California “Golden Poppy”Vehicle Day Use Annual Pass

I have a new mission. I’m not sure how long it will take, or how much planning it will require- but our family is going to visit every state park on the list.

California’s State Park System is the largest in the country, offering some of the world’s most varied natural wonders. No matter where you are headed, there are exciting activities to choose from. We hope you enjoy your upcoming visits and that your adventures help you “Discover the many states of California.”

There are 112 beautiful California destinations on the list. I plan on documenting the journey with a Blurb book, this way I can print one book for each kid to have as a keepsake.

So follow along while I take the kids on “112 California Adventures”.

#1 California Poppy Adventure: Point Lobos State National Reserve

Carmel-by-the-sea, Monterey County

Sunday February 7, 2021 (Super Bowl)

53 minute one-way drive time.

Arrival: 9am

Departure: 11am

We decided to visit this beautiful reserve because a friend suggested it. Growing up in California, I never would have imagined that I was missing out on this majestic place that is less than an hour from my home.

Think little alcoves with crystal clear water and stunning views. Mother nature out did herself with the decoration of succulents on the rocks, scattered amongst the cliffs.

We left the house at 8am and pulled in around 9am. We drove to the furthest parking lot to take the China Cove walk. We had to pick the stroller up on some parts, but it was nothing too crazy. We were not able to bring the stroller to the beach, so we parked it at the top of the stairs. I have never been on such a steep and narrow staircase. The beach had beautiful white sand and tall rock structures. We poked around a bit and when back to the trails for the last thirty minutes.

If I were visiting the ocean for the first time, this would be the place to experience it. So serene and so beautiful.

It was the perfect inaugural adventure.

Before Winter

Preparing for Winter has the property buzzing with tasks. It’s a messy time…

…after the wonder of all the brightly colored leaves fades…

…when the redwood cones draping the lawn looks less magical and more of reminder of chores to be done.

The grass is left a little long and the Summer garden tomatoes have browned and fallen over. After the last blazing heatwave of Autumn has passed, there is a time of transition.

Shaving goats, weather proofing, trimming trees, splitting firewood- chores with a side of anticipation for rainy days stuck inside with hot coffee and a good book. We collect redwood pine cones for potpourri.We dehydrate lemons. We plant garlic.

We work. We anticipate Winter. And we wait.

We wait for chilly days fueled by a roaring fire and the excitement of a brand new seed catalog. We wait for power outages lit by candlelight and time to read books all afternoon. We wait for muddy floors from boots that should have been taken off outside. We wait for cozy knitted blankets on the couch. We wait for sleeping early and waking to a cold house. We wait for the warm glow from the oven holding fresh baked bread.

Then we wait for the anticipation for Spring.

Moving to Flower Mound, Texas from California

Moving from California to Texas.
Common arguments when moving halfway across the United States

Moving to Texas from California was not a decision our family took lightly. My husband and I weighed every angle, thought of a million scenarios, talked endlessly about “what ifs”. It was exhausting. Doing what feels right for your family, may not feel right to everyone in your life. We were met with a lot of criticism. It’s like people thought we made the decision in 32.5 seconds while on the potty during a commercial break. So I wanted to do a post about some main arguments I used when discussing our move. A side note- I just finished reading “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck“(may come in handy if you are considering a move across the United States).

Keep in mind that I have so many arguments as to why this move was right for our family, but this doesn’t mean that it is perfect for your family. Every family is different and therefore prioritizes differently. This is just a small reasoning about a family of native Californians making Texas home.

We were met with these questions/comments over and over from our California faithfuls. Here is my 2 cents on each question/comment.

Comment: But it’s so ugly in Texas. California is so much prettier. 

I know it seems silly, but this is the one comment we heard over and over. 

3 words: COST. OF. LIVING.

While I do love the beautiful landscapes of California- the ocean and the forests, I cannot justify staying in California because of its beauty. There are other pressing issues that we have at this point in our life- mainly the cost of living. Being able to drive to the beach is wonderful. Living amongst the redwoods is beautiful. I will not discount California’s beauty in any way, but I cannot justify the cost of living. 

According to (You can click on this link and compare two cities that interest you), I compared the cost of living:  

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We bought our home in Flower Mound for right around the median home cost. 

Our critics will say:

Question: Why don’t you live in a cheaper city in California- then we can be close?

According to the most affordable city in California to live in is Oxnard, California. The two things I concern myself with are schools & safety:

  1. How good are the schools in an area that we can afford to live in?
  2. How safe is the area we could afford to live in?

Livability says, “The median household income [in Oxnard, California] is $62,349 with median home value settling at $332,600, which is actually a great deal for California real estate.” 

How about the schools? According to (screenshots taken 9/14/2018, click on the great schools link for updated information): 

Here is some information on the rating system.

Oxnard, CA:

greatschools oxnard

Flower Mound, TX

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So while it might be the same cost to purchase a home in Oxnard, California- schools are simply better in Texas.

Another metric is crime rates: (taken from Sperlings Best Places

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Additionally, according to a study, The town of Flower Mound has been ranked in the Top 10 Safest Cities in America by the National Council for Home Safety and Security. Flower Mound came in at No. 7 in the list, the only Texas municipality in the top 30. The No. 1 safest city according to the report, went to Thornton, Colorado, a suburb of Denver.”

 Affordability. Schools. Safety. 

Question: When will we ever see you?

It’s really not that expensive to fly. Here is a screenshot of flights between SFO/SJC and Dallas. These flights are round trip found on google flights

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Question: Why Flower Mound, Texas?

Here is the town’s 2017 annual report.

Here is an excerpt from the town’s website

Town Yearly Awards – 2018

No. 1 ‘Most Livable Small City in the U.S.’

According to a study by SmartAsset, an online personal finance company, Flower Mound is the No. 1 “Most Livable Small City in the U.S.” Researchers examined cities with populations between 65,000 and 99,000, comparing 11 key factors including: median home value to median income ratio, concentration of entertainment, restaurants, and health care establishments, and unemployment rate, among others. The article praises Flower Mound for its positive economic climate, low unemployment rate, and affordable housing relative to the average income. Flower Mound is the only Texas community in the top 10, with Mansfield, Texas coming in at No. 12. The full study can be found here.


No. 1 ‘Lowest Drunk Driving Fatality Rate in TX’

According to a study by Sutliff & Stout, an injury and accident law firm, Flower Mound ranks No. 1 on the “Lowest Drunk Driving Fatality Rate” in Texas. Researchers used Texas Department of Transportation data to determine the number of alcohol related crashes from 2013 to 2017 for cities with a population of 50,000 or more. Once they were able to determine the average number of drunk driving fatalities each year for a given city, they divided that by the total population, then by 100,000 to determine drunk driving fatalities per 100,000 residents. Flower Mound ranks 0.28 drunk driving deaths per 100,000 residents each year, followed by North Richland Hills at No. 2 with 0.29, and Frisco at No. 3 with a score of 0.51. The Texas City with the highest drunk driving fatality rate is Odessa with 6.26 annual drunk driving deaths per 100,000 residents. The full study can be found here.

No. 6 ‘Best Place to Visit in U.S.’

Travel website, ranked Flower Mound No. 6 on its national list of “Best Places to Visit” after examining 2,000 small and mid-sized cities. Criteria examined by analysts included the community’s entertainment industry, cultural offerings, golf courses and parks, ease of transportation, crime rate, and climate. Flower Mound is the only Texas community to make the top 10, praised for outdoor recreation opportunities provided by the many parks and trails, Bridlewood Golf Club, Tour 18 Dallas, and the Community Activity Center just to name a few. The article also noted the River Walk development as an amenity to look forward to when construction is complete. Newport Beach, CA took the No. 1 spot on this list. The full study can be found here.

No. 10 Safest City in Texas

According to, a website that combines data about U.S. cities into bite-sized articles, Flower Mound is the No. 10 safest city in Texas. With the largest population of any city ranking in the top 30, Flower Mound had low scores in both violent crimes per capita and property crimes per capita.To complete the study, HomeSnacks analyzed 331 cities in Texas with a population of more than 5,000 using the latest FBI crime data. To learn more, please visit

Comment: The weather sucks in Texas.

Yes, it does. I agree. This is just something we have to live with.

Comment: Texas is different than California politically.

Yes, it is. This can be good or bad depending on where you sit politically.

According to (you can click on this link and change the city to one you are interested in):

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In the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex approximately 42% are Democrats and 57% are Republicans, which is more level (15%) than the 76% Democrats and 20% Republicans (56%) in the Santa Cruz-Watsonville Metro. There is a shift in the opposite direction, but still more level in the DFW Metro area. Which ever way you lean, you will be able to find people with common beliefs in the DFW Metroplex.

Closing remarks:

We have been here in Texas for about three years and we still love it.

Check us out on the Canyon Falls Community blog.