As I look forward to the upcoming school year, and resuming work as a high school science teacher, I am screening candidates to take over my position at my part time job in artificial intelligence research. The job is absolutely fascinating, but requires a very specific skill set, so I am not surprised that half of the applicants that have come my way are eager, but unqualified. The other half have the qualifications, but most are unwilling to commute to work.
I respect those professionals who can work remotely – it takes a lot of discipline to focus on work tasks amid homely distractions. I know it can work well, too – I work remotely over ten hours per week. And with gas prices as they are, I am not surprised if some don’t want to spend the cash and broaden their carbon footprints.
The reason most of my applicants don’t want to commute has less to do with their desire to work from home or the cost of gas, and more to do with the fact that they are commuting for one, two, or three hours, even without traffic… in one direction.
Times must be tight when a person looks well beyond their community to find work. I even have an applicant who had hoped she could do the work from her house, in Hawaii.
Work defines so many of us, even if the work is unpaid. But home is where the heart is. I love teaching and have been fortunate to always live within a half hour of where I teach, so where I stimulate my head and where I rest it are not far removed, making for a comfortable balance.
But what happens if your work is a world away from your home life? Do you run the risk of undervaluing community, for never having time to be in it? When you think of a park, family-run business, or hiking trail, is your recollection of one hazy at best, these memories being replaced by the speediest megamart, McDonalds, and gas station you can think of?
My husband’s colleague recently began renting an apartment so he could begin to enjoy his second work home, in Texas, when away from California. He was tired of megamarts, McDonalds, and Marriots, and ready to fill his life with more calm. Still, he commutes regularly across states, to keep his job, returning home to his wife after days afar. Without children, the impact of his work commute is not as immense as it could be, to his personal life. But what if he and his wife decide to have kids?
Our family hikes, runs, bikes, and plays in the same community we work in, and we’ve grown to value it. It’s wonderful to know the neighborhood news, natural treasures, and local personalities. Silicon Valley is not exactly “small town America,” but when you can find fields of poppies, mustard, and scarlet pimpernel, eat the best Falafel around (Falafel Drive-In), play T-ball with the neighbors, and chat about local elementary school politics at the supermarket, it sure feels that way.
We hope Stroller Hikes can help you build your sense of community. Join us outside for an escape from technology, your commute, and this recession. Hikes are always free (we note where there are parking fees, in hike descriptions, however). Can’t join us? Rebuild those memories of the local park or hiking trail by creating your own adventure using our interactive map (http://www.strollerhikes.com/InteractiveMap.php) or comparison chart (http://www.strollerhikes.com/Hikes/ComparisonChart.php)!
-Debbie, little Max, and wee Holly
This Week’s Events
Monday, April 11 at 9:30 AM: Bike Buddies Family Ride (San Carlos) – 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.
Monday, April 11 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, April 12 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, April 12 at 4:00 PM: Sunnyvale Baylands Fast-Paced Hike – Join Megan and little Vera for a Stroller Hike at Sunnyvale Baylands Park. 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). Park next door at the baseball field if you don’t want to pay for parking. For more information or directions, see the Baylands Page. If you’re running late, call Megan at 408-409-3206.
Wednesday, April 13 at 10:00 AM: 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 not required. Community Room at Sports Basement, 1177 Kern Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA.
Thursday, April 14 at 4:30 PM: Ed Levin Park Toddler Trek (Milpitas) – Join Debbie, Max, and Holly for a Toddler Trek at Ed Levin’s Spring Valley/Los Coches Ridge. Meet at the trailhead for Spring Valley Trail near the horse corrals above Spring Valley Pond. We’ll hike Spring Valley Trail, take the first left fork to continue on Connector Trail, then cross Los Coches Creek and Vista Ridge Drive to continue on Los Coches Ridge. Los Coches Ridge is a 1.5 miles loop that circles a bluff as we go up and down moderately steep sections of this packed-dirt trail. The trail is 2.3 miles total. Bring a carrier/backpack if your child does not want to walk, but we will encourage kids to walk. We’ll take a break at the picnic tables halfway, and play at the pond after the hike. Ed Levin park is located at 3100 Calaveras Rd., Milpitas. To get to the trailhead, drive into the park at the driveway directly across from the golf course. Turn left at the kiosk and continue into the park, passing the ranger station on your right. Park at the last parking area near the horse corrals. If you’re running late, call Debbie at 650-776-1082.
Friday, April 15 at 9:30 AM: Fast-Paced 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 as long as they can stay with the fast-paced group (a lot of the adults want to get a moderate workout). 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.
Saturday, April 16 at 12:30 PM: Sunol Backpacking Bambinos day or overnight trip – Come out for a Backpacking Bambinos weekend trip to lovely Sunol. We’ll hike in through rolling green hills with lonely oaks, pass Little Yosemite complete with waterfalls, and check out old remnants of this land’s ranching past. Registration required for families to stay overnight at our campsite above the valley – SORRY, ALL FULL. Day-trippers are welcome to join us – please RSVP through the poll for this week. Debbie, Max, Andrew, and Holly will lead this event – start time may change, so be sure to use the poll so you can be contacted about it.
Sunday, April 17 at 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM: 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.” $5 admission. Full Circle Farm is located at 1055 Dunford Way, Sunnyvale.
From the Field: Picchetti Open Space
The peacock was all tails at Picchetti Open Space (Cupertino) on Friday. We arrived as a class of kids were leaving – they had come out to the ephemeral pond there to check out tadpoles and other water life. The peacock had put on a show for them, as some of them had gotten very close to him. Beware, though, peacocks can be aggressive (one jumped on me once, trying to snap a granola bar out of my hand)!
Tackle the Ridge!
Saturday, April 30 at 11:00 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 opened March 21st. This event occurs in the Marin Headlands, North of San Francisco. Events include very long hikes, equestrian rides, bike rides, and a 4-mile family hike, which starts at 11 AM (other events begin sooner). Lunch is provided. Register soon – this event sells out. For more information, see The Ridge Trail Webpage.