Backpacks Filled with Love…and really cool markers!

Going back to school after summer vacation is a pretty exciting time for kids. I remember standing at the mail box waiting for the mailman to come to deliver class assignments (yes, I’m dating myself, it was before everything was digital and they came via snail mail) and then calling all of my friends to see if they were in the same class as me.

For some families, it’s not as much fun because along with back-to-school excitement is the daunting prospect of being able to afford school supplies.  If you have been in a Target lately, things are expensive!   By the time you fill a backpack with the basic essentials, it adds up quickly.   When you have more than one child, it sometimes creates a financial hardship or they will not even get a backpack.  It’s one of those things I never really thought about and really took for granted.

Helping Hands Orange County, my community group, is doing our annual backpack drive to help kids in our communities go back to school in style!   This is our 5th year in providing backpacks and it has been so much fun.  Who doesn’t want a Disney Star Wars Kids Backpackfilled with fun surprises?  I still get excited about backpack shopping as an adult (yes, that’s the nerdy part of me showing itself;  I recently bought a pretty cool backpack from REI for hiking).    We are partnering with the Orange County Family Justice Center in Anaheim, CA to provide backpacks for the kids in their program.  In case you are not familiar with them, the OCFJC provides assistance to Survivors of Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, Sexual Assault and Elder/Dependent Adult Abuse.  The kids in their program are certainly deserving!  More information on them can be found on their website at:

http://www.anaheimfamilyjusticecenter.org

In every community, there are kids in need.  A backpack (under $10!), some pencils, markers and any other items will go a long way in starting off the school year in a great place.  If you are local to Orange County, CA and want to donate a backpack or school supplies to put into it, please let me know!  If you are farther away, Amazon Prime ships for free!  Or, if you want to give back in your own community, it costs less than $20 to fill a backpack.    You can hang one at your work and let your employees fill it, one pack of crayons at a time!   Here is a list of the most common school supplies that kids need to start with.

Please consider supporting children in one way or another.  It will make your heart very happy and make a huge difference in the life of a child starting the new school year!   xo

 

A Ghostly Adventure in Calico Ghost Town

The drive through the Mojave Desert to get to either Laughlin or Las Vegas is long with not much to see. I’ve taken that road many times and have seen the sign for Calico Ghost Town but hate long car rides and don’t like to stop if I don’t have to. On our trip home from Laughlin this past weekend, we took the exit to Calico and spent a few hours visiting this old mining town. It was actually a great way to break up the drive and learn a little more about California history.  Oh, and they have really good french toast at the Calico House Restaurant!! Continue reading “A Ghostly Adventure in Calico Ghost Town”

The Reluctant Model

Hello 🙂

Today I realized that I never really wrote an About Me.   I’m great at being the “behind the scenes” person, not front and center.   But if you have been kind enough to read my blog and are one of those people who has taken the time to write very sweet comments on my posts, I should at least tell you something about myself!  Here goes.

My name is Patty….  I work full time handing sales and events for a restaurant company in Orange County.   I’m one of the lucky people who actually  likes their job, and loves the people I work with, a good thing since four of us share a converted closet as an office.   I’m only 7 miles from home, which makes it an easy commute.    If I had to drive long distances on these crazy freeways every  day, you would be reading the “about me” in a news story somewhere about a woman who went into road rage! Hopefully if that happens, it makes the top story on the news at 11 pm.   Preferably ABC news, I love Channel 7. Continue reading “The Reluctant Model”

Where in the World is Bonaire?

Less than one hundred miles off of the north coast of South America (near the western part of Venezuela) are the A-B-C Islands.   The three islands are Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. I had no idea where they were since honestly geography was never one of my favorite subjects. And the only thing I knew about Aruba was that Natalee Holloway disappeared there and was never found.

When we were looking for a place for a scuba vacation and my friend Al from Bay Adventures mentioned Bonaire as a possible location. After an extensive Google search, I discovered that Bonaire was a small island (112 square miles) with amazing scuba diving sites.  Once I saw the beautiful dive photos, I was excited about planning a vacation there.

We spent an amazing week in Bonaire! The weather was perfect and the water temperature was 79 – 80 degrees. I didn’t even need to wear a wetsuit and just wore a light dive skin. There are more than 350 fish species and 57 species of soft and stony coral and theyt truly live up to their claim of being a diver’s paradise. The sea life and coral was perfect for underwater photography. Since I’m pretty new to photography, I was really excited to take pictures and was surprised at how well they came out. There was so much to see there!

Our trip included two dives each morning off of a boat which took us to some great dive sites that were not accessible by land. The boat captains and dive masters were very knowledgeable and made us feel like we were old friends. It was fun to spend our week with  them.    

We rented a small pick up truck with racks in the back where we could load up scuba tanks and drive around the island in the afternoon. There are 54 shore dive sites on the island, so there were plenty of options. One of the things I thought was really cool was that when you drove around the island to try to find the dive sites, their directional signs were big rocks painted bright yellow with the name of the dive site on them. When you saw one of the rocks, you could turn down the street and it took you right up to the edge of the water where you could park, put on your gear and walk into the water which was very calm. It was the easiest shore diving I had ever done.

One of my favorite dives was a shore dive where we saw a baby sea turtle.   It was just swimming freely and I tried to catch up to it. One of my friends who was diving  with me was able to take a short video of me swimming with the turtle. It is one of my favorite videos!

On one of our non dive days, we visited a rum distillery. The Cadushy distillery was a unique experience where they showed us how they  could make liqueur from cactus. It was really interesting, and of course we were able to sample them. On the way back from the distillery, we were driving down the road and all of a sudden there was a big donkey on the side of the road! We had to pull over, of course and I tried to feed the donkey a banana but he wasn’t having any of it. I wanted to try to get closer to him for some good photos but he was not in a friendly mood.

 Bonaire has very little rain and is extremely dry, similar to the Arizona desert. It does not support much vegetation, so they don’t export much. One of the things they do export is salt.  Cargill, one of the world’s largest privately held companies based in Minnesota, owns the southern part of Bonaire. They use it as a solar salt farm. They have giant man-made ponds, which they fill with sea water, seal off, and then over a period of months, let the sun and warm climate evaporate the water, leaving only minerals behind.   The salt looks like little white mountains which can be as high as 60+ feet high. It’s pretty cool to see and I wanted to make “snow angels” in all that salt LOL.

The island was amazing and I’m looking forward to our next dive trip there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If a tree falls in the forest…..

My schedule has been a little crazy lately.   With a few busy weeks at work,  trying to keep up with writing content for my site, finding the right pictures for Instagram and reading everything I can about how to generate blog traffic, I finally hit the wall and decided it was time for a much needed day away from technology.   Usually my phone is in my hand most of the day checking email, scanning social media and taking pictures, and my brain was finally tired!  The world was going to have to survive for one day without me.

We woke up early today, grabbed the cameras  and took off for a day of hiking and adventuring.  It was a gorgeous day and after a short drive, we found ourselves in the San Gabriel mountains.   The drive to Crystal Lake up highway 39 is beautiful and scenic.  It’s only a 40 minute drive from home but seemed much farther away.     There are a bunch of places where you can pull off the road and take pictures, and the clouds cooperated and burned off as we drove up the mountain.  What a great place to hike, walk and explore!

It was an easy hike and we saw snakes, a lizard and lots of squirrels. There are also bears, deer and other wild life there but the campground area was really busy with the holiday weekend so I’m sure they were staying clear of the crazy campers.  The lake was really pretty but very small. Sadly, it’s slowly drying up and not as big as it used to be.   The water is really clear but they don’t allow swimming in it.   There were huge trees with the biggest roots!  One of the trees had fallen over (the reason for the title of the post) and for some reason I really liked the way it photographed.

**PSA** – Hopefully you are still reading because I’m going to insert a short Public Service Announcement:  Although you should bring plenty of water and hydrate often while on a hike, PLEASE FIND AN ALTERNATIVE TO DISPOSABLE WATER BOTTLES!   It was disappointing to see so many empty water bottles during our hike (along with a variety of other trash items).    It’s great to know that people are very conscious about hydration, but there are trash bins everywhere. Why can’t people use them?     Last year, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38.  A reusable water bottle is not only good for the environment but will save you money 🙂

Here is a picture (link) to my favorite water bottle, which has a filter so you can fill it anywhere and a clip to easily attach to your backpack.    There are a lot of  options to choose from, but any of them are better than using the plastic water bottles and then throwing them away or leaving them on the ground.

Back to the hike….Everyone should take a day every now and then and just reconnect with nature. I know it sounds cliche but with how busy our lives are and the amount of time we spend with various digital devices, spending a day away from it all is much needed.  It felt so good to breathe fresh air and to feel the sun shining on my face.  Every so often I would stop and listen….to nothing!  It was so quiet and I enjoyed the silence so much!   Today was a great way to recharge.  Where is your  favorite place to hike? Please let me know!