2018 Prospect Sierra Summer Stories

September 12, 2018


Ally Crump

When my husband booked a private horseback tour through the Rocky National Park, I gracefully declined. Horses, while majestic, lack the brake and wheel required to keep my nervous system in check. Upon arriving at the ranch my fear of missing out rocked my anxiety’s scissors and I asked for the tamest, oldest horse they had. The ride started out peaceful and perfect, until the thunder came.  We could see lightning bolts in our path and the horses started to tremble. Our capable guide helped us dismount quickly and engage in thunder/lighting protocol which required crouching into a ball and waiting out the weather. For 20 minutes I put my fears on the back burner and helped keep us all calm. The weather passed and we were able to finish our tour safely. We rode back into the ranch a little stronger and braver that we had left. It’s the leading story my children tell when asked about their summer vacation and I’m so happy to be part of it.


Amy Sullivan

We spent this summer at home… in fact, in our new home! After 17 years of living in Oakland, we moved to East Richmond. We have learned so much about the good, the bad, and the ugly of home ownership, and consider ourselves beyond fortunate. While we do miss Oakland, we are excited to get to know Richmond better. (And I’m loving the short commute! )


Annie Fujimoto

I went to London this summer with my whole family!  We had a blast riding the London Eye, seeing the Crown Jewels, and riding double decker buses! We also took a small trip to Monterey and splashed in the ocean.




Ariel Dugan

This summer, my fiancé Tyler and I took a trip to New York to celebrate our engagement with our east coast family. We got to spend time with my brand new, 4-month old nephew, which was a real treat. We had a chance to go camping up on the American River and visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Also, I trained in for my first half marathon and completed it on August 12th!



Audie Adage

This summer I spent time (purposefully) destroying my garden and making plans on how to build it back up again with the help of wonderful colleagues Maria and Jessica. We also spent some time away in Eel River, North Carolina, and Southern California. The biggest events in our summer, though, were the new beginnings. Our son, now 2 years old, started preschool and my wife started a new job.


Becky Raikow

Our family went to lake Tahoe for a week. We hiked, kayaked, and played board games. My roommate from college visited for a week as well. We went to Napa and made stained glass pieces.

Beth Lewis

This summer my family spent a few weeks in Buffalo and Manhattan visiting family. My husband and our 15 year old twin sons got to meet their one year old nephew, Sully, for the first time! Made me miss those baby years! Then we spent a quiet few days camping in the Portola Redwoods, creek walking, hiking, and reading. A perfect vacation!

I also spent a lot of time over the summer practicing with my ultimate frisbee team. Last spring, after years of watching our own kids play ultimate, a group of moms decided to see what all of the fuss was about and learn to play ourselves!  We play mainly against women much younger than us and while we have only won one game (and that was because the other team had to forfeit!), we have a lot of fun on the field!

Cindy Cheong

This summer, Tyler’s fencing took us to hot and humid St. Louis, Missouri! We went to the top of the Gateway Arch, and visited the Old Courthouse (Dredd Scott vs. Sandford case), while experiencing Independence Day for the entire week! On our quest for “the Best” barbecue from the many places we have travelled (Austin, Dallas, Memphis, Kansas City, Augusta, Atlanta, and South Carolina, to name a few), St. Louis was favored and ranked high on Tyler’s palate!

Tyler and I took a side trip to Disneyland and California Adventure with his aunt, uncles, and cousins, and we experienced the magic of Pixarfest in two days! We were joined by Ho-Doug and all of his relatives to attend his cousin’s wedding which was a two day celebration – Mehndi Party and a Traditional Indian Wedding Ceremony. It was the best wedding weekend ever because two separate cultures became one huge family! We may not dress up very often, but when we do……we clean up nicely!

Corinne Allen

Riley and I enjoyed plenty of downtime this summer, playing and puttering inside and outside, at and around our home in Oakland. There were many trips to the library and time spent reading and playing with Legos and dinosaurs, as well as time in the yard. We went to some beloved family camps at Feather River and the Mendocino Redwoods, where we enjoyed being unplugged yet deeply connected. Riley frolicked in the pool at his swim class, and he soaked up tons of creature wisdom at Zoo Camp, where he was among the first to explore the new California Trail (where he now makes an excellent tour guide–see picture!) We were grateful to get to enjoy lots of quality time with friends and family during the long days of summer!

David Allen

This summer, I traveled to the midwest (Chicago and Madison) as well as some of my old stomping grounds in the northeast (New York and New Haven), visiting a slew of friends and relatives along the way and watching plenty of World Cup matches. When I returned to California, I spent most of my time gardening, reading, going to concerts, hiking, and camping. My partner and I also took a lovely trip to Monterrey which included a whale watch where we saw DOZENS of humpbacks breaching and lunge feeding. It was a spectacular reminder of the power of the natural world. Here’s a picture of me relaxing on the boat after having my mind blown.

David Gould

This summer, my wife Caroline had the opportunity to tour the U.S., opening 37 shows for the synth-pop band Erasure. My two daughters and I tagged along in several cities, and I took them to London for the first time, as well. Here I am on stage with Caroline in St. Petersburg, Florida, in what felt like the set from Tron.



Doug Garfinkel

One highlight of my wonderful summer in Santa Fe was attending the opening night performance of a new production by Peter Sellars of John Adams’ opera Dr. Atomic. The opera tells the story of the 24 hours leading up to Trinity, the test of the first atomic bomb. The Santa Fe opera house is partially open air, and the lights of Los Alamos are visible from the house.  Peter Sellars spoke before the performance as did the leader of the Downwinders, a group dedicated to supporting Pueblo tribe members and ranching families who continue to suffer from life threatening and life ending effects from fallout. Members of three local Pueblos shared traditional summer corn dances and also performed as part of the opera. John Adams came out to take a bow after the performance. Wonderful music and singing, an all too relevant and frightening theme, connections to social justice, and in the background the perfect historic context all made this a night to remember.


Eugenie Ceconi

It has been quite an unforgettable summer! My husband and I got married on July 1st in Mammoth Lakes, California. We spent a week and a half with our families who were coming from the east coast and France, respectively. Together, we explored the Tahoe area, and then headed down to some of our favorite places: Yosemite and the Eastern Sierra for some hiking, fly fishing, and rock climbing. After all of the wedding excitement, Chris and I settled in to our new place in the East Bay and finished moving from San Diego. We have been exploring the Bay Area – taking weekend trips to surf down in Santa Cruz, hiking around the north bay, and checking out all of the dog beaches with our pups, Powder and Mousse. I ended the summer with a week-long climbing and backpacking trip with a friend in Truckee!

Hannah Grimm

This summer I had the amazing experience of taking 24 Prospect Sierra students (sixteen 7th graders and eight 8th graders) with me to Costa Rica. We spent a week traveling all over the country, studying with local scientists at Sarapiqui, experiencing Costa Rican culture and food, practicing our Spanish, and enjoying the incredible ecotourism Costa Rica has to offer.  Together we learned about mist-netting for bats with researchers in Sarapiqui, tested the water quality of the Sarapiqui river before whitewater rafting down it, and hiked through rainforests and up the Arenal Volcano. The highlight of the trip by far was an incredible afternoon spent ziplining through the forest canopy. Surrounded by butterflies and beautiful plants we had a birds-eye view of the rainforest. It was an exhilarating end to an amazing trip.

Teaching is a funny profession — you teach yourself to love this batch of kids that comes into your classroom each year, you spend months building relationships and sharing a subject you love with them, and then ten months later you have to let them go. They’re off to someone else’s classroom or away to highschool. It meant the world to me to be able to share this experience with these kids before they moved on from my class or from Prospect Sierra. Seeing them call me over excitedly when one of them found a Hercules Beetle or gasp with amazement at the first glimpse of an enormous Blue Morpho fluttering by during breakfast, this trip reminded me of how much joy I take in being a piece of their life.


Jesse Feldman

My family and I focused on expanding our home grown and hand-prepared foods this summer.  We built some wooden garden beds for our deck, where the deer can’t reach them. My wife started fermenting kombucha, and making yogurt and almond milk. We planted more herbs for medicinal uses. We even experimented with homemade soaps and shampoos. We’re excited to continue growing and making more products and buying less!


Jessica Boyles

Our family had plenty of down time in Berkeley, where popsicles and playgrounds filled our days. The highlight of the summer was a road trip through Oregon. We explored everything from the high desert, to the top of Mt. Hood (where people were still skiing in August!), to the coast. This photo is our son Elias (3) and his best buddy enjoying the beach in Lincoln City, OR.

Jessica Walker

This summer was wonderful! I spent endless hours with my family, playing at beach, going for hikes, reading books, and eating delicious food. We had a visit from my brother and our now annual trip to Eel River. One particularly exciting moment from the summer was a weekend away in Los Angeles. I had time to reconnect with some of my oldest friends, as well as watch my dear friend perform on stage in the touring company of Waitress. It was a magical moment and reminded me of the power of lasting friendships.


Jonathan Zucker

This summer, my family spent time in the mountains (at Echo Lake) and at the beach. Pictured here are my wife and daughters enjoying a beautiful sunset in Sea Ranch, a favorite vacation spot for our family. When we weren’t traveling, our kids enjoyed various summer camps while we did many house projects, including painting and taking out our front lawn in preparation for drought-resistant landscaping.

Keith Davis

Fantastic summer in Colorado for me and the family. As usual we did a lot of work on the cabin and really enjoyed the beautiful mountains. Very hard to leave but already looking forward to continuing the home improvements. At 8500’ the place is a true mountain getaway.



Kirk Cooper

As many of you know I spend my summer weeks in Tilden Park, running my camp, Sees the Day Summer Program.  It was a blast and included many awesome nature moments, intriguing Guest Educators, and deep meaningful play under the redwood trees!  A highlight was having my son Sylas, a recent graduate of UCLA, run the program with me! I also enjoyed surfing as much as possible on the weekends. A few other notable summer highlights included some celebratory birthday meals, seeing David Byrne in concert with my daughter, and surprising my mother in law with a French Bulldog puppy! While technically not a summer trip, last spring I did make a quick mountain biking excursion with a buddy to Fruita, Colorado. Amazing landscape with a variety of challenging terrain. While I was there, I was able to visit my sister, who’d just returned to the states from Africa. Each evening we played the congas for hours with my brother in law Pardon, a master musician from Zimbabwe. It was epic! We spent the final day hiking in Moab, and pedaling across the famed lunar landscape of Slick Rock.

Kristin Stringfield

This summer I was fortunate to be able to attend the EE Ford Summer Teachers’ Colloquium in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I participated in a class called “What’s Your Story?” led by writer and teacher Robert Wilder. The class reinvigorated my writing practice. I spent four days with seven other teachers writing, sharing, and reading. Writers Gregory Martin and Julia Goldberg joined us on two afternoons and shared their experiences and advice on the writing life. I also enjoyed exploring Santa Fe with my husband. Highlights included an awe-inspiring thunder storm that we experienced while staying at 7th grade math teacher Doug Garfinkle’s beautiful home and a trip to Meow Wolf with our son, who joined us for a day. If you don’t know about Meow Wolf, you should check it out online.  There is no way to do it justice in a few words. https://meowwolf.com/

Following our stay in Santa Fe, my husband and I ventured up to Taos to visit our son, Zephaniah, in his natural environment. Zeph is a singer-songwriter.  We stepped out of the car and immediately into one of his performances at First Fridays in Taos, followed by his show at a local alehouse. We stayed at his very quirky house, which they call “The Snake House,” for the first time, experienced the life of musicians in Taos, went to a farmers’ market in Cuesta where we met Joe Cisneros whose life was the basis of The Milagro Beanfield War, and were even a small part of a new music video for Zeph’s new song, “If This Engine Stays Running.”  This photo is of Zeph and some of his bandmates at First Fridays in Taos. He’s the one in the black hat. We left New Mexico wanting to return as soon as possible.

Laura Palin

One highlight of my summer was driving to Salt Point State Park with my 4 year old grandson and the two of us setting up camp together in the wind! On the 3 hour drive there, we counted by 10s, then 100s, challenged each other to think of as many opposites as we could, and even agreed to disagree on a few topics. Mike and I were also fortunate enough to visit Kauai for a week. We explored beach after beach and totally sank into the Hawaiian vibe. We went on our annual Palin cousins camping trip in the Sierras with 15 family members. We made yummy meals together, cooled ourselves from the 90 degree heat in the refreshing mountain stream, watched the little ones laugh and play in the dirt, and shooed the cows out of our campsite. I finished the summer out with a powerful math training in Chicago with Corinne and Doug, where we learned lots of great techniques for teaching our Illustrative Math curriculum.

Maddie Hogan

This summer my husband and I traveled to Mongolia, China, and Tibet. Mongolia is a stunningly beautiful country, and the majority of people outside the capital city still maintain their nomadic way of life. We visited nomad families in the Gobi Desert, and spent the majority of our nights in gers (yurts). We were fortunate to attend the summer festival, Nadaam, where there is music, dancing, archery, horse racing, and wrestling. Tibet was magical. The deep devotion that the common people display to their Buddhist faith was inspiring–the prayer wheels, the incense, the chanting of the monks and nuns, and the gorgeous temples. However, the obvious incursion of Chinese modernity–shopping malls and high rises–gave us food for thought.

Madeleine Rogin

This summer I traveled to Kauai with my two daughters – we boogie boarded, took surfing lessons, saw sea turtles, went on beautiful walks, swam in warm water, and had a really magical time.  Getting there was a little bit stressful, though. We missed our flight, (our Lyft driver did not have FasTrak, and we got stuck in terrible traffic – always a good idea to ask about FasTrak) and ended up staying in South San Francisco for a night, pretending it was Honolulu 🙂 and almost missed our connecting flight once we got to Honolulu due to an emergency on the plane in front of us. By the time we got to Kauai we were overjoyed to be there!

Mafe Duarte

My summer was familiar and very relaxing. To be with my family my daughter and I traveled abroad to Bogotá, Colombia and we spent all summer there. We visited the Atlantic coast, the Andes Mountains, and were staying mainly in Bogotá and Villa de Leyva, a colonial town in the outskirts of Bogotá, the capital. We had a wonderful, relaxing and restorative time.

Nathan Tanaka

This summer I spent time camping and kayak fishing up the California coast. I caught my personal best lingcod of 33 inches, and I also caught my first two kelp greenlings! It was a treat to get outdoors to enjoy all the beauty that the coast has to offer.


Remi Rubel

Wearing heavy backpacks loaded with tents, sleeping bags, and food for five days, I rounded the corner of the mountain with high hopes that our favorite campsite would be empty. Miraculously, it was! In August I returned to one of my favorite places in the world with my sons and two friends to soak up the lakeside beauty, the quiet, and the sparkling stars every night. What a blissfully restorative week. I also watched plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with my mom and sister and took a trip to NYC and Boston to visit my son, family, friends, and of course, as many galleries and art museums as possible. It was a fabulous summer!

Rinat Manhoff

One highlight of my summer was continuing to show my daughter that activism matters by walking in the SF AIDS Walk. She’s 2 1/2 and this was her third walk. I am not 2 1/2, and it was my 24th AIDS Walk (if I am counting correctly).



Riti Dhesi

One of the highlights of this past summer was traveling on my own to Amman, Jordan to attend the wedding of my close friend’s daughter. While in Jordan I traveled to the Greco-Roman city of Jerash, took in views from Ajloun Castle, visited Petra (the capital of the Nabatean kingdom, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World) and floated in the Dead Sea. I can’t wait to go back!


Sophie Genone

This summer I enjoyed playing outside with my son and daughter, ages 4 and 7. I watched them do cartwheels in the sand at sunset on Martha’s Vineyard, where we also visited an amazingly lush arboretum, and swam in big waves everyday.  Back home on the west coast, we spent time camping, rock climbing, picking strawberries, swimming in lakes, and eating the occasional ice cream cone.