SKIP THE COUCH: Whenever the doings of New Year's Day are portrayed in popular culture, they very often feature a couch, and someone sprawled upon it, with an ice pack on his head, or someone bundled up while movie-watching, or someone taking a nap. In short, the first day of the year is thought of as a "recovery" day, when we need to sleep off one too many glasses of bubbly enjoyed the evening before. But many a Golden-Stater would rather skip the couch, and the whole hurting-on-day-one thing. The prospect of being out in the sunshine, or fog, or some sort of breeze feels clearing, and renewing, and a positive, healthy, active, and joyous way to start something new. Not just something new, but a new year, and the ol' ice pack-on-the-head routine likely isn't doing much in the "new starts" department. If you feel drawn to a woodsy path or desert vista or photo-worthy beach as the place you want to say hello to 2015, you're in luck: The California State Parks want to lend you a hand. Or, rather, a park, some 40 of them in all, where a few dozen First Day Hikes will be going down (and up and into valleys and over hills) on Thursday, Jan. 1.
FORTY PARKS, FORTY FIVE HIKES: You can't hit 'em all on the first day of 2015, but you have a fine selection to peruse: The Asilomar State Beach and Conference Center is hosting a Poetry Hike, where "(s)elected excerpts of nature poetry" will be read as strollers enjoy the native Monterey Pine Forest, and beyond. Crystal Cove State Park is heading out onto a three-mile loop on New Year's Day, and Humboldt State Lagoons Park is all about a Jan.1 paddle on the water (though a hike option is available). Note that there are some day use fees, depending on the park, and possible paddle rental and such. You'll want to get the details on any payments you'll need to make. But think of what you'll gain: A fine day out, among flora and fauna, to ponder those still fresh days ahead. There are 365 of 'em, and if only they could be as lovely as a New Year's Day spent hiking. A most excellent New Year's resolution.