Thursday, February 13, 2014

Uvas Canyon Hike

Another interesting event organized by the Bay Area Older Adults non profit was a hike in the Uvas Canyon Park. Since I had some free time at hand and wanted to volunteer, I decided it was a perfect opportunity to spend some time with the seniors and also get some workout in the outdoors.

I carpooled with my friend and organizer of the event-Anne-along with a senior member Sally. We started at 9am and it took us about 45 minutes to reach the Uvas Canyon Park. After Santa Teresa, it was a scenic drive. It felt as though we were magically transported to the country side. It only made things even better as the weather was lovely. The sun was peeking out and there was no threat of rain.

The hike was led by the Santa Clara county park docent Heidi and a volunteer Kate. They were very knowledgeable and engaging. We learnt about the different plants that we encountered along the way-Madrone, Manzanita, Oaks, Ferns, Lichens, Periwinkle, Honeysuckle, mushrooms and more. We also came across lady bugs and banana slugs!

Heidi briefing members
Lady Bugs
Banana Slug
It was a moderate three mile hike with one 200 foot ascent and descent along the waterfall loop. Since it had rained recently, it was a good time to see the falls. There were 3 waterfalls-Black rock, Basin and Upper falls. Since we were hiking along the creek, the sound of the water flowing was very soothing. There were tall, shade trees which kept the sun out. All along, we witnessed lush greenery, birds chirping and water flowing. The docent mentioned that exercising outdoors is much more beneficial than indoors as we are exposed to natural colors, shapes and sounds. She also mentioned that being near water brings out positive thoughts in people as water has negative ions which attract positive ones. I'm not sure about the scientific basis of this but from my experience I can completely relate to it. My mood was uplifted and all stress dissolved. Talking to the seniors while hiking made it even more interesting and felt less like workout and more fun. In the end, we were all sweating from the hard work but were so happy and energized.

We had a small picnic lunch at the end of the hike which was perfect as we had worked up quite an appetite after the hike. We drove back home refreshed and enthusiastic.

What: Hike
Where: Uvas Canyon Park in Morgan Hill
Cost: Free

Galaxy, Nebula & Star Cluster Viewing

I volunteer at a non profit called Bay Area Older Adults which conducts informative, stimulating and interesting workshops, lectures and fun activities for older adults in the Bay Area. I recently attended one such event which was open to volunteers and absolutely loved it. It was Galaxy, Nebula and Star Viewing. 

16 inch telescope-Foothill College Observatory

At 5.30pm, we gathered at the Foothill College Observatory located in Los Altos. The observatory has a semicircular dome and a 16 inch computer-controlled solar telescope. 

Foothill College Observatory dome


Our host for the day was Rick Baldridge, a senior engineer who works for companies that design and build satellites and spacecraft systems. He is also a member of the Peninsula Astronomical Society. He enthusiastically shared very interesting information about the galaxies, stars and space in general. 

Rick showing views on the computer

We watched the planets Mercury, Uranus, Neptune and Jupiter. We also saw the double star Epsilon Aries, the Orion nebula, the Crab nebula and the Alcyone star from the Pleiades open cluster. Most of these celestial bodies appeared as tiny shining dots in the space. It was amazing to note that these objects which I was viewing were located hundred and thousands of light years away. Since this was my first experience, I was overwhelmed and intrigued by the technology and information that we have about space. There are similar sessions conducted every Friday and Saturday which are free and open to the public. It is a humbling and informative session and I highly recommend it.

What: Galaxy, Nebula and Star Viewing

Where: 12345 El Monte Rd, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
When: Friday 9pm-11pm and Saturday 10am-noon
Cost: Free

(P.S. Apologies for the poor picture quality. They were clicked on my cell phone in the dark.)