Redwoods in Orange County?

Redwood Grove in Brea, California

Redwood Grove in Brea, California

My love affair with trees started as a kid growing up in the Pacific Northwest.  I grew up camping and hiking in the national forests of Oregon.  I love the fresh clean air, shade and endless trails the forest provides.  When I found out there was a small grove of Redwoods here in Orange County I had to go see them for myself.

The trees are in Brea, California inside Carbon Canyon Regional Park. The trail isn’t what I would consider a hike, but it is an easy walk well worth doing to see the trees.  The paths are well maintained and good for all skill levels and young children.  In the middle of this dry, dusty canyon rises a small grove of beautiful sequoia trees.  I took the photo above from the hillside using a wide-angle lens to show the size of the trees and the terrain outside the grove.  The surrounding landscape is dry and the plant life appears dead except for a few struggling cacti.

The moment I stepped into the grove I noticed a dramatic difference.  The air was much cooler and the trail became damp and even muddy in some areas.  The air was fresh and sweet too.  The day I went there was a nice breeze and it felt wonderful after the dusty walk to get there.  I could have spent all day under these big beauties.

The story behind the grove is interesting.  According to the park’s Nature Center, in 1975 coastal redwood seedlings were given away as part of a promotion from a local bank.  After the promotion ended, the bank still had 600 seedlings.  The bank donated them to the Fullerton College agricultural center.  Later the college donated them to the county.  The trees were planted, and the redwood grove was born.  Since being planted, many of the trees have grown to over 100 feet.  Although I’m not a tree expert, the trees seem to be too close together to grow to their full height of 400 feet.  Many of them are struggling to survive and there is a large amount of dead underbrush, but this may just be part of the drought we’re experiencing in California.

If you need to beat the heat or just need a change of scenery I would recommend this trail.



Shipwreck Trail


Sunday my husband and I left our teenage kids to do their thing while we went to do our thing.  We drove along the coast to explore a new hiking trail: Shipwreck Trail on the Palos Verdes Penninsula. Despite reviews warning us of rocky and dangerous terrain we decided to go anyway lured by the promise of gorgeous views, tide pools, cove surfing and many photo opportunities.

The trail did not disappoint.  We loved it.  We took lots of photos and had an interesting adventure at the end. As we began our trek back through the rocky landscape we found a steep, dirt trail we knew would save us time. We could see it was steep, but as we started up it proved trickier than we imagined.  The path was unstable and loose so each step was like a tiny landslide. The big rocks on each side of the path initially looked like good hand holds but crumbled when we touched them.  Just when we thought we’d made a terrible mistake, the path became more stable and easier to climb.  After we made it to the top we agreed we should have taken a photo of the path before we attempted it.  We knew our kids wouldn’t believe us when we told them the story.

We will definitely go back because the Palos Verdes cove had some interesting surfing and we never made it to the actual shipwreck.  I read in the trail guide that the shipwreck is the SS Dominator from 1961.  All the reviews said the shipwreck was cool and worth the hike.  Next time…


3 A.M. Thoughts

Everest -A time lapse short film from Elia Saikaly on Vimeo.

You know that quote, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”  I’ve always applied that quote to professional goals rather than personal goals.  I don’t know why.  I am single-minded when it comes to myself so maybe that’s why. Or maybe it’s because our culture is obsessed with accomplishments.  Either way, when I woke up thinking about it early this morning I knew the answer.  I’d climb Everest if I knew I could not fail.  I’d summit that mountain and sit on top of the world for as long as I could.

What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?

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Some days I feel restless.

Call it wanderlust or itchy feet, but every once in a while I get an urge to just go and be in nature.

So Otis and I set out to find adventure. He loves to go. Maybe he feels restless too.

I was imagining canyon vistas with sweeping views.

Well, let’s just say my canyon adventure was more like a walk in a park than an adventure hike.

It was pretty, just not what I was imagining.

Trail apps are great, but until you go explore the place you don’t really know what you’re getting yourself into.  I both love this and loathe this at the same time.

Otis had fun chasing squirrels and ducks. He got some good exercise. I was happy to get out.

Instead of posting the details of my hike and the photos from said hike, I am posting one photo of a blooming tree from our walk in the park.

It’s January and things are blooming all over Southern California. January! It’s crazy. While most people are living in the polar vortex I’m living in a perpetual garden.

It’s wonderful.


Searching for Seasons


Today I set out to find fall in Southern California.  I knew it would be a challenge, but I miss fall color and the optimist in me was certain I could find some version of fall happening somewhere down here.  Fall to me means cool nights, crisp mornings and lots of fall color.  Living six blocks from the Pacific Ocean means my mornings and evenings are pretty much the same everyday.  I’m not complaining about living where I live.  I love it!  It’s fantastic to wear sandals in October.  But I get restless for the change in seasons and I decided today was the day.  I took Otis, our family’s oversized cockapoo and hit the road.  I researched an area in Orange, CA: The Santiago Oaks Regional Park.  I like to do research on trails.  It’s a bit of a hobby for me.  I have more than one trail app on my devices so I can compare hikes through the maps, photos and other people’s reviews.  Reading the reviews is my favorite part of the research.

We arrived in a thin layer of fog.  I was excited about the fog and the photo opportunities it would bring.  Unfortunately, we missed it by five or so minutes.  Being the mother of school age children limits the time of day you can leave the house to go hiking.  I like to say goodbye to my kids everyday and send them off with a hug and a kiss.

Otis & ISantiago Oaks Regional Park is really beautiful.  It’s also an easy drive and not too busy.  There is a $3 fee to enter the park on a weekday.  The fee is $5 on the weekend when I imagine it’s much busier.

When I got out of the car I was blessed with hundreds of birds singing and chirping.  I’m not a bird person so I don’t know what kind they were, but they were plentiful.  There were orange trees in a grove in the parking area.  You’re not allowed to pick them so I’m pretty sure the birds enjoy them, which is why there were so many of them.  A few hundred feet into the trail we also saw a deer.  The trail guide promised animal activity, but I was expecting creatures that were a little more menacing.  There are rattlesnakes and mountain lions in this area.  Thankfully we didn’t encounter either.

photo copy 3

The trees were beautiful.  They framed the paths perfectly and because it wasn’t busy I was able to stop and get some nice photos.  We saw three other hikers, one mountain biker and horseback rider.  Most of the trails allow all three activities, but there were a few trails that were designated hiking only.  Otis and I hiked the Santiago Creek – Wilderness Loop.  It’s a short, easy loop with only a 100-foot elevation gain.  There is also a creek, but we only came across one area where it was flowing pretty well.  We tested out parts of some of the other trails too, Sour Grass and Lady Bug.  There are many other trails in this area so I’ll definitely be back.

Santiago Oaks Regional Park

As we were returning to the parking area, I found what I was looking for: an oak tree! The leaves had turned and were beautiful hues of brown, orange and red.  Mission accomplished!  I left Santiago Oaks Regional Park one happy woman.  I took one of the leaves with me to prove that there are seasons in Southern California.  I just have to look more closely.

Santiago Oaks Regional Park