Hike around a quarry

Hike around a quarry

One of our New Year’s Day traditions is to begin the new year with a short hike. The first time we did this we ended up on quite a hill which had frost on the ground.

This year we went to Fremont and hiked around the Quarry Lakes. ($5 parking fee)

Around the quarry is a moderate hike, I would guess under 4 miles, with a mostly flat path. The view is spectacular with surrounding mountains and always a great view of the water. We even saw an egret. The San Francisco Bay Area is part of the Pacific Flyway and a welcome stopover for many migrating birds.

A word of caution for people depending on wheelchairs, most of the path is gravel and I assume tough to maneuver. The beach area offers beach wheelchairs on a first come basis and the fishing pier and some picnic areas are also accessible. We did see bikers and they did not seem to mind the gravel. In fact the park’s trail network connects with the Alameda Creek Regional Trail. You could hike/bike from Niles Canyon all the way to Coyote Hills and the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge.

Quarry Lakes park, Fremont

Besides hiking there are opportunities to swim, fish, and boat. Swimming wasn’t that popular, but maybe we will come back in the summer to check this out.

Do you have a New Year’s Day tradition?

What are your favorite short hikes in the Bay Area?

Happy New Year!

Relax in the Gamble Garden

Volunteer raking at the Gamble Garden, Palo Alto.

365 days a year you can go over to Old Palo Alto and see what’s in bloom or just chill and soak up the beauty.

The Gamble Garden is open for the public year round, on the grounds of the historic home  where Elizabeth Gamble grew up 100 years ago. The garden became a public park in 1985.

Kids digging and measuring worms at the Gamble Garden, Palo Alto

Every second Saturday they open the doors a bit wider. The next event is January 12th, 2019. A morning (10 am – 11:30 am) for the whole family. They offer tours around the garden, a family nature hunt, and a tour of the first floor of the home.

I enjoyed the Second Saturday in December with some friends. We browsed the seasonal offerings of decorations and the holiday greens sale. It was fun to see all the kids digging for the longest worm.

Water drops on plant at Gamble Garden, Palo Alto.

My friend introduced me to her passion of photographing water droplets on plants; we could find many examples.

Mary our tour guide at the Gamble Garden, Palo Alto.

I was so glad we caught the tour with Mary our tour guide! We started at the new water catching area, a water tank that feeds a little stream with water plants, experienced the wisteria room and its tranquility, and got a lesson in photosynthesis and how to describe plants.

Schola Cantorum chorus at the Gamble Garden, Palo Alto.

It was a festive outing with the holiday carols from the acclaimed Schola Cantorum chorus.

This will be on my holiday to-do list for the upcoming years. A great tradition is born.

If you are interested in visiting the Gamble Garden for the next Second Saturday you should register with them on their website.

Do you have a holiday tradition?

Discover the Redwood City rose garden

Discover the Redwood City rose garden

Fountain at the Catherine Brennan Memorial Rose Garden, Redwood City Sometimes by wandering around I discover the most wonderful things. The other day, while I looked around at the Red Morton Community Park  in Redwood City I was surprised by the blooming roses. A fountain in the middle with some ram heads spilling out the water. Rose petals decorating some of the water’s surface.  

Rose at the Catherine Brennan Memorial Rose Garden, Redwood City It is a small garden with a large variety of fragrant roses. The Catherine Brennan Memorial Rose Garden was established in 1968. It is named after the woman who proposed developing a municipal rose garden but sadly died two years before the opening.Mosaic art work at Catherine Brennan Memorial Rose Garden, Redwood City

I love the quote I found embedded in a mosaic art work:” A single rose can be my garden…A single friend my world.” by Leo Buscagila.

Have you been to the Catherine Brennan Memorial Rose Garden?

 

More information about Redwood City’s fascinating history of their parks can be found in the PDF:

The Story of Redwood City Parks 1937 – 1987

 

Walk the Great Spirit Path

Walk the Great Spirit Path

Today I pulled into the Bedwell Bayfront Park, in Menlo Park. Originally I wanted to check my phone for directions, but I was intrigued by a park that I had no idea was here. I got out of the car and walked over to pick up a brochure.

I was informed that Bedwell Bayfront Park is in fact Menlo Park’s largest park and it’s the only Open Space preserve on the Bay. Besides birdwatching for at least 105 species, you can see the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration, the largest tidal wetland restoration project on the West Coast!,  and you can hike the extensive trail system. What caught my eyes was the Great Spirit Path. Advertised as an unique art installation – and unique it was!

Station of the Great Spirit Path, Menlo ParkThe creator Susan Dunlap describes it as a “505-ton stone poem inspired by Native American pictographs”. The different stations, each holding a section of the poem were installed along this ¾ mile hike between 1980 and 1985. Knowing now that this is from the 1980’s, it makes sense that some paths are more maintained than others. The sign post got restored in 2015. I also missed out on the Great Spirit Path brochure; (for a pdf) all three possible holders were empty.Station of the Great Spirit Path, Menlo Park

So, for me this was a true adventure. Led maybe by those spirits I might have conjured? After all, some folks around here celebrated indigenous people day just a week prior.

Station of the Great Spirit Path, Menlo ParkIn the beginning I was led by sounds of hammers from a nearby construction site, the sign of the times. Walking closer to the Bay, it was surprisingly calm. I felt understood by the poem and liked the stone interpretations of the Native American signs. No wonder locals named it the “Stonehenge by the Bay.”

The four stanzas of the poem are spread out over a ¾ mile hike. 53 posts depict each part of the poem. With 892 rocks used it is the largest sculpture of its kind in the world!

The poem reads as follows:

Evening good

Weather clear with stars.

I walk with the wind behind me

Inspired, with glad heart.

 

Come,

Discover many animals,

Grass, sun, canyons, and earth.

No hunger, war, no fear,

Making peace and strong brothers.

 

Climb this way,

Over mountain or hill.

Go in four directions –

Up, down, close, or far away,

To places hidden or bright,

Under rain or cloud, night or day,

Reaching to see

Birds, plants, water and trees,

As you walk this trail and cross this path.

 

Rest here.

Talk here.

Flee your troubles to the sky

Holding firm to harmony, virtue and peace,

Barring evil,

Strong with wisdom and healing,

Reaching out with supplication

To the Great Spirit everywhere.

                           Copyright S.C.Dunlap 1985

 

Have you walked the Great Spirit Path?

 

Harvest some community fruit

Harvest some community fruit

One of the apple tree's in the Gentlemen's Orchard at Filoli's in WoodsideVillage Harvest is a great volunteer organization that picks fruit, mostly in neighborhoods, and donates it to local food banks. I went three years ago with my brother-in-law to pick some apples in an old orchard in San Juan Bautista. It was a different sightseeing trip for sure! A Mountain backdrop – we met the couple that owns the place – very enjoyable! This San Juan Bautista event is coming up again, October 13th, 2018 9am – 12:30pm.

I finally got around to help out a second time. This time was even more special: Filoli’s in Woodside Gentlemen’s Orchard. The varieties in this orchard are insane. There are about 400 different apple, pear and grape varieties, plus some more uncommon fruits like medlars, quince, and shan zhas.  I am happy to say if you help picking you are welcome to try the fruit. I enjoyed a variety of apples and the chatting with other volunteers that occurred around the trees. Being greeted by wild turkeys was a highlight too.

Sorting the applesAfter the picking you gather around and sort the apples. You are encouraged to take the ‘bad apples’ home – and yes there will be apple crumble at my house soon. Afterwards we were treated to a walk around Filoli. The three crates full of apples in the entrance of the estate proved that I hardly ate or saw all the apple varieties while I was in the orchard.

One of the three apple crates in the entrance hall at Filoli's in Woodside.If you are a location junkie, like me, you might enjoy the Gentlemen’s Orchard. The people you meet while picking the fruit are very special, with their hearts in the right place. Village Harvest also has neighborhood events, where you pick fruit in multiple front and backyards.

Filoli does tours of their Gentlemen’s Orchard. The next tour is 10/7/2018 from 11am – 12:30pm. Please check their calendar for available dates.

Have you ever volunteered with Village Harvest?

 

Jump the hills at Shells Dirt Jumps

Jump the hills at Shells Dirt Jumps

 Dirt Jumps at Shorebird Park in Foster City You know when you come across these hills at Shorebird Park in Foster City you are in a fun place. Finding them  is quite simple, just take any dirt path off the main biking trail that heads towards the Bay. One Yelp reviewer warned to watch for snakes.

Google map of Shorebird Park's BMX trail in Foster CityOn a Google map image the path is marked as BMX trail and Bike BMX Jumps. If you look up dirt jumping on Wikipedia you find an image of the Foster City Shells Dirt Jumps.

Dirt jumps at Shorebird Park in Foster City So, it might not be such an unexpected destination after all. I enjoyed being there without any bikers around. But if you are a BMX biker or love to dirt jump you found heaven. I definitely want to go back and hopefully take some pictures of jumping bikers. The path is dirt mixed with oyster shells. It crushes under your shoes like tightly packed snow. 

Do you have any good pictures of dirt jump bikers?

 

Hail to the water (part II)

Hail to the water (part II)

Water is precious. If you live in the Bay Area and experienced a few droughts, you’ll know this perfectly well. So, it might not comes as a surprise that there are a few water temples around.

I already talked about the water temple in Sunol. If you find yourself near Filoli in Woodside you should consider stopping at the Pulgas Water temple.  

Pulgas Water Temple, WoodsideAs a monument to the engineering of the Hetch Hetchy Project, that brought water 160 miles from the Sierra Nevada to the Bay Area, the Pulgas water temple is a tribute to the ancient architecture of Greece and Romans. The 20 year project finished in October of 1934.

Plaque with inscription at Pulgas Water Temple, WoodsideThe inscription “I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people.” underlines the importance of drinking water after the 1906 earthquake and the raging wildfires that followed the quake.

I was surprised at how many people were exploring the monument. Some relaxing on the lawn, some horsing aroPulgas Water Temple, Woodsideund the pool. The reflecting pool, a great backdrop for wedding photography and other photo opportunities was widely used as such.

The water temple is open seven days a week, from 9 am – 4 pm, but on the weekends the parking lot is only available for permitted events.

How do you hail to the water?

 

Make the climb to Lick Observatory

Make the climb to Lick Observatory

The first question our tour guide asked was: did you enjoy your ride up here?

Two motorcycles with view from Lick ObservatoryLooks like the motorcyclist and bike riders I saw outside were not here, because everyone agreed that the hilly ride up was quite unpleasant. Build in 1876 for horses and carts the road to the Lick observatory winds up in approximately 365 turns (count if you like) until it reaches the 4,200 feet peak of Mount Hamilton. Now-a-days it takes a solid hour from San Jose. While the place is open Thursdays to Sundays from 12 pm – 5 pm, in the winter time this road might be closed due to snow and icy conditions. 

Great Lick Refractor telescope, Lick ObservatoryIf you want to experience the observatory in the dark you can try to snag a ticket for one of the popular summer events. There are two different events. A music series and lectures by astronomers. As part of the lectures you will be able to glance through the historic 36-inch Great Lick Refractor telescope.

hydraulic propelled moveable floor, Lick ObservatoryFrom 1888 till 1897 the Great Lick was Earth’s largest refracting telescope. Currently it is the second largest. Again, think how it got on top of the hill and you would  be impressed, too! On opening, they do a free tour of the telescope every hour starting at 12:30 and ending at 4:30.

I was the most impressed with the floor. Beautiful walnut panels laid out in a round pattern. When our tour guide revealed this to be a hydraulic propelled moveable floor, (built before they invented electricity!) I was stunned. It hasn’t be operated for the last five years now, but being in the presence of such inventive engineering left me in awe.

I was glad to have a nice picnic with me and enjoyed the back terrace. By the way, spring water is feeding the water fountain, so make sure to fill up your bottles for the hour long descend to San Jose.

Have you made the climb to the lick observatory?

 

Serve up the ping pong

Serve up the ping pong

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.

Ping Pong at Del Monte Park, San JoseAnyway, 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. Playing ping pong with a beach ball, Del Monte Park, San Jose

Playground at Del Monte Park, San JoseAs 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?

 

Ride in the park

Ride in the park

World’s largest full pipe, Action Sports Park, San JoseThe 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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1EgSwmps6Q

Riding zone at the Action Sports Park, San JoseThe 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.

 

Have you been to the Actions Sport Park?