Obesity, Depression and ADD
Are Linked to Fewer Hours Outdoors.

Yesteryear: I don’t know about you, but I remember my summers filled exploring the outdoors. My mom kicked us out of the house after breakfast. As soon as our chores were done we disappeared. We spent hours picking blackberries and selling them by the basket. We squeezed mud between our toes in the muddy banks of a local pond. We caught pollywogs in mason jars. We swam in lakes. We camped out under the stars. I brought home loads of red, yellow and orange fall leaves. Once, I sat still enough that a butterfly landed on my shoulder. More often, I was so loud that I scared coveys of quail from their hiding places. We followed deer trails and marveled at the size of trees. We made up games and played make believe….all the while surrounded by nature.

At the time we didn’t realize that we were getting tons of exercise and helping our bodies grow into strong, active adults. We were learning the crucial adult skills of negotiation, reasoning, getting angry and forgiving and how to think for ourselves.

Today: The latest study shows that children spend more than 7 hours a day behind some sort of screen, be it TV, computer, cell phones or video games. Whether we approve or not, the digital world is contributing more to the social development of our kids than the corporeal world.  While the educational pros of technology are significant, time lost from free play outdoors has additional costs.  Obesity in children has tripled in the last 30 years.  Children stay indoors more than we did, occupy themselves with technology and invest in virtual realities.  Often times, the only outdoor activities dominating children’s schedules are structured activities and team sports.  Overinvolved, overprotective “helicopter parenting” has become the new norm.  Young people who have trouble fitting in socially, live with anxiety and lack self-assurance can be directly linked to the absence of “free-play” where executive reasoning and social skills are developed. The Center for Disease Control reported that suicide is the 3 rd leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds.

Children & Nature Network: Not everyone agrees that there is a link between the lack of outdoor activity and the increasing challenges facing today’s youth. However, most of us can see the connection quite clearly. Movements are going on around the country trying to connect kids with nature. The Children and Nature Network is leading the way, coordinating efforts of other organizations and programs. Founder, Richard Louv, authored Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle. These books and the childrenandnature.org website are great starting points to making a positive change for your children or grandchildren.

Planning on Camping?
Then Plan it with MyCampMate

Need to find some firewood? Want to let your camping “mates” know where the best coffee is? Want to share the cool tree fort your kids just discovered with other parents? Mycampmate was designed to do just that. A variety of pins get placed by campers sharing their favorite places and stop overs. The mobile app lets you connect these pins and places via Facebook & Twitter. In fact, I just “pinned” the best climbing trees/tree fort near Bodega Bay, California. See if you can find it!

Download the IPhone or IPad version at ITunes or you can get the desktop version at MyCampMate.com. Android is in the works.

Featured Region

California’s 25,000 square miles of desert runs from Deep Springs south to the Mexican border, and west from the Arizona border to Palm Springs and the town of Mojave. Considered California’s “Outback,” the desert regions offer warm air, unique outdoor adventures, and a chance at an escaping solitude. The area is known for its spectacular sunsets and at night, far from city lights, the stars fill the heavens in an amazing celestial show.

The California desert is one of the top outdoor recreation areas in the continental United States. Every year recreationists to the area are estimated to spend more than $230 million visiting the region and its national parks have nearly 3 million visitors annually. With the abundance of trails from which to experience painted mountains to Native American sites, hidden springs to desert tortoise, and world-famous wildflowers to herds of majestic bighorn sheep, it is no wonder travelers have long been drawn to the stark beauty of California’s desert.

Popular destinations include, Route 66, which Smithsonian Magazine named as one of the ‘10 Must-See Endangered Cultural Treasures,’ wildlife viewing of the hundreds of birds at the Salton Sea, the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area with more than 80,000 acres of magnificent desert area open for off-highway exploration and recreation, and the magnificent Palm Springs.

In contrast to its harsh rugged side, the desert also offers many oasis’s of luxury. Relaxation is key at the innovative spas in Desert Hot Spring, famous throughout the world for its natural hot mineral waters. El Paseo Drive in downtown Palm Desert is often compared to Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive with an upscale shopping district featuring 150 boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants. Outstanding golf venues abound in Palm Springs where the pros and stars swing their irons on famous courses.

For more information on California’s Deserts, click here .

Featured Wildlife Viewing Area:
Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

One of the Mojave Desert's largest cottonwood and willow woodlands lines a creek favored by raccoons, ringtails, great-horned owls, and many songbirds, such as the vermilion flycatcher, brown crested flycatcher, and summer tanager


This narrow canyon oasis in the Little San Bernardino Mountains sustains five plant communities and about 250 bird species. Trails lead past cat's claw and Mojave yucca that conceal Gambel's quail, white-tailed antelope squirrels and side-blotched lizards. Loggerhead shrikes, northern mockingbirds, and western scrub jays perch among California junipers. Seemingly barren, the desert washes hide cactus wrens, phainopeplas, Merriam's kangaroo rats, and a variety of snakes. One of the Mojave desert's largest cottonwood and willow woodlands lines a creek favored by raccoons, ringtails, great-horned owls, and many songbirds, such as the vermilion flycatcher, brown crested flycatcher, and summer tanager. In the summer, watch here for rare peninsular bighorn sheep at dawn and dusk. Look for nesting Virginia rails, marsh wrens, and common yellowthroats from the marsh boardwalk. Nearby fields attract Say's phoebes, Cassin's kingbirds and several birds of prey.

The Morongo fault running through the canyon causes water draining from the surrounding mountains to form Big Morongo Creek and the marsh habitat. At 31,000 acres with elevations ranging from 600 feet on the canyon floor to 3000 feet at the top of the ridge, this diverse landscape has been an important part of the Morongo Basin's natural and cultural history for almost two billion years. For centuries, nomadic tribes used Big Morongo Canyon as an easy route between the high and low deserts. The last people to inhabit the canyon before the arrival of white settlers were the Morongos, a powerful clan of Serrano Indians. In 1862 smallpox destroyed more than half the Indian population of Morongo Valley. Survivors were moved to a reservation near Banning, and Big Morongo Canyon became a working ranch, passing from one rancher to another until 1968.

The Habitat: 

The cottonwood oasis and marsh is one of the largest in the Mojave Desert. The Preserve also includes transitional areas representative of the Sonoran Desert and coastal environments.

The Experience: 

This is one of the largest water sources for wildlife in the Mojave Desert

Where to Find It: 

Northwest of Palm Springs on Interstate 10, take Highway 62 north to Morongo Valley. Turn right on East Drive, continuing 3 blocks to entrance.

For more information visit CAWatchableWildlife.com.

Featured Desert Hikes …

Hikes Peak

Hikespeak.com has over 50 different trails in California’s deserts listed from north to south. Each trail links to its own report complete with photos, maps, directions and all the other information needed to locate and enjoy these trails. If you are new to desert hiking, you need to learn a new set of skills and guidelines. It’s similar to alpine hiking, but does have some important twists. The Hiking Dude has some great suggestions and tips. Make sure to read before head out over those dunes!

Featured State Park:
Red Rock Canyon State Park

Red Rock Canyon State Park features scenic desert cliffs, buttes and spectacular rock formations. The park is located where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converge with the El Paso Range. Each tributary canyon is unique, with dramatic shapes and vivid colors.  

Historically, the area was once home to the Kawaiisu Indians, who left petroglyphs in the El Paso Mountains and other evidence of their inhabitation. The spectacular gash situated at the western edge of the El Paso mountain range was on the Native American trade route for thousands of years. During the early 1870s, the colorful rock formations in the park served as landmarks for 20-mule team freight wagons that stopped for water. About 1850, it was used by the footsore survivors of the famous Death Valley trek including members of the Arcane and Bennett families along with some of the Illinois Jayhawkers. The park now protects significant paleontology sites and the remains of 1890s-era mining operations, and has been the site for a number of movies.

After wet winters, the park's floral displays are stunning. This winter was very dry so the wildflowers should be sparse this year, but the beauty of the desert, combined with the geologic features make this park a camper's favorite destination. Wildlife you may encounter includes roadrunners, hawks, lizards, mice and squirrels.

For more information visit California State Parks

Preserving Autumn Leaves

by Michelle Jones

My oldest daughter recently completed a leaf collection for a school project, but they really missed out.  Instead of collecting regular everyday green leaves, how pretty an array of red, orange and yellow would have been!  

Besides the old fashioned way of drying flowers and leaves between sheets of paper under a heavy book, here's a few more tips for preserving those beautiful reminders of Autumn.

Wax Paper - Take the leaves and place them between two paper towels.  Dry one side of the leaves by ironing them for 10 minutes, on medium heat without steam (move iron continuously). Then turn the leaves over and using a fresh paper towel, repeat process for about 5 minutes. 

Now take the dried leaves and place them in-between two sheets of waxed paper, waxy side against the leaves.  Add another sheet of waxed paper to protect the iron and press them again for a minute or so, until the leaves are coated with wax.

Now, peel off the waxed paper and see how the leaves have become beautifully preserved. 

Microwave - Try drying your leaves in the microwave oven, by placing them between double layers of paper towels.  Start with 30 seconds and continue until the leaves are completely dry (use caution as leaves can catch on fire.)

Glycerin - We found two ways of using Glycerin to preserve leaves, the first is to place the leaves in a flat pan in a single layer, then cover with a mixture of one part glycerin and two parts water.  Then weight the leaves down to keep them submerged for 2-6 days.  Remove the leaves and dry with paper towels.

The second way is to bring the mixture of 1 part glycerin and 2 parts water to a boil in a saucepan.  Pour the mixture into a heat-proof container and submerge a few leaves.  Keep in a dark, cool place until the leaves begin to change color slightly.  Remove the leaves and dry with paper towels. 

Going, Going... Whichever way you choose to preserve those beautiful Autumn leaves is fine, just make sure to collect them before they're gone!

RVCookingShow.com’s Featured Recipe…

Roast Pork Loin Arista

Evanne Schmarder cooks up some great pork during her visit to Desert Hot Springs, CA. It is located in a cluster of posh towns that enjoy the attention of former presidents and movie stars - Palm Springs, Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage. Known for their healing hot non-sulfuric mineral water, several RV parks and resorts in Desert Hot Springs sport hot tubs and swimming pools brimming with the stuff. And have you ever seen a real-life oasis?  

Serves: 4 Difficulty: Moderate Meal: Main Dish.

California Events and Fun Happenings!

Event Town Dates
Fall Color Leaf Tour Plumas County Fall
Veterans Day Celebration with Howie Mandel Riverside Nov 11
National Parks Free Entrance Throughout California Nov 11-13
Glow Ball Golf Oakhurst Nov 11-13
Hotlanta Dixieland Jazz Band Bishop Nov 15
Honey Festival El Centro Nov 19
La Quinta Blues & Brews La Quinta Nov 19
Desert Cities Woman's Show Indian Wells Nov 19-20
Dixieland Jazz Festival San Diego Nov 23-27
ESPN College Basketball "76 Classic" Anaheim Nov 24-27
Weed's Old Fashioned Christmas Weed Nov 25
Riverside Festival of Lights Riverside Nov 25 - Jan 8
Surfin' Santa Capitola Nov 26-27
Thanksgiving Weekend at Ventura Harbor Village Ventura Nov 26-27
Holiday Gift Fair Eureka Nov 26-27
Pacific Gray Whale Watching Trips in Oxnard Oxnard Dec-March
Christmas at Columbia State Historic Park Columbia Throughout December
Balboa Park December Nights San Diego Dec 2-3
"A Christmas with Scrooge" Irvine Dec 2-22
Graeagle Holiday Festival Graeagle Dec 3
Magical County Christmas Celebration Susanville Dec 3
Holiday Craft Fair Mill Valley Dec 3
Winter Wonderland & Christmas Tree Lighting Apple Valley Dec 3
Fortuna Electric Lighted Parade Fortuna Dec 9
Holiday Boat Parade Marina del Rey Dec 10
Christmas in Coloma Coloma Dec 10-11
L.A. Holiday Celebration Los Angeles Dec 24

There's so much more! Search the Calendar of Events for events throughout the summer! Or, plan now for the fall! You may find your next adventure there!


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