The Stanislaus National Forest is host to a little known gem, Ranger Programs! Like many families, when we vacation, we try not to break the bank. I am always on the lookout for low-cost family friendly fun. Last summer I happened upon the Miwok Ranger District “Specialty and Weekly Program Guide.” With a variety of offerings from June through September. Most of them are free, while a donation is suggested for a few of them. My ten and eleven-year-old boys were excited to sit down and pour over the calendar to see what activities they wanted to participate in.
As we are finally in the post COVID-19 era, many people are realizing our lifestyles are not the healthiest. Being busy is seen, by some, as a badge of honor, but freedom, extra time, and adventure is truly the honor. Exploring our surroundings has always been important to my family of five, but even more so now. Living in the bay area, we have plenty to see here at home, but when we want to leave the busy city and suburban life, we typically head to the mountains. Like many Bay Area natives, we headed to Tahoe for our first couple of trips. It was beautiful, of course, but we wanted to try something new, so we came to Tuolumne County, specifically, Twain Harte. It only took one trip and we were completely hooked. The benefits of Tuolumne county far outweighed the busy and commercial areas of north and south Lake Tahoe, for us. We loved it so much we ended up buying our 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath home which we now rent out, The Pine Cone House.
An activity we recently found to be very rewarding when it comes to exploring the beauty of Sonora Pass is off-roading. Much like backpacking or horseback riding, trail riding in an OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) can bring you to places not many people get to see. A trip off the pavement takes you away from the tourist attractions, crowded fishing holes, and campgrounds and brings you to places you didn't know existed. I was an avid backpacker in my twenties. As I grew older and occupied my life with a career and family, I found it much easier to use conventional campgrounds and ultimately an RV. In a way, choosing an off-road vehicle and dispersed camping in the forest is much more like the adventure of backpacking and trail riding on a horse. No crowds or noise, just solitude and new adventures.