04/13/17

Chica Afuera at Brackenridge Park

I am where I know I was meant to be.

My first Easter at Brackenridge Park

You don’t have to travel far to find yourself in Nature. These parks, trails and open spaces are usually not that far from your home or work. The more I explore the more I uncover. The more I uncover, the more I want to share. My memories are many and I will forever be grateful that my parents loved me enough to fuel my soul. Was it my smiles and my enthusiasm every time they took me to the park that made them realize that was my happy place? Perhaps it was a combination of the love they had for me to want to see me smile and their appreciation for the outdoors. Whatever it was … it worked! Nature was a natural thing growing up. The outdoors was my playground!

Every park has it’s story and that is the journey.

 

If you ask me what my favorite city park is I would have to say Brackenridge Park. This very popular park is minutes from downtown San Antonio and I am totally positive that the reasons for it’s popularity would include the San Antonio Zoo, Japanese Tea GardenWitte MuseumBrackenridge Park Golf Course, walking trails, playgrounds, fishing, bird watching, a miniature train, Kiddie Park and the Sunken Garden Theater. These attractions are all withing walking distance from each other so make sure you put on a good pair of walking shoes when visiting and exploring.

San Antonio Zoo

Brackenridge Park is rich with history with evidence of human visitation and occupation dating back 11,000 years. Native American artifacts dating as early as 9200 B.C. have been found inside the parks boundaries. Historical buildings remain standing in the park as well like that of the 1878 Pumphouse #1, the oldest industrial building in Bexar County.

If your just old enough you might even remember the Horse stable, paddle boats and the Sky Ride that you would board at the Japanese Tea Garden and exit at the Zoo. For the record … I’m just old enough to remember, lol.

In my heart there are memories and there they will always be!

 

This park was introduced to me by my parents. It was a happy place for us and when I grew up and had my own family it was the first park I took my girls.

I have seen the park change through the years and the growth and development has been great. The Conservancy seeks to ensure the best possible user experience for future generations by improving park amenities, providing programming, and building a sense of stewardship in the community.

This park is very special to many and family traditions run deep.  It’s all about quality family time no matter where you are. The element of outdoors is just a plus. San Antonio Parks & Recreation does allow overnight camping during Easter weekend and they do extend the curfew hours. Check out the link in case your feeling adventurous, lol.

Fitfunand … Pafuera!

San Antonio Zoo with my Mom

 

 

 

 

 

01/19/17

Head for the Hills

Head to the Hills Ya’ll!

I couldn’t think of a better way to start my year than with a hiking challenge. Fitness outdoors is my preference. The hills and terrain are my treadmill and the elements are just part of the fun.

The more I wander the more I want to get lost in the trails. Not like really lost … just a little : ). The wildness that makes nature is will silence and stir ones soul to the core. I knew naturally growing up in Texas that parks and rivers were my happy. I kinda fell instantly in love with my outdoor surroundings and being able to revisit some of my favorite spots last year and share them with my family and friends was pure joy.

Life is meant to be a great adventure.

This week I completed my 3rd hike and my goal is 52 hikes by the end of 2017. Why … because I have officially joined the 52 Hike Challenge!

One hike a week for 52 weeks. My story to create, my life to live, my journey to take … I’m in! 

I do have many friends and family that have expressed interest in joining me on some of my adventures and lucky me. In Texas we are trailing and it’s only the beginning. Maybe you too will be inspired to take the challenge. What could you lose, or find … YOU?

Hike 1 at Government Canyon State Park in San Antonio. You can check out dinosaur tracks in Government Canyon! You can see over 200 tracks about 2.5 miles up the Joe Johnston Route, just past Marker #19. It’s a long hike, five miles round trip. Well worth it! Small fee to enter or free carload with your Texas State Park Pass.

Hike 2 was at Eisenhower Park in San Antonio. Free to park, free to enter! Free to have fun : ). This park is very dog friendly!

Hike 3 was at Jacob’s Well with a quick giddy up Old Baldy in Wimberley, TX. The great news is that when it’s not swimming season at Jacob’s Well you don’t pay to enter, to park or to play on the trails … yeehaw!

 Where you hike, be all there.

Fitfunand … go take a hike.

12/2/16

Latino Outdoors in Texas: Opt Outside/Vamos Outdoors

                 

 Will you go OUT with me?

Friedrich Wilderness Park

This year Latino Outdoors in Texas joined in on the movement … #OptOutside & #ViernesVerde!

Last year REI the nation’s largest consumer co-op and specialty outdoor retailer made the brilliant decision to close all of their stores (143 to be exact) and pay it’s 12,000 employees on the biggest shopping day of the year (Black Friday)! They basically said Opt Outside! Hike, bike, snowboard, camp, kayak … just go!  Well you don’t have to tell me twice : ).

                      On black Friday in Texas, we went Hiking!

Friedrich Wilderness Park

With some grant funding fom REI I knew exactly where I wanted to go for our 1st annual event in Texas. With over 10 miles of Hiking Trails Friedrich Wilderness Park in San Antonio,Texas was the chosen destination.

Friedrich Wilderness Park Facts:

  • The park was developed with a grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and was dedicated on August 31, 1978.
  • The park is in the transition zone between the flat South Texas region and the Texas Hill Country.
  • It is internationally known for bird watching, with nesting sites for two federal listed endangered species of birds: the Black-capped Vireo and the Golden-cheeked Warbler.
  • Handicapped accessible trails.
  • No Fires and no smoking.
  • To protect the endangered species … Pedestrians only! (no pets)

Friedrich Wilderness Park

It’s moments like this. In Nature we Nuture the soul.

 

The weather was perfect, the smiles were endless and the talks on the trails were heartfelt. You could sense the confidence building! We had a wonderful guide Nicole who shared her wealth of knowledge on the plants and wildlife at Friedrich.

Friedrich Wilderness Park

  Latino Outdoors In Texas.

 

I wanted the 1st Annual Vamos Outdoors/Opt Ouside event to be successful. I wanted my group to be inspired and excited to be outdoors. The event was to share and showcase the beauty that is nature. Hiking locally and finding a great park to get lost in together was just the start for us. We made memories and then captured it on canvas. Art in the park : ).  

 

Latino Outdoors at Friedrich Park

The importance of the day was spending quality time Outside and we did just that! In San Antonio we represented proudly and fearlessly.

A park, a picnic, some painting, and for dessert … Pan dulce (sweet bread)!

Latino Outdoors at Friedrich Park

Fitfunand … Take a hike : ))!!

Friedrich Wilderness Park

 

09/10/16
Hike n Bike through San Antonio Missions Historic Park - FitFunAnd.com

#Sunday Funday: Hike ‘n Bike through the San Antonio Missions Historic Park.

The National Park Service celebrated 100 years of service on August 25th, 2016 and we were all invited to join in on the fun. In Texas a few friends and I attended a red carpet event at a local theater to watch a screening of the National Parks Adventure IMAX film. If you haven’t already seen it I would highly suggest it!

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I am honored to represent my community as the Ambassador for Latino Outdoors~Southwest. This platform allows me to creatively explore the outdoors and highlight the beauty of Texas parks. Lucky me!

I had an amazing opportunity to not just join a celebration but put one together. I had been in contact with Tiara the Outdoor leader in San Antonio for Outdoor Afro and we thought it would be a fantastic idea to join our groups for the Centennial. These two organizations are changing the faces of conservation. A diverse set of people exploring, sharing and showcasing their love for the outdoors.

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Tiara and I thought it would be a great idea to do a Hike ‘n Bike along the beautiful river connecting our Missions.

Mission San Juan Capistrano and Mission San Francisco de la Espada are about a 3 mile round trip down the San Antonio River. Two groups, two parks and some cool peeps : ). The group was amazing and the weather was perfect!

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I am inspired and happiest the most outside exploring and it was even more special because we honored the Centennial. We hiked and biked to our destinations with smiles on our faces. A sweet thank you to San Antonio B-cycle who offered our group a 50% discount to rent the bikes located at the Missions. Find your park they said and together we did just that.

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Sunday Funday Hike n’ Bike

I wasn’t done yet! There was just one more event left for me and that was to run the NPS 100th Birthday Virtual 5k/10k/half. A virtual race is basically your pace, your race, your chosen destination. You register on line and a portion of the fee goes to the specified race and in my case, the National Park Foundation. When you complete your race you turn in your time and a couple of weeks later you receive a medal in the mail. The medal for this particular race was a Ranger Hat and you can see why this was a no brainer : ).

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I decided to run the 10k (6.2) miles over to the beautiful Mission Concepción. This stone church was dedicated in 1755, and appears very much as it did over two centuries ago. It stands proudly as the oldest unrestored stone church in America. In its heyday, colorful geometric designs covered its surface, but the patterns have long since faded or been worn away. A perfect place to reflect on what once was and what is now.

Just because the celebration has ended doesn’t mean the party is over! Head over to National Parks and be inspired to discover these amazing open spaces. Now go on and get lost, anywhere is a good place to start!

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FitfunandNPS Centennial!

 

 

 

07/31/16

#Latino Conservation Week: Inks Lake State Park, Texas.

The Latino passion for the Outdoors was in full swing. A week showcasing our fearless spirits and beautiful selves engaging, experiencing and advocating for the great Outdoors.

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Inks Lake State Park, Texas

Latino Conservation Week took place July 16 to July 24 2016.  This Nationwide initiative provided an opportunity for Latinos to come together and to demonstrate their passion for the outdoors, both for enjoyment and preservation. Highlighting our lands and the spirit that stirs the Latino souls. Disfrutando y Conservando Nuestra Tierra!

In its third year, the week as grown to more than 100 events nationwide!

I had an opportunity to host an event at Inks Lake State Park. A hill country gem perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway. Because the lake’s level usually stays constant, you can play here year-round. This would be the place to perfect our kayaking and canoeing skills.

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July 23rd was the day to gather new friends and old friends at Inks’s Lake State Park in honor of Latino Conservation Week. Many of us had no clue what our journey to the final destination aptly named Devil’s Watering Hole would include. The name alone should have scared off my tribe, LOL. Devil’s Watering Hole is a place where many daredevils take a plunge from the cliffs into a deep sink hole, YIKES! No worries, it really is a pretty safe place.

I couldn’t wait to get into the water to try the kayak and listening to the nervous chatter and laughter around me I knew I wasn’t the only one!

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I am extremely happy that my group trusted me in guiding them to a location that I just knew would take us out of our comfort zone but in the greatest way. We engaged, we explored and we even walked a little taller exiting our kayaks & canoes. Every day is a chance to be greater than the day before. Mission accomplished for Latino Outdoors Southwest!

A special thanks to Sean D. Jones our Park Ranger Interpreter, Jasmine Scott with Texas Parks & Wildlife and to the sweet volunteer Allicia. Jasmine was my first point of contact and was excited to hear about the initiative and the event and even volunteered to come in on her day off to be with us, wow!

Exploring every chance we get. Mountains, Hills, Rivers, Lakes, Trails … here we come, Latino Outdoors.

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Fitfunand … Afuera!

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07/19/16

#TexasParks: Take a Hike Y’all!

I love Texas where just about any road trip leads you to a nearby river, lake or spring. The Texas heat can get pretty brutal so a park with water to dive, dip or swim, is a must for me. Thank you Texas for having some amazing watering holes!

The National Park Service turns 100 on August 25, 2016. This centennial will kick off a second century of stewardship in America’s parks which will engage communities through recreation, conservation, and historic preservation programs.

We have all been invited to Find Your Park on a national level and to explore programs in our own backyard.

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My “backyard” is the Texas Hill Country. Texas is my state, born and raised!  A 25-county region of Central Texas and South Texas. The Hill Country reaches into portions of the two metropolitan areas, especially in San Antonio’s northern suburbs and the western half of Travis County, ending southwest of Downtown Austin.

A perfect road trip would include family, friends, hills, river fun and if i’m really lucky a winery or two : ).

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Dry Comal Creek

I do have some favorite parks that made the “must visit because Josie said” list : )! These beautiful outdoor parks are in no particular order because each park is unique in what is has to offer. Local Parks, State Parks, National Parks or the ever popular Texas watering holes. I am happy to share some of these outdoor gems with you, because after all … Sharing is caring! 

Texas Parks

Garner State Park

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Pedernales State Park

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Guadalupe River State Park

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Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

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Hamilton Pool Preserve

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San Antonio Missions National Historical Park Texas

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Mission San Jose

Krause Springs

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Comal Springs & Landa Park

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Mitchell Lake Audubon

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Big Bend National Park Texas

 

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Texas parks have my heart. I am never disappointed but I would be if I hadn’t wandered. Big Bend was the biggest and definitely the most challenging for me so far in terms of the terrain but it left me wanting more. I know in my heart I will be going back and I will set no boundaries for the open spaces that nurture my soul and make me smile ear to ear : ). The more I discover the more I uncover … my happy place, Outdoors!

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Big Bend National Park Texas

Latino Outdoors ~ Josie Southwest Ambassador

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Malibu Creek State Park – California

Take the Pledge to Take Care of Texas and receive a FREE Texas Parks & Wildlife State Park Guide and a FREE sticker!

Free Texas Hill Country PassportVisit 18 or more of the 24 Hill Country destinations. Have your passport stamped at each location and then win tickets, outdoor adventures, tours and more.

Join us in Celebrating Latino Conservation Week at Inks Lake State Park.

For additional information email Josie@latinooutdoors.org

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Fitfunand … Parks!!

 

 

 

 

03/6/16

Together-Nature Bird Walk at Mitchell Lake Audubon Center w/Latino Outdoors

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A Nature Bird Walk at Mitchell Lake Audubon Center was to be the first stop for 2016 and being the Southwest Ambassador for Latino Outdoors I now have more of a platform in sharing adventures and organizing group activities to connect Cultura and the outdoors.

My 1st event had to include kids. I have a 5 year old granddaughter and she thinks anything outdoors is a LO event, I love that! My granddaughter and I became familiar with Mitchell Lake about 6 months ago at one of their events.

The Mission of the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center is to connect people with nature through conservation and community education focused on birds and their habitats.

I met Patty (my guide) on a butterfly tour that she was leading at Mitchell Lake and was impressed by her knowledge and enthusiasm for wildlife & plants. It became apparent to me when she pronounced the names of the plants in Spanish that she was the guide for me. Screenshot_2016-03-06-15-02-47-1

A couple of months later I decided to organize my first outing for LO. The idea would be a Nature inspired Bird walk at Mitchell Lake. The young ones are the next generation and they would be my inspiration. We kept the group small since we only had 1 Patty : ).

Patty provided us all with binoculars courtesy of the Audubon. Who knew you could check them out during your visit there? I know now : ). We walked, we talked, we learned and most of all we connected,

The Audubon is a wildlife center for thousands of birds/plants and wildlife. They have acres of land, a duck pond and even a lake (not for swimming).

Patty is a wealth of information on plants and wildlife. The kids and the adults had a wonderful time playing with the binoculars, spotting birds and seeing wildlife in a whole new way. Seeing their smiling faces and asking questions made my soul melt. No texting, no talking on cell phones and no one cared about social media if only for a short time. I felt I had succeeded in connecting Cultura with Nature. We all left wanting more … mission accomplished!

There was one more surprise, Patty mentioned that she had documented the birds we saw and wanted to know if we wanted to be a part of Cornell Lab of Ornithology with ebird.

A real-time, online checklist program, eBird has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, eBird provides rich data sources for basic information on bird abundance.

The answer was a simple YES from the entire group. I couldn’t have imagined a happier ending. I was hoping to inspire at least 1 sweet soul and I was the one who was inspired by them all : ). I can’t wait for the next outing so stay tuned.

 

Fitfunand … AFUERA.

 

Mitchell Lake Audubon Center

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02/23/16

Outdoors in 2016!

Let’s celebrateNational Park Service (NPS) turns 100 on August 25, 2016! Screenshot_2016-02-23-22-22-47-1

 

What is National Park Service?

The National Park Service is an agency of the United States federal government that manages all U.S. national parks, many American national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations.

What is their Mission?

The National Park Service preserves unimpaired natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world. NPS.

If you are looking for a park to explore it has never been easier, just head to Find a Park to start planning your adventure. Now go play OUTSIDE!! Hike. Explore. Discover. Laugh. Live.

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I love birthdays and why not celebrate every month with a new park or adventure. Thank you NPS for giving me an excuse to nuture my nature soul : )).

The year 2016 was going to be a great one for me. I received an invite by the Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program with NPS to a “Find Your Partner” table discussion.  Rivers & Trails as they also are known is a program of the NPS that works with community groups and local and state governments to conserve rivers, preserve open space and develop trails/greenways, Exciting! We engaged in conversation about outdoor recreation, natural resource protection and youth engagement.

The location was at McKinney Roughs Nature Park. I thought to myself, perfect! A new park for me to hike, any excuse for fun.

Located just 13 miles east of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, McKinney Roughs is home to hundreds of plant and animal species living within the rolling box canyons, wildflower meadows and lazy river bends of the Texas Colorado River.

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McKinney Roughs is a day use park where visitors can explore close to 18 miles of trails by foot or 12 miles on horseback (bring your own horse). The park offers many community programs as well. At the Visitors Center, pay your entrance fee and get the latest trail information.

I only had enough time for about 4 miles but I made the most of it by making sure I saw the Colorado River, yay!

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Fitfunand … Making the most of LIFE : ).