Archive for June, 2012

Saturday 30th June

Stride and Ride down in Los Altos. See here for details.

Strawberry U-Pick at Live Earth Farm (Watsonville), 10am-4pm. $5 donation per car for CSA members, $10 for non-members. For directions to the Green Valley Entrance at the farm, see here.  This comes highly recommended: Live Earth Farm is our CSA and their strawberries are divine!  The farmer asks that you leave dogs at home.

Sunday 1st July

There’s a Hidden Villa farm tour starting at 10am. Make your reservations here.


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Given the latest research on the potential toxicity of many popular suncreams, you might want to check your favourite in this helpful database. I was surprised to learn that, although our children’s suncream was safe, the one I use is now considered dangerously toxic.

Find the database here.

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This weekend we drove up to D L Bliss State Park on the South Lake Tahoe shoreline just north of Emerald Bay for a spot of camping. This beautiful and popular state park offers it all: camping, beach access, incredible views of the lake, and some great day hikes.  It’s also rather sprawling with 4 camping ‘loops’ which vary greatly in character. The sites near the beach have amazing views but are small, close together, and lacking privacy.  The sites higher up the hillside in the woods are larger and more private, some backing onto the wilderness to the extent they almost qualify as ‘walk-in’ sites. If you value quiet and privacy (as we do) I’d recommend the Ridge Campground (sites 91-114) and Pines Campground (sites 1-90).  The park has good, if old, facilities with plentiful toilet and shower blocks in each loop (bring quarters).  I had heard that guests at the park frequently encounter bears, but we didn’t see any (sadly) and each site comes with a huge bear box which minimises the chance of attracting wildlife.  There were lots of chipmunks and giant pinecones which the kids loved however.

Get a load of these pinecones Mom!

Our kids were happy playing with the rocks, pinecones, and sticks in the forest around our campsite for much of the time, but there are plenty of other things to do:-

Balancing Rock Nature Trail

Happy Trails

This is the shortest, most toddler-friendly trek in the park. It’s only half a mile long and on a wide, dirt track that winds round a huge granite outcrop, down the mountain and along the creek, and back up to the parking lot.  The trail would probably be suitable for jog strollers were it not for the fallen tree one currently has to scramble under at the creek.  It is officially a self-guided nature trail and has numerous markers indicating sites of interest. Unfortunately, no informational leaflets were available at the start of the trail as promised.  My boys enjoyed it anyway.  The Monkey had a great time scrambling down the trail finding all the numbers and was thrilled to discover that the giant granite balancing rock of the title looks a bit like a tyrannosaurus rex head.

T-Rex Head


Calawee Cove Beach

There are two lovely beaches in the park, Calawee Cove Beach and Lester Beach. The steps down to Calawee Cove are fairly steep. My three year old could manage them, but if you have a lot of stuff, or a boat, you might want to just head to Lester Beach where you can park feet from the sand.  Both beaches are small and can get a bit crowded in high season, but the views are spectacular and the colour of the lake an unbelievable blue. The boys had a great time paddling, watching the boats, and building driftwood forts. If you take food down to the beach, be prepared to fight off some of the most persistent and aggressive geese you’ve ever met.

Excited boys on Lester Beach

A fun nearby hike: Vikingsholm State Park

A couple of miles south of the park you’ll find the parking lot for Vikingsholm State Park–be warned, go early in the day as the parking lots gets insanely busy by mid-morning. The trail leads straight down the cliff but is gentle enough for toddlers to manage it with ease.  You could take a jog stroller as long if you don’t mind pushing it back up the hill at the end.  At the base of the cliff is a beautiful little beach and lagoon and the Vikingsholm itself.

Vikingsholm is the attractive summer residence built to the order of Mrs Lora J Knight of Santa Barbara in the style of a Norwegian farmstead. It has beautiful towers, wood carvings, and sod roof and is well worth a poke around. Even more fun, however, is the fact that Mrs Knight built a Tea Castle–yes, a castle in which to take afternoon tea–on the island (the only one in Lake Tahoe) that lies a couple of hundred feet off the shore.  The kids enjoyed looking at the house, walking out on the jetty, and exploring the shoreline. Again, beware the crazy aggressive geese if you bring food.

The perfect setting for afternoon tea.

All in all Emerald Bay is an easy place to go with toddlers. It’s perhaps a little busy and ‘touristy’ feeling for my tastes, but if you get out onto the trails or into the woods you can get away from the crowds. And it really is spectacular scenery.

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You’re in luck.  While it’s usually impossible to get a weekend camping reservation at a California State Park this late in the season, the salvation of Portola Redwoods State Park and its recent opening for camping means sites are actually available. See here for details. And book quickly as I’m sure the camp sites will soon be taken.

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Last week we picked olallieberries at Webb Ranch and, while the kids loved eating them in the fields, as soon as we got the cartons home, they lost interest. So we were left with a lot of olallieberries. We contemplated a pie, but the season didn’t feel right, so instead we made popsicles. And the kids loved them.


Olallieberries wouldn’t melt in my mouth

Here’s the recipe in case you want to try them:


3 cartons of olallieberries

1/2 cup of apple juice

1 banana

1 cup of yogurt


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16th July

It’s Helicopter Day in San Carlos. See here for more information.

17th July

It’s Father’s Day at Roaring Camp Railroad, Felton.  More info here.

Celebrate Father’s Day at Shoreline Park, Mountain View with a lunchtime BBQ.  More here.

There’s a Father’s Day Concert at Hidden Villa Farm, 5.30pm. See here to register.

All Weekend

It’s the San Mateo County Fair. See here for more.

Aha! It’s the Northern Californian Pirate Festival down in Vallejo.

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Saturday June 9th

The first in a three part series of ‘Preschoolers on the Farm’ starts at Hidden Villa, at 9.30am. Advance registration required.

It’s ‘sheep to shawl’ day at Elkus Ranch, Half Moon Bay, 10am-2pm, $7.50 per person.  A visit to Elkus makes a fun day trip when combined with an afternoon on the beach. Find the event flyer here.

9am-2pm it’s the Sand Castle and Sculpture Contest at Crown Memorial State Beach. Judging takes place at noon, and prizes are awarded at 1pm. It’s a free event, although there is a $5 fee to park.

Sunday June 10th

There’s still space on Hidden Villa’s 1pm farm tour. See here to reserve a spot.

From 1-4pm kids can help with the Historic Hay Harvest at Ardenwood Farm.

It’s the 5th Annual Silicon Valley Duck Race, 11am at Vasona Lake Park. See here for more information.

It’s the 13th Annual Butterfly and Bird Festival at Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont. 10am-3.30pm. See here for details.

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This year’s free Summertime Open House and Dance at Hidden Villa is on Sunday 15th July.  This event is lots of fun and sells out very quickly.  To make your reservations, see here.

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Saturday June 2nd

It’s time for bugs at the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo,  10am-4pm, free but donations welcome.  Find the flyer here.

Enjoy a farm tour at Hidden Villa in the last few weeks before it closes for the summer. 1pm, $10, register here.

Sunday June 3rd

Enjoy a morning farm tour at Hidden Villa. 11am, $10, register here.

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