Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fossils in the Creek

If you live locally, you're going to love me for this post.

This past month, the Lord, in all His wisdom and grace has providentially, pointed us to the most fantastic little nature outing! You will never believe this place exists in OC.

And the best part is that there are NO RANGERS to tell your kids what they can't touch!! (No offense, I like the good kind of rangers, just not this kind.)

So the schedule was adjusted and our CM nature study group headed there this past week. What's so great about it?

Well... there's a creek, with rocks, and trees...

A creek side Eucalyptus grove that feels like a forest to a little person...

I can hear the non-natives snickering now, but alas, this and Gum Grove are about as close to a forest as our kids will get without heading into the foothills.

A hollow Sycamore tree with mangled roots for climbing...

and steps inside heading all the way up, if, you're the dangerous type...

(to get up these you have to rest your entire weight on them at one point, and they're old, so if you go, and your man knows about these things, bring him with you, have him check how sturdy they are, then let me know. Being that I have 3 lives completely dependent on mine, I opted against it. I did get confirmation this past week that a young adult recently climbed up it, so do what you will.)

these boys thought it was the perfect place to have their lunch...

They found this dead skunk - surprisingly, it didn't smell bad... yet.

another found these frog eggs. See the tadpoles ready to hatch?

There was a recitation - look at that smile of joy as he shared a fun poem with friends. A beautiful thing.

And there are oh so many kinds of rocks in the creek...

While we don't study rocks until YR4 with Ambleside, it's never too early to put them in touch with 'things'...

Nature teaches so gently, so gradually, so persistently, that he is never overdone, but goes on gathering little stores of knowledge about whatever comes before him. ~Charlotte Mason

A Child learns from 'Things.'--We older people, partly because of our maturer intellect, partly because of our defective education, get most of our knowledge through the medium of words. We set the child to learn in the same way, and find him dull and slow. Why? Because it is only with a few words in common use that he associates a definite meaning; all the rest are no more to him than the vocables of a foreign tongue. But set him face to face with a thing, and he is twenty times as quick as you are in knowledge about it; knowledge of things flies to the mind of a child as steel filings to magnet. ~Charlotte Mason

And this never gets old does it?

But wait, it get's better... there are fossils in the creek!!

and even better...

A complete whale skull, seen in this picture below, was discovered in this very creek just a few years ago.

So in case you're local and want to go, below are directions to the locations we have been to. Please note that the water quality is affected by the urban runoff so it's not safe to drink or swim in.

For the hollow tree, enter the creek trail by the circle at the end of Manalastas and head Southwest (to the left). It takes you, in less than 5 minutes, through a small grove of Orange Trees and the tree is on the right side, not completely obvious so have the kids look for it. There's a cliff here so it's harrowing for the little ones. My suggestion: Take them down to the creek to putz around instead of trying to keep them away - one of ours came very close but for the grace of God. Just northeast of here, before the bridge is where the whale fossil was found.

The grove of Eucalyptus trees creek side with tons of rocks and a tree fort with a bee hive can be found by entering the trail here and heading Southwest. The area is a bit seedier with graffiti, broken bottles, and foul mouthed teenagers hanging out after school (at least it was like that when we went) so you may just want to find a better spot heading Northeast of Trabuco or make sure you go during school hours.

Large sedimentary rock formations (our favorite so far) there is a park bench and a trail to the left of it leading down into the creek here. You'll think you're in another place altogether. Go right and head up the creek until you see the rocks.

Happy exploring!

Oh, and this can happen too so bring a first aid kit!


  1. Looks like a real fun time was had by all. Loved the pictures of the fossils.

  2. wow. thanks for sharing. can't wait to go explore!

  3. Thanks! It's a drive for us but looks like it would be worth a day trip.

  4. I can't wait to check this out! We live in Buena Park so its close!

  5. Enjoy! The water is run-off so don't let your kids put their hands in their mouth and wash them up really well after. We were just back here a couple weeks ago and caught crawdads! Here's the post about it: http://livingcminca.blogspot.com/2010/08/crawdads.html

  6. Is this the Gum Grove in Seal Beach?

  7. No, this is in Lake Forest in South OC.