With lots of projects to get done at home this past weekend, we thought we’d never get away for an outdoor adventure. But with so many cool places close to home (we live in western San Jose), we managed two wonderful mini-outings to destinations near some POST land-protection projects.
Saturday we visited the Palo Alto Baylands (at the east end of Embarcadero Road and just south of POST’s Cooley Landing project that has been in the news lately) to see curlews, egrets, dowitchers, swallows, and lots of pickleweed (which my 9-year-old son informed me is edible, but “a little salty”). The Lucy Evans Nature Center laboratory was open so my son and I checked out live water boatmen under the microscope while my wife studied the animal exhibits, including a beautiful stuffed cinnamon teal.
Sunday we scooted over to Almaden Quicksilver County Park to check out the newly renovated Casa Grande and hike some trails. As we drove into the town of New Almaden, we looked up at the lovely hills of Rancho San Vicente, which POST purchased and transferred to Calero County Park three years ago. At Casa Grande we gawked at three rooms lovingly restored to their Victorian-era grandeur and looked around. This really well-designed mining museum made us want to stay there all day (though the trails beckoned).
The biggest treat was getting a personal tour of the museum by Kitty Monahan, a – no THE – park volunteer who has been instrumental in bringing the history of New Almaden to life over the past several decades. Our son loved the exhibits, especially the rock samples – including Cinnabar, which is the ore from which mercury was extracted for gold mining in the Sierra. When we finally got out on the trails, we appreciated the history of the mining remnants we saw so much more for having learned what we did back in the museum.
Not epic journeys by any means, but we felt satisfied that with just a couple of hours each day, we could get out and explore such different worlds! What a great place we live in!