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Resolve to Hike

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

On the eve of the new year, it’s time to make those resolutions. For those who need a little inspiration, Roseann Mikos has just the thing.

Mikos is leading a New Year’s Resolution Hike on Friday for families at Happy Camp Canyon Regional Park near Moorpark. It starts late, 1 p.m., for anyone who might simply resolve to endure the three-mile trek after a night on the town.

There’s no telling what Mikos, a docent for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, might do in honor of the resolution-making tradition. For a Halloween hike, she appeared masked as the Grim Reaper, and during the outing a “headless horseman” trotted by, doling out treats from a jack-o'-lantern.

That may be hard to top, but Mikos said she won’t let the opportunity pass without some nod to the New Year’s spirit of renewal.

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The three-hour, free hike is an easy stretch for children, and it’s one that might draw a couple dozen people or only a few. Mikos, an education and training consultant as well as an avid mountain biker, will point out facts about the 3,000-acre wilderness area that bumps up against Moorpark’s north side.

It doesn’t feel that close to suburbia. As recently as the mid-1980s, cattle roamed this wide canyon, and traces of ranching--watering troughs, tanks and fences--are still evident. Originally, it was part of a huge cattle ranch run by the pioneering Strathearn family. Mikos’ route will take hikers to a natural spring in an oak woodland where the giant trees are about 500 years old.

“We’ve had rain, and the grass is already starting to come up,” Mikos said. “This is my favorite time of year--it’s crisp, no wicked heat, and probably, there are still some flowers.”

In fact, hikers may spot some Christmasy toyon bushes with their red berries along the way, and Mikos guarantees plenty of mistletoe.

“Those who want to start the year right can stand under the mistletoe with their honey,” Mikos joked.

* To get to Happy Camp Canyon Regional Park, take California 23 north out of Moorpark. Go right on Broadway to the parking lot at the end. For more information, call 529-4828.

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If you haven’t had your fill of Christmas, the decorated trees at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library near Simi Valley will be up through Sunday.

If you swing by this annual display, take special note of the Ukrainian tree. It’s new this year, and its decorations hold a story of community spirit.

“We wanted to do a tree from the Ukraine,” said Donna Dillon, an archives specialist at the Reagan library. Dillon is Ukrainian, and she knew that a large community of Ukrainians resides in the Cleveland area where she is from.

She called her sister and asked if the group could provide the traditional Ukrainian decorations for the tree. Of course, she was told, and soon a huge box of ornaments arrived from St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Parma, Ohio.

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When the box was opened, the aroma of honey was overpowering. The decorations included 100 honey cookies baked in star shapes, each with a hole for hanging on the tree. Along with the cookies were more stars, intricately crafted from bits of straw, wheat and wood, as well as zillions of tiny carved wooden candle holders, each holding a little candle. Garlands were made from pieces of straw linked by bits of tissue paper.

“In the Ukraine, they don’t have a lot of fancy things,” Dillon said.

The Ohio church also sent apples, nuts and candies to be placed in the traditional manner in the straw that goes under the tree. They even sent the straw.

The Ukrainian Christmas, at least for the orthodox sector, won’t come until Jan. 7 and is preceded by a special 12-course Christmas Eve supper.

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The Ukrainian tree is one of 26 on display at the Reagan library. The trees represent the holiday traditions of countries Reagan visited while in office.

* For more information, call the library at (800) 410-8354.

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This weekend is also the last chance for families to take part in a special holiday lineup of activities at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

They run from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, and offer visitors such delights as a chance to touch an African ball python. In addition to the reptile show, there will be a presentation on Orion at the planetarium and storytellers for children.

* For information, call the museum at 682-4711.


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