roll. Due to the fickle nature of winds and currents as they are known to be, we were unable to hit the water, but made the most of it by exploring the cutie little ole town of Roche Harbor. We first got Jack his long-awaited newspaper (pleasantly surprised by the Seattle Times, slightly unimpressed with the NYT), and then simply could not say no to Celia’s push for yummy bunny tracks ice cream at the local stand, the best! We then arrived at our new campsite, where Jake showed off his killer arm in some spike ball, followed by a beautiful sunset Moonup on the water.
On the following marnin’ on the ‘morrow from the day befar’, we would not be stopped. We hit the waters bright and early, heading towards the legendary Jones Island. We spent the entire paddle trying to chase down Jack and Kate, who were even leaving us all to eat their bubbles when we gave them the heaviest boat. Upon arrival on the beautiful shores of the island, we enjoyed a relaxing evening, with some well-earned pesto pasta courtesy of our outfitters, followed a polar plunge from Lara, Celia, and Jem, closing out with s’mores and hot chocolate again from our lovely outfitters. The red sun rose the next marnin’ to illuminate Peter packing up all our boats to get us ready for our journey back across the channel to the main island, upon which we befriended some nice seals who would poke their heads out of the water to say hello. Back at our trusty camp, we enjoyed some nice afternoon relaxation, coupled with an ultimate frisbee showdown, where Lara took no prisoners (alive that is).
After a warm grilled cheese dinner, followed by mega cookie and milk, we Moonuped and went to bed all tuckered out, dreaming of our swashbuckling on the high seas, as well as sugar plums. We are now up and at ‘em this marnin’ on ferry back to mainland, heading for our Oregon adventures, starting with Smith Rock, wooohoo!
July 14, 2021
PNW A team here fresh off the trails of the North Cascades, exhausted but victorious in our endeavor to trek almost 40 miles through pristine, palpable, presumptive, potable, picturesque paradise. This past week has been an incredible opportunity to challenge ourselves and develop new friendships, all while having a blast.
Group dynamics began to form instantly on airport day when Jack proved himself to be on the side of chaos as vigilante in mafia. From there, we began our journey towards the North Cascades prepping for our 6 day backpacking excursion. Kate proved very helpful in ration planning and divvying up group gear, while Peter gave us all a lesson in reading maps anticipating our upcoming route. We slept soundly to the humming of the Skagit River, dreaming of sugar plums and high mountains. Next morning, we drove through invigorating and inspiring landscape to our trailhead, with Ben B leading us in a chorus of that timeless hymn, “Country Roads”. After a boat ride across Ross Lake and a good first hike, the clear, clean, waters of the lake called our name, and Jake led us all in a session of sunbathing and jumps off the pier, even showing off a few flips. After a sumptuous first backcountry dinner of chicken teriyaki, we got up and at em’ and continued along the lake to our next campsite, where we began to mentally prepare ourselves for D-Day, our 4500 ft climb and 13.6 mile round trip through the high country to the Peak of Desolation, the highlight and greatest challenge of our backcountry tour. Waking up late and early on D-Day, Ben C led the way up the long, arduous trail through the dark, guided only by his heart and the multitude of heavenly stars, which shone bright as the great beacons of Minas Tirith and Edoras. On rest breaks, we would shut off our headlamps, and simply gaze in awe at the beauty in the sky, even spotting a few shooting stars. As we continued to ascend, Celia kept morale up with trail songs and laughs, and when the red sun began to shine beams of light through the gaps and over the peaks of the high mountains, we found ourselves on the great ridge, high high above Ross Lake, with the peak of Desolation just within reach. Upon finally reaching the fabled summit, we collapsed and snacked on some well deserved candy, while taking in the majestic, immense views of the surrounding landscape far below. After grudgingly beginning our descent and arriving back at camp, we enjoyed an afternoon filled with chocolate chip pancakes, swimming, and games, followed by a sumptuous feast of mac and cheese before a well deserved good night’s sleep. Following a day of trekking into the forest around the other side of the mountain, and a night’s rest to the whispering of the ice cold Nightmare Creek, we arrived finally in the early afternoon of our last full day to Hozomeen Lake, the best, an awe inspiring alpine lake reflecting the staggering rock face of the towering Hozomeen Mountain in the background. Upon arrival, we spent a lovely afternoon complete with swimming, lakeside hangout, and serenading guitar from Kate, all sandwiched between cooked feasts of backcountry pizzas and fajita bowls led by our head chef Lara. After a sunset moonup on the lake with hot chocolate, we curled up in our sleeping bags and enjoyed one last backcountry slumber with the howling of distant wolves echoing hauntingly across the mountains.
This morning, our last of backpacking, we got up and hiked out to the boat launch, where Jem entertained us with some sneaky card tricks while we sat by the lake gazing one last time at the spectacular views of the Cascades and waited on our water taxi back to the van. Our ride out of the Park was filled with energy and feelings of accomplishment, and we have now arrived at our campsite on the way to the San Juans, excited for our next adventure of sea kayaking, woohoo!
And now… some shoutouts from the kiddos!
Jack – hi guys hiking was awesome!
Ben c – hi family I love you guys im having the best time
Ben Byrne – hi everyone I’m having lots of fun and I will see you soon.
Peter – Hey guys I am having lots of fun. We had a blast hiking see you soon.
Lara -hey y’all! Miss you guys! Give tippy a kiss from me ????
Celia – hi family!!! I’m having so much fun and I miss y’all. Give daisy a hug for me
Jake – Hi family, I’m having such a fun time. I can’t wait to hug all of you!
Jem – Hi guys, missing u so much! Having a great time. Make sure to give Yofi, Ozz, Batty, and Daisy lots of love from me.
Kate – hey mom, dad and ryan! I’m heading off to kayaking so excited! Miss y’all and give the dogs a hug for me!
July 6, 2021
Hello Pacific Northwest 2A Families!!
The whole group arrived safely in Seattle and they are headed to their first campsite! We have heard from their leaders that the trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure!
Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting at least three trip updates throughout the next few weeks. This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shoutout mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!!