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?

 

Spring is for offspring

Spring is for offspring

Piglets at Deer Hollow Farm, CupertinoWithout doubt the cutest happening in spring are the animal babies. Lambs, chicklets, piglets, bucklings, and doelings are all adorable. At Deer Hollow Farm at the Rancho San Antonio in Cupertino you can now see them all.

At the entrance a board announces the offspring; with names like Knit, Pepper and Bowie, there is no real pattern to it. Visiting the farm, it helps to have a child of your own with you, preferably not taller than a yard stick.Kids petting baby goats, Deer Hollow Farm, Cupertino

 

In general they don’t let you enter the pens, but school groups can book a tour.

On April 28th, 2018, from 10 am – 2 pm, is the next Deer Hollow farm tour. For $7 per person you can get closer to the animals.

Farm trivia - Why do pigs like mud?Overall this is a great outing for young families. Visiting Deer Hollow is donation based. Parking is pretty tight, but the turnover is also high. From the nearest parking lot Deer Hollow is only a mile walk. The hollowed out trees on the way make for extra entertainment and photo options. I also liked the farm quiz along the way. Like the one pictured on the left – Why do pigs like mud?

 

Where do you go to see baby animals?

Explore the flowers of spring

Explore the flowers of spring

Nothing says spring as loud and pretty as a bunch of tulips. To experience the flowers in its myriad forms and colors you should go to Filoli.  

Filoli imports 100.000 tulips each year from the Netherlands. They plant them over multiple month, so you can enjoy the blooms until May.

Yellow tulip, Filoli in WoodsideIn the Sunken Garden and, of course, the Dutch Garden, tulips are featured and embedded in fields of forget-me-nots and violets.

But the showstopper tulips are planted in 4000 pots around the estate and shine their beauty up to you.  

Sometimes it feels like a tulip treasure hunt. Yellow and red tulip, Filoli in Woodside

Thanks to one volunteer for mentioning the pool area. Not only did I see the most gorgeous examples, it is also a nice quiet place to relax. 

You can always check what’s blooming on their website.

Parrot tulip, botanical art by Lois Perlman, Filoli in WoodsideCurrently there is also the 20th Annual Botanical Art Exhibition until May 20th, 2018. I enjoyed the drawings very much, and even found some of the tulips depicted.

Bouquet in the entrance hall of Filoli, WoodsideThe $20 entrance fee ensures the place will be open for the public. They have about 800 volunteers on the estate. Some of these volunteers create the flower arrangements in the house each Monday when Filoli is closed. So, if you come on Tuesdays you can admire the fresh bouquets.

The gift shop sells homemade jams and other products from the estate. The cafe has a wonderful selection of salads and sandwiches. You might also consider a stop here for coffee and dessert.

Do you also adore tulips?

Feel the spring Japanese style

Feel the spring Japanese style

There are quite a few Japanese Gardens in the Bay Area. If you expect to see a large amount of cherry blossoms you are misdirected, as I was.

As one gardener from the San Mateo Japanese Garden told me: “Cherry trees don’t do to well in the Bay Area.” They do have a few, but it is not their main focus.

Magnolias in the Japanese Garden in San MateoJapanese Gardens are all about local plants arranged in a Japanese aesthetic, giving you tranquility. Most of them have tea rooms  and a tea ceremony may be offered, a waterfall, and a lake.

The San Mateo Japanese Tea Garden is a great place to contemplate and see what is blooming in the season. Entrance to the Japanese Garden in San Mateo

Currently there are magnolias, with their vibrant reds and pinks, in bloom. Watch for trees that have been shaped to grow a certain way, or bonsais, that have been cropped to appear miniature.

Which is your favorite Japanese Garden?

Unearth Confucius

Unearth Confucius

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.

 

Confucius in the Overfelt Gardens, San JoseIt 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.

 

Roof of Memorial Hall at the Chinese Cultural Garden, San JoseA 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.

 

What are your favorite places to unwind?

Climb Mount Umunhum

Climb Mount Umunhum

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.

Radar tower on top of Mount UmunhumThe 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:

  1. Jacques Ridge parking lot is the closest to the entrance of the park – furthest hike to the summit.
  2. Bald Mountain parking area – from here the hike up to the summit is 3.7 miles
  3. Mt Umunhum Summit parking area – 159 steps to the summit

Guadalupe Creek OverlookWe 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.

What mountains do you like to climb?

 

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semi-Automatic_Ground_Environment

Fly a drone or model airplane

Fly a drone or model airplane

I have never been intrigued with flying in fact I get really frustrated with flying video games. But, I find watching these little airplanes and flying objects fascinating.

There are few places in the Bay Area for model airplane flying.

If you want to pursue this as a hobby you might want to join Bay R/C.

Model airplanes at Baylands Park in SunnyvaleIf you are like me a watch-only kind of person, your best chances to see the little flyers are at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale (parking is $6 from March to October). Rancho San Antonio also has a field for non-gas powered model airplanes. Rules for model airplanes at Rancho San Antonio in Cupertino

For those of you who like to get hands-on education, the Hiller Aviation Museum offers the Drone Plex. Each Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 am to 12 pm there are demonstrations; from 1 pm to 3 pm you can sign-up for the flight experience – (an extra $5 for 20 minutes; museum fee is $16 for adults and $11 for seniors and youth, 5-17 year olds, under 4 year olds are free). The museum also has flight simulators.

 

Are you an aviation geek?

Exercise your auditory sense

Exercise your auditory sense

Now hear this! is the name of the new outdoor exhibit at the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga.

Subtitled: an exercise in listening, you might be able to guess that these artists composed an interesting experience for you consisting of 5 installations.

Seats at the Lilian Fountain Garden Theatre in Montalvo, SaratogaFor example Stephen Vitiello’s Taking Sound Cues From The Wind plays on the hour and on the half hour from 10 am – 4:30 pm at the Lilian Fountain Garden Theatre. A sonic response to the 1925 play Wings by Joseph S. Thompson. I could sometimes not tell if the rustling of the leaves came from the speakers or just that the wind was moving  the leaves next to me. For a while I watched a dragonfly dancing to the music, her abrupt turns fitting the rhythm. I did enjoy this piece and the surrounding distractions.

On the same note Soundings are two audio tours created by Detour, an audio tour guide app. Tours involve new artists and their music while exploring the grounds of the Arts Center.

I took the first audio tour and it starts with an introduction at the box office and guides you down the path through the blue garden. The first composer Theresa Wong shares her experience in Venice, Italy under a trellis. Beautiful and minimalistic: Venice is a Fish.

Next you walk up the path and stop on the next bench to listen to Wayne Horvitz sharing his composition: 55 music and dance in concrete, part 1.

Carmina Escobar’s music can be enjoyed on a bench under the ginkgo tree.

Nina Young ends this interactive walk at the Belvedere with Temenos – an arrangement about architecture and music.Belvedere at Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga

It was a surreal experience listening to these unusual compositions outside in a park combining  the calming visuals of greenery with experimental sounds and with the chatter of summer campers.

How will you sharpen your hearing sense?

 

Now hear this! and Soundings

Monday – Sunday 10 am – 5 pm

Ends October 22nd, 2017

 

I promise you two rose gardens

I promise you two rose gardens

At the Municipal Rose Garden in San Jose the smell is overwhelmingly luxurious.

Roses at the Municipal Rose Garden in San JoseNames like love song, white delight, jump for joy, sparkle & shine, passionate kisses speak to the traditional use of roses as a gift for the loved one.

Here you see a lot of people stopping and smelling the roses, taking pictures and wandering in awe. A perfect location for wedding photos.

 

Only 1.5 miles to the north, up Naglee Ave is San Jose’s Heritage Rose Garden. First I thought it odd to Roses at the Heritage Rose Garden in San Josehave two rose garden so close to each other. But the two could not be more different. There was no one else around when I explored the garden. So close to the street I thought the smell was fuel, but I only had to wait a few minutes to realize the the garden is on the flight path of San Jose airport and most likely the smell was kerosene. In between planes it is actually a quiet place and the amount of roses shows that the purpose of this garden is to preserve them. With almost 3,500 plants and 3,000 varieties from heritage to modern to miniature roses, this is an amazing experience. So, if you are a true rose aficionado this might be the place for you.

Where do you stop and smell the roses?