On a recent trip to San Jose I decided to check out the Overfelt Gardens. Within this local park is the Chinese Cultural Garden, a piece of land gifted by Frank and Pauline Lowe in 1971, to bring Chinese culture closer to the American people.
It is a very peaceful place with a couple of ponds and the geese population greatly exceeds the human park dwellers. I followed the path to the Chinese Cultural Gardens and was greeted by Confucius himself! I am sure he was meant to be surrounded by water, but the absence of it did not take away from his greatness.
A few more Chinese structures are in the park, but overall it is just a great place to unwind, walk around in some greenery and surround yourself with peacefulness.
Other features of the park are the Amphitheatre, a palm garden and the California garden.
Soon we will celebrate Thanksgiving and I thought it is appropriate to talk about a local farm.
Emma Prusch donated a substantial piece of land to the city of San Jose to be kept as farmland as the way the Valley of Hearts Delight used to be.
When I first entered the farm it was amazing to me that they have chickens roam around freely in the whole area. In the back there is an animal area where they sell chicken feed for 25 cents. So, make sure you have some quarters if you are entertaining young children. The animal area also has a pot belly pig, bunnies, goats and other fowl.
On Saturday and Sunday the farm offers pony rides ($10 for 10 minutes). Overall this is a great place for little children, with a playground, the animal area, and lots of space to run around.
The true farm experience is offered every first Saturday. The associated Veggielution is a community farm with the mission of connecting people through food and farming. Here you can help farming, cook or just stop by and buy the produce from the farmstand.
Everyone is welcome every Saturday and Wednesday morning to garden at Emma’s Kitchen Garden.
So, when you google Menlo Park you will get a lot of results talking about Thomas Edison. Who, it turns out lived in Menlo Park, New Jersey and that development was named after the Californian town.
The Museum of American History in Palo Alto is running a current exhibit titled:Thomas Edison and His Rivals: Bringing Electricity to America.
You can learn about American ingenuity and the rivalries between Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla, until February 18th, 2018. They also show a lot of different inventions from the three tech pioneers.
The subject is not surprising for the Museum of American History, which focuses on inventions and technology from 1750 to 1950.
The permanent exhibit features a 1920s general store, an early 20th century kitchen and outside a replica of an auto-repair-shop, a print shop and the marvelous garden.
It is a great museum to spent some time inside and outside. Admission is free with a suggested donation of $5.
Ever wondered about the building on top of one of the mountains near Saratoga? You can now hike to the summit (or drive) and learn about the history of this place.
Mount Umunhum one of the highest mountains in the Santa Cruz mountain range (3,486 feet) was once a sacred site of the local Native Americans. In fact, rituals are still performed here today.
The Mountain is easy to spot because of the radar tower on top of it. From 1957 to 1980 this was part of the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) defense system.SAGE was a network of computer systems that coordinated data from many radar sites and processed it into a single image of the airspace over a wide area.* Back in these days as many as 125 military personnel with their families lived at Mount Umunhum.
There are three parking areas depending on your intentions:
Jacques Ridge parking lot is the closest to the entrance of the park – furthest hike to the summit.
Bald Mountain parking area – from here the hike up to the summit is 3.7 miles
Mt Umunhum Summit parking area – 159 steps to the summit
We only did a short hike, from the Bald Mountain parking lot to the Guadalupe Creek Overlook 1.3 miles each way and then drove to the Summit parking area. But I would like to do the whole summit hike at one point. On the summit itself the views are amazing! We were there on a cloudy day, but on a clear day you can see from the Pacific to the Sierra Nevada.
There is also an audio tour app about the Stories of Mount Umunhum for free in the app store of your choice. You should download the audio tour before you go because there is limited cell service.
If your favorite Halloween outing is going to a cemetery you might find Colma attractive.
The city of 1792 (2010) has seventeen cemeteries – , including one for pets. Four are listed in the cemetery travel guide! Hence the ratio of alive to dead is 1:1000. Colma was build as an necropolis, after San Francisco in the 1900 outlawed interments and then in 1912 evicted all cemeteries.
I started my exploration of Colma at the local Historical Association (free, but donations are encouraged). They embrace the dead neighbors with interesting knowledge about customs about grief. For example did you know that hair of deceased was made into jewelry? For those of you interested in genealogy the museum also has a reading room.
I can recommend the walkable Italian Cementy next to the museum. A lot of interesting crypts and someone at the museum told me that people like to picnic there on the weekends.
Some famous underground residents of Colma are:
Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery
Hills of Eternity Jewish Cemetery
William Randolph Hearst
Cypress Lawn Cemetery
Home of Peace Jewish Cemetery
None of these resting places has a special Halloween offering, but two of them do occasionally offer tours:
Sometimes I find the most amazing things without looking for them. I was killing time in Moss Landing last weekend before a beautiful kayak tour and stumbled upon this little gem of a museum: the Shakespeare Society of America and its collection of artifacts, plus a gift shop. The museum is free, but encourages donations. Opening hours are usually from 10 am – 5 pm daily.
When R. Thad Taylor, the founder of the Globe Playhouse in Los Angeles, passed away in 2006, the Shakespeare Society of America had to relocate. In 2008 it moved to Moss Landing.
If you are an admirer of Shakespeare you should check it out. The collection consists of rare books, artwork and other memorabilia. A tour especially for school classes grades 9-12 teaches the work of William Shakespeare.
Ever since I saw the murals on the Roth Building in Palo Alto I was intrigued to find out more about Victor Arnautoff. The Roth Building located on 300 Homer Ave is the former Palo Alto Medical Clinic and the soon-to-be Palo Alto History Museum.
When the hospital first opened in 1932 it was quite a stir due to one of Victor Arnautoff’s murals depicting a half undressed woman receiving treatment. In fact it caused a traffic jam on Homer Ave due to the cars driving by so slowly to get a glimpse of the art work.
Arnautoff himself a Russian-American artist who trained with Diego Rivera and came to Palo Alto to teach art at Stanford is most famous for his artistic contribution to the Coit Tower. The Roth Building frescos are among his earliest works in the United States.
When the Palo Alto Medical Clinic moved to 795 El Camino Real, it placed replica medallions of the artworks at its front entrance. On my search for these replicas, I talked to a woman from the hospitals philanthropy department, who knew there had been a story about Arnautoff on KQED that morning. Apparently a once lost mural had been found in the Richmond post office and is now waiting to be restored for the Richmond Historic Museum. (https://ww2.kqed.org/arts/2017/10/04/richmond-mural-rediscovered/)
But this does not conclude the Arnautoff concurrences. The San Francisco State University Library currently has an exhibit about Arnautoff: “Arnautoff and the Politics of Art” which runs through December 12th. You can see it Monday – Friday from 1 pm to 5 pm.
Have you seen my list of 50 things to do in Sunnyvale? Number 36 on the list (not in any order) is Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling. The club invited me and a group of my friends to come check out the game. Joe, a lawn bowl Hall of Famer, and Pauline were our coaches for a beautiful Sunday afternoon lawn bowling session. We learned all about the Jack (a small white ball) and the bowls that you roll at the Jack.
A game easy to learn – and hard to master.
Joe and Pauline were constantly helping and correcting us, but in a fun way. This sport is also relatively inexpensive. You have to join a club near you, but they usually let you use their bowls for a while to try out the right size for you. I think every club around the area has a drop-in policy where you can check out the game.
There are quite a few places in the Bay Area to try out lawn bowling.
I remember the first time I shopped in a Fry’s Electronics store. I felt like a two year old in a candy store!
I was never a nerd, but I loved the cables and components that you can buy there. More than once I had a young man explain to me how a computer was built and what a motherboard is. Which did nothing for me, but just seeing these components is intriguing. If this sounds sexy to you, you might consider a visit at WeirdStuff in Sunnyvale. WeirdStuff feels more like a garage meets maker faire. You are surrounded by electronic equipment, both old and new. I actually found myself on memory lane browsing the aisles – VHS tapes, keyboards and cables. Do you remember the Cherry keyboard?
But Weird Stuff also takes your old computers and parts. Which I see as a great service to our fast growing electro trashing society.
This is one of the best stops on your tech tour in Silicon Valley!
The new exhibit at the Palo Alto Art Center is called Play! An artful approach to make us realize that we all need to be more playful.
The first installment entering the gallery reminded me of my son’s wish when he was younger that he wanted a rollercoaster in the house. The slide came out of the wall and connected with colorful paths up and down the wall.