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Irvine Blog - Posts from Local Experts

Posts for April 2012

ITRYathlon: It's Never Too Late to Begin

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Sunday, Apr 29, 2012

ITRYathlon   July 28th, 2012  Northwood High School-Irvine

The Proposal:

Enter the 2012 ITryathlon; a modified endurance race sponsored by Destination Irvine and benefiting the Irvine Public School Foundation.  

On Saturday, July 28th, run 3 miles, bike an additional 9 miles, then finish with a 200 meter swim.

Write about the whole experience and share it on the Destination Irvine Blog.

Sounds like a great idea except for three little things: I don't run, I don't bike and I don't swim.

I am not an athlete.

I drive when I could walk, I use the elevator when I could take the stairs and I generally avoid sweating at all costs. Not only do I dislike exercise, I hate it. in fact, I am the only person I know who nearly failed P.E. in high school.

For me, entering a triathlon is about as unimaginable as walking on the moon.

The Past:

Maybe you're like me. 

I've gone through my adult life with the best of intentions. I approach diets like a fickle teenager: blushing with giggly passion at the beginning but soon abandoning all interest when the going gets tough. I've left a trail of dusty gym equipment and unused club memberships in my wake. Health and fitness always seem to be at the bottom of my To Do List; that elusive task waiting for the day "when I have time."

At 48, the game has changed. Like it or not, I'm losing the battle with gravity. Clothes don't fit like they should. Body parts ache. Energy is low and even a few flights of stairs leave me winded.

This is not acceptable.

I know that all of those fitness experts are right when they say that the only way to stay active at the end of my life is to build a foundation now. Even as I stare down the Big 5-0, I know it's not too late for a change.

The Plan:

I am taking the challenge and, for better or worse, I'll be writing about it.

I will go through a 12-week, micro-burst of training. Along the way, my friends who already enjoy the benefits of exercise, will act as my coaches. They'll help me build my endurance safely, improve my nutritional intake so that I can maximize my energy, and, since they are my friends, they'll certainly endure a great deal of my whining and complaining.

Best of all, my teenage daughter Katie will be entering the race with me. Not only will I gain some excellent mother daughter bonding time,  I'll have someone there to catch me when I stumble across the finish line.

It will be an adventure; one that I face with more than a little bit of trepidation. But like any good journey, it's not the destination that's important, but  the lessons you learn along the way.

I invite you to come  with me and see where this path leads. I hope to provide encouragement to Fitness Flakes like me and to demonstrate that it's never too late to begin.

After all, If I can do this... anyone can.

Our Earth Day Morning at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary

Posted by: Terry Winkler
Posted on: Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012

One of the things I love most about Irvine is how everything for great living is within easy reach. I can work for a dynamic corporation, live in a lovely neighborhood, and then get away from it all at a moment's notice for a quick trip away from suburbia.  Case in point:  our morning hike at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary.

The grey fog blanketed a sleepy Orange County during the early morning hours of Earth Day this past Sunday.  My boyfriend, Bob, and I decided to do some OC nature exploring and bird watching at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary.  The nature reserve is 300 acres of restored and natural coastal freshwater wetlands and is home to over 200 bird species. Hidden between Michelson and Campus, just West of Jamboree, the SJWS is owned by the Irvine Ranch Water District.  It's open to the public and free of charge. The rules are simple, which include items such as no dogs, smoking or bikes and don't release any critters into the reserve.

The miles of trails that maze through the various ponds and wetlands provide an easy hiking experience for people of all ages within a peaceful environment.  It's also the site of a hidden treasure known as a geocache, which is part of a worldwide outdoor treasure hunting game  - a great way to get the family together for some outside fun. 

And if you're a photographer then you're in luck, because the photo opportunities are endless with multitudes of beautiful birds and flowering plants and trees.  Take a look at some of our photos we took on the misty morning of Earth Day.














The  San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary is  home of the Sea and Sage Audubon Society, who's sponsoring a Summer Bat Walk where you can experience the sanctuary after dark, as well as several other field trip programs. So, get out your cameras, binoculars and sunscreen and go explore the wonders of nature in our lovely Irvine.

Celebrate UCI 2012

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012

Irvine is privileged to have one of the nation's finest universities right in its own backyard. UCI

When the city of Irvine was conceived in the early 1960's, The University of California at Irvine was always at its heart.


Architect and Planner William Peireira intended for the school and the town to have a symbiotic relationship; the students would benefit from the surrounding community and the new city would be enriched by the intellectual vitality. 

UCI1965UCI 2012

Today, UCI is a valuable resource for the City of Irvine, providing rich cultural venues such as the Barclay Theatre and nationally ranked Division I athletics

On Saturday, April 21st, UCI will hold its annual Open House, "Celebrate UCI:2012" .  This special event is a chance for prospective students to tour the campus. From 10am until 5pm, the campus will be alive with a variety of activities.  


It is also an opportunity for those who live in the Irvine community to learn more about their home town university.

 This year will be the 41st annual Wayzgoose, UCI's  oldest campus event .

Over 125 student groups will fill Aldrich Park with live entertainment, food booths and carnival rides.  



 And as if Campus Tours and the Wayzgoose Festival weren't enough fun for one day,

The UCI University Police Department is sponsoring a Classic Car Show and Competition.


More than 100 specialty cars will be on display. The firendly competition will include awards for Best of Show, Best Truck, and Best Muscle Car.


Best of all, Celebrate UCI is a free event, with free parking available as well.

So, Irvine, go back to school this weekend and celebrate the university that's at the center of it all. 



Irvine Ranch National Natural Landmark

Posted by: Sharlene Earnshaw
Posted on: Monday, Apr 16, 2012

When most people visit Irvine for the first time, they see a suburban landscape filled with plenty of shopping, dining, and community parks but what they often miss is the sprawling open space that has been permanently gifted to the community by Irvine Ranch. The land was declared a National Natural Landmark in 2006, the first in all of California. Today nearly 40,000 diverse acres are protected as part of the Irvine Ranch National Natural Landmark. If you are looking for place to stretch your legs, ride a bike, or just enjoy Southern California's natural beauty, consider exploring one of these scenic spots.

Limestone Canyon Wilderness Area

Limestone Canyon

Located in the countryside behind Irvine, a visit to Limestone Canyon is an ideal way to escape the urban hustle and bustle without having drive more than 20 minutes. Thick oak woodlands, streams and year-round springs keep things cool in some portions of this park which is rich in wildlife. The star of the show is Orange County's own mini-Grand Canyon, the Sinks. The Sinks are a sandstone geological formation thought to be carved by a landslide caused by an earthquake or major storm. When you stand in their presence, you can't help but feel for a moment like you have set foot in one of Utah's National Parks.

Quail Hill

Quail Hill

If you are visiting Irvine with your favorite four-legged friend, Quail Hill is a great place to enjoy. The 2 mile Quail Hill Loop Trail is conveniently located at the end of Sand Canyon Road, just off I-405, making it a nice place to go for a walk after spending all day stuck in meetings. During the spring, purple lupines and coast gold field add splashes of color to the rolling green hillsides.

San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary and Newport's Back Bay

Newport Back Bay

Most of Southern California's marshlands have long been bulldozed over to make room for homes, roads, and retail but luckily, the wetlands of the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary and Newport's Back Bay are protected and thriving. Grassy marshes are a birder's paradise and miles of natural trails allow hikers and bikers to get some exercise while watching an egret catch its afternoon snack. Kayaking is popular on the Back Bay and guided tours are offered by the Newport Bay Conservancy on weekends.

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

A quick 7 minute drive from the bustling Irvine Spectrum Center into Laguna Canyon provides yet another natural escape from the pavement and people. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is home to Orange County's only natural lake (briefly home to an escaped hippopotamus named Bubbles), massive boulders carved by centuries of erosion into cool caves, and sycamore woodlands. The Laurel Canyon Trail takes hikers high up to the top of Willow Canyon before plunging down into the green and shady Laurel Canyon, passing rocky caves and rare coastal sage scrub habitat along the way.

Sharlene Earnshaw is the Editor in Chief of Trekaroo

All pictures are by the author. 

Filed In: History

The OC Great Park: Before The Base

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Thursday, Apr 05, 2012

The OC Great Park is a 1,300 acre blank slate; a precious parcel of land with an ambitious future. 

The Park is twice the size of New York's Central Park, and with so much open space available, 

the sky's the limit. Great Park Balloon

Most people know that The Great Park sits on land that used to be the El Toro Marine Base.

But few know what was there before the squadrons of fighter jets came to stay. 

 Irvine Open Space

The Great Park was once part of Jame H. Irvine's beloved ranch, the 100,000 acre landholding than extended from the Santa Ana Mountains all the way to the Pacific Ocean. 

James H Irvine 

Even though James Irvine, Sr. was one of the most successful men in California, he saw himself as a farmer.

Unfortunately, the land he inherited had a limited water supply. Before he developed irrigation systems on the ranch, he looked for crops that could grow in the dry climate.

Bean Farming

The answer was lima beans.

Lots of them.

In fact, by 1911, the Irvine Ranch boasted the largest lima bean field in the world, with about 18,000 acres planted.  This bumper crop of lima beans came just in time to aid the World War I war effort. The nutritious and easy-to-store beans were shipped to the troops.

 Threshing Operation

The beans were harvested in large threshing operations that set up out in the field to separate the beans from the stalks. 


The bags of beans were then transported to the warehouse near the Santa Fe railway for storage and transport. These historic structures are still standing today in Old Town Irvine. 

Bean Pickers

Inside the warehouse, beans moved along conveyor belts so that "bean pickers" could separate the good from the bad.

The OC Great Park sits on what was once James Irvine's most productive lima bean field. 

Balloon Aerial 

 A view from the Great Park Balloon shows the size of this former agricultural jewel.

Today, visitors to the park can find a bit of Irvine's agricultural heritage at the Farm and Food Lab.

Farm and Food Lab

The Farm and Food Lab offers educational programs on sustainable home gardening, which make the most of limited space and water resources. 

Edible garden

gardening classvertical garden

Crops from the Farm and Food Lab are harvested and delivered to local food banks such as Second Harvest and The Orange County Food Bank. At retail prices, the Farm and Food Lab has donated crops valued at more than $30,000 to help offset serious local food shortages.
James Irvine would have appreciated that.  

Farm and Food Lab

Check Website for Schedule of Monthly Classes

Farmer's Market

Sundays 10-2pm

Orange County Great Park 

Filed In: Meetings

Destination Irvine Sponsors Mixology Event

Posted by: Wendy Haase
Posted on: Monday, Apr 02, 2012

Destination Irvine coordinated and sponsored a Mixology Event in conjunction with the CalSAE* ELEVATE 2012 Annual Conference on March 29th.

The result - attendees created innovative signature drinks using popular liquors. Extra points were awarded for incorporating ingredients indigenous to Orange County and names indicative of Irvine!

Local bartenders served up the top three cocktails chosen by Destination Irvine to conference attendees who then sampled all of them and voted for their favorite. The top three drinks selected were The OC Irwine, the OC Mojito Spectacular and the non-alcoholic Pink Dog on the Beach.

Mix Bar

Attendees selected the OC Mojito Spectacular as the winner with nearly triple the votes. The winning cocktail includes orange and lime wedges muddled with mint, Angostura Orange Bitters, Bacardi O, Simple Syrup and white soda. All drink recipes can be found at

Barb Swaiman, Sales Manager for The Queen Mary (below right), submitted the winning recipe; she received an Orange County inspired gift basket valued at $150.

Mix Team

In this photo (left to right) Wendy Haase, Destination Irvine, Michelle Carlen, Destination Irvine, Wendy Schuck, Hilton Irvine/OC Airport and Leslie Conrey, Irvine Marriott.  

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