STORIES FROM THE WOODS XIV ~ Going to the National Parks SOLO !

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 all the expansive beauty that surrounds you – 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 guide book at the National Park Gift Store – 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, park brochures, ask questions and 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 are groups of people that naturally interact with each other while sharing a good laugh or sharing amazement at what you all are witnessing together.  It is easy to have wonderful conversations with the other people in the group – who 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 !
The other nearby park is Channel Islands National Park – near Ventura, California. 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 islands – that have been completely returned to their natural habitat and indigenous wildlife – rendering the hiking experience to be simply gorgeous. I fell in love with the Island Fox on Santa Cruz Island – 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 catching 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 !
Very easy to rent kayaks over there on the island and go out with a group for a super exciting afternoon of exploring by sea !
channel_islands_kayak_11
Groups of kayakers excitedly sharing the fun of exploring the sea – Channel Islands National Park, California
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 somethings 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 reality that you will always remember ! There is the 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 – let the child in you out to play !
HAPPY NEW YEAR from FITZ Maurice and the QUEST !
2016 Begins the fourth year that 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.