Sunday, April 20, 2014

Family Adventure Travel: Finding Hiking Serenity at Point Lobos Nature Reserve

As we entered Point Lobos State Nature Reserve my 3 year old daughter and I were greeted with canopy of lichen-draped pine trees and rare and endangered Monterey Cypress, the shocking call of a red-tailed hawk soaring high above and the far-off boom of the crashing waves. We knew, right then and there, deep down in our bones, that this was going to be a day we wouldn't soon forget.

With over fourteen square miles of breathtakingly beautiful topography where the rocky central California coast meets the tremendous Pacific Ocean, Point Lobos State Nature Reserve was coined the crown jewel of the California State Park System. Its dramatic and sweeping views offer a perfect spot for sea otter and elephant seal watching and if you happen to be so lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the mighty grey whales as they make the long journey from their feeding grounds in northernmost Alaska all the way down to their sacred breeding grounds at the tip of the Baja Peninsula.

The first part of our day took us to Sea Lion Point and Carmelo Formation, a rock formation estimated to be a whopping 60 million years old! The sea lions did not disappoint, their joyful barking deepening our connection to the land even more. The jutting rocks lay in waiting and V scrambled her way up, down, over and under every single nook and cranny accessible to her, fervently observing and discussing the differences between the various rock formations, colors and textures. So many questions, so much to discover, so much to learn.

Where's V?

As we waved adieu to the starfish and the sea lions, we headed back around Headland Cove where we stopped to watch sea otters playing in the kelp before making our way past the coastal prairie scrub of the Old Veterans Trail and finally arriving at the Cypress Grove trail head. 

Hiking amidst some of the most majestic and magnificent trees, which included California Live Oaks as well as the endangered Monterey Cypress, we were reminded just how unique and meaningful an experience this was, given that the grove we were soaking in is only one of two naturally growing Monterey Cypress stands on Earth. What an honor. I felt so blessed to have the opportunity to show my daughter this pristine and important part of our ecosystem.

The California State Parks's staff does a stellar job of maintaining the trail, in conjunction with the Point Lobos Foundation who provides its visitors with extremely educational and glowing experiences. Their corps of volunteer docents are helpful, knowledgeable and so obviously in love with what they do, fueling a passion for future generations of stewards of this beautiful land, giving them the tools they will need to protect and provide for our Mother Nature.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

[Food Series] Dutch Oven Dover Sole

Last Christmas, my mom gave me the best present ever. A dutch oven! And since that fateful day, I've been dutifully trying to put it to good use. I'm a huge fan of braises and stews, especially seafood stews like ciopinno, so when my hubby came home with some fresh Denver Sole, I knew exactly what to do! I grabbed my dutch oven and started stewing! Enjoy!

Dutch Oven Dover Sole - Recipe

3 fillets of fresh Denver Sole
1 medium Spanish Onion
1 cup Grape Tomatoes
2 Lemons
2 tablespoons fresh Rosemary
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Heat the olive oil in the dutch oven over medium heat. Add the thinly sliced onions to the pot and saute for 15 minutes on low heat with the lid on tight. Add the fish, grape tomatoes (halved), juice of 2 lemons, freshly chopped rosemary, salt and pepper and put the dutch oven lid on snugly. Stew for about 30 minutes. One pot! One incredibly easy, nutritious and delicious meal! We served it with rice and crispy kale! Enjoy!
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