Art lovers, this one’s for you! JCO’s Art Haus, an appointment-only gallery on University Avenue in Los Gatos, will be open to the public for one weekend only selling their curated collection at studio prices. The Very Very Rare Affordable Art Fair will take place at the studio and will represent local and international artists in a warehouse space.
Today my kids and I flew out of San Jose airport at the crack of dawn (earlier, really) for points east on United Airlines. We arrived at the airport not nearly early enough for my comfort level (less than an hour!), bags to check and long security lines to face. I love to travel and also love to have an abundance of time, but with none to spare I quickly morph into a highly stressed person. I promised my teens, "I will calm down as soon as the bags are checked and we're through the security line".
We gave over our suitcases at the curb (luckily no wait outside – we avoided a long one inside) and got through security with about 3 minutes to spare before boarding began. We were triply careful to reclaim all of our belongings after the screening. It was not until we were seated and buckled into row 16 that I noticed that my wallet was missing! This is a huge problem,as you might imagine, in trying to pay for anything, trying to get the rental car in Burlington later today, trying to get on the next flight to Chicago on Tuesday.
Hopping up in a bit of a panic, I told the flight attendants that my wallet was gone; I thought I must have left it at the security counter by accident (truth be told, I managed to leave my tablet computer at BostonLogan airport's security area in late May and so now I don't trust myself). As fast as I could go in flip flops and a peasant skirt, I rushed down the zig zagging ramp to the gate person and explained my crisis of credentials and cash. He told me to hurry to security. I ran – I'm sure I was a sight at 6:00 am running through the terminal – and returned to the TSA area.
They didn't have it.
I was a little crestfallen and told them my name, what it looked like and which flight I was on in case it turned up.
Again I ran through the terminal, my pink flip flops slapping the floor as I ungracefully made my way back toward the plane.The gate clerk looked at me sympathetically as I explained the wallet wasn't there. I described it to him "just in case" it somehow appeared. Helpfully, he offered that it was probably in my bag. I liked the thought, but the purse is small and was jammed full, so I knew it wasn't there. "From your lips to God's ears", I replied.
I walked briskly up the long ramp, wondering how I was going to board planes or rent a car without my ID, cash, or credit card. Certainly people have survived worse, but it wasn't a challenge I was thrilled to add to my day.
The flight attendants greeted me again and I told them it wasn't there – I was hoping maybe it had fallen out on the plane as we boarded so yet again, I described my wallet to them. One of them suggested that once we were in the air, I could come up to first class and search my bags with more elbow room. She said that this did happen to people sometimes and almost always it was in the bag.
So credit is due to the kind folks at United for their sympathy and willingness to help (and to try to reassure me too). Internally I was freaking out. They did everything possible to help me. I was wondering "what next?" What's the solution?
Everyone was seated and buckled by now. I travel a fair amount but had never held up a plane before and wasn't very pleased with myself over the situation. The kids looked up at me as I came down the aisle. "No luck" – I shook my head.
I told them I wasn't sure how this was going to work out with key documents gone. They were brainstorming solutions ("Dad can transfer money to my checking account and we can use my debit card") when the nice gentleman from the gate appeared on the plane, smiling. One of the flightattendants was just behind him and gave me a signal that it was found.
Apparently it fell out of my purse and was found on a seat at the gate.
A kind stranger turned it in. Intact. It had my ID, credit cards, cash.
Thank you for taking my wallet to the Lost and Found at San Jose International Airport! It was good to buckle up next to my kids and know that I had everything again. I was thinking how lucky I am that someone took the time to turn it in to the gate so fast, that I'd even noticed it before we left at all. The morning had been frantic before this added excitement, but the MIA wallet was a whole new level of stress.
Remembering that I had assured my family (Jim too, who'd driven us in) that I would calm down once we got through security, Brian turned to me and teased, "Hey Mom, you broke your promise!" Luckily, he was saying it with a smile.
This week I’ve been a little quiet on the blog posting as I’ve had company and spent some time in San Francisco at Blogger’s Connect. You may know that I was involved in a blogging contest, Project Blogger. On Wednesday the tallying of the points was done, and my mentor, Frances Flynn Thorsen, and I won. The neat thing is that $5000 will go to a fabulous charity, CARE (helping to fight poverty and hunger around the globe). Fran and Joeann Fossland have both been championing the work of CARE through the Web Women Giving Circle.
When I was at some of the events, a few of my fellow bloggers (and coaches) told me how lucky I was to be able to blog about our wonderful town, Los Gatos. And they’re right. If I’m enthusiastic about living here, it’s because we really are blessed with living in a fanstastic place, rich in history, art, culture, scenic beauty, smart and interesting people, and on and on.
Since the contest was sponsored by Inman News and Active Rain, I’ve blogged about the last few days a little on the Active Rain forum (though not about the contest, or CARE, just yet). Just before the contest results were announced, I got to meet some of the other apprentices and coaches and have some R & R with them, both in groups small and large. If you’re interested, here are the links to those posts:
I am trying to get some of these done as a “recap”
So Project Blogger is over, the pressure is off, but Los Gatos continues to be a wonderfully intriguing place to live. Look for many, many more posts about our wonderful corner of Silicon Valley here on “Live in Los Gatos:.
Road Trip through the Northwest, Part 3: Portland and Ashland, Oregon (This is part 2 of a 3 part series on our recent vacation to the northwest, with a comparison of what we saw there with life in Silicon Valley and Los Gatos)
RECAP: My 17 year old son, Brian, 16 year old daughter, Clair, and I had spent one night near Eugene, Oregon, as we trekked north toward Spokane. Then we spent 2 nights with an old Gonzaga friend of mine in Ritzville – a very tiny town about an hour south of Spokane in the middle of rolling wheat fields – and in the middle of that visit we journeyed into Spokane, saw some of my alma mater (Gonzaga University), spent too much time at a car dealership when my vehicle decided to have a battery crisis, and enjoyed some of the gorgeous Riverfront Park area.
Next the three of us made our way to Seattle, where my better half, Jim, caught up with us and where we saw schools, friends, and tourist spots for four wonderful days.
That was week one of a fabulous 10 day excursion to the north, and I discussed these (and how they related to life in Los Gatos) in earlier posts.
NEW STUFF: From Seattle we headed south, stopping first in Tacoma to see an old high school friend of mine and her daughter, and then a little further south to Olympia to visit yet another friend. And then two more hours south to Portland, Oregon, where we checked into a hotel – and then headed out to have dinner with yes, another couple of friends and their family. I have to give Brian and Clair credit: they never complained about all these visits crammed into one day and for that I am truly grateful!
The next day, we did the tour at the University of Portland. I had been anxious to see this school since I have two friends with kids who either are about to graduate or just did – and these young men both rave about the school. Raving does get my attention. Additionally, my friends in Portland rave about their city too. As a mom, I was thinking “this is an easy plane ride away” from Silicon Valley. The tour of the U of P was very impressive, even if the weather was not – for me.
My daughter, however, likes the cooler weather, and so for her, it was almost like coming home. She was definitely biased in favor of the school because of the weather. And she was thrilled that it was much smaller than Gonzaga, which is growing at about 1% a year (and many of us alum wish it would just quit growing – it seems to be getting too big). Only negative: the U of P doesn’t offer Art as a major (she is thinking of a double major in Art and English).
So at this point, one of our kids is leaning toward a Seattle school and another toward a Porland one for college.
After the school tour, we drove through some of Portland’s downtown. And we drove out to Reed College too, which is extremely scenic (and just as pricey). What a gorgeous campus, and what great ideals. It’s small and dedicated to great principals in eduation. Very impressive overall.
Portland is a fabulous town. The downtown is clean. The river area is stunning. The neighborhoods we saw were charming beyond all telling.
There’s just one thing, for me, that would again make this a hard place to live: that darned rain. Like Seattle, it’s about 36″ per year (compared to Los Gatos and San Jose’s 15 -20″ per year). Compared to many parts of the US (Atlanta, Houston and others), it’s not bad. Compared to Silicon Valley, it’s a lot of precipitation.
We left Portland too soon (just one night) – I’d like to go back and see more.
Next stop was Ashland, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (a year long event). Pulling in just before dinner, we had time to relax, find a good restaurant (no shortage for a town so small) and make it an easy night.
Our last day of vacation was a relaxing one. Our tickets to see The Tempest were for an 8pm showing and we had the day to poke around the town.
And poke around we did. First we found our way to the information kiosk, parked, and asked a few questions of the kindly volunteers who were staffing the booth. Next we visited a number of shops, and finally wandered over to the area where the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is headquartered.
But little did we know that the excitement was about to begin.
We noticed a badly disproportionate statue of Abraham Lincon near some steps that lead up to the Shakespearean Festival. (The head is too big for the body it got stuck on. See pic to your right.) And some fool had placed a package next to the feet of the statue – clearly it was a bunch of batteries strung together. I was too chicken to check it out up close, but Jim looked and someone had placed on it the words, “This is not a bomb”.
Well, we live in a post 9/11 world, so Jim told someone at that information Kiosk. That person, in turn, called the cops, who in turn, pretty much shut the town down.And eventually the newspeople turned out too.
Jim kept thinking and saying “Maybe I should have just thrown that stupid thing in the trash”.
I’m glad he didn’t – I’d have worried. But still.
We felt bad for the merchants as the streets were suddenly strung off with that yello tape that says “CAUTION” or “CRIME SCENE” or “YOU’LL GET THE PLAGUE IF YOU CROSS” (well ok not the last one). For hours, though, the area got roped off with that yellow tape, and police officers made sure no one crossed the line.
I know that Jim’s not a forensic expert, but he looked at the batteries next to the feet of the statue and said, “hey, it looks like batteries”. And after seeing all the shops hurting, and traffic snarled, I think he felt a little remorseful for even turning it in. What a mess it became.
Why is this someone’s idea of a good time?
The next day we read online how many things were disrupted – parties, folks who were going to see one of the shows you name it. Someone undoubtedly thought this battery act was funny, but surely it just hurt a lot of people.
We were not impressed.
That said, Ashland should not be defined by one idiot resident (or visitor). The city itself has a great little downtown, nice scenic beauty (the Rogue Valley is quite beautiful) and you can’t complain about a lack of culture. In addition to the Shakespeare Festival, there is Southern Oregon University and some community colleges too. There are plenty of places to “grow as a person” here.
Ashland, Medford, Grants Pass – they are all part of a metropolitan area known as the Rogue Valley. There are about 130,000 people in the greater “metro” area. Rainfall is not a lot different than in the Los Gatos and San Jose area (we’re at 15 – 20″ per year, the Rogue Valley area is usually under 20″ per year). It appears to be a decent winegrowing climate too. Summers can be dry and hot (not unlike the Santa Clara Valley) and winters cold – colder than in our area as there will be snow in Ashland, Medord, and Grants Pass in winter.
So how does all of this compare to Los Gatos, or to Silicon Valley?
Well, housing is far more affordable. There’s an abundance of scenic beauty (lovely mountains). It’s not overcrowded – but it is growing fast. There are universities, museums, some history, and plenty of cultural things to enjoy. People are generally very friendly. Winetasting and vineyards are present. It seems to be a place – or several places – brimming with potential. It’s probably a good place to invest.
But… winters are colder, the population is not so diverse, there are no truly “big” cities nearby, the ocean is far away (I think I would feel landlocked there).
So as with Spokane, Portland, and especially Seattle – I think for me Ashland is “a great place to visit”. I could go yearly and not get tired of it. But to live there? I just don’t think it would be my first choice. Too small, too cold in winter, too far from the ocean, too far from a really big city and all that it would have to offer.
In Los Gatos, we do have Shakespeare (albeit not usually this quality) – as does Santa Cruz, Berkeley, and San Francisco. We have hills, we have quaint downtowns.
We don’t really have affordable housing. We don’t have snow in winter (if you’re looking for it).
What Los Gatos does offer, that I find important enough to put up with our high housing costs (and some crowding): diversity, things to do, parks, scenic beauty, proximity to the ocean/beaches. missions, San Francisco, Berkeley, abundances of universities, great neighborhoods, low crime, excellent schools, and so much more.
So I finish this 3 part series where I began. Los Gatos is a fabulous place to live. It’s great to travel and I love the northwest, but it is so good to be home.
It’s great to go, it’s great to come home. I hope to never live anywhere else but Los Gatos.
Now if we can just make it affordable for our kids when they finish college!
Road Trip Part 2: Go West! (this is part 2 of a 3 part series on our recent vacation to the northwest, with a comparison of what we saw there with life in Silicon Valley and Los Gatos)
Los Gatos is home and we love it. Sometimes, when you travel one of the biggest benefits is the renewed appreciation of one’s own home. And that has certainly been true in our recent roadtrip to the beautiful Northwest.
The kids and I enjoyed our time in and around Spokane, Washington. But after a couple of days there, it was time to say goodbye to our friends in Ritzville and drive west to Seattle. Happily, the car cooperated fully from that point on.
From Spokane it’s about a six hour drive to Seattle (less from our starting point). The ride begins with those eternal wheat fields. The Columbia River, which for many miles denotes the border between Oregon and Washington, is more northerly at this point and must be crossed again to reach Seattle. Here, too, the mighty Columia sits amidst true desert lands – amazingly stark and nearly barren for about as far as the eye can see.
My kids have been through the California and Nevada deserts, but this is a little different to see a huge river but only scrub along its banks. The contrast is stark.
Eventually we saw foothills, and more greenery as we drove west. And then we saw the first of the gorgeous Cascade Mountains and made our way through the Snoqualmie Pass. Amazing to think that so much skiing and all the other winter sports were just one hour from Seattle. The scenery was truly beautiful and what a shift from the arid side of the state just 3 hours prior!
The Cascades looked a lot like the Sierra Nevadas to me – but these are far closer to a major city than our range is to San Francisco or even Sacramento. Being June when we passed through, snow was continuing to melt and many waterfalls dotted the roadside as we made our way to Seattle. The beauty and familiar feeling of this landscape made me realize that perhaps living in Seattle would feel a bit like living in the Bay Area – at least on the ski trips.
The drive went quickly – perhaps because we had driven so many hours to Eugene and then to Spokane that a 5 hour journey didn’t seem like much at that point. And with the scenery changing so much in that time, it was quite interesting.
In Seattle we met up with an old college friend, who had picked Jim up at the airport and met us downtown for some fun with her family and mine. As the afternoon progressed our group grew with other family members and by the end there were 10 of us enjoying the afternoon together.
Downtown Seattle is a very cool place to vacation. It’s a cool place to just hang out, for that matter. Our teens enjoyed the arcade while the adults got caught up at a nearby coffee shop and did some people-watching. It was a great respite after a long car ride for us (plane ride for Jim). We loved hearing an Andean street band and joking about how many coffee shops we could count.
Something new to me was The Guy Who Hugs. Yeah, there’s a nice man in the downtown area with a “Free Hugs” sign. I had heard about someone like this somewhere – but wasn’t sure where or who. I asked him if he’s the guy a documentary was done on but he said no. I was glad to enjoy one of his hugs: he was a great hug-giver! I have to say, this is something we don’t have in Los Gatos.
One way to learn history is to attend a ghost tour, and there are several in Seattle from which to choose. My friend, Denise, arranged for us to attend the Pike Place Market Ghost Tour with her friend Mercedes Yaeger (who was featured in the newspaper for this very tour the next day!). The one hour walking tour was fabulous and I’d recommend it to anyone spending time in Seattle. (Even for the non-ghost believers in the crowd, it was an interesting tour with cool architectural and historical information.)
Seattle is such a great city, and so beautiful too with an abundance of water and lovely hills, and this is just the tip of the iceburg on our doings there. We enjoyed visits all around the city with family and friends. We saw The Space Needle (see webcam), a cool exhibit called “Experience Music” and a Sci Fi exhibit on the campus of the Space Needle, and so much more.
When I consider how Seattle is like and dislike our Silicon Valley (and Los Gatos in particular), I have to admit that Seattle has a lot going for it: natural beauty is everywhere, diversity is great, cultural opportunities abound, there are plenty of colleges and universities, and there’s no shortage of high tech. People are west-coast friendly (not as reserved as in some parts of the country), which I like. Home prices, while high for Washington, aren’t bad compared to what we’re used to. Locals only gripe about two things: housing and traffic. Both seemed like less of an issue there than here (but I haven’t lived there, so it’s entirely possible I just don’t appreciate the gridlock commuters in that area experience daily).
So I would not mind having my kids choose to go to college in Seattle. I visit there as often as I can since we have so many friends in the area. If I could afford a vacation home, Seattle would be a fun place in which to have it.
There’s just one issue that for me would make life in Seattle difficult: the weather. We were there in late June and it was cold. Ok, maybe “cold” is an exaggeration. But it was cool. It was like Los Gatos in March, it wasn’t like summer at all. I asked one friend from Mill Creek and one from West Seattle if this was normal. Both told me the same thing: “summer doesn’t really get here until July or August”. Well, it is a thousand miles north. I did notice that it was light out until almost 10pm. But where was the summer warmth? It just hadn’t arrived yet. And precipitation? In the San Jose – Los Gatos area, a normal year is about 15 – 20″ of rain per year. Seattle boasts 36″.
My friends in Seattle jokingly tell me to inform people in the Bay Area that it rains in Seattle constantly. They don’t want it any more crowded in their Emerald City (now you know why it’s so green) than it already is. They are used to the rain. In fact, one friend told me that if it doesn’t rain often enough (to clear the air and make everything smell good), it bothers her. While we were there, it rained and we even got a lightening display, to her delight.
For me, Seattle is an “almost”. It’s almost as nice as the Bay Area (and if truth be told, it is prettier than many parts of the Bay Area). It enjoys many of the things we love about home, but with skiing that’s really close and a whole lot of boating and water sports. I could live there, “if only” it didn’t rain so darned much. It remains for me a fantastic place to visit.
But Los Gatos, with the beach to its back and the bay and San Francisco and Berkeley all within an hour or so, is definitely home. Our weather isn’t just good: it’s great. This is “The Valley of Heart’s Delight”. The climate is so favorable that it was once said to be about the best for health anywhere in the world.
What more could you want than to Live in Los Gatos?