Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Japanese Garden in San Mateo, CA

Koi fish symbolize strength and perseverance.

I had no idea there was a Japanese Tea Garden in San Mateo. I found it by Googling. It's located in San Mateo's Central Park at El Camino Real at Fifth Avenue. Admission is free! Not only does this park have a Japanese garden, it also has a rose garden, picnic area, a green field and play structures. I wish I'd known about it when my kids were young.

Green field and a bench for relaxing.

Large picnic area - there are more tables not pictured.

Play structure, swings not pictured.

An old, working train only a toddler would love - $2.00


I loved the Japanese Garden. It is one acre in size and was built between 1964 and 1966 by the San Mateo Gardeners Association, with help from the Toyonaka Sister City Organization in Japan. Mr. Nagao Sakurai, the former landscape architect at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, designed the garden.

Front Entrance to the Japanese Garden

The Pagoda - a gift from sister city Toyonaka, Japan
The five tiers of the pagoda represent (starting at the bottom) earth, fire, water, wind and heaven.

Turtle Island - turtles symbolize longevity.
The turtle's head is the large stone in front of the crane, the island is the shell and the four rocks surrounding it are the limbs.

The window of the tea house (not open).

Serenity in the middle of downtown.
Last but not least is the rose garden, run by the San Mateo Arboretum Society. I thought it was just the right size - not too big and not too small.

Eight formal rose beds lie south of the gazebo.

Looking through the gazebo.

There are over 100 rose bushes in the garden.

Next to the rose garden is the Kohl Pumphouse, which is the headquarters of the Arboretum Society and also the location of the greenhouse, nursery and "gem sized" fairy garden. It is open and plants are available for sale during these hours.

The Kohl Pumphouse - too bad it was closed the day I was there.

Good to Know:  There are free music concerts in Central Park every Thursday evening from 6:00pm - 8:00pm,  June 26, 2014 - August 14, 2014.

Driving Directions: here

I highly recommend the San Mateo Central Park for families or adults who want some peace and quiet in the Japanese Garden. Have a great time!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Way Beyond the Bay Area - A Peek at Sauvie Island, Oregon

Most of the Southern half of Sauvie Island is farmland.
Sauvie Island  (pronounced Saw-vee or So-vee) is 15 miles long, 4 miles wide and only 10 miles north of Portland, Oregon. My husband and I discovered it when he decided to run "The Flat," the "flattest and fastest half & full marathon on the West Coast." His plan was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. So we left our kids with the grandparents and on the morning of July 4th, Bill ran the marathon while I walked and photographed the 5K. Guess who had the most fun?


My husband does all the hard training and I go along for the ride.
The only way to reach the island is by crossing the Sauvie Island Bridge on Highway 30. Our shuttle bus, full of runners, got us there by 5:30AM (where's my coffee??), which meant we would miss the daily tourist crowds (approx. 1.5 million a year) and hopefully beat the summer sun.

Sunrise and coffee
The welcome area to Sauvie Island boasts a large produce market, a worthy gift store and (in the Autumn) a large pumpkin patch and maze. With acres of farmland and clear skies (not common in Portland), I fell in love with it immediately. I also discovered that the northern half of the island (12,000 acres) is a state managed wildlife habitat and "a major stop on the Pacific Flyway," which means lots of waterfowl and songbirds. Unfortunately, access to the bird sanctuary is limited in the late Fall and Winter because of hunting, and as any birder knows, Winter is the best time to see migrating birds. :-(

Along the 5K - nesting Ospreys!
Anyway, back to the marathon. It seemed cool enough at the start. The runners were excited and my husband had trained really well. He was ready for this!

Winning just by being there.
Love the shoes . .
I saw Bill off, then joined the 5K. Looking at all the stressed, sweaty runners as they pounded out and back, I was awfully glad to be walking, shooting pictures and having a grand time.

Good bye! See you on your way back!

I got to enjoy the sights.
I wasn't the only non-runner - this group was laughing and singing the whole way.
Now, maybe I'm gloating a bit too much. Perhaps I am a little jealous. But I can't run (physical issues) so I make sure I enjoy the walk, and it really is better for photography. :-)

As Sting would say - "Fields of Gold."

And how did Bill's race go? Although the official temperature was cool, the sun burned brightly, with no shade for the runners and no breeze. Bill doesn't do well in the heat, he never has. So he ran the marathon but he didn't make his time and didn't qualify for Boston. After training so hard it was quite a blow, but these things happen in marathons and they say it keeps you humble. .  to heck with that - Whah!

If you go: my blog just hinted at the possibilities of fun on Sauvie Island. Be sure to read all about it on their official site. For me, I would love to go back in early October to visit the pumpkin patch and hopefully the wildlife area.

Have you visited Sauvie Island? I would love to read your comments about it below! Thank you.