When my son was in third grade ping pong was the ‘in’ sport. Back in Germany, they do have concrete ping pong tables near schools and in parks everywhere. When we go back we usually play a match at least once. Now in my attempt to make this the most-interesting-summer-ever our first outing was to find a ping pong table.
We set off to Sunnyvale and checked out the PPC Swan Ping Pong Club. But it turns out they currently hosts summer camps and all tables are taken. I think with a little preparation we could reserve a table.
Anyway, I knew of a park that does have one of those concrete ping pong tables. The Del Monte Park in San Jose, a tribute to the old cannery that stood nearby, is a brand new park with a playground and a dog park. Wedged in between the kids and the dogs is the ping pong table.
We played a while and had fun until we both stepped on the two balls we brought. That’s a quick way to halt the game. In a nearby store we not only found new ping pong balls but a huge green ball, we then invented our own game.
As an extra bonus the playground still had some challenges for a teenager. This was a great start into the summer!
Do you know of any opportunities to play ping pong in the Bay Area?
The rules are simple and the holes are 21 inches wide. You can rent the #5 balls at the front desk.
Call them ahead and book your tee time. You will be mixed in with other golfers. Sunken Garden is a smaller nine hole course so watch out for flying golf balls. We almost got hit but then it flew over us and hit the house behind us!
I also learned about basic golf course etiquette. Be quiet when someone tees off, yell ‘FOUR’ when your golf ball strays towards other people and don’t walk on the green if your game is foot golf.
Overall it took us about an hour and a half. We were surprised how tricky, in a good way, some holes were. All the hills made for an interesting strategic game.
Someone at the front desk was asking what the appeal was since in soccer you shot pretty straight. I guess it is more like golf with less equipment and a ball that doesn’t go enough astray that you have to worry about the people around you.
The recently opened Action Sports Park on Lake Cunningham in San Jose has a bike and a skate park. The skate park was built in 2011 and it’s California’s largest with 68,000 square feet. In fact there are two world’s largest pipes, namely: full pipe and cradle. The vert wall is the world’s tallest.
Watch Tony Hawk and other experts in this 3 minute video on their sneak-peek opening experience:
The brand new bike park surrounds the skatepark with some impressive hills and ramps. They have a small fleet of bikes for rent. Also the very important helmets and pads can be rented. There are no age restrictions, if you are under 6 you need an adult with you. Allowed are all kinds of bikes, even unicycles!
Different skill levels guide you through the seven riding zones. Spectators can hang out and enjoy the free wifi.
For $7 per person, you can ride all day (annual membership available), but there is also a $6 parking fee (and an option to buy a annual parking pass). The Action Sports Park allows outside food, but they also have a concession stand and a BBQ area.
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.
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.
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.
Since 2015 Silicon Valley has a truly inclusive playground in Palo Alto’s Mitchell Park; the Magical Bridge Playground. The design is uplifting, you see all children embracing the fun. There are different climbing and sliding options, a fully accessible tree house for role play, multiple installations to experience sounds, and a nice shady picnic area.
This is by far the coolest playground I have ever seen – and mind you I’ve seen a few. The great news is that they are expanding. The Magical Bridge Foundation plans to open up another magical playground in Redwood City late 2017/ early 2018. Please consider to donate!
This year’s motto is ‘Color my run’ and if you participate you will get a t-shirt to color in your way and a coloring book. The event starts at the Westwind Community Barn and runs through the Byrne Preserve, a hilly and challenging endeavor.
If you prefer to explore Los Altos Hills pathways without a crowd challenge I advise you to get the pathways map from the Los Altos town hall ($4). This pathways system is quite unique in it’s vastness and it is used by school children, walkers, horseback riders and bicyclists alike. So, please observe the 3 Cs – common sense, courtesy and communication and enjoy your path.
Do you know of any hidden pathways in the Bay Area?
Or like Aziz Ansari put it in last weeks SNL Monologue: “[…]if you look at our country’s history, change doesn’t come from presidents. Change comes from large groups of angry people. And if Day 1 is any indication, you are part of the largest group of angry people I have ever seen.”