April is the month for green living. With Earth Day on April 22, the month is jam-packed with local festivals, volunteer opportunities and kid-friendly events to help mark the 43rd anniversary of the annual appreciation day for the planet.
Andrew and Jackson Brunn will tell you, "it's pretty easy being green. It's habit forming."
"Empaque su basura" reads the sweatshirt hanging in my closet.
LAKEPORT - Sometimes overlooked because of the state's spectacular Pacific coastline, California's fresh-water lakes offer plenty of getaway and vacation opportunities for the state's residents. One longtime favorite is Clear Lake, just a couple hours drive of the San Francisco Bay area.
Of all the food trends to take off during the last decade, taco trucks are perhaps the most popular form of fast food dining in the 209. The taco truck invasion has taken over Valley streets, giving local restaurants some serious competition.
STOCKTON - When it comes to taco trucks, my friend Kevin has his favorite.
JAMESTOWN - Table Mountain is one of the best-kept secrets for a hike that isn't far from home, isn't difficult, isn't crowded and offers a spectacular view of both snow-covered peaks, New Melones lake and the rolling foothills below.
PATTERSON - Looking for an authentic Mexican meal that isn't going to break the bank? Whether you have an appetite for chorizos (Mexican sausage), asada (beef), or even tripa (intestines), Patterson's local taco trucks can supply your needs for just pennies on the dollar.
STOCKTON - Nina Simangan looks over each of her orchids.
MODESTO - Folks looking for a hiking trail in the Central Valley have plenty of rural areas to choose from, and now have a more urban option also. The City of Modesto embarked on a new project designed to transform a piece of history into a physical fitness trail.
The daffodils are in bloom and the trees are budding as spring approaches for the 14th time since the Tidewater Bike Path replaced the former barren and weed-infested abandoned right-of-way of its namesake railroad.
PATTERSON - Heart-pumping climbs, dog-friendly paths and walks for the kids are some of the activities that Frank Raines Park has to offer local hikers.
The Calaveras River Bike Path also accommodates hikers and joggers.
It attracts millions of visitors every year, has served as a muse to some of the world's greatest artists and is known to inspire as much awe in the lifelong companion as it does in the first-time visitor.
From afar, Mount Diablo stares you right in the face.
In the heart of the town that labels itself as the Gateway to Yosemite, aka Groveland, is a quaint cottage where you can relish being pampered by almost everything that is traditional English before you head out to the wilds. That place is Dori's Tea Cottage & Café at 18744 Main Street, which is also Highway 120. The famous
MODESTO – You need your porcelain. You need your finest china. And you absolutely need your tea.
ANGELS CAMP -Three miles north of Arnold off Highway 4, the colossal trees of Calaveras Big Trees State Park stand in quiet testimony to prehistoric times. These massive relics, which can reach a height of 325 feet and a diameter of 33 feet, are descended from trees that were standing when dinosaurs roamed Earth, and birds, mammals and flowering plants began to appear. Some of today's trees are thought to be as old as 2,000 years.
TURLOCK – With the spookiest holiday just around the corner, the city of Turlock has both children and canines covered with events including BARKtoberfest, a downtown trick-or-treating event, and Haunted Housing at California State University, Stanislaus.
LATHROP – Trick-or-treating is so passé.
STOCKTON – Halloween in Stockton has something for folks of all ages.
Most Halloween celebrations last for just a day. At Manteca Care and Rehabilitation Center in Manteca, it will be double the fun in two days full of costumes, cupcakes, and live entertainment.
MANTECA – There's Pixie Woods in Stockton and Micke Grove in Lodi – places that offer plenty of attractions and recreational facilities for the young.
PATTERSON – Whether kids like to skate, bike, or even rollerblade, the skate park in Patterson is the only place to go according to local skateboarders Abraham Garcia-Ramos and Joel Becerril.
STOCKTON – Pixie Woods Amusement Park was once described as Stockton's own fairyland for the "young in age and young at heart."
MODESTO – "Dad – what are we going to do today?"
Its been called California's Main Street. It splits from Interstate 5 some 90 miles south of Mt. Shasta – the state's most imposing volcano – and remerges with Interstate 5 at the base of the Grapevine that takes you over the Tehachapi Mountains and dumps you into the Southland.