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?

 

Play some foot golf

Play some foot golf

As an early Father’s Day present we went to Sunken Gardens golf course in Sunnyvale to treat dad to a round of foot golf.

The rules are simple and the holes are 21 inches wide. You can rent the #5 balls at the front desk.

Kicking the ball at foot golf, Sunken Garden in SunnyvaleCall 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. Foot golf hole at Sunken Garden, Sunnyvale

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.

Happy Father’s Day!

Have you played foot golf before?

 

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?

 

Help in the garden

Help in the garden

Fava beans from the Forge Garden, Santa ClaraGardening is always the top tip of every happiness blog. If you don’t have the opportunity to work in your own garden you can volunteer at the Forge Garden, which is part of the Santa Clara University. Volunteer hours are Wednesdays 1 pm – 4:30 pm or Fridays 9 am – 11 am, just drop in. You should be prepared to get your cloth dirty, wear sturdy shoes and bring water and sunscreen. The monthly Forge Fridays Cooking in the Garden is designed to bring the community together by harvesting, cooking and eating together. Check out their website on all upcoming events. Chicken coop at the Forge Garden, Santa Clara

They also let you wander around the grounds Monday – Friday 9 am to 5 pm. Check out what’s growing, say ‘hi’ to the chickens, admire the beehives and the aquaponic system. The farm stand is open on Fridays between 11:30 and 1:30.

If you like to learn more about gardening you can attend one of their workshops. Up front you can find a book and seed exchange.

What is on top of your happiness list?

 

Off to the races

Off to the races

A beautiful racetrack right by the Bay, Dollar Day Sundays, and some (over 18) gambling excitement. The Golden Gate Fields racetrack Dollar Days, every Sunday until June 10th, 2018, include $1 parking, $1 entry fee, $1 program, $1 mimosas, $1 beer and $1 soda and water.

Betting starts at a minimum of $2.

They welcome newbies and have a booklet to teach you all the important aspects.

Spectator at Golden Gate Fields, BerkeleyThe audience is very eclectic, from college students to families to retired persons. The people-watching is part of the experience. Collections of interesting headwear, the groups gathered around TV screens to follow other races, and the owners and jockeys posing for pictures after the races.

The large amount of smokers surprised me. The place itself felt like a Casino without the one-armed bandits. One can almost smell lost hopes. Tickets on the floor  at Golden Gate Fields, Berkeley

 

But when the race starts and everyone either shouts out the name or the number of the horse they bid on, willing it to run faster, every sad thought is forgotten and you are, at least for these moments, excited in the experience.

Horse  at Golden Gate Fields, BerkeleyWhatever your strategy is for choosing a horse, statistics, names, numbers or looking at the horse prior to the race, there is a lot of luck involved.

Please drink and gamble responsibly.

 

 

Have you ever been to the races?

 

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?

Buy machine created artwork

Buy machine created artwork

Have a unique piece of art created by a machine.

Starting instructions for the artwork forgeFor 4 quarters you can get your very own art piece. In front of City Hall at King Plaza in Palo Alto stands the Artwork Forge. Artist Toby Atticus Fraley created this machine, looking like a retro robot, that makes art.

You begin with inserting 4 quarters in slots, pushing the money into the machine and pressing two red buttons at the same time. When you walk around to the painting station the machine will determine your location and based on this, comes up with a trending artwork.

Artwork Forge painting stationNext at the painting station you can watch canvases being transported to the color ink jets. You can’t see your picture yet, but when the painting station closes you should go around the corner to the drying station. A towel is hanging there to remove paint from impatient hands. If you wait for the three steps from drying, to almost dry, to dry, you’ll be sure to have a dried picture when you take it out of the slot.

Art created by the Artwork ForgeI loved the process and the details that played with the audience. Come on, push the two red buttons at the exact same time!

Who is to say if this is art?

The question arises “What is art?” The last artist I talked to, a Chinese man living in Germany, had a plain answer: ‘Whatever sells.” For $1 each I think I got a good deal and a fun surprise.

Until April, 2018 you can watch your artwork being created on the spot at King Plaza in Palo Alto. This is part ot the Play! exhibit by the Palo Alto Arts Center. I wrote about it in Play! with art.

Have you used the Artwork Forge?

 

Go on a shadowy treasure hunt

Go on a shadowy treasure hunt

Most of the time walking in a city I feel like people should look up more. I mean really up. The old storefronts, birds that huddle together in the same directions on a lamp post, and murals are treats only to be discovered by a slight change of perspective.

Railbots part of the Shadow Art series by Damon BelangerLooking down can also be rewarding especially in Redwood City were Damon Belanger was chosen for the sidewalk art project in 2016. Belanger received the HOW International Design Award for the shadow art he created all around downtown Redwood City.

Dog the Cat part of the Shadow Art series by Damon BelangerAll over downtown you can be greeted by dragons, scared by monsters seemingly coming out of the mailbox, or meet a dog casting it’s shadow out of a bench. You will find a lot of whimsical creatures and robots too.

Wild Ride, part of the Shadow Art series by Damon BelangerThe city provides a map with all 20 stations of the shadow artwork. I walked around to find most of them and soon I was looking down and chasing shadows. The trick is to find the non moving objects in the city scape, like benches, water hydrants and lamp posts. Then Belanger’s art casts a shadow of these objects that transform the original and make us wonder, sometimes giggle, about the unique creatures. With a lot of humor and knowledge of the city Belanger made a valuable contribution to the public art scene.

It’s a great frugal adventure for little kids, too.

Have you ever hunted for art shadows?

Delect the poems at Poetry Walk

Delect the poems at Poetry Walk

One of my first stops on a recent visit to Berkeley was Poetry Walk on Addison Street, between Shattuck Ave and Milvia Street. I love public art and curious things out of the ordinary. Putting poems on a sidewalk counts in my book as a creative showstopper.

Moment poem at Poetry Walk, BerkeleyIn 2003 the city of Berkeley installed more than 120 individual cast iron plates with porcelain enameled text on Addison Street. Robert Hass, former US Poet Laureate and a Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, selected the poems that represent the history of Berkeley. The whole project was really a team effort, that got rewarded with multiple awards. (https://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/City_Manager/Level_3_-_Civic_Arts/PoetryWalkEssays.pdf)

Make Art, brick artwork, at Poetry Walk, BerkeleyThe first thing I noticed was that I was the only one admiring and stopping to read the prose. Some scaffolding prevented me from seeing them all.

From the Cold Mountain poems by Han-shan, Poetry Walk, BerkeleyA person cleaning the sidewalk got interested in one of Han-shan’s Cold Mountain poems after I told him I just recently learned about him. “He was a real person?” He asked. “Yes” I said and he looked again closer, reading the poem.

 

 

I also stepped into the tourist information center on Addison, and came out with lots of material about Berkeley to cover.

What poem would you like to see on this walk?

Resources:

Berkeley Installs Three Tons of Poetry in the Downtown Arts District

Berkeley Poetry Walk Receives Downtown Berkeley Association’s President’s Award

 

Get in the Christmas spirit

Get in the Christmas spirit

The whole street is lined with little Christmas trees. The street lights are tinted red. Almost every house on the block is decorated. People walking up and down, pointing and oh-ing, ah-ing. Cars slowing so drivers can catch a glimpse. Here and there you can hear Christmas songs. In front of one house you can listen to “Twas the night before Christmas”. Twas the night before Christmas scene on Christmas Tree Lane in Palo Alto

 

Decorated house on Fulton Street, Palo AltoThis is ‘Christmas Tree Lane’ in Palo Alto. Every year since 1940 Fulton Street off Embarcadero lights up for the whole neighborhood to enjoy. Exceptions of this tradition were in 1942 because of the blackouts during World War II, “Dimmed but not silenced” and in 1973 during the Energy Crisis, the trees were decorated with shining red plastic bows.

 

This year you can enjoy the lights and the atmosphere of Christmas Tree Lane from December 16th to December 31st, 2017 each night from 5pm to 11pm. It is best admired if you park your car in the neighborhood and stroll down Fulton. The architecture of the houses complements the fairy tale look. Whimsical figures are placed everywhere, a Santa on the roof, characters from Dr Seuss on the lawn, the whole crew of the peanuts. Residents of Fulton Street made sure you will have a magical time. Santa on the roof, on Christmas Tree Lane in Palo Alto

 

Happy Holidays!

 

Have you been to Christmas Tree Lane?