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!

ESCAPE to Rock City and Slide Ranch 2022

Two trips in the books this year already!

We’re back in business! The ESCAPE Club is back and rolling at both DeJean and Soskin. We started the year with our traditional trip to Mt. Diablo and Rock City. The summit was cold and cloudy and we didn’t have much of a view other than a few moments of clearing. Still, it was a fun experience to be so high up with the clouds.

Down at Rock City, we enjoyed unstructured time hiding out in the wind caves, scrambling up the sandstone rocks, and exploring all the criss-crossing trails in the area. We didn’t see any tarantulas (not everyone was disappointed), but we did get to see a rattlesnake, and a little lizard volunteered as our wildlife muse for the day. Scroll down for the trip video.

We were so grateful to be back at Slide Ranch in November for our second trip. This was the first combined trip for DeJean and our new chapter at Soskin Middle School! It was a damp and rainy day, but the students did a great job staying engaged and making the best of the experience. Also adding to the significance of the day was that TWO of our driver chaperones were ESCAPE Club alumni from Adams! What a special thing for our program!

The teachers at Slide Ranch led us through activities that focused on sustainability and where our food comes from. In smaller groups, students got to milk goats, feed chickens, and make a stir fry from plants in the garden. We also got to visit the baby goats, the sheep, the ducks, and the chicken coop. It was too rainy and muddy to get down to the tide pools, so we called it a day on the earlier side. More photos and our trip video below!

Thanks to many of you who have contributed to making our year a success. We are so grateful. Rest assured that we remain completely volunteer-run, and every dollar goes to student experiences on these trips. If you would still like to give and support us financially, there are several options HERE. Feel free to let us know if you have any questions. We’re also always looking for more driver chaperones for our trips. Let us know if you’d like to be added to that list.

Thanks for reading! Enjoy the videos below, and we’ll talk again soon!

Here’s the Mt. Diablo and Rock City video!

And one for Slide Ranch as well!

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…