It’s apparently “do construction on every road simultaneously” season in Orange County, at least around my neck of the woods.  Which wouldn’t be a problem if the construction projects weren’t scheduled to last until 2014 (I’m looking at you Sand Canyon grade re-alignment).

 So, if we’re determined to get out and ride our bikes, what are the best strategies for staying safe?
Be Predictable
Handle your bid in an assertive and sure manner.  Signal all turns, lane changes and stops (use hand signals).  Also, travel in ways cars are used to seeing other traffic travel.  Stay to the right (unless you’re taking a lane – more on that in a minute), ride with traffic – NEVER against it (“bike salmon-ing is a quick way to die”), don’t weave between cars, stop at signals and signs. All common sense stuff.
Take the Lane
California Vehicle Code Section 21202 states that “When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side”.  If you find yourself in a cone-zone with no shoulder, signal your intent and take the lane.  As soon as it is safe for you o move to the right again, do so, but don’t feel pressure if you’re holding up traffic.  It’s your right to do so.
 
Be Visible
I highly recommend using a flashing bike light on the front and back of your bike day or night.  For the front, use a white light, preferably 100 lumens or more.  On the back use a red light such as the planet bike super flash.
 
 
These tips should help you during your rides.  There’s no substitute for solid bike handling skills and awareness,  stay focused and practice emergency and evasive bike handling skills before you hit the roads, especially if you’re pulling your child(ren) in a trailer.
Read More →

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!
Read More →

I did a triathlon this past year, and really enjoyed it, but the open water swim made me nervous!  So, in order to review a couple of upcoming events, but avoid some hyperventilation, I have recruited my husband to try a couple open water swimming events this summer.  My husband is no Michael Phelps, but he probably won’t drown!  His past includes growing up in Minnesota, where lake swimming is a part of life and he completed a half iron man about 6 years ago when he was in a lot better shape than he is now.

The best part about open water swimming is that it allows for athletes to get out of their comfort zone and into the natural environment (this is also the scary part!).  There are numerous open water swim classes in Southern California for open-water novices.  Swim Velocity, in Orange County, puts on one of the highest rated classes based on a review of Triathlon and Open Water Swim Message Boards: http://www.swimvelocity.com/Open_Water_Swimming.html.  The best part is that it allows for repeated group swim and refresher classes for those who may take a little extra time to get comfortable in the water.
Another great resource is the OC Open Water Swims google group.  They coordinate informal meetups for weekly swims at the state beaches around Orange County, there is a wealth of knowledge and some fantastic swimmers who attend.
My husband has decided to train for two events in June.  The first is a 1/2 mile “Lap Around the Pier” in Huntington Beach on June 8th. The great part about these swims is that the registration fee is reasonable (unlike many of the Triathlon races in Orange County) only $25, including a t-shirt.  A word of warning, wetsuits are not permitted!
The second is La Jolla’s Pier to Cove swim.  This is a 1.5 mile swim from La Jolla Shores (the Pier) to La Jolla Cove.  This is a challenging but beautiful swim that navigates some of the best nautical preserves in Southern California.  Wildlife is abundant (including sea lions, tuna, dolphins and sometimes whales).  What is interesting about La Jolla is it is home to the largest population of sting-rays in Southern California as well as several (harmless) species of small shark!
If you are feeling brave and are a confident swimmer, you may want to consider these as an enjoyable alternative to the local triathlon races. I’ll keep you posted on how my husband’s training and races go!
-K
Read More →

Earth Day comes on April 22 each year; it’s a day to celebrate our planet and support environmental protection. In my opinion, Earth Day should be 365 days a year.  Whatever your opinion, its still an opportunity to celebrate our planet, which is so often taken for granted.  The weather is suppose to be amazing in our SoCal 10 day forecast and I plan to take full advantage of catching some much needed Vitamin D!

There are some great events and activities happening within the next week,

Ragnar Relay Series: April 19-20

It kicked off in Huntington Beach this morning and ends 200+ miles away in San Diego (Embarcadero Marina Park South). Teams of 11 runners (or an Ultra Team of 5) alternate running the 200+ mile distance over a 24-hour period. What I love about this race is that, although seemingly daunting, it’s actually realistic for all classes of runners. Each participant runs three separate legs throughout the race and only ranges from about 3-8 miles! Gather your 10 closest friends and prep yourself for next year. Until then, check out a leg of the race and the colorful costumes and upbeat participants will surely entertain you. Runners love to run!

http://www.ragnarrelay.com/race/southerncalifornia/

 

BDR Earth Day Family Fun Run, April 22

Bolsa Chica State Beach

With late morning start time, this race is great for those of us that may not be early birds, want to eat a casual breakfast, or just have a wild toddler to chase and attempt to clothe.

http://www.active.com/5k-race/huntington-beach-ca-ca/bdr-earth-day-family-fun-run-2012

Orangeman Salt Creek Half Marathon 10k/5k

Salt Creek

There’s nothing better than to run with a nice ocean view. This race runs along the Salt Creek Regional Corridor Trail and will surely satisfy your need for a great work out while enjoying mother natures true beauty.

http://goforwardracing.com/salt-creek-half-marathon-5k10k-1k-kids-run

Wine Festival April 19-20

Tickets can be purchased at the site below. Beginning in Laguna Beach this evening, be wined and dined with rare wines and others that are no longer in distribution. Move onto a full afternoon at Doheny State Park on Saturday.

http://www.californiawinefestival.com/eventschedule.html

Citrus Fair La Habra, April 18-21

This fair will surely have something for every member of the family; stage performances, contests, food, and activities for the kiddos.

http://www.citrusfair.com

Pet Expo OC Fair and Event Center, April 19-21

Check out this giant expo for your pet and pet products. They have a great variety of activities scheduled, sure to entertain the whole family. Please, leave fiddo (and all other pets) at home. There will be plenty of animal interaction, and lovely pets available for adoption at the expo!

http://www.petexpooc.com

Plant & Garden Show, Fullerton Arboretum April 20-21

A perfect opportunity to kick-start spring and beautify your garden! Maybe add a new variety, or learn about organic gardening. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, there’s something for everyone.

http://fullertonarboretum.org/event_green.php

Door Open to public, 10:00am-4:00pm

Day at Pretend City, April 22

Ok, not technically out side, but it’ll be a great learning experience for the kiddos!

http://anaheimoc.org/calendar-of-events/155404/earth-day-pretend-city

Volunteer, Anywhere, Everywhere, Anytime

http://www.oneoc.org/get-involved/days-of-service/earth-day/

Check out this website, it has a great list of multiple volunteer opportunities.

Check out more events all over Southern California:

http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/PublicEd/EarthDay/Events/#LosAngeles

I hope that at least on of these events inspires you to get outdoors, enjoy some exercise and time with the family this weekend and don’t forget celebrate our planet!

Read More →

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

Read More →

Stairs. Yep, our society is inundated with advice to take a small step (pun intended) towards getting active. Taking the stairs, instead of the elevator or escalator, wherever you go is advice that usually looms near the top of the list. Get that quick ‘butt blaster’, heart rate increase when walking into the office everyday, and your beginning an active lifestyle, [they] may say.

I have to admit that I used to be that motivated person at the office that skipped past the elevator to climb the whopping three flights of stairs to my office on daily basis.  I will say that even though it was only three flights, the combination of stairs and heels added an extra burn that “hurt so good.”

But, I’m not here to provide an excuse that taking the stairs on a daily basis is a sufficient “work out” to replace 30 minutes of moderate activity, suggested by the American Heart Association, www.heart.org, at least 5 days a week. UNLESS, you are climbing stairs for a continuous 30 minutes, with elevated heart rate, on a daily basis. Then, more power to you, rock those tight jeans or short shorts! I am here to encourage you consider taking stairs when possible, and even suggest adding climbing to new heights into your workout regimen. *GASP*

I honestly cannot stand the stairmaster at the gym. It’s a personal choice, but I struggle with mind-numbing, agonizing climb to no-where. It tends to be a common theme for me to loathe stationary machine work; I will run in a downpour before you see me running miles on a treadmill. With that being said, how do you add climbing stairs into your workout regimen if you loathe the stair master? That answer is simple for me to provide: get out of the GYM!

I am not bashing working out in the gym, I personally include a trip in my daily routine; But, why not take advantage of this gorgeous weather and get outside when you can?!

You will find me at the corner of Golden Lantern and Dana Point Harbor climbing the stairs at Lantern Bay Park almost on a weekly basis. Or I mix it up with a trip to Strands, which is just up the road from Lantern Bay. Don’t live that far south? Check out the almost 230 steps at 1,000 Steps Beach in Laguna. Trust me, there’s a reason behind that beaches namesake. Wherever you may choose, the point is that you don’t have to climb the stairmaster.

So, you may be asking why would I devote an entire blog post to climbing some stairs? Because, it’s a killer work out that has the potential to literally get your booty into shape, while also providing a great cardiovascular, core, and leg workout, and of course, you can do it all while being outdoors! Yay! I’m obsessed, I know, but that is why we have an entire blog about Outdoor Fitness.   Stairs are a great way to focus on aerobic conditioning, anaerobic fitness, lower body strength and lower body power.  Anaerobic fitness can be developed by quick succession stair repeats.  Strength can be developed by deep lunges and focusing on form, and power can be developed with hops, bounds and leaps.  Mix it up, get fit and have amazing legs.

-K

**Please consult your physician before beginning this or any fitness program, this is not medical advice these are merely suggestions and samples of workouts**

Read More →

 

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.

Read More →

What dog doesn’t love a long walk?  Why not shake things up, get out of the neighborhood and go for a hike?  Orange County has fantastic open space and park areas where you and your four-legged friend can spend time on the trail. Today we are going to focus on gear and preparation for hikes with your dog.

 

Trail Etiquette and Regulations

 

Not all Orange County Parks or State Parks or dog friendly. We will review local Orange County Dog Hikes in the near future.  It is important that dogs be kept on a leash at all times.  I recommend that the leash be no longer than 6 feet and that good old-fashioned leather or webbing leash be used (not a retractable leash).  This ensures that your dog is close by (for his safety and the safety of others); also, a retractable leash failure on a hike can result in a lost dog.

 

Always be cognizant of your surroundings.  Pay attention and watch for approaching people, other dogs and children (especially if your dog gets excited, nervous or aggressive).  Not everyone appreciates a sniff or slobber from a strange dog!

 

Hydration

 

We have a black lab, he may have been a fish in a past life, and I have never seen a dog drink so much water!  It is important to ensure that you bring enough water for both you and your dog.  Never rely on streams, lakes or ponds for your dog to drink from (unless you bring a filter with you). Dogs, just like humans, are susceptible to giardia.  Giardia is a bacterium that causes gastro-intestinal distress. Turner (our dog) was on the receiving end of a nasty bout after drinking from a puddle formed by reclaimed water used for watering grass.  Trust me, you don’t want to experience the awful upset doggy tummy that goes along with giardia.

 

Water filters range from about $50 to $200 depending on the brand, filtration system, model and capacity.  Unless you are going for a multi-day hiking trip, packing extra water and a collapsible bowl is probably the best way to ensure your dog has enough water.  Alternatively, the Ruff Wear Palisades pack has a built-in hydration system.

 

Cooling

 

Dogs pant to lower their body temperature (one reason ensuring your dog has enough water is so important).  However, there are other measures you can take to help your dog keep cool on the trail.  The first, and most obvious, is to hike in the morning or evening hours when the sun is not at its peak (be aware that early morning and late evening hours are also the time that predators are most active, so extra vigilance is required).  Alternatively, you may consider the kool collar to help keep your pet cool.  Also, for dogs who seem very heat sensitive (like Turner) you might try the Ruff Wear Swamp Cooler dog vest which allows for evaporative cooling of your dog.

 

Paw Protection and First Aid

 

Dogs paws are pretty tough.  But they aren’t always as tough as the terrain you’ll be hiking on. We found this out during one hike after a very long 6 mile hike in Colorado, our dog tore open a pad.  Unfortunately we didn’t have any booties for him and he had to limp the last mile back to the car.  One option to address this are Ruff Wear’s Dog Boots.  Unfortunately, your dog probably isn’t going to like these, so it is best to do some trial runs around the house and neighborhood before trying to use them on the trail.

 

Just as you should be prepared physically and mentally to deal with an injury to yourself or others on the trail, it is part of being a responsible pet owner that you prepare yourself to treat and injury to your dog on the trail.  Consider bringing a first aid kit with you (there are pre-packaged versions on Amazon), ask your veterinarian for suggested supplies and be sure to review a book such as Field Guide to Dog First Aid by Randy Acker, DVM or attend one of Petco or the Red Cross’s dog first aid classes.

 

Hiking with a dog can be a very fun and rewarding experience.  It is also a good way to make sure you both get an uninterrupted nap in the afternoon! With a little bit of thought and preparation, you can be fully prepared to tackle the trails.

Read More →

We have had some gloomy days this past week here in SoCal, which honestly makes me want to curl up with a warm cup of tea and a good book on the couch. Reality check… I have a three-year-old daughter and a 100-pound lab that make that vision nearly impossible. But it’s alright, being a Colorado native, I grew up knowing and loving most of mother nature’s elements (wind would be the exception). I am grateful to live in a temperate climate to enjoy almost year round outdoor activities; rain definitely won’t keep my family inside!

Remember jumping in puddles? Why does that just have to be a memory? My daughter and I grab our rain boots and jackets and take the dog on a puddle hunt. Yes, we all need a warm bath/shower afterwards, but it’s totally worth it when we’re breathless running from puddle to puddle. Trust me, when it comes to running, I need as much motivation and distraction as possible. If there isn’t a margarita on the line this time, at least I enjoyed some quality kid time with a decent running work out!

Grab your mountain bike when there is a break in the light drizzle that fell earlier in the day and enjoy the tackiness of the dirt. When the rain is light, the dirt gets slightly tacky, which helps improve your lines; it’s honestly my favorite way to ride. If the rain picks up into more than a drizzle, stay off the trails though. Once the dirt turns into mud, all your accomplishing is rutting out trail and creating erosion to the surrounding greenery.  That just leaves a headache for following riders once the ground dry’s out and can result in closing access to Mountain Bikers if the trails sustain damage.

Paddle out and enjoy yoga on a SUP board. What’s more relaxing than being on calm water, listening to rain, and performing yoga? Granted you need to acquire SUP skills and yoga skills to actually make this relaxing, but honestly, just being on the water and sitting on the board is relaxing and will help you clear your head!

Go for a hike. You won’t believe how fresh your surroundings smell and your senses will be invigorated. Find a good spot that gives you an amazing view at the top.

So, stay off the couch and get moving, because there is plenty to do outside when it’s raining! Just make sure you have the appropriate clothing to stay [mostly] dry.

Read More →

Geez, with all the Insanity,turbokick,  Crossfit, supermega SUP yoga, BMX-badass, Warrior Dash, it’s no wonder the average person feels too intimidated to get involved in an activity or join a fitness group or gym. The barrier to entry for fitness is so high, you practically have to be a navy seal to even take a “beginner” class. I LOVE when people tell me they modify or “scale” burpees… WTH… seriously? what if a person can’t bend and touch the ground? What if they cant hold their body weight? Then what are you modifying? It may be that some exercises and activities are just entirely unnecessary for certain populations.  And you know what? That is ok.

When was the last time you just took a walk? weather you are super ultra trail runner fit? Or A big surfer or the average Jane who has some lbs to lose. Just put on the sneakers and walk out the door. STOP… notice how that first wind on your face feels,    start walking… right foot… left foot… right foot… left foot… take a deep breath in notice how your feet feel in your shoes. notice every detail of your breath and body and everything around you as you simply walk. Connecting in nature thru a walking mediation can bring you so much peace and joy. It can change the way you view your body and your fitness. It can whisper encouraging words “I CAN do this, I CAN be fit”  It can also whisper “Calm down, you don’t have to be Hercules to get enjoyment out of your body and activity”

Don’t be intimidated to get involved, find something that you enjoy, something that you might even learn to love and start, and practice every.single.day and never ever ever give up. ;o)

Take a simple walk to get in touch with nature

Read More →