Shinrinyoku is Japanese and literally means forest bath. It’s about the relaxing effects walking in a forest can have, improving our wellbeing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I don’t quilt. In fact I have a love/hate relationship with my sewing machine. Don’t ask, it’s complicated.
But the other day I went into a place that might change my mind about quilting. Bay Quilts is in an industrial park in Richmond. They are a fabric store and art gallery; and they hold workshops. Bay Quilts also manages to spin a community around their store.
The extensive selection on fabric was mind blowing. Many colors to brighten up your day. One of the helpful staff members asked me if I needed anything. I declined, “just looking at these.”
“Oh, let me show you something.” she said conspiratorial, and I followed her to the far corner of the store. I was blown away by the color pallete that was presented to me in these fabric bolts (bales). All I could say was: “Pure joy.” and my store fairy agreed: “Yes, pure joy.”
They also have interesting handmade fairies for sale, and other things related to sewing. If you really don’t want to sew yourself but like one of the quilts in the current exhibit, you, of course, are welcome to purchase that (assuming it is for sale).
Their current quilt show is called “Wooly Wanderings” by Jennifer Landau and runs until May 28th, 2019.
The Bulb, also known as the Albany Bulb, is a former landfill owned in large by the city of Albany. Now a public park, you can find the Bulb at the end of Buchanan St., beside & behind Golden Gate Fields. It is a long walk or short hike from the small parking lot to the actual Bulb.
For that short hike, the Bulb is great. We encountered multiple dog walkers, their dogs enjoying a swim in the Bay and an off-leash run.
To find the art work, I had to ask some of the dog walkers for directions. On a left turn towards the water we were greeted by four tree swings overlooking the water. As we found out tree swings are best enjoyed by humans younger than 10.
Another time, I have to test out the uneven path that leads towards the art with my teenager. He will probably like the rugged feel of it. Anything besides calling it a hike!
I myself felt the need for hiking boots to stabilize my ankles. So, I shot a few pictures from afar and climbed back towards the regular paths. Along the way we saw another makeshift art out of driftwood. This makes for an interesting conversation along your walk on the Bay: “Is this art?”
Two documentaries describe the homeless situation and evacuation in 1999 at the Bulb. A historical occurrence and probably a living reality.