Know Your History, Know Your Parks – Part 3

CSPF’s third Hidden Stories Series conference, Folding Back the Layers of California’s Latino/a History: The Stories Beneath the Stories, is taking place on October 2 and 3 in Los Angeles … just in time for Hispanic Heritage Month! Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 through October 15.

The 2013 Hidden Stories conference will explore Latino history in the context of California’s state parks. This conference seeks to go beyond existing interpretation of historical Latino figures to look at “the stories beneath the stories,” or going beyond what is commonly known in order to uncover how these figures shaped our history, influenced our society, and left permanent, although unrecognized, impressions on our state.

Find out more info…

SNEAK PEEK: Ranchos Camulos

One Hidden Stories presenter, Margie Brown-Coronel, Ph.D., gave us some awesome factoids as a preview to the conference:

  • Rancho Camulos (located on border of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties) has had only two owners since its original Mexican Land Grant in 1839 – the del Valle Family and the Rubel Family. Today it is a National Historic Landmark and open to the public part of the week.
  • The large family portrait used in the conference promotional literature was taken at Rancho Camulos. The event was one of many family barbeques that the del Valle family hosted from the late 1860s to the early twentieth century. The original photo can be found at the Seaver Center for Western Research at Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Find out more about Rancho Camulos here, or at the Hidden Stories Conference on October 2 and 3. Today is the last day to get tickets!

Fall Is Here!

James Kenney Malibu Canyon SP

Malibu Canyon State Park shows its fallish colors. Photo ©James Kennedy

A monumental seasonal event takes place this Sunday—the Autumnal Equinox. Equal day, and equal night. Every day forward will have less light, and more darkness. The front door is officially open to the wonders of fall in California and our parks.

Get used to seeing more of the night sky! Fall and winter constellations are fantastic. About 30 minutes after full sunset on Sunday (and before that waning but still powerful Harvest Moon rises at just after 9 p.m.) look to the southwest and several prominent celestial bodies can be seen. The planet Venus is the brightest, but you can also spot Saturn a bit higher than Venus. Hanging down low just above the horizon is Mercury. Another standout, a star this time, will be the star Spica—the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, and the 15th brightest overall. As fall progresses, some classic and prominent constellations take over the sky, such as the stalwarts of Cassiopeia, and the Little Dipper and the Big Dipper. But Orion, Taurus, and the star Sirius (the brightest in the sky!) in Canis Major. The Swan and The Eagle flying across the sky will help you see the Milky Way (along with Cassiopeia).

Back down on the ground all sorts of things begin to change and move around. Some birds begin to wing their way south. Up to 1.5 million Eared Grebes have been recorded on Mono Lake in the fall. Millions of ducks and geese fill the central valley, and numerous birds of prey make their way south across the state.

And, yes, we do have seasons and fall color here in California! While counting those Grebes at Mono Lake, or while driving back toward the Sierra from Bodie State Historic Park, scan the precipitous eastern slope of the Sierra and marvel at swaths of orange and yellow as entire hillsides of quaking aspens turn. Drive around Lake Tahoe, or through the Gold Country and its numerous state parks, and fall foliage abounds.

See yourself in state parks this fall. Photo ©Jim Duckworth

See yourself in state parks this fall. Photo ©Jim Duckworth

The word on the trail is that two classic indicators (OK, three) are telling us it will be a wetter and cooler winter than normal here in California. The first two have been handed down by California’s native inhabitants—when acorns drop earlier than normal (and they did), and bear’s coats are thick and shiny early (and they are), then winter is coming early and strong. Also, the Farmer’s Almanac calls for the same thing. And nobody dare doubt the Farmer’s Almanac!

So, plan your trips accordingly state park lovers! Whether you are a night gazer, birder, fall color enthusiast, cool weather hiker, or snow fanatic, the fall (and soon the winter) has plenty to offer.

What is your favorite fall activity in a state park?