Robert Burns Tradition

Our family has annually celebrated Burns Night Supper for the last decade, only taking last year off.  My husband, with a fair amount of Scottish blood, has been celebrating this Scottish holiday – homage to the birth of the poet Robert Burns – since he can remember.  He grew up being part of these semiformal parties, complete with a bagpiper, such that bag piping became a very romantic sound to him (others parallel the sound to cats in heat).  When my husband and I were dating, his mother employed me to help with the event, which involved cooking all day (and then some, as she prepped for and made several dishes ahead).  Guests enjoyed Bubble and Squeak, quiches, buttered peas, roast beef, and even the national dish, haggis (which is really wonderful – not scary at all).

Max and Holly are part of the tradition in our family, as well, though the piping is a bit more alarming for their little ears.  It takes about three days to cook for the event, and the piles of dishes and linens grow in our tiny house, as we make sure we have all of the equipment we need.  This weekend we’ll pour a little scotch, lads will don their kilts, and the bagpipes will scare all of the mice away from beneath the stairs.

Robert Burns was an artist in all senses of the word – he lived life brazenly, and wrote poetry documenting it that stirred the spirit and raised a few eyebrows.  He wrote about the beautiful countryside in Scotland with equal passion as outings with friends for a tassie of wine.  He documented the valiant efforts of now deified martyr Scots who gallantly fought for their country.  And he wrote just as often of the melancholy cycle of life – of daisies ploughed under or loves lost at sea – as he did of silliness – odes to a mouse, haggis, or louses.

Robert Burns’ work reminds me that the world is ours to color.  We can frame our photos as best conveys our feelings on a hike.  We can collect sticks and rocks, and assemble some wild art.  Max can invent names for flowers he sees and devise their ecology, pooh-poohing any laminated field guides I might offer him – who’s to say he is wrong?  And Holly’s new eyes can take in the beauty of an emerging spring, with no preconceived notions of what it should be – it’s her first spring to witness, after all.  We hope you are able to appreciate a Stroller Hike this week – and if you hear the bagpipes, you’ll know where the party is!  (Sorry we can’t invite all 400 of you!)

-Debbie, little Max, and wee Holly

p.s. “The best laid plans of mice and men often go askew.”  Scott Anderson read Robert Burns’ “Ode to a Mouse” last night, clad in his regal kilt.  Many of our Burns Night guests were pleased to recognize it and finally realize its origin.  Burns Night is over – one day after I wrote the essay above – and we have plenty of evidence for it happily not going askew.  There are piles of dishes and linens waiting to be washed, several half-finished bottles of wine (and one exceptional bottle of scotch), as well as one carefully reserved slice of chocolate torte for Max (who was off to bed before dessert).  Burns Night Supper was a success in several ways – I managed to reheat potatoes, squash, and red wine reduction sauce with curious neon pink gel, Holly smiled at the bagpipes during our processional of the Haggis (she must be a true Scot), and Stroller Hikes made a few hundred dollars, as this was a fundraising dinner this year.

This Week’s Events

Monday, Feb 28 at 11:00 AM: Crystal Springs Hike and Picnic – Join Amy and her two little ones for a fast-paced hike and picnic at Crystal Springs near Burlingame. We’ll hike along the Sawyer Camp Trail, West of San Mateo and Burlingame. This is an entirely paved trail (well, I doubt it if we’ll make it to the short gravel section connecting to San Andreas Trail near mile 6) so all strollers work fine. Plenty of benches and port-o-potties along the way, and a nice picnic area with water near the 3.5 mile mark (if we make it that far). For information about the hike or directions, see Crystal Springs Page. Meet at the benches just inside the gate at Crystal Springs Rd and Skyline Blvd. If you’re running late, call Amy at 408-368-7161.

Tuesday, Mar 1 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. Not so sure about running or this trail? Come out for a fast-paced hike later today instead (see below); runs will recur every week at this trail. If you’re running late, call Debbie at 650-776-1082.

Tuesday, Mar 1 at 4:00 PM: Rancho San Antonio Hike (Cupertino/Los Altos Hills) – Join Megan and little Vera for a Stroller Hike at Rancho San Antonio in Cupertino/Los Altos Hills. We’ll do an almost entirely paved, flat path going to the farm, and possibly go past it. The road is perfect for trikes or bikes, if toddlers or young children want to ride. Any baby transport will work. Meet at the main parking lot next to the bathrooms (just past the entrance, turn right, then follow the road until it ends at the bottom of the hill). For more information or directions, see the Rancho San Antonio Page. Sorry, dogs not allowed. This hike is at least half shaded. If you’re running late, call Megan at 408-409-3206.

Thursday, Mar 3 at 4:30 PM: McClellan Ranch Toddler Trek (Cupertino) – Join Debbie, little Max, and wee Holly for a Toddler Trek along the creek and through the meadow at the historic ranch. Meet at the parking lot. Rain doesn’t cancel, as this hike is almost entirely shaded. We’ll encourage kids to walk this narrow trail; backpacks or carriers are best for non-walkers. This is a fantastic, short loop for beginning hikers. We’ll tack on play time in the adjacent Blackberry Farm, if playing at the fallen tree, creek, and spying on the farm and gardens aren’t satisfying enough for the kids. For directions or more information about the park, see The McClellan Ranch Page. If you’re running late, call Debbie at 650-776-1082.

Friday, Mar 4 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 4 at 3:30 PM: Ed Levin Backpacking Bambinos (Milpitas) – Join Debbie, little Max, and wee Holly for Backpacking Bambinos at Ed Levin County Park in Milpitas. 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. We’ll hike the Tularcitos and Calera Creek Trails to Agua Caliente Trail, trying to identify wildflowers as we hike. Meet at the Sandy Wool Lake Parking Area (** this is different from the usual parking area we meet at **). To get there, from the Hwy 680 or 880 Calaveras Road exit to Milpitas, drive east on Calaveras Road. Turn left on Downing Road, keeping right to reach the park entrance. Pass Sandy Wool Lake and park in the first paved parking area on the right. (The trailhead is near the payphone.) This is a Healthy Trails Hike. If you’re running late, call Debbie at 650-776-1082.

Sunday, Mar 6 at 10:00 AM: Jenny’s Light 5K, 10K and Kids Fun Run – Support Jenny’s Light, a nonprofit resource regarding perinatal depression, by walking or running (with or without a stroller) at their 3rd annual 1K (for kids), 5K, and 10K Event at Los Gatos Creek Trail in Los Gatos/San Jose. For more information, see The Jenny’s Light Website.

From the Field

Max: “The mud makes this trail kind of fun!” (Squish, squish)

Later, we discovered an equally brown area that wasn’t squishy.  Odd… turns out, we were treading on Rubber Mulch, recycled tires that had been painted brown and used in lieu of the typical bark or compost mulches.  Use of rubber mulch (shown above) is in an experimental phase at Ed Levin County Park in Milpitas.

What’s That?  Free T Contest

Guess the image shown below (the very tall, uncurling plant) and earn a free Stroller Hikes T.  Please e-mail guesses to

Weekend Trip Updates

  • March Hiker’s Hut Trip – FULL
  • April Sunol Trip – FULL
  • May Point Reyes Trip – FULL
  • July 23rd – Join Stroller Hikes for its 5th Annual Family Camping Trip in Soquel at the Letona/Bravo Ranch along Soquel Creek.  Cost is $25 per family.  You can drive right up to the camping area.  Attractions include plenty of good food, company, the creek, the treehouse, and more!  RSVP to to indicate interest and confirm your spot by paying through PayPal or mailing a check to StrollerHikes, 517 Fern Ridge Ct., Sunnyvale, CA, 94087.  We have enough room for a dozen families to attend.
  • August 20th: Trip to be determined

Stroller Hikes Classes at Sports Basement

Do you have friends or loved ones that need some confidence about getting outside with babies or toddlers?  Debbie, Melissa, and Serena are teaching classes at Sports Basement in Sunnyvale about getting outside with very young children to hike, run, and backpack.  All classes are free and open to the general public.  Please register through Sports Basement at the link below so we can plan for the classes accordingly.

Class description: Family Hiking, Backpacking, and Running 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.  Each one-hour class will include about 30 minutes of presentation, followed by several activity stations for the whole family.  Pre-register and indicate ages and numbers of children attending here at

March 9th 10 AM, March 16th 6 PM, April 13th 10 AM, April 30th 6 PM

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