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?

Find the path to run

Find the path to run

This Saturday (5/13/17) is the 16th Annual Los Altos Hills Pathways Run/Walk. It’s a 5K, 10K or 1M Fun Run.

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.

Los Altos Hills pathIf 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?

 

Hunt for wildflowers

Hunt for wildflowers

We made it out of the drought and one of the perks after a rainy season is the abundance of wildflowers. While the ‘super-bloom’ refers more to fields in Southern California, here in the Northern part are also fast amounts of wildflowers.

Edgewood park in Redwood City is offering a free docent led tour every Saturday and Sunday at 10 am. This popular event draws so many people that they offer a free shuttle from East Palo Alto over to San Mateo.

Wild flower at Edgewood parkI visited on Tuesday morning and walked by myself. It was a stunning hike, which starts out uphill but shady, and you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view of the Bay. Plus, I found more than 20 different wildflowers along the way. Some of these flowers are tiny, which makes me wonder if our store bought flowers are on steroids.

For your convenience, the Edgewood Park also has a web page dedicated to what’s blooming this month, so you can look up the names of the flowers you saw. Happy hunting!
What is your favorite place to see wildflowers?

Spot some hummingbirds

Spot some hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are among the smallest birds in the world. They get their name from the humming sound they create by beating their wings about 50 times per second. I have always been fascinated by them and they give me joy when I spot them.

 

Hummingbird at the Hummingbird trail at UC Santa Cruz ArboretumThe UC Santa Cruz Arboretum has a hummingbird trail where the plants in bloom are sure to attract the little birds. For $5 you can wander the grounds and learn about plants from all over the world. And if you like to see more flying objects, they also have a butterfly walk. Butterfly chart from the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

 

Where do you spot hummingbirds?

Walk the trails between Bay and posts

Walk the trails between Bay and posts

The BYXBEE Park in Palo Alto is named after John Fletcher Byxbee, a local engineer, who first recommended developing the Baylands as a public park.

The park lies behind the Palo Alto airport and is part of the Baylands Nature Preserve, one of the largest areas of undisturbed marshland remaining in the San Francisco Bay.

People here appreciate the long, flat trails for a nice walking, running or biking workout. The unique mixture of tidal and freshwater habitats makes this a welcoming terrain for birds of all kinds.

Art installation in Byxbee Park, Palo AltoThe art that is displayed might make some people wonder: Posts that start small but grow in height, lining a small path up a hill.

These 72 posts made from concrete highway barriers symbolize the mesh between former landfill and new nature sanctuary.  Art installation in Byxbee Park, Palo Alto

 

The artists Peter Richards and Michael Oppenheimer in a collaboration with the landscape architects Hargreaves Associates, developed this 29 acre park and won the national ASAL Honer Award in 1993.

Have you ever pondered about the posts at Byxbee Park?

See petrified in wine country

See petrified in wine country

We went to Calistoga as kind of a pre-Christmas treat. One thing I know is that I have to come back! First, I did not get to try out the famous mud bath, (maybe I wasn’t ready for it?), the wine tasting rooms looked cosy and the lunch we had at the Culinary Institute was divine!

What we did do was go and see the Petrified Forest.

Over 3 million years ago a volcano erupted and covered the nearby redwoods in ash. Mineral rich water seeped down and the silica replaced the cells and made huge trees into fossils.

Petrified tree with concentric splits (parallel beaks along the trunk) at the Petrified Forest in Calistoga.We did the self-guided tour that showed us not only the petrified woods, but also some other current trees, like the beautiful red barked manzanita.

This was a fun excursion, and I would recommend it to anyone visiting the wine country. Admission was a bit pricy, adults $12, Juniors $8, but we did have fun outdoors.

If you are looking for an interesting stay they also offer a vacation rental.

Have you ever seen petrified wood?

Welcome the long-distance travelers

Welcome the long-distance travelers

The migration path of the monarch butterflies is quite amazing. They are the only insects that migrate to places that are 3,000 miles away. From October to January the monarchs visit the Bay Area. Last week I named Ardenwood, the historic farm in Fremont, as one of the places you can see monarchs.

 

Boardwalk at the Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa CruzAnother special place to see them is the Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz. They created a boardwalk for people to observe and learn about the butterflies. For some reason the clusters are at Lighthouse Field State Beach, two miles away from the Natural Bridge State Beach.

 

In an eucalyptus tree hundreds of them bundle together and warm each other. Cluster of monarch butterflies at the Lighthouse Field State BeachThey look like brown leaves, but when it gets warmer they start flying off. The monarchs need a temperature of over 55F to be able to fly.

 

Graphic illustrating the flight path of four generations of monarch butterfliesSome monarchs live for only four to six weeks, while others live six to eight months and have to fly really far to escape the cold weather. What is amazing is that the fourth generation returns to the places the first generation came from.

 

 

Have you seen a cluster of monarchs before?

See a historic farm

See a historic farm

Sometimes I feel it’s worth to remember that we have an easy life. We can go to the store and buy whatever we feel like – even fruit and vegetables that are not in season.

If we just step back in time about 150 years, we can see that it was actually hard work to get food on the table.

The Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont is a great exhibit of early farm life, livestock and local history.

"Mary had a little _ and her _ was white as snow" sign in front of a stall at Ardenwood Historic Farm, FremontThey have cute signs in front of the coops and stalls to teach and engage the little "What came first the chicken or the egg" sign in front of a stall in Ardenwood Historic Farm, Fremontones about the animals inhabiting them. There are a few varieties of chicken, little piggies and some unusual birds. This is a great place to bird watch, over 99 different species have been recorded.  A Guide to the Birds of Ardenwood Historic Farm

 

Monarch butterfly at Ardenwood Historic Farm, FremontDuring the winter month, from December to mid-February monarch butterflies overwinter here. In the summer they offer tractor rides and the train operates between the Ardenwood station and the Deer Park station. You can also see an original Victorian garden and visit the Patterson Victorian house.

There is a lot to see and to do, especially for little kids.

 

Entry fee is between $3 and $6, for special events $8.

 

What is your favorite time period?