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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Family Activity - Stanford Dish

My husband and I have always enjoyed getting outside in the fresh air, especially in the sunshine. We used to live in an area that allowed us to park the car at home and walk pretty much anywhere we needed to go - that's the great thing about living in downtown Vancouver in beautiful British Columbia. Restaurants, doctor, dentist, groceries, work, shopping - everything within blocks of each other. But it rained a lot and it's not always so fun going hiking with umbrellas and rain boots. Summer time in Van is an amazing opportunity to take advantage of all the outdoor activities that the area has to offer so if you have never visited I strongly urge you to do so.  Don't just go for the skiing in winter (which is also world class), make sure you check it out in the hot months as well.
Since we've moved to California we still feel very fortunate to be able to spend a massive part of the year doing things outside.  Even when it does rain it's not that heavy and doesn't last long so we're working our way through a hiking bucket list.

Prairie Dog hole, or E burying his poop?  U decide.
This past Saturday we decided to finally check out the Stanford Dish hiking trail. It was a nice balmy 77F/22C in Palo Alto, probably a bit hotter out on the trail.  The trail itself is hilly with some pretty steep sections and runs at about a 4 mile loop.  You can't go off of the now paved trail as there is a restoration project ongoing. All extra trails are closed, probably permanently in order to restore the habitat.  That also means no bikes and no dogs allowed.

It was busy in the sense that there were lots of people out enjoying the scenery but you could definitely wander along by yourself. It took about 2 hours to do the whole loop since Ender was working on finding things for his Science Journal. He was particularly enthralled with the mounds left by the prairie dog holes and needed to inspect the ones beside the trail regularly. We saw prairie dogs, hawks, squirrels and other birds.
The trees are super cool, all gnarly and huge.

The Dish.  It's frickin' HUGE.
Ender did very well especially going uphill but he did take breaks in the jogging stroller and while he rode we jogged. The Dish itself is uber impressive. The thing is H-U-G-E. I need to find out if they ever do tours there since E was very disappointed that he couldn't get closer.

After posing for many doofy photos near the Dish we carried on with snacks, had some more water and were looking forward to some more downhill stretches. It wasn't long until we rounded a corner and spotted this!!

Reservoir 2.  6 million gallon water tank equipped with solar panels.
Another H-U-G-E structure. As we came closer Rich was talking about how much he loves exploring and the outdoors and how it's sort of magical to see what is out there and wonder whether there are underground secret alien labs and military installations. We saw this round thing with white bumps sticking up and he said 'See!  Like that! I wonder what it is, it could be blah blah or blah blah....'. I squealed 'PEGGLE! It's a giant Peggle board!! So astronauts can play Peggle from space!'

Turns out it's a reservoir. So they say.

A little further on there are some probably pretty expensive homes with gardens that back up close to the trail. I would think that they could afford to fix up their fences but whateves.

E concentrating on doing up the
harness strap himself.
Me being an idiot.
There were quite a few runners there, sweating their tushies off which is to be expected considering the heat and hills but there was one guy that we passed twice. He was my kind of runner. He was obviously winded, hot and having the time of his life. Both times we passed him he was heading uphill and had the biggest smile on his face, just in his own world, runnin'. I heart him.

All in all it was a pretty fantastic experience. Be warned that if you decide to go check it out, parking can be a problem. We lucked out and got a spot on Stanford just a few minutes walk away from the gate but I've read that it can be a bit of a nightmare. There are different ways to enter so check out a couple of guides like Bay Area Hiker.

Prairie Dog Bill. I'm not entirely sure that's
his name but I thought it fit.
You can never go wrong with getting your family out for some fresh air and letting your child explore the outdoors and his surroundings. Try to get out in nature as often as you can, you'll never regret it once you're there and it will help to instill a sense of an active lifestyle into the kid(s). We were really proud of how much walking Ender did and it was great to see his sense of wonder with even the smallest things.

Plus - he napped really well in the car afterwards.  Yippee!

Night night.

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