Archive for November, 2011

This weekend we found an awesome, kid friendly and interesting-to-adults trail in Los Trancos Open Preserve: the San Andreas Fault Trail.  The trail was wide enough for a jog stroller but The Monkey walked the whole way, and The Puppy Dog most of the way.

The Monkey running down the trail map in hand

Puppy Dog liked it too

There was lots for the kids to look at — interesting trees and flowers, little rabbits and a family of deer.  There’s also a guided walk with points of geographical interest. The Monkey loved running ahead and finding the numbered posts that marked each landmark and then finding them on the map. It was really neat to see him understand how maps work and how the things represented there relate to the real world.  His parents enjoyed the information on the San Andreas fault–we learnt lots about pressure ridges and sag ponds, and how fault features looked like great building spots to early settlers until they realised what had made them.

An exercise in map reading

It was also a nice trail to use to talk to The Monkey about earthquakes and to help him make sense of the earth quake drills that he’s been having at school in previous weeks.  Broken fences and mis-shaped trees made great visuals to help him understand what an earthquake is.

A fence split asunder by a quake

Looking down the fault--deadly but beautiful


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Dancing on the Beach

This October in North California has been glorious. We’ve spent each weekend at the shore and keep discovering ever nicer beaches.  Manresa State Beach may now be my all time favourite for this bit of the coast. It’s a little off the beaten path, is usually completely empty and is spectacularly gorgeous.

Do beaches get any nicer?

I love the super gentle slope down to the sea and how shallow the water remains for 100 feet or so off shore.  The Monkey really enjoyed running in and out of the waves and was dancing on the shore with glee when we first arrived last weekend. 

running in and out of the surf

The boys had great fun digging, checking out the many crab carcasses that littered the beach, paddling, jumping in holes and driving their trucks along the shore.
Perfect sand for trucks

Plus, there was plenty of wildlife to watch. The Puppy Dog loved chasing the sea gulls and watching the birds and, on this visit, we were joined by a pod of playful dolphins for about an hour.  They were leaping out of the water and surfing in the waves. As the group was only 100 yards or so from shore, Mommy and Daddy took turns to swim out and join them (I find the water in the Bay here significantly warmer than at Half Moon Bay and fine for swimming on a hot day). It was one of those afternoons that make me infinitely thankful that we live in such a beautiful part of the world: what can be better than watching two happy, sandy babies run free on the beach and swimming with wild dolphins in the October surf?

Dolphins. Honest.

There are only very basic amenities at this beach — just a small car park and toilet block.  And there is the usual $10 day use fee.  But if you want an empty, remote (ish), beautiful beach perfect for toddlers, I don’t think you can beat Manresa.  We’ll certainly be there a lot again next year.


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We love this great little park off Kings Mountain Road in Woodside.  There is a small day use fee ($6), but that seems pretty good value for a family day out.  The trails here are beautiful, shady and well maintained. We usually take the single jog stroller up into the hills there with no trouble.

Plenty of room for strollers

There’s plenty for the kids to look at along the way: the trails are bumpy, there are lots of fallen trees (my three year old loves speculating what happened whenever he sees a fallen tree), spiders, banana slugs and, at this time of year, masses of colourful leaves. 

The park also has great amenities and we usually stop for a post hike snack in the picnic area.  I particularly like hanging out by the volleyball pit which serves as a sand play area for my little ones.  There’s also a nice grassy hill next to it which the kids love to run up and down.
The Puppy Dog in the sandpit

Both kids got really into hiking at Huddart, and I love that they are spotting things in the natural world for themselves and then asking about them. The Monkey was particularly fascinated by banana slugs this visit, and the Puppy Dog paid close attention to the curly moss growing on the trees along the trail.

My little tree hugger

I also love how empty this park is.  Our group were the only people we saw during the visit and the kids could run wild and be noisy without fear of disturbing anyone.


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