Happy New Year! Goodbye 2020

Recap 2020

What a year this was! 

Goodbye 2020.

Never have I been happier to see a year go.

Grab & Go
Holds Pick up
Physical Distancing Required
Enter from Prarking Lot

I’m thankful for all the hard workers that risk their life daily. I hope you will be vaccinated soon! Sad for all who lost loved ones this year, pandemic related or not.

2020 taught me a lot: 

  • gratitude for modern technology that allows me to stay in contact with friends and family 
  • it opened my eyes wider for the privileged life I live
  • I enjoyed discussions about racism and reflected on my own white fragility
  • It made me realize that we are all social ‘animals’ and we need each other. I’m looking forward to gatherings small and large again when this is over!

I also kept busy while being confined to a shelter in place order for most of the year.

I am happy to share with you my YouTube channel.

My lists on where to go exploring keeps getting longer. Wanderlust for local spots will always be my passion.  To document this I started putting this in a book. Yes, this is as much a teaser as it is a motivation for me to finish 😀 

Highlights of 2020

Anyway, in this COVID ridden year there were a few highlights, or at least hope for something better to come. 

Justice for George Floyd. Art by Oree Originol.

After the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor  people took to the streets in mass protests for BLM. Here again is my list on how you can make sure that Black Lives Matter: Support Black Lives.

VTA essential trip?

Do you want to contribute to record the history we are currently living, please check out my post Share your COVID-19 Experiences.

And let’s not forget about people that lost so much this year. While wildfires raged through most of the Bay Area and people lost their houses (Help the Fire Victims), the pandemic was the reason a lot of people lost their jobs and are in need of food relief programs (Feed People in Need).

Exit with error pointing.

Welcome 2021!

I wish you all a great start into the New Year and hope everyone will have a happier life.

Keep on fighting the good fight.

Peace, Justice, and Joy!

Until Suburbia! 

Shine Bright Cupertino 2020

See the Lights – The Shine Bright Cupertino Light Tour

2020 is almost over, all we have to do is sit and wait. For another sit-in-your-car-adventure, I recommend going on the Shine Bright Cupertino light tour. Cupertino’s neighbors signed on to have their house decorations viewed as you drive by (or walk with your mask on). You can download the map of participating houses as a PDF on the City of Cupertino website.

Shine Bright Cupertino lights tour 2020.

If you liked last week’s post about Robertsville and their lightshow with music you might be delighted at number 21 on the map, 7733 Oak Meadow Court. Tune your radio to 92.9 FM while in the court and be entertained by the music accompanying the lights. You can watch a short version of this on my YouTube channel

I was serenaded by the Muppets!

The best time to view the lights is early nighttime. Most lights get turned off at 10 pm.

Please be careful while driving and if you pull over, respect the homeowners and neighbors. Watch out for pedestrians.

Thank you Cupertino and all participating neighbors!

How do you brighten the season?

Do you have neighborhood lights you like?

Robertsville Lights in San Jose

Drive by Christmas – Robertsville in San Jose

Robertsville Lights in San Jose

Whether you celebrate Christmas or have different traditions for the end of the year, I think it is always nice to walk or drive around and admire the colorful lights and blow-up figurines. I am thankful for the people who enjoy decorating their houses. One of these is a San Jose resident and maker of the Robertsville Lights display. Here more than 6000 tiny bulbs are showing off their sparkle from 5 to 10 pm. And what is Christmas without the tunes we all humm starting Thanksgiving clean-up? This enthusiast has you covered! Tune in your car radio to 101.7 FM while driving by. 

The song list includes classics like ‘Little Drummer Boy’, little people pleasers like ‘Into the Unknown’ from the Frozen soundtrack, but will also surprise you with the ‘Star Wars Medley’.

I made a short YouTube video (1 minute) with Simple Plan – Christmas Every Day, Frozen 2 Soundtrack – Into the Unknown, Selena Gomez – Winter Wonderland. The music titles are usually around 3 minutes long.

Robertsville Lights in San Jose

There used to be an option for the walking crowd but with the current COVID-19 conditions they disabled the outside speaker for now. Enjoy from the comfort of your car and be considerate of the neighbors. If you can’t drive by there you still have the virtual option via YouTube videos on their website.

The lights are up until December 31st.

Address: 4233 Briarglen Drive, San Jose, CA 95118

I also enjoyed the page of Behind the Scene where they talk about how they made the trees. Thank you Robertsville Lights for brightening this season!

Stay healthy and enjoy the season.

What is your favorite holiday display?

Former light display suggestions*:

Admire the lights on Eucalyptus Street

Get in the Christmas spirit

*since we are in a lockdown it might not be possible to walk these streets.

Trees at McClellan Creek Trail

Climb Around Trees at McClellan Creek Trail

McClellan Ranch in Cupertino is an educational ranch with a science center and also hosts the 4H of Cupertino.

Entrance to the McClellan Creek Trail in Cupertino, CA.

If you score a parking spot at the ranch, the Creek Trail starts away from the buildings near the bee station. A narrow dirt path goes right next to the Stevens Creek. I was surprised to find that here it carries water; it must come from the Stevens Creek Reservoir. In Mountain View, Stevens Creek usually only has water from the Bay when it rains, as an overflow protection.

Anyway, it is quite pretty to walk by the trees, some of them even have signs to identify them. Deeper and deeper into the trail the trees grow more freely and make for interesting roadblocks and climbing opportunities, a nice way to say you can’t use a wheelchair or stroller on this path. 

Trees at McClellan Creek Trail, Cupertino, CA.

After a gathering point with tree benches, the trees are more and more unmanaged.

I end with a few more cautions:

  • Be careful of ticks, snakes and mountain lions
  • Don’t go into the water
  • Watch for Poison Oak

Where do you climb on trees?

Fork on an empty plate

Feed People in Need

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving! The number of people relying on food help every day has doubled since the pandemic began. In Silicon Valley 1 of 10 people receive assistance from Second Harvest, one of the largest food banks in the nation. Second Harvest feeds nearly 500,000 people each month.

Feeding America found that due to the coronavirus 50 million Americans may face food insecurity in 2020, including 17 million children. 

How you can help:

Donate to your local food bank

Monetary donations are always welcome. 

Due to COVID-19 there might be restrictions for food donations, please check with your local food bank. Our CSA, for example, doesn’t allow for self harvested fruits anymore, but might allow for Village Harvest to harvest for you. Rules change quickly these days. In our neighborhood people started to sell their fruit and donate the proceeds to CSA.

People sorting apples for Village Harvest.

Volunteer

If you can help out in person I am certain your help will be highly appreciated. Make sure to check requirements, for example volunteers over 65 or people in a risk group might not be allowed to perform certain tasks. Nonetheless there might also be virtual options to help out. To find opportunities check out VolunteerMatch, Idealist, AllForGood, or HandsOnBayArea.

Fundraise

The holidays are coming, do you want to gift something special this year? Consider setting up your own fundraiser: https://www.feedingamerica.org/ways-to-give/fundraise-for-feeding-america

Do you have ideas on how to feed people in need?

You might also be interested in my post about Village Harvest: Harvest some Community Fruit.

Inside the SJMade store.

Gift Something Unique from Local Artists – SJ Made

I don’t want to increase your stress level, but the Holidays are almost here. Every year I try to come up with some local gift ideas or stores, for example the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz.

Window into SJMade store showing off their shopping totes.

A hodgepodge of ideas is the SJ Made pop-up store in downtown San Jose. Due to COVID-19 they offer you a chance to pick-up items that you purchased from their website. The sheer vastness of ideas, over 1200 products and counting, will make sure you’ll find gifts for everyone on your list.

Entrance to SJMade with opening hours.

These artists not only do pictures and postcards. There are flowers, cosmetics, jewelry, clothing and accessories, ceramics, and food gifts. And, apparently stickers and pins are a thing again.

It is great to see local artists get together and open these collective stores. It reminded me of Asheville or Portland. SJ Made is one of four micro-retail storefronts in the Moment mall. Next door are also The Source Zero, Aulala Design and BlackSheepMade to check out while you are on your shopping spree.

Moment mural in the parking garage for SJMade.

SJ Made
60 N. San Pedro St., San Jose

Monday, Wednesday, Sunday 12 to 4
Thursday 12 to 6
Friday, Saturday 10 to 6
Tuesday CLOSED

Do you give local gifts?

Educational sign about the three different oak trees in San Jose

Learn About Local Oak Trees at San Jose’s Guadalupe Oak Grove Park

San Jose’s Guadalupe Oak Grove Park is a hilly park with sparse trees covering about 60 acres. It turns out they are all oak trees! There are three varieties of local oaks here. 

First the Valley Oak. It is the largest of the group of locals. The leaves are shaped to what I as a European have known as an oak tree leaf, a long leaf broken up with round edges. The other two species, the Blue Oak and the Coast Live Oak, have similar leaf structures; we had a hard time picking out which is which. Our best guess was the blue oak is lighter in color. The Las Pilitas Nursery website stated that Blue Oaks like to hybridize with other oaks. So, maybe we were onto something?

View at the Guadalupe Oak Grove Park, San Jose.

The hill was a nice challenge and allowed for a terrific view. And thanks to all the acorns the park attracts a lot of birds. We enjoyed watching a group of acorn woodpeckers.

One of the beautified water utility boxes at the Jeffery Fontana Park, San Jose.

The Jeffrey Fontana Park borders the Guadalupe Oak Grove Park and has a playground and two dog parks. In the grassy area they have beautified the water utility boxes. One features the nearby oak trees. 

Do you know your endemic oak trees?

Looking for a forest to hike in? Check out Huddart Park in Woodside: Hike a forest.

Bridge to the Ravenswood Bay Trail in East Palo Alto.

Find a Bridge to East Palo Alto

Wishing Trees signs at Palo Alto Art Center.

Originally I wanted to tell you about the Wishing Trees in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto. A wonderful idea to bridge these two cities together by Canopy. Seven trees had been nominated to become wishing trees and people would leave messages written on hanging cards on the tree. Plus you would learn about what type of tree your wishing tree was. 

This beautiful idea ended October 31st. I hope they’ll repeat this some time.

Gate to Ravenswood Bay Trail. Hours are 5:00 am - 10:00 pm.

But as of August 7th, 2020 there is a real bridge connecting East Palo Alto with the neighboring counties: the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve. Ravenswood OSP is part of the Bay Trail and with it’s only 0.6 miles in length it establishes to connect three counties for a total of 80 miles of continuous trails.

Ravenswood Bay Trail bridge in East Palo Alto.

At the end of Bay Ave, an under construction path, you will reach the Cooley Landing Education Center. Right now from this side of the trail this is the only parking lot into the park. You can also enter from the other side using the Dumbarton bridge entrance off Highway 84. 

Biker on the Ravenswood Bay Trail in East Palo Alto.

What would you do to build a bridge to East Palo Alto?

More suggestions to ride your bike along the Bay: https://untilsuburbia.com/take-advantage-of-your-bike/

The Centennial Light Bulb in Livermore.

Visit the Longest Lasting Light Bulb in Livermore

Longest burning light bulb at the Livermore Pleasanton fire station.

The Centennial Light Bulb in Livermore has been burning since 1901. It is the longest lasting light bulb recognized by Ripley’s and the Guinness Book of World Records.

To ensure it is still burning you can see it on the bulbcam: https://www.centennialbulb.org/cam.htm

LPFD helmets at Livermore's fire station.

It is updated every 30 seconds. While it only uses 4 Watts it is more a glow than a bright site.

You can also visit the fire station where the light bulb is hanging from the ceiling. If a fireman is on hand they are happy to show off this curiosity. Plus there are a few historical fire fighting items on display.  Best time to visit, according to the website, is between 10 am and 11:30 am or 3 pm to 5 pm.  Otherwise you can see the bulb if you look through the window up on the top of the wall to your left. To contact them directly you may call the LPFD at (925) 454-2361. The fire station is located at 4550 East Avenue in Livermore.

In these ever changing times, continuation is comforting. I visited this site before the pandemic.  

Do you have a constant that gives you comfort?

Other sights for Guinness World Records are the 100 Block Mural and the Monopoly in the Park game in San Jose.

Forbes Mill Bridge in Los Gatos.

Admire the work of young artists at Forbes Mill Footbridge

Entrance of the Forbes Mill Museum (closed) in Los Gatos.

An outside gallery, the Forbes Mill Footbridge, consists of 156 panels of local art work. The bridge connects old town Los Gatos with Forbes Mill, a former flour mill and history museum.

The Forbes Mill Bridge is mainly the overpass for Highway 17, but since 1998 it also serves as an art gallery for the Los Gatos youth. 

It started as a summer program by the Los Gatos – Saratoga recreation. Selected artwork was digitally reproduced and placed on the bridge. These murals will be exchanged over time. 

Forbes Mill Bridge in Los Gatos.

A tribute to the artists is also given on the website of the Los Gatos Local History Research Collection.

As part of the Los Gatos Creek Trail you might pass the Forbes Mill Footbridge. If you start out your hike here please take some time to admire the art.

Have you seen the murals?

Resources:

https://patch.com/california/losgatos/los-gatos-forbes-mill-footbridge-murals-to-be-re-dedicated

Do you like seeing more works of young artists? You might want to check out the County Government Center in Santa Cruz – read my post about this: Admire young artists.