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?

PEZ Pole in Sunnyvale with a sign that reads: Das PEZler

Safari in the Neighborhood – Sunnyvale PEZ Pole

Close up of multiple PEZ dispensers.

Not only PEZ dispensers are displayed on the front lawn at 298 Leota Ave in Sunnyvale, there are all sorts of toys and little trinkets. The PEZ Pole is the description you get from Google maps, the sign on the pole says: Das PEZLER – a German collection? PEZ dispensers are pinned to a power pole. A lot of Santas from different time periods it seems, but also favorite Disney characters, snowmen and bunnies. The PEZ lunchbox knows: “PEZ makes you smile!”

Plastic dinosaur looking at a succulent.

The other things that made me smile are the dinosaurs fighting plastic soldiers – not the fighting, just the ingenious re-use of plastic toys! The dinosaurs are next to succulents which makes them excellent objects for a photo safari! But behold the giraffes assembled across from them! If you enjoy statues this place has you covered too! Buddhas sit together with Madonnas, angels, a menorah, and a dreamcatcher – a peaceful sight indeed. 

Overall it is a great place to explore and discover. If you are tired of walking around in your neighborhood I suggest stopping by this place and let your kids count the PEZ Santas, or photograph other objects. 

Peace figures in the front lawn in Sunnyvale.

Thank you whoever put out the effort to entertain us in such an amusing way! You can email them at flowerpowercorner at gmail.com if you have any comments, ideas, or suggestions.

Where do you go on a photo-neighborhood-safari?

By the way, to all the PEZ aficionados, the PEZ museum in Burlingame is permanently closed. To see what it was like check out my blog post: Sweeten your Museum Visit


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.

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.

Ducks in the levee at Baylands Park, Sunnyvale.

Birdwatching in Sunnyvale’s Baylands Park

Anywhere by the Bay is a great spot for birdwatching. We walked the other day at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale. While we were pondering about which turn to make, a biker stopped and asked if we were looking for the birds? We weren’t, but our sense of adventure told us that we should follow his advice and turn right. “There are tons of birds!”, he said.

Birds at Baylands Park, Sunnyvale.

He was right. Once we crossed the levee a swarm of birds started their tree hopping, hoping we would not catch up with them. In the water were ducks and seagulls, and I believe a pair of egrets. I am not an avid birdwatcher, but it is fun nonetheless to see so many different kinds.

My favorite birds were black on top and white on the bottom with bright orange feet. If someone knows what they are, please let me know in the comment section below!

Usually volunteers from the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society offer free one-hour birding tours each first Wednesday at Baylands. Due to COVID-19 restrictions SCVAS has put together self-guided and virtual field trips. There is a great YouTube video from Mike Ambrose showing the winter birds of Baylands Park. 

Sign at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale that says: Sorry about the odor.

In the summer month an increased algae bloom can make the Baylands Park a bit smelly. The ponds are part of a solar salt farm. As the algae dies off, it produces hydrogen sulfide, H2S,  which has a characteristic odor of rotten eggs. 

Weeds covered in feathers at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale.

I did enjoy the weeds on our path covered in little feathers. A spontaneous art installation!

Where do you go bird watching?

If you want to explore more in Sunnyvale you might enjoy my article about 50 things to do in Sunnyvale

Keep Safe. Use Social Distancing. 6 ft apart. Groups of 10 person or less.

Share your COVID-19 Experiences

Everybody agrees that these are strange and unprecedented times. The new normal will be walking around with a mask and getting used to not touching our faces. To survive a pandemic is an accomplishment and we are bound to record this as best as we can.

A lot of local history museums in the Bay Area are accepting your quarantine stories, photos, and other media.

San Francisco

Sign in front of a bar in Mountain View offering white flour, yeast and toilet paper. Plus a delivery robot.

California Historical Society, the official historical society for the State of California, has a website with a form to invite you to answer a few questions about your experience with COVID-19.

https://californiahistoricalsociety.org/initiatives/tell-your-story-california-during-the-time-of-covid-19/

Some local history museums are also collecting your descriptions of the pandemic. 

Cupertino

Cupertino residents may share their experiences and media with Cupertino’s Historical Society. They have an online submission form: 

bit.ly/CupertinoCOVID19

Sunnyvale

One Way sign at the Safeway in Sunnyvale.

If you documented COVID-19 related events in Sunnyvale, please submit them to the Sunnyvale Historical Society and Museum Association: 

https://heritageparkmuseum.org/blog/documenting-the-sunnyvale-experience-of-covid-19

Los Altos

Sign at a busstop in Mountain View. Is this an Essential Trip? Yes -> Okay to Ride. No -> Why are you even here reading this?-> Go Home. Stay Home. Stop the Spread.

The Los Altos History Museum is asking residents of Santa Clara County to submit and share your stories, photographs, or other items documenting your experience with COVID-19. https://www.losaltoshistory.org/documenting-covid-19-in-santa-clara-county/

Campbell

The Campbell Historical Museum is also asking for artifacts and journals that represent this crisis.

https://www.campbellmuseums.com/how-to-document-the-covid-19-pandem

Disposable glove trashed in a parking lot.

Santa Cruz

is planning on an exhibit with your submissions. In These Uncertain Times is scheduled from October 16th, 2020 to April 4th, 2021 the MAH will exhibit how daily lives have changed in the pandemic through community-sourced artwork.

https://santacruzmah.org/exhibitions/uncertain-times

Artist are also asked to share their work at the Tenderloin Museum’s virtual gallery

http://www.tenderloinmuseum.org/shelterinplace to show life under lockdown: Shelter In Place

Writing about this time might help you to work through it. How are you coping?

If I missed a history museum in the area that also collects submissions, please add your information in the comment section. 

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?

Play some foot golf

Play some foot golf

As an early Father’s Day present we went to Sunken Gardens golf course in Sunnyvale to treat dad to a round of foot golf.

The rules are simple and the holes are 21 inches wide. You can rent the #5 balls at the front desk.

Kicking the ball at foot golf, Sunken Garden in SunnyvaleCall them ahead and book your tee time. You will be mixed in with other golfers. Sunken Garden is a smaller nine hole course so watch out for flying golf balls. We almost got hit but then it flew over us and hit the house behind us!

I also learned about basic golf course etiquette. Be quiet when someone tees off, yell ‘FOUR’ when your golf ball strays towards other people and don’t walk on the green if your game is foot golf. Foot golf hole at Sunken Garden, Sunnyvale

Overall it took us about an hour and a half. We were surprised how tricky, in a good way, some holes were. All the hills made for an interesting strategic game.  

Someone at the front desk was asking what the appeal was since in soccer you shot pretty straight. I guess it is more like golf with less equipment and a ball that doesn’t go enough astray that you have to worry about the people around you.

Happy Father’s Day!

Have you played foot golf before?

 

Silicon Valley open studios directory

Chat with an artist

3 weekends

360+ artists

28 cities

150+ locations

These are the impressive statistics for the Silicon Valley Open Studios in the first three weekends in May 2018.

Silicon Valley open studios directoryEach weekend is dedicated to an area in Silicon Valley. Nonetheless, some artist’s work can be seen in multiple locations. The best place to start this adventure is by downloading the directory or checking out their website and consulting the map. You might also find the directory at a newspaper vending machine in the area.

Once you are on the road look for sandwich boards with arrows and “open studio”. This makes for a fun treasure hunt before you get to the treasure!

Chatting with the artist is encouraged. After all, the motto for the Open Studios is Connecting artists to the arts enthusiast. So, please ask questions, be enthusiastic, and buy a piece of art.

 

2018 Open Studio Dates – 11am to 5pm

WEEKEND 1: Northern Area – May 5th – 6th

Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Hillsborough, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo, Stanford, South San Francisco, and Woodside

WEEKEND 2: Central Area – May 12th – 13th

East Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, Stanford, Sunnyvale.

WEEKEND 3: Southern Area/Pacific Coast – May 19th – 20th

Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, San Jose, and Saratoga, El Granada, Half Moon Bay, Miramar, Montara, Moss Beach, and Pacifica

 

Have you in previous years explored the Silicon Valley Open Studios?

 

Set of bowls at the Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling Club

Bowl on a lawn

Pauline explaining lawn bowling at the Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling ClubHave you seen my list of 50 things to do in Sunnyvale? Number 36 on the list (not in any order) is Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling. The club invited me and a group of my friends to come check out the game. Joe, a lawn bowl Hall of Famer, and Pauline were our coaches for a beautiful Sunday afternoon lawn bowling session. We learned all about the Jack (a small white ball) and the bowls that you roll at the Jack.

A game easy to learn – and hard to master. Joe, explaining lawn bowling at the Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling Club

 

Joe and Pauline were constantly helping and correcting us, but in a fun way. This sport is also relatively inexpensive. You have to join a club near you, but they usually let you use their bowls for a while to try out the right size for you. I think every club around the area has a drop-in policy where you can check out the game.

 

There are quite a few places in the Bay Area to try out lawn bowling.

Rossmoor Walnut Creek Lawn Bowling Club

Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club

Oakland Lawn Bowling Club

San Jose Lawn Bowls

Santa Clara Lawn Bowls Club

Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling Club

Palo Alto Lawn Bowls Club

Santa Cruz Bowls Club

San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club

 

who is closest?Our whole group had a fun time, and we all agreed we would love to bowl again.

Thank you again Joe and Pauline for a great Sunday afternoon!

 

Have you ever bowled on a lawn?