Author Archives: amity

Preparing for the Season

After Halloween every year, time seems to speed up. One factor that causes this is the shortening of days – the amount of daylight is less, and days can feel shorter when cold or rainy weather shuts us indoors. When those clocks shift, as they did last week, evening comes far too quickly, and those of us working full time jobs start feeling guilty for simply coming home to sup, then put the kids to bed, with no daylight left to play outside, or fit in a later-night barbeque with friends, like we do in the summer. On top of all of this, holidays and social obligations begin to abound later in the year, and with this, a sense of urgency for putting together hostess and holiday gifts.

I’ve always been exceedingly frugal when it comes to spending. In college and grad school, $20 was my limit for single-item spending, be it for clothes, entertainment, or a holiday turkey. It’s been hard to let go of such frugality as I approach the end of my fourth decade of life, but even back then, things sort of fell apart this time of year. With the holiday panic upon me, and a long list of people to put together gifts for, I’d easily spend well beyond my usual means, dipping into my savings account, or keeping a credit card balance into the New Year.

Home-made giftsThis all changed when I started getting better at making holiday gifts, and having little ones to increase the sentimentality of gifts, helped a lot too. For the last two years, Stroller Hikes has hosted a holiday craft workshop at Sports Basement or our house, and it’s been a pleasure folding other Stroller Hikes families into the good, messy fun of making gifts for others. The first year, most of our holiday cookies got consumed by their bakers, rather than passed along as gifts, but last year we had fun whipping up reusable produce and sandwich bags, salt scrubs, felt coasters, magnets and ornaments, plantable seeded flowers, and wine glass charms (photo above of some of our samples). This year, we’ll work on cooking kits (for oatmeal cookies, multi-bean soup, or peppermint hot cocoa, for instance). I’m still setting up dates, but look towards early December for an afternoon/evening.

Last year, it was a relief to take advantage of our craft day to have the kids whip up all of the gifts for their teachers, some of my work colleagues, and some friends and relatives. Everyone enjoyed what we had produced, and we even had extras to use, ourselves!g craft event. This week, I’ll send a poll out to see what days/times work best for folks. The event will be open to the public, so anyone can come, but please RSVP once that date is established (in a couple of weeks), so we get enough supplies for everyone. We’ll suggest a small donation to pay for the supplies, for all attendees that plan to make gifts to bring home. More details to come, as we get this nailed down.

Looking forward to getting crafty with you!

-Debbie (President and Founder), Max (6), Holly (2), and Andrew

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Santa Teresa (Fortini Trailhead)

We had RSVPs from over 13 families, and tons cancelled (flu and cold season is upon us and the holiday craziness has begun), but we still had a stupendous time (4 families attended).

Hoorah for early costume donning!  We were safe from evil with Superman (Scott) in attendance.


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Volunteer Power

When I was a teenager, I was a Girl Scout.  Clad in my sash, pins, or uniform, I volunteered almost every other weekend.  I quickly learned to pick my volunteer positions, favoring outdoor, food, or teaching events.  I had no idea all of that volunteerism would contribute to what I am today.

Volunteering is cool – the motivation has to be intrinsic, as you aren’t being compensated with money, so you pick your roles wisely, to fit your interests or a goal you mean to achieve.  Co-volunteers are bound to be like-minded, so it’s a great way to meet others and make friends.  And the feeling of accomplishing something largely due to willpower and perseverance is wonderful – you can attest to “giving something for nothing,” though the return can be more valuable than gold.

This weekend we celebrate the volunteers that make Stroller Hikes, well, existent, at our annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.  This year, it’s a potluck so the whole family can come and we have room and time to socialize.  2010 was an amazing year, with Stroller Hikes growing even more as a community, resource, and family.

2011 has already revealed even more growth.  Yesterday, we met a volunteer who joined our substitute pool for leading events (Thanks Ann!).  Today, we met a new volunteer who has stepped up to address some of our technical hurdles (Thanks Emily!). Next week, Pippa resumes her leadership for weekly events, providing a new option for parents with kids that fight naptime (I call it – tongue in cheek- a “Ferberize Hike;” we just got Holly “Ferberized” – 7 sleepless months later and one week after going “Full Ferber,” she is finally sleeping all night… knock on wood… a nod to Pippa’s intent to help Ruth sleep while hiking, with the photo at left).  Melissa has stepped up to manage our Mothering Tent at Full Circle Farm’s Earth Day Festival in April.  And this is all on top of what several fantastic hike leaders, tech volunteers, and event coordinators do regularly for our little 501-c-3 nonprofit (Thank you everyone!).   Stroller Hikes has a lot going on, and we couldn’t do it without our fantastic volunteers!

Just as it amazes me what technology comes out of Silicon Valley on a day-to-day basis, I am impressed at the commitment to community here.  I regularly find myself in awe of cutting-edge technology, and say “only in Silicon Valley.”  When volunteers emerge or we network with a new family-friendly non-profit, however, I am happy to know that this isn’t exclusive to this region – amazing, generous people are everywhere.

Kudos to all of you who go above and beyond for your kids, beliefs, and cities, working altruistically to do anything as simple as picking up trash, helping a neighbor with a chore, using public programs, or leading a new social, learning, or community group.  Stroller Hikes is entirely run by volunteers who feel passionately about providing opportunities to families outdoors.  If you would like to volunteer, let us know – you can check out some volunteer options at http://strollerhikes.com/Background/VolunteerJobs.php or contact us at admin@strollerhikes.com. (Two specific events not on the list that we’re looking for volunteers to help with are Full Circle Farm’s Earth Day Celebration on April 17th and the Bay Ridge Trail Council’s Ridge to Bridge Event on April 30th, both below under “Plan Ahead.”  For the first, we’re looking for help managing our Mothering Tent for one or more hours.  For the second, you would help facilitate the Family Hike.  If you’d like to help remotely and don’t want to commit a lot of time, we have several digital projects as well, including designing some graphic “buttons” for Gear On the Go, Free Events, and other Stroller Hikes-specific features.)

Likewise, if you have ideas to volunteer about improving Stroller Hikes, please let us know – we are constantly changing, even if those changes are transparent to you, our audience.

-Debbie, little Max, and wee Holly


This Week’s Events

Saturday, Mar 12 at 8:30 AM: Juana Run (Palo Alto) – Come out for the 15th Annual Juana Run, a family-friendly fundraiser for Palo Alto Unified School District. This run includes an 8 K and shorter races including a 1-miler and a crawlathon. This event costs money and required registration – online registration closes on March 10th. For more information, see http://www.active.com/running/palo-alto-ca/juana-run-15th-annual-2011#Summary.

Monday, Mar 14 at 11:00 AM: Shoreline Park Hike and Picnic (Mountain View) – Join Amy and her two little ones for a fast-paced hike and picnic at Shoreline Park in Mountain View at 3070 N. Shoreline Blvd. The trail is paved, so it’s great for all strollers or kid carriers. Meet at the lake next to where the sailboats are kept (to the right of the cafe / bathrooms building) in Shoreline Park. There are plenty of play structures and a beach for toddlers – we’ll stop to play after the hike! Sorry, no dogs allowed. For information about the park and directions, see Shoreline Park Page and Emily Renzel/Byxbee Page. If you’re running late, call Amy at 408-368-7161.

Tuesday, Mar 15 at 9:00 AM: Stevens Creek Trail Run (from Creekside Park, Mountain View) – Join Debbie and wee Holly for a Stroller Run along Stevens Creek Trail in Mountain View, from Easy Street’s Creekside Park. We’ll run, race-walk, rollerblade, or run-walk for 20 -30 minutes, then return back the way we came. We’ll discuss goal setting and training suggestions at our break; beginners are more than welcome! Kids on bikes are welcome as long as they can reliably stay with the group. For more information about the trail or directions, see The Stevens Creek Trail Webpage. If you’re running late, call Debbie at 650-776-1082.

Tuesday, Mar 15 at 4:00 PM: Shoreline Park Hike (Mountain View) – Join Megan and little Vera for a fast-paced hike at Shoreline Park in Mountain View at 3070 N. Shoreline Blvd. The trail is paved, so it’s great for all strollers or kid carriers. Meet at the lake next to where the sailboats are kept (to the right of the cafe / bathrooms building) in Shoreline Park. There are plenty of play structures and a beach for toddlers – we’ll stop to play after the hike! Sorry, no dogs allowed. For information about the park and directions, see Shoreline Park Page and Emily Renzel/Byxbee Page. If you’re running late, call Megan at 408-409-3206.

Wednesday, Mar 16 at 2:00 PM: Stanford Dish Fast-Paced Naptime Hike – Join Pippa and Ruth for a nap-time strollerhike at The Stanford Dish. This will be a fast-paced circuit where we aim to keep kids in their strollers. Any strollers should work as it is paved. Meet at the guard’s kiosk at the Stanford Ave entrance (parking on Stanford Ave). Sorry, no dogs allowed. For information on this area or directions, see The Stanford Dish Page. If you’re running late, call Pippa a call on 510 621 7471.

Wednesday, Mar 16 at 6:00 PM: Class: Cancelled

Thursday, Mar 17 at 4:30 PM: Hidden Villa Toddler Trek (Los Altos) – Join Debbie, little Max, and wee Holly for a visit to the farm and a hike along the creek at Hidden Villa. This nonprofit, fully functioning educational farm costs $5 for parking, so be sure to bring this with you, are park near the road and walk in. Jogging strollers work fine, but we’ll encourage the kids to walk. Meet at the large main parking lot deep inside the park. For more information about the park or directions, see The Hidden Villa Page. Call Debbie at 650-776-1082 if you’re running late.

Friday, Mar 18 at 9:30 AM: Rancho San Antonio Hike – Join Melissa and little Maxwell for a fast-paced hike at Rancho San Antonio in Cupertino/Los Altos Hills off of Cristo Rey Drive, Cupertino. We’ll head out to the farm along the mixture of paved and packed dirt trails. Any baby transport will work, and bikes, trikes, and scooters do OK on this route. Meet at the water fountain in the main parking lot (turn right as you enter the park, then follow the road until it ends). For more information or directions, see the Rancho San Antonio Page. Sorry, dogs not allowed. This hike is at least half shaded. Call Melissa at 650-224-5461 if you’re running late.

Friday, Mar 18 at 3:30 PM: Hidden Villa Backpacking Bambinos – Join Debbie, little Max, and wee Holly for Backpacking Bambinos at Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills. We’ll hike the amazing hilly Hostel Trail Loop here, but if you change your mind about a hilly adventure, this area has a lovely, flat Creek Trail and there’s always the farm to visit! Bring a $5 donation for parking. Meet at the main parking lot, deep in the park. For more information and directions, see The Hidden Villa Page. If you’re running late, please call Debbie at 650-776-1082.

Saturday, Mar 19 at 10:30 AM: Join Bike Buddies for a Family Friendly Bike Ride through downtown San Carlos. The ride will last up to an hour. For more information, see SanCarlosGreen.org’s Website

Saturday, Mar 19 at 7:30 PM: Moonlit Hike at Harvey Bear / Coyote Lake Ranch (Gilroy) – Join Jen and her family for a Stroller Hikes Moonlit Hike at Harvey Bear / Coyote Lake Ranch (Gilroy). What a treat to share sunset and witness some critters settling down to rest, while other creatures come alive at night! We’ll hike Martin Murphy Trail, a 2 mile paved loop, with excellent vantage points for seeing stars and looking for bats flying to catch insects, while offering plenty of safe space for toddlers and children to hike with us. Jennifer will alert you to nature at dusk and beyond, by the light of the moon. All family members welcome! This is a Santa Clara County Play Here activity. Register at the Santa Clara County Website or by calling or e-mailing Carrie Grisenti at 408-355-2240 or Carrie.Grisenti@prk.sccgov.org! Registration required so the group numbers are not overwhelming to the leaders! To get to the trailhead, drive towards Gilroy on Highway 101. From the Highway 101 exit at San Martin Avenue, drive East for 2 miles on San Martin Avenue. The Harvey Bear Ranch entrance to the park is on the left, a quarter mile East of Foothill Avenue, on San Martin Avenue. Call Jennifer at 408-470-0463 if you’re running late. The event is free, but a parking fee may apply. Please register in advance at www.parkhere.org


From the Field

Several Stroller Hikers got to witness more than they expected on a hike to Sunnyvale Baylands this week.  Fire fighters were out testing equipment at the large open space, shiny red engines and all.  Thanks to Jennifer Wagner for the photo!


Plan Ahead!

Backpacking Bambinos Series Day Trips: Overnight spots are full for all of these, but certainly bring the whole family out for the day!

Friday, Mar 25: Hiker’s Hut at Sam McDonald Park

Saturday, April 16: Sunol to Little Yosemite Falls & beyond

Saturday, May 14: Point Reyes (Marin)

Tuesday, April 5 at 9:00 AM: Campbell Baby Boot Camp FREE Class – Come out for a FREE Baby Boot Camp Class for Stroller Hikers! Looking for a great, fast-paced workout integrating aerobic fitness and resistance training? Bring your child in his/her stroller, a yoga mat or lawn blanket, and a bottle of water, and be ready to get that heart pumping and break a sweat! Baby Boot Camp is typically a moderate-fee class for moms or moms-to-be, and provides spirited, educated instructors who are able to provide modifications to fit all fitness abilities. This class is FREE, thanks to Stroller Hikes’ partnership with Baby Boot Camp. Learn more about Baby Boot Camp at BabyBootCamp.com.

Wednesday, April 13 at 10:00 AM and Saturday, April 30 at 6:00 PM: Class: Hiking, Running, and Backpacking with Infants and Toddlers – Just because you’ve procreated doesn’t mean you have to give up on outdoor fun! Stroller Hikes, a 501-c-3 educational nonprofit will present about getting outside with the entire family, with emphasis on infants and toddlers. This whole-family friendly class will include presentations on gear, engaging the senses, resources for finding a location that meets your needs, safety, and building an appreciation of nature, exercise, and family time. The one-hour class will include about 30 minutes of presentation, followed by several activity stations for the whole family. FREE! Registration is not required.  Class will be in the community room at Sports Basement, 1177 Kern Avenue, Sunnyvale.

 

Sunday, April 17 at 10:00 AM: Full Circle Farm Earth Day Celebration – Come out for Full Circle Farm’s annual Earth Day Celebration, complete with arts and crafts for kids, science and food, yoga, Wild Zones, and a Mothering Tent provided by Stroller Hikes. The Mothering Tent will be for diaper changes, nursing, and a break from the buzz of the event – stop in to say “hi.” More details to follow! Full Circle Farm is located at 1055 Dunford Way, Sunnyvale.

Saturday, April 30 at 10:00 AM: Ridge to Bridge – Come out for the annual Ridge to Bridge, a wonderful fundraising outdoor athletic event benefiting the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council. General registration opens March 21st. This event occurs in the Marin Headlands, North of San Francisco. Events include very long hikes, equestrian rides, bike rides, and a family hike. The family hike begins probably around 10 AM and wraps up at lunch (time was not finalized at the time of this publication). Lunch is provided. Register soon – this event sells out. For more information, see The Ridge Trail Webpage.

Friday, July 22nd – Sunday, July 24th: Stroller Hikes Annual Car Camping Trip (Soquel) – Join us for the 5th Annual Stroller Hikes Camping Trip, for the third year in a row at the Letona/Bravo Ranch in Soquel. Soquel is just 10 minutes from the beach and just a half hour from Silicon Valley! We’ll enjoy Soquel Creek, the groves of eucalyptus and redwood, the chicken coop, and the treehouse at this family ranch, as well as wonderful food, company, and campfire time. You can park just a few yards from your tent, so this type of camping suits almost anyone! You must register for this event in advance – fee is $25 per family per night – you can stay Friday night, Saturday night, or both; contact admin@strollerhikes.com to indicate interest. Last year “sold out” so register early!

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The Gift of Experience

Recently, we approached the quandary of what to give someone for a birthday.  We didn’t want to buy any more books or toys, knowing that they might lose their allure amidst the tide of similar gifts.  We thought about what really matters and what makes a big impact, and quickly concluded what we would do.

We would give the gift of experience.

For older people, this means cooking, art, or recreation classes.  This birthday girl, at just 1 year old, couldn’t follow along with such things, so I turned to Max, my 4-year old, for ideas.

“How about a hike?”

A hike was an excellent idea.  If this lively lady didn’t already have a sun hat and other associated gear to face the weather and outdoors, we’d consider outfitting her for hiking.  But indeed, mom and dad loved to travel and get outside, so we weren’t facilitating anything new with this hypothetical birthday gift.  Plus, hiking is free – thanks to plenty of no-cost trailheads and resources like StrollerHikes.com that help one find a hiking location (http://www.strollerhikes.com/Hikes/ComparisonChart.php).

“How about Garden Burger?”

Max meant Gilroy Gardens (he has yet to fully internalize what Gilroy is, so he associates the name with something else called “Garden”).  True, this is a pretty cool place.  If you haven’t been, it’s very much like a mini-Disneyland for toddlers.  But it comes with a substantial price tag that I wasn’t quite ready to pay, and I preferred to pick a place a bit closer to home, with more suitable for slightly younger kids.

Max’s suggestion sparked us to finally choose a place – Happy Hollow – which is an amusement park and zoo in San Jose.

Here were other suggestions from Max:  The YMCA for swimming lessons, The Children’s Discovery Museum, The Palo Alto Junior Museum (free), The Children’s Natural History Museum (free – and very cool, especially if you like archeology, biology, or geology, in Fremont), the NASA Ames Museum (free – photo above), and Cal Train for a ride to a neighboring city for an afternoon (unfortunately, passes expire).

We hope you enjoy your experiences with Stroller Hikes and can pass them along to others, without thinking twice about your pocketbook!  We really enjoy seeing new faces on our runs, treks, and hikes each week.  Got your own idea for an experience you can gift for infants or toddlers?  Share it online at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Strollerhikescom/195937147084664

– Debbie, little Max, and wee Holly (Founding Stroller Hikes Family)


This Week’s Events

Monday, Mar 7 at 11:00 AM: Sunnyvale Baylands Hike and Picnic – Join Amy and her two little ones for a fast-paced hike and picnic at Sunnyvale Baylands. This trail is entirely paved, so any stroller will work! Meet next to the recycled water test garden (take a left after entering the park). The park charges for parking this month, but if no one is at the kiosk, you can park for free. If someone is at the kiosk and you don’t want to pay, exit the park and turn right, taking the first right to enter the parking area for the baseball field. You can park there for free. Walk the sidewalk towards the park and take the first dirt trail to your left to walk directly to the Recycled Water Garden. For more information or directions, see the Baylands Page. If you’re running late, call Amy at 408-368-7161.

Tuesday, Mar 8 at 9:00 AM: Stevens Creek Trail Run (from Creekside Park, Mountain View) – Join Debbie and wee Holly for a Stroller Run along Stevens Creek Trail in Mountain View, from Easy Street’s Creekside Park. We’ll run, race-walk, rollerblade, or run-walk for 20 -30 minutes, then return back the way we came. We’ll discuss goal setting and training suggestions at our break; beginners are more than welcome! Kids on bikes are welcome as long as they can reliably stay with the group. For more information about the trail or directions, see The Stevens Creek Trail Webpage. If you’re running late, call Debbie at 650-776-1082.

Tuesday, Mar 8 at 4:00 PM: Ulistac Natural Area Fast-Paced Hike – Join Megan and little Vera at Ulistac Natural Area in Santa Clara. Meet at Lick Mill Park’s playground; park at Lick Mill Park at 4750 Lick Mill Boulevard in Santa Clara. We’ll let the kids play at the park, then walk down and across the street slightly to Ulistac, which is a wonderful natural space once inhabited by Ohlone. We’ll check out the meandering packed dirt trails, then walk the levee above the park. Bring a jogging stroller or backpack; smaller-wheeled strollers may have trouble on the levee trail, which is gravel. For more information, see The Ulistac Webpage. If you’re running late, call Megan at 408-409-3206.

Wednesday, Mar 9 at 10:00 AM: Class has been cancelled by Sports Basement.

Thursday, Mar 10 at 4:30 PM: Calero’s Figueroa Trail – Toddler Trek – Join Debbie, Max, and Holly for a Toddler Trek at Calero’s Figueroa Trail. We hope to find wildflowers in this area full of rolling grassy hills. Meet at the main parking area for the park (not the reservoir), next to the ranger’s station. We’ll cross the driveway after greeting any grazing horses and turkeys, then instead of heading to the lookout above the pond (our usual destination), we’ll turn left on the trail, ultimately following it in the shady area alongside the stream. The park is located at 23205 McKean Rd in San Jose. Call Debbie if you’re running late at 650-776-1082.

Friday, Mar 11 at 3:30 PM: Windy Hill Backpacking Bambinos – Join Debbie, little Max, and wee Holly for Backpacking Bambinos at Windy Hill in Portola Valley. This is part of our “training” series for backpacking; kids should be willing to walk or parents should be prepared to carry them with soft carriers or backpacks. Meet at the parking lot off of Portola Road, 0.8 miles past the intersection with Alpine Road. We’ll hike a mellow loop along Betsy Crowder to Spring Ridge to Meadow Trail, checking out the pond, then try to identify birds and bugs. This is a bit too rugged for jogging strollers. For more information about the hike or directions, see The Windy Hill Page. Dogs allowed! If you’re running late, please call Debbie at 650-776-1082.

Saturday, Mar 12 at 8:30 AM: Juana Run (Palo Alto) – Come out for the 15th Annual Juana Run, a family-friendly fundraiser for Palo Alto Unified School District. This run includes an 8 K and shorter races including a 1-miler and a crawlathon. This event costs money and required registration – online registration closes on March 10th. For more information, see http://www.active.com/running/palo-alto-ca/juana-run-15th-annual-2011#Summary.


From the Field: Snails Locked In?

Little Scottie found a unique looking snail this week at Stevens Creek Trail where it abuts Shoreline Park in Mountain View.

Accustomed to seeing their squishy lone feet when he plucked them from grass, he was surprised to find one that had a smooth deposit of shell where the foot would be.  Fascinating, for our budding 2-year-old scientist! Debbie and Max saw the same smooth, white deposit when they found Chiton Shells at the Children’s Natural History Museum in Fremont later in the week.

We believe that the recent gross changes in weather may have caused the snail to “panic,” secreting the same shell materials used to make the shell larger, to close off the shell and seal moisture inside.  Many snails do this if they feel threatened, and can stay locked inside their shells for many days, finally secreting enzymes to re-open the shell later.


City of Cupertino Houses Gear On the Go!

Gear On the Go is our gear-lending program for families wanting to attend Stroller Hikes events and wanting to borrow gear. We have strollers, soft carriers, and frame backpacks.

All of this wonderful gear takes up quite a bit of space, so we are thrilled that City of Cupertino is providing space at Blackberry Farm for us! Thanks Cupertino!

If you’d like to borrow gear for one of our events, please contact Debbie at admin@strollerhikes.com.

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