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Twenty Dollar Discount Tickets to LEGOLAND and a Chance to Support the Schools-Best Bargain Ever!

April 25th, 2012 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Legoland, Legoland bargains, Legoland Discounts, Uncategorized

As you know LEGOLAND is one of my favorite places on the planet, so I wanted to share with you an excellent way to visit LEGOLAND at a discount and to support the Carlsbad City Schools.    This Saturday April 28th LEGOLAND and the Carlsbad Educational Foundation are sponsoring a special fundraiser from 1-9 pm.  For only $20 you can enjoy an afternoon and evening at LEGOLAND California with your family.  There will be special performances by Carlsbad area students for you to enjoy.  We are unable to go this year due to Destiny’s first communion, but we have gone in previous years and it has been really fun.  Be ready to use all your great LEGOLAND strategies to avoid the crowds.

This situation in Carlsbad schools is pretty dire, they are raising class size to levels that seem too big to let the kids move around the classroom.  There is talk about cutting special education.  We are losing some great teachers, which is a tragedy.  I have found Pacific Rim teachers to be the best I have ever worked with.  Carlsbad schools need your support and you can have a blast helping out.

I also want to give an extra shout out to the Carlsbad Educational Foundation.  I am proud to say that Ken’s Uncle Jay assisted in founding this organization many years ago.  They do an amazing  job of fundraising that provides community service while raising money to benefit students.  My son spent a year in their kindergarten daycare program.  The teachers were so professional and kind.  The proceeds from tuition went to the foundation.  If you need quality child care in Carlsbad for school age children, I would highly recommend CEF’s Kids Care program.

This summer the kids will be participating in some CEF Day Camps as well.  Once again my kids will have quality care and opportunities to learn and grow (everything from Spanish, to Art, to Junior Astronaut camp).

If you are interested in attending Celebrate Carlsbad Day you click on the Carlsbad Educational Foundation Website.  It looks very easy to order tickets.

Happy Trails,


P.S. Thanks  to Stacey at San Diego Bargain Mama for  her tireless work on behalf of the Carlsbad Schools.



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California State Park Worth Saving: Palomar Mountain State Park

October 28th, 2011 by bsmith | 4 Comments | Filed in California State Parks


A Peek at Palomar Mountain State Park, San Diego California

At the end of our summer adventures, our family discovered one of the jewels of San Diego County.  Palomar Mountain State Park is a an world away from the hustle and bustle of  San Diego.  It sits at one of the highest points in San Diego County and one of the real treats of our trip was visiting the former fire lookout and surveying San Diego below us.  The kids also learned a lot about lives of children who lived at the fire lookout station.  Sounds like it was lots of fun.


View from Palomar Mountain State Park

The Palomar Mountain Rangers at this park were fantastic.  They lead us on a very informative hike where the kids got to sample a number of different berries.  Palomar Mountain has amazing terrain,  it has the feel of Tahoe, and yet it is minutes away from the desert.  We camped among the oak trees, yet found ourselves hiking among beautiful towering trees and past running streams surrounded by greenery.  There is  also a lake that we will have to explore when we return (If we can, the park is scheduled to close starting next July as part of California budget cuts).


Destiny and her new friend the Palomar Mountain Ranger

Palomar Mountain State Park is a great example of why the state parks on the closure list are worth fighting for.  It has a very dedicated group of rangers and retiree volunteer camp hosts who work hard to welcome and support state park visitors.  The Ranger reported to me that the campgrounds are booked most summer weekends, and quite full during the summer weekdays as well.  They get many campers on autumn weekends as well.  This is all revenue that will be lost by the park closure.  In addition wild fire is a big concern in San Diego county, and a park that lacks visitors and vigilant caretakers will be make it vulnerable to vandalism, squatters, and other illegal activity that could lead to a forest fire.


Jared Takes a Break from the Junior Ranger Hike, Palomar Mt State Park

If you would like to help fight the closure of Palomar Mountain and other precious California State Parks the California State Parks Foundation is a very good resource.

Realizing that even if the park is saved, it will continue to operate with limited resources concerned citizens have also founded Friends of Palomar State Park.

Spread the word about the state park closures and the impact that they will have on your community.  Also, be sure to visit before July.  This often overlooked San Diego state park is worth exploring.

Happy Trails,


PS. Family Adventure  Guidebooks participates in Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday


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California’s State Park Heroes: Ms. Vicki, Junior Ranger Wrangler

October 7th, 2011 by bsmith | 3 Comments | Filed in Uncategorized


Destiny and Jared with the Best State Park Ranger Ever, Ms Vicki Doheny State Beach


Our family was lucky enough to enjoy a “State Park Summer”.  We camped at three different California State Parks as well as enjoying our local state beach.  California’s state parks are truly a must visit for families.  Many have a junior ranger program that teaches kids about the state park and the ecosystems within it.

Ms. Vicki, a tireless advocate for California State Parks, runs the Junior Ranger Program at Doheny State Beach.  Her five day series of lessons on “misunderstood” animals was the highlight of our trip to Doheny.  The kids dissected owl pellets, identified spiders surrounding the campfire area, and observed a real snake!  Later our family took a field trip to the butterfly garden and found some owl pellets that we gave to Ms. Vicki to share with future campers.  My kids are still sharing what Ms. Vicki taught them with their friends and teachers.


Ms. Vicki's Snake Lesson, Doheny State Beach

Ms. Vicki has her groupies.  Families return year after year to camp and attend her junior ranger workshops.  Local homeschoolers don’t miss a week of her talks.  What makes Vicki’s program unique, and one of my very favorite in the state park system,  is that she welcomes kids of all ages to her talks and rewards junior for their hard work and learning no matter what their age.  Most California state park junior ranger programs start at age 7, a policy that make it very difficult for our family since we have 6, 7, and 12.

Thanks for your hard work Ms. Vicki!  You made our stay at Doheny State Beach unforgettable!

Happy Trails,

Bridget (Ms. Vicki Groupie)

P.S. Donheny State Beach will be a part of California for years to come, but other state parks are scheduled to be closed next summer due to budget cuts.  Visit Folks4Parks or the California State Parks Foundation for more information and ideas on how you can help.

See this post on Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday.


Photo Friday: Feeding the Tarpon at Robbies, Islamorada, Florida Keys

July 8th, 2011 by bsmith | 3 Comments | Filed in Florida Adventures, Florida Family Travel, Florida With Kids

Robbie's Marina Florida Keys

When I checked in at the Islander at Islamorada, the kind desk clerk suggested that our family visit nearby Robbie’s Marina to feed the tarpon.   Robbie’s is a funky marina, restaurant, and flea market in Islamorada.  The kids had fun trying to feed the tarpon.  Justin enjoyed holding the bait up high and watching these giant fish leap out of the water.  The little guys and I were content to drop some bait in the water and watch the frenzy ensue. 

Justin Feeding the Tarpon, Robbie's Marina Islamorada


As we headed to the pier, we passed by some hungry pelicans.

Pelican, Robbie's Marina Islamorada

  The highlight of the adventure for Jared was being able to pick out a popsicle.  I enjoyed the wall decorations of hundreds of sunglasses, key chains, etc. that had presumably dropped into the water as folks fed the tarpon.

Picking out a popsicle. Robbie's Islamorada

If you go, be sure to bring some hand sanitizer.  Robbie’s idea of post tarpon feeding cleanup is a bucket of soapy water!

Happy Trails!


Family Adventure Guidebooks is participating in Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday Blog Roundup.


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Family Travel Tips: Summer in the Florida Keys and West Palm Beach

July 4th, 2011 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in Family Travel, Florida With Kids, Travel Tips

We are flying home on the Fourth of July.  Exhausted from a week of non-stop fun in Florida.    Here are a few travel tips to share if a Florida adventure is in your summer plans.

1) Sunscreen from head to toe.  Rash guards are a must.  Funny how much more powerful that Florida sun is, even for this California girl!

2)  Bug Repellent from day one…especially in the Florida Keys!  We are still scratching the bites on the airplane ride home.

3) Plan for rain, thunder, and lightening.  In some situations you can just ignore the rain, but more than once our aquatic adventures were cut short due to the threat of lightening.  Have a back up plan (We found a local bowling alley to while away a rainy afternoon)

4) Expect to do a lot of driving, especially in the Florida Keys.  It took us two and half hours to drive from Key West to Key Largo after dark.  (The speed limit goes down after dark.)

5)  Pick a family friendly home base with a great pool   We enjoyed our stays at  the Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort in Key Largo  and the Islander Resort  in Islamorada.  Both resorts had beach access, so we could wake up and go snorkeling and also  swim in thehotel  pool until bed time.


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Photo Friday: Eaten by an Alligator, Loxahatchee Florida

June 30th, 2011 by bsmith | 4 Comments | Filed in Family Travel, Florida With Kids, Photo Friday


Justin Gets Eaten Loxahatchee Florida


As we reach the mid point of our Florida adventures,  I wanted to share one of my favorite pictures so far.  Our family took an air boat ride at the Loxahatchee  National Wildlife Refuge.  After our tour, we took a few minutes to explore the tour company’s museum.  Destiny was a bit hesitant to pose, but twelve year old Justin embraced the opportunity.

Happy Trails,


Visit Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday for more great travel photos.


Move It Monday: The Fitness Room is My Friend

June 27th, 2011 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

Until last winter, I had never seen the inside of a hotel fitness room.  With three kids, I often felt to exhausted at the end of the day to go work out. Then, on a ski trip to Mount Charleston in February, my husband invited me to join him for his early morning work out.    After the first day I was a fitness room convert.

Let’s face it.  Traveling with kids is very stressful.  You are always busy making sure everyone is happy and well fed.  The next meltdown may be just moments away.  You need to make sure they’re walking at all times in those hotel corridors, not poking and arguing in the back seat as Daddy navigates a new town, and using their inside voices in restaurants so they don’t disturb the  patrons at the next table. 

A trip to the fitness room gives me  a chance to get away and build up the adrenaline high I  need to lift my spirits and get my cheerful mommy mojo back.  On that ski trip I discoverd an added bonus, no sore muscles after a day of skiing!  I can also burn off a few calories after all that yummy vacation food!

Here are some great discoveries I made about hotel fitness rooms:

  • They are underutilized, especially at night.  Often I am working out by myself.
  • They have TVs so if you have to bring the kids, they can hang out and watch Nickelodeon. while you use the treadmill.
  • Nice people leave their magazines and newspapers so there is always something good to read.
  • The nicer hotels offer filtered water, so it’s not necessary to BYOB.

Off for a day of Florida adventures and looking forward to a fitness room getaway tonight!

Happy Trails,



Photo Friday: Bull Riding Adventures in Auburn, California

June 24th, 2011 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

It’s funny how a simple park outing can lead to fun and dramatic adventures.  Our last night in Auburn, Mom and I planned a low key outing to let the kids blow off some steam.  We decided to visit Auburn Regional Park, one of my childhood favorites.  The park has a great play structure and a lake complete will Canadian geese.  On this evening, however,  Auburn residents were enjoying the annual Party in the Park.  Activities  included a live concert,  food and educational booths, and an amazing kids play zone filled with giant bounce house slides, a climbing wall, and a bucking bronco.

The kids were excited about the Kids Zone, but I only had a $24 in my wallet and passes for three would cost $30.  I planned to just buy a few tickets, but the company running the Kids Zone  took pity on me and sold me three wrist bands for that price.  While the little kids checked out the jump houses with Nana, Justin took on the bull riding booth.  Here are the results:

Auburn is a family friendly town with lots of warmth and personality.  We can hardly wait to go back!

Happy Trails,


Stop by Delicious Baby for more Travel Photo Adventures.


Photo Friday: Cherry Delight, Auburn Drug Company, Auburn California

June 17th, 2011 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

Destiny Enjoys Her Cherry Delight at the Auburn Drug Company, Auburn California

 One of my favorite childhood travel memories was  visiting the soda fountain at Widman’s Candy Company  in Crookston Minnesota.  Well, Crookston is a bit far from Southern California, so I had to settle for the next best thing.  On our Gold Country road trip, my mom treated us to cherry delights and Irish sodas at the Auburn Drug Company  in her hometown of Auburn, California.

Mom fondly recalled after school treats at the marble soda counter of the Auburn Drug Company.  At a quarter,  the Irish sodas were too expensive unless it was a special occasion so my mom would order a  lime phosphate for a dime  instead. 

Jared Delights in His Ice Cream Sundae, Auburn Drug Company, Auburn California

The prices are higher, but the marble soda counter remains, and the frozen treats are as delicious as Mom remembers them.  The kids loved the soda fountain experience so much we wil be returning this afternoon!

Nana and Her Irish Soda, Auburn Drug Company, Auburn California

If you stop by Auburn Drugs on a Gold Country road trip, be sure to try the Irish Soda.  The secret recipe has been passed on by generations of pharmacists.  I’m looking forward to mine.

Happy Trails,


This post is feature on Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday Blog Roundup.


The Smith Family Adventures: California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento

June 16th, 2011 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Sacramento Adventures, Sacramento Family Travel

Destiny and Jared Show off their Label Creations@ California State Railroad Museum

Yesterday the Smith Family visited the California  State Railroad Museum in Sacramento California.  I have fond memories of visiting this museum with my four year old train fan Justin.  The little engineers cap we bought him was worn by three Smith kids before being passed on to a friend of ours.  At the time, Justin was fascinated by the Thomas Trains upstairs, but also enjoyed the full sized train exhibits.

Jared, Jr. Thomas the Tank Engine Engineer 2011, California State Railroad Museum

Eight years later Justin returned with his  brother and sister in tow.  The Thomas the Train play area was still a big hit with every Smith kid.  We spent about half of our time in that area.

Twelve Year Old Justin's View, California State Railroad Museum Sacramento

Twelve Year Old Justin's View, California State Railroad Museum Sacramento

This Sacramento Road Trip is focused on our family’s rich history.  My Dad’s grandfather,  Frank McGarrity was a train engineer as was my Mom’s Uncle Frank. (Ironic,  isn’t it? Two engineers named Frank on two different sides of the continent)  This engine was the same kind driven by my Great Grandfather Frank at the turn of the century.

Great Grandfather Frank's Engine, California State Railroad Museum Sacramento

One of the most kid friendly activities at the museum was about those beautiful labels that they put on the side of fruit crates.  Tucked away in a corner, this exhibit covers the fruit growing and packing industries which played an important role in our family’s history.  My mom worked as a peach packer one summer,  Destiny’s great grandma works for a Watsonville fruit cannery, and my Dad’s cousin Jack was an orange rancher.  The kids enjoyed learning important role that trains play in moving California fruit across the country.  They also had a chance to use a magnet board to make their own colorful fruit crate labels.  What an ingenious activity!

Destiny's Fruit Variety Label, California State Railroad Museum Sacramento.

Jared Prouldly Displays His Fruit Label, California State Railroad Museum Sacramento

The kids enjoyed walking through a variety of real train cars from different periods of history.  The mail car and the train kitchen was particularly impressive.

Mail Car, California State Railroad Museum Sacramento

Kitchen Car, California Train Museum Sacramento

The California State Railroad Museum is a must visit Sacramento attraction for kids of all ages.  Be sure it has a spot on your family’s itinerary.

Happy Trails,


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