Fandango in Petaluma, Petaluma Adobe

A shady spot in the courtyard of the Petaluma Adobe.The Petaluma Adobe was once the largest privately owned adobe building in Northern California; the owner – General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. From 1834 – 1846 this adobe supported the military efforts in Sonoma.

Vallejo was the most powerful man of his time in Mexican California. His mission was to secularize the San Francisco Solano Mission in Sonoma and be a countermeasure to the Russian outpost in Fort Ross.

Cowhides piled up in one room of the Petaluma AdobeThe rancho is two stories. The exhibits show life on the rancho, with hides piled in one room, sleeping quarters from workers to supervisors, and a courtyard with two large ovens.

Now the rooms of the adobe complex have been furnished to re-enact the end of slaughtering season (matanza) and the preparation for the festivities for the workers (fandango). 

View from the upstairs veranda of the Petaluma AdobeDon’t miss walking around the veranda upstairs. You will be rewarded with a nice view of the valley.

The Petaluma Adobe is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. Due to staffing constraints please call 707-938-9560. The park is located at 3325 Adobe Road in Petaluma. Admission is $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for children between 6 and 16, and children under 5 are free. 

Have you ever danced a fandango?

Petaluma Historical Library & Museum

Walk into History, Petaluma

Glass dome of the Petaluma Historical MuseumThe building that houses the Petaluma Historical Library & Museum is in itself a representation of history. The former Carnegie Library was built in 1904. Entering through the massive stone columns the tiled floor reads: Free to all. The most stunning feature is the glass dome. The dome is the largest free standing stained glass dome in Northern California. It is definitely worth admiring it with an upward tilted head.

A sign the reads: school cross walkOn entering the museum we were greeted by a friendly attendant and she told us about the layout of the exhibit. The lower floor has the current exhibit: Local Ties – ​​Histories of the Petaluma & Haystack Railway, Northwestern Pacific Railroad and Petaluma & Santa Rosa Railway. You can view it through July 24th, 2022. While the upper floor is dedicated to the permanent exhibition of the history of Petaluma. This reaches from the life of the native population, over school life of the past, to the history of dairy farmers.

A signage of Petaluma’s Black History reveals Petaluma’s less glorious moments. Redlining was, while banned by the Supreme Court in 1948, still a common practice in the North Bay in the 1960s. Due to this housing discrimination only one black family lived in Petaluma in 1960. In 2020 the black population accounted for 1.2%. For comparison, overall there were 5% of blacks in California listed in the 2020 census (

Memorabilia of American GraffitiAlong with the current exhibit downstairs is a tribute to American Graffiti. Most of the film was shot in Petaluma. Even these days Petaluma is in great demand as a filming location. We saw a film crew for a Christmas movie at the high school.

A small carouselThe Petaluma Historical Library & Museum

is located on 20 4th Street in Petaluma. Opening hours are Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 4:40 pm. Admission is free but a suggested donation of $5 is appreciated.


Do you enjoy local historical museums?

At the Bay Model. The sign reads: Find your way around the Bay

Walk around the Bay, Bay Model, Sausalito

An info sign at the Bay Model.It is really an accomplishment of the US Army Corps of Engineers: The  Bay Model in Sausalito is as large as two football fields. If you are like me this sounds big, but you only get the real idea of how big this actually is once you stand in the viewing area and you are trying to grasp the entirety.

The Bay Model was built in 1957 to simulate salt-water intrusion, changes to tidal flows, and even movement of pollution. Nowadays the computer models have taken over and this is an educational facility. The US Army Corps of Engineers still operates the facility and offers educational programs and tours. 

The round view point at the Bay Model is a nice view around the BayOn my recent visit I was greeted by a ranger. Before I got my map and self-guided tour brochure she gave me a run-down on the model. Going first up a ramp I choose the outside lookout to see kayakers leaving the marina. When you enter the exhibit there are historic facts and explanations of the Bay. Did you know that the gold diggers used hydraulic mining? The run-off was full of sediments and made the Bay rise by more than 10 feet, causing muddy floods! A model of the Golden Gate Bridge

The next stop was a short movie, conveniently translated in four other languages besides english. After the movie, be prepared to be blown away. As I mentioned earlier, the scale is massive! Every 14.9 minutes a 24 hour tidal cycle gets recreated. Some of the educational devices are closed off due to COVID restrictions. 

Have you walked around the Bay?

The Bay Model Visitor Center is located at 2100 Bridgeway in Sausalito. Admission is free. Opening hours are Tuesday through Friday, 9 am – 4 pm and Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm.


Sign for Cascade Falls at the entrance to the park.

Chase a Waterfall, Cascade Falls, Mill Valley

It is always great to hear water running down a creek and catching the sight of a waterfall. Mill Valley’s Cascade Falls is a short drive from downtown, up Cascade Road. Be aware the parking is very limited. You can also walk up Cascade Drive and marvel at the imposing houses along this curvy road.

A fork in the path. The right one leads to a bridge and the waterfall.On entering the park you will quickly come upon a split in the road. The right path leads over a bridge to the waterfall. It is a short hike and any further hike is blocked off for now. We first went up the left path. When asked some passersby about the waterfall they directed us back and mentioned that the water is getting low. 

I still found the amount of falling water from the maybe 10 feet drop impressive and calming. Cascade Falls waterfall.

There is also a bench where you can take in the scenery and listen to the burble.

Three wells from the path on top.According to my research Three Wells (three swimming holes) is nearby. When you take the left path going up you can see two of the swimming holes below.

Cascade Falls is located in Cascade Park, at 420 Cascade Drive, Mill Valley 94941. 

Have you listened to a waterfall burble recently?

Entrance of the Richmond Art Center

Acknowledge Local Art, Richmond Art Center

Dewey Crumpler's exhibit at the Richmond Art CenterIt’s not just local art at the Richmond Art Center. But the nod to local artists are clear in the two large exhibition rooms. The main gallery shows well-known artists that have a connection to the Bay Area. Currently, until June 4th, this is Dewey Crumpler: Crossing. A take on the impact of the global shipping industry, with large scale collages, drawings, and paintings. There is also one sculpture, I almost missed, but really was my favorite! Multiple dragons crashing into and out of shipping containers. Dewey Crumpler's sculpture of dragons and shipping containers

The West gallery honors local artists. Right Here, Right Now: A Biennial of Richmond Art is a collection of eight Richmond artists ( Adrian Delgado, AJ Serrano, Daniel Ballesteros, Heather McAlister, Janet Lipkin, Jeff Maylath, Karen Seneferu, Melanin Buford). This exemplary exhibit ends on June 3rd, 2022 but the idea will be part of the Art Center’s biennially showcase. 

Video installation of Right Here Right Now at the Richmond Art CenterThe West galleries new exhibit The Eastern Shore, of artist J.B. Broussard opens June 8th till July 22, 2022. Broussard’s work centers around bronze sculptures of Tubman and Douglass shared with earlier charcoal drawings, sculptures, and paintings reflecting the Black experience. The opening reception will be together with Emmy Lou Packard: Artist of Conscience on June 18th, 2022.


When I spoke with the attendant she was very excited about the upcoming exhibit of Emmy Lou Packard. Packard was a student of Diego Rivera and has worked at the Kaiser shipyard’s newspaper, Fore ‘n’ Aft, in Richmond. She is well-known for her linoleum prints. The exhibit will be on view from June 22 till August 20th. This will also be accompanied by some events. 

Mark your calendars:

Opening Reception: Saturday, June 18, 2pm-4pm

How Emmy Lou Packard Made Her Prints (demonstration): Saturday, July 16, 12pm-2pm

Rebel Art: Emmy Lou Packard’s Legacy (panel discussion): Friday, July 29, 6pm-7:30pm

Film screening of Rivera In America: Thursday, August 11, 6:30pm-8:30pm

Closing Reception with The Great Tortilla Conspiracy: Saturday, August 20, 12pm-2pm

Mural of people participating at the Art CenterAll events are free and open to the public. No RSVP needed.

Gallery Hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm at  2540 Barrett Avenue, Richmond, CA 94804. The Art Center asks for a $5 donation.

Have you been to the Richmond Art Center?

Head of the Pacifica sculpture

Follow Pacifica’s Cheesy History

I’m sorry, it is not cheesy at all. Pacifica actually has a pretty cool history, and a visit to the Pacifica Coastside Museum, also known as the Little Brown Church, will tell you all about it. You’ll be greeted by one of the volunteer guides and walked through the two rooms full of artifacts and information signs.

Statue of Pacifica at the Coastside MuseumThe other greeter is a 8-foot statue of Pacifica. This is a replication of 80-foot Pacifica used at the Golden Gate International Exposition 1939/40 held on Treasure Island off of San Francisco. Our guide informs us proudly that she was there! 

A contest was held in 1957 to find a name for this newly incorporated coastal city. Maybe still reminiscent of the International Expo, or an urge for peace after WWII, Pacifica won the contest. Wikipedia explains the symbolism for Pacifica at the Expo: “Pacifica was the theme statue for the exposition, representing world peace, neighborliness, and the power of a unified Pacific coast.”

A miniature scene of Shelter Cove. Part of the miniature railway at the Coastside Museum, Pacifica.Upstairs, the first thing you’ll notice is the model train set up in the middle of the room. Before 1920 the railroad planned to go from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. It was never completed as it ran into major obstacles, like the earthquake in 1906 and numerous landslides. But at the beginning it was thought to be a great escape for city dwellers tired of San Francisco to acquire a beach escape in Salada Beach, as it was known back then.

Other exhibit items talk about the history before beach culture like, Mammoth bones, First Nations and their conquerors.

A towel with a mouse holding up cheese wedges. Below it reads: Pacifica Jack Cheese. If you don't know Pacifica, you don't know jack.Cheese History

Returning to the cheesy part – you did not think I forgot? – we have to enter the gift shop. Oh yes, the tiny room is filled with history books and local art. The real kicker is the contents in the little fridge in the back. Cheese!! This history begins with Pacifican Kathleen Manning’s discovery of an old cookbook and how she uncovered the origin of Monterey Jack. Apparently this cheese was created in Pacifica’s  Mori Point Inn in 1888! The recipe was stolen by a disgruntled employee and he ran with it to Jack’s Ranch in Monterey where the cheese made a name for itself. Read more here about the fascinating story. Or better yet, stop by the Pacifica Coastside Museum and buy a pound of this historical cheese for $8.

The Pacifica Coastside Museum, on 1850 Francisco Blvd,  is currently open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and  Saturdays, from 1 pm to 4 pm. Visits to the museum are free. Proceeds of the cheese sale go to the Pacifica Historical Society.

What do you think about this cheesy history?

To learn about Pacifica’s local history you might also consider taking the self-guided walking tour. 

Rev. Hershel Harkins Pier in Pacifica.

Walk into History, Pacifica

Last week’s post was about a self-guided historic walking tour in Redwood City. Usually I shake things up a bit, but this week there will be a follow-up of some sort. The history walking tour of Pacifica takes about an hour and starts near the pier.

Historic beach bungalow in Pacifica.The historical society of Pacifica that compiled the walking tour suggests starting about one hour before sunset, in order to enjoy the sunset at the end of the tour. When we did it we started in the morning devouring treats from Rosalind’s Bakery on a bench near the ocean for breakfast.

The first of eleven stops on the tour is the Spanish inspired old water treatment building and wall. The second one, Sam’s Castle, you’re not too near to, but worth a separate tour if you get a chance. The Salada Hotel (3) and the two beach bungalows (4) tell more of a story, as Pacifica was built as a resort community enticing rich San Franciscan to establish second homes here. 

The Little Brown Church is now the Coastside Museum. Next stop, the ‘Little Brown Church’ is a must-see for any history buff. Nowadays known as the Coastside Museum, it opens its doors for visitors Tuesdays, Thursdays, and  Saturdays, from 1 pm to 4 pm. Many of the following buildings have a connection with the Little Brown Church. (6) Former Pedro school expanded their classrooms into it, (7) Mr Anderson from the Anderson’s store did all the woodwork, (11) and the pier is named after Rev. Hershel Harkins, a former priest at the Little Brown Church.

Former house of Madam Dolly Fine.The most intriguing stop was number 10 on the list, a house on 2 Carmel Avenue. The self- guided sheet reveals juicy details about a former resident, Madam Dolly Fine. “She was arrested and forced out of business in 1938, having attracted too much attention when she claimed police bribes as business expenses.” 

To hear more details about the history of Pacifica I highly recommend visiting the Coastside Museum.

Where do you walk on historic grounds?

Walk into History, Redwood City

Walk into History, Redwood City

May is National Historic Preservation Month. What better way to celebrate history than to walk a self-guided tour of the oldest city in San Mateo County, Redwood City.

Part of the information sigh and the green pavement indicating where the water used to be.One of the most interesting facts while I walked along Redwood City’s historic path was a green paving, marking the previous waterfront. I was never aware of this but you are actually walking on water!  Well, “the tidal basins have since been filled, channeled and culverted” the information signage says.

But I’m walking backwards. To see the buildings that had an impact at the time Redwood City was an up and coming logger town, you can check out the map for the self-guided walking tour from the Historic Resources Society. Or as I did, stumble upon it. Information sign of the bank of San Mateo County, with the bank in the background.

The information kiosk for the ‘Path of History’ is on the north-east corner of Broadway and Main. With four major buildings from the time period on each corner: the Diller-Chamberlain general store, the American Hotel, the Sequoia Hotel, and the Bank of San Mateo County. It is a great place to start your exploration into history. I love that the rotunda holds four signs that let you read the historic significance and then look up towards that specific building.

San Mateo County History Museum.When you walk down Broadway to go to the Courthouse Square make sure to look down and see the green pavement marking the former waterfront. Of course the San Mateo County History Museum, the old court house, is part of the tour. But did you know that this is the second court house they built? Behind it on Hamilton is the Lathrop House, a large residence even for 1863.

The Fox Theater used to be the Grammar School and the movie theater across the street was occupied by high schoolers. If you stroll down Theater Way, and no one will blame you if you stop and have a bite at the many offerings, the historic path leads you down Middlefield to the library. The library used to be Fire Station No. 1.Alhambra Theater in Redwood City

If you take a left on Main Street, you walk by the Odd Fellow House. This used to be the Alhambra Theater and with 1500 seats was a major destination between San Francisco and San Jose.

You can download the PDF for the Path of History walk here.

Or watch the YouTube video here.

Have you ever walked a historic route?

Peek Inside the Art Kiosk, Redwood City

Peek Inside the Art Kiosk, Redwood City

Blue night by Kiki Smith, with glass facade of the art kiosk.Whenever I visit Redwood City I make sure I press my nose and camera to the glass of the art kiosk on Courthouse Square. This tiny public exhibition space, a cube whose ground measures 152 by 166 feet and a height of 153 feet, gives (local) artists a space to express their connection to Redwood City.

acrylic animals hanging inside the art kioskFirst installed in 2019, this was only meant to be a 10 month collaboration between the FUNG Collaboratives and the Redwood City Improvement Association. I could not find an end date to this exceptional art display. 

The kiosk has glass on all four sides, and artists usually use the space with full efficiency. 

Fish hanging from the ceiling and a goat reflecting the outside tree.The latest installment, Blue Night by Kiki Smith, also incorporates the light that shines in through the windows. Blue and translucent acrylic sheets represent 18 animal constellations. Each animal happily deflects the sunlight, or at night spotlights help to set the tone reflecting blue lights and shadows.

Blue Night will be on display until May 15th, 2022.

The Art Kiosk is on 2208 Broadway, Redwood City.

Next installments for the Art Kiosk are:

Homero Carrillo-Leon   Not Defined                                                    May 21 – June 26

Jennifer Cannon           The Gown                                                        July 02– Aug 07

Valerie Mendoza           The Destination Cafe                                      Aug 13 – Sept 25

Ilya & Emilia Kabakov   They Are Flying                                                Oct 1 – Nov 13

Wendy Wischer            In Search of New Growth                                Nov 19 – Jan 02

(dates are for 2022)

Have you peeked inside the art kiosk?


Have a swimmingly good time at the Rotary PlayGarden, San Jose

Have a swimmingly good time at the Rotary PlayGarden, San Jose

A climbing structure at the Rotary PlayGarden.As I said before, when my child was younger we searched out interesting playgrounds. I am a big fan of the all-inclusive playgrounds here in the Bay Area. There is usually a lot of thought that goes into the design of these playing areas. One of these all-ability playgrounds is the Rotary PlayGarden in San Jose. A fun place to climb, swing, ride, and run around. Swings at the PlayGarden

When you enter the PlayGarden the theme is clear, you are ‘swimming’ in an imagined river with fishes. The beige and blue foam ground reflects the beach and water features remarkably well. Fishes are objects to touch everywhere. 

The Rotary PlayGarden is part of the Guadalupe Gardens, a collection of ‘gardens’ that also include the Heritage Rose Garden, the historic orchard, and the community gardens.  Adjacent to the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy Visitor & Education Center, it has ample parking in front. 

As the playground is gated you have to adhere to the opening hours, which are Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:30 pm. Metal structure at the PlayGarden


Where do you go and play?


Other all-ability playgrounds are the Magical Bridge playgrounds and Walnut Creek near Heather’s Farm.