Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bus 439 or Bust

What I learned today is that Metro's 439 bus line is a great way to get downtown, and despite the fact it only runs during commute hours, the uncrowded, unstressful door-to-door service to the big library is worth the wait. (The alternative route on public transportation is a subway and two buses, which is Too Much with a toddler. Meanwhile, driving and parking downtown during the week is just tiresome and/or unspeakably expensive.)

Doodlebug enjoying the fountain out front of the Central Library.

We were just at the main library to lay hands on some specific books, DVDs and audiobooks (I'm tired of waiting for holds to trickle in to our local branch), but we were lucky enough to stumble upon an unscheduled storytime about frogs and Jackson was invited to join the group.

The kid got to sleep through his first subway ride, but I had to wake him up to get him on the first of the two buses home. I compensated him for his interrupted sleep with some ice cream and he (predictably) thought that was a perfectly adequate deal. (This is the last stop on the Purple Line, Wilshire-Western, and this trip reminded me that they seriously need to push that thing to Santa Monica already!) 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Park Day: South Bay Botanic Garden

Today was the free day at the South Coast Botanic Garden, which once upon a time was a landfill and is now a very nice green space on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Here are some highlights:

Jackson's a giant! (Jackson at the three bears' house in the Children's Discovery Garden. Goldilocks is inside and there are three topiary bears just outside the frame of this shot.)

Flowering peach trees in bloom. You could hear these trees buzzing from several feet away because there were so many bees on the blossoms.

Jackson points out a western fence lizard in the wall.

Close-up of a "bluebelly."

Jackson gets into the spirit of the Garden of the Senses, reaching for a scented geranium.

Absolutely loved this garden of the senses, which is full of interesting plants to see, smell and touch, with lots of signs throughout, encouraging interacting with each plant and suggesting which to smell and touch.

Little guy explores a fountain and plot of lavender in the Mediterranean garden.

Little boy, stroller, sage, California poppies. Can you find the lizard?

Hi everybody!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Weekend Outing: El Dorado Nature Center, Long Beach

I'm determined to visit every place in L.A. with Nature in the title between now and May to take advantage of the spring-ness of spring.

Today we hit the El Dorado Nature Center, which features 2.25 miles of trails and a sweet old-timey nature center. This park is great for kids, because it's completely controlled nature. Lots of junk species like mallard ducks and squirrels and slider turtles, lots of flat paths that are great for strollers and toddlers, and very little wildness and/or danger.

Jackson managed the quarter-mile track by himself, and then I carried him most of the way around the one-mile self-guided nature trail and we learned about tree names like "alder" and "oak." ("Oak" made him bust out Okie-dokie-artichokie from LeapFrog Letter Factory, LOL.)

J loved the nature center, because there were owls in the gift shop and they had a great touch table of bones, antlers and horns, which is something that I haven't seen at other museums. This was a nice controlled hike in Long Beach's great El Dorado Regional Park and since it was just a dash (OK, a long dash) down the 405, we'll do it again. The only downside was that it costs $7 to get in to park, but I suppose that's often the case with many nature areas.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Unplanned Park Day: Vista Hermosa Natural Park, Downtown L.A.

We ended up at Vista Hermosa Natural Park quite by accident. We had some time to kill before the Echo Park Branch Library opened (they had some DVDs I wanted) and while looking for lunch, we found this amazing refuge in the city. As you can see from the picture above, this is right in the middle of downtown. That's US Bank Tower (the tallest building west of the Mississippi) in the background, and you can also see Disney Hall from the front gate.
In addition to a children's "adventure area," a random windmill and some of the best native plantings I've seen anywhere in the city, this little park has a waterfall, stream and pond. There were no creatures that I could see in the pond, but Jackson and I thought it was a pretty neat spot, just the same! The majority of the park is lawns, a jogging loop and some healthy and extremely well-maintained native flowers, trees and berry bushes.

I've trained my little naturalist well. This is him enjoying the fragrance of a trail-side sage plant. 

Stairs. Sunlight. Baby.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Park Day: El Segundo Recreation Park

Park Day is back! After a looong holiday hiatus, we're back to our plan of visiting one new park every week. Yesterday was actually a bit of a debacle actually since the winds left me positively crippled with spring allergies and/or Jackson refused to wear a jacket and it was freezing. (Now that doesn't explain why I wasn't wearing a jacket, but anyway, it was cold and I was sick but Jackson had fun just the same.)

El Segundo Recreation Park is a great community park in just south of LAX. Generally speaking, I don't think we'll be back here much since El Segundo residential streets drive me batty. They tend to be very narrow and hilly, not to mention the housing stock is such a mixed bag that it stresses me out. You just can't have a dingbat next to a neo-Craftsman, people. It's crazy--crazy I tell you! That said, the residents of El Segundo are lucky to have this place. There's several rec buildings, lots of playfields and it's just a well-designed, healthy and hearty space. It's a little cramped, because they have jammed a lot of fields, viewer stands, buildings, play areas and walkways into an odd gully, but you do what you gotta do.

We also visited the El Segundo Public Library while we were in the area, and I have to say, the view from the El Segundo Library children's room is one of the most beautiful in the city. Seriously. You look out picture windows onto rolling hills covered with mature sycamores toward the amazing Richardsonian Romanesque El Segundo High School building. The library is clean and quiet and old-fashioned, and again, the residents are very lucky to have these resources!

Jackson loves park day! (That's what I think he's thinking, at least.)
Jackson at the wheel of the toddler playground firetruck.
I just like the light in this shot.

Here's a wide view of the toddler playground. There's a baseball field below (thus the high fence on the right), and on the other side is the El Segundo Co-op Nursery School building, plus some beautiful mature pepper trees and the playground for the older kids.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Spring Is Here

First blossom on our terrifyingly robust Golden Dorset apple tree.

Jackson holds a worm, as gently as can be. "Hi worm. Hi worm."

First blackberry blossoms of the season.

Fava beans have an excellent black and white flower.