Day 20: There and Back Again, Or, An Apogee Tale

by Ezra Ward-Packard

Hello everybody! My name is Ezra Ward-Packard and I have the privilege to be guest writing today’s blog (for the first time) while your regular word jockey, Will Vietze, is scampering around Acadia National Park with MCJ2. Today, like all days, is a big day in Apo-world! Two of our Maine-based trips said their final goodbyes today, and all of our three-week-long trips have reached their final destinations! Congratulations! Delicious food and city exploration was the name of the game for those crews. While some trips are nearing the end of their journey, other trips continue to crush their biking, hiking, and service adventures! See below for what’s going on in Apo-world today.

[Ed. note:  Apologies for the late post folks, we took a short productivity break to celebrate leader Casey’s birthday with a trip to Gelato. See below]

Yes, we did finish “The Fiasco” – Happy Birthday, Casey!

Maine Coast Junior (MCJ2A)

Maine Coast Junior A got in the vans early this morning for the scenic drive to Acadia National Park. After setting up their base camp for the next week, they hit the trails for a short day hike. Sam and Liana’s small but fearsome explorers will be spending the next week hiking, biking, and discovering the wonders of Acadia National Park. Many laughs will be shared, and many friendships will be formed!

MCJ hitting the trails!
Where land meets water.

Maine Coast Junior (MCJ2B)

It was a caravan of Apogee vehicles on the way to Acadia National Park today! MCJ2B also made the drive along Maine’s scenic Atlantic coast. The numerous scenic views of light houses and rocky inlets were paired with the sweet sounds of Will Vitze’s favorite jam bands! After the drive, the kiddos stretched their legs with a short hike to a quintessential Maine lighthouse.

Doesn’t get more Maine than that!
12 students or 11 students and 1 leader?
Gazing into the mist of the Atlantic.

Cape Cod & the Islands (CI)

This morning, CI did a bit of island hopping as they took the ferry from Martha’s Vineyard to Nantucket. The ferry ride was followed by some exploring in historic Nantucket Center and a bit of swimming in the Atlantic. CI will be back on the bikes tomorrow as they continue to explore everything Nantucket has to offer!

Ferry ride.
Heading to the beach.
Soaking up the sun.

New England Mountains & Coast (NEMC)

Last night, NEMC celebrated a week of exploring New England’s finest mountains and coastal towns with a celebratory dinner in Portland, ME. Today, they said their goodbyes before heading for home. Before the group went their separate ways, students created memory plates for each other to go along with the many memories of the past 10 days! Thanks for a great trip, NEMC!

The final group photo. Safe travels everyone!
I’m not sure what to call these, so we’ll call them Memory Plates.

Colorado’s Rocky Mountains (CRM)

It was challenge day in the Rocky Mountains! Tim and Gracie’s crew was up and at it at 4:00 am this morning in order to conquer the +10 mile hike to Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park. Why crowns?…..because they’re Kings and Queens of the mountains! That’s why.  Once again, words can’t compete with these pictures!

Kings and Queens of Rocky Mountain National Park.
No words needed.

Caribbean Service Adventure (CSA)

Surfs up for CSA! CSA took a break from community service in order to catch a few waves. The group soaked up a bunch of sun and carved a few white caps. Unlike the New England Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast, no wet-suits required for these gnarly surfers.

Hitting the waves!
A street art conch.

Maine Coast College Essay (MCCE)

Jane and Jack’s now-seasoned writers said their goodbyes this morning and returned home with essays in hand, and, perhaps, a new-found appreciation for their fellow writers-in-arms, Apogee’s daily trip bloggers!

Maine’s Downeast Explorer (DEXA)

Today, Maine’s Downeast Explorer A hit the backcountry….or is it backwater? Anyway, they paddled around Isle au Haut on their first day of sea kayaking! Clark and Addie’s team are looking forward to splendid sunrises over the Atlantic, clear starry nights, and the silence that comes with being among Maine’s many mystic coastal islands.

Everyone is going Bananas!
It’s yakin time!
The island everyone will be sleeping on…kidding!
The classic pier group photo. A few students hiding in the back.
The back row gets a bit of face time.

Maine’s Downeast Explorer (DEXB)

While a number of Apogee trips are on their way to Acadia National Park, DEXB spent their first full day in Acadia by exploring trails in Bar Harbor proper and on shrouded summits. In addition, the students completed their required swim tests in the campground’s pool. More exploration to come tomorrow!

Exploring an unknown coastal Maine town.
Swim tests!
Don’t get lost in the mist.

Vermont to Montréal (VM)

Vermont to Montréal celebrated trip leader Carter’s 21st birthday with what else?…..A lovely bike ride through the green hills of Vermont! The group is making good progress on their way towards Burlington, VT and ultimately their final destination of Montréal!

A long line of bikers.
Smiles for miles.
Ready to roll.
This little Minion turned 21 today! Happy Birthday Carter!

Costa Rica Language & Service (CRLS)

CRLS focused on language learning today. The students are working hard to expand their vocabulary while gaining a better grasp of grammatical structures and concepts. Keep up the good work, CRLS!

Studies show laughing improves learning.
Pens, paper, and the jungle.

California Mountains & Coast (CMCA)

CMCA continued their exploration of Point Reyes National Seashore today with a short hike along the shore of Tomales Bay. Word is that the group will be heading out for a sunset kayaking paddle later this evening. Tomorrow CMCA hits the road as they transition to the foothills of the Sierras!

Fallen trees make for the best group photos.
Ummm….not really sure?
Trekking along the shore.

California Mountains & Coast (CMCB)

CMCB kept both feet on solid ground as they prepared themselves for three days of backcountry hiking in the amazing Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is a treasure trove of natural wonder:  massive granite cliffs, giant sequoia groves, and the mighty Sierra Nevada Mountains await our backcountry explorers. Enjoy the backcountry CMCB!

Ready to enter the backcountry.

Montana Service Adventure (MSA)

After three weeks of riding and volunteering across the great state of Montana, MSA celebrated their many accomplishments by exploring the mountain town of Whitefish, MT. Whitefish isn’t the largest or most well-known final destination for an Apogee trip, but this small town is a capital city for bike touring in the western United States.

Traded all their bikes for a van.

Northwest Explorer (NWXA)

NWXA transitioned from the wild of the Northwest to the bustling metropolis of Seattle today. They weren’t hiking, but they certainly walked a lot as they explored the city together. A dinner in the city served as a celebration for everything these explorers achieved over these past few weeks.

Letters? Notes? Post cards? I’ll have to check the mail to figure this one out.
Lunch overlooking Elliott Bay.


Northwest Explorer (NWXB)

What better way to reminisce than stunning sunsets and the susurration of surf? After three weeks in the great outdoors of the northwest, NWXB took some time to explore the Emerald City of Seattle together today before gathering themselves to head home tomorrow.

Nothing beats a nice sunset group photo.

Pacific Coast (PCA)

After spending the past three weeks riding up and down the hills of the Pacific coast, PCA spent the day walking up and down the many hills of San Francisco. Jet plans are for tomorrow, Pacific-Ocean views and fond memories are forever.

San Fran!

Pacific Coast (PCB)

PCB also spent their day in San Francisco . Their explorations included trips to a few of San Francisco’s many attractions: Snake Alley and Chinatown. Thanks for a great trip PCB!

Sans Helmet!!

Scottish Highland Explorer (SHX)

SHX celebrated their three-week long trek through the Scottish highlands by exploring the historic capital of Scotland: Edinburgh. Sadly we didn’t receive a kilt photo, but with a single traditional Scottish kilt costing a pretty Pound sterling that’s no surprise. Thankfully, the lack of kilts is more than made up for with everyone’s smiling faces!

Smiling faces in the Scottish sun!
Gelato? Ice cream? Flakes?
Panorama of the day!

Alps Explorer (AXA)

AXA spent their last full morning in Geneva serving the community by picking up litter along the shores of beautiful Lake Geneva. After lunch by the lake, the group explored the “Peace Capital.” Their amazing journey through the Alps was finished with a celebratory dinner.

Apogee on the shores of Lake Geneva.
Pretty sure that isn’t gelato, but it looks delicious!
Finding that much garbage in Geneva is quite the accomplishment!
“Baguette that you’re jealous of us.”- Leader Isa

Alps Explorer (AXB)

AXB spent the day in Geneva, trading those hiking boots for crocs and sandals (see below). They explored the city and did some community service along the way. What a full, fun last day!

On the shores of Lake Geneva.
Swiss chocolate!
Garbage pick-up crew.

Europe Coast to Coast (ECCA)

ECCA took a break from pedaling to relax along the shores of beautiful Lake Constance. After a day of games and resting around camp, the group got artsy with their blog photos. ECCA will be back on the bikes tomorrow as they ride into Austria, their fifth country this trip!

Another lovely sunset group shot.


Europe Coast to Coast (ECCB)

A long ride for ECCB today! Yesterday Olivia dropped some words of wisdom something along the lines of, “What goes up must go down.” Well folks, she was not wrong: today was a long ride, but there were a number of downhills and flat portions. Tomorrow, ECCB gets to take a break on the shores of Lake Constance.

Flexing in the fields of Germany.

America Coast to Coast (ACC1)

Yesterday, ACC1 started their ride in Paris,TX today they stopped at a German bakery in Muenster, TX! I thought this was America Coast to Coast not Europe Coast to Coast! Powered by strudel, ACC1 crushed 95 miles to Jacksboro, TX. Tomorrow is a rest day, knowing this group they’ll probably fill their tanks with more Texas foods: crêpes, pasta carbonara, and bon bons.

Powered by strudel!

America Coast to Coast (ACC2)

ACC2 entered the Lone Star State today! The group had better get used to Texas BBQ and “Y’alls,” because their next week will be filled with long miles under the hot Texas sun. On today’s ride, a passing-by stranger offered our ACC2 riders a break from the heat in the Clarksville, TX court house. The group ended up having lunch with the sitting judge. Apogee loves some good ole southern hospitality.

Lunch with the judge.