ESCAPE to Yosemite 2023

It was a wild weekend in our favorite National Park. SO. MUCH. WATER.

You’ve probably sensed by now that this was a unique winter in California and in the Sierras. And maybe you’ve heard about the spring and summer crowds in Yosemite. Well, we experienced both this time to Yosemite. It was a challenge. And it was awesome.

After four years away, we made our way back to Wawona Campground. Since Mariposa Grove was still closed, we spent Friday afternoon in the valley, walking up to a thundering and frigid Yosemite Falls, and catching the most spectacular rainbow on Bridalveil Falls from Tunnel View. The valley looked so different, with its swollen waterfalls and rivers, and flooded meadows. From there, we arrived at our usual campsites along the river, down at the very end of the campground. We set up our tents, and enjoyed the best camp nachos you’ve ever imagined.

On Saturday morning, we ate a hot breakfast and headed back down to the valley to our usual Mist Trail hike. But there was nowhere to park! We drove an hour just to find a little lot with 8 spots and caught the shuttle back to our hike. It was the first of a series of detours in our day.

The hike up the Mist Trail was brutal. There was more water than you can imagine, and it was so tough to get through the “mist” (which on that day was more like a hurricane). But we made it, and decided rather than go down the Mist Trail, that we’d hike up and over the John Muir Trail. It was more climbing, and longer, but drier and safer.

Delays with the valley shuttles and some inopportune rain forced us to order pizza in the valley for dinner, and return to camp in the dark. We were grateful that our tents were dry, and we made the most of the evening with a campfire and some s’mores.

We took it easy on Sunday morning, and headed home, grateful for the experience, and grateful to wrap up a really fun year with this latest iteration of the ESCAPE Club.

Next year will bring its own changes, and we’ll have new challenges, and new adventures. But we’re excited about what we’ve accomplished, and grateful to be able to engage with our community in such a meaningful way. Thanks again for all of your support–your kind words of encouragement, your financial donations, your prayers, your time and effort. We’re looking forward to a new crop of kids and a new year coming soon!

See the full story of our weekend here!

ESCAPE Club spring updates 2023

Our kayaking trip, Point Reyes trip, and new shirts!

Our school year is marching along, with the end now in view! Everyone is so busy these days, but we’re grateful for the opportunity to share these experiences with students. All the angst of planning and meetings and paperwork falls away once we get out on the trips with our students!

First off, we’re excited to finally be wearing our ESCAPE Club shirts for the year. Thanks again to our old friend Keith Dickson for the beautiful design. We have a few extras if you missed a chance to order.

In March, we drove down to Moss Landing, loaded into kayaks, and got out onto the water! It was a gray day, but it wasn’t cold. The kayak company provides life vests and all the clothes we need to stay warm and dry. Of course there was a range of ability (and motivation) to make the boats go where we wanted, but isn’t trying new things what this club is all about? We all paddled around the calm water in the harbor, but then ran the gauntlet against the tide, under the bridge, and into Elkhorn Slough. We saw otters and harbor seals, cormorants fishing under the bridge, and oddly, even a beached shark!

On our way home, we stopped by the wharf in Santa Cruz. We treated ourselves to some ice cream, and watched the sea lions under the wharf.

In April, we returned to Point Reyes National Seashore. For most of the past 20 years, we’ve hiked to Alamere Falls. But for a few reasons, we decided to shake it up this year, and see the more common sites around the park. We started the day walking through the Tree Tunnel, and we took our group shot there. Then we drove all the way out to the point, and walked down (and back up!) the 313 steps to the lighthouse. It was a beautiful day!

Our main hike of the day was out to Chimney Rock. It’s a three-mile loop that looks out over cliffs, and through fields of wildflowers. We saw elephant seals out on the beaches, gophers peeking out of their holes, and an osprey with a fish! From there (after dealing with some car trouble) we ended our day at the beach. We were enjoying the sun and warm sand, and then we spotted a whale out in the distance! It was nice to have some down time at the end of the day.

Our Yosemite trip is coming up very soon! We’re so excited to be back camping again after such a long break! Hopefully there won’t be any issues around flooding, and we’re aware of the issues with Highway 120. The waterfalls will be booming!!!

Thanks for reading this far, and for all your support! We love to hear from you! Videos are below if you have a few minutes to watch!

VIDEO: Kayaking in Moss Landing

VIDEO: Our day in Point Reyes

ESCAPE to the Snow 2023

ESCAPE Club Apparel and snow trip recap

It’s time to order T-shirts and hoodies for this year!

It’s finally time to order your ESCAPE Club T-shirts and hoodies for this year. Our old friend Keith Dickson has designed another beauty for us, and cements his place as the most frequent (and generous) ESCAPE Club designer. This time, it’s the view through a Nikon lens. Our T-shirts and hoodies will be forest green, with the familiar front logo and the colorful back image.

Let us know if you’d like a T-shirt or hoodie
by the end of this week, Friday March 17.

Our annual trip to the snow was a winner! Just like any good snow run, there were some bumps along the way, but we were glad we went, and were laughing all the way! So many kids got to see the snow for the first time, which is always so fun. And the hours we spent there were warm and dry.

We took a charter bus back to our usual spot in Kingvale. Seems like they squeeze a few more dollars out of us each year, but we were grateful for clear lanes, smooth runs, and space to spread out for our meal at home base. We went down dozens of times, by ourselves, in chains, loops, and whatever else we could imagine. Snowball fights, forts, snowmen, and lots of other fun occupied our time.

The ride home was a little tougher, as I-80 was closed, and the weather got worse:  not our favorite part of the day. But we persisted, found our traditional In-N-Out, and made it home safe, warm, and dry.

We’re grateful for all your support, as always. Looking forward to our March trip, kayaking on Elkhorn Slough!

ESCAPE to San Francisco 2022

Tourists for a day, we got to see so much of what this great city has to offer!

We always look forward to our trip to San Francisco. There’s no end of attractions, whether they’re touristy, historical, scientific, or some combination. We got a little of each of those on our December trip this year.

We started to the day with a drive down Lombard Street. While we didn’t get to see any of the wild parrots, we were grateful to find parking, and that the storm that had threatened hadn’t started yet. After driving down, we parked and walked up and down the stairs, and wondered what it would be like to live there.

Our second stop was The Palace of Fine Arts. There was a light drizzle, but we did some birding (American Coots, Great Blue Heron, Night Heron, and more). We took a lap around the pond, tried not to panic the wedding party with our presence, took our group photo, and scrambled back into cars.

Maybe the highlight of our day was the new Tunnel Tops park in the Presidio– specifically the Field Station. The Field Station is set up for investigation and exploration. We learned all about the history of the Presidio, picked out bones from owl pellets, sketched specimens of local flora and fauna, and learned about the folks who lived in the area long before any of us did. It’s a special place–modern, fun, and educational–and we highly recommend it! They even had a covered space for us to eat lunch nearby the Visitor Center.

We moved on to Fort Point and the Golden Gate Bridge. Fort Point is always surprisingly fun for the students. What seems like an abandoned building from decades ago is actually a labyrinth of dark corners and levels and views, with as much history as you’re willing to take in. Walking on the Golden Gate Bridge is a unique experience in itself with its feats of engineering and unrivaled views. It was the first time for most of us.

The storm we were anticipating finally arrived, so we skipped our visit to the Marin Headlands, and the Marine Mammal Center isn’t quite ready for a group our size. We called the day a win, and headed back home.

Thanks to so many of you for all your support so far getting us going again, whether it’s been financially, with kind words or prayers of encouragement, or the gift of your time. We so appreciate you, and we’re making a difference in the lives of our kids! We wish each of you a happy holiday season. Please keep in touch!

Check out the video to see more of the Field Station and all the stops!