Last week me and my 2 year old had the pleasure of visiting San Francisco Botanical Gardens on their free day (which happens every second Tuesday of the month in case you wanna catch the next one). Walking the grounds with her, smelling the flowers, touching the leaves, oogling at the fall colors, and scouting the various types of wild life was all very magical. We shared our hummus sandwich and veggie chip lunch with a bold squirrel that we pretended to make friends with. We watched a crane strutting by looking for it's lunch in a pond with the sun rays shining down upon it. We ran through yellow leaves that showered us in fall colors, listening to the crunch under our feet. We took hidden paths to different lands. We crossed bridges that may or may not have been occupied by trolls. We ran through grassy fields and danced in the sun. And at the very end of our magical excursion we hugged a tree.
Not just any tree we hugged the giant gate keeper of a tree that is almost synonymous with the Gardens, and it felt goood! We love Mother Nature and everything she offers us so we decided to thank her by giving our love back to one of her largest creations in the park. Tree huggers isn't just something silly we call nature lovers but it actually has real health benefits including mood boosting, positive energy exchange, and breathing in directly from our fresh air factory. I could feel all of this as we stood there hugging the tree not caring what on lookers thought of us. The positive energy exchange was real and so was the mood boost, it instantly made me smile and giggle. You can feel the life of the tree pulsating underneath you and at that moment it connected me deeper to my life and brought me full circle and I'll explain why.
Part of the reason I originally started Bay Explorer was to show Bay Area parents of all socioeconomic backgrounds that you don't have to spend a ton of money to have fun with your kids in this expensive ass Bay Area. All you have to do is spend time with them and be present. I know it can get expensive going out with your family in the Bay. I have two kids and even if the place we want to visit is only $10-15 which sounds like nothing, multiply that by a family of 4 or 5 and you've got the beginnings of a costly outing. Maybe throw some food in there too and family time gets expensive. That's why I try to focus the events I post and places I go on low cost to no cost options or at least featuring when places have free days. Luckily for us most fun places in the Bay do have free days at least once in awhile. Nature is always free, parks, hiking, beaches all free! I want to highlight those things to show families you don't have to be stuck in the house because of lack of money. There is still plenty you can do in the Bay for free or cheap you just have to know where to look- and you may have to pack a lunch too, lol.
One of my main inspirations for this was my mom. My mom mainly raised me as a single parent. She was going to school full time and working a job full time as well. But she never let that hinder her spending time with me on the weekends. We didn't have a ton of money. We spent many nights eating macaroni and peas or bean burritos but honestly I never even knew that was the reason why growing up. Because my mom gave me the invaluable gifts of her time, attention, and introduction to nature I didn't notice financially when we were struggling. Nature is free and my mom made it a point on weekends to take me out into nature. Whether it be the fields of Tilden, the hills of Angel Island, the winding paths of Point Reyes, or the big trees of Golden Gate Park she always had me out on the weekends and enjoying nature (even if I didn't appreciate it then, I certainly do now).
As we stood there hugging that tree in the Botanical Gardens I remembered very clearly many years ago eating grapes under that same tree with my mom on the green grass basking in the sun while probably wearing a 90's plaid shirt & baggy jeans- ha ha! The whole situation brought me full circle and I remembered why I started Bay Explorer in the first place.
So from me and my family to you and yours I hope Bay Explorer helps you get away from your TV, get outside, and get exploring! I hope you and your family enjoy many adventures around the Bay and create many lasting memories that one day will bring you and your children full circle too!