Taxes in California are high; however, there is an advantage to paying large tax bills: the Orange County Parks and Recreation department puts on fantastic outdoor activities for free or very low cost ($5.00 and under!).  Most Thursdays at 8:30 there is a Fitness Hike departing one of the OC Parks or Open Spaces.  These hikes are generally 3-7 miles in length and on strenuous terrain.  For beginning hikers, check out the beginner or advanced fitness hikes every other Tuesday.

Looking for something a little more tame? Or are you excited about getting the kiddos out with you?  Opt for the more relaxed Nature Walk at O’Neil Regional Park or the 5 Senses of Nature Park at Carbon Canyon – both occurring most Saturdays (the 5 Senses walk is held twice every Saturday, at 9:30 and 1:00.  The 5 Senses Hike features Redwoods (yep, we have Redwoods in SoCal).

Looking to wind down in nature at the end of a long day?  Make time for the Ranger-hosted campfire program at O’Neil Regional Park or Ronald W. Caspers Regional Park.

As my family and I try these out over the next few weeks, I will update with reviews and pictures.  For a full schedule of outdoor activities visit the OC Parks website here:

 

http://ocparks.com/events

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If you have read my previous posts, you most likely already know that I am a mother of a [beautiful] three year-old daughter, Audrey, and my second child is a 100-pound black lab, Turner. If you are just tuning in, welcome, you will be reading about my family and an outdoor lifestyle frequently. I have always been naturally drawn to the outdoors and only hope to instill that same affection in my daughter.

Recently, my husband and I decided that it was time for me to quit the 9-5 and become a stay-at-home mom. This was terrifying to me; don’t get me wrong, I adore my child and am grateful to have the opportunity to spend more time with her, but the “stay- at- home” phrase terrified me. How do you teach, encourage, engage, and entertain a three year-old, all day every day? I have found my answer to be creativity and Mother Nature.

We’re still working on a routine, but our typical day includes a trip to the gym (some social interaction for Audrey at day care, and some mommy time for me!), a long walk with the dog, and playtime at the park.  We check out different flowers, leaves, and bugs on our walks and talk about our surroundings (she actually walks or rides a bike the entire time, she doesn’t even ride in the stroller if it is presented as an option).

I have decided to take a bit further and combine educational activities with movement and exercise. On the weekends, my husband and I love to take Audrey to discover new parks or beaches. We also love to stand up paddleboard (SUP). Currently, our favorite family friendly beach location is Doheny State Park, Baby beach. It’s calm water, easy for the kiddo to play in and we can SUP in the small bay with Audrey on the board (PFD and wet suit always on) OR we trade off staying on the beach with Audrey while the other SUPs the harbor loop. How does this apply to education for Audrey? Well, Audrey loves to sit on the board out in the water and discuss all kinds of life that lives in the water. We talk about how the sand feels between her toes, and count the seashells we find on the beach (or rocks, same objective). How much more fun is it to learn counting by lining up seashells on the beach than sitting inside working on an activity sheet?

I’m not a certified educator, but I am a mom trying to live a healthy lifestyle and raise a healthy, confident child. We love being outside, and if I have said it once, I’ll say it again, SoCal’s temperate climate is perfect for outdoor activities! I plan on taking Audrey out on bike rides, pulling her in the trailer, and stopping to discover new parks; discussing how honeybees are beneficial towards making beautiful flowers and delicious honey or learning her ABC’s and spelling by using street signs as well as the plants, trees, and animals surrounding us.

One of my favorite activities is when the whole family walks to the soccer fields near our house and we run sprints together. I’m sure there is a learning opportunity for counting, spelling, science, or even art, but I absolutely LOVE spending the quality time with my family. We probably look like crazy people; our sprints turn into a game of tag or “AHHH! MONSTERS” and tag turns into passing out on the grass, but I love it.

No, with kiddos tagging along your outdoor time may not always include training for a marathon (mine hates the stroller). Overall, adjust your expectations for excise and focus on the activities outside. Ultimately we’re all trying to live a healthier life, the only way to teach a new generation those values is to lead by example.  Think outside the box and you will find it’s easy to lead a healthy, active lifestyle, while enjoying what matters most: being with those you love.

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ep•ic \ˈe-pik\ a : extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope

We are moving into the New Year; it’s the first week in February. If your life is like mine, chances are that January has been pretty decent. Maybe you’ve seen some gains in the gym (maybe not). Maybe you are feeling better about your new years resolutions (or dropped them); maybe you’ve just survived the flu or a nasty cold (hooray me!). Maybe you have had an adventure, taken a trip, got out and experienced something out of the ordinary (or watched the Discovery Channel/National Geographic/Netflix).

Whether January has been exciting or rather ordinary, there is good news. We all still have a little under 11 months to have an adventure for 2013! To get out and DO something, have an epic…

Is that term overused? Doesn’t matter. For modern day explorers and extreme sports enthusiasts, epics can be legendary tales of adventures gone wrong, heroic tales of subsistence living with little more than determination separating them from the void. Or for most of the rest of us, epics can be stories of a laughable debacle that you can file away to tell your friends at the bar, family at the next get-together or your children when they’re old enough. There are very few trips that my husband and I plan that don’t turn into epics or debacles:

  • Gone camping with no sleeping bags, pillows or blankets? Done it
  • ! Concussion while snow-tubing? Crushed it!
  • Ordered crab soup in the second story restaurant of a Mexican flea market? Oh yeah!
  • Leisurely bike ride that turned into a 75 mile suffer-fest? Thanks Hubby!
  • Tandem kayaking tour of La Jolla that almost resulted in divorce? Still have the un-filed papers! (Not really, but kind of…)

My point is that even mundane outings can lead to an adventurous twist. But if you’re just hanging out on the couch, the weekend is almost certain to be mundane. Here are two ideas for this year’s epic (adventure, debacle or otherwise). Ascent of Mount Whitney Mt. Whitney is located in Sequoia National Park and has a summit of 14,505 ft. The most popular way to summit Whitney is via the Whitney trail, a 22 mile round trip hike with 6,100 ft in elevation gain. Most hikers do this in two days…for a guaranteed epic, try it in one (but make sure you are trained, are prepared, have a bail-out plan and notify someone regarding your route and anticipated return time.) A word of caution, this hike is extremely strenuous and requires a departure well before dawn. Ascent of Angels Flight Angels Flight is a funicular railway in the Bunker Hill District in Los Angeles (yes, beyond the Orange Curtain). The original Angels Flight ran from 1901-1966 and connected spring street and hill street. After an almost 40 year hiatus, it has been re-opened between Hill Street and California Plaza. Rides are only 50 cents, which is a bargain to experience a historical landmark. For a real epic, take the MetroLink Train, then the Metro (subway). Have lunch at Grand Central Market (Cuban Sandwiches!) and drinks at the Standard’s rooftop bar and pool before hopping the Metro and MetroLink Train back home. Wherever this year takes you, don’t forget to embrace the adventure and enjoy your own epic.

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