U.S. National Park Service Free Entrance Days


There are over 400 national parks covering over 84 million acres throughout the United States and its territories.  The majority of these parks do not charge entrance fees (though parking fees often apply). As for the 124 national parks that do have entrance fees, there are a number of designated "fee free" days each year.

Here are the National Park Service Free Entrance Days in 2019:

  • January 21 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day)

  • April 20 (First Day of National Park Week)

  • August 25 (National Park Service Birthday)

  • September 28 (National Public Lands Day)

  • November 11 (Veterans Day)

The parks that normally charge a fee that are free on the above dates are listed at www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparksbystate.htm. California parks in this category include:

Plenty of other amazing national treasures are on this list, like Grand Canyon National Park.

And of course there are two national parks in Ventura County that are always worth exploring:

For more information about the National Park Service, visit www.nps.gov.

Facts About Getting Real ID Cards in the State of California


Now that we are well into 2019, it’s time for people like me, and perhaps most of you,. to start thinking about getting a Real ID card.


Beginning October 1, 2020, the federal government will require your driver’s license or ID card to be Real ID compliant if you wish to use it as identification to board a domestic flight or enter secure federal facilities that require identification. The California DMV now offers federally compliant REAL ID drivers’ licenses.

The Real ID is a requirement of the Real ID Act of 2005.


No, you don’t. But if you plan to board a domestic flight starting October 1, 2020, your existing California driver’s license or state-issued ID will not work with TSA if it is not Real ID compliant.

In lieu of a Real ID card, you will need to show a U.S. passport, passport card or other forms of identification noted at www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification.


Plan your DMV visit by making an appointment to visit a field office. DMV offices closest to the Conejo Valley include Thousand Oaks (Avenida de los Arboles), Ventura, Simi Valley,. Oxnard and Santa Paula. San Fernando Valley DMV locations include Winnetka, Van Nuys and Granada Hills.

Prepare for your visit as follows:

  1. Bring proof of your identity (original or certified copies only). It should show your date of birth, true full name (sorry, Madonna, Lady Gaga and Cher, this goes for you too). Documentation can include a current, unexpired U.S. passport or passport card, U.S. birth certificate, Permanent Resident Card or other items.

    Note that the identify document must show your current true full name; multiple name change documents are required if your name has changed multiple times. So for example, you’ll need to bring a certified marriage certificate if your current legal name is different than on your birth certificate or other identifying document.

  2. Bring proof of your full Social Security number (SSN) in the form of either an original Social Security card, W-2 form, 1099 form, pay stub or other items.

  3. Bring two** printed documents showing proof of California residency which list your first and last name and residence listed on the ID card application. It must show a physical address, not a P. O. box. Items you can use include mortgage bill, signed rental agreement, home utility bills, employment documents, property tax bills, etc.

  4. You will also need to complete an ID card application. The California DMV strongly encourages residents to complete applications online at www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/forms/dl/dl44. It is available in 10 languages (sorry, no Pig Latin though). Register for and complete the form online and when you arrive for your appointment, DMV staff can access and process the form. Easy peasy.

  5. Application fee is $30 for the ID card ($35 for a non-compliant driver’s license).

    ** As of April 2019. Note that previously this was just one printed proof of residency, but Federal requirements changed this to two, according to the DMV.


Usually within 60 days by mail.

Learn more at REALID.dmv.ca.gov.

Final Descent of Alaskan Airlines Flight from Portland to the Hollywood Burbank Airport

Why am I posting this? Why not! I rarely have such a clear view on such a beautiful day through a window over the wing of the aircraft that is actually pretty clean. So I filmed it. Blue skies on a clear, crisp, Sunday morning in the San Fernando Valley.

Living in the Conejo Valley, all else equal, it is much easier to fly into and out of the Hollywood Burbank Airport (technically Bob Hope Airport - but I call it Burbank Airport) over the Los Angeles Airport anytime. But if usually is more expensive than LAX, with some exceptions.

In this instance, I needed a last minute flight to Portland to watch the Newbury Park High School Cross Country team compete in the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland. I preferred a direct flight. A direct flight on Delta from LAX was $750 round trip. I was determined not to pay such a ridiculous fare for a 2 1/2 hour flight.

Thankfully, Priceline has some great deals, including a non-stop flight on Alaska out of Burbank as well as two nights at the Embassy Suites and 2 days of car rental, for $200 less than Delta was offering out of LAX.

In any case, it was well worth the trip the NPHS XC team, winners for the first time of both the CIF Southern Section Division II title as well as the California State Division II title in 2018, It finished 6th overall in this prestigious event, teeing off for some even greater performances in the coming years.

To support Newbury Park High School Cross County in its annual travel, supplies and equipment needs, please consider giving a donation at bit.ly/DonateNPHSXC.

Budget-Friendly Summer Travel Tips

Budget-Friendly Summer Travel

by Mira Reverente

The New Year usually means a couple of things to me - put holiday decor away and start planning for summer vacation. Actually, even before the onset of the holidays, I usually have my eye on a couple of destinations or adventures already.

I have pretty straightforward criteria: budget-friendly and kid-friendly. A blog post on train travel planted the seed. Considering that his blog post has been shared 3.9 million times already I thought I must be onto something here.

So, I researched rail passes, which I found out you can purchase for 15, 30 or 45 days on amtrak.com, allowing you to make 8, 12 or 18 stops, respectively. I purchased the 15-day rail pass for $459 ($229.50 for children 12 and under), which my daughter and I are planning to use soon to tour the Midwest and the East Coast. You can’t beat that price for a seven-state tour we plan to do.

Blog 56 Pic - Train.jpg

Lodging can get pretty pricey too. Fortunately, we’ll be staying with a college friend for the DC-Virginia-Maryland leg of our tour. For all the other stops, I have found good deals on Airbnb. Depending on your comfort level and privacy needs, you can choose from many options: anywhere from a parked RV to a couch, to a private room or even a villa.

I just keep an eye on extra fees like cleaning, security deposit, extra occupant, etc. because they do tend to sneak up on you if you’re not paying attention. I have had great experiences on Airbnb over the years and have received good reviews from the hosts as well.

If you are the adventurous and outdoorsy type, summer and camping probably go hand-in-hand for you. With a few one-time basic investments - a tent, a sleeping bag and a small stove - you are good to go camping.

In the past, I have found affordable campsites on recreation.gov and reserveamerica.org. The main difference between the two is that the latter includes state and private parks. You can book popular campsites like the Grand Canyon and Glacier National Park on recreation.gov. Last summer, our Glacier campsite was only $23 per night, while Yellowstone was $28 per night.


From my hiking buddies, I have heard that campendium.com is also a good resource for a listing of free campsites in eight states including CA. Just remember that although there may be no nightly rate for camping, there may be permits needed and they may not always be free. Another site, hipcamp.com, though not free, has an enticing listing of camping deals and new destinations.

More budget-friendly summer travel tips:

  1. First rule of summer travel, avoid it if you can (just kidding). Some child-free friends of mine avoid it by traveling during “shoulder season” like early May or mid-late September when the kids are still or back in school. Prices also drop as soon as summer break is over.
  2. Set a budget and stick to it. We all get carried away by dreamy pictures of the sand, sea and sangrias, but they all come with a price. Get on the same page with your spouse, significant other and family members as to how much you can afford to spend, so there are no surprises long after the vacation thrill has worn off.
  3. Research. Use social media to find good deals and tips. Ask friends if they’ve been to your intended destination/s.
  4. Plan well. If you are planning to visit NYC for three days, for example, and would like to hit the museums and popular landmarks, you can save money by buying discounted passes such as CityPass.
  5. Stay in places which have basic kitchen facilities. Those restaurant meals out do add up quickly. Look for lodging with a kitchenette or a microwave at the very least, for heating up leftovers and preparing basic meals.

Happy summer traveling!

Conejo Valley resident Mira Reverente a.k.a. The Money Savvy Mommy, loves finding and sharing money saving strategies just as much as the next person. Her first book on money and thriving post-divorce is available on Amazon. Get your money savviness fill on themoneysavvymommy.com or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Tour Cities Throughout the U.S. in Scavenger Hunt Fashion with Urban Adventure Quest

Looking for an adventure!? Turn Southern California cities into a giant game board this summer with a fun scavenger hunt adventure from Urban Adventure Quest.  Combine the excitement of the Amazing Race with a two to three hour city tour.

Guided from any smart phone, teams make their way among well known and overlooked gems of the city, solving clues and completing challenges while learning local history. 

Play in Los Angeles, Hollywood, San Diego, Catalina Island, The Getty Center, Paso Robles or 30 other cities across the United States.  Available 365 days a year, sunrise to sunset.  Start when you want and play at your pace.

Interested in trying it out!? Save 20% by using Promotion Code: CVGUIDE at checkout. Only $39.20 for a team of 2-5 people (regular price is $49).

Sign up online at www.UrbanAdventureQuest.com

Urban Adventure Quest was created right here in Ventura County in 2011 by three local residents inspired by "The Amazing Race" combined with their love for travel.  Since then, over 62,000 people have played! Other cities include, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Washington DC, Portland, New Orleans and many more.

TSA to Allow Small Pocket Knives and Some Sporting Goods Carry-Ons Starting April 25

Update 4/22/13: National news sources have indicated that the TSA has delayed implementing these proposed changes to carry-on policies. No other details at this time. So you can leave those lacrosse sticks and 2.36 inch pocket knives in your checked bags for the time being.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced yesterday that certain items currently prohibited as carry-ons will become allowed on board beginning April 25, 2013.

TSA has decided that allowing the following items as carry-ons will free up more time to find really bad stuff like explosives:

  • Small Pocket Knives (with non-locking blades smaller than 2.36 inches and less than 1/2 inch in width)
  • Small Novelty Bats and Toy Bats: Bats 24 inches or shorter in length or 24 ounces or less; or bats longer than 24 inches and less than 24 ounces.
  • Ski Poles, Hockey Sticks, Lacrosse Sticks, Billiard Cues, Golf Clubs (up to 2 golf clubs).

It will be interesting to see if TSA will actually free up time with these new rules given they'll have to whip out the scales and measuring tape to determine if a plastic bat is over 24 ounces or if a pocket blade knife is shorter than 2.36 inches. I'm looking at a ruler right now and am having a hard time discerning exactly what .36 inches is. Ah ha, I've figured it out now from the following handy TSA chart...2.36 inches equals 6 centimeters!

They really drill into the details in the following chart. Might be a great time to start selling non-locking pocket knives with half inch wide, 6 cm blades and non-molded grips to take advantage of these new rules!

Read More

TSA Pre✓™ Pre-Screening Initiative Gets You Through TSA Lines Quicker

TSA Pre™ is a pre-screening initiative that makes risk assessments on passengers who voluntarily participate prior to their arrival at the airport checkpoint.

TSA Pre™ includes U.S. citizens who are members of existing Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler programs including Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI programs as well as eligible airline frequent flyers.

If TSA determines a passenger is eligible for expedited screening, information is embedded in the barcode of the passenger’s boarding pass. TSA reads the barcode at designated checkpoints and the passenger may be referred to a lane where they will undergo expedited screening, which could include no longer removing shoes, 3-1-1 compliant bag from carry-on, laptop from bag, light outerwear/jacket and belt.

TSA will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport and no individual will be guaranteed expedited screening.

TSA Pre™ is in partnership with Customs and Border Protection (CBP), American Airlines and Delta Air Lines. Certain frequent flyers from Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and certain members of CBP's Trusted Traveler programs, including Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS who are U.S. citizens are eligible to participate. US Airways and United Airlines will also offer TSA Pre™ to eligible passengers in the coming months. TSA plans to expand TSA Pre™ to include additional airlines, as well as airports that participate in a CBP Trusted Traveler program, once operationally ready.

The above airlines are contacting eligible frequent flyers with an invitation to opt-in. Once the passenger opts-in, the airline identifies the individual as a TSA Pre™ participant when submitting passenger reservation information to TSA’s Secure Flight system.

If a participating airlines’ frequent flyer did not receive an invitation from the airline, he/she can still participate by joining a CBP Trusted Traveler program.

Locally here in the Los Angeles area, as of May 2012, the only TSA Pre™ screening lane is available only in the American Airlines terminal. TSA Pre✓™ is currently at 14 airports and is anticipated to expand to 35 airports by the end of 2012.

The TSA announced that it has pre-screened over one million travellers through the TSA Pre™ initiative as of May 2012.

Learn more at www.tsa.gov/what_we_do/escreening.shtm.