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?


Santa Cruz Warriors

Cheer on the G team

G team Santa Cruz warm up.

For some of us seeing the Golden State Warriors is out of the price range. A more budget friendly option I can recommend is to see the Santa Cruz Warriors – the G league team of the Golden State Warriors. 

Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz.

The Stadium is, as the name suggests, in Santa Cruz, in the Kaiser Permanente Arena. Parking is tight, so arriving early would be the first tip. They usually hand out t-shirts or other cool merchandise and you can stock up on your favorite game foods and drinks, if you do.

What the seating chart doesn’t tell you is the first five rows are seats and the next eight rows are benches. I would definitely make sure next time we are in the blue seats. Nonetheless every seat has a good view of the court. You could still hear the squeaking of the sneakers from our 10th row seat. It felt very close to the team, but at the same time very local – the halftime show was adorable performed by a local dance class, the girl who sang the Star Spangled Banner was no older than twelve.

G Team scores.

We got to see the Warriors getting crushed by the Windy City Bulls, but left with the feeling we just saw a rising star with Bol Bol, who scored a career high 21 points for his Chicago team that night. But SC Warriors also might have a rising star: Smailagic, a Serbian native and the youngest player in the G league history. Three current SC Warriors players, including Smailagic, are also on the Golden State roster.  In fact, it is not unusual to see a rising star – and some now Warriors might even come and watch a game (we did spot Ky Bowman in the audience). 

Have you ever cheered on the G team?


Clive McCarthy's painting at San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.

Get inspired by art

It’s always great to go see some art. If the admission is free and the art contemporary what holds you back?

Stephnie Syjocu, Total Transparency Filter at San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.

The San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ISA) is located in the hip SoFa district. They regularly participate in the South First Fridays Art Walk, a self-guided nighttime tour through downtown’s art institutions.

Currently there are four exhibits running till the middle of March. 

Sense of Self – Bay Area photographers explore the subject of self. Artists are Marcela Pardo Ariza, Tammy Rae Carland, Erica Deeman, Jamil Hellu, and Stephanie Syjuco.

Electronic Paintings – by Clive McCarthy.

Chimera – by Stas Orlovski

LGBTQ+ Youth Space – a continued discussion about self and identity by the LGBTQ+ Youth Space. 

Mark your calendar: March 6th, 2020, First Friday will be co-hosted by the LGBTQ Youth Space and will feature performances, activities, and workshops around topics of identity, representation, and empowerment.

Clive McCarthy's painting at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.

Clive McCarthy’s electronic paintings were my favorites. Large computer generated images, newly invented with each brush stroke of the pixel palette, creates a movie like assemble of an image. To mix up his generative art – art created by a computer algorithm – he will change the image sets every two weeks. You can even review his code in a separate room across from the lobby.

ISA is open every day of the week except on Mondays. Admission is free.

Where do you go to be inspired by art?

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?


Gingerbread house, Los Altos

Find the gingerbread houses

The 32nd annual gingerbread exhibit in Los Altos had to relocate from its usual location, the now demolished Hillview Community Center. (It will be rebuilt). This year you can stroll through Los Altos downtown in search of the gingerbread creations. From December 10th to the 22nd of December, eight businesses and City Hall are showcasing locally made gingerbread houses. 

Gingerbread house, Los Altos

In each location, you can pick up a passport that lists all locations that have the gingerbread houses. But you have to find the first one! Once you find one, you can have your visit stamped. Some places let you hunt for it; some have multiple houses to show off; one had a little quiz.

Gingerbread house, Los Altos.

On December 19th, 2019, from 4-6:30pm, all participants, their families, and hosting businesses are invited to a Gingerbread Exhibit Crawl in Downtown Los Altos followed by a special reception at the Los Altos Youth Center. 

While I started out looking for the exhibit I stumped a few businesses asking for it. A lovely helper at Linden Tree bookstore called the city to ask where they were, I went to my first place, received the passport, but no edible house to view. It turns out the distribution wasn’t as smooth. (With such fragile deliveries, all needed to be done carefully, and hence ran a bit behind.)

Also the  Linden Tree store keeper referred us to a two-story, life-sized gingerbread house in the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. I’m sure that one is hard to miss.

Gingerbread house, Los Altos.

The four gingerbread houses at city hall are right by the entrance. I wasn’t able to get my passport stamped, as everyone was busy helping customers. If you can get all the stamps you can show your completed passport to the Recreation and Community Services desk (400 University Ave), you will be entered to win a gift card. 

Have you seen gingerbread houses around?


Rows of gifts at the Family Giving Tree warehouse.

Master your gift giving

If you belong to a church group, your kids are in boy scouts/girl scouts, or some similar groups, you might have your volunteer schedule for the holidays covered.

If you are still looking to give back this season I might have an idea for you.

Holiday Wish Drive cards from Family Giving Tree.

Have any of your coworkers displayed Family Giving Tree wish cards? Please grab one of these cards and give the gift of giving. I know that some large companies in the Bay Area have cards like these in the reception area and you would drop off your purchased gift with them.

You can also lead a drive. This means you will pick up these cards from Family Giving Tree and post specific wish cards in a well-traveled area, or give them out to your coworkers, friends, or family members . Then you would collect the gifts and drop them off at the warehouse. I don’t know why they don’t call it something like elf helper? 

Little girl wrapping a gift at the Family Giving Tree warehouse.

Since 1990 the Family Giving Tree (FGT) has provided more than one million gifts for Bay Area children, low income families and seniors. Their promise is to give an exact gift. If a person only gets one gift in the Holiday season, an exact gift, something he or she really wanted, can make all the difference.

Little boy playing with the gifts while his dad is wrapping gifts at the Family Giving Tree warehouse.


Last year I answered the call of FGT to help out at a warehouse in Santa Clara to wrap gifts. This was a two hour shift in a cold warehouse, but you just joined some people, made new friends, and shared some scissors and wrapping paper and off you went to beautify these gifts.

It was amazing to see all these volunteers; the volume of gifts warmed my heart.

Please consider volunteering this Holiday season.

Timeline for Seeing Picasso at the Pace Gallery, Palo Alto.

See Picasso

Seeing Picasso is the title of an exquisite exhibit at the Pace Gallery in Palo Alto. I urge every art lover to drop by and see the collection. 

Front window of the Pace Gallery in Palo Alto.

Currently the windows are covered up at the Pace Gallery. Only the front door is announcing the opening hours. It feels like some mysterious, secretive place.

iPad for the audio tour at Pace Gallery, Palo Alto.

When you enter you are greeted by the friendly staff. If you like, you can borrow an iPad and a headset to enjoy an audio tour for a “chronological survey of Picasso” led by Alexander Nemerov.

The audio tour was fun and informative. The poetic explanations definitely point you in new directions while admiring the artwork. 

My favorite painting was The Dead Casagemas (1901) which is considered to be the start of Picasso’s Blue Period. Casagemas, Picasso’s best friend killed himself; he obviously left Picasso in sorrow. 

After seeing a huge Picasso exhibit once in Berlin I highly recommend taking your toddler. Mine, at the time, had a blast and sometimes a better access to the art. 

Timeline for Seeing Picasso, Pace Gallery, Palo Alto.

I liked the timeline in the foyer, starting with Picasso’s birth (1881) till his death (1973). Picasso’s milestones are interspersed with inventions and other important events at that time, putting Picasso in the context of his generation. 

Seeing Picasso will be shown till February 16th, 2020 at the Pace Gallery, 229 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto. Admission is free.

Have you seen Picasso?

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?

Resources:

http://diadelosmuertos.nationalhispaniccenter.org/

Sandwich board advertising Los Altos First Friday.

Dance on the sidewalk

Many cities in the Bay Area have a First Friday established. San Jose, Oakland, Campbell and Santa Cruz, to name a few.

Band playing in front of Linden Tree bookstore, Los Altos.

I always wanted to go to one, so two weeks ago Friday was my first. Since I did 50 things to do in Los Altos, but missed out on the First Friday, this was my time.

I was early and most of the musicians were still setting up at 6 pm. But by 6:30 pm every corner of downtown was filling the air with music. All different styles are present from polka to rock and folk.

Band playing on State and Main, First Friday, Los Altos.

Livin la vida loca was the opener from a band that played on one of the larger stages on the corner of State and Main. To the side were the girls from the dance school, nervously awaiting their turn; around the picnic tables, people feasting on carry out; an elderly group enjoying wine and tapas; a couple dancing. Los Altos knows how to party!

Drummer of the Ruse, First Friday, Los Altos.

I liked the Ruse, a trio of high schoolers that played next to the Tasting Room. Ready to rock, they were constricted by someone who thought the drums were too loud. They made the best of it while waiting for a damper. I’m sure they will play a lot of First Fridays, and who knows, eventually stand on a large stage. 

View into Viewpoint Gallery, Los Altos.

First Fridays are, of course, happening on the first Friday of the month in Los Altos from 6 to 8pm. Some stores might be open longer and the two galleries in town usually have receptions. 

What a great way to invite you to linger downtown. 

Do you like to dance on the sidewalk?


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?