Saturday, August 14, 2010

Some days we take our chances and head off on the trails into mountain lion country, but I have to say - I am not quite this crazy!

Me my Shark and I from Chuck Patterson on Vimeo.

You can read the OC Register's Science Blog article about it here.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

June (July!) Gloom

Dana Point, California

crystalline ice plant

can you see the silver line of sunshine along the horizon?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Live Oak Trail

If you live in Orange County and haven't taken a drive through Live Oak Trail, you're missing out. It starts on one end at Cook's Corner which is on El Toro Road on one side, Santiago Canyon Road on the other. (Santiago Canyon starts right by Irvine Park) On the other end of Live Oak Trail is Trabuco Canyon Road which turns into Plano Trabuco Drive and takes you right into Rancho Santa Margarita and the 241.

View Larger Map

With cross streets with names like "Hunca Munca" and "Honkey Dory", horse stables, grazing cows, beautiful wildflowers and over-arching oaks along the way, it's a fun Spring drive for the whole family.

O'Neill Regional Park is right along the way so you can stop by and take the kids up and around Edna Spaulding Trail. Parking is $3 on weekdays, $5 on weekends and you'll want to avoid hot days. The hike can get pretty miserable, but on a cool day in the Spring, it's wildflower heaven.

Coulter's Matilija Poppy (AKA The Fried Egg Flower)

California Everlasting - smells wonderful

Golden Yarrow along the trail.

And don't forget to stop by the Trabuco General Store on your way home. There's a lot to look around at...

and they have old fashioned sodas and cucumber chili popsicles! I didn't have the nerve to try it this time, but now I'm kind of wishing I had just to say I did.

So grab your kids and hurry on out before the wildflowers and chili pops are all gone!

Saturday, May 15, 2010


We headed to Peters Canyon Regional Park to find bluebirds to hold and pet.

No bluebirds, but we did see Yellowthroats, Red Shouldered Blackbirds, tree swallows

and this...

The picture doesn't do justice - there were many more colors than you can see here. I checked on Sciencedude and sure enough, they'd seen it also. They had this to say:

It’s the work of ice crystals at high altitude, said Rob Balfour, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.

If the sky were overcast, we might see a complete ring around the sun, Balfour said. But because it’s only partly cloudy, we only see a portion of the ring.

“Generally speaking, those clouds are between 20,000 and 28,000 feet,” he said. “The freezing level is sitting right at about 15,000 feet, so it’s pretty much all ice crystals up there.”

So amazing!

That's what I love about nature - it's more common that not for something spectacular and unexpected to happen right before your very eyes.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Western Bluebirds in OC

The OC Parks Wildflowers Blog just posted about Western Bluebirds and had a link to this LA Times Article.

I have seen these bluebirds at places like O'Neill Regional Park. They're beautiful birds.

This little tidbit from the article caught my attention:

...visiting boxes can be rewarding in itself. Sully Reallon, 80, of Capistrano Beach marveled at how people-friendly the bluebirds are. "I can take that box, pick the mother up, count her eggs, stroke her head, put her back in the box and close the door," he said. "They don't mind at all."

The OC Parks blog post said Yorba Regional Park had quite a few nestboxes. Peters Canyon Regional Park also has many.

Happy Birding!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fossils in the Creek

If you live locally, you're going to love me for this post.

This past month, the Lord, in all His wisdom and grace has providentially, pointed us to the most fantastic little nature outing! You will never believe this place exists in OC.

And the best part is that there are NO RANGERS to tell your kids what they can't touch!! (No offense, I like the good kind of rangers, just not this kind.)

So the schedule was adjusted and our CM nature study group headed there this past week. What's so great about it?

Well... there's a creek, with rocks, and trees...

A creek side Eucalyptus grove that feels like a forest to a little person...

I can hear the non-natives snickering now, but alas, this and Gum Grove are about as close to a forest as our kids will get without heading into the foothills.

A hollow Sycamore tree with mangled roots for climbing...

and steps inside heading all the way up if you're the dangerous type...

(to get up these you have to rest your entire weight on them at one point, and they're old, so if you go, and your man knows about these things, bring him with you, have him check how sturdy they are, then let me know. Being that I have 3 lives completely dependent on mine, I opted against it. I did get confirmation this past week that a young adult recently climbed up it, so do what you will.)

these boys thought it was the perfect place to have their lunch...

They found this dead skunk - surprisingly, it didn't smell bad... yet.

another found these frog eggs. See the tadpoles ready to hatch?

There was a recitation - look at that smile of joy as he shared a fun poem with friends. A beautiful thing.

And there are oh so many kinds of rocks in the creek...

While we don't study rocks until YR4 with Ambleside, it's never too early to put them in touch with 'things'...

Nature teaches so gently, so gradually, so persistently, that he is never overdone, but goes on gathering little stores of knowledge about whatever comes before him. ~Charlotte Mason

A Child learns from 'Things.'--We older people, partly because of our maturer intellect, partly because of our defective education, get most of our knowledge through the medium of words. We set the child to learn in the same way, and find him dull and slow. Why? Because it is only with a few words in common use that he associates a definite meaning; all the rest are no more to him than the vocables of a foreign tongue. But set him face to face with a thing, and he is twenty times as quick as you are in knowledge about it; knowledge of things flies to the mind of a child as steel filings to magnet. ~Charlotte Mason

And this never gets old does it?

But wait, it get's better... there are fossils in the creek!!

and even better...

A complete whale skull, seen in this picture below, was discovered in this very creek just a few years ago.

So in case you're local and want to go, here are directions to the locations we went to:

For the hollow tree, enter the creek trail by the circle at the end of Manalastas and head Southwest (to the left). It takes you, in less than 5 minutes, through a small grove of Orange Trees and the tree is on the right side, not completely obvious so have the kids look for it. There's a cliff here so it's harrowing for the little ones. My suggestion: Take them down to the creek to putz around instead of trying to keep them away - one of ours came very close but for the grace of God. Just northeast of here, before the bridge is where the whale fossil was found.

The grove of Eucalyptus trees creek side with tons of rocks and a tree fort with a bee hive can be found by entering the trail here and heading Southwest. The area is a bit seedier with graffiti, broken bottles, and foul mouthed teenagers hanging out after school (at least it was like that when we went) so you may just want to find a better spot heading Northeast of Trabuco or make sure you go during school hours.

Happy exploring!

Oh, and this can happen too so bring a first aid kit!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Miner's Lettuce

Who knew!? It's edible and tasty. Can't wait to try the smoothie.