Climbing structure at the Palo Alto Junior Museum.

Crawl like a spider

Tree house, part of the plan for the new Palo Alto Junior Museum.

Temporarily, the Palo Alto Junior Museum is at Cubberly Community Center. Their old site is being renovated and expected to be ready in the summer of 2020. In the front of the Center you can see the plans they have – it looks pretty cool – e.g. a tree house!

Because of the limited space all the larger animals like bobcats and raccoons, are in the back. I was told that they do special events for members where they bring some of them out. Membership starts at $100 and relieves you of the $5 suggested donation.

Kids looking at the rats exhibit at the Palo Alto Junior Museum.

What you can see is a pretty cool insect exhibit, alive and dead. The sunburst diving beetles for example are constantly diving down in their little aquarium. I did not hear the hissing roaches hiss, but you can still marvel at their size. All the exhibits are kids height.

In the middle of the room is a spider web big enough to entertain toddlers for a while. There are also some life spiders, like a tarantula and a black widow you can look at. 

Reggie, the kingsnake, at the Palo Alto Junior Museum.

Reggie, the kingsnake, decorated his mantuary with some old skin. Enough rats to learn counting are next door to Reggie.

The Clean Green Energy Machines teach children about renewable energy. These machines are hands-on, start-to-bubble-and-spit types, which makes it fun to look at and learn.

The Junior Museum is closed on Monday, on Tuesdays to Saturdays open from 10 am – 5 pm, and Sundays from 1 pm to 4 pm.

When it comes to animal walks what creature do you resemble?



Learn about 4-H

Learn about 4-H

Walking around the premise of McClellan Ranch I was greeted by a pony. The owner was walking it and I was allowed to say ‘Hi’. McClellan Ranch in Cupertino is not a working farm. It is a museum and blacksmith shop. The pony is a resident of the Rolling Hills 4-H that is located on the McClellan Ranch property.

Pig at the 4-H in Cupertino

After my encounter with the pony I saw my favorite barn animals: pigs! I went over and talked to one of the young persons herding the pigs. I learned that these piggies are about one year old and they will be shown off at the Santa Clara County Fair August 1-4, 2019. The pigs have to move for about 30 minutes at the fair, so here they were practicing not to stop and doodle. Every pig in this pen had a walker with a stick, tapping the pig away from anything and each other.

Pig at the 4-H in Cupertino

I asked the girl, who was about 15 years old, if it was hard to sell a pig you’ve been taken care off for so long. She replied: “Selling your first pig is hard, but you really don’t get too attached to them since you are not with them all the time. Not like a dog that lives in your house.” She also mentioned that the $2000 you can make for it makes up for it. I also learned that luau pigs are the latest craze in the Bay Area.

Every second Saturday this 4-H has an open house from 10 am to noon, from March – November.

I think it is a lot of commitment caring for farm animals, but I was really impressed by the kids I met.

What is your favorite barn animal?

Resources:

Waterslide at Blackberry Farm in Cupertino

Swim in an outdoor pool

I’m from Germany and I remember entire summers being spent in the local outdoor pools. You would meet some friends, make new ones, and every once in a while cool down in the water.

In the U.S. I always thought swimming was more a sport than a social affair. You can go to your gym and swim the lanes. There is even a 100 mile challenge at my swimming hole. I calculate at the rate I do laps it would take me 3 ½ years to complete the challenge.

Map of Blackberry Farm, Cupertino.

The other day I visited Blackberry Farm in Cupertino. Steve Jobs named a whole company after a fruit in this city, so I expected an old blackberry orchard. To my delight I saw two pools! One with a waterslide, and the other for swimming, and a lot of people frolicing about in the water. There was a birthday party!  If you check out their website, you can see that they encourage parties. But this place is a recreational activity for the whole family.

Pool at Blackberry Farm, Cupertino.


Pool rates are $8 ($6 for residents) during the week and on Saturday and Sundays $10 ($8 for residents). The Blackberry Cafe is open from 10 am to 6 pm and serves all the classic foods, from burgers and hot dogs to salads and ice cream sandwiches.

Do you have an outdoor pool you like to spend summer days in?

Dragon at the Magic Mountain playground, San Mateo.

Play by the Bay

Even now that I have a teenager, I still remember the value of a good playground. Magic Mountain Playground on the Coyote Point in San Mateo is one of my favorite playground designs.

The two dragons with the wide mouths open invite anyone to climb about. There is an area for little kids 2 to 3 year olds, too. But let me tell you the real attraction is the ‘castle’, a tower that is three stories high (18 feet) and has six slides. One of the slides is, at 55 feet, the longest metal slide in Northern California!

Longest metal slide in Northern California at the Magic Mountain playground in San Mateo.

And there is so much more to do at Coyote Point. For example the nearby SFO supplies an almost endless amount of planes landing and taking off to stop play and point to the sky. There is also CuriOdyssey, a science center and zoo for little kids. CuriOdyssey’s admission is $13.50 for adults, $9.50 for children and $8.50 for seniors and students (13-17). The park is also great for hiking, bbq’ing and the marina is located here, too. On June 29th, 2019 the third annual Coyote Point Kite Festival  will be happening (12 – 4). You can make kites or bring your own. Admission is free (except parking).

Sign of CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point, San Mateo.

The Entrance fee is $6 per car, which allows you to explore all of Coyote Point. 

What is your favorite playground by the Bay?


Part of Cubberly hands at the Cubberly Community Center in Palo Alto.

Mix in with the Cubberly Project

The halls feel like a school with rooms on each side. There is a roof, but it is not enclosed. This brings some nice welcome shade in this heat. I wander the halls trying to find the Cubberly Project – an art installation depicting the diversity of this community center in Palo Alto.

Some of the Cubberly hands at the Cubberly Center in Palo Alto.

On the walls around the community center are photos by Martha Sakellariou; writer Jennifer Lee supplied the content. The exhibit is the result of three weeks of gathering information about the people you might meet around this campus.

I can feel the diversity just by wandering the halls. I hear kids repeating a teacher’s word in, I believe, Chinese. There is a group of children running down the hall. Dance classes and karate are being offered. This all shows the great mix of community.

Part of The sixteen Avenidas, Cubberly Center in Palo Alto.

Martha Sakellariou captures this in a fantastic way. In The sixteen Avenidas, 16 women are making flower arrangements. These women vary in age and ethnicity and you can see them enjoying their tasks and each other in a photo mural in the courtyard.

Part of The Cubberly hands, Cubberly Center in Palo Alto.


The Cubberly hands is a collage of different hands and activities involving hands. Again these images show the diversity and speak without words about the inclusion of different backgrounds and habits.

I enjoyed the Cubberly Project and hope this will make us all want to learn more about each other. All summer you can see the installation at the Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto. There is an audio installment that will play some of the interviews until June 21st, 2019, Monday – Friday 5 pm to 7 pm, and weekends from 11 am to 1 pm.

Have you seen the Cubberly Project?

Resources:

https://paloaltoonline.com/news/2019/03/19/cubberley-stock-art-event-planned-for-march-24

https://paloaltoonline.com/news/2019/03/27/soup-bowl-sunday

https://paloaltoonline.com/news/2019/06/13/the-cubberley-project-celebrates-community-voices


Table setting at the Los Altos History Museum Silicon Valley Eats exhibit.

Foodies reunite in this exhibit

The last time I went to the Los Altos History Museum I came back with some old recipes. This time it was again a food inspired exhibit that spiked my interest: Silicon Valley Eats. Silicon Valley was formerly known as the Valley of Hearts Delights with orchards and canneries. This  is the natural starting point for this exhibit. I liked the different menus from restaurants in Los Altos displayed on the wall.

Place setting at the J. Gilbert Smith House, Los Altos.

There were a lot of information about new and inventive foods. Did you know that 80% of the world’s population eats bugs?

The J. Gilbert Smith House next door also has a Silicon Valley feel to it with its scavenger hunt-like exhibit about Gadgets Galore! Our guide pointed out different old mechanical devices. For example, there is an adding machine – and in fact, all it does is add.

Adding machine at the J. Gilbert Smith House, Los Altos.

In the spirit of invention, the History Museum can point to the walnut huller. They own the prototype and the actual working huller. All invented in Los Altos.

Part of the walnut huller, Los Altos History Museum.

Both exhibits run through early September and are free (donations are appreciated). The Los Altos History Museum is open Thursdays to Sundays noon – 4 pm.

This was our first group outing. Thanks to everyone who joined me! If you like to be included in future group activities contact me, or sent me an email under untilsuburbia@gmail.com.

Are you a foodie?

Rose bush at the Los Altos Nursery

Go plant shopping

By the rate I tell you about public gardens you must know by now that I do like seeing growing things. A nursery, a place where they grow plants and sell them, is the perfect outing if you just needed to see some greenery. I did end up buying some plants anyway, but enjoyed the view nonetheless.

Los Altos Nursery painted by Will Maller.

I learned about the Los Altos Nursery at Los Altos City Hall of all places. At City Hall, in the council meeting chamber, they exhibit local artists depicting some of their favorite places in the city. I was drawn to the image from Will Maller, titled Los Altos Nursery, showing a little bridge over a fish pond. The description revealed a much deeper history of this commercial business.

Accounts vary but by around 1915 the Furuichi family had bought 5 acres of land and began farming on Hawthorne Ave. By 1942 the Furuichi were forced out and detained to Heart Mountain, an internment camp in Wisconsin. George Furuichi served in the 422nd Infantry Regiment. Ironically, after the men were placed in the camps as a security risk , they were drafted out of the camps into the US army.  The 442nd was almost entirely comprised of second generation Japanese Americans; it is the most decorated unit in U.S. military history. Thanks to Frank and Marge Rossi, friends of the Furuichi, who protected their property, the Furuichi were able to return to their land, unlike other Japanese Americans who lost everything. In 1947 they established the Los Altos Nursery.

Koi pond at the Los Altos Nursery

The little bridge with the koi pond is still there. Hidden with bamboos and some buddha statues watching over it, it is the perfect entrance to this well loved establishment.

Buddha statue at Los Altos Nursery

Open from May to September, Thursdays – Mondays 9 am – 5 pm.

Have you been to the Los Altos Nursery?



Los Altos Farmers Market

Buy local produce

Every farmers market, like every downtown in Silicon Valley, has their own feel to it. In my opinion the most exquisite is the Los Altos Farmers Market. Every Thursday evening, 4 pm – 8 pm,  from May to September, State Street between 2nd and 3rd,  transforms into a community haven.

Naan bread in an oven, Los Altos Farmers Market.

I started my journey into the market at the intersection of State St. and 3rd. A waft of smoke from a BBQ grill was blowing in my direction. My attention got quickly drawn to the man with a stick, pulling out round flat loafs of bread from a circular oven. The bread was sticking to the sides. Seeing the line for the Indian food, that this bread was part off, was another indicator for a recommendation you don’t need to check your yelp for.

Woman pressing a tortilla at the Los Altos Farmers Market.

All of these food stalls were competing on the high level. The rotisserie chicken looked as amazing as the food from the Oaxaca kitchen, where a woman, in traditional embroidered apron, was pressing tortillas.

Twinkle Dee Star, kids entertainment at the Los Altos Farmers Market.

Behold, this is not only a food truck affair. You can get your regular fresh, local produce here, too. Everything from olive oil to meats, over to fresh cut flowers, baked goods, vegetables, and fruit.

Even the kids entertainment was plentiful. Face painting, Lego building, and music make it a relaxing experience for the whole family.

Squash at the Los Altos Farmers Market.

The Los Altos Farmers Market is certainly smaller than the neighboring Sunday Mountain View market, but it feels like a step up from the market hussle and bussle to a shopping delight for all senses and age groups.

Which one is your favorite Farmers Market?


Redwood grove in Los Altos

Take a forest bath

Shinrinyoku is Japanese and literally means forest bath. It’s about the relaxing effects walking in a forest can have, improving our wellbeing.

Redwood Grove Nature Preserve, Los Altos.

Forest hikes are plentiful in the Bay Area. If you live in Silicon Valley and need a quick dip in a forest I recommend the Redwood Grove Nature Preserve in Los Altos, right next to Shoup Park.

Looking up at at group of redwoods, Los Altos, CA.

The information at the entrance talks about how almost a century ago redwood saplings from the Santa Cruz Mountains were planted by Emma Halsey. Due to the lack of fog drip the health of the redwoods is declining and the risk of falling increased. Therefore this beloved park is going through a mayor overhaul. With the help of Grassroot Ecology, a non-profit in Silicon Valley, the Redwood Grove Nature Preserve has been replanted and restored with more locally appropriate plants. One of their achievements is the Adobe Creek Streambank Stabilization Project. An info table shows how they bioengineered the creek to flow in a slower pace.

Walkway through the grove, Los Altos.

The walkway through this little grove is amazing and in great condition. Calm sets in immediately. The path meanders through the grove with the Adobe Creek crossing a few times and adding the sound of flowing water.

Boarded up Nature Center at the Redwood Grove, Los Altos.

Nevertheless the rest of the grounds needs some serious TLC. I could not find the rose garden, even though it is advertised on the map and on the cities website. The Nature Center is all boarded up and some raised garden beds are overgrown.

If you take the steps up from the nature walk – part of it is blocked by a fallen tree and you have to crouch underneath it to get by. I appreciated the pink ribbon that marks the poison oak bushes. Also a boy scout troop has labeled some native plants.

Are you into forest baths?

Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills

Uncover a hidden villa

All these road signs pointing me in the direction of Hidden Villa lets me question their name choice. Seeing multiple groups of school children confirms it, this isn’t a hidden gem, but a gem nonetheless.

Kids feeding chickens at Hidden Villa, Los Altos Hills.

Teaching children about farm living, letting them touch sheep and feed chickens is an invaluable resource in our Silicon Valley lives. Above the town of Los Altos Hills, Hidden Villa is a full functioning organic farm. You might get your CSA box from Hidden Villa.

Sign saying: Welcome to the Educational Garden, Hidden Villa, Los Altos Hills.

One of the little people highlights is the educational garden. For those able they can crawl in through a tunnel, the grown ups need to enter through the gate. I liked their colorful signs naming the plants we were looking at.

Sheep at Hidden Villa, Los Altos Hills.

At the sheep’s pen a cute moment was when a group of children was entering. One of the preschoolers held his nose. “I’m dying!” he complained. A grandmother looking lady replied: “You are not dying!” Bill their friendly guide, who I am sure heard this all before, assure them that this is all normal on a farm.

Over the summer Hidden Villa is busy with summer campers. Check out their website if you are interested.  

Bunny Creek sign post for hikers at Hidden Villa, Los Altos Hills.

Hiking for every level is available on the grounds. By downloading the Easy2Hike app you can experience the ‘Living History Tour’ explaining a bit more on the historical side of Hidden Villa.

Please either bring $10 in cash for parking or pay online.

Have you ever been to Hidden Villa?