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 that help one find a hiking location (

“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

– 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

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

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