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

PEZ Pole in Sunnyvale with a sign that reads: Das PEZler

Safari in the Neighborhood – Sunnyvale PEZ Pole

Close up of multiple PEZ dispensers.

Not only PEZ dispensers are displayed on the front lawn at 298 Leota Ave in Sunnyvale, there are all sorts of toys and little trinkets. The PEZ Pole is the description you get from Google maps, the sign on the pole says: Das PEZLER – a German collection? PEZ dispensers are pinned to a power pole. A lot of Santas from different time periods it seems, but also favorite Disney characters, snowmen and bunnies. The PEZ lunchbox knows: “PEZ makes you smile!”

Plastic dinosaur looking at a succulent.

The other things that made me smile are the dinosaurs fighting plastic soldiers – not the fighting, just the ingenious re-use of plastic toys! The dinosaurs are next to succulents which makes them excellent objects for a photo safari! But behold the giraffes assembled across from them! If you enjoy statues this place has you covered too! Buddhas sit together with Madonnas, angels, a menorah, and a dreamcatcher – a peaceful sight indeed. 

Overall it is a great place to explore and discover. If you are tired of walking around in your neighborhood I suggest stopping by this place and let your kids count the PEZ Santas, or photograph other objects. 

Peace figures in the front lawn in Sunnyvale.

Thank you whoever put out the effort to entertain us in such an amusing way! You can email them at flowerpowercorner at gmail.com if you have any comments, ideas, or suggestions.

Where do you go on a photo-neighborhood-safari?

By the way, to all the PEZ aficionados, the PEZ museum in Burlingame is permanently closed. To see what it was like check out my blog post: Sweeten your Museum Visit


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.

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.

The first Google storage server, Stanford

6 Hidden Spots for Geeks and Nerds in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley houses more geeky nerds, and I mean this as an honorary term. There are some places that might be especially interesting for this group:

  1. The first Google server with a case made with Legos. 

This server is displayed in the basement at the Huang Engineering Building in Stanford. 

While you are there check out the replica of the HP garage.

Huang Engineering Building Stanford

475 Via Ortega, Stanford, CA 94305

https://engineering.stanford.edu/about/visit

  1. Visit Facebook’s first office

The Face Book in Palo Alto is the first office of social media giant Facebook. A sign outside commemorates this place. This is an easier way to get a picture with a thumbs up. 😉

The Face Book - first Facebook office in Palo Alto.

The Face Book

471 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

  1. Apple Campus 3 

The spaceship, Apple Park, Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino is only viewable from afar at the visitor center. A great way to get a closer look of Apple is the Apple Campus 3, AC3 as insiders might call it. 

Apple

222 N Wolfe Rd, Sunnyvale, CA 94085 

https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/03/19/apples-third-large-california-campus-is-already-built

  1. See the latest Android figure

Google celebrates its Android operating system versions by dedicating lawn sculptures. The naming used to be in alphabetical order after deserts and other sweets. The former OS figures can be seen near the visitor center. The latest Android figure is usually displayed at the Googleplex. For Android 11 you can also see it online, to stay with the candy theme, the internal name was Red Velvet Cake, the recipe is ‘taped’ to the sculpture, at least in its virtual version. 

https://www.android.com/android-11-ar-statue/

Google

Android Lawn Sculpture in Mountain View.

Android Lawn Sculptures

1981 Landings Dr, Mountain View, CA 94043

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

  1. Tour Roblox headquarters 

See your favorite characters at the Roblox headquarters. Due to COVID-19 the 60 minute tours will be awarded in a lottery. Sign up at:

https://behindtheblox.splashthat.com/

Roblox

970 Park Pl, San Mateo, CA 94403

  1. Santa Clara NVIDIA Building

NVIDIA, inventors of the GPU, set themselves a building fitting for the creative potential. It is unique in how it used triangles, representing the building blocks for computer graphics.

NVIDIA

NVIDIA office in Santa Clara.

2788 San Tomas Expressway Santa Clara, CA. 95050

https://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2013/02/20/nvidia-to-build-a-new-home-20-years-after-our-founding/

Do you have any tips on hidden spots for geeks and nerds?

In my 50 things to do series I usually have ideas for nerdy fun.

SS Palo Alto view from the wooden stairs, Aptos.

Watch an Over 100 Year Old Deteriorating – the SS Palo Alto

The SS Palo Alto, a concrete ship off the Monterey Bay Shore in Aptos, was left to decay. It eventually became a habitat for birds, sharks, and sea lions. 

SS Palo Alto, Aptos, CA.

Launched in 1919 in Oakland, the SS Palo Alto, a former oil tanker, missed World War I by a few weeks. This war vessel is made of  concrete because of the steel shortage at the end of the war.

In 1929 the Seacliff Amusement Corp. bought the ship and transformed it into an amusement park in its current location. Besides a casino, they added a swimming pool and a dance floor as attractions; ‘rum runners’ delivered illegal booze as a driveby operation. The Great Depression and the seasonality of the business probably were reasons for the fast closure two years later.

Pier and SS Palo Alto in Aptos.

In 1936 the State of California purchased the vessel for $1. Twelve years later it was incorporated into one of the first State beaches. Its condition deemed too dangerous for explorers led to its closing in 1998. Now it is a sanctuary for birds and other sea life. 

Parking at Seacliff Beach in Aptos, California is $10. 

Have you seen the SS Palo Alto?

If you are looking for other bird watching opportunities in the Bay Area, check out Sunnyvale’s Baylands Park

Resources:

View through the linked fence to the SS Palo Alto, Aptos.

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

https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=543

Sound sculpture with mallets at Seven Seas Park in Sunnyvale.

Play the Sound-Sculptures at Seven Seas Park

The Seven Seas Park in Sunnyvale became the latest addition in 2016 of inclusive play parks for all ages. This little park has even a splash park, a dog park, and a half basketball court. One of the fun discoveries is the wind chimes that line the small round path around a grassy field.

One of the wind chimes at Seven Seas Park in Sunnyvale.

The sound sculptures stand man high and have mallets to invite you to play. I could not find any information about the artists. If you know who contributed this musical adventure, please let me know.

The landscape architects, SSA, did a beautiful job creating a nautical themed inclusive park. This park won the “Project of the Year” award in 2016 by the American Public Works Association. 

Pathway, hugging a grassy field, leading to one of the sound sculptures, Seven Seas Park in Sunnyvale.

Parking can sometimes be a challenge. Due to COVID-19 playgrounds might still be closed off. Check before you go and follow the recommended safety procedures.

Have you played the sound sculptures at Seven Seas Park? 

If you enjoy funky interactive sculptures you should also check out the Wind Walk in San Mateo.

Masked fisherman sculpture at Half Moon Bay.

Masks on Sculptures

The unfortunate fashion accessory of 2020, a facial covering, can also be spotted on various sculptures throughout the Bay Area.

Right now the smoke from the Santa Cruz and San Mateo wildfires have reached our city and exploring is on hold. I hope everyone is safe out there, especially because the heat wave isn’t over yet either!

Anyway, along the way I have started to photograph some sculptures with masks on. Thank you whoever thought this would be an additional statement.

Surfer sculpture on Cliff Dr. in Santa Cruz.

The surfer on Santa Cruz cliff walk for example can be usually spotted wearing some protective gear – until the no-maskers demonstrated in front of the sculpture. I wonder if there is a correlation?

Gay Liberation a sculpture of four all white painted people from George Segal at Stanford.

The ‘Gay Liberation’ sculpture from George Segal at Stanford was responsible covering up, because they have a hard time social distancing.

Biker sculpture by James Moore, at the Bay Trail in Palo Alto.

Another masked artwork I found was the biker at the Bay Trail in Palo Alto. This work is called ‘Bliss in the Moment’ by James Moore. I love Moore’s statement about his art: “I want my artwork to add something positive to the world. By exploring themes of hope, strength, and playful possibility, my sculpture conveys a positive message of what I feel it means to be human.”

We are all in this together!

Have you taken photos of masked sculptures?

Do you want to explore more sculptures in Stanford? I recommend checking out my page on 50 things to do in Stanford.

Black Lives Matter Mural on Hamilton St. in Palo Alto.

Drive by the BLM Art

While one California city (Redwood City) is in the news for removing their Black Lives Matter street mural, Palo Alto has blocked off the middle of the road for their colorful artwork.

City Hall in Palo Alto with the BLM letter's E and S.

Palo Alto’s BLM mural is in front of City Hall on Hamilton St. The public art commission hired 16  artist teams, each of them designing a letter. 

When I photographed each letter I noticed some cars slowing down and the drivers admiring the artwork. There were also some kids enjoying the letters.

Letter E of BLM mural in Palo Alto picturing Assata Shakur.

A controversy arose about one of the E’s picturing Assata Shakur, a Black Liberation Army fugitive and FBI most wanted. To my knowledge the mayor, Adrian Fine, declared the mural will stay as is. (see NBC News from July 16th, 2020 https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/fugitive-the-source-of-debate-over-black-lives-matter-mural-in-palo-alto/2327624/)

There is a petition out on change.org (http://chng.it/nsVCBzPvhC) to provide protection for the mural, to make this a lasting piece of art in Palo Alto.

What is your stand on the BLM in Palo Alto?