Educational sign about the three different oak trees in San Jose

Learn About Local Oak Trees at San Jose’s Guadalupe Oak Grove Park

San Jose’s Guadalupe Oak Grove Park is a hilly park with sparse trees covering about 60 acres. It turns out they are all oak trees! There are three varieties of local oaks here. 

First the Valley Oak. It is the largest of the group of locals. The leaves are shaped to what I as a European have known as an oak tree leaf, a long leaf broken up with round edges. The other two species, the Blue Oak and the Coast Live Oak, have similar leaf structures; we had a hard time picking out which is which. Our best guess was the blue oak is lighter in color. The Las Pilitas Nursery website stated that Blue Oaks like to hybridize with other oaks. So, maybe we were onto something?

View at the Guadalupe Oak Grove Park, San Jose.

The hill was a nice challenge and allowed for a terrific view. And thanks to all the acorns the park attracts a lot of birds. We enjoyed watching a group of acorn woodpeckers.

One of the beautified water utility boxes at the Jeffery Fontana Park, San Jose.

The Jeffrey Fontana Park borders the Guadalupe Oak Grove Park and has a playground and two dog parks. In the grassy area they have beautified the water utility boxes. One features the nearby oak trees. 

Do you know your endemic oak trees?

Looking for a forest to hike in? Check out Huddart Park in Woodside: Hike a forest.

The Centennial Light Bulb in Livermore.

Visit the Longest Lasting Light Bulb in Livermore

Longest burning light bulb at the Livermore Pleasanton fire station.

The Centennial Light Bulb in Livermore has been burning since 1901. It is the longest lasting light bulb recognized by Ripley’s and the Guinness Book of World Records.

To ensure it is still burning you can see it on the bulbcam: https://www.centennialbulb.org/cam.htm

LPFD helmets at Livermore's fire station.

It is updated every 30 seconds. While it only uses 4 Watts it is more a glow than a bright site.

You can also visit the fire station where the light bulb is hanging from the ceiling. If a fireman is on hand they are happy to show off this curiosity. Plus there are a few historical fire fighting items on display.  Best time to visit, according to the website, is between 10 am and 11:30 am or 3 pm to 5 pm.  Otherwise you can see the bulb if you look through the window up on the top of the wall to your left. To contact them directly you may call the LPFD at (925) 454-2361. The fire station is located at 4550 East Avenue in Livermore.

In these ever changing times, continuation is comforting. I visited this site before the pandemic.  

Do you have a constant that gives you comfort?

Other sights for Guinness World Records are the 100 Block Mural and the Monopoly in the Park game in San Jose.

The first Google storage server, Stanford

6 Hidden Spots for Geeks and Nerds in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley houses more geeky nerds, and I mean this as an honorary term. There are some places that might be especially interesting for this group:

  1. The first Google server with a case made with Legos. 

This server is displayed in the basement at the Huang Engineering Building in Stanford. 

While you are there check out the replica of the HP garage.

Huang Engineering Building Stanford

475 Via Ortega, Stanford, CA 94305

https://engineering.stanford.edu/about/visit

  1. Visit Facebook’s first office

The Face Book in Palo Alto is the first office of social media giant Facebook. A sign outside commemorates this place. This is an easier way to get a picture with a thumbs up. 😉

The Face Book - first Facebook office in Palo Alto.

The Face Book

471 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

  1. Apple Campus 3 

The spaceship, Apple Park, Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino is only viewable from afar at the visitor center. A great way to get a closer look of Apple is the Apple Campus 3, AC3 as insiders might call it. 

Apple

222 N Wolfe Rd, Sunnyvale, CA 94085 

https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/03/19/apples-third-large-california-campus-is-already-built

  1. See the latest Android figure

Google celebrates its Android operating system versions by dedicating lawn sculptures. The naming used to be in alphabetical order after deserts and other sweets. The former OS figures can be seen near the visitor center. The latest Android figure is usually displayed at the Googleplex. For Android 11 you can also see it online, to stay with the candy theme, the internal name was Red Velvet Cake, the recipe is ‘taped’ to the sculpture, at least in its virtual version. 

https://www.android.com/android-11-ar-statue/

Google

Android Lawn Sculpture in Mountain View.

Android Lawn Sculptures

1981 Landings Dr, Mountain View, CA 94043

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

  1. Tour Roblox headquarters 

See your favorite characters at the Roblox headquarters. Due to COVID-19 the 60 minute tours will be awarded in a lottery. Sign up at:

https://behindtheblox.splashthat.com/

Roblox

970 Park Pl, San Mateo, CA 94403

  1. Santa Clara NVIDIA Building

NVIDIA, inventors of the GPU, set themselves a building fitting for the creative potential. It is unique in how it used triangles, representing the building blocks for computer graphics.

NVIDIA

NVIDIA office in Santa Clara.

2788 San Tomas Expressway Santa Clara, CA. 95050

https://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2013/02/20/nvidia-to-build-a-new-home-20-years-after-our-founding/

Do you have any tips on hidden spots for geeks and nerds?

In my 50 things to do series I usually have ideas for nerdy fun.

SS Palo Alto view from the wooden stairs, Aptos.

Watch an Over 100 Year Old Deteriorating – the SS Palo Alto

The SS Palo Alto, a concrete ship off the Monterey Bay Shore in Aptos, was left to decay. It eventually became a habitat for birds, sharks, and sea lions. 

SS Palo Alto, Aptos, CA.

Launched in 1919 in Oakland, the SS Palo Alto, a former oil tanker, missed World War I by a few weeks. This war vessel is made of  concrete because of the steel shortage at the end of the war.

In 1929 the Seacliff Amusement Corp. bought the ship and transformed it into an amusement park in its current location. Besides a casino, they added a swimming pool and a dance floor as attractions; ‘rum runners’ delivered illegal booze as a driveby operation. The Great Depression and the seasonality of the business probably were reasons for the fast closure two years later.

Pier and SS Palo Alto in Aptos.

In 1936 the State of California purchased the vessel for $1. Twelve years later it was incorporated into one of the first State beaches. Its condition deemed too dangerous for explorers led to its closing in 1998. Now it is a sanctuary for birds and other sea life. 

Parking at Seacliff Beach in Aptos, California is $10. 

Have you seen the SS Palo Alto?

If you are looking for other bird watching opportunities in the Bay Area, check out Sunnyvale’s Baylands Park

Resources:

View through the linked fence to the SS Palo Alto, Aptos.

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

https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=543

Sound sculpture with mallets at Seven Seas Park in Sunnyvale.

Play the Sound-Sculptures at Seven Seas Park

The Seven Seas Park in Sunnyvale became the latest addition in 2016 of inclusive play parks for all ages. This little park has even a splash park, a dog park, and a half basketball court. One of the fun discoveries is the wind chimes that line the small round path around a grassy field.

One of the wind chimes at Seven Seas Park in Sunnyvale.

The sound sculptures stand man high and have mallets to invite you to play. I could not find any information about the artists. If you know who contributed this musical adventure, please let me know.

The landscape architects, SSA, did a beautiful job creating a nautical themed inclusive park. This park won the “Project of the Year” award in 2016 by the American Public Works Association. 

Pathway, hugging a grassy field, leading to one of the sound sculptures, Seven Seas Park in Sunnyvale.

Parking can sometimes be a challenge. Due to COVID-19 playgrounds might still be closed off. Check before you go and follow the recommended safety procedures.

Have you played the sound sculptures at Seven Seas Park? 

If you enjoy funky interactive sculptures you should also check out the Wind Walk in San Mateo.

Masked fisherman sculpture at Half Moon Bay.

Masks on Sculptures

The unfortunate fashion accessory of 2020, a facial covering, can also be spotted on various sculptures throughout the Bay Area.

Right now the smoke from the Santa Cruz and San Mateo wildfires have reached our city and exploring is on hold. I hope everyone is safe out there, especially because the heat wave isn’t over yet either!

Anyway, along the way I have started to photograph some sculptures with masks on. Thank you whoever thought this would be an additional statement.

Surfer sculpture on Cliff Dr. in Santa Cruz.

The surfer on Santa Cruz cliff walk for example can be usually spotted wearing some protective gear – until the no-maskers demonstrated in front of the sculpture. I wonder if there is a correlation?

Gay Liberation a sculpture of four all white painted people from George Segal at Stanford.

The ‘Gay Liberation’ sculpture from George Segal at Stanford was responsible covering up, because they have a hard time social distancing.

Biker sculpture by James Moore, at the Bay Trail in Palo Alto.

Another masked artwork I found was the biker at the Bay Trail in Palo Alto. This work is called ‘Bliss in the Moment’ by James Moore. I love Moore’s statement about his art: “I want my artwork to add something positive to the world. By exploring themes of hope, strength, and playful possibility, my sculpture conveys a positive message of what I feel it means to be human.”

We are all in this together!

Have you taken photos of masked sculptures?

Do you want to explore more sculptures in Stanford? I recommend checking out my page on 50 things to do in Stanford.

Black Lives Matter Mural on Hamilton St. in Palo Alto.

Drive by the BLM Art

While one California city (Redwood City) is in the news for removing their Black Lives Matter street mural, Palo Alto has blocked off the middle of the road for their colorful artwork.

City Hall in Palo Alto with the BLM letter's E and S.

Palo Alto’s BLM mural is in front of City Hall on Hamilton St. The public art commission hired 16  artist teams, each of them designing a letter. 

When I photographed each letter I noticed some cars slowing down and the drivers admiring the artwork. There were also some kids enjoying the letters.

Letter E of BLM mural in Palo Alto picturing Assata Shakur.

A controversy arose about one of the E’s picturing Assata Shakur, a Black Liberation Army fugitive and FBI most wanted. To my knowledge the mayor, Adrian Fine, declared the mural will stay as is. (see NBC News from July 16th, 2020 https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/fugitive-the-source-of-debate-over-black-lives-matter-mural-in-palo-alto/2327624/)

There is a petition out on change.org (http://chng.it/nsVCBzPvhC) to provide protection for the mural, to make this a lasting piece of art in Palo Alto.

What is your stand on the BLM in Palo Alto?

Sign at Montalvo Art Center: ART is the highest form of HOPE

Find Hope in Art

Montalvo’s new exhibit “lone some”  almost feels like a self fulfilling art and is on point during a pandemic where here in the Bay Area we have been under shelter-in-place order since early March. On 25 independent sites around the Bay, including San Jose’s Museum of Textile and Quilts and at Montalvo’s public park, artists have created talking points about isolation and loneliness.

A bus stop in Atherton. The poster reads: Dig if you will the picture.... by Modesto Covarrubias.

Also on bus stations from Atherton to Redwood City there are messages to inspire the lonely viewer. Part of this series are posters from Modesto Covarrubias titled: Hear, There and Everywhere. These mantras, prayers, poems, and lyrics are supposed to summon the meaning of isolation and might help you to work through your predicaments. If you would like to connect with the artist and offer your thoughts, or favorite song about loneliness, you can call (408) 777-2103 and leave your input. You might also find billboards as part of the series around the Bay Area.

Artists of lone some include works by Lucas Artists Fellow Chloë Bass, Modesto Covarrubias, Jane Chang Mi, Leena Joshi, Susan O’Malley (1976-2015), and Alyson Provax

A 4 x 4 mirrors by Alyson Provax.  “You can’t deny that longing for the past.”

In the park at Montalvo there are messages etched in 4 x 4 mirrors by Alyson Provax. One for example reads: “You can’t deny that longing for the past.” The social distance signs at the park feel like part of the “lone some” exhibit with directives like: “No sitting, gathering, or picnicking.” Signs of times, food for thought. 

Sign at Montalvo: No sitting, gathering or picnicking.

Lone some will be on display until July 31st, 2020. A map of the widespread exhibit can be found on Montalvo’s website.

What does loneliness mean to you?

Former exhibit at Montalvo reviewed by me:

Exercise your Auditory Sense

Sculpture of a M at Menlo College.

Enable New Sculptures

There are spaces for new sculptures in this country. While some sculptures are offensive and protesters have managed to topple some of them lately, there are also sculptures that inspire us.

Georg Huerter's Yellow Barrel Ring at Menlo College.

One place to view new sculptures is Menlo College. From September 25 – 27 the Silicon Valley Sculpture 2020, a fine art fair, will be held on their campus. This year’s theme is “Past, Present, Progressive”, a fitting motto for 2020. 

Sculpture at Menlo College from Rotaut. Part of the Silicon Valley Sculpture 2020.

They have just started to add sculptures on campus. For example George Huerter’s ‘Yellow Barrel Ring’ greets visitors when entering the campus. There is also the work of Rotraut, a German-French visual artist, which glisters in the sun in a metallic black. 

Are there any sculptures you would like to see in public places?

Discover more of San Mateo County – see my 50 things to do in San Mateo County.

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?