The iris garden at the Three Creeks Trail in San Jose.

Bike by some irises

The water tower with the 3 indicates the entrance to the Three Creeks Trail in Willow Glen.

The Three Creeks Trail is a relatively new addition to the paved trail system in San Jose. It connects to the Los Gatos Creek Trail and the Guadalupe River Trail.

I love to find these small, hidden gardens. When we recently checked out the Three Creeks Trail in San Jose we came by the Iris Garden.

Snow Flurry, a white iris, in the iris garden on the Three Creeks Trail in Willow Glen.

This is a tribute to Ruth and Clara Rees who successfully crossed varieties of irises in the Willow Glen neighborhood. ‘Snow Flurry’ was created as a white iris with “broad, ruffled paddles, clear hafts, several buds in each spathe, good branching and excellent blue-green foliage.”

After some more research I found out that Clara really hit the jackpot and in 1939 grew “the most important iris ever created”.

Snow Flurry became the parentage of all modern TB irises. The iris garden used to be a much larger development in Willow Glen, and this little strip is all but an homage to them; honoring the botanist and flower lover Clara Rees.

Have you noticed the iris garden along the Three Creeks Trail? 

Resources:

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/07/18/iris-gardens-return-to-the-reopened-three-creeks-trail http://www.historiciris.org/photos/snow-flurry-lm.html

https://www.historiciris.org/articles/notable-clara-rees.html

https://cbris.org/

https://theamericanirissociety.blogspot.com/2018/12/clara-b-rees-queen-mother-of-iris-world.html

https://theamericanirissociety.blogspot.com/2012/02/clara-and-ruth-rees-san-joses-iris.html

http://wiki.irises.org/Main/Bio/HybridizerReesClara

Dog walker and dog in rain coats.

Hike with your dog

Dog off leash at Pulgas Ridge Preserve.

The nice thing about the Bay Area is there are a myriad of options for hiking in relatively short distances from where you live. If you are a dog owner and want to bring your pooch with you on these hiking excursion, you might find that a lot of open spaces don’t allow dogs.To find a place that has an off leash policy is even rarer. 

End of the off-leash dog area at Pulgas Ridge Preserve. Sign reads: You are leaving the off-leash dog area. All dogs must remain on a leash beyond this point.

While the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space allows dogs in 11 of it’s 24  parks, only one – the Pulgas Ridge Preserve – has an off leash dog area. The 17.5 acre area where you can let your dog roam free in is located in the middle of the Preserve and is surrounded by the Hassler Loop trail. Your dog needs to be voice controlled and you should have a leash with you. And of course, you are always asked to pick up after your dog (only leave paw prints behind). 

Group of dog walkers at Pulgas Ridge Preserve.

For discoverers, the park is the former home of the Hassler Health Home, a tuberculosis sanitarium, some remnants of the building and stairs still remain.

Where do you hike with your dog?


Walking in the cloud at the Devils Slide Coastal Trail.

Walk in the clouds

Sign for Devil Slide Coastal Trail.

The chances of fog are high at the Devil’s Slide Trail in Pacifica. The former Interstate 1 made hiking trail is a 1.3 mile stretch with ocean views on one side and a rocky hill on the other. 

At the Devils Slide Coastal Trail a warning sign: Step back steep cliff.

Numerous landslides made this stretch of Highway 1 a dangerous road. When San Mateo County proposed to have the interstate go over the Montara Mountain Ollie Mayer an activist and environmentalist fought successfully for a tunnel. The Devil’s Slide Trail opened in March 2014 as part of the initiative’s agreement. 

Since it is paved the trail is great for bikers, wheelchairs and strollers. When we arrived two moms just packed their babies into their cars. The slopes make it challenging for wheels and especially on wet days it can be tricky.

View of Egg Rock from Devils Slide Coastal Trail.

I particularly liked the story from one information sign of the reestablishment of the Common Murres colony on Egg Rock, a rock formation peeking out of the Pacific. An already diminishing bird population was erased by the Apex Houston 1986 oil spill. In 1996 a restoration project was started and the birds were tricked into recolonize by mirrors, decoys and broadcast murre calls, a method called social attraction. The Common Murres population grew from 12 in 1996 to 3200 in 2013! If you bring two quarters you can zoom in on Egg Rock with a telescope.

Exit of the south side tunnel at Devils Slide, Pacifica.

Parking is available on the north or the south entrance of the tunnel. Open from dusk till dawn. No parking fee. There is even a bus stop!

Where do you hike in the clouds?


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?