Dan Burnett Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge

Bike a bridge

If you have never biked the Golden Gate Bridge I highly recommend you do so. It is a great trip to take visitors to – go downhill to Sausalito, have lunch, and ferry back to the city.

Dan Burnett Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge, Cupertino

If you need a substitute scenic bridge, go for the Dan Burnett Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge in Silicon Valley. The bridge was  opened as the Mary Avenue Bicycle Footbridge in 2009. In 2010 it was renamed to honor the Cupertino City Councilman, Dan Burnett, an ‘avid cyclist and environmental activist’, who helped make this bridge a reality. He envisioned a bridge spanning over the 280 highway as a safe route across the interstate for bikers and pedestrians. 

The north entrance is right next to Homestead High and the south entrance is on Mary Ave. This cable-stayed bridge has an iconic look and makes for great pictures. In a cable-stayed bridge the weight of the deck is supported by a number of cables running directly to one or more towers.

According to Wikipedia, this is the only cable-stayed bridge across a highway in California. 

Two roads leading to the Dan Burnett Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge. One straight, one serpentine.

If you come from the north side you may notice the serpentine lane on your right. For people who prefer straight access, just stay on the path.

If you are interested in how this bridge was built, the builder, Golden State builder, has a cool video on their site: http://gsbridge.com/mary-avenue-video/

Do you have a bridge you like to bike across?

Entrance to the Picchetti Winery, Cupertino

Taste some wine

It’s almost Thanksgiving and if you are looking for the perfect bottle to rise to the occasion you might want to consider going to a local winery and taste test some bottles/glasses.

Old barn at Picchetti Winery, Cupertino.

One of the oldest wineries in California, the Picchetti Winery, sits above Cupertino and its tasting room is open from 10 am to 4 pm every day. The Picchetti brothers, Secondo and Vincenzo, established the ranch in 1882 and first sold their grapes to local wineries. In 1896 they decided to produce their own wine. During Prohibition the wine production sunk dramatically and prune and apricot orchards replaced most of the grape vines. 

Entrance to the tasting room at Picchetti Winery, Cupertino.

In 1976 the Picchetti family sold 308 acres to the Open Space District, the Picchetti Open Space Preserve was established. Hiking on the Zinfandel Trail might expose you to the surrounding orchards and vineyards. Overall there are about 4 miles of hiking trails.

Since 1982 the District leases the winery back to winemakers, currently about 9,000 cases per year get produced, many of them award-winning.

Inside the tasting room at Picchetti Winery, Cupertino.

The tasting is $15 dollars for a flight of five wines. Wine bottle prices range from about $25 to $55, but a wine club is available. 

Picnic tables at Picchetti Winery, Cupertino.

The tasting room is nicely decorated, but you might want to enjoy your flight outside at the picnic tables. Maybe the peacocks will greet you.

Where do you go to taste test your wine?

Resources:

https://thepress.sfchronicle.com/review/picchetti-winery/

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


Boardwalk sign at Santa Cruz

Ride the rollercoaster on the boardwalk

For thrillseekers and beachgoers the Santa Cruz boardwalk is a great destination since 1907.  

A golem watching over the sky glider at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz.

There are more than 40 rides, something for every kind of rush seeker. The romantic gondola ‘Sky Glider’ and  the 1924 wooden roller coaster ‘The Giant Dipper’ are just examples of the variety of rides offered. 

Sky glider with a sign that says: deep fried underneath at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

On rainy days you can enjoy a game of bowling or mini-golf, or play some arcade games. The food rises to the occasion: soft serve ice cream, hot dog on a stick and pizza all classic accompaniments for your boardwalk experience are here.

Bands on the Beach stage, Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Tonight, August 30th, is the last Bands on the Beach event for this year. Papa Doo Run Run has the honor of ending the free concert series with two show (6:30 and 8:30). For the prime seating area reserve your seats as early as 4 pm. You might enjoy a nice picnic on the beach. If you bring chairs make sure they are low backs for the prime area. 

For the history buffs they put together a walking tour (http://downloads.beachboardwalk.com/BoardwalkWalkingTour.pdf).

A lot of different events are happening on the boardwalk, so check before you go. Some events, like the overnights, can limit access to attractions.  

The boardwalk is open daily. Admission for the rides can be purchased in various forms. Day and season passes are available.

Have you been to the boardwalk?


Sign for the Woodside library and the native plant garden.

Work in a native plant garden

Native plant garden at the Woodside library.

The sign at the Woodside library announces the library, and right below, the native plant garden. This acknowledgment is well deserved; the space of the garden seems as large as the library itself. You have to enter the garden from the library. The chairs and tables makes it clear that al fresco studying is encouraged here. And the people of Woodside take advantage of the natural office setting.

Map of the native plant garden at the Woodside library.

Right away there is a map of the garden. This garden was established in 1970 by the Woodside Atherton Garden Club. They also provide a pdf of all the plants.

Manzanita grove at the Woodside native plant garden.

The manzanita grove to the right immediately delighted me with their dark red bark. The horse smell from next door reminded me that I’m in Woodside. Every place, even the library, has a horse rack in front.

Redwood grove at the Woodside native plant garden.

The redwood grove in the back uses its half arch for benches. A great place for a school class to enjoy some lunch. Benches are sprinkled throughout the garden, inviting everyone to take a break.

The native garden is open during library hours: 
Monday – Thursday 11 am to 7 pm
Friday and Saturday 11 am to 5 pm

Have you been to the native garden?

Resources:

http://woodsideathertongc.org/cgi-bin/p/awtp-custom.cgi?d=woodsideatherton-garden-club&page=9513


Aquarium at the Cupertino library.

Find Nemo at the library

Butterfly fish at the Cupertino library aquarium.

Sure, you can find a good book on Nemo or clownfish at any local library. If you go to the Cupertino library you can try to find the clownfish in the aquarium next to the children’s books. This 16 feet long tank holds 3,240 gallons of water. To support such large tank the glass is 2.5 inches thick and there is a 5 foot concrete base underneath. 

Cupertino library aquarium.

Besides clownfish, there are also yellow tanks, foxface bubblefish, yellowtail damsels, butterfly fish, and hermit crabs.The corals are man-made and therefore more environmentally friendly.  Real corals are threatened by many factors like over-fishing, increased sea temperatures and tourism. 

Plant petting zoo at the Cupertino library.

If your kid prefers land over water maybe come by on Tuesdays from 11 am – noon (summer hours) and let them explore the Children’s Garden in the courtyard. This garden has a plant petting zoo and a scratch and sniff area. For the teenagers that are into planting the Green Teen Garden might be attractive. Designed to provide local teenagers with hands-on garden experience. 

Kids splashing around the water fountain in front of the Cupertino library.

And to cool off your child they can splash around in the water fountain outside.

What a fun place for kids! 

Have you seen the aquarium at the Cupertino library?

Waterslide at Blackberry Farm in Cupertino

Swim in an outdoor pool

I’m from Germany and I remember entire summers being spent in the local outdoor pools. You would meet some friends, make new ones, and every once in a while cool down in the water.

In the U.S. I always thought swimming was more a sport than a social affair. You can go to your gym and swim the lanes. There is even a 100 mile challenge at my swimming hole. I calculate at the rate I do laps it would take me 3 ½ years to complete the challenge.

Map of Blackberry Farm, Cupertino.

The other day I visited Blackberry Farm in Cupertino. Steve Jobs named a whole company after a fruit in this city, so I expected an old blackberry orchard. To my delight I saw two pools! One with a waterslide, and the other for swimming, and a lot of people frolicing about in the water. There was a birthday party!  If you check out their website, you can see that they encourage parties. But this place is a recreational activity for the whole family.

Pool at Blackberry Farm, Cupertino.


Pool rates are $8 ($6 for residents) during the week and on Saturday and Sundays $10 ($8 for residents). The Blackberry Cafe is open from 10 am to 6 pm and serves all the classic foods, from burgers and hot dogs to salads and ice cream sandwiches.

Do you have an outdoor pool you like to spend summer days in?

Dragon at the Magic Mountain playground, San Mateo.

Play by the Bay

Even now that I have a teenager, I still remember the value of a good playground. Magic Mountain Playground on the Coyote Point in San Mateo is one of my favorite playground designs.

The two dragons with the wide mouths open invite anyone to climb about. There is an area for little kids 2 to 3 year olds, too. But let me tell you the real attraction is the ‘castle’, a tower that is three stories high (18 feet) and has six slides. One of the slides is, at 55 feet, the longest metal slide in Northern California!

Longest metal slide in Northern California at the Magic Mountain playground in San Mateo.

And there is so much more to do at Coyote Point. For example the nearby SFO supplies an almost endless amount of planes landing and taking off to stop play and point to the sky. There is also CuriOdyssey, a science center and zoo for little kids. CuriOdyssey’s admission is $13.50 for adults, $9.50 for children and $8.50 for seniors and students (13-17). The park is also great for hiking, bbq’ing and the marina is located here, too. On June 29th, 2019 the third annual Coyote Point Kite Festival  will be happening (12 – 4). You can make kites or bring your own. Admission is free (except parking).

Sign of CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point, San Mateo.

The Entrance fee is $6 per car, which allows you to explore all of Coyote Point. 

What is your favorite playground by the Bay?


Redwood grove in Los Altos

Take a forest bath

Shinrinyoku is Japanese and literally means forest bath. It’s about the relaxing effects walking in a forest can have, improving our wellbeing.

Redwood Grove Nature Preserve, Los Altos.

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.

Looking up at at group of redwoods, Los Altos, CA.

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.

Walkway through the grove, Los Altos.

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.

Boarded up Nature Center at the Redwood Grove, Los Altos.

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.

Are you into forest baths?

Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills

Uncover a hidden villa

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.

Kids feeding chickens at Hidden Villa, Los Altos Hills.

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.

Sign saying: Welcome to the Educational Garden, Hidden Villa, Los Altos Hills.

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.

Sheep at Hidden Villa, Los Altos Hills.

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.  

Bunny Creek sign post for hikers at Hidden Villa, Los Altos Hills.

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.

Have you ever been to Hidden Villa?

Tree swing and artwork at the Albany Bulb

Locate the Art of the Bulb

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.

Dogs ready for some treats at Albany 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.

Tree swings at Albany Bulb.

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.

Artwork at Albany Bulb.

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!

 Driftwood art at Albany Bulb.

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.

What do you like to do at the Bulb?