Great Escapes

It always helps to exercise with a friend for long term fitness goals. Working out with, our furry friends count too. Sometimes I don’t know who is more excited to hit the trails, me or them.

Triunfo Trail

Triunfo trail at Triunfo Canyon park is a scenic hiking adventure with views of Westlake Village and the Conejo Valley. A sprinkling of Fiddlenecks greeted us near the trail head. A majestic, old oak tree provided a splendid backdrop.

The ancient oaks highlight the rolling hills of Westlake Village.

Red Maids added lively color to the fields along the trail.

My sister, Maria also joined us on this trek through nature. She kept the pace going, as I wanted to stop and take photos. The trails were lined with Fiesta flowers, Blue Witch, Blue Dick and some Shooting Stars. As we climbed higher we saw many clusters of Bush Sunflowers.

Sticky Monkey flowers hid amongst the sunflowers. The trail goes on for miles but we turned back after about 50 minutes.

It was a spectacular hike. the following week, the four of us explored an unnamed Conejo Open Space trail off Denver Springs in Westlake Village. This little known trail held spectacular vistas and wildflowers in early June.

Lake Eleanor Trail – Conejo Open Space, Westlake Village

It’s a perfect secluded spot for some nature therapy. Golden Yarrow was plentiful along the sides of the hills.

Blue Dick rose above the tall grasses.

I spotted a Pink Mariposa Lily.

It was so peaceful. Maria and I stoped to deeply breathe in the fresh clean air as we observed the rolling green hills through the Deer Weed.

The Denver Springs trail in the community of Three Springs is a wonderful place to view the sunset with sweeping views in all directions.

The reflection of the setting sun to the East overlooking the Westlake Reservoir and the same sunset to the West.

Such incredible beauty!

The COVID quarantine has reinforced, in my life, the importance of environmental stewardship. All of nature is truly a gift to be safeguarded.

It is with a heavy heart that I tell you about the loss of my fur baby and hiking buddy, Sammy. We covered lots of beautiful miles together. Sammy was a rescue and I made the last part of his life delightful.

RIP little Sammy. I’ll remember our wonderful adventures together.

With gratitude, Linda

“My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor all day long.” – Psalm 71:8

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The Earth Laughed in Flowers – Part 2

Spring is the most glorious season to spend time in nature. It was disappointing to have most of the trails close down at the end of April because of Coronavirus. Now that the nature trails are open again, I can once more express my gratitude for God’s awesome creation and give myself the immunity boost that nature provides.1

Beautiful Trails – Late April Through Mid-May

There was a nice showing of Chinese Houses along the Pentachaeta trail in, Triunfo Canyon Park, late April before the trail closures. The colorful blooms usually last through May.

One tiny Silver Puff stood out among green the grasses.

An abundance of Fiesta flowers covered small areas of the Pentachaeta Trail.

Field of Owls clover

Only a few specimens of Blue Eyed Grass were found but they were delightful.

Hiking down the trail, I discovered an arrangement of Seep Monkey Flowers and Miners Lettuce in a moist stream bed.

The birds of spring were singing joyful songs. I was seeing, smelling and hearing the symphony of nature. I turned my walk into a moving meditation by syncing my breath to the rhythm and tune nature was playing.

Tiny, fairylike Whispering Bells made a delicate ground cover and added a fairytale feeling to my experience.

Further up the trail, there were plenty of Fiddlenecks in groupings but I chose to photograph this single plant, getting lost in its detail.

A golden sprinkling of California Goldfields dotted the landscape like magical fairy dust.

Poppies were spreading out, stretching across the trailhead.

I found an unusual plant that I had never seen before, Bur Clover.

Miners Lettuce is edible and used as salad greens. It’s a good source of vitamin C.

I’m pretty sure this is Nakedstem Sunray, Enceliopsis Nudicaulis. It’s also known as Naked-stemmed Daisy.

There were just some of the beauties along the Pentachaeta trail. I also visited the Wendy trail.


The Wendy trail in Newbury Park offered some colorful and stately Lupine flowers.

Purple robe made a lovely spring blanket of flowers.

The Wendy trail is a fairly easy one to walk. My Maltese enjoyed themselves.

The colors were so pretty on this variety of Vetch. Possibly Vicia Americana.

Wild Radish

Enhance the Functioning of Your Body’s Immune System

Keep enjoying nature and the sunshine for good immunity. The sun provides Vitamin D which is excellent for the immune system, so is Vitamin C. “Vitamin C is essential to stimulating the formation of antibodies, which help suppress an over-reactive inflammatory response. In layman’s term, vitamin C can help slow down how fast a virus reproduces and spreads.”2 Stay safe and stay healthy.

With a grateful heart, Linda

So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, Will give You thanks forever; We will show forth Your praise to all generations. – Psalm 79:13 NKJV



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The Earth Has Its Day

The world has practically stopped because of the Coronavirus. In our stillness we are allowing the earth to rest and heal. We have been obliged to carry out conservation practices beyond what we have already initiated. I’m easily using a third less paper products than I was before.

Some things have become scarce but everything has become more sacred and appreciated. April 22nd, Earth Day has always been a meaningful day for me and it’s even more so now. Our place on this earth is so apparently fragile.

“Everything in excess is opposed to nature.” – Hippocrates

Keep A Sacred Perspective of Nature

When it comes to helping save the world, everyone has a part to play. I recently saw the movie “The Pollinators”. This important movie from Demand Film, is eye opening. I never envisioned the massive amounts of bees that have to be transported across the country, from field to field, to pollinate our fruits, nuts and vegetables. Because of insecticides, fungicides and other poisons, our bee population is now inadequate and the balance of nature is in a crisis.

Practice Gratitude

When I eat, I usually remember the people who plant and harvest my food, but now, I also think of these outstanding people who keep the bees that preserve our food chain.

I offer massive gratitude to our doctors, nurses, leaders and essential workers who are on the front lines of the pandemic. God bless them for keeping me safe.

Have Self-Compassion

We are at war with COVID-19 but we’re also fighting to not allow it to steal our joy. Better days are coming, but today, it is essential to have compassion for ourselves and focus on God’s daily mercies. By all means boost your immune system with exercise, healthy eating and laughter.

Use your time wisely. Many online learning centers are giving free courses, due to Coronavirus. Learn home repairs. My installing an inexpensive DIY bidet toilet seat attachment was helpful in saving toilet paper.

Spend as much time as you can outdoors exercising, following COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. I am blessed, my home backs up to open space. What a wonderful world!

With all the extra attention they are getting, my dogs have come out as winners in this situation.

We were given stewardship of the earth to use sustainably, not abuse, but that privilege can be taken away from us. God is Sovereign over all. I will leave you with these words from conservationist, Jane Goodall.

“You, as an individual, just have to remember that in your life, you matter, you have a role to play and that every single day you live, you make some impact and you get a choice as to what kind of impact you’re going to make,” she said. “If everyone is making the right ethical choice, whatever religion they’re part of, then we’re going to have a much better world…”

“We haven’t inherited this planet from our parents, we’ve borrowed it from our children. We have not borrowed our children’s future — we have stolen it and we’re still stealing it now, and it’s time we get together, whatever our religion, whatever our culture, get together and start changing the way — changing our attitude — so that we can leave a better world for our children, whom we love.” – Jane Goodall

What will you do respect this Earth Day? Happy Earth Day 2020.


“This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

– Psalm 118:24

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The Earth Laughed in Flowers

There is a lovely quote, “The earth laughs in flowers.” I can relate to that. California’s wildflowers bring a smile to my heart. My neighborhood nature walks have helped to keep me joyful during the “shelter at home” order.

Winter on the Pentachaeta trail dissolved into Spring with the last of the fringed Linanthus.

Tiny California golden violets started to make an appearance here and there in early March.

By mid-month Viola Pedunculata were abounding on the Pentachaeta Trail. Have you ever seen a field of Johnny jump ups before. They were stunning!

Walking up the trail, newly born owls clover and California goldfields adorned the edges of the path.

Purple nightshade covered the hills.

All this grows without the help of man. Incredible! My respect for God’s creation and the wisdom of earth increases with every visit to the Southern California open spaces.

Around the bend, a small stream was flowing. Next to the stream were these beautiful yellow and orange canyon sunflowers (Venegasia carpesioides).

Hiking higher, I came across this interesting series of circles with an offering bowl in the center. It made me reflect on the sacredness of nature and our planet. I offered a prayer for healing of the earth.

The flowers on the Fuchia-Flowered Gooseberry shrub were vibrant, alive with color in my Westlake Village community!

The buck brush blossoms that covered the hills in February had dwindled to only a few in early March.

The Indian warrior, also called warriors plume, fascinated me. I took a closer look at its striking flower clusters. This is a parasitic plant that feeds off the roots of other plants.

The following week, I headed up the Westlake Vista trail. Warriors plume were also prolific on that trail in early to mid March. I was delighted to see my first white nightshade plant on that trail.

The California poppies had multiplied significantly since my last visit. My soul danced to their energy!

Like a butterfly, I moved from flower to flower. Interesting California Everlasting plant.

Dainty ‘red maids’, what a color!

The white bleeding-hearts like the higher elevations.

A menagerie of petite wild flowers with Fiesta flower in the foreground.

Nuttall’s Larkspur in late winter.

Happy, Seep monkey flowers next to a dry stream.

They look as if they’re laughing, don’t they? Yes, I agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson, the earth does laugh in flowers.

With a smile in my heart,


P.S. These photos were taken when the trails were open. The recent new Corona virus restrictions have temporarily close these trails. Stay safe and healthy.


“For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.'”

Acts 17:28 NLT

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Winter Wildflower Wonderland

California winters provide a surprising variety of colorful flowers growing wild in the hills. Hiking the Westlake Vista trail during February, I spotted these dainty pink shooting stars growing among the grasses.

The shooting star is very striking in groupings. It is a member of the primrose family. I’m pretty sure this variety is Primula clevelandi.

Tall and majestic these white bleeding heart or white ear drops (Ehrendorferia ochroleuca), made quite an impression against the backdrop of the mountains.

Heading up the trail, my companion and I stopped to admired the common stork’s bill or pinwheel (Eurodium cicutarium). It has a very pretty flower but it’s considered a weed. It is not an original California native plant.

The top of Westlake Vista trail overlooks the Westlake Reservoir. It was an exceptional beautiful clear morning.

Fringed linanthus – Linanthus dianthiflorus dotted the rocky soil.

California goldfields spread along the craggy flood plain near the reservoir.

One of the many varieties of Cryptantha perhaps Cryptantha clevelandi.

On the way down from the reservoir my friend and I chose a different path.

The flowers of the deerweed (Acmispon glaber) were lovely!

Purple Nightshade (Solanum xanti) wild flowers were abundant. Could also be Bluewitch Nightshade – Solanum umbelliferum. Both are deadly to humans.

The day was glorious! I was grateful to be able to share California’s beauty with my friend, Sandra, visiting from Germany.

We were excited to see so many varieties of winter wildflowers, like these purple owls clover – Castilleja exerta)

A once majestic burned oak, killed by the Woolsely fire.

Poppies, our beautiful state flower. Who knew February would be such a wildflower wonderland in Westlake Village!

With gratitude, Linda

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11

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Gibraltar and Monkey High Jinks at the Rock

After an amazing first stop in Cartagena, the second stop on our cruise would be Gibraltar. Unfortunately there was some kind of time zone change that didn’t sync with our iPhones until later, so our alarm woke us up too late for our tour. As a consolation, we received tickets to the Cable Car that goes up to view of the Rock of Gibraltar and St. Michael’s Cave. On the ride up, we caught sight of the infamous Barbary Macaques aka. Barbary Apes, the only free-roaming monkeys in Europe.

It was chilly at the top. The clouds were hovering. The first thing my husband and I did, was to buy some coffee and snacks in the gift shop since we were too rushed to have breakfast. We also purchased T-shirts to keep us warm while we were out on the deck viewing the rock.

The view was stunning but a little bit impaired by the low clouds and fog. Monkeys were everywhere, looking for handouts.

We tried to keep our distance but when I saw this cute mother and child, I couldn’t resist getting closer for a photo.

Monkey Antics

There were some nice trails to roam. It was sweet to see the tailless monkeys interacting with their families.

Then a group of juveniles arrived. It was a crazy scene of monkey high jinks as they jumped on and into cars. They were a gang of little devils, bullying the few drivers that braved the difficult drive to the top of the mountain.

The monkeys were looking for food to steal. One of the Barbary apes grabbed my husband, Steve’s, new T-shirt, still in the package. We tried to get it back but we were not successful. A passing mail man got out of his truck to help. He bribed the mischievous monkey with an apple to give up the shirt.

Another monkey continued the shenanigans and jumped into a van of tourists. While a couple of others jumped on the shoulder of a man and on to a boy who was walking with his family along with us. I think all the pandemonium started because one of the local tourist van drivers, who always has food, showed up. There were plenty of signs that said, “don’t feed the monkey’s.”

Saint Michael’s Cave

Following the trail, we arrived at the cave entrance and a restaurant and bar. The walk was enough excitement for Steve, so he waited at the restaurant while I visited the cave. They were pretty expansive with well lit trails and stairs to accommodate a wide variety of ages and fitness levels.

An ever changing kaleidoscope colored lights, cast different hues on the stalactites and stalagmites. Lively music accompanied the splendid light show.

We spent half a day at the top and the other half walking through the charming town. Gibraltar is unique in the fact that it is attached to Spain but it is a territory of the U. K.

We saw the English influence in the classic phone booths.

We walked a lot and enjoyed the sights in spite of the fact that we missed our ‘best of’ tour. We headed back to the ship, the Royal Princess, to dress for dinner, anticipating another sumptuous meal.

I hope to blog about the next stop on the cruise, Marseille, in the near future.

Happy travels, Linda

See also the previous cruise stop: Cartagena Spain

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13

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Beauty From Ashes – Part 2


The worst fire in the history of the Santa Monica mountains left the landscape bare and black. Southern California lost 83% of cherished parkland and open space in the Woolsey fire. But perfectly timed rains were the ideal scenario for recovery. They revived the burned out wastelands and turned them into green colorful landscapes.

Fire helps seeds to germinate. This was one of the reasons an abundance of purple owls clover graced the Pentachaeta trail this Spring.

Golden fields of wildflowers carpeted the area adjacent to the Oak Forest community where over a dozen dwellings burned in the Woolsey fire.

The California Goldfields made hiking along the Pentachaeta trail magical.

When I returned to the trail later in May, wildflowers were still abounding, even after a couple of weeks of hot days.

The variety of different kinds wildflowers was amazing!

My sister and niece also get excited by nature’s artistry. Together, we witnessed the amazing transformation of the scorched hills.


These late blooming Clarkia rubicunda are aptly called, Farewell To Spring!

The Pentachaeta trail shares a trailhead with the Westlake Vista trail. That trail also had some lovely late spring wildflowers.

I saw only one lone grouping of wild sunflowers.

Painted Lady butterflies made an impressive showing.

The fire burned over the top of the Westlake Vista trail into Three Springs Park in my neighborhood. Thankfully, the fire was stopped at the perimeter. The burned hills in the park, gave birth to a magnificent field of Phacelia grandiflora.

Tall and spectacular, these large-flowered Phacellia bloomed from May into June in Three Springs Park, Westlake Village.

I am grateful no homes were burned in my neighborhood. I’m also thankful for the rebirth of our open spaces after the horror of the November, California wildfires.

Have a blessed and joy-filled summer. ~ Linda

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you His favor and give you His peace.– Numbers 6: 24-27 NLT

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Beauty From Ashes

– A Dance of Colors

Nature has provided a bounty of wildflowers from the burn scar areas of the devastating Woolsey fire. Stunning shades of purple blue dick’s and blue lupine flowers stretched out into the distance on the Cistern trail.

Only a heavenly gardener could have arranged such a lovely arrangement of lilies and lupines.

Amazing plate size Matilija poppies graced the trail trailhead as my friends and I started out on our Cistern to Lookout Trail hike..

Bold magenta lupine wildflowers and interesting rock formations added a degree of magic to an area that was only a few months ago black sticks and ash.

At the junction of Cistern and Lookout trail, vibrant poppies pointed to evidence of a tree charred by the Woolsey fire.

The fields in Agoura Hills were dazzling with color from early March and well into May. The red Indian warrior (or warrior’s plume) wildflowers were gorgeous!

Lookout Trail leads into Malibu Creek State Park, in the distance. It’s nice that this trail provides some shady areas.

Incredible fuchsia color Papaver. The center looks like a flower within a flower.

Pastel wild Catalina mariposa lilies adorned the trails in local Westlake Village and Agoura Hills trails from April into May.

In the midst of the wild lilies and mustard with my furry friends. The hills of Malibu are in the distance.

A stunning perspective of Malibu Creek from above.

My first time seeing these desert pin cushion wildflowers.

April’s fields of lupin blossoms, gave birth to thousands of painted lady butterflies in May.

“Behold, I make all things new.” – Revelation 21:5

My wish for you is that you will be refreshed by nature as I have been. May God bring you into deeper levels of inner renewal. If you are going through difficult circumstances or have experienced loss, I pray the promise of spring’s restoration of the barren, fire scorched hills, will bring you hope,

Blessings, Linda


“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” – Isaiah 61:3 NLT

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Abundant Spring


Give gratitude your attention. Feel it’s light and energy. There are no limits to the greatness of gratitude.

When you practice gratitude, you create new pathways in your brain. It changes your perception. The more I appreciate, the more goodness comes to me. I am grateful for eyes that see natures beauty. What are you grateful for today?

Local Super Bloom

Spring is a beautiful time to explore natures bounty. I came across these amazing fields of wild poppies while out exploring the hills in my neighborhood.

The poppies were hiding in the trails adjacent to the Westlake Village Community Park. Just beyond the poppies, I discovered an area of delicate blue wildflowers spread out like a carpet. They danced in the breeze.

I was delighted and kept walking. Around the bend I found an additional surprise, large fields of wild Lupine. Butterflies were everywhere, flying in and out of the purple-blue flowers.

I could hardly believe my eyes. These hills were black a couple of months ago, burned down to the dirt by the Woolsey fire. The fire was the reason for so many wonderful wild blossoms.Tall stalks of mustard plants were growing along with the Lupine (lupin).

I’ve cooked wild mustard greens from the local hills with some onions, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mustard greens are delicious and a powerful superfood! They are full of the antioxidants, vitamin C and glutathione which boosts immunity and prevents cell damage. High in calcium and vitamin K, mustard greens can help avert osteoporosis. They have numerous other health benefits. Pick the tender new growth.

I was excited to bring my daughter and sister back to this spot on the weekend. They were thrilled with the dazzling display. We couldn’t resist posing with nature’s glory.

It was a perfect spring day. I’m so grateful we shared this time together. We found grace in our gratitude of this beautiful place.

“Nature does not, hurry yet everything is accomplished.”

– Lao Tzu

I enjoyed pausing for a moment to soak up the late afternoon sun and listen to the song birds.

As we continued on our hike, I noticed some of the Lupine I had seen on my first visit was plowed down during the week, to make the hiking trail wider, but it was still lovely. Lindsay and I sampled some of the peppery young leaves of the mustard plants as we walked ahead, ready to discover more of God’s artistry and beauty.

My home town, Westlake Village is in the distance. What’s in your community? Check out the AllTrails App for hiking ideas.

The richest person in the world is not the one with the most money but the one with the most gratitude.

Happy Spring! ~ Linda

“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.” – Psalm 145:5 ESV

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Open Your Fifth Chakra with Blue Space


Extended Side Angle pose – Utthita Parsvakonasana

I always get a spiritual and mental health boost when I visit the ocean and that’s not just me. A study, co-authored by Michigan State University’s Amber L. Pearson, is the first to find a link between health and the visibility of water, which the researchers call blue space.

“Increased views of blue space is significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress,” said Pearson, assistant professor of health geography and a member of MSU’s Water Science Network. ¹

The study found that having a view of the ocean was associated with improved mental health.


Open your Throat Chakra with the Color Blue 

Associated the color blue, a healthy throat chakra (Fifth Chakra) enables self-expression and speaking with wisdom and honesty. Meditating on the color blue or a blue ocean can help alleviate throat chakra imbalance.


Ocean Breath 

Whether you’re on the beach or in a quiet room, you will enjoy the stillness and health benefits of the ocean breath. Ocean Breath; Ujjayi Breath offers gentle stimulation to your larynx and thyroid as well as a chance to slow down and quiet the mind from distracting thoughts. Create a sanctuary within.

How to do ocean breath for the throat chakra – Sit in a comfortable position with your core engaged. Breathe in through the nose and breathe out through the nose. Inhale fully under the diaphragm with your lips closed and relaxed. Exhale with a haaa sound similar to what you would hear if you had your ear up to a conch shell to ‘listen’ to the ocean.

Feel the sensation of the breath touching the back of your throat. Focus on the color blue. Visualize the blue ocean surf ebbing and flowing in time to your breath.

Yoga is as much about breathing, (Pranayama) as it is about postures. Using the Ujjayi breath in your yoga postures can help give you focus and power.


“Meditation is not meant to eliminate thoughts. It simply teaches you to direct the mind’s mental traffic” -Leonard Perlmutter


Singing and the Fifth Chakra 

Ah, the perfection of gazing at a blue ocean and singing a positive affirmation.

My father taught me this affirmation when I was a child. I loved the way it soothed my soul when he sang it. “I’m healthy, I’m strong, I’m peaceful, I’m loving and I’m happy.” Sing it with me!


But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. ~ 2 Cor. 12:9





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