Stroll Through History, Woodland, CA

Stroll Through History, Woodland, CA

Gable mansion with roses in the foregroundAs some of you know and some of you might suspect already, we moved to Woodland last year. One of the first events we enjoyed here is their annual ‘Stroll Through History’. Besides an open house tour, where generous owners open their door to the public, there are walking and bike tours. Last year we did one walking tour, the bike tour explaining Woodland’s trees, and enjoyed the open houses. We learned so much about our new home town and met really nice people along the way!

Stroll through history walking tourThis year on Saturday October 7th, 2023, the 34th edition of the Stroll Through History invites people to five homes. Among them is the Gable Mansion, Woodland’s signature Victorian. Their sidewalk roses cascade around the fence, enclosing it with beauty. I just recently learned it is in private ownership; it is so grand! Imagine it as an event space. I think couples would love to have such a marvelous backdrop for their wedding celebration. I can’t wait to see it up close myself.

Indoor fireplace and rotisserieLast year I was amazed at the generosity of the home owners to open up their private residences. Some were present to talk about original features, things they changed, and memories. 

The bike and walking tours are free. If you decide to participate in the house tours advanced tickets are $30, but they also offer tickets to purchase at the event for $35.

Do you enjoy a stroll through history? 


The entrance to the Bigfoot Discovery Museum in Felton, CA

Search for Bigfoot, Bigfoot Discovery Museum, Felton

The sightings of Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, are so frequent one can’t blame the believers. If you still need convincing or if you are a hardcore fan of the hair-covered humanoid I highly recommend the Bigfoot Discovery Museum in Felton.

Two images of 'bigfoot', one taken from the film and the other enhancedAlmost opposite the entrance to the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains in Felton is the Bigfoot Discovery Museum. It has been open since 2006 and represents the collection and research efforts of Michael Rugg and Paula Yarr. You can see countless images, captured footprints, and the Patterson-Gimlin Film. A map of bigfoot sightings in the Santa Cruz MountainsThe film from 1967 is a one minute footage of an unidentified creature the filmmakers believe to be a Bigfoot. The museum has this movie on an infinite loop along with other validating pieces of proof. I also enjoyed the map of the Bigfoot sightings in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The Gigatopithecus skull believed to be bigfootThe free museum is a curiosity of a curiosity and well worth a stop on your way to Henry Cowell Redwoods Park. Donations are appreciated. Opening hours are Wednesdays to Mondays from 11am to 6 pm.


Do you believe in Bigfoot? 

Sandwich board announcing all concerts on the plaza in the series

Enjoy Concerts on the Center Plaza, Mountain View

People dancing and enjoying the music on the plaza in Mountain ViewLast Monday was Labor Day and it feels like summer is over. But a few summer activities are still going on. Mountain View, for example, will run its Concerts on the Plaza series until the end of September. The Plaza Green that encircles the City Hall and the Center for Performing Arts is also a great spot for hanging out during the week.  If you prefer to sit and listen to music, you can bring a chair or put on your dance shoes and come on Friday nights from 6 pm – 7:30 pm to the Center Plaza. 

People dancing and enjoying the music on the plaza in Mountain ViewThe last four concerts are:

September 8: The Hitmen (Funk/Soul/Disco/Latin)

September 15: Wolf Jett (Folk/Soul)

September 22: The Groove Foundation (Top 40/R&B/Funk/Rock)

September 29: The Loose Interpretations (A Cappella)

People sitting on the plaza to enjoy the musicAdditionally Mountain View’s Art and Wine Festival is happening this weekend! This is one of the largest festivals in the Bay Area. The Civic Center Plaza features multiple bands from around 11 am to 7 pm and street performers all along Castro Street.

The Civic Center Plaza is located at 500 Castro Street in Mountain View, CA. You can purchase beer, wine, and other drinks at the Bean Scene Cafe. 


Have you visited any of the outdoor summer concerts? 


Tasting cups of olive oil from Séka Hills

Taste Test Some Olive Oil

Séka Hills in the Capay Valley is home to the olive oil mill and tasting room of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. Séka in Patwin, the language of the Wintun Nation, means blue and describes the blue hills that overlook the Capay Valley.

Olive Oil ice cream at the Séka Hills tasting roomWe started our olive oil tasting journey by enjoying the olive oil ice cream. The richness of this creamy goodness was enhanced by adding a pomegranate balsamic reduction. The olive oil cookie added an extra crunch. Overall an excellent tasting experience!

Tasting cups filled with olive oil, vinegar, etc.Next on our agenda was the free olive oil tasting. Standing in front of the bar, our very knowledgeable sommelier informed us of the certified olive oils and other products. 

You first get a cup of water to clear your palate. Next, warm up a tiny plastic cup filled with oil by rubbing it in your hands. Sniff the oil and explore the aroma of peppery, floral, or fruity.  Then, slurp the oil to emulsify it and release the flavors. We tasted four extra virgin olive oils, two infused vinegars (pomegranate & elderberry), honey, and almond butter. 

Sandwich board about the available beef cuts at Séka HillsYou can also enjoy a lunch or buy some gift items together with your olive oil purchase.

The Séka Hills olive mill and tasting room is located at 19326 Rd 78, Brooks, CA 95606. Tasting room hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 11am to 5pm.

Have you taste tested olive oils before?

A sign in front of The Orb: Low headroom. Do not climb!

Don’t Climb the Sculpture Garden at Google

The Charleston East Google building with a sign restricting access only for Google employees.I stopped by Google’s Charleston East building to see if they moved the Android figures. The building itself is taking shape, but it looks like the inside is still under construction. There are a few signs that remind you that the area is only open for Googlers. At every entrance there are very helpful security guards. When they asked me what I was looking for I mentioned that I thought this building was open for visitors. Since it is not open at all right now, they directed me to the sculpture garden on the East side of the building. 

The Orb and the Go sculptures at the  Charleston East Plaza ArtworksFrom afar you can already see that these sculptures are not the beloved Android figures.  The Orb by Marc Fornes / Theverymany, LLC towers prominently and attracts attention. The ultra-thin aluminum parts structure is made up of 6441 individual flat pieces and 217,847 rivets. It is interesting to stand underneath and admire it. But please don’t attempt to climb any of these sculptures! Even though the information sign says these sculptures are here for you to explore, it means through curiosity, touch and play. Climbing is not part of the play.

Hou de Sousa’s Go sculptureIn front of the Orb is Hou de Sousa’s Go. These double sided black and white disks invite you to flip them manually to create images, or get inspired by the profound questions printed on the disks. In their words “an art machine powered by the public”.



Curious by Mr & Mrs Ferguson ArtOther sculptures of the Charleston East Plaza Artworks are: 

Curious by Mr & Mrs Ferguson Art

Halo by SOFTlab

Quantum Meditation II by Julian Voss-Andreae

Rockspinner by Zachary Coffin

Officially the area will open in the Fall of 2023. You can get there by parking in the Shoreline lot for the Amphitheater and walking to the corner of Shoreline and Charleston.

Do you have a favorite sculpture you interact with?


Sign that reads Woodland Public Library

Explore your local library

Explorer backpacks at the Woodland libraryLibraries offer much more than books to borrow. The Woodland public library teamed up with the Obama Foundation to show off their amazing programs: getting a pass for a national park, getting a  backpack with nature activities, attending book clubs in English and Spanish, and being able to work in a maker space, Square One.

The entrance of the public library in Woodland, CA.Woodlands public library is one of the few Carnegie built libraries that are still being used as a library. I already made you aware of the excellent rose garden, and the kids reading program on Saturdays during the farmers market. But did you know they also have Henrietta, the library cat?

Worktables at Square One, Woodland public librarySquare One, the maker space in the basement, offers laser cutting, screen printing, 3d printing, woodworking, and much more. You must have a valid Woodland library card. And, you have to participate in a workshop in order to use some of the equipment. 

Woodland’s library is doing a great job engaging the community. However, I’m sure if you explore your local library you will most definitely find more than books to keep you busy. 

What programs does your local library have?  

Check out the instagram post the library did with President Obama.

And their amazingly creative tik tok account (especially for updates on Henrietta):


Max Cabello Jr. playing at Jazz and Beyond in Sunnyvale

Dine with Jazz, Sunnyvale

 Max Cabello Jr. band playing downtown Sunnyvale at Jazz and Beyond  I have to say, I’m really impressed with Sunnyvale’s downtown. Murphy Street is now a street block reserved for pedestrians; tables from restaurants take over the sidewalks. The Sunnyvale Downtown Association is doing its part to create a welcoming atmosphere. The series Jazz and Beyond is a 7-week music concert series with jazz or other alternative live music every Saturday evening from July to August. 

Tables for Jazz and Beyond, Murphy St, SunnyvaleLeft and right off the stage there are white tables and chairs set up. You can reserve one of those tables on Eventbrite. Use your phone to order dinner from 20 participating restaurants and get served right there. This is great for a small group with different diets, or who prefer different cuisines. 

We ended up dining at ​Burma Taste and could listen to the music while enjoying their tea leaf salad and other delicacies. If you are more of a dancer there was enough room for a small crowd in front of the stage. All around a good time. 

For August there are still four Jazz and Beyond concerts:

Stage Jazz and Beyond Max Cabello Jr. playing8/5 – The Flow

8/12 – Jim Witzel

8/19 – Legally Blue

8/26 – East Side Funk

*Band line up subject to change without notice.

What’s your favorite downtown in the Bay Area?


Obon festival in Mountain View, CA 2023

Dance in Joy, Honor the Dead, Obon Festival

Geta, Japanese sandals for sale at the bazaarObon is a Japanese festival honoring the dead. The Obon Festivals take place at a buddhist temple, in the summer months between June and August. This festival is usually the biggest event for the temple. Over a period of two or sometimes three days Japanese culture is celebrated with food, music, carnival games, bazaars, and often Ikebana exhibits. Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangements.

Lanterns with names of deceasedThe center point of the festivities are the Bon Odori dances. These dances differ by region in Japan and are passed down by generations. Nonetheless, there are also new dances being developed. The Buddhist temples offer classes and videos to learn these dances. Everyone is welcome to join in.

As the sun sets and the festival lights begin to shine, we think of those who have passed on and celebrate the paths that brought us together in gratitude.” 

Buddhist church of America 

Ikebana The origins of Bon Odori are over 500 years old. It is believed that Mokuren, a disciple of Buddha saw his deceased mother and discovered she had fallen to the Realm of Hungry Ghosts and was suffering. Buddha advised him to make offerings to Buddhist monks at the end of the rainy season retreat. When Mokuren saw his mother’s spirit released he danced with joy and gratitude.

Bay Area Obons are from June to August and people travel to these festivals to honor friends and family.

Some upcoming events are:

Sat, Jul 29, 6:00 – 6:45 pm Diablo Japanese American Summer Festival, Concord

Sat, Aug 5, 4 pm Annual BCO Buddhist Church of Oakland Obon Festival

August 5th/6th Palo Alto Buddhist Temple Bazaar & Obon Odori Event

August 12, 2023 Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church 


I’m looking forward to attending the BCO Obon in Oakland on Saturday, August 5th, 2023.

Please dance with joy and gratitude!

Obon in Mountain View, CA 2023


Buddhist Churches of America

Obon Festival Guide: Meaning, traditions and dates

Obon Festival Guide: Meaning, traditions and dates

Bon (festival) Wikipedia

Yellow lit MIDTOWN sign from the Midtown Safeway in San José

Chase Down the Neon Signs of San José

A tour of San José’s neon signs has been on my to-do list for a very long time now. I found a list compiled by Josh Marcotte ( Unfortunately, this list was written a long time ago and some of the signs are now gone

Western Appliance neon signOnly a few of the signs from the original list remain in Midtown, and even fewer are lit up at night. The most iconic one is the Western Appliances sign on 1976 W San Carlos St. Built in 1962, it has a great history. When it was first lit, the flashy lights on top caused two accidents on highway 17! Western Appliance closed its doors in 2020 and the sign went dark. Nearby is the former Time Deli – which got its name from the neon sign it inherited and is now a shoe store. Time neon sign

Burbank theaterA few of the signs are in dire need of rescue, like the Y Not sign over a sex toy shop across from the Time Deli.  The Burbank theater further down on South Bascom Ave could use some help as well. Equally, the neighborhood Midtown, itself, is in need of a renaissance. Hence I would like to caution you not to go by yourself. I think this is not the most inviting neighborhood for strolling around at night. 

O. C. McDonald's neon signThere are a few lit signs,  e.g.,  the Bears Cocktail Lounge. The Midtown Safeway celebrates neon with its large yellow Midtown sign. O. C. Mc Donald, a mechanical contractor, does a wordplay, Oh See!, on its name, and it still lights up. The Falafel’s Drive-In is not only interesting because of the pointy sign but was visited by Guy Fieri from Diners, Driveins and Dives. The West Side Billiards is currently closed and therefore the sign which is one of the coolest on the list is not illuminated.

West Side Billiards neon signMidtown has the highest concentration of these historic lightning features, but the most iconic signs found a good home at History Park. These are the Dancing Pig and the Orchard Hardware sign. The OSH sign is with some more artifacts from the store and the Dancing Pig is near the Vietnamese Museum.

Neon Signs Location
  • Western Appliances 1976 W San Carlos St., San José
  • Time Deli 349 S Bascom Ave., San José
  • Y Not 1933 W San Carlos St., San José
  • Burbank Theater 552 S Bascom Ave., San José
  • The Bears Cocktail Lounge 1872 W San Carlos St., San José
  • Midtown Safeway 1300 W San Carlos St, San José
  • O.C. McDonald 1150 W San Carlos St., San José
  • West Side Billiards 1050 W San Carlos St., San José
  • Falafel’s Drive-In 2301 Stevens Creek Blvd., San José
  • Orchard Supply Hardware and Stephen’s Meat Market, History Park 635 Phelan Ave, San José


Falafel's Drive-In neon signI made a Google map for the San José Neon Signs and hope to expand this in the future. Please let me know of interesting signs within San José.

For more information check out the San José Sign Project’s Facebook page or order their book on the iconic neon signs! Sarah JL Nguyen of Crossinglightstudio wrote a great blog post: San José’s Neon Signs: Works of Art That Tell Our Story 

Looking Back: Signs of the Times by Ralph Pearce has a great list of neon signs.


Do you have a favorite neon sign?

A sign saying Antiques and Collectables Enter

Steal a Deal, San Jose Antique Row

This post is one of those I-put-off-for-too-long, or more accurately, when-I-don’t-get-to-go-out-and-explore post. 

Antique row storefront in San Jose It turns out that according to the San Jose Spotlight, San Jose’s Antique Row might be a thing of the past soon. The San Jose City Council voted unanimously to annex a portion of the ‘Row’ for new housing, including urgently needed senior housing. A new development there might replace the antique stores currently occupying the space.

Mannequin heads and nick nack Antique Row is on W. San Carlos between Brooklyn Ave and Hester Ave in San Jose, an area known as Burbank. This is a great place to check  if you collect a specific antique, or if you are looking for some pieces not labeled made-in-China. The staff understands that you need time to browse and is very knowledgeable if you have specific questions.

The four most well-known antique stores on Antique Row, Antiques Colony, Burbank Antiques, Briarwood Antiques and Collectibles, and Memory Lane Antiques, are still open. Tony, the owner of Memory Lane Antiques told me he plans to retire next year. I was unable to get anyone else to confirm they were closing in the near future. A collection of hats

I hope when the time comes they can relocate and create a new Antique Row within San Jose. Meanwhile catch them while they are still in this location. 

Antique Row is located on W. San Carlos between Brooklyn Ave and Hester Ave in San Jose. Opening hours vary by store.

Do you enjoy bargain hunting?