Family Adventure Guidebooks Photo Journalist in Training, Justin Smith
This post is made possible by one of the hansomest young photographers I know, my son Justin Smith, age 12. I did not join him on this outing. Although this garden really brings out the best in kids who are able to walk quietly and use their inside voices, it is not appropriate for preschoolers, toddlers and even exuberant kindergarteners. Jared and I stayed home! Recently my seven year old daughter joined my mom for a trip to the Self Realization Temple Meditation Garden. It was a rite of passage for Destiny that she was able to enjoy the garden in a quiet and mature manner, and we lavished her with praise. Looking forward to that hopefully not so far off day, when the entire family can enjoy this garden. In the mean time I live vicariously through Justin’s gorgeous photos:
Cactus in Bloom, Self Realization Temple Garden Encinitas
Hot Dog Roasters, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
I did not grow up in a family of campers, but I have always loved the outdoors. Lucky for me my parents found a way that I could enjoy camping while they stayed in the comfort of their own beds. I spent my summers on YMCA campouts led by caring enthusiastic volunteers who loved to camp. These adventures were my first introduction to camping in California’s diverse state parks. I had the chance to visit Bodie State Historic Park and Emerald Bay State Park in Lake Tahoe. I rode horses, went river rafting, and even houseboated down the Sacramento Delta. On each of these adventures I learned a few new colorful swear words from my peers (sorry that I briefly brought them home, Mom and Dad). Much more importantly my experiences with the YMCA inspired my love of travel, my appreciation of the natural world, and my devotion to environmental advocacy. Trying adventure sports like waterskiing and river rafting increased my confidence as I mastered new tasks that were hard. These adventures also deepened my spirtuality. The first time I concretely felt the presence of God was sitting on a boulder watching the sunrise during a YMCA camp out.
As a mom I want to give my kids the gift of similiar experiences. I know that time spent in the outdoors will help them to learn and grow in ways that I will never truly understand. I want them to learn how to be self sufficient, to set up their own tents and cook their own food. Even though it is uncomfortable and exhausting for us to sleep together tucked in a single tent, I want them to have that experience as well. Frankly, I want them to be able to sleep anywhere under any conditions so that some day they can travel the world learning about other cultures points of view without always staying in the most comfortable American based hotels.
In theory, this is what I want for my family. In practice camping can be very tough, especially with a little one who thrives on routine and enjoys the unique smell of his own mattress as he lulls himself to sleep. That’s how I found myself in a tent in the middle of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Parkwith two wailing children wondering if my commitment to giving my kids camping experiences was worth it. At the time I had my doubts, but with the benefit of hindsight it was worth every moment of adversity. Here are a few of the high points of camping alone with kids:
Hiker Boys, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Justin, my oldest showed off the amazing skills he has gained through his involvement with Boy Scouts. He lit all the campfires and set up our tent. He loaded up a heavy backpack and headed out on a hike. He was a shoulder to cry on when things got tough.
Destiny and Friend ,Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
We spent our first night camping with my amazing friend Joellen and her two kids. It was the first camping experience for the three of them. My kids had so much fun sharing their wealth of camping knowledge.
Destiny and Friend, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
The boys roasted hot dogs and the girls cuddled with their stuffed animals in the tent.
I had the chance to see that Gabriel, Justin’s best friend from kindergarten had grown into a young man. The two boys headed off for a hike in the redwoods with Gabriel’s dad. Gabriel’s mom helped keep Destiny entertained as I talked Jared down from a post nap tantrum.
A Tired Jared at the End of His Hike, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Joellen and I took a long “big kid hike” with one four year old, two five year olds, one six year old, and one eleven year old. We survived thanks to walking sticks, snacks, and a sense of humor.
Will I go again? You bet! Joellen and I are already planning a campout for summer 2011 and we are inviting more friends to join us. But here’s a thing, with the budget chaos here in California local state parks like Henry Cowell may not be open for camping adventures in 2011. If you live in California you can make a difference by voting yes on Proposition 21. Not only will you keep state park campgrounds open for camping adventures, you will also get unlimited day use parking at most Calfornia State Parks. Now that’s a travel bargain!
Family Adventure Guidebooks is so excited to be participating in the Trekaroo Spotlight Thursday Blog Roundup, Save Our State Parks edition. Please support my fellow travel bloggers by paying them a visit or even adding an account of your own state park adventures. Most importantly tell your friends about proposition 21 so all of our kids can enjoy camping in California State Parks.
Every year Cub Scout Camp is held at the Antique Steam Engine Museum in Vista, California. As you will see, it’s not exactly a museum, more like a collection of old steam engines, farm equipment, model trains, etc. Visiting always reminds me of long quiet summer days visiting my uncle in Minnesota. Old farm tractors and combines were scattered at the edge of the fields throughout his farm. I loved to find a good book, and sit for a while just enjoying the peace and quiet. Unfortunately at the Antique Steam Engine Museum you are not allowed to sit on the machines, but city kids won’t know what they’re missing.
Other features of this unique museum:
One of those fun metal merry go rounds that we enjoyed at the park when we were kids. Jared spun on this for hours.
Old Fashioned Merry Go Round, Vista, Ca
A short track miniature railroad and an excellent model railroad museum
A one room school house.
A blacksmith shop.
Call to find out about special events. Not every part of the museum is open every day.
Family Adventure Guidebooks participates in Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday Blog Roundup. Check out some more great travel posts here.
Beach Cleanup, South Carlsbad State Beach, Carlsbad, Ca
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.
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.
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.
If you are planning to visit the Legoland theme park in Carlsbad, California, this book contains all the information you need to make the most of your family adventure. The book also includes information about other area attractions, local restaurants and hotels.
Bridget Smith, mom of three, loves to blog about everyday adventures. Her mission is to change the world; one kid, one destination, one effortless trip, one overworked mom, one frazzled dad... one day at a time! Come and join her.