Monday, September 12, 2016

Save Mt Diablo's Moonlight on the Mountain, 2016

I guess the most logical way to start this post is to explain what Moonlight on the Mountain is all about.  It's Save Mount Diablo's biggest fundraiser of the year. Last year they brought in over $500,000 in one night, and they hoped to top that this year.  If you aren't familiar with Save Mount Diablo, well...there's a lot of ways to describe them.  The most concise would be that since 1971, they've grown the mountain's protected land from 7,000 acres, to more than 110,000 acres.  Once the land is protected, it can't be developed at all other than turning it into park land and trails.  That's a very basic description and they really do much, much more than just buying up the land that surrounds the mountain and making it protected land. They've discovered species of plants that only grow on Diablo, then that land has to be closed to protect the rare plant.  They work hard to create new parks w/in Diablo. An example is the Curry Canyon purchase.  It was a private ranch on Diablo with amazing acres of rock formations and caves, much like Rock City.  They were able to purchase the land when it came available for 5 million, and are in the process of turning it into a park w/a visitors center and trails.  
This was the program. It had all the auction items, and auction rules inside.
This event was also a celebration of Save Mount Diablo's 45 anniversary.  Moonlight on the Mountain is something I have posted about before, but observations were merely as a runner, passing thru the area as it was being set up.  Over the years, I've come across set up out at China Wall, above Macedo Ranch, a few times. I've always thought it would be an amazing event to get to attend....someday, somehow. Never did I think I'd actually get to.  CSAA-IG (CA State Auto Association, Insurance Group - basically California's AAA insurance), where Brian works, is a sponsor, and therefore has one table that has 10 seats.  Brian put his name in +1, and snagged 2 seats, which he surprised me with a few weeks back.  I was super giddy and excited, counting down the days.

Saturday at 4, we checked in at a local high school, got our name tags, table assignment, and bidder number, hopped on a shuttle, and headed up to China Wall.  It was a bit surreal as I kept stealing glances at the folks around me wondering who among us where the people who bid thousands of dollars on things.  Spoiler alert...the most normal looking folks, dressed in jeans and boots, bid $800 for a cake to eat for dessert at the table next to us.

So we got up there and hopped off the shuttle, were given free, commemorative wine glasses, and told to wander and bid.  The silent auction was going on, and closed at 6.  We had never been to a silent auction, so after figuring it out (there were instructions for both the silent auction and the live auction in the back of our programs), we put in a few bids.  Basically, there were items, with a clip board underneath. You put down your bidder number and a dollar amount, and walk away.  Anyone can then  write in their number and a higher amount under what you wrote.  The highest bid at 6 pm gets the item.  So we went and got some drinks and wandered around checking back in on our items.  There were also folks walking around passing out hors'doeuvres during this time.  Think bacon wrapped dates, watermelon with feta and mint, and pink deviled eggs that were soaked in beet juice.

 One of our bids got too high real quick so we were priced out of that item, the other we kept circling back to and upping our bid.  It was amazing to watch all the items and the dollar amounts people were writing.  I suspect since it's a fundraiser, people are willing to go all out for a good cause.  It was super fun to watch, and bid, and time our last bid just right w/in the last 60 seconds and hope that the couple who had also been bidding didn't go back and snag it.  In the end, we went home with my anniversary present!  A beautiful picture of a tree that I have photographed many times myself.
The tents had the auction items underneath, as well as a wine bar, and a beer tent.

The item we were bidding on is the picture with all the blue sky, infront of the man in the striped shirt.  I was on pins and needles every time someone walked up to it, hoping they wouldn't bid.

Then it was dinner time. After the sun went down behind a hill, the tables were all shady, and we sat down to eat.  They began auctioning off 3 cakes, which went for hundreds of dollars each.  They also did a donation auction, which was basically the emcee asking who would like to donate money, starting at $100 and working up to $5000.  This was just a donation, you weren't bidding on an item.  It was again, awesome to watch!  So at this point in the night they announced they had already raised $100,000.  I should mention, when Brian and I first arrived, we were the first people at our table. I made sure we picked 2 seats that faced the mountain.  When the sun went down, we had a perfect view of the mountain as it turned it's shades of pink.  It was beautiful!

Then the real money making auction began, the live auction.  There were some amazing items.  2 beautiful panoramic photos of the mountain, trips to Costa Rica, Lake Tahoe, private plane tours, a private gourmet dinner party at the summit, private parties at you can imagine, the bids were staggering, and it was highly entertaining and fascinating to watch.  After that, dinner was over and the dancing began. Brian went over to claim our item and pay up.

From start to finish, this was as amazing of an event as I always thought it would be!  From the Black Tie Shuttles, to the fancy lighting of the rocks that make up China Wall, to the lighted outhouses, to the special area for all the servers and volunteers to relax and eat, to the beautiful program booklet, free wine glasses, amazing service, friendly volunteers, and the perfectly bubble wrapped framed piece of art we took home with was a very special night I will always remember!
 Thank you, Brian!


  1. It is SO cool that you two got to go to this! And what's the deal with what looks like a brush fire in a couple of those pictures?

    1. It didn't photograph well, but they had the China Wall rocks all lit up with fancy lights. It was beautiful!!

    2. Ah - I can see that now, but that's not what it looked like at first glance. I had strange visions of "How much would you bid to shoot a flamethrower at this hillside!" type of thing, which made little sense. It's funny how the picture made that look like flames and even some smoke!

    3. That is funny! I thought we may have a "how much would you bid to shoot the smoking person with a fire hose" moment when someone lit up a cigarette! The emcee got really loud and stern about the fire danger and not smoking at that point.