30 June, 2010

Summer in the Park

It's a real pleasure to enjoy an evening stroll around Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. We've had a few fog-free evenings in the park lately and there's nothing like taking advantage of the late summer sunsets to bask in the the bountiful beauty of nature. Spending some time with the turtles, sunning on their log lounges, while enjoying pink popcorn on a bench; who could ask for anything more?

19 June, 2010

Frontier Village (That's where the action is)

Years ago, in an age before video games, reality TV and massive amusement parks (and chewing gum with liquid in it), there was a wonderful place called Frontier Village. From 1961 until 1980, it was located in a rural part of (seemingly) far-off, warm and sunny San Jose. It was the perfect place for a Bay Area family to enjoy a summer's day. The entrance resembled that of a log fort and the sight of it would send any kid's heart racing. I think my family went there every summer of my childhood. I can remember every ride distinctly. My parents liked it because they could, pretty much, let us loose (poor modern parents; no letting the kids loose anymore!) while they enjoyed a shady bench in the beautifully landscaped grounds. The great thing is, you can still visit the place. It's located next to an eponymous, and somewhat dispiriting, apartment complex and is called Edenvale Garden Park. There are traces of the old Frontier Village, for those who know where to look. A great website and guide to the park is located here. It's nice that it wasn't turned into a shopping center.

The Beginning of Summer

Summer is a very different concept for residents of the coastal Bay Area than it is for just about everyone else in the contiguous 48 states. Not for us the warm evening on the front porch (I know, what front porch?). We have to wear something a bit heavier than shorts and t-shirts as we stroll about. Sometimes "summer" involves having to wear 2 or 3 layers of clothing . I once saw a (seemingly sane) woman (an out-of-towner, no doubt) wearing ear muffs in July. We're quite used to nasty comments and sympathetic acknowledgment regarding our lack of balmy breezes (we experience more of a strong, cold gale).
Still, if it's sticky, sweltering heat you crave, you've not got far to go. A quick BART ride will remedy those chill blains. Places like Sacramento, a relatively short drive away, will warm you up 40F degrees on some days. Fun.
The point of all this is that even die hard, fog-loving residents of the coast need a bit of a break from the June gloom... on occasion.

16 June, 2010

Bumper Car

I don't know how long this bumper car has been sitting here in the shrubs of this West Portal home. It's a neighborhood I'm very familiar with and I walk this street quite often. Still, I've never noticed THIS before. I wonder why you'd position an old bumper car in your front garden. I don't think it's a decorative addition, it appears to be stored here. The plastic guard fence is a nice touch.

08 June, 2010

3 Heads 6 Arms

There's a new sculpture at Civic Center and it's pretty imposing. It looks a bit like a Ray Harryhausen creation from an old Sinbad movie that's been summoned from the depths of Brooks Hall (which sits beneath the civic center plaza). Called 3 HEADS 6 ARMS , it's by Chinese artist Zhang Huan and it commemorates the 30th anniversary of San Francisco's Sister City relationship with Shanghai. The Asian Art Museum, across the street, currently has an exhibit about Shanghai that you'll have to visit before it closes in September.

02 June, 2010

A Trip Back in Time to Locke

About an hour and a half from San Francisco, on the Sacramento Delta, sits Locke. It's the last rural Chinese village in the U.S. Founded in the early years of the 20th century by Chinese farmers and laborers, it's an amazing place. It's full of distinctive architecture that evokes both the Old West and original Chinese villages of its founders. An old boarding house had been recently restored by the state and serves as a museum and visitor center. The thing I like most of all about Locke is that it's not a tourist trap; it has a refreshing authenticity without feeling like a ghost town. I suppose that has to do with its out-of-the-way location. The town is still fully populated yet it has the ambiance of a sleepy, hot, rural town of the 1930s or 40s. It has heaps of character (and quite a few characters) and is well worth a visit. On the way, be sure to stop in the other small towns like Isleton and Walnut Grove. They, too, had a strong Chinese presence which is still visible in the old stores, temples and homes that line the main streets.