California: Channel Islands National Park

I don't know what day it was, but the boys and I, along with my dad, Karen and Scott, made a visit to the Channel Islands National Park visitor center at Ventura Harbor. There is a beautiful native garden, tidepool tank, big relief maps of all the islands and an observation tower from which you can see some of the islands on a clear day.

Climbing the four or more flights of stairs in the observation tower was a big hit with the boys. Riding down in the elevator was an even bigger hit.

(Tangent: When we were at LAX the boys were awed by the escalator. I don't know if there is a single escalator in the whole state of Montana, but if there is, I've never seen it. Anders almost fell off it the first time we rode down one. It was hilarious (because he wasn't about to get hurt or anything). I forget about all the things we don't experience living here. We do have elevators, though.)

I told the boys about the several times I've been out to the islands and whale watching from a boat, so Anders is determined to get to an island next time we are in California.

Dad photographs the harbor while Anders contemplates whether he could make it if he jumped off.

Land ho!

Neither Finn nor Scott are quite clear on how to use the telescope...

Scott, Karen, dad, Finn and Anders in the observation tower.

Checking out the island map.




Anders dances to his own drummer.
Permalink 06/06/11 10:38:09 am, by Mel Email , 260 words, Categories: Beyond Greater Yellowstone, Museums/Nature Centers, Things to Do, Anders, Family, Finn ,

California: swimming, farming and exploring

And the vacation kept going and going...

We went swimming at the pool at my mom's condo. Not so much me since it was FREEZING, but the boys didn't seem to notice.

And we went to Underwood Family Farm, which my mom qualified as half Disneyland, half farm. We played on the equipment, pet animals and picked berries. Picking strawberries and raspberries seemed a little crazy in May, but it was delicious.

Mom as engineer.

And there was the Gull Wings Children's Museum in Oxnard.

Finn outruns blood cells.

Checking out the ambulance.

Captaining a boat.

Digging for dinosaur bones.

Junior paleontologist at work.
Permalink 06/05/11 12:52:03 am, by Mel Email , 104 words, Categories: Beyond Greater Yellowstone, Museums/Nature Centers, Roadside Attractions, Things to Do, Anders, Finn ,

California: Leo Carillo Beach

We used to go to Leo Carillo beach a lot when I was growing up. After my high school prom, a bunch of us camped out in the campground across the highway from the beach (I think it was Leo, although it's possible we camped at Sycamore.) Then, when I was a botany naturalist for the Conejo Valley Unified School District Outdoor School I'd walk down to Leo once a week to check out the tide pools with a slew of sixth graders, while hoping they didn't get swept away in the ocean.

It was time to show the kids this beach that was so much a part of my growing up.

Walking to the beach with all the things a boy needs for fun in the sun.


A little rough for swimming, but perfect for chasing (and being chased by) waves.

A little tired from out whirlwind vacation.

Playing in the surf.

Permalink 06/04/11 07:15:23 pm, by Mel Email , 154 words, Categories: Announcements [A] ,

California: Wildwood

On our first full day at my mom's, we went for a hike in Wildwood Park. My brother and I have memories of an epic water balloon battle in a fort that used to be at the trailhead. I told the boys all about the fort, only to find it was torn down. It was kind of rickety, but it sure was fun.

(Reminds me of this article about how playgrounds are too safe these days and that might not be good for kids...)

But, we were there to hike, so hike we did. The yuccas were in full bloom, the prickly pear cactus blossoms were wide, sticky monkey flower and mustard lined the trail--it was springtime in the California chaparral. What a treat after a long, brown Montana "spring."

We didn't get too far, but made three creek crossings and LOVED all the blooms.



purple sage

Mom hits the trail.

Creek crossing...yay, there was a bridge.

Mom in her natural habitat.

monkey flower

prickly pear

Permalink 06/03/11 12:28:33 am, by Mel Email , 169 words, Categories: Beyond Greater Yellowstone, Hikes, Anders, Family, Finn ,

California: South Coast Botanic Gardens

After leaving Escondido we drove up to the South Coast Botanic Garden on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. I had been hoping to catch up with some fellow bloggers and when they invited me to meet them here, I couldn't resist.

I've made a few friends online, but this is the first time I've met any of them in person. Debi (Go Explore Nature) and I both commented on how odd it is to meet someone when you've seen so many photos of them. It almost seems like you've met them already. We were also joined by Michele from Fun Orange County Parks.

The garden is on 87 acres and made up of several gardens. We didn't make it around the whole thing, but did enjoy the 3 Bears' House: Children's Garden, Cactus Garden, Fushia Garden, Koi Pond and Japanese Garden, Redwoods, Rose Garden and probably a few that I missed.

There is a wonderful children's garden that all the kids loved.

The alphabet garden.

A is for aloe (and Anders)

F is for fennel (and Finn)

Debi's Big Explorer camouflaged as a butterfly.

Finn earns his keep by watering some plants.


prickly pear

cactus viewing

passion fruit

Me, Debi and Michele

The boys are thrilled to have their photo taken.

You can read Debi's account of the day here.

Permalink 06/02/11 12:18:42 pm, by Mel Email , 218 words, Categories: Announcements [A], Beyond Greater Yellowstone, Things to Do, Anders, gardening, Finn ,

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