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Posts Tagged ‘California State Parks’

State Park Thursday: Celebrating California’s Underwater Parks at the Sea Life Aquarium and Beyond

January 13th, 2011 by bsmith | 1 Comment | Filed in California State Parks, Sea Life Aquarium, Uncategorized

A little known fact about California’s State Parks is that our state has several state parks that are underwater!  These have been set up to preserve the ecological and cultural heritage of California’s marine areas.  Once California’s Coastline was teaming with sea life and our economy benefited from it.  Whether sardines in Monterey or California lobsters in San Diego, the fisherman reaped the bounty of California’s waters.  A few months ago I had the opportunity to view a You Tube lecture by UC  San Diego Researcher Dr. Milton Saier on “Our Oceans: a History of San Diego Sea Life”.  The entire lecture is twenty minutes, but even in the first few minutes Saier gives a powerful description of the tremendous impact that over fishing has had on the San Diego Bay.

These protected park areas also include historical artifacts like shipwrecks and Native American midden sites.  Divers  are encourage to respectfully  explore these underwater historical wonders.  Look, but don’t touch!

California’s Underwater Parks are protected areas for fragile marine ecosystems.  Visitors can still swim, surf, and dive in these areas, but fishing may be restricted.  If you visit and plan to fish be sure to research  the rules of that particular area.  Families should take care to respect these protected marine  areas by  observing the animals without removing them from tidepools , staying off the dunes, respecting historical sites, and packing their trash.

Building a Lego Sand Castle, Sea Life Aquarium Carlsbad, Ca

This Saturday the Legoland California Sea Life Aquarium is celebrating “Underwater Parks Day” to educate families about California’s underwater parks.  Kids will have a chance to create their very own marine habitat to take home.  Families can attend a mini Conservation Expo and interact with local marine protection organizations including  I Love a Clean San Diego, San Diego Coast Keeper, and the San Diego Oceans Foundation.  Be sure to catch the 11 am dive show and learn about San Diego’s Underwater Parks from a Sealife diver!

Artist Teresea Espaniola who created the amazing mural that you see above in collaboration with the students of Jefferson Elementary School will have her “garbage art” on display.  Ms. Espaniola does amazing collage/paintings to raise awareness about the impact of marine trash.  If you can’t make it to the aquarium be sure to visit her gartbage site and take a look.

Last  night I was reading Sweet Thursday the sequel to Cannery Row by John Steinbeck.  What I love about Steinbeck is that his deep understanding of America and Americans made him a something of a prophet.  So many things that he predicted for our country ring true today.  I leave you with this quote the stresses the need for protected areas off of our California shores and gives us something to think about in terms of other ways that we impact our environment.

The canneries themselves fought the war by getting the limit taken off fish and catching them all.  It was done for patriotic reasons, but that didn’t bring the fish back.  As with the oysters in Alice, “They’d eaten every one”.  It was the same noble impulse that stripped the forests of the West and right now is pumping water out of California’s earth faster than it can rain back in.  When the desert comes, people will be sad; just as Cannery Row was sad when all the pilchards were caught and canned and eaten.  The pearl-gray canneries of corrugated iron were silent and a pacing watchman was their only life.  The street that once roared with trucks was quiet and empty.

We have a lot to learn from the ecological mistakes of the past.  Let’s teach our children to respect California’s Underwater Parks so these marine treasures can be shared with generations to come!

Happy Trails,

Bridget

Family Adventure Guidebooks participates in Trekaroo’s Spotlight Thursdays.  This week Trekaroo is featuring activities that honor Dr. Martin Luther King throughout the US.  I am hoping to honor Dr. King’s Legacy this month with some posts on how to use travel to teach kids about the roots of racism as well as attending an event at the library.   How will your family honor Dr. King this month?

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State Park Blog Rally Wrapup: How We Move Forward

November 9th, 2010 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in California State Parks, Uncategorized

Cleaning Up Carlsbad State Beach

Needless to say I’m a wee bit disappointed at voters in the State of California.  We have passed up a golden opportunity to improve access to our state parks, attract more tourists, and preserve these natural treasures for future generations.  That said, I was amazed by the overwhelming support for California’s state parks throughout the blogsphere.  Thanks to Delicious Baby, Trekaroo, and Traveling Mom for hosting blog roundups and twitter parties to rally for this important cause.  Thanks to all the other bloggers who shared their love of state parks through blog posts.  I treasured every one.

This week I found myself asking, “How can we continue to support our state parks in the midst of these trying budget times?”

Here are some thoughts:

Visit California’s State Parks!

California’s politicians aren’t going to consider this a budget priority unless they see that the majority of Californians visit state parks on a regular basis.  So, go to the beach, take the kids camping or hike through the redwoods.  Make California’s state parks a family destination.

Do Service Projects

One of my family’s favorite things to do is go clean up our local state beach.  My son’s cub scout troop does this twice a year.  In my study of the state parks issue, one thing that stands out  is the dedicated service that thousands of Californians perform for their state parks.  The volunteer docents in costume at Wilder Ranch State Park made for one of our most memorable state park visits ever!

Donate a Symbolic $18 to the California State Parks Foundation.

Visit the California State Parks Foundation  website to make a donation or buy a membership.  Some levels have pretty great perks.

Stay Informed and Inspired

In addition to the California State Parks Foundation, I have found Folks 4 State Parks to be a great place to be reminded of why we advocate for our California State Parks.  Stop by to see some breathtaking videos of Christopher’s state park journeys.

Buy a State Parks Pass

A current California annual day use pass is a heck of a lot more than $18, but it’s still cheaper than a family trip to Disneyland.  Rumors are swirling about dramatic increases in day use fees in order to fund the parks,  so buy your California State Parks Day Use Pass now.  Prices range from $90-$125 depending on the parks that accept the pass.

Once again thanks for all the blog love for California State Parks.  The rally is over, but the crusade must continue ;) .

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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To do list for today: Vote Yes on Prop 21!

November 1st, 2010 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in California State Parks, State Park Sundays

Well, I’ve been blogging in support of California State Park Intiative for almost 10 days straight (though I did take the weekend off), and I’m plum tuckered out.  I’m headed to the polls in the morning with my kids to drop off my absentee ballot.  I’ve done everything I can possibly do.  Now it’s your turn.  Get the word out to your friends by e-mail, twitter, facebook, and phone.  Be sure you cast your vote as well. 

Take a minute to watch this beautiful, award winning video “21 Reasons I’m Voting Yes on Prop 21″.   California Native Christopher Grant Ward took two roadtrips visiting and filming over 100 California State Parks.  His video is an eloquent reminder of why our parks need to be preserved. 

Visit Folks4Parks.org and read their Proposition 21 FAQ.  It will address any concerns you may have about voting for Prop 21.

The  Travel Bloggers for State Parks Blog Rally may be coming to a close, but hopefully tommorrow a new day will dawn for California State Parks.  Looking foward to some state park road trips with the kids this summer.

Happy Trails.  Don’t forget to vote!

Bridget

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Traveling Mom State Parks Twitter Party Tonight! 6pm PST #TMOM, #SOS Parks

November 1st, 2010 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in California State Parks

I am so grateful to receive such generous response to my call for a State Park Blog Rally last week.    Bloggers around the country featured state parks posts.  You can find many of these fantastic posts at the blog roundups at  Trekaroo and Delicious Baby .

With election day fast approaching,  we need to have one more big push to get out the vote on behalf of California State Parks.  That’s why I am so excited that Traveling Mom has generously offered to dedicated their weekly Monday Night twitter party to the subject of state and national parks.  If you haven’t checked out travelingmom.com you really should.  They have lots of great content. Favorite posts that I read this morning were  The Guilt Trip the joys of traveling with sick kids and posts by  Middle East Traveling Mom who is relocating to Dubai to teach English with three kids in tow! 

Click on the highlighted links for details for tonight’s  Traveling Moms State Parks Twitter Party  as well as twitter party etiquette  for twitter party neophytes like me.

Talk to you tonight!

Happy Trails,

Bridget

P.S.  During the twitter party Traveling Mom will be giving away PDF versions of my Unauthorized Legoland Guidebook  as well as some of My Busy Kit’s great apps.

PPS.  Love this FAQ about Prop 21 by our friends at Folks4State Parks.

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Camping Solo With Kids: Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, California

October 28th, 2010 by bsmith | 5 Comments | Filed in California State Parks, Family Adventure Guidebooks, Outdoor Adventures, Santa Cruz County Adventures, Smith Family Adventures, Spotlight Thursday

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.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

P.S.  My friend at Go Explore Nature has a great post up about birdwatching at Malibu Lagoon State Park.  I also loved Pit Stops for Kids post on Jedidah Redwoods State Park.  Can’t wait to explore both these great state parks with my family!

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State Park Sunday: Bloggers Rally in Support of Proposition 21

October 24th, 2010 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in State Park Sundays

State Parks Supporters, Wilder Ranch SP Fourth of July Celebration

The above photo was taken at one of the best Fourth of July celebrations I ever attended.  Every year volunteers at Wilder Ranch State Park put on an amazing old fashioned turn of the century Fourth of July party.  Kids can do vintage crafts, the Declaration of Independence is read, and you can even try some hand cranked ice cream!  This 2009 Fourth of July Celebration was particularly poignant since at that time Wilder Ranch was one of many California State Parks scheduled to be closed due to California’s budget crisis. 

 In 2010 I spent the Fourth of July at a Padres Game.  The game had gone into extra innings and things were looking grim for our Padres. Suddenly the announcer shouted Rally Time!  The crowd went wild, cheering , hooting, and stomping their feet.  Bouyed by the crowds enthusiasm the Padres rose to the challenge and won their game.

As I write this the state parks are limping along.  Most remain open with a skeleton crew. Crime is up due to decreased ranger supervision and bathrooms at some parks are closed because they can’t afford anyone to clean them.  As California still struggles with budget woes every cycle brings new threats of closure.  Last year a major corporation withdrew a publicity campaign in conjunction with the state parks because they weren’t even sure that the state parks they were trying to help could remain open!

It’s rally time for State Parks throughout California .  On Tuesday November 2nd, California voters will have chance to save the state parks and get something of real value at the same time.  If Proposition 21 passes ,California drivers will pay an $18 vehicle registration fee and receive in return unlimited day use admission to California State Parks.  As I see it, everyone wins. All  Californians get  access to their local state parks.  This means more trips to the beach, more hikes to scenic outlooks,  and more chances to learn about California History at a nearby historic park.  Tourists who already travel from all over the world to experience the natural beauty of California State Parks get to enjoy clean well maintained restrooms and quality ranger programs.  The towns that depend on these tourists for revenue survive and thrive as our state parks become a world class tourist destination.  All for $18, the price of a large pizza.

So my fellow travel bloggers…it’s rally time. Let’s make some noise!  Spread the word about Proposition 21.  Share your favorite state park memory with your readers. 

Thanks to San Diego Bargain Mama, Fun Orange County Parks, and Day Tripping Mom for their Yes on 21 Posts.  Stay tuned this week for more posts about my favorite state parks and links to bloggers participating in our rally.  I’m looking forward to reading about everyone’s state park adventures.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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State Park Sunday: Good News for California State Parks?

September 27th, 2009 by bsmith | 3 Comments | Filed in State Park Sundays, Uncategorized
Save Our State Parks Booth, Wilder Ranch, Santa Cruz

Save Our State Parks Booth, Wilder Ranch Santa Cruz

 

I have good news this State Park Sunday.  The governer has  decided not to close any California State Parks.  The budget cuts will still take their toll on the parks however in terms of loss of staffing and reduced hours.  This could continue to endanger the safety of the parks and the economic health of their surrounding communities.

Here are two different takes on what the Governer’s announcement means for the state parks.

California State Parks Foundation Press Release

Union Tribune Article

No doubt about it, a rough road lies ahead for the State of California and it’s State Parks.  User fees are going to be more important than ever, so have a picnic, go camping, and keep letting Sacramento know that you support a state access pass.  Get out and enjoy these great State Parks before the governor changes his mind!

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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State Park Sunday: Ano Nuevo State Park

August 21st, 2009 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in Santa Cruz County Adventures, State Park Sundays

Elephant Seal, Ano Nuevo State Park

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.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

 

PS The beautiful photo is provided by bike4freedom2 under a Flickr Creative Commons License

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State Park Sunday: SOS

August 9th, 2009 by bsmith | 1 Comment | Filed in State Park Sundays, Uncategorized

Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz, Ca

Last night I had a dream that I was making an impassioned plea for the California State Parks.  This morning  when I awakened I realized that, although I have a huge day in store, I couldn’t let another Sunday pass by without sharing with you the potential park closures that will be happening at the end of the summer.

So far it is looking like the California legislators have cut the State Park budget to the point that 100 parks will be closing afterLabor Day.  I am gravely concerned of the implications this will have for our public land, the economy of our local communities, and our children’s access to the natural world.  The parks are fragile just like the natural rock formation that you see above.  When I arrived at UC Santa Cruz in 2001, there were two such natural bridges.   Now the waves and storms have destroyed one…one remains.  

As citizens of California we cannot sit by and let the budget waves wash away these precious treasures of our state.  Today I am hoping for a miracle, park/business partnerships, a state park access pass, there must be a way to turn this around.

Let’s continue to do what we can to change our State Park’s future.  Visit the California State Parks Foundation and learn how you can make your voice heard.

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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