Steps from above at Communications Hills, San Jose.

Count the Steps at Communications Hill, San Jose

Steps from above at Communications Hill, San Jose.

Walking around the neighborhood has become a necessity. Sometimes it is great to get some variety in. I highly recommend the steps of Communications Hill in San Jose. Not only do you get a great view of the Diablo Mountain range but you can switch up your exercise with stepping up the hill. 

Diablo Mountain view from Communications Hill, San Jose.

The Communications Hill community also has an interesting history. The Tamyem People mined cert, crystals of quartz, the mineral form of silicon dioxide. In 1777 Juan Bautista de Anza established the first pueblo-town in California not associated with a mission or military post. The Oakland Hill Memorial Park, located on the north side of the hill, is the oldest secular cemetery in California. Further use of the land includes mining cinnabar, a vineyard, and a dairy farm. Now it is an urban neighborhood and popular exercise spot. Parking is a challenge since there are neighborhood restrictions.

Communications Hill is located east of 87 at Hillsdale Ave and south easterly of Curtner Ave. Here is a trail map of the parks and facilities.

People exercising at Communications Hill.

Since I lost count I would appreciate your comments on how many steps it takes.

Have you climbed up Communications Hill?

If you need other neighborhood walk ideas check out my blog post about Neighborhood Walks.

Greg Brown mural in Palo Alto.

Neighborhood Walks

COVID has most of us homebound and with a minimal radius to explore. I thought I’ll give you some ideas to spice up your daily neighborhood walks. While most of these specific walks are for Silicon Valley, the ideas should transfer to other areas. So, grab your mask and get your steps in with these walking ideas:

Garden

Sign reads: 
Green Garden of Mountain View
Conserves Water
Reduces Waste
Provides Habitat

We are blessed in the Bay Area with a long growing season. To get inspired for your own vegetable garden you should check out the local community gardens and wander around. There are plenty of Native Plant Gardens in the area. The Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society has a great list (https://www.cnps-scv.org/gardening/gardening-with-natives/69-public-gardens-of-native-plants-69).  In the same category, Mountain View’s Green Garden Showcase features front yards that are examples of California Native Plants, water wise gardens, and environmental friendly practices.(https://www.mountainview.gov/depts/pw/services/conserve/landscape/showcase.asp)

Art

Rodin's thinker (part of the Gates of Hell) at Stanford University.

With all museums closed right now I admit I’m a little art deprived. 

Sculptures are great outdoor artworks you can still admire. One of the largest collections of sculptures around is on the Stanford Campus. You can limit yourself to Rodin, it’s the largest in the U.S., or go around campus and find other inspiring pieces.

The Triton Museum in Santa Clara features a sculpture garden on the premises. (https://www.santaclaraca.gov/Home/Components/ServiceDirectory/ServiceDirectory/1260/2661)

Some local towns have maps to their public art works. I found the bike racks in Los Altos a welcoming change and great for kids to try to find them all!

If you are more of a mural enthusiast I recommend San Jose, Redwood City, and Palo Alto.

Some examples of public art:

Santa Clara: https://www.santaclaraca.gov/our-city/about-santa-clara/maps/art-statues

Los Altos: https://www.losaltosca.gov/publicartscommission/page/public-sculpture

Palo Alto (map): https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1AUOuWuDvI0_jAbZYvvY_JBD9lIs&ll=37.42470074587974%2C-122.16085689067381&z=14

History

San Jose History Walk (Number 25)

San Jose as the first Capitol of California has a rich history to share. They compiled a history walk for downtown. No need to print out a map, you can just follow the signs. If you would rather have a digital idea or would like to print out the brochure, here is the PDF: https://www.sanjose.org/pdf/downtown-san-jose-historic-walking-tour-guide

Japantown in San Jose offers historic information on their benches.

A few other towns have  lists of historic buildings. Rich Heli has compiled three historic walking tours for Mountain View: https://rick-heli.info/mvtour/

Shopping

High Delta Market a window art installation in Palo Alto.

While most shops are currently closed, most downtowns invite you for a nice evening stroll on main street. Mountain View, for example, closed off their downtown area for most car traffic. The other night I walked by an exercise class. Also window shopping is an option. My favorite non-shopping window is in Palo Alto at the Future Institute.

If you feel the need to acquire something while on a walk, check out a little free library near you or in some other neighborhood.

Nature

Greg Brown mural in Palo Alto.

I love the fact that we are able to walk to our neighborhood park. If you want to mix it up, why not explore another park near you? 

Canopy has  multiple self-guided tree walks: https://canopy.org/our-work/tree-walks/

Animals

Buddy the new donkey of Bol Park, Palo Alto.

Birdwatching while walking is always a great pastime. If you want to see egrets you should check out the Google campus.

Bring the kids for a peak at the donkeys in Bol Park

Do you have ideas for fun activity walks?

Bridge to the Ravenswood Bay Trail in East Palo Alto.

Find a Bridge to East Palo Alto

Wishing Trees signs at Palo Alto Art Center.

Originally I wanted to tell you about the Wishing Trees in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto. A wonderful idea to bridge these two cities together by Canopy. Seven trees had been nominated to become wishing trees and people would leave messages written on hanging cards on the tree. Plus you would learn about what type of tree your wishing tree was. 

This beautiful idea ended October 31st. I hope they’ll repeat this some time.

Gate to Ravenswood Bay Trail. Hours are 5:00 am - 10:00 pm.

But as of August 7th, 2020 there is a real bridge connecting East Palo Alto with the neighboring counties: the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve. Ravenswood OSP is part of the Bay Trail and with it’s only 0.6 miles in length it establishes to connect three counties for a total of 80 miles of continuous trails.

Ravenswood Bay Trail bridge in East Palo Alto.

At the end of Bay Ave, an under construction path, you will reach the Cooley Landing Education Center. Right now from this side of the trail this is the only parking lot into the park. You can also enter from the other side using the Dumbarton bridge entrance off Highway 84. 

Biker on the Ravenswood Bay Trail in East Palo Alto.

What would you do to build a bridge to East Palo Alto?

More suggestions to ride your bike along the Bay: https://untilsuburbia.com/take-advantage-of-your-bike/

One-way signs at Rancho San Antonio, Cupertino.

Journey a One-Way Road

Entrance to Rancho San Antonio Open Space Perserve, Cupertino.

Hiking is always a great pastime in the Bay Area. These days, with the continuing of shelter in place, hiking is a well deserved alternative from your walk around the neighborhood. We went Tuesday to Rancho San Antonio, a hilly terrain in the Los Altos Hills mountains. My health app recorded a 24 floor climb and almost 11,000 steps!

Map of Rancho San Antonio, Cupertino, showing the one-way hikes.

There are multiple hikes and different levels of difficulty. As a COVID-19 safe measure, the most narrow paths are one-way. Please check out the map before you start. They no longer offer printed maps, so you might want to take a picture. When we were there on Tuesday the bathrooms were open again. Of course this might change without much notice. Bring plenty of water since the water fountains are all taped up. 

Wild turkeys at Rancho San Antonio, Cupertino.

Deer Hollow Farm is currently closed, but on our way we saw wild turkeys, a few deer, and some lizards, so a short hike with your young ones is still a lot of fun. Plus they put up signs of encouragement from the farm, e.g.: “You goat this!” or “Sheep your distance!”

View of the Bay and the Diablo Range mountains.

If you are up for a longer hike you will be rewarded with gorgeous views of the Bay. 

Where is your go-to hiking spot?

Other short hikes in the Bay Area can be found from my 50 things to do in San Mateo County, 50 things to do in Los Altos/Los Altos Hills and 50 things to do in Cupertino.

If you have other ideas for short hikes in the Bay Area I would love it if you could share them with me in the comment section.

Posters from Oree Originol honoring People of Color killed by law enforcement

Support Black Lives

“Please, I can’t breath.” It’s been a week of protest and anger. A wave has swept this nation. A powerful series of waves, like water will grind down the land. Now is the time to rise.

Justice for George Floyd an illustrations by Oree Originol

Protests are just the beginning. In order to change the systemic racism we have to be aware of privilege, come together, enable change, listen, and act. 

Here is a list of things that will help to make sure Black Lives Matter.

Action cards

The most creative approach to the question on what to do about racial injustice comes from the Oakland Museum of California with their Take Action cards. Check out their Instagram feed to see the cards (instagram.com/oaklandmuseumca). 

Donate money to the cause

Bail and legal support:

Flyer on how to support #BlackLivesMatter

The Minnesota Freedom Fund (https://minnesotafreedomfund.org/)

Bay Area Anti-Repression Committee Bail Fund (https://rally.org/ARCbailfund)

San Francisco National Lawyers Guild (NLG) (nlgsf.org/ways-to-contribute/)

NAACP (https://org2.salsalabs.com/o/6857/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=15780&_ga=2.22006142.412847870.1591227461-53649289.1591227461)

ACLU (https://action.aclu.org/give/now)

Non-emergency support:

Black Lives Matter (https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019)

East Oakland Collective (http://www.eastoaklandcollective.com/)

People’s Breakfast Oakland (https://linktr.ee/PBO)

Planting Justice (https://plantingjustice.org/)

Roots Clinic (https://rootsclinic.org/)

Restore Oakland (http://restoreoakland.org/)

Oakland Indie Alliances (http://www.oaklandindiealliance.com/repair)

Anti Police Terror Project (https://www.antipoliceterrorproject.org/)

Volunteer

Rock the Vote (https://www.rockthevote.org/get-involved/)

A list of actions against racism by the UN: Let’s fight racism (https://www.un.org/en/letsfightracism/)

Vote

President Obama weighted in lately on how important voting is (https://medium.com/@BarackObama/how-to-make-this-moment-the-turning-point-for-real-change-9fa209806067) and to move a step further you can read the report and toolkit from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights developed by the Obama Foundation (https://www.obama.org/wp-content/uploads/Toolkit.pdf)

Black Future Lab (https://blackfutureslab.org/)

Track progress of legislations

Campaign Zero let’s you track the progress state legislations against police violence (https://www.joincampaignzero.org/#action)

Make a call

To contact your representative just got easier, just download the 5calls app (https://5calls.org/)

Sign Petitions

Poster from the 'Black Panthers at 50' exhibit at the OMCA: Unity is the Solution

Color of Change (https://act.colorofchange.org/signup/state-emergency-black-people-are-dying)

NAACP (http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/6857/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=27063)

Join a group

Showing up for Racial Justice (https://www.surjbayarea.org/community.html)

Educate yourself about racism

General reading list on how to be an antiracist, put together by the San Francisco library:

https://sfpl.bibliocommons.com/list/share/433865467_sfpl_readersadvisory/1494408919_be_an_antiracist

Truth be told is a podcast from KQED (https://www.kqed.org/podcasts/truthbetold).

Corrine Shutuck wrote a list of 75 things white people can do for racial justice (https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234)

Great resource list especially for kids from DC Area Educators for Social Justice (https://www.dcareaeducators4socialjustice.org/resources)

Buy from black businesses

BAOBOB is a directory listing for black owned businesses in the Bay Area (https://baobobdirectory.com/)

The Official Black Wall Street app lists black-owned businesses (https://officialblackwallstreet.com/app/)

For black-owned restaurants download the EatOkra app (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/eatokra/id1175921760)

Black Nation app (https://www.blacknation.app/)

We Buy Black (https://webuyblack.com/)

Buy art that matters

The Tracy Piper has a vibrant print at the Voss Gallery. Proceeds go to Black Lives Matter (https://vossgallery.art/collections/the-tracy-piper/products/black-lives-matter)

Black Table Arts, a Minnesota based initiative to help community through art (http://www.blacktablearts.com/)

Kyle Harder donates proceeds from his print RISE! to Reclaim The Block (https://kyleharterart.bigcartel.com/product/rise)

How do you support black lives?

Resources:

https://www.7×7.com/black-lives-matter-bay-area-resources-2646147346/get-directly-involved-with-black-lives-matter

https://www.kqed.org/arts/13881199/5-ways-to-show-up-for-racial-justice-today

Wind Wave with art in the park sign at Byxbee Park, Palo Alto.

Enjoy Some Art at Byxbee Park

A few years ago I wrote about The Pole Field at Byxbee Park in Palo Alto (Walk the trails between Bay and posts). Since my radius of wandering is limited right now, I recently went back there. Speaking of limited, parking is only allowed in the lots, no street parking. But this was no issue in the middle of the day on a weekday.

There were only a few people walking and running. The most interesting method of movement was presented by three motorized unicyclists in full gear on a hot day.

 Foraging Islands by Watershed Sculpture at Byxbee Park in Palo Alto.

I did come for the art and the joy of exercise. Foraging Islands by Watershed Sculpture was installed in 2018 and is an ecological sculpture absolutely fitting for the Byxbee Park and its idea of intersecting nature and culture. With the help of a multitude of volunteers gathering nearby materials, they established a dam-like temporary public art installation, a perfect habitat for insects and rodents.

Wind Wave by Peter Richads, Michael Oppenheimer and George Hargreve & Associates at Byxbee Park in Palo Alto.

Across from the Foraging Island is the Wind Wave which is part of the permanent art displayed together with The Pole Field and The Chevrons, a collaboration of artists Peter Richards, Michael Oppenheimer and the landscape design and architects George Hargreaves and Associates

Have you ever enjoyed a walk of nature and art at Byxbee Park?

Kite flying at the kite flying area at Shoreline Park in Mountain View.

Fly a Kite

Family flying a kite at the kite flying area at Shoreline Park in Mountain View.

Did you know that there is a kite flying area at Shoreline Park in Mountain View? Since it is close to the Bay it always seems to have a nice breeze. Perfect for kites of all abilities. 

Kite at the Shoreline Park kite flying area in Mountain View.

I recently saw a traditional bird, a long cylinder with ruffles, and what looked like a miniature hang glider kite in rainbow colors. The more professional hang glider kite was doing constant loops and making some humming noises while cutting through the air. The other two were just pleased to be aloft. 

While on a midweek afternoon this seemed to be an activity for middle-aged men, on a recent weekend trip I saw little kids flying kites with their parents. 

Sign for the kite flying area general use parking at Shoreline Park in Mountain View.

Since the golf course is open again, you can drive into the park. The kite flying area is your first possible right turn with plenty of parking. (And there is a handicapped port-o-potty.)

When was the last time you flew a kite?

If you are looking for other fun things to do in Mountain View I recommend my 50 things to do in Mountain View.

Bliss in the moment by James Moore on the Bay Trail, Palo Alto.

Take Advantage of your Bike

May is National Bike month. If I could name one thing that shelter-in-place has a positive impact on is the streets are emptier and therefore easier to ride a bike.

A lot of first time riders, with their parents are confident enough to ride on the streets these days. There are also multiple levels of bike trails around.

To spice things up you could challenge someone, friends or family, to an interesting goal. How about: Burn 6 tacos in a week? Or: Ride 100 miles in May. Record your trips and register with https://www.lovetoride.net/usa/signups/new, you even will have a chance to win attractive prizes, e.g. a new bike!

Suggestions on bike trails:

Bay Trail

Bay Trail near Palo Alto.

The San Francisco Bay Trail is a 500 miles walking and cycling path that spans all nine Bay Area counties. 

East Bay

The Bay Bridge Trail is a 4.4 mile round trip from Oakland to Yerba Buena Island over the Bay Bridge.

https://www.baybridgeinfo.org/path

North Bay

Lime bike at South San Francisco.

The Paradise Loop is a more challenging ride, this 38 miles loop starts in Tiburon.

https://bayarearides.com/rides/tiburonloop/

Peninsula

On Sundays, between 9 am and 3 pm, a 3.8 mile stretch on Cañada Road in Woodside is closed off for non-motorized activities.

https://parks.smcgov.org/bicycle-sunday

Marin

Bike in Santa Cruz.

The Tennessee Valley might be closed right now. Please check before you go.

https://www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/tennessee_valley.htm

Do you have a favorite bike ride?

If you are taking a break sometimes you can find fun ways to look up your bike, for example in Los Altos.

chalk art drawing of Vincent Van Gogh starry night, Mountain View

Stroll on a Chalk Art Walk

It’s been over a week now for shelter-in-place, and I hope everyone is still healthy and safe!

Since it is still OK to go on a walk – one of my neighbors had a great idea: a chalk art walk.

Walkway to a house, full of chalk drawings, Mountain View.

Last Friday almost 60 households participated in beautifying their drive or walkways with artful chalk drawings. 

All in this together - chalk drawing, Mountain View.

A lot of flowers and we-are-all-in-this-together messages.

A walk-by meditation chalk drawing, Mountain View

My favorite was an instruction to a walk-by meditation to stand, observe and breath.

It was really great how the neighborhood came together. There are some true artists out there!

We had a lot of media coverage for this (see the resources link below).

How are you coping with the shelter-in-place? 

Please leave a comment for creative ideas for the whole neighborhood below.

Resources:

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/03/22/us/california-sidewalk-drawings-coronavirus-trnd/index.html?f

https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/22/us/coronavirus-first-week-social-distancing-wrap-up-trnd/index.html?

https://mv-voice.com/news/2020/03/23/young-chalk-artists-brighten-the-mood-in-cuesta-park


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?