Dripping Caves: Hiking Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park @Orange County, California

alisosignA few days before Christmas, we picked up Angel Boy (my son– and yes, we still call him Angel Boy even though he’s thirty-two-years old!) from the John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

We drove RIGHT BY South Coast Plaza but my mind was too excited to see my baby to care about stopping at Chanel or Valentino or Cartier or Gucci or Harry Winston….HARRY WINSTON!!

Crap, did I just miss an opportunity to check out Chanel???

Sigh, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.

Aliso hike

Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park is a jewel of solitude and natural beauty in hectic Orange County.

It comprises approximately 4,500 acres of wilderness and natural open space land. Originally, part of the Juaneno or Acajchemem tribal land, it later was owned by Don Juan Avila, Louis Moulton, the Mission Viejo Company, and now is under the jurisdiction of OC Parks.

Within the park lands are mature oaks, sycamores, and elderberry trees, two year-round streams, and over thirty miles of official trails. Many rare and endangered plants and animals make this park their home. This park is designated as a wildlife sanctuary.

To get to the main trailhead for Aliso & Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, exit the 5 freeway at Alicia Parkway and head towards the ocean.

Of course it was imperative that we feed the child. Whether they’re four or thirty-two, the first thing they think about is FOOD! I had prepared a huge amount of food for the hungry traveler and we ate it at a picnic table near the entrance to the trailhead, under a canopy of old shade trees. He ate a couple of his favorite sandwiches: tuna with celery, apples, nuts, avocado, tomatoes, cheese, and lettuce — along with Lentil Cookies, Snickerdoodles, Veggie Chips, Persimmon Bread, and an apple and an orange. We never fail to marvel at the AMOUNT of food Angel Boy can pack away…and that doesn’t include the nuts and raisins for the hike.

What’s up with that kind of metabolism?

He eats so much and burns it all and needs to eat again every couple of hours or so. This is just his normal — I once took him to an endocrinologist to make sure his levels were OK, and we learned that he’s just an extremely efficient food user. All I can say is that he didn’t get that from me.

After almost eight miles, we drove home — exhausted –but in a good way, and restored by the fragrance of Southern California buckwheat and sage.

Of course it was time for dinner and another feast of epic proportions: the stuff of mom-joy, that’s for sure.

Shadow and light, me and my tugboat man.

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Great blue heron.

aliisobirdA hidden pocket of water.

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More water, rushing over rocks.

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A gorgeous meadow and hills, but look at the houses on the hill.
So close to civilization!

aliso4Fairy-like foot bridge.
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Another cool cave.

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Some leaves DO change color in SoCal!alisotree

A happy mom ‘cos my Angel Boy was home,
even if only for a few days.

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Hiking the Magnificent Crystal Cove State Park With Princess Rosebud

My Birthday Hike

Crystal Cove State Park is in the OC.

That’s Orange County for those of you who didn’t watch The Hills or Real Housewives of Orange County.

It’s about an hour up the road from our little beachy town, near the home of my favorite shopping mecca, South Coast Plaza.

As much as I enjoy playing dress up in diamonds and designer fashion, I LOVE getting dusty and dirty on a trail surrounded by nature.

A couple years ago my son attended a seminar at University of California at Irvine and we hiked Crystal Cove together, but my tugboat man had been out to sea and wasn’t able to join us.

It’s so beautiful that I wanted to share it with him and chose it for my birthday activity.

On my birthday, I get to do anything I want — my mom said so — and who am I to argue when she substantiated my belief that the world revolves around me?

It was a wonderful, happy, magical day!

How to get there

Crystal Cove Directions

The bridge at the beginning of the trail.
The trail we took was about five miles; we couldn’t take the longer one ‘cos of our time constraints.  It starts off heading east up into the hills —
when you’re at the top, you’re facing west —
with an amazingly beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean.

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A little wild rabbit, maybe a cousin of my garden bunny.

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The view from the top of the trail. It’s  breathtaking.

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Beautiful Orange County.
I wonder who lives in those homes overlooking the cove?

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Where we ate lunch…can you spot the quail who came to join us?

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Princess Rosebud in a new Yale shirt, a Mother’s Day gift from Angel Boy.

Lunch Crystal Cove Me and J

Happy Memorial Day to all of our veterans!

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We walked across the street to see the vintage cottages built in the 1930s.
They’re on the beach and available to rent through the
Crystal Cove Alliance. Click here for all the deets.

Located in the heart of Crystal Cove State Park’s 3.5 miles of pristine coastline, the Historic District was first developed as a South Seas movie set due to its seclusion and tropical aura.

The community thrived and became popular for its relaxed, friendly atmosphere and picturesque landscape. In 1979, the Crystal Cove State Park Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Built as a seaside colony in the 1930s and 40s, Crystal Cove endures as a magical escape for visitors who appreciate the opportunity to experience California’s natural and architectural beauty, untouched by time.

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Touring the Visitor’s Center, we took a step back to the 1930s to see what the cottage kitchens used to look like.

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How could anyone not jump in that inviting ocean?

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Not big enough for surfboards, but my two guys had a refreshing swim.

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The outdoor restaurant was full of people enjoying the amazing weather;
check out the nautical flags!

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Oopsie…chemtrails. These are NOT contrails…
Our sunny day turned milky white right before our eyes.

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Next time: My Hello Kitty Birthday Party