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Archive for June, 2009

State Park Sunday: Henry Cowell State Park

June 28th, 2009 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Santa Cruz County Adventures, State Park Sundays

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Felton, California

Yesterday we had the chance to ride the Roaring Camp Big Trees Railroad with some friends down to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.  Afterwards crossed over into Henry Cowell State Park and walked their loop trail through the redwoods.  We all started out a bit grouchy.  I had left my backpack  containing video camera at the beach.  Jared, my youngest was exhausted and threw a tantrum at the beginning of the path.  He and Daddy stayed behind and enjoyed the visitors center.

Soon the beauty of the redwoods started working its magic.  Along the trail there are fallen trees to hide in and little caverns carved out by wild fire at the base of others.  These hidey holes worked their magic on, Justin my ten year old.  Suddenly he started to enjoy the hike.

In the middle of the trail their is a tree with an opening big enough to accomodate several adults and children standing up.  Our party of over five children and one adult entered the tree to discover a small group of young women from Japan were already there.  They serenaded us with a beatiful Japanese song.  They wanted us to return the favor, but the kids were too bashful.

Returning to the visitor center, we discover four year old Jared happily stamping out animal paw prints.

If you find yourself in Felton, California be sure to check out this beautiful state park.  It’s perfect for camping or a hike with the kids.

For updates regarding potential California State Park closures visit the California State Parks Foundation.

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Photo Friday: Roadtrip Through My Daughter’s Eyes

June 25th, 2009 by bsmith | 8 Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

On my latest road trip I learned a valuable lesson, never leave your purse where your preschoolers can access it.  I had shoved my purse behind the center console of my SUV, only to discover that my five year old, Destiny had found my camera and taken 50+ pictures.  (Good thing it was digital!)  At first I was rather dismayed, but as I took a look, I got a fresh perspective on our 400+ mile trip from San Diego to Santa Cruz.

So here is Destiny’s Photo Essay:

Justin loved riding up front.  He talked my ear off.

Justin the Navigator

Justin the Navigator

Sights Along the Way:
Oil Wells

Oil Wells

Vineyards

Vineyards

Jared made another purse discovery, a sample of bath moisturizer.  It ended up all over him and other assorted items.
Jared's Discovery

Jared's Discovery

The Aftermath

The Aftermath

The end of the road… 
Dennis the Menace Park
Jumping Justin
Jumping Justin
Destiny on Sunshine Bridge
Destiny on Sunshine Bridge
Mommy and Jared Conquer the Train
Mommy and Jared Conquer the Train
Happy Trails.  Have a great weekend!
-Bridget                                                  
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Travel Tip Tuesday:Roadtrip Survival Guide

June 23rd, 2009 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

Well we survived our first day of our impromptu road trip up to Santa Cruz.

Ken is joining us tonight so I made the 400+ mile drive very outnumbered.  Still, it was the best road trip we have made so far.  Here were some keys to our success:

  1. Busy Kits  My friend Lorraine one of the founders of the great company My Busy Kit kindly provided me with complimentary kits to try out for our trip.  Busy kits are vinyl pouches filled with fun toys, tape measures, pony’s, toy nights, pens, scissors, tape etc.  My preschoolers were entranced for most of the trip with their treasures, giving my older son and I precious time to talk.
  2. Audio Books: I rented ten Blockbuster movies only to find that they had to be returned long before my trip was over.  Luckily, I had also made a trip to the library and picked up audiobooks.  Today we listened to most of Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary.  It had the whole car laughing at the antics of Henry and Ribsy.
  3. Justin’s custom CD’s.  These were his best yet!  We were rocking all through L.A.!
  4. GPS- We have a super cheapy one that doesn’t work the best, but it sure came in handy when I missed my turn in Salinas.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Mondays Are For Dreaming: Springtime in Montana

June 22nd, 2009 by bsmith | 4 Comments | Filed in Mondays are for Dreaming, Montana Adventures, Uncategorized
bee-and-chives

Bee and Chives

-My Brother-in-law and his family are heading off on a cross country road trip to Montana, and I must confess that I’m a little jealous.  First, because Ken’s grandmother was born there and spent her childhood in an orphanage in Missoula.  It would be great to see and touch the building where Grandma Jane grew up.  My big fantasy is to write a novel about her life.  It was an absolutely fascinating one.

Second, one of my favorite virtual friends, Jo Smith now lives in Montana and is  posting tantalizing updates about her acres of land on Facebook.  It is funny.  I have only spent time with this person face to face about twice, but sometimes I miss her so much it hurts.  It would be great to give her a hug and explore the beautiful land that she always writes about.

Still, I don’t think my clan is ready for such an ambitious road trip.  We will confine ourselves to locations within a days drive of our home this summer.  I know they will be packed with fun.

Joanne’s family are all wonderful photographers, and I asked her to share some of her photographic bounty.  The picture above sings to me of spring.  Hopefully I will be able to head east to see Montana for myself one of these years.  In the mean time, enjoy Jo’s tantalizing description of springtime in Montana:

From the Cedar Creek Gardens (that’s our place!LOL) Bill captured this bee taking pollen from the shoots on the chives.  I created a beautiful bouquet of flowers from them just a few days later.  Spring in Montana starts a bit later than other states.  We finally got the garden in Mid-May under a “green house” and just this past weekend were able to bring everything to full light without the threat of frost; although we keep an eye on temps and have plastic at the ready all summer.  I really hope all you gardeners out there are enjoying your fresh veggies and the sunshine.
Jo

Happy trails to all of you.  Jo, enjoy your Montana Summer.  Wish I could share it my friend!

-Bridget

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State Park Sunday: Fourth of July Fun @Wilder Ranch State Park

June 20th, 2009 by bsmith | 1 Comment | Filed in State Park Sundays
Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz, Ca
Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz, Ca
Our family is off on a spur of the minute trip to Santa Cruz, California next week.  I am hoping that we will linger until the Fourth of July to enjoy the festivities at Wilder Ranch State Park.  This park is a combination of historic buildings, wild spaces, and bike trails like the one featured above.  It is a magical place to spend a weekend afternoon.  I have only had the chance to visit once, but I remember that it had gigantic climbing trees that could support a whole class full of preschoolers (and indeed they did!)

These are some things that Wilder Ranch has in store for Independence Day:

  1. Old fashioned parade at 11:45 a.m. (It being hyper politically aware Santa Cruz, sufragettes are planning to attend.)
  2. Cake walk
  3. Historic Lawn Games
  4. Ice-cream cranking
  5. Live 1909 Music
  6. Ranch demonstrations like woodstove baking, black smithing, and vegetable gardening.

The picture above is available from flickr creative commons.  Many thanks to richardmasoner for posting it.

Hope you enjoyed SOS weekend.  Make sure to upload your photos to the California State Parks Foundation Facebook Page.  Click here for more info.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Photo Friday: Camp Pendleton Stables

June 19th, 2009 by bsmith | 8 Comments | Filed in San Diego Adventures, San Diego Day Trips, Uncategorized
Cow Poke Jared, Camp Pendleton Stables in Oceanside

Cow Poke Jared, Camp Pendleton Stables in Oceanside

If you are active duty military or related to someone who is you might want to consider a visit to Stepp Stables at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California.  They offer horse boarding, day camps, trail rides and other great activities.  Through my kid’s preschool we had the opportunity to attend a fieldtrip there.  Bring plenty of carrots.  The horses love the snack, almost as much as the kids love feeding it to them.

The following pictures are a testament to the resiliency of my sweet daughter and the magical dedication of her  preschool teacher.  Destiny insists on living life on her own terms at all times.  As you can see from the first picture, she didn’t want to join Jared on the trail ride because she was worried about riding the horse.  She stayed behind with her teacher, and by the time I returned with Jared she had vanished. 

Destiny's Drama

Destiny's Drama

A few minutes later I was greeted by this beautiful sight:
Destiny's Triumph

Destiny's Triumph

 Ever heard of Take Your Daughter to Work Day?  Well, if you live in California this should be take your dad to a California State Park Weekend.  Learn more about SOS weekend at the California State Parks Foundation website. 

Check out Delicious Baby for more great Photo Friday Posts to get your travel juices flowing. Debbie’s post on “Babies First Road Trip” is pretty adorable.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Family Adventure Tip Tuesday:Bring Life Jackets

June 15th, 2009 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

 

ready-for-a-swim-golden-nugget-pool-las-vegas3

Although I am a strong believer in kids learning to swim independently, my little guys are not quite there yet.  With two under six, life jackets give me a  extra feeling of security and  them a lot more independence.  I still keep a close eye on them , but we all enjoy ourselves more while they are wearing their life jackets.  My daughter even swims laps across the pool with me.

destiny-shows-off-golden-nugget-pool-las-vegas

On a houseboat trip my son Justin, who was five, had a blast wearing his life jacket and sliding off the boat, then swimming around in the lake.  He was a good swimmer, but the life jacket helped him to have the endurance to enjoy himself for a few more laps.

When we are at home in our own pool or at a pool with excellent lifeguard supervision we do a lot of practice without the life jackets.  For a hotel pool or water park, however,  life jackets can be the ticket to fun and a little peace of mind.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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State Park Sunday: Emerald Bay State Park, Lake Tahoe California

June 13th, 2009 by bsmith | 4 Comments | Filed in State Park Sundays
Emerald Bay by Lil' Bear

Emerald Bay by Lil' Bear

 

Welcome to the very first State Park Sunday at Family Adventure Guidebooks.  California State Parks and Beaches are facing closure.   This weekly feature is designed to encourage California residents and visitors to advocate for the parks that contribute so much to our lives and the California economy.

Emerald Bay State Park in Lake Tahoe, California is the source of many childhood memories.   As a young child I visited the Vikingsholm mansion, an elaborate Scandinavian inspired summer home located within the park.  The ornate Scandinavian designs with carvings and flowers inspired the way my family decorated my own play house at home.  My mom tacked boards along the roof line, and I had fun decorating them with colorful flowers.

As a middle school student I returned to Emerald Bay on a YMCA excursion.  My posse of giggling adolescent girls spread out lake side on their towels.  I will never forget the boom box playing “California Girls” by the Beach Boys.  That trip among girls who wore eye shadow and lip synced to Madonna around the campfire was my first glimpse at life as a teenager.

I give my own little guys the opportunity to explore Emerald Bay and make their own childhood memories.  I hope we can find our way to the island at the center of the lake and explore the stone castle tea house that captured my imagination as a child.  My mom’s family was from the Sierra town of Auburn, so we would have some family history to explore as well.  I’m worried that the impending closure of Emerald BayState Park will mean that I won’t have the opportunity to make this trip.

For more information about what you can do to advocate for California State Parks during this challenging economic times visit  The California State Parks Foundation .  Don’t forget to pay a visit to a local state park by next Sunday.  Wear green, have your photo taken with a sign downloaded from the park foundations SOS website and upload it.  Let’s let the California Legislature know  that we’re serious about preserving our state parks.

The above photo of Emerald Bay was taken by Lil’ Bear and is available on Flicker Creative Commons.  Check out her amazing photos.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

 

 

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Photo Friday: South Carlsbad State Beach

June 11th, 2009 by bsmith | 8 Comments | Filed in Outdoor Adventures, San Diego Beaches, San Diego Day Trips, San Diego State Parks, State Park Sundays

 

Beach Cleanup, South Carlsbad State Beach, Carlsbad, Ca

Beach Cleanup, South Carlsbad State Beach, Carlsbad, Ca

Dear Readers,

Let me introduce you to my soul place here in Carlsbad.  South Carlsbad State Beach is the site of many wonderful family memories. This is where Justin learned to boogie board, and Ken learned to surf.  When we first arrived at this beach three years ago, Destiny was too timid to get anywhere near the water.  Now, on a good day, she’ll splash and be dragged along on a boogie board.

It’s where we bring our dear friends from Santa Cruz when they come to visit.  All the Northern California folk savor the warm water.  We break out the boogie boards and teach the kids to ride the waves.

On summer evenings our family heads down to the South Carlsbad State Beach to picnic and watch the sunset.  Every anniversary Ken and I head to the beach for burritos and boogie boarding until the sun goes down.

This beach is special to our family.  It is our beach and we care for it by packing our own trash and sometimes other people’s.  Twice a year we join our fellow Cub Scouts in a huge beach cleanup.  Happily so many people treasure this beach, that there is usually not much trash to find.

jared-explores-logs-south-carlsbad-state-beach

Exploring the Logs, South Carlsbad State Beach, Carlsbad, Ca

All this may be changing at the end of the summer.  Due to budget cuts, South Carlsbad and many other state beaches and state parks are on a closure list .  Such closures be devastating on a personal level for the citizens of Carlsbad and other local communities.  It will also have a significant impact on tourism.  According to a  recent Sacramento State study California State Parks generates $300 million dollars in California sales tax for “park related expenditures”.    

The budget crisis is very grave here in California.  The Governor and Legislature have tough decisions to make that will have a significant impact on health, human services, and education.  Although State Parks are very important to me and my family, I feel somewhat guilty advocating for them, when there is so much need elsewhere.  Recently , however, I read a great idea from the  California State Parks Foundation that would free up some money in the budget, keep the parks open, and even promote in state tourism.  Last spring, in the midst of the last round of budget battles the foundation proposed the implementation of a California State Access Pass  program.  In exchange for a $10 fee on the California vehicle tax, all vehicles with valid California license plates would receive free admission  and parking at most California State Parks.  The fee would raise $282 million for the State Parks and the current allocation for the parks in the budget would be returned to the General Fund for the next four years in order to assist the State of California in resolving other budget concerns.

What can we do to avert this crisis?

Here are some steps that I have taken so far:

  • Signed the California State Parks Foundation Petition .
  • Joined the California States Parks Foundation Facebook Group as well as my friend Jade’s  Facebook Group Families for California State Parks.
  • E-mailed my City Council to express my concern regarding this issue and educate them about the California State Park Access Pass proposal.
  • Planned  to participate in Save Our State Parks Weekend.  We will head to Carlsbad State Beach on or before the weekend of June 20th and take pictures/ film a Flip video of my family holding the Save Our State Parks sign.   I’ll upload the pictures to the CSPF as well as my blog.

I am also starting a regular feature on my blog to raise awareness entitled State Park Sundays.  Every Sunday I hope to feature a profile of a different California State Park.  It’s a big project and I would love some help.  Spread the word about State Park Sundays.  I also welcome guest blogs about your favorite California State Park.  Let’s make sure that Californians appreciate the treasure that they have before its gone.

Thanks for your patience with my very word intensive Photo Friday Post.  For more Photo Friday Fun check in with my friend Delicious Baby.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Family Adventure Tip Tuesday: Lego Star Wars Weekend

June 9th, 2009 by bsmith | 4 Comments | Filed in Family Travel, Legoland, Travel Tips
Justin is Captured by a Storm Trooper

Justin is Captured by a Storm Trooper

When you are planning a visit to a theme park, it is worth checking out special events.  Such outings can transform a theme park visit into something magical.  One of my all time favorite theme park special events is Lego Star Wars weekend which is happening this Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5pm at Legoland, California.  Justin is definitely going with friends, and I’m hoping to make it there for a little while as well.

What make this event so special is that it turns a park that is normally geared to the younger set into a wonderland for big kids.  Elaborate Lego models constructed by kids and adults are displayed at the entrance.  You can also particpate in a  bunch of fun events including the droid scavenger hunt, costume contests and trivia contests.  The new X-Box play area is opening this weekend so I’m sure that there will be some Lego Starwars video game action as well. 

Justin and Jared Take a Break from their Droid Hunt

Justin and Jared Take a Break from Their Droid Hunt

One of the best parts of the weekend is that the whole park is teeming with  the 501st Legion of storm troopers and other costumed characters.  Impromptu battles between good and evil break out all over the park.  Kids have fun keeping an eye out for their favorite characters. Justin was on a Commander Cody hunt last year.  The storm troopers are very generous about posing for pictures so it’s easy to get some great shots or your Lego Star Wars Weekend adventures.

Captured by the Dark Side, Lego Star Wars Weekend

Captured by the Dark Side, Lego Star Wars Weekend

 May the force be with you wherever you go this weekend!  If you hit Legoland  this weekend keep an eye out for me and the boys.  (Destiny finds Storm Troopers rather scary, so she will be staying home.)

For more great Legoland special events check out my Unauthorized Legoland Guidebook .

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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