I just can't encourage kids and their families to go outside and run around with the air quality as bad as it is. Maybe it will be better on Saturday, but what if it's not? It seems to change hourly, and I just don't want to risk it.
We will go to Point Pinole another day.
Together we will help our friends and family and neighbors in the North Bay rebuild, restore, and heal. The devastation is horrible and tragic. But the community that will be built because of it will be strong and beautiful. My deep respect and thanks to all of the firefighters, police, volunteers, neighbors and public servants who are helping, saving, protecting, serving, and caring for these places and the plants and animals (humans included) that live there.
Take good care of yourself, of your kids, and your community. And we'll go outside and run around sometime soon.
PS: I've started a new project. It's called The Sun Rises. It's all about hope and inspiration and action for future generations on this one and only planet we have. Subscribe here.
I went to Point Pinole today for work and it was like sticking your head in an actively burning fire pit and deeply inhaling. The smoke was thick, and it burned our eyes and throats. (we didn't stay long).
The winds will no doubt change by Saturday, and perhaps going outside together will be just what we need, and the air will be clear.
But perhaps not. The fires in Sonoma, Napa, Solano, and Mendocino are still burning. The winds are still fast. The humidity low. It is a serious, tragic, and horrible situation.
I'll post an update to the website on Friday to make a call on whether our biking/birding outing is on or off.
The Bay is calling. The recently opened-to-the-public Dotson Family Marsh is calling. The birds are calling. And the noise and stress of the world are telling us it's time to go outside and breathe. Do you hear the call?
Join us on Saturday, October 14 at 10am for a walk or ride on the new trails through the marsh at Point Pinole Regional Shoreline.
We will stretch our legs, awe at the views, and count birds (there are many, this is going to be fun). We will relax. I'm sure Amtrak trains will fly by. We will be on the San Francisco Bay Trail (do you know about the Bay Trail?) and we'll see the very cool restoration of this marsh thanks to Measure CC funding.
We will meet at 10am on October 14 at the Main Staging Area off of Giant Highway. I will provide maps that kids can read. You can ride your bikes or walk... there is no rush and there is no right way to do this. We will have a snack (BYOS) at the benches at the end of the China Clipper Spur trail around 11am.
Bring water, snacks, sun protection, clothes for any weather (could be windy, could be hot), bikes and helmets if you want, and good walking shoes. Binoculars are cool if you have them.
Also, bring friends! Family! Neighbors! Classmates! Old people! Young people! Anyone and everyone is welcome.
From I-80 in Richmond, exit at the Richmond Parkway. Head west on the Parkway towards the bay. From the Richmond Parkway, take exit for Giant Highway. Turn right at the end of the off ramp. Turn right when that road dead-ends at a stop light. Cross the train tracks, and immediately after turn right onto Giant Highway. Parchester Village will be on your left. The entrance to Point Pinole is about quarter mile past there, on the left.
Hello all you people who like to and want to take yourself and your kids outside,
It's been a while since I spent some time in the Capital O Outside and Capital K Kids space. That's not to say that I haven't been going outside with my kids (lower case o and lower case k). It's just that I haven't made the time to write about it, or organize us all to meet somewhere outside together. It seems to me that the summer is just naturally outside, without much effort. Birthday parties are at parks, we're going swimming wherever we can, and it's the season for camping. Maybe that's just me, and maybe that's just me rationalizing my way out of neglecting this Outside Kids space and community. I'm sorry for that. The thing is, I haven't forgotten about you. I haven't lost my passion for getting us all outside more.
I've got two outings in the works for you. One will happen later this month in Tilden. It will be a hike and my kids will lead the way. The second will happen in mid October to explore the newly opened trails in the Dotson Family Marsh at Point Pinole. I'll post information soon with dates and details.
While I have you, I have a few recommendations for your eyes:
This is a great book. You might think that you know what a trail is, and that how could there be a whole book about them. But it's about so much more than trails.
This is worth following on Instagram. I know some of you consider yourself unlikely hikers, or that you don't want to use word 'hike.' You prefer that we're going for a walk. You're not alone, and this feed and the associated hashtag are worth tracking.
This is a must-read in my opinion. As the author writes, "Perspective is everything."
Alright, that's it for now. I have to go dunk myself in as much ice as I can find, and buy more fans, and seriously reconsider why we haven't installed air conditioning. I'll be back soon.
(taken while camping this summer, during a blissful 65 degree, foggy day at the beach, oh what i would do for 65 degrees right about now)
Well, it worked. The funding for Explore The Coast through the Coastal Conservancy has been restored. The good people on the CA State Assembly Budget Subcommittee #3 listened to your emails, letters, posts, and tweets. Kids will continue to go outside! People will explore the glorious California coast! Sand crabs will be counted!
I don't usually ask you to do much, besides go outside. But today I am going to ask you to do something. Actually, it's something we need to do today and tomorrow. Well, maybe we could do it a bunch of times between now and Wednesday, May 10 at 9:30am.
There's a really fantastic program called Explore The Coast run by my favorite state agency, the California Coastal Conservancy. The Explore The Coast program provides funding for nonprofits and schools (like Berkeley Unified, where my kids go) to go on field trips and overnight trips to places along the California coast. In April my 5th grader's class spent 2 nights at the Point Bonita YMCA in the Marin Headlands, and a portion of the expenses were paid for with Explore The Coast grant funding. It was life-changing for the kids, and all kinds of awesome (except for a few minutes of pre-teen drama in the girls dorm, but that's a story for another time).
Get this: some kids had never been to the beach before. With Explore The Coast funding, they were able to do this:
The CA Assembly Committee that has oversight on this grant funding is going to vote to reduce or eliminate this grant program. I don't think this is a good idea, and I'm hoping that you agree with me. They're going to discuss this at a meeting on Wednesday, May 10 at 9:30am. And that's where you come in!
Will you join me in telling Assemblymember Richard Bloom, who chairs the committee, that Explore The Coast needs to be funded?
You can send an email. I've written it for you and I have the addresses all ready. Click here.
You can tweet on Twitter with this picture and this picture and these sample tweets. Go nuts and tweet this stuff as many times as you want between now and Tuesday night.
Questions? Ideas? Email me at annie s burke @ gmail . com (spaces just in case some robot is looking to spam me, remove the spaces before sending).
Thank you for reading. Thank you for supporting kids going outside. And thank you for tolerating this side-step from my usual happy, just-go-outside posts.
East Bay Regional Park District recently opened a new entrance to Point Pinole Regional Park, and my kids say it's pretty good. They liked the new bathrooms ("mom, I'd say they're the best park toilets I've ever seen") and the new drinking fountains. These are the things that my kids pay attention to.
I thought the new entrance was great, but it's the green everywhere and wildflowers that got my attention. And the low tide.
After an hour at the beach, my kids whined that they were bored. I said, 'that's nice.' Three minutes later beach golf was born. They found driftwood golf clubs, smoothed out the sand to make fairways, dug shallow craters for the holes, and used an old tennis ball that was at the bottom of my backpack. They played for at least an hour.
Boredom is so cool.
Note: The new entrance is at the western end of Atlas Road in Richmond. From the Richmond Parkway, turn west on Atlas Road and you'll drive right into the park. The new directions aren't up on the District website yet.
Or find yourself a babysitter and make it a date day. However you do it, you're invited to take part in the City Nature Challenge!
Sixteen cities across the country are vying to prove that their area has the most nature and the most nature-loving residents. This is a competition that I wholeheartedly believe in. (the competition that happens at our dining table on who can put the most mac 'n cheese their mouth, not so much)
It's happening April 14-18, 2017. What you need to do is share your findings of plants and animals in any of the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties by uploading photos using the free iNaturalist app. Take photos of nature while out on a hike, while on your walk to lunch, or even in your own backyard! Easy!
Between April 14-18, take photos to make “observations” of wild plants and animals in your backyard, while hiking in a park, along your walk to school or work—anywhere you find nature.
Upload your photos to iNaturalist.
Learn more as the iNaturalist community helps identify your observations.
Interested in taking part in the City Nature Challenge but not sure where to start?
Join the California Academy of Sciences in a morning “bioblitz” of Ring Mountain in Marin on Saturday, April 15, starting at 9 am. Learn how to use iNaturalist, how to carefully search for plants and animals, and how to turn your findings into observations to help the San Francisco Bay Area win the City Nature Challenge! More information and registration found here.
Sooo... jump in, share this info with friends/teachers/classmates, and go have some fun April 14-18. Your kids will think you're super cool.
(photos courtesy of the California Academy of Sciences and the amazing Alison Young and Rebecca Johnson)