Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ardenwood historic farm, Berkeley, January 2013

We had a lovely weekend in Berkeley where we went to a couple new places.

Cafe Tibet:  In grad school we regularly ate at the local Tibetan restaurant run by a cousin of the Dali Lama.  Somehow we haven’t found a local Tibetan restaurant, so it was nice to try some again.  The food was all good and a little later in the evening it was packed.

CREAM:  Holy cow this place is a good idea.  An ice cream sandwich hand made with freshly baked cookies.  For $2!!!  Wait in the line, it is worth it.

Shattuck Cinemas:  I have been looking for a local movie theater that serves food and drink while you watch a movie and this is pretty close.  We were in the 21+ theater which has super comfy loveseats.  The Yelp reviews agree-cozy seating and some independent films make this a find.

The next day we visit the Ardenwood Historic Farm with our friend Bunny.  Where I grew up, the idea that school kids would take a field trip to a farm is laughable.  Enough families still farm that even if you aren’t on the farm, your relatives or friends are, so why would that be a field trip?  But in a population dense area like Silicon Valley, very few kids live or work on farms so a historic farm is a regional park.  On the visit we see a few farm animals (peacocks are farm animals?), old  buildings, historic tractors, the main house (nice stained glass), and the train station. 

Best story about the place is that the railroad company wanted to run their tracks through the property, but the owner didn't want that and hired guards to keep it from happening.  One night when he was away from from the farm the railroad company bribed all the guards with whiskey and laid the tracks in one night!

Then we check out the monarchs, which is the main reason I wanted to see the farm in the winter.  Monarchs have a crazy migration pattern that involves overwintering in Eucalyptus trees in groups.  They go back to the same place every year and while the largest groups are out near the coast, the Ardenwood butterflies are so close and easy to get to there is no reason not to see them.  Seeing so many of them at once, monarchs are creepycute.  But the farm also has a caterpillar/chrysalis exhibit so you can see them up close.  Whatever park you choose, make sure they have some naturalists on site.  At Ardenwood they set up viewing spots so that you don’t need your own pair of great binoculars or high end camera.

Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont CA, January 2013

We want to visit more of our local parks so E-, Bunny, and I  went to check out an East Bay classic, Coyote Hills Regional Park.  It is at the east base of the Dunbarton bridge-totally easy to get to, still has cell coverage and while not packed, is clearly a common outing for families and bike packs.

Coyote Hills is right on the edge of the bay and before we got there we were like, hills?  At the edge of the bay?  Yup.  Hills.  Right on the edge of the bay.  There is actually marshland inland from the hills that are more in line with what I was expecting.  

But we were drawn to the hills which are covered with interesting looking rocks.  We go up and down a couple of the hills and check out the interesting geology.  

This is also a good place for bird spotting and biking.  There is a bayside trail that is busy with walkers and bikers because it is well paved and has such a nice view of the bay.  

If you choose this area to hike, recognize that the hiking map does not have topography and parts of the trail are very steep!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Get a Charlie Brown Christmas tree

Completely poorly timed post-yeah!

Getting a live Xmas tree:  I like the look and smell of a live tree but it doesn’t always happen since it is more work and more expensive.  This year I found a system I really like.  The Pacifica Land Trust is trying to get rid of Monterey Pines from specific ocean side hills where it is considered an invasive species.  For one day they invite the public to come and hike the trail and cut their own Charlie Brown tree.  These are not farmed trees, so they are not perfectly shaped.  Ours had a large hole on one side and looked completely wind blown from one side.  But you can’t tell at night with the lights on!

During the hike we saw some amazing fungus, had a great view of the ocean, and when the fog blew in we didn’t see the ocean.

Part of the holidays were in the cabin in the mountains with picture perfect snow.

But back at home my fava beans had sprouted,

and my Christmas cactus bloomed.