Sunday, 3 April 2016

Morgan Territory Regional Preserve near Livermore

After a brief hiatus (we were traveling, visiting friends and family), we started our weekly hikes again yesterday with a trip to Morgan Territory Regional Preserve near Livermore. The drive till Livermore is standard freeway - but get off the freeway and the nature of the road changes drastically. The last 5 miles to the preserve are single lane - so if there is any oncoming traffic, one of the vehicles has to pull over to the side to set the other one past. And there were quite a few spots where stopping was very sketchy, to say the least!

The preserve has a big dirt parking lot, and a couple of vault toilets and a few picnic benches at the start. The hike was lovely, with rolling green hill sides, California poppies and other wildflowers blooming with abandon. Since we were starting again after a biggish break (almost 2 months), we took it easy and did one of the smaller loops (we probably walked less than 2 miles, but it was up and down walking and the 6 y.o. was looking tired at the end). On the way, we walked through terrain like this on the Volvon trail:

On the way back, we walked along the Condor trail which was very different from the fire road that was Volvon trail. We also passed rocks with holes in them, where the native Volvon tribes ground acorns long ago.

The wild flowers were blooming - not everywhere, as we have seen at Ano Nuevo, but we still got to see:

All in all, a lovely hike on a lovely day and an excellent way to get back to our weekly hiking :)

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Raja Kelkar Museum in Pune, India

We just got back from a trip to India - we try to do this regularly, so the 6 y.o. gets to visit grand parents and other relatives. This time though, instead of doing the usual rounds, we decided to look at Pune from a tourist's point of view. So this post and a few of the next will talk about tourist-y things in and around Pune.

One of the first places we visited was Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum. This museum is interesting, especially when you consider that it is the work of a single person. The museum houses everyday objects and art pieces from various parts of India, mostly from the 18th and 19th century - though there are a few sculptures that date back to the 14th century. The 6 y.o. seemed to absorb things with interest though this was his first time visiting a "history" museum - we have visited science museums, wildlife museums, even art museums but never one focused on history. The toys:

and the weapons:

were of particular interest - but after that you could see him visibly lose interest (especially in the hall of the beetelnut crackers and lights :))

I especially enjoyed the visit - I remembered visiting (and liking) the place when I was in school, and as it happened, there was a school visit going on when we were there!

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Edgewood Park & Natural Preserve in Redwood City

Saturday started slowly today, with a lot of chores. By the time we were done, it was 2 pm and the sun had hidden behind the clouds. So we decided to stay on the Peninsula, rather than spend a lot of time driving and went to Edgewood Park in Redwood City.

We've been to Edgewood before, but the wet winter has changed it quite a bit. We remembered dry trails and lots of poison oak, and we saw lots of green grass and wet trails instead - a very pleasant surprise. The hike started well too, we saw a rabbit and some squirrels by the creek right at the entrance to the park :)

As you can see, the trail is distinctly greener:

We went along the Sylvan trail, and found a small waterfall on the way:

The flowers have started making an appearance too!

All said, a very pleasant hike. For families: there is a small visitor center with restrooms at the entrance. There are also restrooms in the picnic area. The parking lot is small and usually full, but there is plenty of parking along the road.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Memorial Park at Loma Mar

We meant to go to Pescadero Creek Park today, to try and spot steelhead trout. We missed the turn for Pescadero Creek Park and reached Memorial Park instead. For future reference, Pescadero Creek Park is the turn before Memorial Park, when coming from La Honda.

Memorial Park has a $6 entrance fee for day use (self registration - carry change and a pen). Once inside, drive towards the camping areas on the right to find a restroom - the ones in the day use section are closed for repairs (and look like they have been closed for a long time).

The park itself is lovely, and with the current rains, was very, very wet - we were really thankful for the hiking boots! You can see how wet it was from these photos:

When we reached the creek, it was full! A welcome sight after the drought ..

We didn't actually get to see any trout, but we saw the usual suspects - banana slugs: 

and mushrooms:

Apart from another couple and the ranger, the place was deserted - though there were many picnic tables all over the place. Wonder if it gets more crowded in summer - certainly looked like a nice place to go camping in summer.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Pulgas Open Space Preserve near Redwood City

Last weekend was rather packed, but we didn't want to miss out on the weekly hike. So we found a place on the peninsula itself, and saved time on the drive. Pulgas Open Space Preserve is just across the road from Edgewood, where we have been many times - but we had never crossed over to Pulgas Open Space Preserve so far. Pulgas is similar to Edgewood, but does seem to have a lot more water - something that you can observe by the large number of fungi everywhere!

At the beginning of the hike, we saw a lot of toyon berries:

And a little further on, we saw lots and lots of fungi, of different types:

Note that there is an area in the center of the preserve where dogs can run around without a leash. We walked around and kept climbing till we were near the top of the hill. On our way back, we had a lot of turkey vultures circling overhead!

There were a lot of other raptors too, but with my limited bird knowledge, I wasn't able to identify them.

For families: there is a pit loo at the car park, and no picnic benches. There are a few benches on the trail where you can stop for a quick snack, but nothing elaborate. Note that there are plenty of dogs on this trail because a lot of dog owners bring them to the off leash area at the center.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Uvas Canyon County Park near Morgan Hill

Our first hike of 2016 was to Uvas Canyon County Park in the Santa Clara County Parks system, west of Morgan Hill. After turning off 101, the drive in is lovely. The last half mile is through a private Swedish community called Sveadal. Drive really slow here - the road is very narrow. The entrance to the park has a self-service kiosk - $6 for a day pass. Take change or a Visa/Mastercard credit card - American Express is not accepted. The park has clean restrooms and lots of picnic tables. We had timed our visit to start with lunch, so we stopped at one of the tables and had a picnic before starting.

The trail is lovely, wet and green - and with the current El Nino weather, the creek was flowing and there were waterfalls everywhere!

We strayed off the main Waterfall Trail once to follow a small route up where we got to see this:

We turned around at the Upper Falls:

and passed Little Falls on the way back:

We took the Swanton Creek trail for a while, walking toward the Lower Falls but a tree fall had closed the trail. As you can see from the photos though, there was water everywhere!