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Archive for california

A Revitalized River in California

By Linda Tancs

The Los Angeles River is a 51-mile waterway, meandering from the San Fernando Valley to the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach. For more than 20 years various groups have been working to transform this California treasure into a continuous 51-mile recreational zone. Two recreation zones, Elysian Valley River Recreation Zone and Sepulveda Basin River Recreation Zone, benefit nature lovers with flourishing wildlife and natural habitats. Any member of the public is welcome to walk, fish, canoe and kayak in the recreation zones free of charge. You do not need a permit unless you are part of an organized group. Private vendors also offer guided trips at each of the locations as well as kayaks for rental.

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The Galápagos of North America

By Linda Tancs

Channel Islands National Park is just off the southern California mainland, but in many ways it’s worlds apart. Lightly tread by tourists, the isolation of this chain of five major island groups has resulted in a globally significant biodiverse environment that some refer to as “the Galápagos of North America.” Its paleontological record shows evidence of extinct species such as pygmy mammoth, flightless sea duck, vampire bat and giant deer mouse. Among the living are rare birds, over two dozen species of whales and the largest colonies of seabirds in southern California. Santa Cruz Island, the largest, sports sea caves like Painted Cave, one of the world’s largest and deepest caves. Although the mainland visitor center in Ventura is readily accessible by car or public transportation, the islands are only accessible by park concessionaire boats and planes or private boat. Advance planning is highly recommended.

Fish in the Desert

By Linda Tancs

The Mojave and Colorado Desert regions within California were included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO in 1984, one of only 46 ecosystems in the United States with this special designation. One of the core areas comprising this reserve is Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The park’s name comprises a pairing of famed Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza (who crossed this desert in 1774) and the Spanish word for sheep (“borrego”), referring to the region’s native bighorn sheep. The state’s largest park, its attractions include a desert garden just outside the Visitor Center that identifies vegetation typical of the 600,000-acre park. The desert garden also includes a pupfish pond, a unique species of fish that flourishes in extreme and isolated environments.

Celebrating Failure in Los Angeles

By Linda Tancs

Do you remember Colgate’s foray into frozen dinners? Maybe not, considering the venture was an epic flop. You can reminisce about that and other failed initiatives at the Museum of Failure in Los Angeles. The aim of the venue is to teach that failure is a part of life or, to put it more optimistically, success stories are often borne out of failures along the way. Like Thomas Edison so famously put it, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Trees of Mystery

By Linda Tancs

In the coastal town of Klamath, California, you can walk among giants. California redwoods, that is. In the heart of redwood country is the state’s original redwood nature attraction, Trees of Mystery. The family run preserve has over a mile of interpretative trail to take in the size and scope of these forest wonders, which average eight feet to as much as 20 feet in diameter and some as tall as 375 feet. For a bird’s-eye view, take the sky gondola. Have a green thumb? You can buy a seedling and try to grow your own giant.

Exploring the Unexplained

By Linda Tancs

How do you explain the unexplainable, like extraterrestrial life? A panel of leading experts will take a crack at it when AlienCon convenes this weekend in Pasadena, California. Featuring Giorgio Tsoukalos, the panel includes UFO expert Nick Pope, ancient civilizations expert David Childress and investigative mythologist William Henry. You’ll have the opportunity to take part in celebrity autograph and photo sessions with some of the biggest names in alien exploration and pop culture and to buy specialty merchandise at the marketplace. May the force be with you.

San Francisco’s Little Giant

By Linda Tancs

The Mission District of San Francisco, California, is nowadays a culturally diverse and trendy part of the city. But were it not for a working fire hydrant on April 18, 1906, it would have likely been lost to the ages. That’s when a disastrous earthquake brought the city to its knees, spawning the Great Fire left largely unquenched by a series of broken water mains—except for a certain fire hydrant on the southwest corner of Dolores Park in the western edge of the Mission District. Against all odds, the lone functioning hydrant (nicknamed “little giant”) is credited with saving the district. Each year on April 18 it receives a fresh coat of gold paint.

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