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Editor. Note: Artist Fitz Maurice has set out to paint live at all of the US National Parks. She will be submitting her stories from the road to StuNewsLaguna from time to time. 

Going to the National Parks solo is great too  

By FITZ MAURICE

Yes, it is fabulous to go to the National Parks as a single man or woman! Some National Parks are truly a resort, with lavish lodges and dining rooms that have dramatic views out every window. If you just want to kick back and rest this is the best way to go because of all the expansive beauty that surrounds you. It provides all you need to meditate on. Every season offers a fresh visual feast for your eyes.

Normally there are some walks that are easy enough for any age to peacefully wander along, absorbing the sights and sounds. You can purchase a bird guidebook at the National Park gift store and start learning about the indigenous birds and animals, and why they originated in that particular park. Take your own photographs of your discoveries and create a personal album you will treasure!

If you are single and want to be social and have fun with others, there are usually nature movies playing continuously that are open to the public. You can attend any of the Ranger guided tours or lectures, and uncover the mysteries of the landscape you are immersed in.

There are usually Visitor Centers where you can get maps and park brochures, and ask questions. You will enjoy the displays that exhibit and describe the local wildlife and point out the highlights you don’t want to miss while visiting. The Ranger-led hikes consist of groups of people who naturally interact with each other while sharing a good laugh, or share amazement at what all are witnessing together.  It is easy to have wonderful conversations with the other people in the group; they are usually very interesting individuals, often from foreign countries.

If you live in Laguna Beach or the Orange County area, there are two National Parks only a couple of hours away. I highly recommend Joshua Tree National Park, especially this time of year. I myself plan to take the quest to this park in February, seeking the desert warm winter weather and wild flower bloom.

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The other nearby park is Channel Islands National Park, near Ventura. The best time to go to these islands is summer and early fall. You can have a super fun time experiencing these pure, Shangri-La like islands that have been completely returned to their natural habitat, with indigenous wildlife. The hiking experience is simply gorgeous.

I fell in love with the Island Fox, on Santa Cruz Island, and they are not afraid of humans. These small fox are cat sized and are a handsome ruddy red, making them easy to see and allowing you a good opportunity to catch them with your camera.

The most thrilling kayaking I ever experienced was at Santa Cruz Island. You sure get to meet people and have a blast paddling in and out of sea caves! It’s very easy to rent kayaks over there on the island and go out with a group for an exciting afternoon of exploring by sea.

Now that I am starting my fourth year on the Quest to paint “live” in each National Park in America, I have learned a lot about nature, and some things the hard way. I want to spare you of the hard way, and share with you some good rules of thumb. One rule is to go to the National Park of your choice when it is a good time for you to be in that particular park, weather-wise! Be sure to research what temperatures and weather conditions are typical of the time of year you are thinking of going. For example, Yellowstone National Park is normally frozen until June and you would not want to be caught dead in Death Valley National Park after April.

The National Park Service has an outstanding Website (www.nps.gov).  It is great fun to linger over all 59 of the remarkable National Parks – dream about which one you want to make into the perfect reality that you will always remember.

There is a perfect park for you, at the perfect time when you want to be immersed in nature. Have fun finding it!

Get Outside. Get into your National Parks. And let the child in you out to play!

Happy New Year from FITZ Maurice and the quest!

FITZ Maurice has been on a quest to paint ‘live’ in every National Park in America. Now totally committed to help promote and protect the Parks, the artist is traveling by truck and trailer to each park. Hiking, kayaking and horseback riding in search of the ultimate scene, and finally setting up with portable easel and oil paints, FITZ sets out to capture in paint the wonders that make each National Park a treasure to Americans and all the people of the world.