Entrance sign for the Land of Medicine Buddha.

Find Solace at the Land of Medicine Buddha

In the forest in Soquel is the Buddhist retreat of the Land of Medicine Buddha. The doors to the retreat are open to the public every day from 7 am to 5:30 pm. 

Sign for the 8 verses trail hike at the Land of Medicine Buddha.

We came here to walk the 8 verses loop trail, a 1.2 mile hike in the sacred Santa Cruz mountain setting. Parking is generally limited and you can use one of the offsite spots. But we found spots available during the week.

Prayer wheel at the Buddist retreat in Soquel.

You are greeted by prayer wheels and encouraged to walk around spinning them. The verses are spaced out and have a bench to contemplate. 

At the end of the hike is the dog blessings area. Dogs are welcome on leash. There are a few rules you should obey, e.g. talking in a low voice and not killing any animals, including bugs. 

Buddha trinket on a redwood stump.

The store for the Land of Medicine Buddha is only open Friday to Monday noon – 5 pm. But you can also order online.

Donations are encouraged. Right now they match all online donations up to $8,888 until the end of February.

Where do you find solace?

While in the area pick up some fresh eggs from Glaum.

The Tasmienne Monument with the Coyote Creek in the back.

Decode a Mysterious Plaque – Coyote Creek, San Jose

Metcalfe bridge, Coyote Creek Trail San Jose.

The other day I parked at the Coyote Creek Lake parking lot and walked south over the Metcalfe bridge. The paved trail is part of the Ridge Trail and also part of the National Recreational Trail system. You can bike all the way to Morgan Hill. A few more steps after the bridge you’ll see a plaque on the right. Covered in dirt, but still visible are 0 and 1s. On closer inspection the words Santa Clara Valley appear on top of the binary code.

The Tamienne Monument, with Santa Clara Valley written on it.

I found the Tamienne Monument, or, as some websites also call it, The Center of Santa Clara Valley. This marker is not monumental at all. The plaque can be overlooked. The binary hints to Silicon Valley, the Tamienne reference suggests a misspelling of the Tamyen people who once lived in the Valley.

There is no acknowledgement of the creator and it is not listed in the public art repository of San Jose. For the binary it is less mysterious, I can spoil this for you:

Binary – Hex – ACSII char

01010011 – 53 – S

01100001 – 61 – a

01101110 – 6E – n

01110100 – 74 – t

01100001 – 61 – a

00100000 – 20 – ” ” (space)

01000011 – 43 – C

01101100 – 6C – l

01100001 – 61 – a

01110010 – 72 – r

01100001 – 61 – a

00100000 – 20 – ” ” (space)

01010110 – 56 – V

01100001 – 61 – a

01101100 – 6C – l

01101100 – 6C – l

01100101 – 65 – e

01111001 – 79 – y

What do you know about the Center of Santa Clara Valley?

If you like to bike around San Jose, the Three Creeks Trail in San Jose is another option.

Resources:

https://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM9AJ5_Geographic_Center_of_Santa_Clara_Valley_California

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coyote_Creek_Trail

https://www.americantrails.org/resources/coyote-creek-trail-san-jose-trail-network-california

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?

PEZ Pole in Sunnyvale with a sign that reads: Das PEZler

Safari in the Neighborhood – Sunnyvale PEZ Pole

Close up of multiple PEZ dispensers.

Not only PEZ dispensers are displayed on the front lawn at 298 Leota Ave in Sunnyvale, there are all sorts of toys and little trinkets. The PEZ Pole is the description you get from Google maps, the sign on the pole says: Das PEZLER – a German collection? PEZ dispensers are pinned to a power pole. A lot of Santas from different time periods it seems, but also favorite Disney characters, snowmen and bunnies. The PEZ lunchbox knows: “PEZ makes you smile!”

Plastic dinosaur looking at a succulent.

The other things that made me smile are the dinosaurs fighting plastic soldiers – not the fighting, just the ingenious re-use of plastic toys! The dinosaurs are next to succulents which makes them excellent objects for a photo safari! But behold the giraffes assembled across from them! If you enjoy statues this place has you covered too! Buddhas sit together with Madonnas, angels, a menorah, and a dreamcatcher – a peaceful sight indeed. 

Overall it is a great place to explore and discover. If you are tired of walking around in your neighborhood I suggest stopping by this place and let your kids count the PEZ Santas, or photograph other objects. 

Peace figures in the front lawn in Sunnyvale.

Thank you whoever put out the effort to entertain us in such an amusing way! You can email them at flowerpowercorner at gmail.com if you have any comments, ideas, or suggestions.

Where do you go on a photo-neighborhood-safari?

By the way, to all the PEZ aficionados, the PEZ museum in Burlingame is permanently closed. To see what it was like check out my blog post: Sweeten your Museum Visit


Shirley Temple Black, 1928 - 2014

Locate Shirley Temple Black’s Final Resting Place

Shirley Temple Black - 1928 - 2014
Beloved wife and mother
Grandmother
Great-Grandmother

While looking for a hiking outing I stumbled across Shirley Temple’s grave. Not literally! A Google reviewer posted this as a landmark. I did not know that the famous child actress used to live in Woodside. I also did not know that she used to have quite the political career, most notably the ambassador of Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

Her gravesite is in the Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto. According to the website Find a Grave the Mausoleum is called: Adobe Creek Mausoleum, Building #3, Redwood Grove Section, Tier 2. Thanks to the reviewer who posted this as a tourist location on Google maps, I knew to look for it in the back of the mausoleum. I did not see any building names or numbers, but all mausoleums are located just past the funeral home. 

Sculpture in the hidden park at the Alta Mesa Memorial Park, Palo Alto.

Alta Mesa Memorial Park is not a hiking destination, but in my search I found a beautiful garden area behind the mausoleums that, although not very large, is a nice place to explore more inhabitants of the non-denominational burial ground.

Other notable burials include Terman and Shokley, both considered the fathers of Silicon Valley, David Packard, co-founder of HP, and Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc.

Sign for the Alta Mesa Memorial Park
Visiting Hours
Daily 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Have you been to a graveyard lately?

Visiting hours for the Alta Mesa Memorial Park are from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

If you like cemeteries you might want to check out Colma – a town where the ratio of alive to dead is 1:1000. Be alive in Colma!

Happy New Year! Goodbye 2020

Recap 2020

What a year this was! 

Goodbye 2020.

Never have I been happier to see a year go.

Grab & Go
Holds Pick up
Physical Distancing Required
Enter from Prarking Lot

I’m thankful for all the hard workers that risk their life daily. I hope you will be vaccinated soon! Sad for all who lost loved ones this year, pandemic related or not.

2020 taught me a lot: 

  • gratitude for modern technology that allows me to stay in contact with friends and family 
  • it opened my eyes wider for the privileged life I live
  • I enjoyed discussions about racism and reflected on my own white fragility
  • It made me realize that we are all social ‘animals’ and we need each other. I’m looking forward to gatherings small and large again when this is over!

I also kept busy while being confined to a shelter in place order for most of the year.

I am happy to share with you my YouTube channel.

My lists on where to go exploring keeps getting longer. Wanderlust for local spots will always be my passion.  To document this I started putting this in a book. Yes, this is as much a teaser as it is a motivation for me to finish 😀 

Highlights of 2020

Anyway, in this COVID ridden year there were a few highlights, or at least hope for something better to come. 

Justice for George Floyd. Art by Oree Originol.

After the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor  people took to the streets in mass protests for BLM. Here again is my list on how you can make sure that Black Lives Matter: Support Black Lives.

VTA essential trip?

Do you want to contribute to record the history we are currently living, please check out my post Share your COVID-19 Experiences.

And let’s not forget about people that lost so much this year. While wildfires raged through most of the Bay Area and people lost their houses (Help the Fire Victims), the pandemic was the reason a lot of people lost their jobs and are in need of food relief programs (Feed People in Need).

Exit with error pointing.

Welcome 2021!

I wish you all a great start into the New Year and hope everyone will have a happier life.

Keep on fighting the good fight.

Peace, Justice, and Joy!

Until Suburbia! 

Shine Bright Cupertino 2020

See the Lights – The Shine Bright Cupertino Light Tour

2020 is almost over, all we have to do is sit and wait. For another sit-in-your-car-adventure, I recommend going on the Shine Bright Cupertino light tour. Cupertino’s neighbors signed on to have their house decorations viewed as you drive by (or walk with your mask on). You can download the map of participating houses as a PDF on the City of Cupertino website.

Shine Bright Cupertino lights tour 2020.

If you liked last week’s post about Robertsville and their lightshow with music you might be delighted at number 21 on the map, 7733 Oak Meadow Court. Tune your radio to 92.9 FM while in the court and be entertained by the music accompanying the lights. You can watch a short version of this on my YouTube channel

I was serenaded by the Muppets!

The best time to view the lights is early nighttime. Most lights get turned off at 10 pm.

Please be careful while driving and if you pull over, respect the homeowners and neighbors. Watch out for pedestrians.

Thank you Cupertino and all participating neighbors!

How do you brighten the season?

Do you have neighborhood lights you like?

Robertsville Lights in San Jose

Drive by Christmas – Robertsville in San Jose

Robertsville Lights in San Jose

Whether you celebrate Christmas or have different traditions for the end of the year, I think it is always nice to walk or drive around and admire the colorful lights and blow-up figurines. I am thankful for the people who enjoy decorating their houses. One of these is a San Jose resident and maker of the Robertsville Lights display. Here more than 6000 tiny bulbs are showing off their sparkle from 5 to 10 pm. And what is Christmas without the tunes we all humm starting Thanksgiving clean-up? This enthusiast has you covered! Tune in your car radio to 101.7 FM while driving by. 

The song list includes classics like ‘Little Drummer Boy’, little people pleasers like ‘Into the Unknown’ from the Frozen soundtrack, but will also surprise you with the ‘Star Wars Medley’.

I made a short YouTube video (1 minute) with Simple Plan – Christmas Every Day, Frozen 2 Soundtrack – Into the Unknown, Selena Gomez – Winter Wonderland. The music titles are usually around 3 minutes long.

Robertsville Lights in San Jose

There used to be an option for the walking crowd but with the current COVID-19 conditions they disabled the outside speaker for now. Enjoy from the comfort of your car and be considerate of the neighbors. If you can’t drive by there you still have the virtual option via YouTube videos on their website.

The lights are up until December 31st.

Address: 4233 Briarglen Drive, San Jose, CA 95118

I also enjoyed the page of Behind the Scene where they talk about how they made the trees. Thank you Robertsville Lights for brightening this season!

Stay healthy and enjoy the season.

What is your favorite holiday display?

Former light display suggestions*:

Admire the lights on Eucalyptus Street

Get in the Christmas spirit

*since we are in a lockdown it might not be possible to walk these streets.

Inside the SJMade store.

Gift Something Unique from Local Artists – SJ Made

I don’t want to increase your stress level, but the Holidays are almost here. Every year I try to come up with some local gift ideas or stores, for example the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz.

Window into SJMade store showing off their shopping totes.

A hodgepodge of ideas is the SJ Made pop-up store in downtown San Jose. Due to COVID-19 they offer you a chance to pick-up items that you purchased from their website. The sheer vastness of ideas, over 1200 products and counting, will make sure you’ll find gifts for everyone on your list.

Entrance to SJMade with opening hours.

These artists not only do pictures and postcards. There are flowers, cosmetics, jewelry, clothing and accessories, ceramics, and food gifts. And, apparently stickers and pins are a thing again.

It is great to see local artists get together and open these collective stores. It reminded me of Asheville or Portland. SJ Made is one of four micro-retail storefronts in the Moment mall. Next door are also The Source Zero, Aulala Design and BlackSheepMade to check out while you are on your shopping spree.

Moment mural in the parking garage for SJMade.

SJ Made
60 N. San Pedro St., San Jose

Monday, Wednesday, Sunday 12 to 4
Thursday 12 to 6
Friday, Saturday 10 to 6
Tuesday CLOSED

Do you give local gifts?

Forbes Mill Bridge in Los Gatos.

Admire the work of young artists at Forbes Mill Footbridge

Entrance of the Forbes Mill Museum (closed) in Los Gatos.

An outside gallery, the Forbes Mill Footbridge, consists of 156 panels of local art work. The bridge connects old town Los Gatos with Forbes Mill, a former flour mill and history museum.

The Forbes Mill Bridge is mainly the overpass for Highway 17, but since 1998 it also serves as an art gallery for the Los Gatos youth. 

It started as a summer program by the Los Gatos – Saratoga recreation. Selected artwork was digitally reproduced and placed on the bridge. These murals will be exchanged over time. 

Forbes Mill Bridge in Los Gatos.

A tribute to the artists is also given on the website of the Los Gatos Local History Research Collection.

As part of the Los Gatos Creek Trail you might pass the Forbes Mill Footbridge. If you start out your hike here please take some time to admire the art.

Have you seen the murals?

Resources:

https://patch.com/california/losgatos/los-gatos-forbes-mill-footbridge-murals-to-be-re-dedicated

Do you like seeing more works of young artists? You might want to check out the County Government Center in Santa Cruz – read my post about this: Admire young artists.