The first question our tour guide asked was: did you enjoy your ride up here?
Looks like the motorcyclist and bike riders I saw outside were not here, because everyone agreed that the hilly ride up was quite unpleasant. Build in 1876 for horses and carts the road to the Lick observatory winds up in approximately 365 turns (count if you like) until it reaches the 4,200 feet peak of Mount Hamilton. Now-a-days it takes a solid hour from San Jose. While the place is open Thursdays to Sundays from 12 pm – 5 pm, in the winter time this road might be closed due to snow and icy conditions.
If you want to experience the observatory in the dark you can try to snag a ticket for one of the popular summer events. There are two different events. A music series and lectures by astronomers. As part of the lectures you will be able to glance through the historic 36-inch Great Lick Refractor telescope.
From 1888 till 1897 the Great Lick was Earth’s largest refracting telescope. Currently it is the second largest. Again, think how it got on top of the hill and you would be impressed, too! On opening, they do a free tour of the telescope every hour starting at 12:30 and ending at 4:30.
I was the most impressed with the floor. Beautiful walnut panels laid out in a round pattern. When our tour guide revealed this to be a hydraulic propelled moveable floor, (built before they invented electricity!) I was stunned. It hasn’t be operated for the last five years now, but being in the presence of such inventive engineering left me in awe.
I was glad to have a nice picnic with me and enjoyed the back terrace. By the way, spring water is feeding the water fountain, so make sure to fill up your bottles for the hour long descend to San Jose.
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.
Anyway, 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.
As 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?
The rules are simple and the holes are 21 inches wide. You can rent the #5 balls at the front desk.
Call 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.
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.
I am always open for free art museums. Burlingame has the Peninsula Museum of Art. Turning right instead of taking the museum entrance you can also check out the artist studios. In some of the studios you can see creativity working, but I did not want to interrupt.
The hallways are used as exhibit space. On two floors you can see everythingfrom paintings to jewelry, over furnishing, millinery and sculptures. These hallways are already a glimpse in the artistic world of the Peninsula.
The museum currently hosts “Art Between the Lines” an exhibit from the San Francisco Chapter of the California Art Club. Until July 8th, 2018, 65 artists show a wide range of mediums: oil, watercolor, acrylic, pastel and sculptures.
Another exhibit shows “Seeking Story” by Deborah Rumer, until July 29, 2018. These pieces really touched me. Recycled books that through paint and found objects tell a new story. Each unique piece draws you in and in a snap of a moment your imagination creates a story around the artwork.
The museum is free but has a donation box. Also if you purchase something from the gift shop it helps the museum and the artist.
If you stand in front of the office building at 3350 Thomas Rd you have to follow the signs to go around and enter the metal door at the side. That is if you want to visit the Hacker Dojo. Once inside you will be greeted by murals and a laptop that’ll ask you to sign in.
The Hacker Dojo is an institution in Silicon Valley. Since 2009 it allowed its members to share ideas, workspaces and party together. By now in its third location, you can use it for collaborate workspaces, check out the maker space, and tinker with the 3D printer or laser cutter. The classrooms on the side and the main space are also used for workshops and social events, like game nights. Membership fees start at $100/month and give you access to all events.
This is a great place to network, and you might even score a job (check out the job board in the back).
There is table tennis to release some steam or to play a round with your new co-worker.