From Palm to Pinnacle

West Palm Beach. Just when I thought the weather couldn’t get better than California, Florida had to pull out all the stops.

My mother’s birthday was this past week, and the whole family (including aunts and uncles) flew out to surprise her this past weekend. My dad even hired a boat to take us through a park, home to alligators, blue herons, and beautiful mangrove trees.

Mom and dad

Needless to say: it was nuts. Hard to top time with family, no matter how brief.


One thing I will say: Florida, at least the area we were in, definitely gave me a little more perspective on the bubble that is Berkeley. There was something about all the restaurants being in boxes and everything being accessible only by car that made me feel really lucky to be where I am – and also made me realize again how much work there is to be done, even in a place like Florida, where it seems like you could grow a ton. I couldn’t help but get a kick out of things like this:


Ah, the things we do to maintain golf courses. Not as bad, I suppose, as the ones I saw out in the desert by Joshua Tree.

I had a few minutes to recover from the weekend at home, and then the next morning, it was off to Pinnacles National Monument to lead a backpacking/Jewish education trip. Pinnacles, if you haven’t heard of it or been, is a beautiful park in the central valley of California, home to some of the last condors in the United States, and a host of strange rock formations and talus caves.


Besides enjoying the views and the fresh air, I had an opportunity to organize the most ridiculous game of capture the flag ever, with forty children in complete darkness, all trying to elude four counselors tagging them with flashlights. I’m proud to say that one sprained ankle was the only injury recorded – and that was after the game no less!

I also got to facilitate a variety of team challenges for the group of twenty seventh grade students, the most fascinating of which was simply trying to let them come to consensus without intervention from myself or my co-leader. Seeing the kids try to establish a system for communicating was incredible. I will say: a talking stick was crucial, and the whole process was uncannily similar to watching our own government trying to vote on a budget. Maybe we can send our representatives on a backpacking trip the next time they get stuck 😉 I’ll bring the sunbutter.

Lookin’ forward to some more bed building on Tuesday. Until then,

Love from Berkeley,

P.S. This guy!


P.P.S. And this guy!


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