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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A day in the Park and Garlic Naan

Found myself with some time this week and as the gods deemed the wife and I would not be able to do anything on St Hallmarks Day we chose to celebrate the occasion the day after. Being we both love the outdoors we decided to visit a local park right here in our own OC backyard at the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park conveniently located just off of Laguna Canyon Road aka the 133.

Backpack, bottled water, and cell phone in tow we set out to conquer some of the many trails offered at the park finally settling on a loop featuring the Little Sycamore Canyon Trail to the Serrano Ridge Trail to the Camarillo Canyon Trail to the Stagecoach South Trail which totaled roughly 4.5 miles or 7.2 Kilometers for you metric lovers.

There were a handful of cars in the lot as we paid our 3 bucks and went to the nature center and park headquarters to sign in. The nature center had pictures of bobcats, deer, and racoons that were caught on some of the sensor cameras that are strategically located around the park and while I would have been amazed to see something like that on the trail I was filled with doubt.

We set off on a brisk pace as the somewhat cloudy sky occasionally parted to let in a few rays of sunshine shine upon our faces. I was glad I left my jacket in the car as the temperature was perfect neither too hot or too cold. As we walked North away from the nature center the only thing that was a perfect tease walking into the so called Wilderness was the din of traffic and the few skyscrapers the dotted the horizon of Irvine's Business District.

The path itself had its shares of climbs and descents and some parts had clearly been damaged by the recent storms with exposed rock and the occasional open trench that presented itself in the middle of the trail on some of the steepest parts of the hike. I couldn't help but think a bit of Bear Grylls in my head talking about the dangers of twisting an ankle or falling down a precipice. Some holes in the rock face to the opposite side of us had some holes and cave like openings to which I could visualize Bear making shelter and starting a fire and giving the “fire boost morale” speech that he gives every episode. Once again that might have been much more applicable if not for the visibility of the Tustin Hangers and the Big Orange Balloon at the always soon to be developed Great Park.

As we continued the trail, we both commented on the large amount of animal scat on the trail. It was unmistakable to see the clear outline of dung that had dissipated into wafts of gray fur which I attributed to the hair of a rabbit or squirrel or whatever meal the bobcat or coyote had found that evening. We theorized why the animals preferred leaving their mark smack dab in the middle of the trail as opposed to some of the flat grassy almost alpine like meadows that dotted the trail at random intervals.

Making our way up and down and all around the series of switchbacks we were a bit surprised to see we were already 90 minutes into our trek. I was perspiring a bit and certainly glad it wasn't any warmer as making this hike in the heat would certainly have made for a more challenging hike only taken on by experienced hikers....of which I'm not.

We did manage to see some beautiful wildflowers that grew amongst the cacti and other assorted flora that vibrant color stood out amungst the otherwise alpine colors and hues that made up the majority of the hike visually.

We hit the Camarillo Trail and I was revealed as it was flat and I assumed the home stretch back to the lot. But my hopes were dashed as the final signpost to nature center had us making one more climb and descent and 30 or so more minutes of hiking before making it back to the car. Nothing is ever easy.
Seeing we had some time left we decided to get a bite to eat and after reading several reviews of the Indian Buffett Anapoorna in Irvine went to try it out. There was a line out front which made me think initially it might be a long wait, too long actually as we only had about 45 minutes before picking up our youngest son from Preschool. But alas we only waited about 10 minutes before being seated.

I can say it was easily the best indian food Ive ever had and judging by the amount of Indians eating lunch there as well this wasn't a whitened up caucasionized indian experience but the real McCoy. I was impressed with the number of offerings...the hot line probably had 12 different items including goat curry, panak paneer, and a few other offerings I eat at Indian Food places but either cant remember the name or spell it. The deserts was awesome as well...Mango Pudding, Carrot Pudding, and Gulab Jaman were all available with the wife and I both debating on which was best. The Wife commented that the Gulab Jaman was the best she ever had as it wasn't nearly as sweet as other versions of the dish we've had at other Indian Places. Best part was Monday and Tuesday's are discount lunch days with the buffet costing only 6.99 a person. Quite a bargain....and quite a day!