July 2, 2023
Au revoir from Paris!!!
We are sad to say that we just left your incredible 11 kids at the airport and our adventure has come to an end! What an unforgettable past 23 days it has been. We want to first say thank you all SO much for letting us get to know and love your kids these past three weeks. This group truly is amazing!
The past couple days have been eventful! We left Chamonix full of excitement and energy for the long awaited Paris adventure. Leaving the mountains was bittersweet, but we were eager for what lay ahead. Before we could even step foot on the train to Paris, Ella and Kk had our day planned from start to finish and we certainly conquered the plan! We arrived in Paris Thursday evening, dropped our stuff, and headed straight out to explore. We got a little bit of sight seeing in before we sat down for a delicious Italian dinner, and we feasted! I’m talking pizzas, salads, pastas, the whole shebang! We then did Moonup at a nearby park in town and prepped for our big day! The girls did face masks, and Kenzie showed off her skills in giving all the girls blow outs. We hit the hay early, ready for the morning.
Yesterday, we woke up right on schedule and set out for our day. Kate Coker and Flora were bright eyed and already dressed for the day before I woke them up! We. Were. Ready. We fueled up with coffee and the best almond croissants you’d ever tasted and set out on our day. Sam and Jake were tossing fashion advice left and right, as we made our way across town popping into any store we saw appealing. We stopped for a delicious lunch, followed by taste testing macaroons, of course! Lulu spotted some hot, fresh bread on our walk to the Louvre and we INDULGED. It was unbelievable. We then continued our journey, going into the Sainte Chapelle, which was absolutely stunning. Everyone was in awe. We then came across an awesome street market, with lots of handmade jewelry! Lots of gifts and souvenirs were bought for sure. We continued our jam-packed day and next walked down to the Louvre, where Riley was sure to get the perfect picture and we sure did! The day was not over yet though. We then headed to the Eiffel Tower where we spent the rest of our night. We picnicked under the Eiffel Tower and got crepes, before we ended with the best Moonup yet! I’d like the re-emphasize how incredible this group is. We just love ‘em so much!!! We hung out and per Lucas’ request, all hopped on the carrousel nearby, until the Eiffel Tower lit up at night as the perfect closing to an incredible trip! We headed back but weren’t ready to say goodbye to each other yet. Skip rallied the troops to stay up and soak in the final hours together.
Today was bittersweet to say the least. We said goodbye and your kids are headed your way now! Again, thank you all so much for sharing your incredible kids with us these past 3 weeks. We love them soooo much and are so thankful to know them!!
Harrison and May May
June 28, 2023
Hello again Moondance friends and family! We are reporting from beautiful Chamonix on our last day before we travel to Paris. We have had an action packed 5 days of trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc and have taken in some breathtaking views!!!
Our first day of the Tour du Mont Blanc started at the crack of dawn as we woke up early and we were bussed to our start at the Arnuva trailhead! There we met our trip guide Nicolas and immediately started a hard uphill hike. The first hike was a rude awakening to the Tour and would not have been completed without Kate Kuhlen’s words of positivity lifting our spirits! Once we reached the top and we were rewarded with stunning views from all directions. We descended down to the town of La Fouly thanks to helpful trail friend Kyle from Arizona! Shoutout to Flora and Sam for powering through some lingering blisters and not complaining once! Real troopers of the trip!
Moving onto day two, we once again had an early morning but a much more enjoyable hike. We hiked through quaint Swiss villages and ran across many herds of cattle that Lucas, our wildlife whisperer, thoroughly enjoyed petting and following around. We thought for a minute that we might have to leave Lucas to graze with the herd for a few days! We ended the long day with a much deserved nap and shower at our nice accommodations in Champex! Skip our resident napper was very pleased with the change of pace and took advantage of the fancy showers and jacuzzi!
Our day three of the TMB was a longgg up and down trekk! There were definitely some strong feats of perseverance displayed on the trail, but McKenzie and Lulu kept us entertained with constant discussions to keep the party in the back of the line rollin!
We had a tough uphill at the end but arrived in Trient to our by far best view of the TMB! After an amazing dinner and moonup, Kate Coker and Jake stayed up with me to watch the stars and play guitar!
Day four was bound to be jam packed day with our Leaders of the Day being the dynamic duo Riley and Ella! We powered through our hike to top of the mountain where we stopped at a breathtaking restaurant that was quite literally amongst the clouds! Nicolas, our guide, told the group that this was the fastest and most fit group he had ever worked with! Me and May May decided to treat the kids to sodas and candy at the top and the big surprise of taking the gondola down the mountain to our hostel in Argentiere! Getting to the hostel early we had ample time to take the bus into Chamonix for the day and explore/shop! We found a funky band playing in the streets and of course had to get some more ice cream at Chamon ice! We had a really nice dinner and some of the kids had their first fondue experience ever! The fondue was delicious and we preheated to tackle our last day of TMB.
Our final day was a short but gorgeous hike around and down into Chamonix! We said goodbye and thank you to Nicolas and spent the whole day roaming around Chamonix! While the girls continued to shop the boys took on some local French talent at the public basketball courts. Needless to say, the boys came out victorious dominating the French!
Overall we have had a wonderful time in Chamonix through all of the ups and downs! We are sad our trip is coming to a close, but are looking forward to exploring Paris in all of its glory together! We once again hope all is well at home-base and are so excited to have a few more days left together on this wild journey!!!
Harrison and May May!!!
June 24, 2023
Hello Moondance friends and family, we are currently all packed up and ready to hit Chamonix for the final leg of our journey!! We had an amazing time in Costa Brava!!
We started our time off with a well-deserved relaxing beach day lounging and kicking around the soccer ball at the beach! Kate C. had a blast showing us how a real Charlestonian does beach day! The ladies Lulu and Kenzie found a great place for authentic Spanish cuisine right by the beach and we loved the tapas (definitely a new group favorite)! We closed out the day with a taco salad dinner prepared by the leaders and Moonup/ice cream at the beach!
On our day two of Costa Brava, we headed to meet our outfitters for kayaking! We kayaked along the river and Sam and Lucas really showed off their kayaking skills from their past Moondance trips! Flying through some small rapid sections of the river the kids had a blast and kept cool in the water! We got back to camp early and had time to start getting some MUCH needed laundry done! After laundry we had an all out Bungalow cook off. Skip and Jake prepared an amazing grilled cinnamon fruit salad with charred beef and chicken quesadillas! Flora and the Kates prepared a delicious chicken Caesar salad! And last but certainly not least head chef Ella prepared a creative take on a BLT with pasta! Me and May May happily took on the roles of competition judges letting the kids take the reigns and hopefully learn some basic cooking skills in the process!
Day three of Costa Brava was another early morning meet-up with our Kayaking outfitter here. Due to weather concerns, we were not able to kayak, but found a great alternative! We went on a small hike to reach a tucked-away cove on the coast where we proceeded to snorkel and lounge a little more! After a long day with the outfitter, we got back to camp finished up the laundry and headed to our authentic Spanish cuisine provided by the local restaurant Morocco. The food was to die for and left us all with big smiles and full stomachs! After a wonderful meal, we were able to have a rather intense pickup soccer game with another Chamonix group that was also at camp with us for a night. After a very competitive match, our group of course came out victorious with a huge shoutout to Riley who had a hat trick and Kate K. our defensive wall! This was such a fun way to end our stay here in Costa Brava! We closed the night with Moonup at an amazing lookout point and got to watch some local fishermen try their luck at catching sharks.
Overall, we had such a blast here in Spain and had a good amount of time to relax a little and recharge before our big Chamonix trek! Hope all is well and so grateful to get to spend time with these awesome kids you have all raised.
Harrison and May May!!!
June 18, 2023
Helloooo from Luz!!
First off, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all the fathers out there!!! We love y’all so much!!!
We just finished our 7-day trek in the beautiful Pyrenees! It was an incredible week to say the least. Just want to share off the bat that not a single complaint was said the entire time. It’s safe to say that our group is pretty awesome! We began our first day of the trek on Monday by exploring the beautiful “door”. Right off the bat, the group absolutely crushed the hike and flew to the top! We shared a delicious first mountain lunch of hummus, salami, and fruit and continued our journey up to the top of the door. It certainly did not disappoint; we could see for miles around us! We soaked up the beauty before heading down to our first refugio, where we were greeted with some of the best bolognese we’ve ever tasted. We star gazed and ended our lovely first day with moonup and music before we prepared for our next day!
On Tuesday, we woke up early, filled our bellies with bread and jam and began our trek to the next refugio. We trekked into a small town in France, Gavarnie, where we stopped for lunch and explored the beauty the town had to offer. It quickly became one of our favorite spots! The jaw-dropping mountains surrounded us every way we looked. What more could you want! We shared a delicious lunch in a flower filled field, then obviously treated ourselves to a couple of crepes for dessert. YUM. Sweatshirts, postcards, and even a stuffed animal were bought in town before we headed up the mountain to our second Refugio. The incline was no joke, but with Kate Kuhlen and McKenzie’s infectious positivity, we were all in high spirits as we climbed through the clouds to the hut. Another day full of impeccable views, but with a new perspective in the clouds! We closed the night with more music by the very talented Harrison and soaked up the mountain air during moonup and journal time. What a great day!
On Wednesday, we woke up, still in the clouds, and unfortunately with a little bit of rain but do not worry, the rain certainly did not dull the spirits of this boss group! We threw on rain jackets and rain covers, and slid through mud back down the mountain. The spirits were HIGH today, per usual! We said goodbye to the clouds and the sheep and horses that lived up there, and made our way back down to the town of Gavarnie. Our new bestie, Christophe, greeted us in town with an impeccable sense of humor and an incredible Refugio. Certainly, one of our favorites! We explored Gavarnie some more in the afternoon before we jammed out with Sam who was absolutely crushing the aux, and a ping pong tournament that Jake absolutely dominated. It was exactly the vibes we all wanted and needed! Christophe then made the day even better with homemade fresh trout, rice, and salad for dinner. Divine is an understatement! We ended the day with moonup and music before hitting the hay to prepare for the next day.
On Thursday we woke up in Gavarnie, sad to say goodbye to Christophe, but pumped for the days ahead. By now, we were pro hikers. We soaked up the views as we made our way into the Spain side of the Pyrenees and let me tell you, they did not disappoint! We took our time, soaked up the journey and even made some new animal friends at lunch. Lucas is our very own cow whisperer! After lunch, we threw on the packs and trekked on up the pass to Spain. The views were amazing. We traded our uphill climb for some downhill before we arrived at our next Refugio. Kate Coker led the train on getting everyone into the river in front, experiencing the “lazy river”. It was certainly a time! We checked into our rooms, showered, and then shared an unbelievable dinner together. To sum it up, a delicious bowl of pasta was the appetizer. The appetizer people!!! Unreal.
On Friday, everyone woke up a little bit sore from the long trek the day before but ready to tackle the day, nonetheless. We got an early start with a 2 hour switchback uphill to begin our day. Let me re-emphasize how incredible this group’s attitude and motivation is. We breezed through the uphill with Lulu’s impeccable song lyric memory keeping us going! We finally made it to the top (in only 1.5 hours, might I add) and the view did not disappoint! We soaked up our accomplishments at a lookout point at the top. It was absolutely beautiful. We then continued our way down into the valley, where we were greeted by one of the most beautiful waterfalls you’ve ever seen! We took in the beauty for a bit, but our day was not over. Led by Skip, we trekked another uphill battle to our Refugio for the night. We were greeted by even more incredible views and treated ourselves to some cokes for a day’s hard work! This Refugio was extra special because we all got to share a room, with triple bunk beds. It was awesome! Flora motivated us all to stay up to see the stars from up on top of the mountain and let me tell you, the views were breathtaking. Absolutely impeccable.
Yesterday, we trekked back down from the mountain Refugio and we certainly were entertained on this trek. Ella and Riley created a Pyrenees original song along the way, and it’s a hit to say the least! We followed the river all the way down from the waterfall until we reached the cutest little Spanish town of Torla. When we arrived, we tried some famous Spanish tapa dishes with papas bravas being a hit for sure! Our Refugio tonight was absolutely impeccable and comfort was an understatement. Before allowing ourselves to crawl into the comfy beds, we shared the most amazing feast in town with the most wonderful local trout and chicken you’ve ever tasted! We were all eager to get in bed and rest up for our final day of trekking 🙁
Today was the day! We trekked out of the Pyrenees. It was a bittersweet day as we said goodbye to our favorite mountain guide, Matthéo! We soaked up all the last moments, though, ending with a dance party to keep the vibes high. We trekked out and are now in the town of Luz, France. We are all showered, in new clothes, and exploring the town! It didn’t take long before someone suggested we get cokes and crepes. Kenzie ordered a caramel crepe and I think it’s the best one yet! Tomorrow morning, we are headed to Costa Brava and we could not be more pumped!!! Updates to come!! (p.s. see your fantastic kid’s shoutouts below!)
Until next time,
Harrison and May May
Flora- Hi mom, dad, and Otis!! I miss y’all sooooo much and am having so much fun!! I can’t wait to hear about Otis’ trip and see lovely!! And dad- Happy Father’s Day😊I love y’all can’t can’t wait to see y’all!!
Kate Coker – hey mom and Bennett!! I miss you both so so much but can’t wait to see you soon :)) I am having the best time ever and love y’all 💕🏼🔥😍😘🤸♀️🦋👐🦄
Kate Kuhlen – hey fam!!!! I miss y’all so much but I am having the best time ever. Have fun moving Joke into college, happy late birthday Annie and see y’all soon!!! Love you
McKenzie- Hey mom!! I miss you and excited to see you soon! Hope you get my letter! Hope you and max are doing good! I’m happy to be here thinking about you always💓
Riley- hellloooo!!! Life is SO good and I am so happy to be here. I have met amazing people and seen so many beautiful sights. I miss y’all and am thinking of you guys everyday ❤️❤️❤️
Lulu- HEY!! I’m having the best time ever and can’t wait to tell y’all all about it. Our first trekking part was so much fun and Im so excited for Costa Brava. Tell lily and Alex I miss them and Sadie too. Happy Father’s Day dad, LOVE YALL!!❤️❤️
Ella- Hiiiiiiiiiii Mom and Dad (and Parker if he’s not watching the dogs)! I’m having such a good time and have made so many new friends. I love and miss y’all so much and can’t wait to tell y’all all about it when I come home 💓💓💓
Skip- Hey Mom, Dad, Carson, and Sykes. I’m having so much fun and can’t wait to see everyone again. Hiking through the Pyrenees was great and I’m excited for the Alps. Hope everyone is doing well and I hope you had a great Father’s Day.
Lucas- Hello, having fun in the Pyrenees and will soon move on to the alps. Happy Father’s Day dad and I hope everything is going well at home.
Jake- Hi Mom, Dad, Hannah, Patricia and Lucky! I am having a great time and I have an awesome group/leaders. It is very pretty in France and Spain with many incredible views. We just got done with our backpacking section in the Pyrenees. Then tomorrow traveling to Costa Brava to go sea kayaking. I miss y’all so much and I can’t wait to see y’all! Love you guys hope everything is going well at home.❤️ Happy Father’s Day!
Sam- Hey fam got my self a good crew out here in Europe! Just finished a 7 day backpacking trip in the French and Spanish Pyrenees, not as difficult as Alaska. Tomorrow we head to costa Brava to sea kayak. Looking forward to catching up with y’all. G hope landscaping is going well keep livin love y’all ! Happy Father’s Day!
June 11, 2023
Bonjour from Lourdes!!!!!!!!
The trip has been off to a fantastic start, with everybody hopping right in and becoming best friends!! From the moment I walked up to the group at the airport, I knew this was going to be a special group of people and it’s proven to be just that. The bonding began off the bat, beginning with Kate Coker and Riley’s organized walks around the plane to say hi to everyone and keep tabs on the sleepers!
We arrived in Paris early Saturday morning where we were greeted by Harrison with lots of energy and hugs, then we were on our way to Lourdes! We had a big travel day, completing the trifecta of a plane, train, and bus all in one day. There was never a moment of silence the entire time, with Sam and Lucas cracking jokes left and right, keeping the group laughing! Early evening we arrived in Lourdes, where the spirits were high and we celebrated with some local pizza. YUMMY! Skip definitely won the best order with a fried egg on top of his pizza. We then had our first Moonup under the stars and were eager to lay our sleepy heads down for the night!
This morning, we all woke up wide eyed and bushy tailed! Kate Kuhlen quite literally woke up smiling this morning when we woke everyone up for breakfast; it was awesome. We then packed our day packs and set out to explore the incredible town of Lourdes! We began by grabbing some croissants, quiches, and if you’re Jake, a chocolate donut sandwich. It was DIVINE and we all know who ordered the best… We then explored the Château Fort de Lourdes, a historical castle in town! It was absolutely beautiful and incredible to learn a little bit more about the culture. Ella was the MVP of this experience, with her contagious excitement feeding to all of us. We continued on into town, doing a little bit of window shopping and made our way across the beautiful river to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. We snapped lots of pics and were at awe of the beauty and detail of it. Unreal. We then continued our day with a delicious picnic in a park with mouth-watering French bread, meat, cheese, jam, and apricots! Delish! After our late lunch, we headed back to the hotel to prep for our week trekking in the Pyrenees! WE ARE STOKED!! We duffel shuffled and all packed our bags up. We’ve got a group of pros! We then had some down time, when Flora and Kenzie got a game of cards going for the group. Now, we are about to go eat dinner at a local spot scoped out by Lulu and yours truly (and get some gelato obviously!), then finish our day with Moonup!
We head to the Pyrenees tomorrow and can’t wait to share all the stories when we get back!!!!! Talk to y’all soon!
Until next time,
May May and Harrison
June 10, 2023
Hello Chamonix Families!
We heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Paris! 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!