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?

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?

Did you know that Sunol had a dog as mayor?


Skeletons dancing in Redwood City.

Celebrate the Dead

Usually I try to tell you about things that you can do after reading this. For this post you have to make a note and make sure you will check this out next year. 

Stage in front of the Courthouse in Redwood City.

The Dia de los Muertos Festival in Redwood City is an annual celebration of the Mexican holiday, also known in English as the Day of the Dead. For the ninth time last Sunday, the Casa Circulo Cultural, a Redwood City Hispanic cultural organization, in collaboration with the San Mateo History Museum, the Friends of the Library, and Redwood City Parks and Arts Foundation  organize one of the largest festivals of Hispanic culture in the Bay Area.

Skeleton in front of the courthouse in Redwood City.

The Dia de los Muertos was made popular outside of Mexico by the Pixar/Disney movie Coco. One of the performances at the festival sang a Coco song.

Women in traditional outfits, Redwood City.

Largely celebrated in Mexico, and by Mexicans in the US, the festivities span for three days. It is a lively event that remembers the dead and believes that in this window of time you can spend time with lost ones. 

On altars they put a picture of the ones who have passed and their favorite things and food items. The marigold seems to be the predominant flower of this day. People also wear ‘skulls’ as face paint and traditional clothing.

Altar displayed at the courthouse, Redwood City.

The Dia de los Muertos Festival has altar displays, traditional music and dances. There were food stands and  lots of gift items for sale. Each year the event seems to grow in popularity. We waited in line almost 45 minutes to see the altars in the Courthouse building!

I love this tradition for remembering the dead. 

How do you remember the dead in your life?

If you like cemeteries I can recommend Colma. The city’s population of 1792 (2010) has seventeen cemeteries – , including one for pets.

Resources:

http://diadelosmuertos.nationalhispaniccenter.org/

Catherine Brennan Memorial Rose Garden, Redwood City

Discover the Redwood City rose garden

Fountain at the Catherine Brennan Memorial Rose Garden, Redwood City Sometimes by wandering around I discover the most wonderful things. The other day, while I looked around at the Red Morton Community Park  in Redwood City I was surprised by the blooming roses. A fountain in the middle with some ram heads spilling out the water. Rose petals decorating some of the water’s surface.  

Rose at the Catherine Brennan Memorial Rose Garden, Redwood City It is a small garden with a large variety of fragrant roses. The Catherine Brennan Memorial Rose Garden was established in 1968. It is named after the woman who proposed developing a municipal rose garden but sadly died two years before the opening.Mosaic art work at Catherine Brennan Memorial Rose Garden, Redwood City

I love the quote I found embedded in a mosaic art work:” A single rose can be my garden…A single friend my world.” by Leo Buscagila.

Have you been to the Catherine Brennan Memorial Rose Garden?

 

More information about Redwood City’s fascinating history of their parks can be found in the PDF:

The Story of Redwood City Parks 1937 – 1987

 

Storefront of The Record Man, Redwood City

Browse vinyls at The Record Man

Records and listening station at The Record Man, Redwood CityOn entering The Record Man store in Redwood City I got greeted by Gary the owner. “What brings you in today?” I replied: “I heard it is an institution.” And I was right. Not only is this a magnificent place to shop for records – they have over a million vinyls – there are ten (!) rooms to wander. Some rooms have record players to listen to your finds.

Records and DVDs at The Record Man, Redwood CityThere is also a store in the back for DVD’s, video games and even comic books. If you like a deal they have their annual parking lot sale in October where each record is $1. To be up-to-date on the parking lot sale you should join the mailing list archives@recordman.com.

Two things that are not for sale are the two paper mache dogs of Nipper, the HMV (His Masters Voice) loPaper mache Nipper at The Record Man, Redwood Citygo of the British record label.

Gary told me after 30 years of reinventing himself as The Record Man, the store has two more years in the current location.

This is indeed an institution! I hope it will survive somehow somewhere in the Bay Area.

Have you browsed records lately?

 

Phil Shao Memorial Skate Park Redwood City

Alley-oop in the Phil Shao Memorial Skate Park

Phil Shao Memorial Skate Park Redwood CityOkay, I cheated. I don’t really know skate lingo. I googled it and trusted the Oxford Dictionaries on a cool phrase. An alley-oop is described by the Oxford Dictionaries as follows: “If the board spins in the same direction to the skateboarder’s body but in the opposite direction to that which they are facing, this is an alley-oop, from the French allez (the imperative form of the verb aller ‘to go’). Alley-oop has been used for around a century as an exclamation in the manner of ‘get up!’ or ‘go on!’, used to encourage or draw attention to the performance of an acrobatic or other physical feat, especially one involving a leap or lift upwards.

I also never really stood on a skateboard. But this is not about me. My dear readers who might be interested in this helter-skelter activity you should check out the Phil Shao Memorial Skate Park in Redwood City.

Phil Shao Memorial Skate Park Redwood CityThe name uncovers a sad event – Phil Shao was a legend in the skating world. He grew up in Redwood City and studied English at UC Berkeley. He taught many young people the joy of skateboarding. Unfortunately his life was taken, in August 1998, by a drunk driver.

In 2003 Redwood City opened the 13,000 square foot skate park. Helmets are required and safety gear is encouraged. You can’t take your bike in (a $100 fine!).  Opening hours are from dawn to dusk, except when the sports lights are on, then the park closes at 10pm.

Have you ever done an alley-oop?

 

Lazy Daisies part of the Shadow Art series by Damon Belanger

Go on a shadowy treasure hunt

Most of the time walking in a city I feel like people should look up more. I mean really up. The old storefronts, birds that huddle together in the same directions on a lamp post, and murals are treats only to be discovered by a slight change of perspective.

Railbots part of the Shadow Art series by Damon BelangerLooking down can also be rewarding especially in Redwood City were Damon Belanger was chosen for the sidewalk art project in 2016. Belanger received the HOW International Design Award for the shadow art he created all around downtown Redwood City.

Dog the Cat part of the Shadow Art series by Damon BelangerAll over downtown you can be greeted by dragons, scared by monsters seemingly coming out of the mailbox, or meet a dog casting it’s shadow out of a bench. You will find a lot of whimsical creatures and robots too.

Wild Ride, part of the Shadow Art series by Damon BelangerThe city provides a map with all 20 stations of the shadow artwork. I walked around to find most of them and soon I was looking down and chasing shadows. The trick is to find the non moving objects in the city scape, like benches, water hydrants and lamp posts. Then Belanger’s art casts a shadow of these objects that transform the original and make us wonder, sometimes giggle, about the unique creatures. With a lot of humor and knowledge of the city Belanger made a valuable contribution to the public art scene.

It’s a great frugal adventure for little kids, too.

Have you ever hunted for art shadows?

Mural by Jane Kim

Catch some chrysanthemum

Redwood City used to be know in 1926 as the ‘Chrysanthemum Center of the World’. When Jane Kim was asked to paint six murals the original idea was to have local dogs in funny poses. Now there is only one dog in the series called Flora from Fauna, the rest are local animals like squirrels and foxes all with chrysanthemums.

Mural by Jane KimI love the whimsical idea of the flowers engaging with the animals. Kim brought attention to the historical importance of the flower industry by Japanese immigrants and is also an advocate for wildlife. When I walked around Redwood City I saw 3 of the murals, all impressive in their attention to detail.

 

This is a great addition to the public art works in Redwood City. Mural by Jane Kim

Check out the murals here:

  • Arthur Murray Dance Studio at 2065 Broadway,
  • Cafe La Tartine at 830 Middlefield Road,
  • Polam Federal Credit Union at 770 Marshall St.,
  • Marshall Street Parking Garage at 750 Marshall St.,
  • Behind the theater at 870 Jefferson Ave.
  • City Hall bench

 

For more information:

http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/lnews/2017-03-23/creating-path-for-public-art-downtown-redwood-city-flora-from-fauna-murals-set-to-spark-conversation/1776425177710.html#sthash.VGUr4X8a.dpuf

https://medium.com/redwood-city-voice/historical-blog-series-industries-7d370790d4bc

http://sf.curbed.com/platform/amp/2017/3/24/15053718/redwood-city-jane-kim-murals-art

 

Do you have a favorite mural?

Banner advertising free wild flower walks at Edgewood Park

Hunt for wildflowers

We made it out of the drought and one of the perks after a rainy season is the abundance of wildflowers. While the ‘super-bloom’ refers more to fields in Southern California, here in the Northern part are also fast amounts of wildflowers.

Edgewood park in Redwood City is offering a free docent led tour every Saturday and Sunday at 10 am. This popular event draws so many people that they offer a free shuttle from East Palo Alto over to San Mateo.

Wild flower at Edgewood parkI visited on Tuesday morning and walked by myself. It was a stunning hike, which starts out uphill but shady, and you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view of the Bay. Plus, I found more than 20 different wildflowers along the way. Some of these flowers are tiny, which makes me wonder if our store bought flowers are on steroids.

For your convenience, the Edgewood Park also has a web page dedicated to what’s blooming this month, so you can look up the names of the flowers you saw. Happy hunting!
What is your favorite place to see wildflowers?

Sign for Encore Book in Redwood City

Read a used book

Used books make me feel great – less trash produced and less money spent. Now I have another reason: money raised for the San Mateo Historical Association.

The Encore Books on the Square store below the history museum in Redwood City is one of the largest used bookstores on the Peninsula.  

On April 8th and 9th from 10 am – 3 pm they hold their semi annual book sale; all 50% off.

Paperback section at Encore Books in Redwood CityI just found my book club book for this month there for $1.50. The German section has about 50 books and I loved their extensive cookbooks. The volunteers are very helpful and knowledgeable. I will be back soon.
What is your go-to used bookstore?