July 11, 2022
If you are reading this, this means you have safely made it home and can now reminisce on our wonderful time together!
Somehow the time has come for the final trip update of Canyonlands Session 2 and we are in disbelief of how fast the time has gone. They say time flies when you’re having fun, and if fun is measured in laughs, then we had a whole lot of it. Since our last check-in, we did a lot into 48 hours. We had quite the time re-packing our duffels to prep for the airport and reminiscing on the trip via random found items. As a reward for a long day of travel and painstakingly fitting our belongings back into duffel bags, everyone got to let their creative juices flow and tie-dye some t-shirts. Wolfie was an experienced tie-dye pro and helped many of the group members, while others followed Ben R.’s approach, which was more of a dye splattering method. At dinner time, everyone agreed that they missed the gourmet, three-course raft guide food that was always magically ready after we got tired out from afternoons of swimming and playing. However, we did have a hearty meal of red beans and rice with corn (thanks to Louise, the evening’s sous chef). It was a satisfying change of palette and nice last camp dinner. Everyone then fell asleep real fast – under the stars of course.
The next day was our bittersweet final full day together. The crew got up bright and early, which was not an easy task with the newfound cold morning temperatures, but everyone was motivated by one thing: shower day. We quickly packed up, got some oatmeal and surprise donuts, and hopped into the van to head out on our brief car ride to the final campsite. LODs Molly, Caroline, and Annie got to queue some songs to set the mood and get everyone pumped for the day. Once arriving in Park City, we went immediately to clean out the well-loved and well-traveled van. Done impressively fast, our next destination was the Park City Recreation Center, where we all got to shower and use soap that wasn’t Dr. Bronner’s for the first time in two weeks. Next, we hit the town for some galivanting around Park City’s Main Street full of shops. After our afternoon of urban trekking, we gathered back into the van for a surprise thrift shop adventure. Everyone truly went above and beyond with their outfit selections, and to detail all of them would not do them justice. However, here are some highlights: Will’s nightshirt/baseball helmet combo, Ben O.’s women’s cut tank top about Pringles, the crew of matching t-shirts with an inspiring message, and of course Kate’s classic combo of a sombrero and kickball. After properly dressing up, we hit Squatter’s Roadside Grill for a killer dinner and Javacow for some surprise ice cream dessert. (Christine recommends the Peaches and Cream ice cream). After we got back, the gang got to setting up camp for one final time and reminiscing on the trip. The LODs posed some thoughtful Moonup questions that had everyone continuing to reminisce and appreciate the two weeks we got to experience together.
Finally, airport day came around. We rolled up to the airport with some jammin’ vibes of Chris Stapleton and Zach Bryan playing, per the group’s request, and belting the lyrics at a very early hour. With Margaret the first to go and Christine the last, our day was full of goodbye hugs and “see you later”s, as well as a few Starbucks runs that some of the kids had been missing; Willie gave a five-star rating to his Vanilla Bean Frappuccino from the SLC airport Starbucks. Salt Lake feels a little emptier with all of the Session 2 squad gone. Everyone will be missed, and we hope the rest of the summer brings some more adventures to come!
Til we meet again!
James and Sydney
July 9, 2022
Day 1 of rafting on the Colorado River was a day full of competitive napping, reading, and relaxation as we floated down with no rapids for the day. We stopped at a little beach and had a wonderful first meal of Mediterranean pita pockets for lunch prepared by our wonderful raft guides, and had some swim time with a backflip contest by Kate, Willie, and Wolfie. We then got going again and finally made it to our first campsite on the river! Molly described it as maze-like, with its tall grasses lining the different trails, and everyone was excited to learn that we could swim right off of it and continue the trend of mud fights. Putting mud on his face like eye black, Ben R. threw the first gob of mud, followed by Wolfie and Willie, who both covered their chests in mud like a protective shield, and Will and Kate diving and dodging on the defense. After a delicious dinner of shrimp fettuccini pasta, everyone got their groove on and took a mini hike up to see some 900 year old (or more) Native American granaries. Louise, Margaret, and Molly lead the way and were the first to spot the ancient rock cabinets, and encouraged everyone else to come. We all then sat there for a little bit and appreciated the moon rising for the night and the sweeping canyon and river view offered by the spot. LODs Christine and Willie then established a group-wide game of manhunt before Moonup time, where Christine and Ben O. took home the gold for the night. Finally, we ended the day with a special Moonup featuring our raft guides.
After a restful night of sleep that allowed a wake-up time later that most of our recent mornings, everyone gathered and enjoyed some yummy breakfast burritos. LODs Kate and Ben R. then got the crew going on packing up their dry bags and helping the guides with “firelining” everything into the rafts before taking off. Day two brought on some more float time, a brief rainstorm that got everyone huddled under the beloved bimini on the motor boat (and rain naps led by Annie and Caroline), and finally a class 3 rapid – the first of the trip – right before our campsite. Before finishing the day on the boat, we were able to do a short and steep hike up to a “saddle” that overlooks two sides of a bend in the river, see a grand view of the river and surrounding canyon, and learn about some Petroglyphs on one of the rock faces. Talk about a day full of adventure! Once arriving to the campsite, everyone took the obligatory swim, this time having to be careful of the nearby rapid in front of the site. The rest of the afternoon was full of bocci ball, Monopoly Deal, frisbee, football, some more swimming, and a whole lot of reading on our wonderful beach campground.
The third day of rafting brought on the thrills we’ve been waiting for – hours of rapids to put our rafts to the test. After a hearty breakfast, everyone loaded up on the motor boat, paddle boat, or cargo boat and set off. Ben O. was loyal to the motor boat all day, while most everyone switched out between the three. Big Drop 1, Big Drop 2, and Big Drop 3 put the whole crew to the test – either paddling or just staying in the boat – but we all came out on the other side with no spills out of the boat. They definitely earn their title as some of the biggest rapids in the country! A handful of brave rafters “rode the bull” on either the paddle boat or cargo boat, with Caroline starting the trend on some steep rapids following Big Drop 3. Once we finished off the rapids, we basked in the sun for a few miles of flat water and arrived at our last riverside camp in the late afternoon. After a successful gear fireline led by LODs Louise and Will, the daily book club commenced while some bocci ball and swimming began as well. Wolfie even showed all the guys up in a heated game of Monopoly Deal. For our final dinner, the raft guides whipped up some mean steak and mashed potatoes and left everyone stuffed to the brim. Dessert time held in store some yummy brownies, but the group’s favorite part of it was the can of whipped cream intended for the brownies which actually just turned into a vehicle for our favorite food-based game. Wolfie was quick to be the first to grab the can, put a dollop on his hand, and smack his arm so the dollop flew in the air in perfect distance to be caught in one’s mouth. Truly a genius game. Margaret, Christine, Will, and Willie then proceeded to race to the can to perfect their skills, and finally Sydney attempted to show them all up but just ended up with whipped cream in her braids. Somehow this turned into an all out beach battle involving water spraying, soap dispensers, remaining whipped cream, and a whole lot of ducking and covering until Molly led those particularly affected into the river for an evening swim.
The group awoke to some bagels and lox to begin the fourth and final day of rafting. After the boys did some beach gymnastics, as one does, we loaded up onto the barged rafts and hit the water. We got to have a little over three hours of river time, involving a mix of reading, napping, sun bathing, and breaks for swimming (and flipping off of the boats) and ended our time with a delicious final meal by the raft guides. We then got to the boat ramp and met back up with our beloved van and Uhaul and hit the road for a few hours to our campsite halfway to Park City. Everyone is tired from some long and awesome four days on the river, and excited to have some last adventures and explorations tomorrow before having to head home!
Peace and love from the hot and orange state!
Sydney and James
And here are some thank you’s that the kids wanted to give:
Thank you Mom and Dad for letting me go on this trip. Also shoutout to Scone for going on moondance before me. -Ben R.
Thank you Mom for sending me on this trip and thank you to all of the people for making this the best 2 weeks ever :)) also thanks to Sydney and James for being mom and dad for 2 weeks even when we are cray— love y’all -Kate
Thank you dad for helping me to go out of my comfort zone and do something that i never thought i would do!!! Love you lotsLou
Thank you mom and dad for sending me on this trip love you! -Margaret
Thank you mom and dad for allowing me to come on this trip love you! -William Norman
Thank you so much mom and dad for sending me on this trip. I’ve had so much fun and can’t wait to see y’all -Wolfie
Thanks so much for letting me go on this trip I love u mom and dad. Can’t wait to see u in Portland, bye-Willie
Thanks to my leaders for going out of their way to get my bag to me. See you soon – Ben O.
Thank you so much mom and dad for allowing me to come on Moondance and create lots of memories! -Molly
Thank you so much Mom and Dad for letting me go on a moondance trip! I have had so much fun and made so many memories. Can’t wait to see y’all-Annie
Thank you mom and dad for letting me go on Moondance!! I had so much fun and made lots of memories and lots of new friends!! I miss y’all so much and can’t wait to see y’all!! LOVE YOU!! -Caroline
Thank you dad for sparking my love of the outdoors and mom for always helping me get over my fears and doubts, love you all -Christine
July 5, 2022
The group woke up on Friday in Zion National Park, well-rested after our long day in The Narrows, to a breakfast sandwich breakfast prepared by our LODs Wolfie and Louise. Many of the kids remarked that this was the best breakfast yet! Nothing like a great breakfast before a long car ride. After our delicious meal, we packed up and said goodbye to our beautiful Watchman Campsite. While loading into the van, Sydney had the kids write down two songs that would be added to a playlist, which would play during the car ride and everyone had to guess who requested each song. Kate was able to pair just about every song with its respective requester. The group is really starting to know each other well! Once we pulled into Moab we finally reunited Ben O. with his luggage, which brought the whole group into an eruption of cheers. Naturally, to celebrate, James and Sydney surprised the group with some great-tasting milkshakes from Milt’s Stop & Eat where we got at least one of every flavor on the menu. After we slurped down our milkshakes, it was time to check out our new campsite! On the way, the group was excited to spot the petroglyphs along the road in the way in. Once we arrived in our new home, it was time to prepare some Mediterranean bowls for dinner. Louise and Wolfie did an amazing job again with meal prep and there was no one that didn’t want seconds…some great chefs for sure! Once evening hit, Annie proudly whipped out her mosquito head net and was immediately commended for reminding everyone else of that random packing list item that they then all whipped out as well. After a long day of travel and amazing food, everyone opted for the obvious choice of sleeping under the vast sky full of stars for the night.
Bright and early, the next day was a morning full of climbing rocks and sending it every which way. Though most of the group was new to the sport, an outsider would’ve never guessed. Everyone gave at least two routes a shot, Wolfie and Willie proudly climbed every route at least one time, and Molly belayed for at least half of the group. After, LODs Willie and Christine helped Sydney with the food restock, including some Fourth of July goodies (such as the watermelons Kate has been emphasizing the necessity for). During a Caesar wrap meal prep assisted by Christine, Willie, Margaret, and Louise, Margaret tried broccoli for the first time and relayed that it tasted like peas “but in a good way.” Everyone realized that they actually kind of agreed, and then proceeded to devour the wraps before enjoying some campsite hangout time. Wolfie and Willie led the way in jumping into the Colorado River alongside the campsite, sparking everyone else to join in and take a swim as well as a Dr. Bronner’s shower (with Annie’s stamp of approval that it “actually made my hair softer”), which was immediately followed by a river mud war waged by Will and Ben R. Everyone eventually came out of the water once they learned that it was time to prepare for our Iron Chef dinner time. Split into teams captained by the LODs, they worked hard in the kitchen for a solid hour to prepare meals for judges Sydney and James. Team Christine came up with a fried rice dish paired with a side of summer sausage and marinara hybrid sauce – courtesy of Ben O.’s secret sauce recipe – and a dessert of cinnamon apples baked in the sun. Team Willie brought forward an appetizer of cucumber and carrot hummus snackers, spaghetti, and cinnamon sugar English muffins for dessert. After lengthy consideration, it all came down to arguably the most important category (besides deliciousness of course) – sustainability and being stewards of the Earth. With almost no food waste, compared to the other team’s higher amount, team Christine took home the gold in the Canyonlands Session 2 Iron Chef and won some Oreos.
The next morning brought on another early wakeup, but well worth it because it brought us to a new adventure: canyoneering! Ready to attack the day, LODs Ben R. and Margaret helped prep the oatmeal and bagel breakfast and excitedly woke up the rest of the crew to beat the sun to the canyon. We spent hours traversing above, across, within, and finally down canyons, with the ultimate 100-foot rappel confidently led by Louise and Kate. With an appetite properly worked up, we hit Gorditos, a local Mexican restaurant, for a filling and delicious lunch to fuel us for the rest of the day’s adventures. We then went right to Arches National Park, and while waiting in line played the Dream Game with Kate as our top-tier dreamer. Once we got through, we drove through Arches and hiked a short but steady uphill hike to the iconic Delicate Arch, where Molly reviewed with the group her favorite Leave No Trace principle (number seven). Sydney and James realized there was really no other well-earned snack after a hot hike than an Icee from the nearby gas station, and everyone else agreed without hesitation. Cooled off and rejuvenated, we headed out to our namesake park of Canyonlands National Park and drove through to see the different lookout points and the vast canyons all around before settling at Dead Horse Point for the evening. Margaret, Louise, Christine, and Annie helped prepare the group’s dinner of Ramen Bombs while the rest of the crew played some intense hacky sack. Right as the ramen finished up, the sky started to change colors for the night and everyone was able to eat their dinner while watching the sun lower below the canyon rim. We then did our Moonup underneath the sky full of stars and the bright light of the moon. Boy what a day and night of adventure!
Fourth of July morning could only mean one thing: red, white, and blue sprinkle pancakes with strawberries, blueberries, and whipped cream to top them off. Molly declared that she had previously not liked blueberries until this morning but now thinks that they’re her favorite fruit…talk about the magic of Moondance! Coupled with some hash-browns, this breakfast had everyone stuffed and ready to hit the town (in their red, white, and blue outfits of course). The gang got to explore the cute and eclectic city of Moab for a few hours and hit all the shops for some souvenirs. Once we rolled back in from town with clean laundry, everyone gave a rundown of their shopping hauls (some purchase highlights being Margaret’s freeze-dried taffy, a handful of new hacky sacks, and Annie’s plethora of fun stickers), and then it was the moment Kate had been waiting for the past eight days…watermelon time! Everyone partnered up and competed in the most intense watermelon-eating contest judges Sydney and Molly had ever seen – truly, they were swept off their feet by the strategy and skill with which everyone ate their watermelon. With Willy eating the winning bites, everyone cheered and took off for the river for another afternoon swim. To end the day, Ben O., Molly, and Caroline helped to chef up our dinner of hot dogs and baked beans coupled with some more watermelon (of course). A day full of fun, celebration, and American-themed music got the gang prepped and ready for our next four days of rafting on the Colorado River!
James + Sydney
Now here are some shoutouts that the kids wanted to give!
Hi mom and dad I’m about to get on the rafting boat, I love you guys -Willie
Hi familia, having so much fun and miss all of you. Give Dud a bone for me -Ben R.
Hey fam, having the best time ever thanks for sending me on this amazing trip -Christine
Hey dad I am about to go rafting on the river love you and miss you and can’t wait to see you -Louise
Hi mom and dad, about to go rafting love and miss you -Margaret
Hey Mom, Dad, and Jacob I’m about to go rafting, thank you so much for sending me on this amazing trip -Wolfie
Miss you Mom and Dad, we celebrated the Fourth of July yesterday, see you soon- Ben O.
Hi mommy or whoever is reading this… miss u so much and we are going rafting #blessed, can’t wait to see you soon, LOVE U -Kate Coker
Hi mom and dad I miss you so much, we are about to go rafting. Love you -Will
Hi fam! This trip is fab;) we are about to go rafting and I miss you -Annie Duncan
Hey Mom and Dad! I miss y’all so much and can’t wait to see you guys soon. We are about to go rafting for four whole days! -Molly
Hey mom and dad!! I miss y’all so much and can’t wait to see y’all but I am having so much fun!! We’re about to go rafting for four whole days!! Thanks for sending me here!! LOVE YOU!! -Caroline Collins
Hey fam, love you all bunches! I hope all is well with everyone, Utah still rocks my socks 🙂 Talk to you guys soon! -xoxo Syd
Hey fam, I miss y’all a ton. I’m sorry, but I know I’m having a way better summer than y’all. Tell the dogs I said hey. James Mullen
July 1, 2022
Canyonlands Session 2 had a very full airport day and first day together! Everyone gathered in the SLC airport, snacking on some airport delicacy meals, and playing hacky sack of course, while waiting for our final traveler, Ben O. Turns out, Ben got to hang out at his Dallas layover a little longer than expected. No worries, though, because we finally scooped him up after some frolicking around SLC parks and our first-night pizza dinner. With everyone finally together, we headed out to our first campground!
The crew slept in a bit after our late night and woke up to a breakfast of bacon, eggs, and grits (which Wolfie, a first-time grits eater, gave high approval of). After a chill morning of hanging out and chatting, everyone helped clean up while Ben R and Kate exhibited good Expedition Behavior and finished up cleaning the group’s dishes. With that, we hit the road, drove through some gorgeous canyons for a few hours, and got our next campground! Once we arrived, everyone assisted in helping James make our lunch of Mediterranean pita pockets, with Wolfie and Ben R rushing to be able to help serve everyone. After a hearty lunch, Will and Willy lead the way in exploring the beautiful area surrounding the campsite and Molly was the first to point out our cow neighbors mooing in the distance. Needless to say, everyone took a journey to the edge of the fence to get a closer look at the large family of cows in the distance that shared the park with us. (We would later learn they especially enjoyed mooing at night, as they were trying to insert their thoughts when we wrapped up the day with Moonup!) Soon after, Sydney and Margaret played a riveting game of Spikeball versus Christine and Caroline, which only naturally sparked up a string of impressively played Spikeball games. Later, Margaret assisted Sydney in prepping the tents for the group lesson on tent set-up, which everyone learned with ease, and helped get our BBQ chicken quesadilla dinner going with Willie. The gang then played some games of Zoo and Ninja while Kate, Louise, and Will learned that they could use their ambitions as stewards of the Earth to pick up trash left at the campsite to get some song requests for the speaker.
The next day, the crew woke up before the sun, ate some breakfast, packed up everything, and set out on the short drive to Bryce Canyon. We hiked the Queen’s Garden trail, getting to see the famous Hoodoos of Utah canyons, Thor’s Hammer (one specific Hoodoo visible from the beautiful Sunset Point lookout spot), the surprising, forested area in the valley of the canyon, and of course the namesake of the trail – Queen Victoria in rock form. After some lunch in the Queen’s “garden,” we finished up the hike and hit up the Ruby’s Inn General Store where everyone got to get some souvenirs. After, we set out to Zion where we would set up our residence for the next two nights. Once we set up tents and got to explore our campground surrounded on all sides by canyons, LODs Ben O. and Kate led a cook crew of Annie and Ben R. in making a delicious dinner of fajita bowls and guacamole, finishing just in time for some unexpected desert rain to come in. Once we finished up dinner and Moonup, everyone got in their tents a little early in preparation for our big day ahead.
Day 4 only means one thing – The Narrows! Everyone woke up to some cinnamon pancakes and bacon prepared by LODs Annie and Will, the perfect fuel for a day hiking through a river. A total distance of around 7 miles, our Narrows hike brought us a day of refreshingly chilly water, rock jumping, wading through waist deep water, and a surprise of skittles and starburst at the turnaround point of the hike. With Ben O. and Louise leading the way, we made it back to the trolley, took some power naps on the ride back, and walked back to our campsite. Everyone adequately tired out from our long day meant that our dinner of English muffin pizzas with hummus and carrots was well-earned. Wolfie volunteered to help the LODs crank out some mini pizzas like there was no tomorrow. With a brief bout of rain coming in, everyone took a trip to the Zion bookstore and got some goodies, only to walk out and see Christine pointing at a rainbow arched perfectly across the canyon. After further analysis, Molly decided that it was actually a triple rainbow, and everyone began to see the spectacle as it got brighter. What a good omen for the trip! Soon, a Spikeball tournament broke out and continued on until we simply could not see the ball anymore. Some tensions arose between first-round bracket champion teams Sydney and Wolfie, Ben and Will, and James and Caroline as the winner was undetermined due to the championship game being floated to the next day in the light…finals results TBA. Tomorrow, we set out for Moab!
James + Sydney
June 28, 2022
Hello Canyonlands 1 Families!
We heard from our leaders last night that the group has landed safely in Salt Lake City. 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 up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!