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5/21/17

Let's talk about beaches

A friend asked me for a recommendation for beaches in the East Bay. I realized that I only knew a few, including:



Are there others that you would add to the list? Add them to the comments below or on our Facebook page.

This isn't the East Bay, but Limantour Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore looked like this yesterday before the crowds came and I'd say it's pretty amazing. Just sayin'.


5/8/17

Action alert: Funding for outdoor education!

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.
Ready? Go!

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.





5/6/17

Introducing a new way to arrive at Point Pinole, and also beach golf!

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. 



3/29/17

Looking for something cool to do with older kids?

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!


Participation is easy:


  1. Download the free iNaturalist app to your mobile device.
  2. 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.
  3. Upload your photos to iNaturalist.
  4. 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)

3/18/17

About tomorrow (you don't need me)

Going on outings like a trip to Morgan Territory was easier back when our two kids were in preschool. Back then I was itchin' to make plans and get outside for long amounts of time. They didn't have lots of activities to schedule around. Plus the boys had more energy than I could handle when we were inside the house... take them outside and everyone is happy.

Now as elementary school-ers, they have activities they're involved in and it's harder to make the time to go meandering through beautiful green hills for hours on end. It's not really a good or bad thing. It just is.

As much as I want to, my family can't go to Morgan Territory tomorrow. The baseball game schedule was announced late this week and there are games that we need to be at on Sunday.

BUT YOU SHOULD GO ANYWAY!


Maybe you will see other families at Morgan Territory tomorrow at 11am? Maybe you could self-organize? I'm all for it.

I've heard from a lot of people that you go the day before or the week after our outings. That's great! Yes!

Here are some tips for where to go:

  • There's a great, short loop going counter-clockwise on Volvon Trail to Condor Trail. You start from the parking lot and walk towards a cattle gate on the other side of the picnic area. After going through the gate, turn right up the hill. Follow trail signs from there.
  • For a slightly longer walk, go on a counter-clockwise loop on Volvon Trail to Blue Oak Trail to Hummingbird Trail to Volvon Trail to Condor Trail. 
  • Bring water, food, and sun protection. 
  • Give yourself and your kids permission to run and climb rocks and explore trees. 
  • There might still be some mud, so bring extra shoes to wear afterwards. 

Directions:
From I-580 in Livermore, exit onto N. Livermore Ave. and turn north. Shortly after N. Livermore curves left (west), turn right onto Morgan Territory Road and follow it for about 5.5 miles to the staging area. This is one of my favorite drives in the Bay Area.

Note that Morgan Territory Road is closed between Marsh Creek Road and the park's trailhead. So don't attempt getting there from the north and places like Clayton. You have to go in from the south which is Livermore (the directions above).