By Jean Strauber, Travel Editor
Whenever I need to pick up prescriptions at Kaiser Hospital I make it a practice to browse through the used books for sale. I came across one that I’d like to share with you readers who have young children or grandchildren and wonder what you can do with the kiddies for a day. The book is called “Southern California for Kids” by Kay and Tom Sanger. Though published in 1990, the book the recommendations are still very much valid 21 years after publication.
The Table of Contents divides the book into geographical units, and, within each unit there are distinct chapters. For example, the North of Los Angeles Unit is divided into three chapters: Santa Clarita Valley and the Tehachapi Mountains (From the “Revolution” to the Civil War), Antelope Valley (Space Adventures and Earthly Pleasures) and Victorville and Barstow (Cowboys and Indians). In scanning the Santa Clarita Valley and the Tehachapi Mountains I found some interesting descriptions of day tours. Until I read “Southern California for Kids” I was unaware of the Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Park. This Indian Museum is a state historic park that contains the combined collections of H. Arden Edwards and subsequent owner and anthropology student Grace Oliver.
You’ll find exhibits representing and interpreting Native Americans groups, both aboriginal and contemporary, of the Southwest, Great Basin, and Californian cultural regions. The structure, chalet-style, was built over the rock formation of Piute Butte in the Mojave Desert. This unusual folk art structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum offers demonstrations and special events. Guest Native American groups perform traditional dances and other programs, and an annual fall event features a traditional ground blessing ceremony. You’ll find Native American artists demonstrating and selling their work and Native American food.
At the Joshua Cottage on the museum grounds, there’s a table of artifacts for kids to enjoy. They can grind acorns with stone tools and try to start a fire using a stick or bowl drill. The Antelope Indian Museum is located at 15701 East Avenue M, Lake Los Angeles, CA. For more information go to www. antelopeindianmuseum.org. If your children are studying American history in school you and your family might want to travel up the Golden State Freeway (Interstate 5) will bring you to Fort Tejon State Park. During the 1850s the fort held more than 20 buildings and 200 men, plus a camel corps.
These trusty dromedaries were used to transport supplies through the dry valleys below the fort. Today you’ll find that several buildings have been restored, and two are partially open. The restored barracks contain display cases of uniforms and a recreated troopers’ quarters. On the park grounds there is a historic marker indicating the grave site of Peter Lebeck, for whom the nearby town is named. On the first Sunday of any month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., visitors to Fort Tejon State Historic Park will find docents dressed in period costumes and reenacting life in the 1850s. See men dressed in the uniforms of that period, working as blacksmiths or making adobe bricks. You’ll find women baking bread or even churning butter, and children playing the game of “graces.”
Fort Tejon is located in the Grapevine Canyon. From the San Fernando Valley take the 405 North until it merges into the 210 and becomes Interstate 5 and drive north for about 70 miles and take the Fort Tejon exit. The park is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information call (661) 248-6692 or go to www. parks.ca.gov. At the Saugus Speedway on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays you’ll find the Saugus Swap Meet, one of the biggest and best in the San Fernando Valley. On the first Sunday of the month from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., certified appraisers will examine your treasures and appraise them, free of charge.
While strolling through the aisles and examining the items for sale you might find yourself singing and humming along with the music played by such groups as High Energy, Oompah Band, TL Hunter Band or even the Rusty Pockets. The address of the Saugus Swap Meet is 22500 Soledad Canyon Road, Santa Clarita CA 91350. For more details you may call at (661) 259- 3886. In Placerita Canyon State and County Park you’ll see “The Oak of the Golden Dream.” As related in the book “Southern California for Kids,” in 1842, a hungry sheepherder awoke from dreaming of finding gold and discovered gold flakes clinging to the roots of a wild onion he dug up nearby.
That set up the first California gold rush. In fact I have acquaintances that have gone to Placerita Canyon in hopes of finding more of those golden flakes. A very few have found “some color.” Today the area is a lovely canyon park with picnic tables and eight hiking trails, one of which is paved for wheelchair, stroller and baby carriage access. Your children will love visiting the Nature Center with its exhibits of local animals, rocks and plants. On Saturdays at 11 a.m. the Center offers a Family Nature Walk and a Native Live Animal Presentation at 1 p.m. On the second Saturday of the month there is a docent-led Bird Walk starting at 8 a.m. for beginning to advanced birders.
For that walk you should bring binoculars, a field guide and water. On the fourth Saturday the Center offers a “Blooms of the Season” wildflower walk from 9:30 -10:30 a.m. To reach “The Oak of the Golden Dream” walk the half-mile Heritage Trail. Brochures are available for self-guided tours along this and other trails. The Nature Center is open from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. There is also a gift shops available to purchase books or inexpensive mementos. For more information about the Placerita Canyon Natural Area and Nature Center call (661) 259-7721. The Center is located at 19152 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall CA 91321-3213.