Suffragettes at Fourth of July Parade, Wilder Ranch State Historic Park
One of the things I love about state and national historic parks is that they serve as a tangible reminder of our nations colorful and sometimes bitter history. I also appreciate the many dedicated rangers and docents who make history come alive for their visitors. In 2009, I was lucky to attend a Fourth of July Celebration at Wilder Ranch State Historic Park in Santa Cruz, California. A group of dedicated volunteers ranging from high school students to retired teachers made history come alive for their visitors at this annual event.
One of the highlights that will always stay with me was a Fourth of July Parade led by a group of suffragettes whose ages ranged from 6-69. Their presence was a poignant reminder of the reality that when my grandmothers were youngsters in 1909, women could not vote. The struggles of these brave suffragettes, their hunger for the vote, makes our freedom to choose our elected officials at the ballot box possible. Because of their sacrifice, voting is a responsibility that I take very seriously. I expect those running for public office to do the same.
This election day all California voters have the ability to go to the polls and to vote for Proposition 21 which will keep state parks like Wilder Ranch open. The passage of this proposition would secure the future of the California’s state parks and give all Californians with registered vehicles the opportunity to explore California’s great historic parks.
This weekend take a minute to honor these dedicated State Park volunteers by sharing the news about Prop 21 with your friends and family. Blog about it, retweet it, post info on Facebook. Together we can make a difference.
P.S. Coleen Lanin of Travel Mamas has a nice post up about two state parks that I really must visit, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Torrey Pines State Park. Pay her a visit to find out about her adventures in two very different parts of California.
P.P.S. Thanks to Debbie at Delicious Baby. She doesn’t even live in California, but she has dedicated her Photo Friday blog round up to state parks posts this week. I love the pictures that are up so far. They reflect the diversity of California’s State Park system. Debbie’s Photo Fridays are a great way to share your favorite travel pictures with the world. If you blog, stop by and add a post and photo about your favorite state park today.
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.
With three kids and the price of airfare, we tend to stick close to home for many of our vacations. That doesn’t mean we spend all our time at Disneyland, however. There are lots of fun ways for families to enjoy their California vacations. Here are some of our favorites from North to South.
View from the Train, Train Town Sonoma
Picnic in the Sonoma Plaza: This was one of my family’s favorite day trips as a child. Last summer I returned with my kids and am happy to say it continues to be very fun. Grab a picnic from a local gourmet deli and play at the Children’s Playground.
Ride a train at Train Town: Admission is affordable and the ride on the miniature train is perfect for all ages. You stop to take on water at a kid sized town that the little ones enjoy exploring.
US Pampanito, Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco California
San Francisco Adventures
Visit Fisherman’s Wharf Play vintage games at the Musee Mechanique and take an audio tour of the USS Pampanito Submarine.
Explore the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park This National Historic Park has a cheap entrance fee and plenty of big vessels to explore. They also have a wide assortment of tours and kids programs.
Roaring Camp Railroads, Santa Cruz, California
Santa Cruz Adventures
Ride a Train Through the Redwoods Roaring Camp provides old fashioned family fun. You can ride a steam train through the redwoods or catch a diesel down to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
Ride the Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk This is my favorite roller coaster in the world. It’s more than 100 years old and you can catch a glimpse off the ocean and the town of Santa Cruz as you zoom along.
Build and Test at LEGOLAND California Carlsbad, California is a charming family oriented beach town with a great family attraction. Legoland California is an interactive theme park for young children. The Sea Life Aquarium and the new LEGO themed Water Park give families more reasons to visit.
Play at the Flower Fields. Unfortunately the Flower Fields have finished their season, but if you return next spring, you will be awed by the fields of flowers. Kid’s enjoy a quaint Santa’s Village themed playground.
Soar Over the San Diego Zoo
San Diego Adventures
Go on Safari at the San Diego Zoo. It may be clique, but a visit to the world famous San Diego Zoo is a must see for family travelers. Keep an eye out for The Unauthorized Guide to the San Diego Zoo releasing later this year.
Stop by Cousin’s Candy in Old Town. Old Town San Diego is a great location for family adventure. Kids enjoy visiting the old buildings and learning about life in old San Diego. The highlight of your trip will be the trip to this old fashioned candy store- trust me .
PS “I wrote this blog post while participating in the Williamsburg Tourism and TwitterMoms blogging program for a chance to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here .
A trip to the park with Jared today reminded me that park playgrounds are not just for kids. Usually I just sit back on a bench and relax, but one of my goals for this new year is to get moving every day. With appointments and homework supervision I knew I wasn’t going to find an opportunity to walk the dog or get some other form of exercise.
There was not a judgemental grownup in sight at the deserted Leo Mullen park in Encinitas, so I seized the moment and started swinging on the swing. Before I knew it I was climbing ladders, joggy across the jumpy bridge and sliding down the slides. My heart was beating fast, and I even worked up a little bit of a sweat. Best of all Jared described this as “the best park day ever!”. I like to think this had more to do with Mom’s participation and less to do with the ordinary play equipment pictured here:
Leo Mullen Park, Encinitas
Looking back at my files, I realized this wasn’t the first time that the Smith grownups have enjoyed a park work out. Here are some pictures of my husband Ken enjoying Louden Nelson Park during our Santa Cruz vacation.
Ken and Justin go for a Spin, Louden Nelson Park, Santa Cruz, Ca
So next time you’re on vacation find a park and hit the monkey bars. You’ll build some muscle and your kids will have a blast.
As summer comes to an end, I start thinking about Elephant Seals. At Ano Nuevo State Park, just North of Santa Cruz California you will find the largest elephant seal breeding colony in the world. Starting in mid December you can participate in guided public walks. Tickets for this amazing experience go on sale October 20th and apparently the walks fill up quickly so mark your calendars! They even have a live web camera set up for those of us who won’t be heading up North this winter.
If you visit outside of the tour season, you will need to get a visitor’s permit to visit the wildlife viewing area. See more info here.
I don’t think I’ll be in Santa Cruz this winter. Still, if this amazing park stays open, I will definitely have to gather the kids around the laptop, and check out the web cam. Perhaps when we make our annual pilgrimage to Santa Cruz next year, we will get visitor permits and try to observe the seals molting.
Every Sunday, Family Adventure Guidebooks is featuring a different California State Park in order to call attention to the potential State Park closures that will be happening after Labor Day. The California State Parks Foundation is organizing I Heart State Parks actions throughout the state over Labor Day Weekend. For more information and to learn how to organize your own event click here.
If you would like to do a State Park Sunday guest blog or just contribute a photo of a California State Park, please leave a comment below.
PS The beautiful photo is provided by bike4freedom2 under a Flickr Creative Commons License
It was Day 8 of our Santa Cruz adventure. Due to circumstances mostly beyond my control I needed a place to eat dinner at 6:45 pm. The kids were cranky and exhausted. My husband was out eating with friends. I was desperately seeking a place that was so entertaining that the little ones would behave themselves well enough that we wouldn’t be kicked out!
I found my oasis in the town of Capitola, California. I headed to the Train Place Deli hoping that the mesmorizing sight of model trains would calm my rowdy crew. Well, as you can see from the pictures below, the kids were still pretty rowdy, but the gracious service and fascinating trains did put everyone in a better mood.
Tired, but Happy at the Train Place Deli
The hardworking owners of the Train Place Deli welcomed us fifteen minutes before closing, patiently took my children’s order, (A five year old can be pretty undecided at 7pm), and even treated us to some extra cookies. My Italian Special was delicious and included: a huge salami sandwich, pasta salad, and a drink. Each kids meal came with a big cookie which made everyone happy.
Yummy Treats at the Train Place Deli
Then of course there are the trains. Half the deli is filled with elaborate model trains that run throughout your visit. Take a look:
All Aboard at the Train Place Deli
Thomas Steams Along at the Train Place Deli
If you are looking for more train adventures, this week we also took the beach train at Roaring Camp in Felton, Ca and visited Sonoma’s Traintown a very affordable train adventure.
Family Adventure Guidebooks participates in the Photo Friday Blog Roundup. Check out more fun travel photos here.
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.
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.