July 9, 2023
Hello from the Denver Airport!
On Thursday morning, once everyone was up and ready to go, we cooked up some eggs and sausage, poured some fruit on some yogurt, and piled in the van to head to River Runners for our last day of activities! This time we knew the drill as they fitted us in all our gear and led us to the bus to head to the river! On Lucy’s boat, Star brought the energy, repeating every command that our guide instructed at the top of her lungs. On Clay’s boat, their raft guide known as “Alaska” taught Carter how to do a loud paddle slap on the river that everyone on the other boats could hear from all the way down the canyon! Graydon responded to Carter with his own self-taught paddle slap! Alaska kept everybody laughing as well with his constant cow jokes. On Sandy’s boat, the girls came up with a mashup of songs we have listened to that they later performed for the whole crew!
After rafting, we enjoyed some ice cream in the sun on the benches outside of river runners, then took a well-deserved nap on the way back to the campsite. After a relaxing afternoon at the campsite playing cards and chess, led by Henry, the group had the opportunity to tie dye their very own Moondance T-shirt! Jack continued working on his juggling and footwork with his soccer ball before the sunset. It was so impressive to watch. As the sun went down everyone wrapped up their games, we began cooking chicken curry. We settled in for a night under the stars around a campfire when Gavin and Campbell surprised us with s’mores! We settled in to discuss the best decision we have ever made around the fire for Moonup.
The next morning, we cooked up some pancakes with strawberries and blueberries, enjoying the summer sun rising up over the hill behind our campsite. Before long, we were on the road to our final campsite in Denver, reminiscing on our adventures over the past two weeks. Our background music was the new Taylor Swift album, requested by Caitlyn, Ann, and Liza. For lunch, we introduced the students to the Moondance tradition of “Iron Chef.” We split the group up into boys and girls and set them off with one half of the stove each, and access to every bit of leftover food we had. The boys won by a hair, feeding the leaders (Clay, Lucy, and Clay), spinach wrap tortilla chips with salsa, spaghetti with tomato sauce, and a granola bar with yogurt and fruit dessert. The girls also impressed the leaders with fried rice, grilled cheeses, and chocolate yogurt for dessert.
Before dinner, we headed to Goodwill to buy each other funny outfits to wear to the restaurant for our last dinner. We even inspired our waiter to dress up in a hotdog costume and enjoy our celebration with us! Addi ran around dressed up in a blue dress and red shoes like Dorothy, thanks to a wonderful find by Peyton. After filling up on pizza, pasta, burgers, and Oreo desserts, we headed back to camp to do our final Moonup and go to bed. At Moonup, we discussed what we would take away from Moondance, and what we would take away from being a part of this wonderful group.
Final goodbyes are never easy, but especially with this group. We have had so much fun over the past two weeks and made memories of a lifetime that we will all cherish forever. Thank you again for sharing your wonderful children with us during this Moondance trip, we feel so lucky to have had the chance to get to know them and are so thankful for this experience.
Thank you again for sharing your wonderful children with us for the past two weeks, we enjoyed every second with them!
Clay, Lucy, and Sandy
July 6, 2023
Hello from the Arkansas River (once again!)
We’ve had an incredible past couple days climbing and adjusting to post-backcountry life. Yesterday, we woke up to a beautiful view of the Blue Mesa Reservoir and the blast of American-themed music to start the 4th of July. Our cook crew prepared a delicious breakfast scramble with hash browns, eggs, and sausage and danced around. We then enhanced everyone’s Fourth of July outfits with star spangled sunglasses before heading off to our first day of climbing!
After getting geared up, Graydon, Liza, and Gavin set the scene for the rest of the group being the first ones to zoom up the rocks. As people waited their turn, Sandy, Caitlyn, and Carter led some intense games of “Kimps” – a favorite card came among the group! Everyone made it to the top by the end. We were so proud!
We stopped for a sandwich lunch before heading towards Crested Butte for our wonderful 4th of July town day. It was a sight to see – themed costumes, loud music, face-painting stands, you name it! We were having a blast walking around and shopping. For our ice cream stop, Sandy and Campbell tried the famous malt-shake while others doubled up on scoops with different flavors. Our bookstore stop was also a hit! We are proud to say that Carter is halfway through reading “Into the Wild” by now while Liza, Ann, and Campbell are almost done reading some intense mystery novels. When we got home from Crested Butte, most everyone was sitting in crazy creeks reading. Peyton was lounging in a hammock and Addi was showing Sandy some of her artwork!
For dinner, we set up a cookout of hotdogs and burgers for the group. Graydon successfully made a smash burger while Gavin cooked up specially made hotdogs with a slit down the middle – just as his mom makes them. For dessert, we snacked on red, white, and blue cookies, and then hit the road for fireworks in Gunnison! We huddled together with arms around each other to watch. Gavin made a good call to hit the neighborhood playground afterwards to get our “Ya Ya’s” out. Starling encouraged everyone to go down the slide with just their socks on to go extra fast, while Henry passed the record for flying the highest on the swings. It was the perfect end to a perfect day! For Moonup back at camp, Jack and Liza asked the group “what’s the best decision you’ve ever made?” Before we knew it, we were fast asleep by the Mesa.
We started off the next day with fresh blueberries and yogurt along with sun butter and Nutella bread. The van jams were electric! Today’s climbing had even more stoke and plenty of sunshine. Everyone was climbing fast at the beginning, and we stopped halfway for a great chicken caesar wrap lunch. We ended with Graydon and Gavin taking down the hardest climb in the crag as everyone cheered while playing cards at the bottom. We then de-harnessed and were off to the next camp site!
Taco night!! Our cook crew crushed it with all the skills they’ve learned over the past couple weeks. We had Addi dicing peppers, Peyton on avocado duty, and Carter cooking the meat. It was a show on the picnic table. While the cook crew was cooking, our LODs were off to the supermarket to grab some supplies. The greatest surprise of the day was still to come. As everyone finished their tacos with full belly’s, Sandy tricked the group that they were in “huge trouble” while really, Campbell and Gavin were sneaking behind to surprise everyone with a phenomenal chocolate cake that topped off the night! We finished with a fun Moonup involving everyone saying their favorite thing about the person to their right. We slipped into bed awaiting an epic day of white-water rafting. We can’t wait to cherish these last few days together!
Thank you again for sharing your wonderful kids with us,
Sandy, Lucy, and Clay
July 4, 2023
Hello from the San Juan Mountains!
Today we returned from our four-day backcountry adventure, and we have so many stories to tell! First, here are some shout-outs from our students!
Ann – Hey! Having a great time! I miss y’all a lot!
Addi – I’m having an amazing time and I miss y’all so much! I’ll see y’all soon.
Liza – Heyy! I’m having an amazing time and I miss y’all so very much. Love y’all!
Campbell – Hi! I miss y’all a lot but I’m having the best time and I can’t wait to see y’all in Memphis!
Caitlyn – Hey! I’m having such a good time and I miss you so much! Can’t wait to see you!
Carter – Having fun! I can’t wait to see you!
Gavin – I miss y’all! Having so much fun! See you soon!
Graydon – Hi! I miss y’all! See you soon!
Henry – Hey guys! I miss y’all! I’m having so much fun see you soon.
Jack – I miss you guys and I can’t wait to see you! I’m having a good time!
Peyton – Hi mom and dad! I’m having an awesome time! I’m doing great and making amazing friends! Can’t wait to see you.
Star – Hey! Love you and miss you! See you soon.
Now onto the update!!
On Friday morning, we learned how to pack our backpacks full of necessities including food, layers, cooking utensils, and of course, playing cards! After throwing everyone’s packs in the U-Haul, we headed south to Kilpacker Trail in the San Juan National Forest. Upon arrival, we munched on bread with banana, honey, almond butter, and Nutella! Once we buckled up everyone’s packs, we headed up the trail starting in a beautiful meadow and making our way through an aspen grove. Between a couple fourteen-thousand-foot peaks of course.
That night, we cooked pita pizzas under the stars, with Graydon in charge of folding them into calzones, Campbell in charge of sauce, and Jack in charge of cheesing up the pita. Our LODs for the day – Gavin and Star – led our first backcountry Moonup that night, asking the group “if you could travel back to one year, what would it be and why?” After howling to the moon, we drifted off to sleep.
Awakening to sunshine over the mountain, we packed up a couple of bags and hiked up to Navajo Lake about 2.5 miles from our campsite. Clay cooked up what we call the “Davis” – cooked green apples with cinnamon — while everyone explored around the lake. Then we all came back together to eat oatmeal for lunch! Immediately after cleaning up, Lucy and Sandy headed to the edge of the water to check out how a polar plunge would feel. Clay beat them to it, but they quickly followed, and soon enough, everyone had their turn dipping into the freezing cold water. Lucky enough, the sun beaten rocks warmed us just in time to hike back down with smiles as wide as the valley. Back at camp, Gavin, Star, Caitlin, and Peyton cooked up some world-famous chicken fajita bowls that filled our stomachs before bed. Our LODs, Henry and Addi asked the group “if you had one B+ superpower, what would it be?” One of our favorite answers was Peyton’s, who had a “no trip or slip” superpower!
The next morning, we awoke and prepared some pancakes with Lucky Charms marshmallows in them for a fun twist. Fueled and ready to go, we headed left on the trail to a nearby creek for a chicken teriyaki dish. Carter helped lead several trail games, some of our favorites being “a million questions” instead of 20 questions! Campbell also introduced a “guess the movie” game that kept us entertained. After lunch, we walked until we reached several waterfalls and decided to bushwhack our way to the top. Gavin and Graydon led the way as we traversed creeks, rough branches, and laughed all the way through. On the way down, everyone made their own trail with Henry, Jack, and Sandy taking the difficult route across several creeks. Eventually, we made it down so we could see the waterfall from the bottom-up. What an incredible view!
That night, we cooked an easy ramen and chicken dish before bursting out into a group dance party. Ann helped pick songs for the speaker while everyone danced around in a circle and laughed until we couldn’t breathe! Meanwhile, Clay was secretly cooking a brownie surprise in the woods that we all went over to eat afterwards. Full, tired, and happy, we went into our final backcountry Moonup with LODs Peyton and Liza asking the group “what have you learned from this trip so far?” It was a great way to close our backcountry experience.
This morning, we woke up bright and early to Clay singing and dancing, ate some oatmeal, and hiked out to the van. We stopped in Telluride for a quick local food stop of burgers, and headed onto our next campsite where Clay and the girls did another polar plunge in the reservoir before dinner! After enjoying some Jambalaya prepared by our lovely cook crew Liza, Campbell, Graydon, and Jack, we talked about our favorite memories from the trip so far at Moonup, under the coolest view of the moon we have had so far.
Tomorrow we will start early with climbing and enjoy the afternoon of the Fourth of July exploring Crested Butte!
Until next time!
Sandy, Clay, and Lucy
July 1, 2023
Hello from the Great Sand Dunes!
Wednesday morning, we woke up to a chilly morning on the Arkansas River, whipped up some yummy breakfast sandwiches with a twist – cinnamon raisin bagels! Starting the morning off with some great morning tunes and a beautiful sunrise over the crisp Hecla Junction mountains. After finishing up the leftover tomatoes, avocados, eggs, and sausage, we hopped in the van and drove out to Captain Zipline! The group spent the morning on the ropes course, swinging from hanging circles, and balancing on tightropes. We cheered each other on through each course. Graydon even successfully made it through the tough black diamond route!
For lunch, we introduced the group to Clay, Sandy, and Lucy’s favorite lunch – The George! Any combination of tortilla, sun butter, Nutella, jelly, sausage, and cheese is considered The George. We had a special addition to lunch with some fresh cotton candy grapes! The George was a hit, and it fueled us up for our afternoon activity!
In the afternoon, our guides Derek and Blake took us on a zip line tour with six zip lines, flying high above the ropes course we just finished! More than enough cheesy jokes were shared along with plenty of smiles. Clay set up below the longest zip line to get some drone shots of everyone zipping over the canyon, especially Graydon, Sandy, and Peyton flipping upside down halfway through! After taking off our zip line gear and waving goodbye to our guides, we headed to the Great Sand Dunes on one of our most beautiful drives yet. Before we got too far, we stopped at Walmart to grab some requested snacks for backpacking.
Upon arrival at the campsite, we cooked up some chicken alfredo in front of our best sunset yet. Star had arguably the best view for dinner, watching the sun set over the dunes and eating some dinner on Lucy’s shoulders. Soon after sunset, we sat down for Moonup to discuss three life goals, thanks to our LOD’s, Liza and Carter. Our next LOD’s were announced, Graydon and Caitlyn, we then slipped to bed ready for our 3am wakeup call!
A few hours later, everybody woke up in the dark, ate some oatmeal, and headed to the trailhead accompanied by Clay’s choices of hype music for our hike. Spirits were high as we headed down the road towards the barely silhouetted Sand Dunes. The sunrise that morning is something we will never forget. Before we knew it, we were on top of the Dune, with Jack and Gavin leading the way. Finishing out with Henry searching and finding the “buried treasure” of nerd ropes! We slowly made our way down the dunes, everyone taking their turns standing or sitting on the sand boards. Campbell and Ann hiked all the way up one hill to catch the most speed, while Carter focused more on balance and getting down in one piece. Addi successfully scooted down the hills sitting down on a standing board too! Back at camp, our cook crew of Liza, Campbell, Graydon, and Jack fried up some chocolate chip pancakes to celebrate our morning. In no time, we were back in the van headed towards the San Juans for our backpacking section!
Until next time!
Lucy, Clay, and Sandy
June 29, 2023
Hello from the Arkansas River!!
First of all, we want to thank you all for entrusting us with your children for two weeks. We’ve have had a blast rafting and getting to know each other over the past two days. There is nowhere that any of us would rather be, and we cannot wait to see what the next two weeks have in store for us!
After airport pick-ups, friendly hellos, and a few entertaining name games, we hit the road to our first campsite. It was clear from the start that this would be a wonderful group. We listened to lots of music, (Peyton suggesting some pop songs and Graydon requesting some classic country music), saw our first snow-capped mountains, and filled our bellies with fresh sandwiches. Upon arriving at camp, we played some ice-breaker games (including poison dart frog – a group favorite), and learned how to properly set up a tent. When Clay arrived soon after with fresh local pizza, we headed down to the river for our first group dinner. It was a great first meal accompanied by conversation about our favorite things about where we are from. Then, we introduced a number of Moondance traditions, namely Moonup! We opened our first “nug jug,” read a quote, and asked the group “why are you here?” Everyone got their first official Moondance shirts too. After Moonup, our new Leaders of the Day (LODs) were announced: Henry and Campbell. It was a beautiful first night under the stars!
Our morning began with some upbeat music (thanks to Clay) and warm bagels for the kids to fuel up on. After breakfast, we packed up our things and headed to our first activity: rafting! We couldn’t have been more stoked. Our rafting adventure began at Buena Vista where we learned about river safety and broke into two boats that we collectively named Betty the Bull Rider and Slash. In Betty’s boat, Campbell rode as the “passenger princess” and Sandy and Liza engaged in a “T-grip” battle that ended with both in the water! Before reaching our river campsite, we stopped at a jumping spot where everyone took turns jumping into the freezing water. It gave us a rush! After arriving at the campsite, we busied ourselves with a variety of fun activities. Star, Addi, and Gavin got competitive building rock towers with Star achieving a record of 15 rocks! Ann, Caitlyn, Liza, and the other girls did a polar plunge in the river that eventually evolved into “water limbo” with the other boys joining in. Campbell also helped lead a game of trivia in which the loser had to dunk underwater! Once everyone was watered out, Carter led the game Mafia for a while before our yummy burrito dinner. After dinner, Campbell and Henry led our Moonup for the night, asking the group “what is your favorite place you’ve ever been and what made it so special?” New LODs were announced: Ann and Peyton! We then crawled into bed, happy yet exhausted from our wonderful first rafting day.
We arose bright and early to take down camp and pack our rafts up. Our breakfast fueled us up for the day – bagels, yogurt and granola, and donuts! Afterwards, we did one more polar plunge before heading out. On the river, we started off strong with a class 3 rapid. It woke us up! Then, our guides led us to a beautiful waterfall hike right off the river. After we soaked ourselves in the waterfall, we entered the river one last time. Peyton and Henry yelled stroke calls and kept morale high as we went through our final rapids. What an adventure!
After some warm showers back at River Runners headquarters, we drove to our next campsite and had some time to chill and play games. Lucy, Graydon, and Carter took to the river with the fly rods, and right by the water, Gavin led several card games. Meanwhile our first cook crew – Jack, Graydon, Campbell, and Liza — prepared a delicious chicken and mac-n-cheese dish for dinner. After dinner, Ann and Peyton asked the group “if you could live in one book, what would it be and why?” Jack’s answer was awesome – Magic tree house! New LODs were announced: Liza and Carter!
We can’t wait to zipline and see the sand dunes in these next couple days! Thank you so much again for sharing your wonderful kids with us. It has been a delight getting to know them and we look forward to making the most of these next couple of weeks!
Until next time,
Sandy, Lucy, and Clay
June 25, 2023
Hello Colorado Trail Families!
We just heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Denver! 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!