Bring your Thanksgiving to the outdoors this year

Danielle R. Swopes

Allegedly, it is November. Not that you can tell: What is with the heat? After a few days of cold, tank tops, shorts and skirts are again gracing campus. This makes for an odd Thanksgiving, not exactly traditional, but does open up some opportunities.

Residents of Los Angeles do not take advantage of the weather and landscape around them. For roughly 300 days of the year, the skies are sunny and conditions are right to explore the outdoors.

This is a great area for outdoor activities, believe it or not. We have world famous beaches, mountain ranges, national forests and deserts. Whether you want to go hiking, biking, swimming or skiing, a place for just about any activity can be found within a reasonable distance.

So why is it that so many people don’t even seem to know about outdoor places, let alone take advantage of them? I beg Southern California residents to get off the freeway and into nature.

Where to start? Try searching the National Park Service or National Recreation Areas. Also, there are outdoorsy books dedicated to specific regions and interests that can be found at your local bookstore or Pick one up and try something new.

Perhaps this Thanksgiving, rather than hiding from the (nonexistent) cold in front of a television screen shouting at a football game, some families would like to spend the days at a place like the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Preserve. It is right here in the San Fernando Valley between Woodley Avenue and the 405 freeway, and offers open lawns for a real game of football, as well as wooded trails and ponds for a nice family walk.

Many will have a long weekend, so can therefore explore a bit beyond the Valley without having to worry about being home for dinner.

I’m taking Biology 323, plants and animals of Southern California with Dr. Paul Wilson, and have been introduced to a variety of natural places. We have hiked to a waterfall in Angeles National Forest, along a creek in Tujunga Canyon, and camped in the desert in Afton canyon, up near Baker. This last weekend we went to Cheseboro Canyon out in Agoura Hills, and looked at how the area has bounced back after fire. We saw the same thing at Rocky Peak near Simi Valley.

All of these places are easily accessible, no special equipment or transportation necessary. I suggest that people pack up some Thanksgiving leftovers, plenty of water and take their families outside for a day. All it takes is one day to spark an interest that could last a lifetime.