ESCAPE to the Snow 2020

A day full of snow, sun, and smiles!

Well, it’s an interesting time in the world. As you know, school is cancelled, which means the ESCAPE Club is too. We trust you and yours are nestled in safe at home, and that somehow you have what you need.

We did get out to the snow last month, so we’ll give a quick update here. As has been our custom, we chartered a bus to take us up I-80 into the Sierras. It’s been a less snowy year in California, but unpredictable in other ways. So we got to do our annual little dance of “Will there be enough snow?” or “Will there be too much snow on the roads?” or “Are we prepared for the cold?” or “Is the place we go even open?” Nevertheless we persisted. The sledding hill in Kingvale was indeed open, albeit with higher rates. There was plenty of snow, and clear blue skies eliminated our worry about temperature.

The kids charged up and down the hill so much all day. I think our rides/hour rate got us our money’s worth!

Lunch was our new favorite travel food–tamales! We threw snowballs, made snowmen, raced each other, chained together down the hill, and had a fantastic day.

On the way home, we stopped for dinner at In’N’Out, and made a quick visit to the Capitol, which sadly was covered in scaffolding. But the day was a complete win, and we are grateful to be able to make it happen for so many kids. Lots more to see in the slideshow below.

Of course we have no idea what’s on the horizon. Aside from the global pandemic, our district is also in financial crisis, and our jobs and schools may be headed toward transition. We didn’t get to a T-shirt, couldn’t get campsites in Yosemite, and this was supposed to be a climactic 20th year of ESCAPE. Ugh.

But this will not be the final ESCAPE email ever. We’ll be in touch again someday one way or the other. Beaches and trails are still open despite the shelter-in-place. So be safe, be well, get outside, and let us know about it! Love to all.




Sledding and sledding and sledding!

ESCAPE to Elkhorn Slough 2019

Back in the water for a paddle through the slough…

Undaunted by weather forecasts and winter temperatures, we made plans to get back onto the water in Elkhorn Slough. (Well, maybe we were a little daunted.) Nevertheless, we put the date on the calendar, and tried out a new kayak company in Moss Landing.

This was our first time in “closed” kayaks, vs. the “sit on top” type to which we’d been accustomed. The wildlife was abundant, as we’ve come to expect. Lots of pelicans and harbor seals, and a fair number of sea otters as well.┬áMany of the kids struggled with steering the longer boats, but with the wind at our backs, we headed up the slough, generally in the right direction.

However, the winds increased, and though we were expecting to ride the 7-foot ebb tide back to the harbor, it turned out to be quite a struggle. It was more of a workout than we’d expected, but we persisted and made it back to safety.

After our time on the kayaks, we made our way north to the Santa Cruz Wharf. We got to see the our third marine mammal of the day–California Sea Lions, lounging under the boardwalk. We ordered 40 bowls of clam chowder to satisfy our hunger, and warm us up a bit. The sunset over the Pacific was beautiful, and we headed home.

This was our fifth year kayaking, and we’re not sure we’ll continue this trip in the future. But it’s been a great opportunity to be on the water together, trying something new, and watching sea creatures in a really quiet and intimate setting. We’ve been grateful for the opportunity.

Thanks again for reading, check out the video, yada yada yada. Hope you had a restful and bright holiday season, and are off to a good start in this new year.



And, the video…

ESCAPE to Slide Ranch 2019

Goats and chickens, bread and butter, and lots more…


It was so disappointing to us to get “smoked” out of visiting Slide Ranch in 2018. So we were so excited to get back this year. We had a nice sized group, and headed out through thick fog to get to the coast.

The day always starts with goat milking. Kids (and adults) are reluctant at first. But after some encouragement, most everyone tries it, and many even take a taste of the warm, sweet milk. We moved on to see sheep and turkeys (though that felt ominous this time of year). As usual, we checked for eggs and fed the chickens. 

We always bring ingredients to make our own bread and butter. Everyone gets to design their own mini-loaf, and help shake the cream into butter. The activity flows right along with one of the themes of the day: Where does our food come from? The other theme centers on Sustainable Living. The Slide Ranch staff was fantastic as always, and we were grateful for our time there.

After the scheduled activities were finished, we visited the old boneyard (with actual bones) and hiked down to the beach. It was low tide, so we could see tons of crabs and a few sea anemones. We scrambled around for a bit, and then it was time to head home, and look toward our next adventure.

Enjoy the photos and check out the video below!




Click to be taken to the video!

ESCAPE to Mount Diablo 2019

Starting year #20 with a walk in the clouds.

Well, we’re back again for another year. Apparently, the 20th year is our “platinum anniversary.” We’re re-focusing our efforts, tightening up our ship, redefining our roles, and remembering again why we started this program back in 1999.

Mt. Diablo has always been a good place to start the year, and this trip was no different. We always hope that we’re up above the clouds at the summit. And we always hope to see a tarantula. We’re so grateful to have done both this year. It had been quite a few years since we saw either, so it was a real treat. We even found a bonus snakeskin! And we had our usual fence lizard volunteer that couldn’t escape curious middle school hands.

We wended our way up to the summit, but the blustery winds and shivery temps moved us along from there quickly. Back down at Rock City, we hiked, scrambled, jumped, and climbed. We ate, played games, explored, and hung out in the shade. And as has become our tradition, ended the day with a frozen treat. Enjoy the photos and the video below with all the day’s highlights.

As usual, we appreciate all your support, whether it’s by volunteering a Saturday on our trips, helping at Thursday meetings, your prayers and kind words of encouragement, or your financial contributions. All the usual vehicles for donation — check, PayPal, EdFund, DeJean, etc.– are still available. Feel free to shoot us an email with any questions.

Thanks again for reading. We’re looking forward to a great year!

Here’s a throwback to our first time to Mt. Diablo in 2002. That baby in the overalls is applying for college this month, and the kid in the blue hoodie and camera works at DeJean!




Not sure where the play button is, but click the photo above to see the video!