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.

Two women hugging each other. Rise in Solidarity.

Declare Solidarity in Oakland’s Chinatown

I came to Oakland’s Chinatown to see the Moments of Expressions exhibit by Peter Gee at the Oakland Asian Culture Center. From May 1st to June 20th, 2021 the OACC is showing a window and gallery exhibit. To see the inside gallery you have to schedule an appointment on their website, no walk-ins are possible.

Sign for Peter Gee's exhibit Moment of Expressions.

I wasn’t sure what time I would be able to go over. Therefore I decided early to skip the inhouse option and just see the window display. The OACC is located in the Pacific Renaissance Plaza nestled between Franklin and Webster and 11th and 9th. I walked up the stairs to the OACC and saw a collection of the pictures in one window. I wandered around to see if there were more displays, but if there were I missed them. 

Murals in Oakland's Chinatown

Going down the escalator opposite the Center I noticed the murals. These paintings are hiding the fact that a lot of businesses boarded up their stores. With an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans many businesses took extra precaution by boarding up their storefronts and shortening their hours. A lot of the paintings are expressing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. However, there are also thoughtful and funny images. 

Murals in Oakland's Chinatown.

Have you been to Oakland’s Chinatown?

If you like murals you might want to check out another of my posts: the 100 Murals project in San Jose.

Resources:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/09/california-arrest-attack-oakland-chinatown-asian-hate-crimes

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/man-charged-with-assault-hate-crime-for-attack-in-oakland/ar-BB1gkmXV

Wildflowers at East Glenwood Preserve

Cherish the Wildflowers at Glenwood Preserve, Scotts Valley

Grazing cow along the Glenwood Preserve, Scotts Valley.

Glenwood Preserve has two entrances – the east and the west, that lead to over seven miles of trails. We decided to go to the East Glenwood entrance and followed the red path. A short 1.2 mile hike, not too hard in elevation changes and with some shade along the way. The trail is open to hikers and horses, but because of the grazing cows, no bikers or dogs are allowed. The red trail leads you by a pond with a lot of water lilies in it.

Lili pad in the pond of the East Glenwood Preserve.

I misjudged the sun’s intensity and came back with a sunburn. So, make sure you bring plenty of water, a hat, and sunscreen. Bathrooms are at the adjacent park. We did not see the endangered Ohlone Tiger beetle that is endemic to the Santa Cruz Mountains. They come out late January to early April to mate and lay their eggs. But there are a lot of wildflowers still in bloom. 

California poppies at the Glenwood Preserve, Scott Valley.

I found the wildflowers plentiful – not like a superbloom, but many varieties, like the California poppy and lupine. If you like to look up what flowers are blooming, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District has published the Sierra Azul Wildflower Guide with 100 of the most common species. 

East Glenwood Open Space Preserve is open sunrise to sunset.

Lupine at the East Glenwood Preserve.

Where do you go to see wildflowers?

For more ideas on wildflower hikes you should check out my post: Hunt for wildflowers.

Or these websites:

https://hilltromper.com/article/spring-wildflower-hikes-santa-cruz-county

https://www.openspace.org/visit-a-preserve/plants-wildlife/wildflowers

Entrance of Nola's Iris Garden, San Jose.

Admire the Multitude of Irises at Nola‘s Iris Garden, San Jose

Iris in bloom.

Nola’s Iris Garden is an insider tip for iris lovers. The garden is only open April – May. So, mark your calendars if you like irises!

I drove up Sierra Road, the east foothills of San Jose. Halfway up my ears started popping and regretted that there is no place to stop to admire the view over San Jose.

Fountain surrounded by irises at Nola's Iris Garden.

Nola’s Iris Garden sprawls a whooping 5 acres of irises of all colors and sizes. I counted four different garden areas. If there was a pattern to these areas I was not able to see it. They all had a mixture of colors and great names like Pass the Shades and Wishful Thinking.

There is no admission to see the garden. In fact, it is not obvious that you could purchase these irises. They definitely have their website set up, so you can browse and contact them if you made a purchasing decision. 

Iris at Nola's Iris Garden, San Jose.

Opening hours are Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm.

Nola’s Iris Garden is located 4195 Sierra Road in San Jose.

Do you have an insider tip for me?

Read the post about the iris garden in Willow Glen. It has a fascinating history! 

Streetview of the fairy houses at Fairy Glen, San Jose.

Spot some Fairies at Fairy Glen, San Jose

Fairy house with 'open kitchen' in Fairy Glen, San Jose.

I like finding these enchanted places in the neighborhood. Fairy Glen, is a tiny community of fairy houses nested in the Willow Glen neighborhood in San Jose. While driving down Celestine Avenue I noticed something that I first mistook for birdhouses. On closer inspection I could almost encounter the residents. Traces of their busy lives all around, from shiny stones to a complete open kitchen!

Fairy door in a tree at Fairy Glen.

There are doors to open at the height perfect for little kids. Some houses seem to float in the trees. It is really a magical place and a welcome distraction from the real world when you enter Fairy Glen.

Fairy houses hanging from a tree.

A few rules for the Fairy spotters:

You can bring a little token and leave it for a fairy to find.

There is even a mailbox. So if you have a wish or hope write it down and who knows?

Leave everything in place, the fairies get distracted if something moves or is missing.

Thank you, Lili Ghazian, the fairy godmother. I spotted her working on a new housing project across the street. You have inspired me.

Her latest fairy development is in Sunnyvale, on Pome Ave off of Fremont. 

Resources:

https://abc7news.com/san-jose-fairy-house-wonderland-coronavirus-shelter-in-place/6126186/

Check out my blog post about neighborhood walks for more ideas!

Sign at the entrance of Valley Verde, San Jose.

Buy Seedlings from Valley Verde, San Jose

Herbs at Valley Verde. The sign reads: When you purchase these seedlings you are actively supporting Valley Verde's work to foster Food Sovereignty in our local communities!

It’s spring time. Perfect time to plant some vegetables. Valley Verde in San Jose not only sells multi-ethnic, hard to find seedlings, like bitter melons and okra, they also offer food justice programs for the community. The Food Justice Movement improves access to healthy, nutritious food in food insecure areas and recognizes the structural barriers communities of color face reaching food sovereignty.   

I remember when the pandemic started I saw some news report that Valley Verde had to cancel their annual seedling fair. Instead they gave away seedlings to underserved members of the community, encouraging them to grow their own healthy food. They managed to deliver seedlings to 400 families. To make this generous idea even more sustainable they partnered with the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition to deliver the seedlings by bike.

Tomato seedlings at Valley Verde. Sign lists available tomato varieties.

If you don’t have your own garden (yet) but feel like you should contribute you can of course donate time or money and spread the word. In fact their event calendar makes it real easy for people to sign up to volunteer.

Now in a location that allows them to sell every day you can find Valley Verde’s seedlings at 59 S Autumn St, San Jose. Valley Verde is open from 9 am – 4 pm.

Are you a supporter of food justice?

Other food programs you might consider volunteering for are Village Harvest or the Forge Garden.

Steel structure to remember IBM Building 025 in San Jose.

Visit the Birthplace of the Industrial Campus, IBM Building 025, San Jose

Here in Silicon Valley we are used to the idea of the Industrial Campus. Google’s headquarters in Mountain View is a great example of this. Office buildings are arranged in close proximity giving it a college campus feel. The prototype of a campus style office complex, from the 1950s, is the IBM Building 025 in San Jose. 

Memorial structure for IBM Building 025 in the Lowe's parking lot on Cottle Rd in San Jose.

In 2008 the remains of the Advanced Research Building 25 burned down (https://www.mercurynews.com/2008/03/08/fire-guts-san-joses-historic-ibm-building-25/). Nowadays there is only a structure that serves as a monument for this building. The steel construct, on the parking lot of a hardware store, also has information panels explaining the history.

Monument for the IBM Building 025, showing information panels.

In 1957 the 210-acre Cottle Road Campus was designed with low rise buildings, art, and a cafeteria. The steel structures with the brick walls and extensive use of glass heralded the era of New Modernist Industrial style. A good access to roads and the proximity to ample services made this concept highly desirable for the workforce.

This is one of three places claiming to be the birthplace of Silicon Valley. The other two are the HP garage and Shockley’s Semiconductor.

Where do you think is the birthplace of Silicon Valley?

The memorial for IBM Building 025 is located at 2-992 Cottle Rd, San Jose, CA 95123

Resources:

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/09/silicon-valley-full-superfund-sites/598531/

https://thesixfifty.com/five-fascinating-finds-from-the-archives-of-silicon-valleys-computer-history-museum-d80659afe690

https://onezero.medium.com/the-birthplace-of-the-hard-drive-is-now-a-lowes-parking-lot-1729a23dea66

https://designobserver.com/feature/a-memorial-to-random-access-memory/32218

Steps from above at Communications Hills, San Jose.

Count the Steps at Communications Hill, San Jose

Steps from above at Communications Hill, San Jose.

Walking around the neighborhood has become a necessity. Sometimes it is great to get some variety in. I highly recommend the steps of Communications Hill in San Jose. Not only do you get a great view of the Diablo Mountain range but you can switch up your exercise with stepping up the hill. 

Diablo Mountain view from Communications Hill, San Jose.

The Communications Hill community also has an interesting history. The Tamyem People mined cert, crystals of quartz, the mineral form of silicon dioxide. In 1777 Juan Bautista de Anza established the first pueblo-town in California not associated with a mission or military post. The Oak Hill Memorial Park, located on the north side of the hill, is the oldest secular cemetery in California. Further use of the land includes mining cinnabar, a vineyard, and a dairy farm. Now it is an urban neighborhood and popular exercise spot. Parking is a challenge since there are neighborhood restrictions.

Communications Hill is located east of 87 at Hillsdale Ave and south easterly of Curtner Ave. Here is a trail map of the parks and facilities.

People exercising at Communications Hill.

Since I lost count I would appreciate your comments on how many steps it takes.

Have you climbed up Communications Hill?

If you need other neighborhood walk ideas check out my blog post about Neighborhood Walks.

Entrance sign for the Land of Medicine Buddha.

Find Solace at the Land of Medicine Buddha

In the forest in Soquel is the Buddhist retreat of the Land of Medicine Buddha. The doors to the retreat are open to the public every day from 7 am to 5:30 pm. 

Sign for the 8 verses trail hike at the Land of Medicine Buddha.

We came here to walk the 8 verses loop trail, a 1.2 mile hike in the sacred Santa Cruz mountain setting. Parking is generally limited and you can use one of the offsite spots. But we found spots available during the week.

Prayer wheel at the Buddist retreat in Soquel.

You are greeted by prayer wheels and encouraged to walk around spinning them. The verses are spaced out and have a bench to contemplate. 

At the end of the hike is the dog blessings area. Dogs are welcome on leash. There are a few rules you should obey, e.g. talking in a low voice and not killing any animals, including bugs. 

Buddha trinket on a redwood stump.

The store for the Land of Medicine Buddha is only open Friday to Monday noon – 5 pm. But you can also order online.

Donations are encouraged. Right now they match all online donations up to $8,888 until the end of February.

Where do you find solace?

While in the area pick up some fresh eggs from Glaum.

The Tasmienne Monument with the Coyote Creek in the back.

Decode a Mysterious Plaque – Coyote Creek, San Jose

Metcalfe bridge, Coyote Creek Trail San Jose.

The other day I parked at the Coyote Creek Lake parking lot and walked south over the Metcalfe bridge. The paved trail is part of the Ridge Trail and also part of the National Recreational Trail system. You can bike all the way to Morgan Hill. A few more steps after the bridge you’ll see a plaque on the right. Covered in dirt, but still visible are 0 and 1s. On closer inspection the words Santa Clara Valley appear on top of the binary code.

The Tamienne Monument, with Santa Clara Valley written on it.

I found the Tamienne Monument, or, as some websites also call it, The Center of Santa Clara Valley. This marker is not monumental at all. The plaque can be overlooked. The binary hints to Silicon Valley, the Tamienne reference suggests a misspelling of the Tamyen people who once lived in the Valley.

There is no acknowledgement of the creator and it is not listed in the public art repository of San Jose. For the binary it is less mysterious, I can spoil this for you:

Binary – Hex – ACSII char

01010011 – 53 – S

01100001 – 61 – a

01101110 – 6E – n

01110100 – 74 – t

01100001 – 61 – a

00100000 – 20 – ” ” (space)

01000011 – 43 – C

01101100 – 6C – l

01100001 – 61 – a

01110010 – 72 – r

01100001 – 61 – a

00100000 – 20 – ” ” (space)

01010110 – 56 – V

01100001 – 61 – a

01101100 – 6C – l

01101100 – 6C – l

01100101 – 65 – e

01111001 – 79 – y

What do you know about the Center of Santa Clara Valley?

If you like to bike around San Jose, the Three Creeks Trail in San Jose is another option.

Resources:

https://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM9AJ5_Geographic_Center_of_Santa_Clara_Valley_California

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coyote_Creek_Trail

https://www.americantrails.org/resources/coyote-creek-trail-san-jose-trail-network-california