Taste of the award-winning goat cheese at Hartley Farm, Pescadero.

Taste some goat cheese

Goat shop sign at Hartley Farm in Pescadero.

At Hartley Farm in Pescadero there is not only a shop for goat cheese and their accompaniments, like habanero jelly, you can also look at the goats that give their milk for this deliciousness. This award-winning cheese converted my husband, who’s goal for 2018 was not to eat any goat cheese, to agree to buy a tub to take home with us. 

We came here to see some farm life, inspired by the movie documentary: Our biggest little farm.

Mother goat with her three recently born baby goats.

Currently there are 106 baby goats. I’m not sure if the count is correct, because we saw three baby goats in the pen with the pregnant goats, and the mom licking them clean. So, I guess we missed the birth by mere minutes.

Two week old baby goats at Hartley Farms, Pescadero.

It was a delight to see the two week old goats play in their playpen. Not all 106 of them, just about ten in each of the two pens. 

You can also peek into the milking station and the place where they make the yummy goat cheese. 

Are you a goat cheese lover?


Citrus for all seasons, descriptive poster at Quarry Lakes, Fremont

Sample some citrus

Growing citrus at the Rare Fruit Grove, Quarry Lakes Park, Fremont.

I wrote about Quarry Lakes Park in Fremont before (Hike around a quarry). A nice park where you can walk around the quarry lakes. But there is more than just bird watching, boating and fishing. A friend told me you can pick your own lemons there. It gets more sophisticated than that, you can sample the fruit from over 100 different rare fruit trees! 

Quarry Lakes Rare Fruit Grove sign. Please sample
But no collecting
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The Rare Fruit Grove is located at the north east side of the lake in the peninsula, reaching into Horseshoe Lake. You can pick up a brochure of the various fruits that can be found right by the entrance. Please only sample, so others can enjoy this, too.  The orchard brochure lists all the names, descriptions, when to harvest, and how to use it.

There are also several other scavenger hunts you can do: 

Quarry Lakes Botanical Scavenger Hunts. QR codes and paper maps.
  • Palms and Cycads 
  • Subtropical Plants
  • California Natives
  • Oak Trees
  • Conifer Trees
Screenshot of Google maps of the Quarry Lakes scavenger hunt.

Either read in the QR code which opens up Google maps, find it by GPS coordinates, or check out the paper map and go hunting. It’s a fun way to learn about trees and plants.

Quarry Lakes parking is $5. 

Have you tried some of the citrus or other fruits at the rare fruit grove? 

Disc golf basket at Stevens Creek County Park, Cupertino.

Throw some discs around

I’ve been to the San Jose disc golf course at Hellyer. My technical skills for this sport are nothing to write about. But I was pleasantly surprised to find another course at Stevens Creek County Park in Cupertino.

A disc golf basket surrounded by trees at the Stevens Creek County Park in Cupertino.

This 12 hole course is well maintained by the Silicon Valley Disc Golf Club which established the Villa Maria course in 2018.

View from tee number 5 at the Stevens Creek County Park disc golf course, Cupertino.

Therefore this course is a fairly recent addition to the area. You have to pay the $6 parking fee at the bottom and then head up to the Villa Maria Orchard. There are restrooms nearby and picnic tables. The course itself has a decent elevation and is technically challenging because of the trees. I found reviews at DG Course Review  that warn people about poison oak, but overall it got a 3.5 out of a 5. The phone holders at the tee off were a big hit. Film yourself teeing off – how Silicon Valley!

Tee off at the disc golf course, Stevens Creek County Park, Cupertino.

If you are a regular you might consider joining the club to support the sport. But if you are just trying it out, it’s free, and there are no green fees, just parking fees. You just have to get yourself a disc golf set at your local sports store (around $20).

Have you tried disc golf?


Labyrinth at Eaton Park, San Carlos.

Hike up to contemplate

Stairs of Eaton Park, San Carlos.

We did pick the easy route, parking on the highest spot for Eaton Park in San Carlos. But if you are feeling adventurous, and in great shape, you might want to start with 72 stairs and climb your way up to this amazing view point.

Views of San Francisco at Eaton Park, San Carlos.

On a clear day you can see San Francisco!

Labyrinth at Eaton Park, San Carlos.

With a view like this it is hard to focus on the labyrinth in front and look down to follow the path. Nevertheless, this too is very satisfying. Start with a specific question or just follow the path and see where it leads your thoughts. For more ideas on where to find labyrinths in the Bay Area, you can click on the article:

Follow the spiral/spiritual path

A great viewpoint in San Carlos.

Would you walk the labyrinth or just enjoy the view?


The iris garden at the Three Creeks Trail in San Jose.

Bike by some irises

The water tower with the 3 indicates the entrance to the Three Creeks Trail in Willow Glen.

The Three Creeks Trail is a relatively new addition to the paved trail system in San Jose. It connects to the Los Gatos Creek Trail and the Guadalupe River Trail.

I love to find these small, hidden gardens. When we recently checked out the Three Creeks Trail in San Jose we came by the Iris Garden.

Snow Flurry, a white iris, in the iris garden on the Three Creeks Trail in Willow Glen.

This is a tribute to Ruth and Clara Rees who successfully crossed varieties of irises in the Willow Glen neighborhood. ‘Snow Flurry’ was created as a white iris with “broad, ruffled paddles, clear hafts, several buds in each spathe, good branching and excellent blue-green foliage.”

After some more research I found out that Clara really hit the jackpot and in 1939 grew “the most important iris ever created”.

Snow Flurry became the parentage of all modern TB irises. The iris garden used to be a much larger development in Willow Glen, and this little strip is all but an homage to them; honoring the botanist and flower lover Clara Rees.

Have you noticed the iris garden along the Three Creeks Trail? 

Resources:

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/07/18/iris-gardens-return-to-the-reopened-three-creeks-trail http://www.historiciris.org/photos/snow-flurry-lm.html

https://www.historiciris.org/articles/notable-clara-rees.html

https://cbris.org/

https://theamericanirissociety.blogspot.com/2018/12/clara-b-rees-queen-mother-of-iris-world.html

https://theamericanirissociety.blogspot.com/2012/02/clara-and-ruth-rees-san-joses-iris.html

http://wiki.irises.org/Main/Bio/HybridizerReesClara

Dog walker and dog in rain coats.

Hike with your dog

Dog off leash at Pulgas Ridge Preserve.

The nice thing about the Bay Area is there are a myriad of options for hiking in relatively short distances from where you live. If you are a dog owner and want to bring your pooch with you on these hiking excursion, you might find that a lot of open spaces don’t allow dogs.To find a place that has an off leash policy is even rarer. 

End of the off-leash dog area at Pulgas Ridge Preserve. Sign reads: You are leaving the off-leash dog area. All dogs must remain on a leash beyond this point.

While the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space allows dogs in 11 of it’s 24  parks, only one – the Pulgas Ridge Preserve – has an off leash dog area. The 17.5 acre area where you can let your dog roam free in is located in the middle of the Preserve and is surrounded by the Hassler Loop trail. Your dog needs to be voice controlled and you should have a leash with you. And of course, you are always asked to pick up after your dog (only leave paw prints behind). 

Group of dog walkers at Pulgas Ridge Preserve.

For discoverers, the park is the former home of the Hassler Health Home, a tuberculosis sanitarium, some remnants of the building and stairs still remain.

Where do you hike with your dog?


Santa Cruz Warriors

Cheer on the G team

G team Santa Cruz warm up.

For some of us seeing the Golden State Warriors is out of the price range. A more budget friendly option I can recommend is to see the Santa Cruz Warriors – the G league team of the Golden State Warriors. 

Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz.

The Stadium is, as the name suggests, in Santa Cruz, in the Kaiser Permanente Arena. Parking is tight, so arriving early would be the first tip. They usually hand out t-shirts or other cool merchandise and you can stock up on your favorite game foods and drinks, if you do.

What the seating chart doesn’t tell you is the first five rows are seats and the next eight rows are benches. I would definitely make sure next time we are in the blue seats. Nonetheless every seat has a good view of the court. You could still hear the squeaking of the sneakers from our 10th row seat. It felt very close to the team, but at the same time very local – the halftime show was adorable performed by a local dance class, the girl who sang the Star Spangled Banner was no older than twelve.

G Team scores.

We got to see the Warriors getting crushed by the Windy City Bulls, but left with the feeling we just saw a rising star with Bol Bol, who scored a career high 21 points for his Chicago team that night. But SC Warriors also might have a rising star: Smailagic, a Serbian native and the youngest player in the G league history. Three current SC Warriors players, including Smailagic, are also on the Golden State roster.  In fact, it is not unusual to see a rising star – and some now Warriors might even come and watch a game (we did spot Ky Bowman in the audience). 

Have you ever cheered on the G team?


Clive McCarthy's painting at San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.

Get inspired by art

It’s always great to go see some art. If the admission is free and the art contemporary what holds you back?

Stephnie Syjocu, Total Transparency Filter at San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.

The San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ISA) is located in the hip SoFa district. They regularly participate in the South First Fridays Art Walk, a self-guided nighttime tour through downtown’s art institutions.

Currently there are four exhibits running till the middle of March. 

Sense of Self – Bay Area photographers explore the subject of self. Artists are Marcela Pardo Ariza, Tammy Rae Carland, Erica Deeman, Jamil Hellu, and Stephanie Syjuco.

Electronic Paintings – by Clive McCarthy.

Chimera – by Stas Orlovski

LGBTQ+ Youth Space – a continued discussion about self and identity by the LGBTQ+ Youth Space. 

Mark your calendar: March 6th, 2020, First Friday will be co-hosted by the LGBTQ Youth Space and will feature performances, activities, and workshops around topics of identity, representation, and empowerment.

Clive McCarthy's painting at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.

Clive McCarthy’s electronic paintings were my favorites. Large computer generated images, newly invented with each brush stroke of the pixel palette, creates a movie like assemble of an image. To mix up his generative art – art created by a computer algorithm – he will change the image sets every two weeks. You can even review his code in a separate room across from the lobby.

ISA is open every day of the week except on Mondays. Admission is free.

Where do you go to be inspired by art?

Walking in the cloud at the Devils Slide Coastal Trail.

Walk in the clouds

Sign for Devil Slide Coastal Trail.

The chances of fog are high at the Devil’s Slide Trail in Pacifica. The former Interstate 1 made hiking trail is a 1.3 mile stretch with ocean views on one side and a rocky hill on the other. 

At the Devils Slide Coastal Trail a warning sign: Step back steep cliff.

Numerous landslides made this stretch of Highway 1 a dangerous road. When San Mateo County proposed to have the interstate go over the Montara Mountain Ollie Mayer an activist and environmentalist fought successfully for a tunnel. The Devil’s Slide Trail opened in March 2014 as part of the initiative’s agreement. 

Since it is paved the trail is great for bikers, wheelchairs and strollers. When we arrived two moms just packed their babies into their cars. The slopes make it challenging for wheels and especially on wet days it can be tricky.

View of Egg Rock from Devils Slide Coastal Trail.

I particularly liked the story from one information sign of the reestablishment of the Common Murres colony on Egg Rock, a rock formation peeking out of the Pacific. An already diminishing bird population was erased by the Apex Houston 1986 oil spill. In 1996 a restoration project was started and the birds were tricked into recolonize by mirrors, decoys and broadcast murre calls, a method called social attraction. The Common Murres population grew from 12 in 1996 to 3200 in 2013! If you bring two quarters you can zoom in on Egg Rock with a telescope.

Exit of the south side tunnel at Devils Slide, Pacifica.

Parking is available on the north or the south entrance of the tunnel. Open from dusk till dawn. No parking fee. There is even a bus stop!

Where do you hike in the clouds?


Antique bottles filled with essential oils, at the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents.

Treat yourself to a smelling adventure

I usually try to find inexpensive things to do in the Bay Area. So I was reluctant to go to this little museum with a $20 entrance fee. But the sensory experience was totally worth it!

Little labels on the flasks tell you to Smell This, at the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents.

I’m talking about the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents in Berkeley. You can get tickets for this museum of scents online but they also welcome walk-ins. We were greeted warmly by Devon, who equipped us with some instructions, some strips to sample our own smells, and a wool cloth to neutralize our noses. 

Apothecary cabinet with elemi resin, dried roses, at the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents.

There are two apothecary cabinets with dried resins, woods and flowers. We spent most of our time here rubbing things and putting others up to our noses. The Elemi Resin, a dried tree sap, reminded my husband of the smell in an art studio. 

Book aficionados will enjoy the hundred year old books on fragrances and creating perfumes, and the window bench to relax and carefully turn the pages.

Not all smells are pleasing here – some Hyrax poop anyone? – but you learn that to create a perfume you have to have three levels of depth.

Perfume organ at the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents.

The centerpiece of the archive is the perfume organ, hundreds of little flasks filled with natural essential oils. You can dip your three strips into some oils to take home. 

The last experience is Mandy Aftel’s creation of edible essential oils that you spray onto chocolate, e.g. raspberry. These create the most amazing burst of flavor from the dark chocolate that is the baseline to the more floral or fruity oil.

The family business is only open Saturdays 10 am – 6 pm.  Admission is $20.

During the week Mandy Aftel is a perfume composer. You can buy her creations online or on your visit.

Have you been to the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents?