Exploring Monrovia Canyon Falls

Last Friday our hiking group took to the foothills of the San Gabriel mountain range to explore the Monrovia Canyon Falls Trail. The Monrovia Canyon Park boasts some 80 acres of trails and serene picnic areas a mere 10 minutes off the 210 freeway. It was agreed by all in attendance that this is now one of our new favorite trails!
Starting out at the trailhead, you ascend fairly quickly via a number of semi-steep switchbacks with breathtaking views!
The weather couldn’t have been more gorgeous, but I would think that even in the middle of the Los Angeles summer, this would be an ideal trail for toddlers because of its abundance of shade and generally easy incline, just watch out for the poison oak! The kids had a blast navigating the numerous creek crossings and were rewarded handily with an early spring frolic in the falls!
Photo by fellow Mommy Hiker & Blogger Betsy Webster
What better way to spend the day! Lunch on a boulder, next to a creek, listening to the peaceful sounds of the waterfall and exploring nature with the babes!
Photo by Megan Flowers
Next week, we are Big Sur bound!!!! Let the countdown BEGIN!!!!

[Guest Blogger Series] The Metamorphosis of The Great "Outdoors" by Kerem Hanci

Hello Mommy Hiker readers!
My name is Kerem Hanci, I am Jennifer’s husband and a blogger myself (if you would like to follow my Friday Photography Blog, you can do so here).
When Jennifer asked me to do a guest blog spot, I was honored and proud to do so.
I have always loved the outdoors, but, as to be expected, my definition of the “outdoors” has changed dramatically over the years.
When I was growing up, in Istanbul, we used to play soccer all the time.  That was outdoors.
I also have fond memories of family road trips up north to the Black Sea, where my twin brother and I played in the notoriously wild waves under the watchful eyes of my parents.  That was outdoors.
In our teenage years, my father would take us on hunting trips where we spent hours scouring the wet, snowy ground for a few pieces of dry wood to make a campfire big enough to cook our “sucuk-ekmek”, a delicious dry, spiced, cured beef sausage sandwich.  That was outdoors.
Almost every summer, we would end up in Palamutbükü, Datça in the south of Turkey where my parents have a summer house.  We would spend entire days and nights on the beach.  That was outdoors.

Palamutbükü datca turkey
Jen, Vivienne & Me in Palamutbükü this summer
When I lived in France, we used to take day trips with my best friend, almost every Sunday, to the beautiful mountains and plains surrounding Montpellier. That was outdoors.
Then I came to US, and the term “outdoors” took a whole different meaning when my wife and I started camping.  Even while travelling around the globe yearly, we still make it a priority to take advantage of the vast and wonderful State and National Park system of United States.

sunset in playa negra costa rica
Playa Negra, Costa Rica
These camping trips make me appreciate the outdoors more than ever. Even on a cold fall evening, Jennifer and I usually opt for the chilly beach, instead of the warm restaurant steps behind us, counting the stars and listening to the roar of the pacific ocean…

couple on a beach in malibu
Malibu, California
Being a photographer, gives me tremendous opportunities to observe and document nature at its best. Photo shoots take me to outdoor locals far and wide and whether it is cold or hot, it doesn’t matter… I love being there.  Away from the city. Somewhat unplugged.  Any and all opportunity to be out under a blue sky or under a blanket of stars are welcome!

shopping cart on a barren desert floor
Bombay Beach, The Salton Sea
I never pass up an opportunity to get down on the floor for the pure pleasure of seeing and documenting the world from a different angle….

mushroom in a field in iowa
Bettendorf, Iowa
The thing is, since Vivienne arrived and brought an endless joy to our lives, our camping trips, our outdoor activities, even going to the park, has gotten way more interesting and fun.  This does not mean they are not challenging.  For instance, I would never again set our tent on the edge of a cliff looking down to Pacific Ocean from the high coast of Big Sur, at least for a little while! What you see in the following photograph, is the view from the door of our tent around 3am.

camping in big sur
Big Sur, California
I am extremely happy and grateful that I will be able to share all these experiences with my daughter.  I know Jennifer will present a glimpse of all our upcoming adventures with you.
Let me finish by saying this:  I am very proud of Jennifer for first providing a vehicle for our daughter to be active, to learn to connect to nature.  I am proud of her for creating the Mommy Hiker community and starting this blog.  I know the work she puts into it along with her writing, producing and acting career and I am always impressed how she is so patient, educative and loving towards Vivienne while she is handling everything else.  And finally, I am so proud of all the moms and kids (and dads of course) who are part of this Mommy Hiker community.  I look forward to the photography updates of the weekly hikes you all are enjoying on Fridays.  I will make an effort to catch another one of those soon.  Until than, stay well!

hiking in big sur california with an infant
Jen, Vivienne & Me in Big Sur, California

Discovering Big Sur California – The Land of Supreme Beauty

My husband and I discovered camping together, 11 years ago. Neither of us had ever really been camping before, so when we got a wild hair up our @#! to go, I did a quick search online, found a campsite that looked pretty and we jumped on the 101 and headed north. Little did we know, the place we were headed would make a deep and everlasting impression on our lives.

Pacific Coast, Big Sur, California
Big Sur, California. Photo by Kerem Hanci
If you’ve never been to Big Sur, do yourself a favor. Go! It is a sleepy little town where majestic mountains, coastal prairies and the magnificent force of the Pacific Ocean meet to create a continual energy of renewal and peace.
We have gone back almost every single year since that first visit. We have introduced our closest friends to its luscious rivers. When we lost one of our best friends, Katie Kitty a little over two years ago, we knew that was where we would set her (ashes) free to run about the clover beds.

Katie kitty ashes Big Sur, California
Katie’s Place in the Clovers. Photo by Kerem Hanci
So it goes without saying that when we found out we were adding a new member to our family, we immediately started planning our trip to Big Sur. So many things to consider! I mean, we were tent camping pros by this point, but we had never done it with a newborn baby! I jumped on the World Wide Web and started reading! (A little too much)
Mommy Went Crazy, Mistake #1: I bought the biggest tent I could find under $200. One that my 6’1″ husband could fully stand up in! A tent so large we were able to create a bedroom, dining room and storage room! It comfortably fit a queen size air mattress, a pack and play, a large cooler (our dining table), 3 camping chairs (our dining chairs) and all of our gear with room leftover!! Ok, yes, I went a bit overboard. (we have since sold that one and got a mid-size tent that fits us perfectly…for now).

camping with an infant in big sur california
Our Big @#! tent! Photo by Kerem Hanci
Mommy Went Crazy, Mistake #2: I brought the pack and play. This may sound sane to most, but we didn’t end up using the pack and play… because Mommy Went Crazy! When the temperature started dipping in the early evening, I knew she would not be warm enough there and so I took the cushion part of the bassinet attachment off and made a nest out of it, bundled her up excessively and put her between us in the bed. On this one, trust me, that a picture is worth a thousand words and let’s just say that not only did I not sleep at all that night, but the visual of me aiming a red headlamp into the face of the baby every 5 minutes with a crazed look on my face is forever etched into the memory of my husband’s brain!

infant camping big sur, california
Our little bundle of joy! Photo by Kerem Hanci
I remember, during those many months on bedrest, sitting there, the excitement bringing tears to my eyes, thinking soon we’ll be able to show her the streams, the rocks, the waterfalls, the birds, the mist and the bed of clovers where Katie Kitty plays. What a gift to watch her soaking it all in.

camping with an infant in big sur california
Bliss. Photo by Kerem Hanci