In California, we are very lucky to have access to a broad range of ecosystems, from coastal plains, to rugged mountains and arid deserts.  These areas provide us with a multitude of opportunities for outdoor recreation.  To go along with these ecosystems we are also lucky to have  seven (!) species of poisonous snakes that call Southern California home.  They are, the Western Diamondback, Sidewinder, Speckled rattlesnake, Red Diamond rattlesnake, Southern Pacific, Great Basin rattlesnake and the Mojave rattlesnake. I have a legitimate snake phobia, so just typing that made my skin crawl and my palms sweaty.  

 
According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), rattlesnakes are dangerous if provoked; however,  they also provide humans with a valuable service - they eat rodents, other reptiles, and insects, and are in turn eaten by other predators. 
 
Here In California where rattlesnakes are found from sea level up to 10,000 feet, you’re never safe! (Just kidding, sort of).  An essential part of enjoying the outdoors means learning how to avoid contact with rattlesnakes and how to react if you encounter one.  Here are a few tips from the CDFW:
Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas. Wear hiking boots.
When hiking, stick to well-used trails and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants. Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.
Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark. Step ON logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood for your campsite. Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.
Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.
Be careful when stepping over the doorstep as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edge of buildings where they are protected on one side.
Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.
 
Do not handle a freshly killed snake, it can still inject venom.
Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone. Children are naturally curious and will pick up snakes.
So what happens if you encounter a snake and the strike?
Stay calm
Wash the bite area gently with soap and water
Remove watches, rings, etc, which may constrict swelling
Immobilize the affected area
Transport safely to the nearest medical facility
If possible, contact a ranger or 911 dispatch to provide them with your location and request assistance.
Chances are a snake encounter will end with it slithering away. So go out and have fun.
Also, be glad we don’t live in Florida, where they have 18 ft pythons living in the wild, O-M-G Yuck (invasive species!).

Hiking, biking OC trails

Have a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend!
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Summer is a fantastic time to kick your blender into high gear for some green and delicious smoothies!  Smoothies are a great way to pack vitamins and minerals into a very palatable format (for you, your kids or significant other).  For me, smoothies are better when they are high in greens and veggies, with enough fruit to provide good flavor.  It can be really easy to over do the fruit and knock yourself into a sugar coma…  Here are some items to consider before you blend:

The key to making a delicious green smoothie is the fresh [organic] ingredients!  As we roll into spring and summer fresh veggies and greens should be readily available at the supermarket, farmers market or in a CSA Box.  I try to use a variety for my smoothies – my two favorites are kale and spinach.  There are so many varieties of kale and chard it’s easy to keep mixing things up.
I try to stay at a 2:1 veggie to fruit ratio to make sure I’m getting plenty of vitamins and limiting sugar.  The use of tropical fruit, such as mango and pineapple allows for good flavor without too much fruit required.  Fruits like pears and apples are great for their fiber content, but can easily be overwhelmed.  So it is best to use these as a minor addition to the fruits for flavor.  Something many people forget is that carrots are a “sweet” veggie, and can assist in livening up a green smoothie.
Bananas are a fantastic base fruit as they allow for a creamier texture.  Also, try some raspberries, blueberries and strawberries when they are in season (or bagged in the freezer section).
For liquid I tend to stick to coconut milk or almond milk, to get a strong dose of healthy fats and to avoid soy milk.  With so much soy creeping into the American diet, I figure I can do without adding more (this is especially true for men unless you are into moobs and have no problem with him wearing a “bro”).
Need some extra protein?  You could go with an organic whey protein or egg protein mix.  But you vegans should consider nut butter (I prefer fresh ground almond butter).
Get creative, there are endless combinations to experiment with! Don’t forget yummy additions such as Chia seeds, hemp, flax, and nuts.
Happy blending!
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This past Saturday, May 4th was this year’s Stand Up for the Cure at Newport’s Back Bay.  Their vision is to become SUP’s version of Race for the Cure…They have a ways to go, but put on what was, overall, a great event.  Approximately 650 Paddlers showed up decked out in all shades of pink, some in crazy costumes.  There was a good showing of elite racers, junior pros, average joes and complete beginners.

The only negative about the event was a moderately confusing schedule (done in Microsoft excel) and poorly worded registration.  It wasn’t completely clear based on what I registered for (Adult Fun Event) what time I would start (Elite Race at 9:45, Pink Fleet and Intermediate Races were shown as sometime between 10:00 and 11:00).  Once on-site the event organizer cleared things up, but as someone who likes to know the plan and be prepared for events it made for a bit of a tense morning (especially because we got a late start after a forgotten bag at home).
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I did the 5k paddle.  Audrey and Andy came to watch.  The beach event had a fantastic exhibition area which included free melanoma and breast cancer screening.  Additionally vendors of SUP clothing, products, outdoor gear and health food livened things up while spectators waited for the paddlers.  There was also a super cool silent Auction with opportunities to score sweet gear from the sponsors.
Overall, this is the perfect event if you are new to SUPing or SUP racing.  There was definite competition among the pro and intermediate riders, but there was also a very laid back feel to the event which allowed riders to turn around at any point on the course.  The flat water is perfect for those new to SUP or those who may not be super adventurous. Make sure to keep an eye out for next year’s event, or Check out their Facebook page, Standup for the Cure
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