Ducks!!! At Franklin Canyon Park

10888467_10100760784379257_7899926835494415472_nIt was the first of the year and after a very eventful New Years Eve I was once again aching to get somewhere new. This time I stayed local. Only about 15 minutes from my apartment is Franklin Canyon Park. It consists of a reserve, a few trails, and is the location to many films and tv shows, including Combat.

My roommate and I arrived late in the afternoon and as soon as we arrived I realized that I had been there before. We had worked on a Hallmark movie, Backwoods, with Haylie Duff and Ryan Merriman, filming up and down the main road. However, since I was working in base camp that production I didn’t really get to experience the park at all.

10891603_10100760782977067_2727342950880979912_nWe started our journey on the road and walked down and up the small hill. We came to a cute trail around  what I will call the duck pond. There were all different kinds of ducks including Mallards, Mandarin Ducks, and Wood Ducks. They were very friendly and would come right up to you. It was quite obvious that no one was following the “Do not feed the wildlife.” signs posted.

We continued to the first reserve and it was beautiful. The mountains and pine trees shut out all the city noise that you would normally expect. And the reeds and ducks bring nature right to the center of Los Angeles. It’s just a little lake in the middle of the city that you would never expect to be there. You feel as though you could be in the mountains in the middle of the wilderness.

10451735_10100760783076867_3151645784572961153_nWe continued our journey down the road, past a small house, a few other trails that I will need to go back and explore and to the gated off end reserve. I’m sure at one point the reserve must have been open to visitors, but it no longer is. We turned around and headed back up the road we came down, remembering how we flipped the car in Backwoods right on that very street. We turned up a side trail that brought us back to the beginning of the park.

A few things to know if you plan on going are that there are several parking lots inside the park, including one at the entrance and one at the very end. The trails are relatively easy so it is a good place to go for a short hike for both young and old. Also, be aware that there are several stop sign cameras inside the park. Make sure you come to a complete stop or you will get a ticket in the mail. Other than that, parking is free. So enjoy!

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One Safe Buck at White Memorial Conservation Center

the_barred_owl_wallpaper_birds_animals_wallpaper_1024_768_422Over the holiday, on the last day I was in Connecticut, I went on a family hike with my parents, sister, and Toni (our dog) at White Memorial Conservation Center. It is a Privately-Owned Wildlife Sanctuary which includes a small museum. We did not go into the museum, but I’ve heard that it is pretty good. However, outside of the museum they do have a bird feeding station and you can also see their Barred Owl and Red Tailed Hawk.

10653688_10100755328248387_4168140323055771277_nWe explored a couple trails. One which brought us to a river, which leads to Bantam Lake, moss covered gates, stone walls, a log camping hut and fire pit, chestnut trees, and a steel and wooden bridge. It’s an easy walk throughout the entire park and can be accomplished fairly quickly. There’s even a small trail to take around the pond which in the winter is very muddy, but in the summer is buzzing with wildlife.

As we drove away there was a young buck crossing the road in the middle of the afternoon. You don’t see that every day. My dad stated, “Well, he’s got about 4000-acres to roam around. He should be pretty safe from hunters.”

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A Blur at Black Rock State Park

10891567_10100754109455857_6051383032190388400_nOver the holiday I went to Connecticut. While I was there my sister, cousin, and I went for a hike at Black Rock State Park, which we had done 7 years prior. This time however, we did not get lost!

988924_10100754108986797_6733714179484468323_nIf you walk through the park toward the beach you will be able to find the trail up to the Black Rock that you can see from the parking lot. Before you reach the beach there is a field to the right. Cross the field and you will come to an old bridge. Cross the bridge and stay to the left to hike up the blue trail. The hike up is pretty steep and for someone that hadn’t worked out in over a month because I had been sick, it was a tough trek. You have to climb over roots, rocks, and stumps all the way up to the top. And if you are going with an avid hiker it can be quite exhausting. However, for anyone that is in halfway decent shape you should be able to make it to the top without any problems. And when you reach the top you will be rewarded with an amazing view as you gaze far into the distance over Connecticut and the entire park. It’s quite beautiful. And if you are as lucky as we were a blur of a Golden Retriever will greet you as you rest.

10629665_10100754109630507_6494034632503583019_nContinue down the blue trail to a small road, go right and it connects to the red trail. I believe this is where we messed up 7 years ago, which took us on a long walk down the Mattatuck Trail. The correct red trail bears right again, which we almost missed this time and goes along down a small river that we had to cross several times. We stayed along that back to the blue trail and back to the parking lot. Let’s just say it’s a confusing trail and if you haven’t been on it before and aren’t paying close attention you can easily end up somewhere you weren’t planning on going.

The entire loop is actually pretty short, but there are some amazing rock formations, small waterfalls, fallen over trees, and moss coverings to check out. It’s a quiet and calm hike that is perfect for some relaxation on any morning or afternoon.

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Wanna see more pictures!? Check out my sisters post about Black Rock State Park here!

2014 Geminid Meteor Shower at Templin Highway

78c8dff1The week of Dec. 13th I had been daydreaming about shooting stars, astrology and much more. The 13th came and I had an aching to go somewhere new and explore something I’ve never seen before. On a whim I googled meteor showers and stumbled across the 2014 Geminid meteor shower that was going to occur that night. I finally knew exactly how I wanted to spend my Saturday evening, staring up at a dark sky watching screaming hot balls of fire light it up.

I did one more quick search for the darkest spot in or just outside of the city. Templin Highway, Angeles National Forest was number one on the list and sounded perfect. It was close, 45 minutes outside of Downtown LA and a popular spot among amateur astronomers meant there would be at least some others around too.

I picked up a friend and her nephew and we headed out to Castaic. We exited “the 5” and tentatively drove the .7 miles east until we spotted the dark, wide gravel lot around 9 p.m. We bundled up in extra layers and stepped out of the car. The show had already started and we were the only ones there to watch it for a good hour.

Other spectators slowly arrived as the night progressed. Some were in trucks, others in convertibles, and even some in campers that brought out small tents. But no matter how they chose to share the experience everyone was there for the same common purpose. To watch the amazing sky.

oY3ayprWQlewtG7N4OXl_DSC_5225-2It was absolutely gorgeous. Stars were flying across the sky every minute and it didn’t matter which way you looked. Some were soft streaks that you would barely see while others were so bright you swore they were going the strike the earth before they burned up. We were in constant awe, shouting out each time we saw one. We were so excited we would forget to make wishes. It didn’t matter much though. We must have seen over 100 or 200 shooting stars that night. There were plenty of wishes to be had.

Eventually, much later than every website had predicted, the half moon rose above the mountains. It was a beautiful sight and was the cap of our night. We watched the stars a little longer and then headed back to our bright city. An amazing evening and an amazing experience.

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