A Birthday and Smoke and Fire

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We had a very exciting birthday this week with Mr Ash turning 12 this week! We always go out to dinner for birthdays, and it is usually Japanese. So we went to Shalala an old fave downtown as the kids wanted to have their favourite, rice balls! The week began with news of forest fires in the North Bay where we felt the repercussions 100 miles away of smoke and really bad air quality – the fires scorched over 200,000 acres of land.

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We went out Wednesday evening, and the smell of smoke was everywhere. So many folks have been displaced, and it is such a disaster of immense proportions. The hardest thing has been trying to find out where help is needed the most but luckily a friend has posted some information from a local paper that highlighted how to help as an excellent resource.

At work, the kids enjoyed some new math games for addition called ‘Playful Pets’, and we played this visual-spatial game Q-bitz – there were so many games available this week with inside recess the whole week! It was exhausting to be inside all day and eating snack and lunch with the kids. We finally had some time out on Friday afternoon and it felt so good!

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Lucky for science the kids got out to do some building of their weather stations and nail up some signs for the thermometer, rain gauge and anemometer. They will be placing these at various locations around the school to observe the weather.

We had an observational drawing time in class this week with the kids trying many mediums to complete their pieces with pastels, pencils and crayons. That really reset the class energy with quiet drawing and peaceful music.

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We have been going a little screen crazy in this household as we had to stay inside because of the smoke and bad air quality but I finally convinced the screen trio, i.e. the rest of my family, to go on a bike ride together and spend some family time outside. It was a relaxing ride, and we did about 8 miles stopping and starting. On the way, we spotted herons, egrets and a squadron of pelicans. Our mission for the day was to find four white herons – we did not find that many but we did see two. The kids enjoyed the birding binoculars we bought second hand at the Audubon store, with the close up of the pelicans and we counted 30 pelicans feeding together. My ride on Saturday in the headwind encountered a Great Blue Heron and a hawk being attacked by a murder of crows, I just love riding around the Shoreline area with so much wildlife around providing a sense of solitude. I find I crave that time alone these days as I do not get much time off anymore with work, coming home, cooking, eating, a small amount of playing and then its early bedtime!

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Frogs and hope for the future

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Last weekend for the long weekend we wandered out the house to get some air as it was as hot as a greenhouse, so the best strategy was to stay inside the house with the blinds down and no windows open as we have no air conditioning. We went to Picchetti Ranch for a photo shoot as I wanted to get some pictures for my sustainability report for University.

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When we got to the ranch the kids were complaining – why do we need to go for a walk!? Though as soon as we wandered down the trail, we found this beautiful peacock belonging to the winery next door. Soon the kids were enjoying themselves when we found a big tree to climb and then the best thing happened!

We were walking on a seasonal pond, totally dried up for the summer and we found some amazing creatures of hope, frogs. It was so amazing to see these little guys hopping around our feet, trying to capture them on camera was super tricky! So surreal to find frogs as in all the 11 years I have been here, this is the first time I am seeing them! The kids really want to go back when we get the rain in the winter time.

The weekends have been super busy with writing my sustainability report and I am really enjoying it as it truly resonates with me and learning about applying Education for Sustainability in the curriculum makes me very happy and gives me hope for the future. Teaching children to love and appreciate the earth is the best thing we can do for them!

We chose Picchetti Ranch as it is close to McClellan Ranch down the road where we have the chickens, as in my “fictional sustainability report” I would like to create a permaculture garden with chickens so here are some kids with chicken pics! I was so happy to see the little ladies again as I hardly get to see them anymore as I am at work.

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My saviour my bike has been the best therapy to get out and about on solo bike rides to clear my mind and organise my thoughts in regards to the planning on my writing. The rides have been very inspiring as well with finding dead fish and polluted waters in the bay strengthening my ideas of the importance of a creating a sustainable mindset for ourselves and the citizens of the future.

New chapters = New Beginnings

 

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Back in the bay and the countdown has begun to the start of school for the year – everyone is pretty happy to go back! We have only 4 days to go, and for me, it is 3 as I start a new job as a Teacher Assistant on Friday with Orientation – how exciting as I have not worked full time for about 9 years!

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Since coming back I have enjoyed Granita cocktails with lemon verbena from my neighbours garden and watermelon from my CSA box, absolutely incredible. I made cocktails at a friends house the other night for dinner, and we had mixed melon and mint with lemon and Hangar 1 vodka, just the perfect drink for a tasty Indian meal! Oh I have to mention the inspiration for Granita was from Melbourne from an Italian coffee house called Pellegrini’s where every Friday they made fresh gnocchi and served it with watermelon granita, it was such a treat!

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I have loved being back on my bike and getting around the trails I opted for a 7.5-mile ride down the trail early on a Saturday morning and it was just perfect. Smooth riding, flowers in bloom and many bridges to cross.

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I have been really enjoying the colours in nature and coming back after spending a month in a dramatic winter scape it is beautiful to see everything in bloom and so alive!

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Sometimes I feel like this little guy trapped in its razor wire with one step forward and many steps back with the amount of work I have to get through with University and now planning for a full-time job plus volunteering and taking care of the household. One thing at a time from my list and eventually I get through, and there is more work. Still, it will make the time fly by, before I know it plans will be underway for our house in Oz.

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We had an enjoyable hike with our friends from Oakland on Sunday at the halfway meeting point in Pacifica and found this super cool County Park with many eucalyptus trees. There were so many and it was just like being home in Australia. That could be one of the many reasons how I have managed to be here so long, being amongst native trees and enjoying their energy. This tree was just spectacular as it was gigantic, growing like an oak tree with its massive supportive trunk in the centre.

There was so much fog that morning, and it enlivened the trees formations. We walked up and down for around 5 miles, and it was refreshing for all of us with some lovely views along the way. The trees were my favourite as we wandered through the many different landscapes.

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The kids were very excited to have found some sibling lizards on the hike and caught them for a bit of play – you can just see them on Ash’s finger sitting together. The bonus was the cafe at the bottom of the hill from the park was Beach Monkey Organic Cafe had tasty food for all of us including delicious Acai bowls!

Not long to go until life changes gear and I start a new chapter of my life for the next 6 months, it is something to look forward to and a super opportunity to engage in for my education degree.

Jammed pack family fun

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My final week in Queensland with my family was filled with so much action interspersed with food which I love! We began our relaxing weekend with my sister and her crew coming to stay with us at our Air BnB we enjoyed a Sri Lankan feast with lots of wine for dinner and the kids enjoyed their fidget spinner collection and enjoyed the challenges of timing them.

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We spent Sunday at my parent’s place and the kids watched a movie after a lunch of tasty pastries from the bakery and took some fun photos in the garden.

Monday we went on a family trip with my uncle into the city to see the Marvel exhibit at the Gallery of Modern Art AKA GOMA – it was a super fun exhibit and displayed behind the scenes costumes and sets but the kids just zoomed through it! For lunch we went to this delicious gyoza place for a sushi burrito for me covered in wasabi pea powder, yummo! The kids loved their doughnuts and ice cream by Mr Fitz.

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Tuesday we enjoyed a family pub lunch for my aunts birthday celebrating with cake and balloons, scoring some super photos with balloons as props!

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Wednesday my sister found this great German guy who custom creates bikes as well as hires bikes to visitors on the peninsula for $25 per hour – Street Art Cycles come highly recommended and as it is an excellent bike riding destination, this was a perfect score for a day trip and we rode 20 kilometers in total for the day. The kids were really enjoying the 24″ frames and really took off riding on this dedicated pedestrian / cycleway parallel to the beach front! I rode this Breezer bike called Uptown designed by a mountain bike pioneer Joe Breeze whose history in biking began in Marin, San Francisco (so random and so fun).

We also found some local cats of the neighbourhood that were just like our dearly departed. Monty the cat across the road was just like Yeti the Himalayan Persian who belonged to my parents. And on our side of the street was an orange cat just like our lovely boy Mack who enjoyed pats from strangers.

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And my sisters beautiful black cat Millie gave us a bit of a scare when she disappeared for hours and we found her stuck behind the washing machine!

Towards the end of the week I realised I really had to get out and enjoy the sunny mornings and find some local wild life – I found some rainbow lorikeets on my morning walk / run having a party at a local mansion by the beach in this amazing tropical native garden. My friend Markus came to visit for lunch and we enjoyed another meal of fish and chips and went to find Gollums door on a tree by the beach. My last Sri Lankan meal of rice sticks, pan rolls, vadas with salad was enjoyed and it was such a treat!

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Friday came around and it was peoples day at the show so we went together with my nephew and enjoyed the pastel chickens, checking out sideshow alley with all the crazy clowns and toys and riding the ferris wheel yet again, I was a bit nervous of heights but I had to be brave as I was with Mr Ash and mum had to ‘make it work’.

Saturday we planned for our sausage sizzle and bought a variety of meat sausages from The Meat-ting Place – an organic butcher who could tell me where they sourced all their meat. The bonus was that they also had fish and I found Wild Barramundi from the Northern Territory which was perfect cooked in a foil packet with herbs and spices on the BBQ.

Sunday was our final “together” day where we went out for a day trip into BrisVegas to ride the free CityHopper ferry and eat some delicious Greek street food at Zeus Cafe in Southbank. We caught ferry down to the place where I moved to when I first left home and wandered the streets of New Farm before we went to New Farm Park with the kids. They loved it there and so did we, as we enjoyed the big old Jacarandas and the way the playground was built with a Strangler Fig!

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Before long it was my last morning walk on the beach where I said goodbye to the pelicans and our time in the peace and quiet of the Redcliffe Peninsula. I have to say it was an enjoyable couple of weeks with my family and catching up with friends!

Celebrations and Mothers Day relaxation

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Last week marked the 20th anniversary of our beloved school Stevenson PACT Elementary School – it was such a fun filled event full of entertainment, dessert, food trucks, art – a mosaic, and what the kids loved most of all was balloon swords. It was hilarious to see all the kids out on the field sword fighting with balloon swords, and everyone was having such a grand old time doing it!

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The alumni enjoyed seeing their friends who were at other schools and had an excellent time playing, and the adults of the community enjoyed catching up on life.

The school was decorated with some very thoughtful ideas like this tree full of favourite memories and the watercolour flowers made by the kids.

At the end of this week, we say farewell to the beloved spiderweb that I am climbing – it will be removed over the summer to place the new temporary school buildings in its place. It is such a fun play structure, and apparently, the new play structure is nature inspired so we will see how that compares to this super cool spiderweb.

In quiet times when not studying or driving the kids around I sit and knit and made a couple of pussyhats this week for one of our teachers – this is my son’s 1st-grade teacher who wanted a hat for herself and for her daughter. We saw each other at the Women’s March, and I suggested I knit a hat for her in the beautiful Malabrigo Rasta.

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Saturday was a busy day with a yoga class and helping my friend out with a knitting party in the afternoon. So Sunday I really had to get into gear with my last 2 assessments for this teaching period and get on track and now after devoting a few hours of my mothers day to study I feel I can get through it all! Mother’s day was lovely with the kids making a beautiful spread of pancakes, kombucha and a cup of tea complete with flowers freshly picked from the neighbourhood. I said to Ash to come on a bike ride with me as I wanted to take him out for some exercise and we rode a nice 10 miles (16 km) out on the bay. The head wind was not very enjoyable, but it was so lovely to get out and about on such a beautiful day!

And there is my beloved bike on the trail with no one around, we found some binoculars and spotted a pelican – next time we will take our bird watching binoculars!

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Brothers gonna work it out

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That’s the Public Enemy song we used to listen to in the car hanging out down at the beach – now that is da biz!

Following last weeks cubby project with my daughter’s 3rd-grade class, here is what they looked like as a completed collection – I love this as an art installation and the bonus is that it is used to hold the kid’s binders and their work.

As I have two weeks of minimum days my days of preparing for the Textile Art Boutique have been shortened! I had to work extra hard last week and do a lot of prep and make to up the inventory so I can get going when I get time this week to do anything. Today was a complete right off with zero time to do anything except hand sewing and unpicking. With some luck and preparation, I can get some work done this week.

Last week I finished two smaller tote bags with outside pockets. Also, the denim tote bag collection is continuing with a checked pink bag. Plus as I felt a bit of a robot with just doing and making I needed a break to do some prototype design with a clutch purse. I love the Missoni fabric sample I have used though it needs some fine tuning for the next one I make.

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Pic by John Scarboro

Sunday was a family day with Bike Palo Alto! and my friend Cherie’s birthday gathering so we made some yummy baked goods such as a chocolate chip banana bread and lime coconut muffins. I volunteer with Safe Mountain View with Cherie and John, to promote safe riding for all in the city and it was fun to ride in a protected bike lane that led directly to a middle school. As Safe Mountain View we are trying to get some of these throughout the city so it is safe for all of us to get around. Hopefully, the City of Palo Alto can advise Mountain View that it is super easy to install and does not cost too much!

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Pic by John Scarboro

The kids are enjoying riding in the protected bike lane and feeling safe from the cars. At least the cars know that you cannot cross the white bollards on the road and cut off a cyclist.

 

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Pic by John Scarboro

 

One of the reasons we joke about why the bike lanes are not happening is how expensive the green paint is in Mountain View! Just to see this paint creates an awareness and not to drive in them, I am just pointing to the green paint right there in the city right next to Mountain View that it is possible.

 

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Pic by John Scarboro

 

Currently, my middle schooler is driven to school every day as I do not trust the roads he would ride on to get to his school – too many people distracted on their phones going to work. If this was a reality in the city I live in maybe he could ride to school on his own and I would feel confident that there is an awareness on the road for cyclists. Unfortunately, for now, construction of apartment buildings and development are a number 1 priority of this city without thinking of the impact of the infrastructure of the city and what does this mean for the traffic – just more cars and pollution!

Keep on moving don’t stop…

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What a crazy week it was last week with 3 minimum days and the schedule totally upside down – I really felt like this doll, flat out by the end of the week!

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Still, the weekend was big and the 2nd Annual Summer Bike Ride was something Safe Mountain View has had in the pipeline for the last 6 months. I was a part of the ride committee as I volunteer for Safe Mountain View, to promote safety on the streets. Our bike ride on the weekend was a success with just under 100 people showing up with their families to ride their bike around the city of Mountain View.

We rode in ‘bike buses’ of groups of 6-8 people taking it to the streets and riding together creating this amazing feeling as cyclists on the road. To have that sense of empowerment and pausing traffic ever so slightly was the best! Even some of the motorist were keen to join in the fun!

To ride in a group the kids felt safe too and I am thankful for this ride as it really encouraged my daughter and gave her the confidence that on a bike you can go where ever you like as long as you are safe and aware on the road. Now she wants to ride to school, sounds good to me as I like any excuse to get on my red bike and ride around. After the ride, we had a picnic back at Bubb Park and enjoyed ice cream after our well-deserved picnic lunches. Everyone was happy to have some ice cream and there were even seconds for anyone who wanted more!

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On Sunday we met some friends who live in San Francisco at the Treasure Island Flea Market for the day. Coincidentally on this day, there was a vintage trailer display and the interiors were so inspiring. The only thing to get a family trailer in action you need some sort of big truck so our Subaru sedan will not do the job. The teardrop or canned ham trailers are perfect for sleeping two which means we leave the kids out camping in a tent, maybe not! I have to get my hands on the book that was being displayed at the sites just to get an inside on design ideas.

I absolutely loved the colour schemes of the trailers – mid-century blues, pinks, and greens. The Shasta trailer was a popular choice of the day with a cost of just under $10,000 with an original interior it seems like a dream at this moment in time!

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As it was a fun flea market I wanted to road test a new skirt I made last week for the upcoming Textile Art Boutique I will be a part of. The skirt worked well with the wind and just created a little bell when the gusts of wind came underneath – so no flashes of my leggings! The other bonus as Treasure Island is about an hours drive away in the car the minimal crushing of the fabric for the drive was excellent, so I will be making more of these this week and getting my inventory up and happening. I have until mid-October to get a bunch of new stock together so I better get moving!!

A piece a week – A very Happy Birthday to Me!

Last week after the fun of my daughters 8th birthday it was my birthday week beginning with a lovely crepe breakfast with green smoothie on a Monday morning prepared by my family! We went out the Kumino the night before for dinner and as it is my birthday I don’t do any cooking – just catch up on projects to do and relax – hey it is your day so you have to make the most of it! 
So it was time to make away and I wanted to make a special birthday dress – this is a favorite pattern of mine as it can be worn in winter with layers or on it’s own in the summer time. This fabric was found at FabMo and it reminds me of an African tribal fabric so I have added interesting accessories like my scarab beetle earrings and a necklace I made out of tiger’s eye and random beads I inherited. I went out with my friends for my birthday on Friday to a favorite restaurant of mine in Sunnyvale – DishDash, beautiful cocktails and the food is Mediterranean and delicious! So much vegetarian to choose from and fresh flatbread and innovative cocktails is always a winner in my book. 
Get ready to celebrate
It was such a busy week with the school’s open house, PBL and Art show on Wednesday and the Art Show Reception on Thursday night. That the time in between was minimal so I had to quickly cut the dress and work on it in the evenings when I felt I had the energy – completing it with hemming on Friday when I helped take the CSMA art show down at school – whew! Hardly any time to read but my hubby found this dreamy book called Cabin P*rn at the local library – time to set up our future residence in the forest, where is that yurt??
Checking out the Cabins – for our future retirement Air BnB
Celebrating with the Funfetti cake the family made me! 
Here I am with my cat boy – Mack

Just before hitting the restaurant for dinner – I was starving and we had to wait 30 mins to get in!
Oh and another Badass selfie – this one with some wisteria, it smells amazing!

 The weekend was rainy so we went on a bike ride with the Superintendent from our school district and our school principal. Both Dr Rudolph and Ms Westover love riding so it was perfect for them, though not so perfect with the weather. The sprinkles managed to get us wet slowly but surely still it was refreshing and not too cold for riding. We stopped to check out the egret nesting area near Google and enjoyed some chocolate and some snacks for the slow ride back with the kids pace. Riding on the dedicated bike lane was such a treat in itself and if only the city can add more to make cycling safer – I volunteer with Safe Mountain View and with some perseverance we can make it happen!

Riding along in the rain

Love this bike lane crossing at Shoreline

Sunday was adopt a chicken day with the 4H Rolling Hills Poultry Project. As we enjoy getting up early and out and about on the weekends we hit the freeway early and headed over to Half Moon Bay to do some tide pooling – by the time we got there the tide was coming in super fast. Still we found something to do, breathe in the fresh and and go searching for crabs. The day was overcast and you can see the fog in these pics still it wasn’t too cold so we could hang out and enjoy our beach time.

Looking for critters on their little island before the tide came in
Fishing with kelp

Finding baby crabs

We were lucky to find this guy – he quickly skittered away

I always like to take my camera out on the weekends to see what we can find and as the weather was overcast that can be a great opportunity to take some pictures without any shadow so it was an excellent opportunity to take close ups of what I found on the beach. We are at Pillar Point as we went there on a super low tide one year and it was so good. This time we had to make do with the still creatures washed ashore which still are beautiful.

Sea glass AKA a broken coke bottle in the sand, the shells trying to shoo it away

Beautiful seaweed growing on a rock

The colors of the seaweed and shells always are impressive

Sheltering from the winds – a ladybug on a rock

The kids enjoyed picking up the seaweed and exploring the rocks to look for elusive crabs. The snow boots did come in handy though by the end of this the tights and the boots my daughter wore were drenched from walking in the water! Examining the seaweed colors in and out of the water was fascinating for my daughter and then she found a mussel and wanted to open it, I said to her I think it will be happier in the water.

Fly and be free little seaweed

Walking out looking for little critters in small tide pools
Coming back after a wander

Finally after lunch of some local fish and fish tacos at the Princeton Seafood Company – super fresh fish and chips with local fish on the menu. They also had a fish market with super fresh fish ready to go home with you. The cool thing was seeing the boats bring in the fresh live Dungeness crab at $6 a pound – so many crabs going to peoples homes in bags fresh for their dinner.

We met the Poultry project kids at the Half Moon Feed and Fuel to choose our foster chick – Missy chose a Production Red chick that we will be looking after in a couple of weeks. Each child looks after the chicks for a week with all the supplies and the heat lamp to keep them warm – we are looking forward to our time with the chicks.

Chicks ready to be fostered

On our way home we stopped by at the Worlds Rare Plants who came and spoke to the 2nd grade class about their Venus Fly Trap habitat project. Right next door is Highway 92 Succulents – now that was a treat for a succulent collector like me!

Love the colors of this plant now it lives in our place – an Echeveria – gibbiflora

A display of sundews, venus fly traps and pitcher plants by the owner who used to be a landscape architect
Tonight I am teaching this class at the local library, we have 11 signups so it will be fun – I better go get myself prepared and start cutting some fabric. All in all it was a fun week – how do you celebrate with your special day – week – month?

A piece a Week – Simple T-shirt experiment

A week of many things to do leads to a simple little project that I found in the Great British Sewing Bee : Sew Your Own Wardrobe. This is a t-shirt I have been wanting to make since I found it in the book as it is such a versatile piece, the bonus is that it has bias binding on the hems so that gave me more time to experiment with bias binding after last weeks project. This is an excellent demonstration piece and next time I know to make this a couple of sizes smaller!

The simple t-shirt in action

This weeks hike we wandered to Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve – another permit required open space managed by Mid Peninsula Open Space. It was an interesting place to explore with ruins of a Jesuit College which opened in 1934 – the college buildings were heavily damaged by the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989. The Mid Peninsula Open Space acquired the land in 1999 and if you have a permit you are free to explore this space. Wandering the fire roads and through the forest  it was extremely fascinating to see what mystery unfolded. We had no idea what used to be there \ and it was interesting what we found and how we put the pieces together. In the end we looked at the Google Map and it said Alma College and we just wanted to find out more… In the link to Alma College it is really interesting to see what the future holds for this land. Also there are some great pictures on what the space looked like before the earthquake. It is now just derelict buildings and warning signs looking through the fences you can see that this was a place that has a lot of history to it, find more images here.

Do Not Enter this space is dangerous – graffiti added to the space 

The giveaway that this is an older building – look at the light fitting

Indeed… Explore More…

This looks like a garage that was destroyed 

Favorite parts of this hike exploration for me were through the ruins of old bricks and buildings nature still took over. I love how the grasses and moss grew everywhere, my son even found moss growing in an old green bottle we found when we went exploring down a hill to find the flowing creek.

Over time nature just takes over 

Moss and graffiti

I like the look of these concrete pipes

“Look, moss is living in this bottle”

We found beer cans, old bottles, tires, rusted oil cans from back in the day that enhanced the experience of adventuring into places where no one visits. I can get used to this kind of hiking with no one else around – in the couple of hours we were there we only saw one horse rider and two horses on the fire road.

Checking out a beer can from 1968 – check out the tab top (ring pull) on the can

When we made it down to the creek

Our snack spot by the creek massive chunks of concrete and rocks form this small waterfall

The ruins with nature growing everywhere
 
Locked in! The only way to enter is with a key combination

Where a fountain once stood – this bird stretches its wings
With all the rain the spring flowers are in bloom and today I went for a 9.5 mile (15 km) bike ride to Shoreline and found this amazing field of poppies. It was close to the middle of the day (lunchtime = hangry) so I captured what I could on my phone camera and rode on home.
Spring California Poppies Bloom
A bumblebee doing what they do best!