Best of Silicon Valley 2001 - Editors' Picks

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[whitespace] Dog
Fang You Very Much: The annual Canine Bash at William Street Park brings a smile to the face of many a dog, and even its people.

Editors' Picks:
Playing & Exploring

Best Dog Show in San Jose and Environs

Bark in the Park
William Street Park -- William and South 16th streets, San Jose

A free event unless you are a dog. In which case pony up four bucks. This annual cornucopia of dogs, contests and dog demonstrations is a veritable Woodstock for canines and their human partners. Not only is Bark in the Park the best dog show in town, it may be the best free event in Santa Clara County. It is true that as the afternoon wears down, a distinct "matted fur of dog" odor emanates from the park. But who cares? By this time everyone, humanoid and dog alike, smells like a dog. Keep an eye out for greyhounds, the bee's knees of canines. Greyhounds are like stark sculptures with great big droopy tongues. Live music and food add up to perfection. EC

Best Free View

Highway 9

San Francisco has its Marin Headlands, Monterey has its Lovers Point and San Jose has Highway 9. OK, ours may pale in comparison in terms of beauty and oceanic perspective, but it's a view nonetheless. After climbing by car, motorcycle or touring bike--a good half-hour up from downtown Saratoga--drivers will notice a broad turnout which, on a busy night, is crawling with horny roadsters. But everyone's up there enjoying the view, right? Umm-hmm. If that were the case, people are getting a muted, panoramic view of the valley, from Palo Alto to San Jose. Squint, and Highway 280 might appear. Look farther east toward Fremont. Play I-Spy. Count the number of blinking red street lights. Observe the commercial airliners touching down in San Jose or heading toward San Francisco or Oakland. In the mood for ocean? It's possible--drive a little farther north down the highway, and there's a good chance of spotting the Pacific. Whether it's land or sea, the view is a natural reminder of where we are in the world. GR

Best Place to See Bona Fide Wetlands

Don Edwards San FRancisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Environmental Education Center
1751 Grand Blvd., Alviso
408.262.5513, ext. 3

Sanctuary. Not only for feathery critters, but for human critters looking for respite from whatever ails 'em in Santa Clara County: traffic, greedy landlords, or the pink slip. There are no pretensions at a wildlife refuge in Alviso. Here are the last remnants of wetlands ringing San Francisco Bay--home to a motley assortment of beast and fowl--with wooden walkways to get one right into the thick of it. Interpretive specialists offer a variety of nature adventures each month. Cost: nothing. Free, like the best things in life. Sharon Lee recently revealed to me the hideous secrets of Great Horned Owls, and why one can't hear them coming. Boo! EC

Best Place to Meet Scarlet Macaws

Happy Hollow Zoo
1300 Senter Rd., San Jose

With the possible exception of Las Vegas showgirls, parrots are God's crowning achievement. And the best place to find them, in all their gaudy pomp and circumstance, is Happy Hollow Zoo. Blue, gold and scarlet macaws perch on branches in a forest and stream setting--their great tails descending like the gown trains of kings. Parrots are usually heard before they are seen. Indeed, they are nature's boom boxes--the result of muscular tongues resonating within golden curved beaks. The cacophony produced by 16 ounces of colored feathers is sobering. When one has had one's fill of parrots, the Happy Hollow monkeys will amuse. And a jaguar sleeps close by. EC

Best Splash After the Crash

Eagle Pool
650 Franklin St., Mountain View

Swimmers need their conditions just right, and Eagle Pool has the right amount of comforts. The locker rooms are always clean, there's plenty of landscaping on which to sit and dry out, and the 25-meter pool is heated to a balmy 81 degrees. Recreational swimmers can also use the diving boards--a luxury not afforded at other pools. Recreational swim is 1:15pm to 4pm weekdays and 12pm to 4:30pm weekends. Adult residents of Mountain View pay $2 and nonresidents pay $4. Children who are residents pay $1 and non-residents pay $2. Lap swim cards and day passes for lap swimming, however, cannot be purchased at the pool. To do so, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to 650 Franklin or purchase passes at the Mountain View Community Center at 201 S. Rengstorff Ave. or at City Hall's Finance Department at 500 Castro St. Call first to check hours of operation as they sometimes vary. For lap swimmers who favor dropping in instead of planning ahead, the International Swim Center in Santa Clara (408.243.7727) is open to the public, from 12pm to 1pm Monday through Friday for $1.25. A bargain. GR

Best Place to Downsize the Thighs

Rancho San Antonio Park, Cupertino

Just a few minutes off of Highway 280, this piece of paradise offers runners everything from a flat two-mile course to lung-busting hill climbs over eight miles. From the parking lot follow the footpath to Deer Hollow Farm, an educational farm that shows kids of all ages where yogurt, McNuggets, and guacamole really come from. Spend a Zen moment with the livestock and vegetable garden. From Happy Hollow pick from a choice of routes that traverse shaded forest and open meadows while criss-crossing the stream that flows along the canyon. Remember--give the local deer a wide berth, especially when they're with young. TP

Best Reason to Skip the Wharf-to-Wharf Road Race Next Year

The Great Race - Saratoga to Los Gatos
For information, call 408.980.7233

The good news for dedicated runners is that Silicon Valley is close to some of the greatest footraces in the country. The bad news is, ain't none of them right here in our backyard. While the world-famous Big Sur Marathon or the Santa Cruz Wharf-to-Wharf 10K are worth an hour or so drive to reach, it would be nice to have a sweet little race that doesn't require a 3am wake-up in order to get to the start line on time. According to Randy Souza, manager of Los Gatos' Runner's Factory, that would be the Great Race 4-Miler. Starting in Saratoga Village and ending in downtown Los Gatos, the Great Race has three great things going for it: It's mostly downhill, it's held in the (usually) cool month of April and, with a 9am start time, runners can grab a few extra winks before lacing up. KL

Best Escape to Another Era

Bonfante Gardens Theme Park
3050 Hecker Pass, Gilroy

What attracts folks to theme parks is that promise of getting away from themselves and their everyday problems. Perhaps that is why we have magic kingdoms and sea worlds to explore for usually rather exorbitant entry fees. The recently opened Bonfante Gardens offers visitors a chance to go back just a little bit; back to when roadsters putt-putted along country roads past red fuel pumps and huge billboards. Although the theme here is officially about horticulture, the entertainment points to a gentler, kinder time that we treasure in our collective subconscious. No scary, triple-flip roller coasters, no vomit-inducing centrifugal force thrillers. With names like the Artichoke Dip or Garlic Twirl, the rides promote a quiet childlike glee instead of adrenaline-overload cardiac arrest. Although financial woes closed Bonfante's doors early this season, its PR department swears it will be ready and waiting for us next spring. KL

Best of Silicon Valley 2001 Table of Contents

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From the October 18-24, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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