Get Outside – January 4, 2012

The New Year is upon us and many of us use the opportunity to assess where we are in our lives and how we might make a positive change for 2012. Commonly, we hear these resolutions: “Get More Exercise”, “Lose Weight”, “Save Money”, or “Spend More Time With Family”. This month, I have a suggestion that could help you accomplish all of these things at the same time: gather up your kids and go for a hike!

At my wife Margaret’s suggestion, the Laurance Family did just this on New Year’s Day and we had a wonderful time. The day started out like a typical, lazy Sunday: my wife watching Premier League soccer and me watching the NFL. Halfway through the Niners game, Margaret turned to me and said, “Let’s go for a hike”. My first thought was, “What about the game?” but then I decided it was time to try something different. Upon hearing the plan, my daughter Charlotte and her friend Lisa were a bit resistant but they agreed to leave the Wii and the iPhones behind and off we went to beautiful Rancho San Antonio Park.

Rancho San Antonio is one of many local parks with great hiking trails and amazing views. There are some flat trails and, if you are up for a challenge and want to get some exercise that really raises your heart rate, there are some very steep hikes as well. In addition, this particular park has a really cool farm called Deer Hollow that is open to the public. And, amazingly, there is no charge to use the park. Think about that the next time you are shelling out big bucks for the movies, or Chuck E. Cheese, or Great America.

We had a really great day. We took a five-mile walk that brought us all the way to the top of the park for a beautiful view of the Bay Area. From this vantage point, we were able to show the kids San Jose, San Francisco and all points in between. Also, we visited the farm and saw a very pregnant goat, some really cool roosters and two very large and somewhat disgusting pigs.

Did the kids complain at times? Of course they did. They were, alternatively, thirsty or hungry or tired. But, they persevered and, for the most part, they enjoyed getting outside, being with each other and exploring this well-maintained natural resource that is so accessible to all of us.

Whether you go to Rancho San Antonio or another park close by, like Huddart or Memorial, I hope that you and your family will make it a point in 2012 to get out of the house, away from the screens and enjoy the great outdoors. California is a beautiful place with great weather and each weekend is an opportunity to do something active together.

-Mr. Laurance