Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hot Spots for Bird Nerds - Travel and Birding Go Hand in Hand

Today, I am happy to share a blog guest post from Joe Laing, the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals. — Karen Kefauver

Hot Spots for Bird Nerds
By Joe Laing, El Monte RV

We've all seen them -- maybe there's even one in your family. These types of travelers always have binoculars around their neck and a notebook and field guide in their pocket, eyes peeled on the forest canopy for a flash of color or a tell-tale song.

For an initiation into 'bird nerding' at its very best, take a wintertime trip through southern New Mexico. At roadside restaurants along desolate Interstate 25, you'll overhear travelers and locals carrying on about the spectacle of thousands of geese and sandhill cranes.
The hidden spots where migrating birds gather in the fall and spring, flocking in numbers that make their human visitors feel insignificant, are destinations that many RVers and weekend warriors hit the road in pursuit of finding.

Here are some of the best spots for seeing huge numbers of birds in the U.S.:

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
Chen caerulescens -Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico, USA -two-8a

This is bird country! Translating to 'woods of the Apache,' Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is a sprawling, unexpected wetland oasis in the middle of New Mexico, making it a logical stop on migration routes. Literally tens of thousands of sandhill cranes descend here in late fall and remain through the winter, along with equal numbers of Arctic geese.
There's no way to explain the sound or spectacle of 20,000 or more geese in one place, stretching for what looks like miles, or the awe that 100 sandhill cranes circling down and landing in unison can inspire.

Give yourself a full day or two here, making sure to arrive before sunrise and staying for sunset, when birds return from miles around to roost for the night. Campers can set up shop at the nearby Bosque Birdwatchers RV Park, where you're bound to encounter fellow recently christened bird nerds to revel about your day's adventures.

Cape May, New Jersey
Mute Swan Cape May RWD

At the Garden State's southern tip, Cape May stretches out into the ocean like a wild, windswept expanse, belying the urban jungle that lies just up the coast. Protected as a National Wildlife Refuge, the beach and maritime forest is ground zero for migrant and nesting songbirds, including warblers, flycatchers, orioles, and vireos. Snow Geese, Tundra Swans, and several species of ducks also winter here, before the spring brings huge numbers of shorebirds. It's a premier year-round birding destination on the East Coast, with plenty of local campgrounds and RV parks to stay for a weekend or longer.

Mono Lake, California
Bird on tufa at Mono Lake-1000px

Considered to be the oldest lake in North America, Mono Lake's water is highly alkaline and far saltier than the ocean, but it still harbors billions of tiny brine shrimp. These serve as an all-you-can-eat buffet for tens of thousands of Eared Grebes and Wilson's Phalaropes that stop through on their migration route. If you're able to get on the water, the lake's volcanic islands also serve as primary rookeries for California gulls, attracting as many as 60,000 during the summer months to breed. It's a stunning but cacophonous spectacle.

Flamingo, Florida
Three Roseate spoonbills

Literally at the end of the road through the Everglades, Flamingo is aptly named, although no breeding flamingo populations still exist in the state. There are, however, plenty of tall pink birds (the real ones, not the plastic yard variety) called Roseate Spoonbills. Look out for massive wading flocks of these gorgeous, curious birds, along with huge numbers of wood storks, egrets, herons, and ibis. It's a great place to pitch a tent or park your RV and stay put for awhile -- after all, why turn around immediately when you hit the end of the road? The birds are staying put.
Have birds ever swept you off your feet? Where are your favorite places to see huge flocks of birds?

About the Author
Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals your nationwide source for RV rentals. El Monte RV also sells used motorhomes through eight different locations across the United States. For more information on purchasing a used motorhome see

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

California State Parks in Central California Host Fun Labor Day Family Activities

Located off Highway 9 in Felton, CA  (831) 335-7077
 Birding for Beginners – A Walk in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park with a Naturalist
Saturday, September 1 at 8:00 AM
Explore Henry Cowell’s river and meadow habitats while sharing basic birding knowledge. Walk leader is a park naturalist.  Binoculars and bird identification guides are available to borrow for this walk.  Approximately 1 mile / 2 hours, leisurely pace, no elevation gain. Dress in layers. Bring water and snacks. Optional “chalk-talk” after the walk – to cover binocular selection birding books and apps, birding hot-spots, etc.  Meet at 8:00 AM in front of the Nature Store (edge of parking lot) at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.  Enter the park from Hwy 9 just south of downtown Felton, CA. Heavy rain cancels.

Located off State Park Drive in Aptos, CA  (831) 685-6444

* Family Beach Discovery Walk
Saturday, September 1 at 1:00 PM

Join docent Norm Beeson for a fun filled family beach walk to explore the mysteries and wonders of Seacliff State Beach and the shoreline along our incredible Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  We’ll see what the day has to offer on this easy, 1.5 mile, 1 and a half hour walk.  Bring beach friendly shoes, water, sunscreen, a snack and an inquisitive spirit.  Meet at the Seacliff Visitor Center at 1:00p.m.

Located off Mission Plaza on School Street overlooking downtown Santa Cruz 

* California Mission Ride Event in Santa Cruz
Saturday, September 1 from 3:30p.m to 8:00p.m.
Meet participants of The California Mission Ride: a 600 mile horseback journey through the past and for the present. The seven riders have been immersed in Mission history and asked themselves; what would happen if we rode from mission to mission on horseback? Could it even be done today? They decided to find out, and make an educational documentary film about the journey along their way. We’ll welcome the riders to the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park with a bicycle escort. Sample dinner fare from local organic farms and ranches, make your own tortilla on the comal, and enjoy live music and games for kids. Then we’ll gather around for cowboy music and storytellers bringing Ohlonean voices and California history to our campfire. Admission is Free. Food can be purchased from local vendors. 
Located two miles north of Santa Cruz, on Highway  (831) 426-0505

* Wilder Ranch Tour of the Ranch Buildings—Saturday and Sunday at 1:00p.m.
* Living History Demonstrations on many weekends from 11:00a.m. to 3:00p.m.  
Step back in time to visit a circa 1900 dairy ranch in Santa Cruz County at Wilder Ranch State Park.  At 1:00p.m., join the 1-hour tour of the 1897 Victorian home, 1896 water-powered machine shop, and other historic buildings. In addition to the tour, docents are often present to lead living history demonstrations; you may learn about hand quilting, watch blacksmithing, or learn about the Meder Family voyage to California. Bring a picnic to enjoy on the front lawn or picnic tables, visit the farm animals and see what activities are taking place on the ranch this weekend!

* Wilder Ranch Coast Nature Walks
Saturday, September 1 at 11:00 a.m.
On these two-hour natural history excursions you will explore the plants, animals, and geology of the spectacular coastal bluffs. Meet at the Wilder Ranch interpretive center. Bring a snack, water, binoculars, and good walking shoes.  Binoculars are available to borrow.  Walk is canceled if rain.

Events made possible by California State Park Docents, California State Parks and Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks

Located off Highway 236. Turn left on Little Basin Rd. go 1.6 miles to the campground.
Little Basin offers free campfire programs, guided hikes, and kid’s programs on Saturdays and offers customized fee-based programs and multi-day programs throughout the month.  Ask us about naturalist-led hikes or group programs that we can provide for your family or group. Some programs require registration, so check the description below, and contact us at the WOLF School Office at (831) 338-8018, via Facebook or by emailing All programs are provided by WOLF School,    Programs are free unless otherwise noted.

Junior Rangers- 1 hour program for children
Saturdays in September at 4:00pm and
Sunday, September 2 at 10:00am
Discover the fascinating secrets of the forest.  Explore nature, practice outdoor skills, and play games as you learn about plants, animals, geology, and more.  This one-hour program is for kids ages 7-12 only.  Sorry parents, this program is just for the kids!  Please register your child 15 minutes, and be sure your child is dressed for active play in the outdoors.

Little Basin Nature Club- 30 minute program for children
Saturdays in September at  5:00pm
Sunday, September 2 at  11:00am
This fun program is for children ages 3-6 and their families.  Read, sing, pretend, play, and explore!  This half-hour program introduces youngsters to the wonders of the redwood forest. 

Kids Hike
Monday, September 3 from 9:30-10:30am
Kids, come take a loop around Little Basin and learn about the flora and fauna of the Redwood Forest. This is an easy hike (1 mile) and you should bring water to drink.

Campfires at Little Basin-
All Saturdays in September
Sunday, September 2 at 7:00pm
Come learn about Little Basin’s unique history, natural environment, and culture during this hour and a half campfire program. Be ready to learn some fun songs and hear some interesting facts about Little Basin.

Redwood Loop Walks-
Sunday, September 2, from 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Walk the campground loop at Little Basin in the deep redwoods and learn about the flora and fauna of the Redwood Forest. This is an easy hike (1 mile) and you should bring water to drink.

Tanbark Loop Interpretive Hikes-
Saturday, September 1, from 12:30pm to 3:30pm
Hike a beautiful trail around the basin and learn about the wide variety of flora and fauna here in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This is a moderate hike (1.5 miles) and you should bring water, snacks for the leader and wear good hiking shoes.

Sponsored by United Camps Conferences and Retreats  

Located 9 miles outside of Boulder Creek on Hwy 236 (831) 338-8883

Saturday and Sunday at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm
Monday, September 3 (Labor Day) at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm
How do these grand redwoods grow to be so old? So tall? How are they important to humans? Join us for this fun and informative guided half-mile stroll through a magnificent old-growth redwood forest. Meet the famous Mother Tree, the Father of the Forest and the incredible Chimney Tree on this 90-minute walk. Stroller and wheelchair accessible. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Big Basin Nature Club
Saturday, September 1 at 4:30 pm
Sunday, September 2 at 4:30 pm
Monday, September 3 (Labor Day) at 10:00 am
This fun program is for children ages 3-6 and their families. Pretend, play, sing and explore! This half-hour program will introduce youngsters to the wonders of the redwood forest. Meet at the Nature Lodge.

Junior Rangers
Saturday, September 1 at 3:00 pm
Sunday, September 2 at 3:00 pm
Monday, September 3 (Labor Day) at 11:00 am
Discover the fascinating secrets of the forest! Explore, practice outdoor skills and play games as you learn about plants, animals, geology, and more. This one-hour program is designed for kids ages 7-12. Sorry parents, this program is for kids only! Please register your child at the Nature Lodge15 minutes before the program begins. Please be sure your child is dressed for active play in the outdoors.

Evening Campfire
Saturdays, September 1 at 6:30 pm
Sunday, September 2 at 6:30 pm
Join us in our historic campfire center for an evening of song and story. Serenade the stars and learn about redwood ecology, creatures of the forest or hear stories of the park while relaxing in the shadows of the towering trees. Fire lighting and marshmallows (we provide the marshmallows and sticks!) at 6:30 pm and program begins at 7:00 pm. Wheelchair/stroller accessible.

Bike and Hike to the Giants
Saturday, September 1 at 10:00 am
Explore Big Basin on this family-friendly adventure! First take a short 1-mile bike ride, with a stop to learn about our redwood giants. Then hike ¼ -mile to the site of Big Basin’s first pioneer settlers and learn of their life in the wild. Docents Peggy O’Shea and Maura McNamara will lead this easy, 2.5-mile, 1.5-hour roundtrip ride-and-walk. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Coffee Talk
Sunday, September 2 from 9:30-12:00
Come to the Sempervirens Room next to Park Headquarters for free coffee or hot chocolate! This is a great way to start your day in Big Basin. Docent Norm Beeson will be happy to answer your questions about the park and help get you going on the right trail. And bring the kids for a fun craft activity!

Family Discovery Walk
Sunday, September 2 at 1:00 pm
Join docent Norm Beeson for a fun-filled family walk and investigate the mysteries and wonders of Big Basin’s redwood forest! We’ll discover what surprises the day offers on this easy, one-mile roundtrip walk that lasts about 1.5 hours. Bring water, a snack or lunch and an adventurous spirit! Meet at Park Headquarters.

Last Chance Trail
Monday, September 3 at 12:00 noon
Join docent Doreen Devorah as she introduces you to one of our least-known trails. Experience the charm of a meandering stream, lush ferns and cool cliff formations on this four-mile, three-hour hike. Bring water and food. Meet at Park Headquarters.

Events made possible by California State Park Docents, California State Parks and Mountain Parks Foundation

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Favorite Mountain Biking Area, Fort Ord, Designated National Monument

The former Fort Ord in Monterey, California, has been designated as a national monument. The 14,000-acre surprise came on April 20, 2012 with a resounding "yes" from the White House. 
The announcement came just three days after area officials made their latest rounds in Washington, D.C. to tout the former military base and open space in Monterey County as worthy of the designation. 
The president’s statement (see below) about the former base highlights exactly what area officials see as its value, calling it “a world-class destination for hikers, mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiasts who come to enjoy the area’s history and scenic landscapes.”
So proud of Henrietta Stern, my friend and former 24-hour mountain bike race team member, pictured here shaking hands with President Obama in March 2012.
Six locals, led by Henrietta Stern and Gordon Smith, were offered a few moments to make their pitch to the chief executive at a Department of Interior conference in Washington D.C. on Friday. Stern said the locals were offered a five-minute meet-and-greet, including the requisite handshakes and photos, with Obama and a few moments to put in a word on their project's behalf during the White House Conference on Conservation, dubbed "Growing America's Outdoor Heritage and Economy.
The new status and improvements to the land that are in store will undoubtedly be a boost to the region’s tourism and recreation economies. Tourists already flock to this area to sample the many recreational opportunities — and when doing so leave a few of their dollars behind. Fort Ord presents myriad opportunities!

Henrietta Stern is also a talented mountain biker and loyal friend!

Obama to designate Fort Ord as a new national monument
Posted on April 20, 2012 by Meghan
According to the San Jose Mercury News, Fort Ord will become America’s newest national monument on Friday!
President Barack Obama is scheduled to establish the new designation on Friday, April 20, making the sweeping former military base only the second national monument he has created since becoming president in 2009.
“Fort Ord’s dramatic landscape lives in the memories of thousands of veterans as their first taste of Army life, as a final stop before deploying to war, or as a home base during their military career,” Obama said in a statement late Thursday.
“This national monument will not only protect one of the crown jewels of California’s coast, but will honor the heroism and dedication of men and women who served our nation and fought in the major conflicts of the 20th century,” Obama said.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Join me at Sea Otter Classic's Women Outreach - Sunday, April 22 in Monterey

Women's Outreach Expanded this Year at Sea Otter Classic to Get More Women Riding Bicycles! 
Here's the FULL four-day list of Women's Outreach Events
JOIN ME on SUNDAY at Sea Otter! 
I'm volunteering to emcee the event that has amazing cycling women AND wine and chocolate!
Men are invited, too!

Karen Kefauver, left, and Lorri Lee Lown, right (foreground) pictured at Sea Otter Classic 2011 at Women's Outreach Industry Panel. Karen, a cycling and sports writer, moderated the panel of industry experts (seated) and Lorri Lee Lown organized and launched the Women's Outreach Program at Sea Otter Classic and has expanded the 2012 Women's Outreach Program. 
I'm volunteering to emcee the event that has amazing cycling women AND wine and chocolate!

 I'll be moderating the “Fierce, Fabulous, and Over Forty” panel discussion featuring:

 • Rebecca Rusch 3x Leadville Trail 100 Women's Champion, 3x 24 Hr Solo Mountain Biking World Champion
 • Susan Otcenas Founder and President of
 • Beverly Chaney Elite level cyclist, avid backpacker, flyfishing, rock climbing, travel, mom
 • RaeLynn Milley Contributing Editor at Road Bike Action Magazine, USA Cycling Level 2Coach at 
Panel Talk, Sunday, April 22
1-2 p.m. at Sea Otter Meeting Hall
2-3 p.m.
Wine + Chocolate Reception 
sponsored by 
Clif Family Winery and 
Driscoll's Berries

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Free Admission to 396 U.S. parks during National Parks Week April 21-29, 2012

Courtesy of Google Images - Yosemite National Park 

All 396 U.S. national parks offer FREE ADMISSION during National Parks Week, April  21 - 29, 2012!

Plus, many of the parks are planning special programs.

Lodging discounts and other offers good at several national parks are listed at

Support your parks! More info here:

Courtesy of Google Images; Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour lands Feb. 24-25 in Santa Cruz, California

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour will exhilarate you with thrilling, moving and inspiring stories told on film. I have gone every year for nearly 20 years here in my town of Santa Cruz, California. (See the list of films in Santa Cruz, below). There are screenings in the U.S., Canada and dozens of other locations. Here's the Banff worldwide tour schedule. Journey to exotic locations, paddle the wildest waters, and climb the highest peaks. It's a wonderful way to be taken away to the most captivating places on earth!
The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour stops in Santa Cruz Feb. 24-25.
Photo credit: Tom Malecha
The 2011/2012 Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, presented by National Geographic, The North Face & Parks Canada, brings films from the 36th annual Banff Mountain Film Festival to about 390 communities around the world. From an exploration of remote landscapes and mountain cultures to adrenaline-fueled action sports, films in this year’s world tour are sure to captivate and amaze the explorer within you.

What: Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
When: February 24 & 25, 2012 @ 7 p.m.
Where: Rio Theatre, Santa Cruz
Sponsor: UCSC Recreation
Tickets: $13 Students & $16 general
Local Coordinator: Kathy O'Hara Ferraro, Recreation Supervisor UCSC
Details: Tickets available in person at:
 •UCSC Recreation (831) 459-2806
• Pacific Edge (831) 454-9254
• Bicycle Trip (831) 427-2580
And online at
Proceeds benefit the UCSC Wilderness Orientation Scholarship Fund

Local Sponsors: Bay Tree Bookstore, Bicycle Trip, Pacific Edge Climbing Gym, Kayak Connection, Seahorse Swim School, Ryan Brandt M.D. & Family, New Leaf, the Buttery, Ocean Honda, Allterra Environmental, Santa Cruz Weekly, Adventure Sports Journal

Friday, Feburary 24 @ 7pm

Reel Rock: Origins – Obe & Ashima 
A superbly gifted young climber from New York City heads outdoors to the bouldering mecca of Hueco Tanks with her inspiring coach in Origins – Obe & Ashima

Ski Bums Never Die 
An unusual and inspiring band of senior skiers in the Kootenay region of British Columbia shows us that Ski Bums Never Die

Kadoma takes us on a suspenseful, haunting and ultimately tragic paddling expedition deep into the heart of Africa’s wildest rivers. 

All.I.Can: The Short Cut 
Stunning time-lapse sequences, creative visuals and imaginative skiing are highlights of All.I.Can. This excerpt from the award-winning feature film looks at both the backcountry and the back alley. 

Blue Obsession 
Beautiful and ever-changing icefalls of Alaskan glaciers provide a stunning setting for some unusual ice climbing adventures in Blue Obsession

On the Trail of Genghis Khan: The Last Frontier 
Australian Tim Cope travels by horse overland 10,000 km from Mongolia to Hungary.The Last Frontier captures the culmination of his stunning three-year journey, the crossing of the Carpathian Mountains. 

Total time – 132 minutes

Saturday, February 25 @ 7 pm

The Freedom Chair 
The Freedom Chair follows charismatic Paralympic skier Josh Dueck’s transition from the world of competitive sit-skiing to the thrills of the backcountry. 

On Assignment: Jimmy Chin 
On Assignment: Jimmy Chin is a brief portrait of an athlete who excels at his two passions – climbing and photography. 

The Trail Collector 
People collect all kinds of things: stamps, coins, art. This is The Trail Collector’scollection. 

In SPOIL, photographers head to British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest to capture images of the mythical spirit bear. They aim to showcase the area’s natural beauty, and halt its industrial development. 

Cold takes us to the top of Gasherbrum II in the midst of a deep, dark winter. Isolated, full of doubt and extremely exposed, these alpinists achieve the first winter ascent on one of the world’s most challenging peaks. 

Seasons: Fall 
Seasons: Fall takes paddler Kate Wagner into deep canyons with steep, spring-fed creeks for a soulful autumn river session. 

Chasing Water 
In Chasing Water, a photographer travels the length of the Colorado River, from his family’s ranch to the sea. Along the way, he realizes his personal story is actually a tale of the lifeblood of the American West. 

Towers of the Ennedi 
The Towers of the Ennedi are in a hot, sand-scoured and unfriendly corner of Africa. A veteran climber and two young stars explore its untouched landscapes. 

C.A.R.C.A. follows one man's quest to revolutionize the world of animal avalanche rescue.