Friday, April 29, 2016

6 Outstanding Ways to Celebrate "Kids To Parks Day" on May 21st! #kidsToParks

A "WOW" moment at dusk overlooking Half-Dome in Yosemite National Park with one of my kiddos. 

From our sweet, local, neighborhood parks to our stunning, glorious National Parks which are celebrating 100 years this summer, it’s time to get Kids To Parks on Saturday, May 21st!

How do we get involved? First, register for Kids To Parks Day at www.KidsToParks.org to be counted in the excitement and the chance to win big prizes. Second, sign up for the giveaway right here at the end of this post featuring National Geographic books, and in the meantime…

Third, in honor of the 6th annual Kids To Parks Day celebration, here are 6 FUN, thoughtful, interesting and challenging things to do at a park with kids of all ages:

1 – Throw on a backpack, slather on some sunscreen, and head out for the WOW moments and the sense of accomplishment we get from a big hike in nature.

2 – Find a meadow, spread out a picnic, and enjoy the sensory experience of a delicious feast in the outdoors. Everything tastes better outside! 

3 – Keep it simple. Take off our shoes, wiggle our toes, and run around in the soft, green grass. Feels so, so good. 

Happy kids finding their park!

4 – Seek silence. Which is nearly impossible with a big group of kids, am I right? But let’s try it. Practice listening to nature. Tune into our senses. Find the sounds of the Earth's ecosystem moving and growing and swirling in a symphony around us.

5 – Dip our toes into a fast moving stream. Or a warm, green river. Or an ice-cold, alpine lake. And, if we dare, jump into the water, cannonball-style, on a steaming, hot day!

6 – Find a friend, a neighbor, our mothers and our sisters. And invite them all to join us and our kiddos at a park. Help grow the circle of outdoor lovers. We can guide them and show them the special ways our kids help take care of the earth and all of the creatures in the outdoors. Let’s be ambassadors to parks and become part of the village it takes to treasure them. We know it’s a total win-win for our families and the parks!

Another way to help us all celebrate Kids To Parks Day? By having a Giveaway with books donated by National Geographic and National Park Trust.


For a chance to win these books, enter in the Rafflecopter form below! And help spread the word!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway Disclaimer: One lucky person will win these two books provided by National Parks Trust and National Geographic. Giveaway starts on 4/29/2016 12am EST and ends on 5/6/2016 12am EST. The winner will be notified by email and requires a 48 hour response time. Good luck!


The National Parks Trust is dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. We are so honored to be a part of this movement to connect kids from every walk of life to every kind of park.

See you on the trails and in the parks!
-Annie @OutdoorsyMama

General Disclaimer: Two books were received free of charge from National Parks Trust for review. All opinions are now and always 100% my own.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Outdoor Gear Review: The Luminoodle from Power Practical Shines Bright



My immediate reaction upon unfurling the Luminoodle from it’s small, white pouch the size of an Idaho potato was to play with it. Wrap it around my arm. Wrap it around my dog. Wrap it around my neck. The whimsical, noodly shape that is a string of LED lights in a waterproof casing can’t help but bring out the kid in me. I fiddle with it and start imagining how we can incorporate it into one of next year’s Halloween costumes.

After having fun goofing with it for a while, I then get serious and throw it into our outdoor gear bins to take for a test run as a utilitarian item on our family camping trip in the mountains.

Testing out the Luminoodle at our campsite.
Each night at dusk, we pull out the Luminoodle at the campsite to try it out as a light source as you would a lantern. All campers on the trip agree that it is too bright to have in close proximity to where we are hanging out – it’s not a warm light. We want to shield our eyes when we are near the light strip and to quote a camper: “It made everything else hard to see.” For this reason, I can see it having value as an emergency kit item to have as a back-up lighting source.

Luminoodle creating excellent tent lighting.
Where the Luminoodle really shines bright is when we pull it into the tent with us and hang it from the ceiling using the universal ties. With the tent diffusing the light in similar fashion to the white, nylon bag, the Luminoodle creates a warm glow throughout the tent which we really love.



Product Pros:
Creates bright light
Hangs inside tent easily with universal ties & magnets
Perfect for inside tent lighting – creates warm glow
Fun, string-like shape that can wrap around anything
Charger for electronics with Lithium 4400 Battery

Product Cons:
Too bright to have close to us when outdoors at campsite
Not good for creating ambiance outside

Features:
5 foot LED strip with 26 lights
Waterproof
Universal ties, utility loop, magnets for hanging
White, nylon bag to create “lantern” effect
Add-on: Lithium battery with light 

This product comes from the same creative minds that brought the outdoor world the PowerPot – a camping pot that is actually considered a portable generator which charges your devices as you heat up your water. Pretty cool. Love the ingenuity from this company. Let’s keep an eye on them for sure.

Final word: Best use for inside tent or inside white, nylon bag.

Luminoodle by Power Practical with Lithium 4400 Battery; $39.99




Disclaimer: This product was sent to Outdoorsy Mama free of charge for review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Other outdoor gear reviews:


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

4 Ways to Hike Mt Tamalpais Near San Francisco, California

Mt Tamalpais, California

Hike it, bike it, sled on a cardboard box on the top of it with your kiddo during a rare, snowy day. As I type, you can trek through its brilliant, spring, poppy super-bloom RIGHT NOW and, on many days, gaze at the thick layer of fog covering everything below as you stand on it's towering summit.

Mt Tamalpais, affectionately known at “Mt Tam”, is a beloved landmark in the San Francisco Bay Area just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Soaring 2,574’ above both the Pacific Ocean to the west and the world famous San Francisco Bay to the south and east, Mt Tam is a majestic reminder of the power of two tectonic plates colliding and lifting the earth towards the sky.

The Coastal Miwok, who originally lived in the area, had such a strong relationship with the mountain that they spread a story of an evil witch who lived at the summit to scare away the settlers from exploring their beloved and sacred mountain. Alas, to no avail, settlers also loved Mt Tam and later built a railway that carted countless, eager, adventure seekers to the summit from 1896-1930.

Today, the train is history, and we hike and bike and run those trails – over 100 miles of them – which include a National Monument, a State Park, a watershed, a National Park…. Need I go on? The mountain is a star. A member of the family. A symbol of brilliant conservation and cooperation between agencies and the people who love the land.

So, ready to get out there? 

4 ways to enjoy the trails on Mt Tam:

1 - Private Guided Tours - Tam Hiking Tours

Deb from Tam Hiking Tours, in orange,  with our group at the lookout near the historic West Point Inn on Mt Tam.
Run by the dynamo Deb Schwartz, Deb will work with any group size and level of hiking adventure and tailor a tour to make it exactly what you were dreaming about last night. The big bonus is you get her brilliant wealth of knowledge about the history, geology, plant and wildlife on Mt Tam as she grew up running around on the trails. She’s a pro and just a joy to get to spend time with.

2 - Scheduled Group Tours – Friends of Mt Tam

Gathering for the wildflower hike with Friends of Mt Tam.


For a chance to bond with other like minded nature-lovers while guided by enthusiastic volunteers, Friends of Mt Tam offers a variety of weekly tours at regularly scheduled times. This group was formed specifically to care for the state park and to educate visitors about Mt Tam. They’re our heroes. Be sure to check out their wildflower tour – it’s a stunner.

3 - "Meet-Up" Groups

MJ, Lead Organizer of the Meet-Up group California Backpacking Club, tears it straight up to the summit.
The “Meet-Up” app is on fire with dozens of groups that have Mt Tam as one of their highlighted destinations. I joined MJ, the lead organizer of the Meet-Up "California Backing Club" and we kicked some mountain-butt to the top of Mt Tam. Straight up and straight down. Other groups will highlight speed-hiking, distance-hiking, wine tasting, pot-lucks and other activities along with their hikes. This is a great way to spend the day with people who enjoy similar adventurous outdoor activities on the mountain.

4 - Self-Guided -- Mt Tamalpais State Park

Getting out for our own self-guided hike through fields of poppies on Mt Tamalpais. 

And then, of course, you can just grab your hiking boots and a map and head out on the trails all on your own. With a well marked trail system, you can find yourself deep in the redwood grove of Muir Woods National Monument, soaring up high on the rocky, exposed summit, or meandering along the trails that rise and fall gently along the coastal slopes.

However you choose to explore Mt Tam, prepare to be blow-away.

I left my heart on Mt Tamalpais.

-Annie @OutdoorsyMama


For more hikes click here: Bay Area Hikes & San Francisco