Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Hike Day: Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, Lake Forest

This was a mild, fairly kid friendly hike. There are porta potties and a drinking fountain at the trail head. Parking is $3 and you pay at an electronic kiosk in the small parking lot. 

The park, lot and trailhead are adjacent to a large shopping center. This feels a little like you're visiting a suburban nature center than a wilderness preserve. However, once you get on the trail, you forget you are only a canyon away from a Hobby Lobby. 

We were joined by a new Adventure Mom this time, which was fun. The trail itself is rather dry but we did cross one Creek and the dry beds of what used to be a few others.

This makes for a soft and sandy trail at times, along with small and medium rocks. Definitely NOT stroller friendly but a child in a carrier would be fine. Be sure to use and wear sun protection. The trail does have tree cover that provides a nice canopy of shade in spots with full sun in others. 

We saw this small rabbit hanging out along the trail. She was less timid then most we've met. Kids will enjoy the potential to see animals like this rabbit, lizards and soaring hawks. Be aware, posted signs indicate this is 'mountain lion' territory and it's also rattle snake season! All the wildflowers are attracting plenty of bees and you may be serenaded by solcatas singing their mating song with their wings. 

 The trail features native California plants, succulents, cacti, and wildflowers currently in bloom. The variety of plant life combined with the red sandstone rock hills, offers a nice array of colors that is aesthetically pleasing to the senses.

Along the trail are posted signs leading to other trails among the wilderness park. It is advisable to check maps at the trailhead to plan and prepare your route. Our destination was the Red Rock Canyon trail and it did not disappoint.  It ends at a closed off area with red sandstone rock formations beyond the fence and sign posts. They are a real beauty.

We passed at least one bench with another map, trash cans (please use them!) and a couple picnic tables along the trail. 

The starting trail is frequented by mountain bikers and they can come up quickly. It's a good idea to prepare younger children for this ahead of time. Teach them to quickly move to a pre-designated side of the trail when given the 'signal' or predetermined word. This is faster and more useful then having to quickly explain where, why and how they should move out of the way.

For us, this was a mild hike, low on the adventure scale but still fun and very enjoyable to everyone. 

See you next week! 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Hello May

MAY you feel the love and acceptance of the Father. MAY you know how dearly loved and cherished you are. MAY you walk in His identifying truths about your value and worth. Amen. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

When Christ Just Sits There...

Click this picture to hear a song that perfectly conveys what I'm sensing.

What I'm learning for right now, is that we need to *sit* in the present sometimes, as uncomfortable and messy as it may be. Sit with the depression, the pain, grief, loneliness, heartache and heart break, that has no cliche way out or quick fix. Acknowledge the darkness and recognize, Christ sits in it with us. Sometimes he's shoveling the manure with us and sometimes he's sitting in the pit with us. 

We can't rush or 'think positive' the pain and disappointment away. We can't pray or worship it away. We can pray and worship with the pain and disappointment right beside and even IN us...and I think that is the sacrifice. 

He did create us to feel the depths of anguish, as much as we can as humans, then it makes the light so much brighter and the beauty so much more brilliant. 

Don't give up. Lift your face, with your tears, if you have them, to the one who knows and understands. You are not alone, not forgotten. He hears you.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Hike Day: Boyscout Trail/Willow Hole, Joshua Tree

It's National Parks Week, which means free admission to all National Parks. I thought it would be cool to take advantage and head out for our Friday Hike Day. I would have loved to return to Death Valley but Joshua Tree was closer. 

I chose this trail, hoping there would be water, but there wasn't this time. However, this trail will lead you to an oasis and through an area known as The Wonderland of Rocks. It's very breath-taking. 

Start at a well marked trailhead for the Boy Scout Trail. Follow signs for Willow Hole. The trail is well marked the farther you go but you have to pay attention. There are small brown signs with arrows. 

You do not want to get lost or stranded in the desert! Bring more water than you think you need. Park maps recommend one gallon per person. My kiddos drank most of their water before we even reached our destination! 

There were cooling breezes but the trail is still full sun. It can be deceiving so be sure to where sun safe clothing, maybe even long sleeves, a hat, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen! Eventually you will reach the oasis that is Willow Hole. A gathering of Willow trees makes a refreshing and shady spot to sit and have lunch while enjoying the majestic views. 

From there you can climb some rocks and explore. There was way more vegetation, greenery and bright flowers than I expected. Absolutely gorgeous and stunning rock formations and flowers in bright colors. 

There are plenty of animals that call the desert their home but we caught sight of a couple desert ground squirrels. It is rattler season, please be aware of where you step, using extra cautions near shady spots found near rocks. Rattle snakes often coil near rock to stay cool and regulated their temperature. 

Over all, we enjoyed this hike. Older kids will find the rock climbing and exploring fun, if given the opportunity. The park also features 'exhibits' along the main road. You can stop and read interesting facts and information about the park, environment and landscape. 

The hike is moderate, often like walking across a sandy beach, which can be tiring and definitely not stroller friendly. A child front of back pack type carrier is fine-we saw a family hiking with their young children in a pack. Use caution though and make sure your young child is appropriately covered and protected from the sun's rays. Mid-day can expect glaring sun and higher temps. 

We ended up getting badly sun-burned because I did not take this into account and was out of habit of applying sunscreen since winter. 

Have you visited your local national park? Which one is your favorite? 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

I Have Enough Time...

I've only got this life...someday, sooner than yesterday, my body will lie in a wooden box. So it makes sense to me, I should try and get used to the woods as much as I can! {did you catch that?} Haha.

 Seriously though, my birthday is in a couple days, & my mother's been gone almost 10 years now. When she died, I realized how much more I wanted to live. Live a good, full, rich life. Not shallow and afraid. Loving fully and honestly. Investing in others, primarily my own people but also investing in myself. Enjoying all the moments I could. Appreciate and forgive all. You find the real freedom there, in the simplicity of gratitude. 

My mother ran out of time too soon and she felt it. I won't though. I will have filled pages, books and libraries of time with all of me. With all my inhales and exhales. 

Yesterday, I filled a small space of time with peace, lying on a boulder, with the wind chill and the sun warming, near a cascading waterfall, with my eyes closed. Life isn't a rush for me. I won't wait 'until I have the time.' I'm taking it now and spending it wisely. It's all I have and all I can give. This life is amazing, why wouldn't it be? 

Thank you mom.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday Hike Day: Cooper Canyon Falls, Angeles National Forest

We returned to the Burkhart Trail, in the Angeles National Forest, in search of Cooper Canyon Falls. We were here in December, winter, and never found the Falls. We had a great but freezing hike back then but I knew I would eventually return to find the falls.

No snow or ice this time but strong winds still made for a chwas 1ailly hike. A good reminder to always dress in layers. Southern California weather is fairly unpredictable, though primarily mild. Haha. 

The trail head is located at the back of the Buckhorn Campground. There are restrooms with vault toilets conveniently located  throughout, as well as at the day use parking area for the trail head.

This trail is NOT stroller friendly. It varies between area of full sun and shade. The trail is up and down but mainly declines on your way in. 

Right now, the environment is very green and creeks are flowing nicely. The trail is primarily dirt, gravel-y and rocky at times.

You will keep company with stunning trees and amazing vistas along the way. The hike takes about an hour to the Falls and this was at a hurry-up-I'm-freezing pace. 

Kids will enjoy jumping rocks or balancing over a fallen log to cross the creek. Also, the final descent to the falls is a mini-adventure in itself. 

The Falls are easy to miss. They do not appear like much from the top, where you'll be on the trail. Getting to the Falls requires descending a rocky slope. There is a rope closer to the bottom but it is not visible from up on the trail. Keep in mind the trail does not lead you TO the Falls, but *past* it, as it heads through the canyon and even connects to the Pacific Crest Trail. 

In the picture below, you can see my kids pointing the way down to the Falls. The best access seems to be at this small, steel, retaining beam. Climb down with caution, of course. A smaller child would probably need help navigating their way down.

This is definitely a nice hike. The Falls are beautiful. We had it all to ourselves today. The ktbunch rated it on the higher end of the adventure scale due to the climb down to it. 

The hike back will mostly be uphill in spots you hadn't realized you were going down. Always be prepared while hiking; being water, rope, first aid kit etc. Chances are you will always be safe...but why risk it? Haha.

What else can you do you? :P

Friday, April 8, 2016

Friday Hike Day: Old LA Zoo, Griffith Park

This trail has no signs or markers and can be a bit confusing. There are plenty of restrooms at the park and parking is free.

You want to park in the lot at the merry go round, but the farthest one beyond it. The merry go round should then be behind you, picnic area in front and playgrounds to your front right and down right. The last pic, at the bottom of this post, has everyone pointing to the unmarked trail to take you to the less obvious animal cages, shacks and back cage entrances. 

You will hike up a hill, across and beyond a half asphault/half dirt area, into brush. You will see remnants of chain link fences. Stay to the right and you'll come upon a half buried cage on your left. It's still accessible but use caution throughout.

There is a creeptastic shack with tons of graffiti. We could smell something burning and saw wisps of smoke within but upon further exploration by two of our teen hikers, could not locate the source.

The pic above is Bee Rock. We could not find the actual trail to the summit so we took a narrow trail straight up the hill side. It was slippery and rocky, totally not recommended for, nor able to accommodate strollers. 

The ruins of the zoo are interesting to view. They are meant to be inaccessible, as shown by all the chain link fencing and chain locks. However, as you can also tell by the grafitti, there are often ways to get in. 

You can make your exploration more stroller friendly by going toward the white gated entrance instead. There are flat dirt paths and paved walkways in that direction. Past that gate and to the left, will take you to the fronts of a few old animal enclosures and picnic area. You can continue to follow the flat, wide paths with a stroller but it will be uphill. 

We all enjoyed exploring which really upped the adventure scale for everyone. We did not see any animals beyond squirrels at the playground and birds. The woods are full of exotic sounding bird calls.


Everyone is pointing to the way you can go to explore the zoo ruinsbthat are located deeper in the brush. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

"If You Don't Respect Your Husband..."

"...he will never come back," the prayer partner told her, after she had tearfully and vulnerably shared about incidents of abuse she had experienced.

"Well...don't provoke him," the pastor's wife said when she asked for prayer, looking for guidance, explaining the fear and confusion over his growing volatility toward her.

"You know...sometimes things get out of hand. Next time, maybe just take a walk, until things cool down between the both of you," was the first response she ever heard, from the assistant pastor--that time she felt afraid because he threw something at her...then pulled the phone cord out of the wall so she couldn't call anyone for help.

The moment he started telling his side, she knew there was nothing she could say otherwise. She sat on the corner of the couch across the room from both of them, staring at the floor, fighting the tears as they laughed lightheartedly, changing the subject. Defeated.


The "non-believer" told her, "Yah, just get the f*** out!" By then though, she was understandingforgiving, he was under a lot of stress, they just needed to leave until he came to his sensesused to making excuses for him. 

These were pivotal points, defining moments, in her marriage and life when she reached out. She was looking for help, not condemnation. She didn't need more guilt, shame and blame.

She was young, impressionable and lacking any confidence she had come into the marriage with. What did she know? She didn't even know what abuse was--as she obviously couldn't recognize it as it was happening to her. That's not something that would or could happen to her. She wasn't the type of person something like that happens to. She would never be involved with someone like that.

How many times does it need to be said, to be taken seriously? How early does a concern need to be voiced, before it is believed? Obviously, if it was that bad, she would have left, or at least mentioned it, sooner. Of course.

How bad is that bad?

One time, she did go the police. However, the threat she reported was not accompanied by an actual plan as to how that threat would be there was nothing they could do. Years later, a plan would be admitted, verbalized. She was too shocked to do anything. Like all those who had dismissed her voice, she was now just like them. She discounted her own voice and concerns. Her own brain had bought into all the other voices.

The loudest voice, smiling when he spoke gently now, "You know I didn't mean it. People say things like that when they are mad."

No. People don't sometimes lose control.
No.  It has nothing to do with respecting a husband or not.
No. A lack of self control needs no provocation.

But don't make him look bad. This is a private matter.

Yes, yes it was a private matter. Perhaps that's exactly why it happened.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Valley of Death

Its spring break, turn around trip to Death Valley National Park on Monday-4+ hour drive one way. We had never been there, it's a drive through the desert. A local said the winds were blowing 70mph! We went to see the "super bloom" of wild flowers that only happens every 10 years. Abundant, blooming life in the wasteland!

A few times, on a long stretch of empty road, the blowing sand would bring visibility to ZERO!!! I'd never driven through conditions like that and felt scared as I decelerated to 3mph!

The Lord reminded me of Psalm 23. I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...He gave me this literal, physical experience and picture, as I prayed our way thru.

We were IN DEATH VALLEY! Going *through* it! We may not see what is ahead, we have to trust Him and walk in FAITH!!! He tells us to not be afraid...actually, if you read and repeat it, it's a declaration: I will not be afraid! Because He is with me!

Be strong and courageous. Do not give in to the fear of the unknown! Keep moving forward. The dry, barren valley of death doesn't go on forever.

Our actual view, zero visibility, along our drive. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Spring Break 2016: Calico Ghost Town

We decided to take a slight detour on our way to Death Valley...I saw the signs for Calico Ghost Town off the freeway and figured, Why not? 

There is an inexpensive admission fee. If you want a tour of the mine and a train ride, those also require a small fee per person. 

The town features gorgeous views of the desert, educational information on the town's history, shops, a restaurant, a real cemetary, small museums and clean, maintained restrooms. 

Exploring the town is almost a hike in and of itself. While we were there it became very windy. One local said it was 70mph winds! It certainly felt like it.

My kids all enjoyed the town. We stayed longer than I expected. The town was bought by Walter Knott, of Knott's Berry Farm fame and later donated to the county of San Bernardino. It is comparable to the Calico Ghost Town in Knott's Berry Farm, even featuring a house made of bottles. 

Since we were visiting on a week-day, a few of the buildings were closed and locked, including shops. There were still many vendors open and a lot to see and learn about. 

You can take a self guided tour, exploring the town, following steps and trails to breath-taking vistas for a photo opp. This was definitely worth a one stop visit, possibly more if you are a Western history buff and for special events. There is also an adjacent campground and off-road vehicle area, for those who like to camp and prefer to stay in the area longer.