Monday, June 14, 2010

barbara's lake hike

Do you know Orange County, CA actually has a few natural lakes? Two or three, I can't seem to get a straight answer, but there are at least two, or three, and they are located in the Laguna Coast Wilderness. Barbara is the largest of the three, or two, and is fed by a spring. No swimming or boating is allowed in this tiny lake, but it is nice to look at. I have lived here my entire life and never knew this lake existed until a few years back.

the lake

Well, we met our friends there for a play date/picnic/hike. The hike from the Nix Nature Center parking lot area to the lake is flat and very easy for small kids. It took us about 15-20 minutes to reach the lake. The hike can be longer depending on where you start and end.

obligatory shoe shot (we are looking at an ant carrying food)

The kids found many red ant dens? homes? holes? Whatever you call them. Several small beetles, not the stink kind, a grasshopper, and a plant that smells like peanut butter (do you know what this is called? I don't). Probably their favorite part was running up and down a dirt hill under the bridge.

the little ones are holding up the bridge

We spent two hours out on the trail, walking, exploring, running, eating snacks (of course). The best parts were the exercise, fresh air, views, happy kids, good conversation and the fact we barely saw anyone out there and, luckily, we did not see any snakes, either. I love uncrowded places.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Our Summer Travel Plans 2010 - Family Roadtrip

Ah, the open road. There is nothing like driving to your destination and experiencing the world around you along the way. I love road trips. I love planning road trips. Reading and dreaming about road trips is a wonderful pastime of mine.

What is more perfect than a summer family road trip. Parents in the front of the car singing show tunes and angelic kiddos in the backseat keeping their hands to themselves singing along with their parents and never asking, "Are we there yet?"

It could happen, no?

Yeah, right. Who am I kidding? The ideas and planning are the perfect part.

We are doing it anyway and with all my planning what could go wrong, right?

This summer we are going to take a road trip to Portland, Oregon to visit cousin Karen and will be making many stops along the way. Total mileage will be somewhere around 2000 plus or minus. I love the United States and honestly there is an infinite amount to see and do. I enjoy small tiny, ramshackle towns as much as the big cities. Our great country is so diverse in geography and history and I cannot get enough. Road trip, here we come!

I am always looking for new ideas and suggestions on attractions to see along the way so I read reviews other parents have written at Trekaroo. Since I love to perform lots of research Trekaroo is an obvious choice.

Some highlights we will see along the way:
  • Several California State Parks, we might see some Tule Elk.
  • Avenue of the Giants
  • Redwood National Park
  • Several Oregon State Parks
  • sleeping in a yurt on the Oregon coast
  • lots of public transportation in Portland
  • Portland food carts
  • Portland breweries (of course)
  • maybe a lighthouse or two
  • sand dunes
  • unique, small towns and people
  • who knows what else? That is part of the adventure to come!
Our expectations are to make many memories, bond as a family, overcome road trip obstacles, and live the adventure!

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the Bing Travel and Trekaroo summer vacation spotlight for a chance to win $500 in cash. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Read more about Trekaroo’s Summer of Travel Contest. Visit Trekaroo and start planning your family summer vacation!

see you on the road!

colinas bluffs trail

Look real hard in the above picture and you can see the Mission San Juan Capistrano. This trail is on the north side of SJC.

I am out of shape. I need to walk more, exercise more, do it all more. Kristi and I hiked the Colinas bluffs trail and it was good for me, but the hills were killer and I was truly lagging behind. Not to mention it was a HOT morning.

The views are spectacular. The Pacific Ocean can be seen at one point, views of the San Juan Valley, Cleveland National Forest, Saddleback Valley, and more. Look, our hills are already dried out. No more green hills.

FYI, this is my sister Kristi in the pictures.

She is always in my pictures since she NEVER brings her own camera anymore.

No pictures of me this time.

see the big hill in the background, see the little person hiking the big hill?

going up

view of the ocean

Thursday, June 10, 2010

redondo beach - day # 2

We did a lot of walking today. Lori and Julia kept track of our steps with Lori's phone pedometer and 10,000 steps was no problem for our group, even in flip flops. Actually, the flip flops were a problem for the girls so a shoe switch was mandatory at one point.

After breakfast we walked down to the boardwalk and pier. The pier is a horseshoe shaped "endless" pier and has an International boardwalk with unique shops and restaurants. A big fish market was a highlight for us as there were some crazy looking fish. Julia really liked this red snapper.

My mom worked on this pier at a pizza place during her high school years.

Later we headed to the RUHS reunion track meet. My mom bought the girls pom poms to cheer everyone on. An interesting fact, RUHS is the second largest high school campus in California and the third largest in the United States. The campus is huge. The school dates back to 1905 and has a very active alumni association.

After a nap we walked to dinner and then back to the swimming pool to wear the girls out.

beers for the grownups

redondo beach - day # 1

The girls and I spent the weekend in Redondo Beach with my parents and Lori and Kayli on a mini-getaway / Redondo Union High School track meet / reunion. My mom spent her high school years in this town and graduated from RUHS in 1962. More on this later.

We recently had our ceilings scraped in the bedrooms of our home so James stayed there to paint while we were away.

We arrived in the afternoon and our first stop was the Seaside Lagoon across from our hotel. The day was cold and overcast, but that did not stop our children from swimming in the freezing ocean water.

After searching for the entrance and entering the lagoon, which took us a long time and I am still not sure why four grown adults had such a difficult time with this, the girls headed straight for the water. The place was empty which is just how I like it. Honestly, if I can go and do something with the girls in southern California without a crowd then I am ecstatic.

After an hour of play we headed to our hotel to check-in and give the girls baths. Grandma Sharon and Grandpa Frank were smart to give the adjoining rooms to me and Lori. The girls were happy to have us all connected and I am sure the grandparents were happy not to be connected, they were two rooms down.

Next we headed to Leo's for dinner. Leo's is a small hole-in-the wall Mexican restaurant that my mom has been eating at for well over 40 years and each time we are in the area we eat there. My mom is right, they do have the best ground beef soft tacos. I compared the shredded beef taco with the ground beef and the ground beef soft taco rules. Serena, too, loved the tacos. That's my girl. She will eat anything including the hot salsa and lots of it. My other child, the weird one (just kidding) will not eat anything other than tortilla chips at a Mexican restaurant. What is wrong with this child!?! You cannot live in SoCal and not eat the food I love. I need to train her...

On the way back to the hotel we took a leisurely drive through Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach. I would love to hang out in Manhattan and explore as it has such a great layout. Another day.

Manhattan Beach pier (there is an aquarium at the end)