The Last of the Green Preservation Societies

An eternal struggle and the topic of many a college essay, human beings have been embattled by nature since we first sloth-slopped out of the abyss. Since then, we've tried to understand, tame and ultimately destroy or reshape the environment to our own convenience. Having long since raped the planet of its natural resources—steamrolling in the Industrial Revolution with nary a thought to the consequences of relying on and producing such damaging machinery—we have not lost the desire to be a part of all that fragile beauty. We love to look out from our car windows when locked into a perpetual traffic struggle and see, oh, a palm tree here, house-concealing shrubbery there and the occasional random poppy plant bursting through the pavement.

That's why it's time to get out of your car and into an environment that makes you question why you spend so much time in a climate-controlled cubicle to begin with. Natural-born explorers we are, but with little access to the time and gusto that true exploration requires, we have resorted to developing zoos, arboretums and gardens—little preservation capsules for the working set. Now, Orange County's Natural History Museum offers a breath of fresh air with its nature walks. Stroll like a modern-day dandy through real, living greenery, stopping to examine the profound intricacy of a single leaf or flower—and be sure to leave your cell phone in the car.

The Orange County Natural History Museum Nature Walk at Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, 28373 Alicia Pkwy., Laguna Niguel, (949) 831-3287; Call for days and hours of operation. Free; parking, $3.

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