Being Present in the Wild Kingdom

Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment. Fully alive, fully aware ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Lately, I’ve been leaving my camera at home on local hikes.  Honestly, I haven’t been inspired enough to bring it along.  Same trail, same view.  On the contrary, hiking without the camera allows me to be present, in the moment, and fully aware of my surroundings. Maybe that’s why this week I’ve stumbled across my own version of the wild kingdom.


Something told me to take the Blue Trail today and bypass the Green until the cove. My knee and hip have been hurting (yes, I’m old) and I wanted to avoid steep climbs. Good thing, because the trail was occupied by a family of Javelinas ~ Two adults, a mama, and two babies! Amazed, I stopped and watched them until they disappeared over the ridge.


After reaching the cove,  I decided to soak my feet in the river and rest a bit. The cove has a BLM camp site with a picnic table and restroom ~ It’s a great spot to sit and re-charge. Looking up at the cliff above, I spotted a few Desert Bighorn Sheep checking me out.  This is the second time this week I’ve run into Bighorn Sheep ~ apparently they like hiking in the cooler weather, too!


Tired, I headed back to the trailhead via the Blue then Yellow Trail. The Yellow Trail runs through a wash with high rock walls on both sides. As I stopped in the shade for a quick drink and rest, my eyes focused on a little Chuckwalla blending into a little niche in the wall.


Hiking this week, fully present of my surroundings, I was fortunate to catch sight of quite a few wild creatures. Two weeks ago, I shared space with a bobcat in the cactus garden at the state park. Of course, in each circumstance I was without camera.

And maybe that’s why I was gifted a peek into their world….it was a reminder to stop being so preoccupied and to awaken and just be present.

It’s all a matter of paying attention, being awake in the present moment, and not expecting a huge payoff. The magic in this world seems to work in whispers and small kindnesses ~ Charles de Lint


Note: All photos are from MS Word online clip art.



On the Road Again – The Pacific Northwest

The hub and I left Southern California last Saturday, heading north by car to visit family and explore the beautiful state of Oregon. First stop, Lassen National Volcanic Park in Northern California and a 1.5 mile hike on Bumpass Hell to the geothermal area.

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After completing the hike, we opted to auto tour the remainder of park. Lassen is one of the NPS smaller parks, so we cruised on through enjoying the scenery, the fresh air, and the freedom of the road.  With time and daylight still on our side, we decided to head over to the majestic Burney Falls in McArthur-Burney State Park.


Burney Falls is spectacular! With feet still tired from Lassen, we forced ourselves down the path to the base of the falls, knowing we’d have to climb back up.  It was worth it though, to feel the mist on my face and the water’s coolness on my feet as I dipped them in the water. I was saddened when we had to leave.  I wanted more of this park and I vowed to return.  I see an RV trip to this park in my future.

After a good night’s sleep at the Hampton Inn in Red Bluff, we’re off to visit my daughter and precocious granddaughter for a few days in Medford, Oregon.  Stay tuned, more adventures to come!

Clark Regional Park, Buena Park, California

038Completed in 1981, Ralph B. Clark Regional Park was originally known as the Emery Borrow Pit, a sand and gravel pit created in the 50s for the construction of the I-5 and 91 freeways.  After the discovery of prehistoric fossils, the land was purchased by the County of Orange and created into a park.  I visited this park last weekend with my grandson Tyler, but forgot my camera and was unable to photograph our outing.  So, I’ve returned this week, camera and notepad in hand, for an early morning walk on Clark Park’s unpaved 1.5 mile perimeter trail.

010The weather is cool and foggy, which I appreciated since trail starts straight up a hill. Climbing, I can smell the scent of buckwheat, sage, and dirt in the morning air.  On the right, I notice a chain link fence topped with barbwire, enclosing a trash area below and wondered is this original pit?  I got to the top for a view of the street, the baseball diamond, and the adjacent country club.  There were three paths to choose from—I chose to go down.

032After descending the hill, the noise from the traffic finally subsided and I could hear a few birds twittering.  The path is extremely shady, canopied by Monterey pines and other shrubbery and bordered on the right by an old-fashion split-rail wooden fence. The trail reminded me of a country lane and I had an urge to whistle the theme to the Andy Griffith show.  Is that you Opie?

024It takes quite an active imagination to feel like you’re away from the city when all you can hear is the noise from the traffic, equipment from the park’s work yard, and the crack of a bat from the baseball diamonds.  Although the trails are visually appealing, I prefer a park that tricks the imagination for a little while, allowing you escape to the simulated great outdoors.

My favorite part of the park is the Interpretive Center—a free museum dedicated to the areas prehistoric history. My grandson and I enjoyed checking out the fossils and learning how the area has changed from sea to land in the last billion years.  The park is a perfect fit for families interested in picnicking and getting active.

El Dorado Park Nature Center

El Dorado Park was once part of Rancho Los Alamitos and owned by the Bixby Family. In 1968, the City of Long Beach purchased the land from the family and developed it into a park and nature center. Located on Spring Street just off the 605 freeway in the city of Long Beach, California, El Dorado Park Nature Center offers visitors of all physical abilities the opportunity to enjoy nature without leaving the city.

One of my favorites since 2005, I enjoy walking the one, two, and quarter mile trails early weekend mornings. I usually walk all three trails, entering the one mile path at the third bridge near the waterfall. If your knees can handle climbing a switchback, follow the signs for the two mile trail to the right. My knees and hips having been say no to the switchbacks lately, so over the bridge I go on a kinder, leveler path.

I’m so glad to be here this morning. My husband and I had a late night out babysitting the grandkids. I thought I’d still be sleeping at 8:00 a.m., but I’m not and I’m here! Woo, woo! I love Sunday mornings at the Nature Center. A little less traveled and more serene than Saturdays, I find that Sunday’s are quieter and perfect for contemplation and meandering. Except for the occasional nod or “morning” from the regular walkers, I have a sense of wandering in the woods far away from the noisy, busy city of my reality.

After completing my walk, I like to end at the quarter mile trail. The trail is paved and accessible to the mobility impaired. A perfect place to catch your breath and cool down before heading home. Shady and deserted, the aromatic scent of sage, ginger, and eucalyptus fill my lungs. Heaven!

This is one of my best local discoveries to get into nature when limited in time. Where else can you hike three miles in a forest, jump back into your car and head for the grocery store ten minutes from home? Thank you City of Long Beach for creating an urban oasis for local nature enthusiast like me!