A tree wrapped in a blue cloth as part of ArtLift in Palo Alto.

Lift Yourself up by Art – ArtLift in Palo Alto

The Palo Alto Public Art Program called for 40 artists to create ArtLift, to raise the spirit of the community with art projects throughout the city, and to support local artists. Different art displays and installations were started in March 2021 and will run till September. The theme of ArtLift is COVID related, engaging the community to get back together, reconnect, recover, and enjoy, within COVID restrictions.

Tree wrapped with a pink ribbon as part of ArtLift by Robin Mullery.

I went to Rinconada Park to see Bright Existence by Robin Mullery. Inspired by a poem by Brenda Hillman, bright cloth was wrapped around trees to symbolize our distance yet togetherness throughout the pandemic. Bright Existence will be on display until August. Social Distancing Stools by Tara de la Garza, on display from April to June, was another work, also in Rinconada Park. The seats are made of upcycled materials and concrete and spaced 6 feet apart.

On the walk back, I saw a free library and hoped to spot one of the postcards from The Postcard Project that Susan Meade is leaving around town. Follow her on Instagram @swimmersuze to see where she leaves them. 

Social Distancing Stools an art installation at Rinconada Park in Palo Alto.

I’m always up for hunting down art. I like that you might be discovering them by chance. But if you want to plan out the adventure, check out the Program’s website for an interactive map of locations. 

Where do you go to see public art?

Palo Alto is a great place for public art. Here are some more suggestions:

Enjoy Some Art at Byxbee Park

Surf for Free – Tesla Statue in Palo Alto

Also check out my list of 50 things to do in Palo Alto!

Sign for the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center in the background is the boardwalk.

Hope there is Strength in Numbers of the Swallows of Baylands Park

The Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm, and on Saturdays, from 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm. We happened to stroll by on a Sunday and enjoyed the Baylands Boardwalk. Wide enough to keep socially distant, the newly constructed boardwalk overlooks the Bay.

Boardwalk at the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center looking out to the Bay.

The most interesting part were the residents of the Center. Two species of swallows nest at Baylands Park from March to August. The barn swallows nesting under the deck, the cliff swallows prefer the eaves. A constant chirping from above and below. Young swallows asking for food in their nests. One nest right next to another. Little heads peeking out from the openings. You see the parents in their frantic flight in search of food. 

Cliff swallows peeking out of their nests at Baylands Park in Palo Alto.

While the saying goes: “One swallow doesn’t make a spring (or summer)”, explained by Word Histories as meaning “a single fortunate event doesn’t mean what follows will also be good”, we can still hope that the future will have multiple fortunate events. And if you see multiple swallows doesn’t this mean a great future?

Part of the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center, one swallow flying to it.

Do you believe in strength in numbers?


Another bird watching opportunity on the Bay is in Sunnyvale’s Baylands Park.

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?

Gate to the donkey pasture in Bol Park, Palo Alto.

Welcome a new Donkey – Bol Park, Palo Alto

Buddy, a donkey at Bol Park.

A few years ago I wrote a blog post about the Bol Park donkeys. Sadly one of them, Jenny, died in November from old age. In December they got another friend for Perry, Buddy. So, now again there are two donkeys at Bol Park.

Sign for Bol Park, Palo Alto, with the playground in the background.

I parked by the playground and walked south over the bridge at Matadero Creek. On the right you’ll find the donkey pasture. Previously the whole area was a donkey pasture. Dr. Conelius Bol, a Stanford Professor, had six sons and started his donkey herd in 1934. This tradition is preserved by many volunteers for the Barron Park donkeys.

Every Sunday from 10 to 11 am Perry and Buddy get out for a walk. If you like to volunteer to care for the donkeys you can contact barronparkdonkeys AT gmail.com.

D-Mail, a mailbox for your donkey art.

You can encourage your kids to draw the donkeys and be featured at the little showcase next to the pen. Unfortunately they don’t allow the donkeys to be fed. Nonetheless it is nice and peaceful to see them grazing the pasture. 

Have you greeted the donkeys lately?

Resources:

https://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2020/12/07/meet-buddy-the-new-donkey-now-living-in-barron-park

https://punchmagazine.com/barron-park-donkeys/

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!

Sign for Foothills Park at the park's entrance.

Hike a Freed Park – Foothills Park in Palo Alto

After 51 years Palo Alto lost an ACLU case and now has to open its Foothills Park to the public. Previously this gem was only open for Palo Alto residents and their guests. 

Kind of a city wide country club if you will. As a holiday gift to the neighboring people this 1,400-acre park with multiple levels of hiking trails, picnic areas, a lake, and a campground has been open since December 17th 2020. See a PDF park map here.

Fishing pier at Boranda Lake.

The campground, Towle Camp, is open from May to October and you can make reservations online. Fishing is allowed with a licence if you are 16 and older. Boronda Lake prohibits swimming, but non-motorized boats are allowed. Canoes are available for rent, weather permitting, weekends and holidays from May to October. Dogs are only permitted during the week on leash. 

Sign for Woodrat Trail at Foothills Park, Palo Alto.

Of course they have COVID restrictions in place, like social distancing and masks, but the restrooms, except in the Nature Center, are open. Some hiking trails are one-way, but they have trail maps posted everywhere. 

Pole at Panorama Trail with the direction of San Francisco.

I drove up to Panorama Trail first. Taking in the beautiful view. To make it more interesting they put out poles with points of interest to see through pipes . Some of the locations you might spot are Oakland, San Francisco, Mt Diablo, and San Jose. 

Boranda Lake

The hiking trail around the lake was somewhat muddy and I regretted not having switched into my hiking boots. From the main entrance I took the Tayon trail into the Woodrat trail and looped back to my car for a 1.5 mile hike. 

There is a lot to explore here and people were happy to do so. Watch out for bikers on Page Mill Rd!

“Starting Saturday, January 9, every weekend and holiday the entrance to Foothills Park will be closed between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. ” Please check the City of Palo Alto website before you go: https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/…/foothills/default.asp

Have you been to the Foothills Park?

If you like to explore some more of Palo Alto you can check out my page for 50 things to do in Palo Alto, or 50 things to do in Stanford.

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.

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?

Appreciate the MLK Legacy

Appreciate the MLK Legacy

I have spent numerous hours on Stanford’s campus and found 50 things to do. Recently I came across the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute in an article by the Mercury News. The nation’s most comprehensive collection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s writings were entrusted by his widow, Coretta Scott King, in 1985 to Prof. Clayborne Carlson, who is Professor of American History at the university.

Front door of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford.

Sadly the institute, founded in 2005, is underfunded and still housed in its temporary place. Dr. Carlson, the director, will retire this August and so far no replacement to head the institute has been called. 

Why funding of MLK’s heritage is important might be answered by King’s speech “The other America” he gave 1967 at Stanford and, thanks to the Institute, can be watched on YouTube. It still rings true today with America divided in two nations, with different experiences depending on the color of your skin. Amazingly he also talks about the idea of a base income for all people.

Besides its temporary location the center has hosted a remarkable list of guests which includes the Dalai Lama and Jesse Jackson. In early June students came together and founded the #StandWithKing initiative to raise money for the institute. You can sign their petition on change.org or check out the website: bit.ly/StandWithKing  and donate some money to the cause.

Picture of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford.

To learn more about Martin Luther King Jr. the institute put together two online exhibits on the Google Arts & Culture site: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/martin-luther-king-jr-research-education-institute

Would you support the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute?

Resources:

https://thesixfifty.com/watch-martin-luther-king-jr-s-speech-at-stanford-university-about-the-other-america-523e7e05df7