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.

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