Mother’s Day Hike: Nicholas Flat

trail in the forest

A trail in the forest: my favorite thing to see

Mother’s Day. Every year for several years now the only thing I want to do on holidays is hike with my family. Without any whining. It seemed like it would happen on Mother’s Day this year—I gave the boys plenty of warning, and it was such a simple request.

But then this morning all three of them were sick. They’re leaving this week on a trip, so it seemed best to let them stay home and rest. So I went on a hike all by myself, and it turned out to be exactly what I needed. Since I knew I was going solo and could therefore go anywhere I wanted, I returned to a beautiful spot that isn’t super popular…yet.

Nicholas Flat

You can approach this area from the south via Malibu Springs Trail at Leo Carillo State Park or from the north at the end of Decker School Road. That was the convenient spot from here, because it’s off Route 23, which begins at Westlake Blvd. It’s a hairpin turn to the right and then just park when you reach the trailhead at the very end. The wide pathway takes you south through a foresty patch and then emerges out into a grassy meadow where you are greeted with this glory:

Nicholas Pond

This pond was dry until the recent rains. 

Bench by pond

A perfect place.

A side trail takes you around the west end of the pond and up into the rocks. As of today there were several fallen rotten tree limbs and one of them jumped out of nowhere and bonked me right on the head. Okay that was actually my fault because I was rushing up to the rocks, racing against my dying phone battery and distracted by a text (out here where there’s no service!). Lesson learned, nature. I’ll pay better attention.

Nicholas Pond

West end of Nicholas Pond

The side scramble and even the head bonking were totally worth it though because this:

Pacific Ocean from Nicholas Flat

I played around with trying to get a good picture of myself in this spot…

Selfie

New profile pic

But that wasn’t the point of the hike, I promise. It was solitude and freedom to explore without anybody whining or standing around impatiently waiting for me to find a geocache. Which I did. Several times, and it was fun. So there. Happy Geocaching Nerd Mother’s Day to me.

Wildflowers in meadow

Had to bushwhack to find a cache. Rewarded with this view.

Wildflowers on trail

Nicholas Flats Road trail

Meadow

View from trail. Lots of brush, worried about snakes.

snake on trail

This was the only one I saw today, and he left quickly.

plastic rat

Rat in a geocache!

burned trees

Entering the Fire Swamp

My total hiking time was 2.5 hours, but you can easily park at the trailhead and be at the pond and then the ocean view in less than 20 minutes. I bopped around and took lots of pictures (these are the best) and stopped at the above bench to pull all the pokey things out of my shoes and socks. By the time I got home, I was relaxed and accomplished, and my boys had cleaned the entire house even though they weren’t feeling good. Wins all around.

I’m curious about approaching this area from the beach, plus there are a few more caches out there that I’d like to find, so I’d like to go back sooner than later. People get really protective of their favorite hiking spots and caution you about telling everyone about them so they don’t get too popular and crowded. So keep Nicholas Flat and its trails between us, okay?

Decker School Road

Clippers Basketball Camp This Summer!

File under Things To Sign Your Kids Up For: LA Clippers Basketball Camp!
boy plays basketball

Summer camps are definitely on my mind these days, especially now that I’ve got a day job that doesn’t take summers off. I was so happy to learn that the LA Clippers Basketball Camp is coming to our area! Specifically, June 19 through June 23, they will operate at Agoura Calabasas Community Center on Malibu Hills Road. There are still 44 spots left so click here to register! Early bird pricing has passed, but the camp is only $395 for full days (8am-3pm) for the entire week!

Here’s what the Clippers say about it:

The LA Clippers Youth Basketball Summer Camps offer an exciting way for kids 6-14 years of age to take their game to the next level.  The camps, which are open to children of all different skill levels feature an All-Star group of coaches including former Clippers Players Lamond Murray and Cherokee Parks. Participants will receive top level instruction on shooting mechanics, footwork, ball-handling, defense, passing and mental approach to the sport.  Camps will take place Monday-Friday from 8am-3pm and will be held throughout LA, Orange County, the I.E. and San Diego.  Register today before the camps sell out.

Even if you’re reading this from outside our area, you may find that there’s a camp happening near you, so check it out!

The Map Garden Grove 6/12-6/16 12552 Western Ave, 92841
Westwood Rec Center Los Angeles 6/12-6/16 1350 S Sepulveda Blvd, 90025
Agoura Community Center Calabasas 6/19-6/23 27040 Malibu Hills Rd, 91301
MMTSC Irvine 6/19-6/23 14522 Myford Rd, 92606
Champions Sports Facility Carson 6/26-6/30 1533 E Del Amo Blvd, 90746
CSUN Northridge 7/10-7/14 18111 Nordhoff St, 91325
Pacific Palisades Rec Center Pacific Palisades 7/17-7/21 851 Alma Real Dr, 90272
Westwood Rec Center Los Angeles 7/24-7/28 1350 S Sepulveda Blvd, 90025
Drayson Center Loma Linda 7/31-8/4 25040 Stewart St, 92354
Crescenta Valley High School La Crescenta 7/31-8/4 2900 Community Ave, 91214
Corky Smith Gymnasium San Marcos 7/31-8/4 274 Pico Ave, 92069

Stonefire Grill Takeout for an Instant Weeknight Meal

Stonefire Grill Takeout. It’s kind of like magic. No cooking, minimal cleanup, everyone gets something he or she likes, and then you’re done. Kitchen fairy? Nope.

stonefire grill bags

Last Wednesday we had A Day. You know the kind—play rehearsal, baseball game, karate practice…and that’s just the kids! Parents on opposite sides of town, trying to divide and conquer. By the time we would be done with all of this activity, it would be late and everyone would be hungry.

This was the perfect night to try the Stonefire Grill takeout menu. We ordered a family meal ahead of time, which you can do by phone (805-413-0300) or online, then at the appointed time, I parked in a reserved space for takeout customers. THAT was actually a super handy feature, because sometimes Stonefire is crowded (okay all the time at this location) and it can be hard to find parking. Nobody in the Bubble wants to feel that pain, right? That’s one of the reasons we live here!

Gym photobomb

Anyway once I happily parked, my karate student child and I went to the front desk, gave the staff our name, and in a few minutes we had bags of freshly cooked food ready to go. The 10 minute ride home was tough because it smelled so delicious and we were hungry!

Stonefire front desk

The meal we had included tri-tip (half barbecue, half salt & pepper), a pizza, breadsticks, a cartwheel salad, and a giant slab of carrot cake. There was enough there for all 4 of us plus leftovers! We were tired from our day, and so delighted to not have to make food (me) and to be able to eat right away (everyone).

Stonefire family meal

It was reasonably priced for the amount and quality of food we got, too. As much as I love dining at the actual location of Stonefire Grill, where the kids can be loud and refill their drinks as much as they want to, this was really convenient and we didn’t have to settle for fast food.

Stonefire Grill Takeout – Thousand Oaks
3635 E Thousand Oaks Blvd
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
(805) 413-0300
Click here to order online

We received a complimentary meal to facilitate this feature. All opinions are our own.