San Jose, CA - 20 and 21-Sep-2014

Melody and I are taking a quick trip to the Bay Area, in two parts. The first is in Santa Clara/San Jose where we met up with my mom for the first part so we could visit family and friends. After mom flew home, we started on the second part by driving down to Santa Cruz.

Saturday, 20-Sep

For the second time in a row, we flew on a plane which was decorated to promote Disneyland. This time, the overhead bins inside were also decorated. Our flight was a little late, but my mom's flight was even later, so or original plan of arriving before her was still intact.

After picking up our car, we drove straight to San Leandro to meet up with our cousins the Shinodas for dinner at a Japanese restaurant, followed by manju which Yo had made by hand for dessert at their home. It's always fun to hear Yo talk about her family and her experiences with buying items in Japan to resell at the store her dad and she ran in Berkeley.

We then went to check into our hotel. Ends up for the same price, we ended up with a premium room, which included free access to special vending machines on the floor (all we ended up getting was a bottle of water) and free wireless. A pleasant surprise.

Sunday, 21-Sep

After we all showered and got breakfast, our first stop was the Evans' house in Saratoga. It was good to see them and visit for a bit, after which we left our mom to spend the day; Melody and I were going to San Jose to check out the Tech Museum of Innovation and Kelley Park.

Tech Museum of Innovation

Being Sunday, we were easily able to find free parking in Downtown San Jose, and it was a short walk to the Tech Museum. On the way, I spotted the San Jose Performing Arts Center, where I went several times when I lived in the area; the polar bear sculpture in front is one of my favorites.

It was easy to find the Tech Museum because it's a very bright orange. Near the group entrance is a large whirligig which uses pool balls. It wasn't running when we first walked by, but we still admired all the tracks, figuring it was just not running at the time. Around the corner, we went inside to purchase our tickets, then proceeded to the upper floor where we began.

The first thing you see is a robot which will talk with you. Not just speak at you, but actually have a conversation. I was taking a picture of the fiber optic strands which made up its hair, and it asked, "Are you taking a picture of my hair?" When I replied that I was, it told me it thought it had pretty, red hair. Later, a kid was looking at it, then the robot said something. The kid looked startled, and the robot asked, "Did I scare you?" It was pretty good AI, almost as if there were someone feeding it things to say.

There were quite a few exhibits, including ones showing genetics, future materials, and the manufacture of  computer chips.

We were pretty hungry at that point, so we got some lunch at the café, then proceeded downstairs to finish up our visit. In addition to a large hands-on area was a large display about space exploration.

We were ready to sit down for a while, which we did. Next up, Kelley Park.

History Park at Kelley Park

There were two main areas we wanted to visit, the first being the History Park. It's made up of several homes and businesses representative of earlier days of Santa Clara County. Several of the houses are museums of different cultures, from Chinese to Portuguese. There's also a hotel, fire house, post office, and school.

Near the middle of the park is a half-size replica of the San Jose Electric Light Tower; the original was first lit in 1881, but collapsed in 1915, the victim of a windstorm earlier in the year.

We went into the trolly barn which had a lot of specimens of trolly cars, automobiles, and trains. They do onsite repair, and we also got to see all the machinery used for maintenance and restoration. We also went into a printing house where the docent said they didn't have any of the machines inked up, but did have samples of things they had printed in the past, which were of pretty high quality.

Japanese Friendship Garden at Kelley Park

We ended up having to walk halfway around the block from the parking lot to History Park, which meant we had to walk the same distance back before we could go to the Japanese Friendship Garden. The photos on the Wikipedia page look quite different than what we saw, which was a lot of algae in the ponds. It could have been a result of the time of year, since the water was definitely flowing rather than being stagnant. We wandered all up and down the several ponds, trying to cross as many of the bridges as we could. It was a very popular place; lots of people wandering around enjoying the scenery on a Sunday afternoon.

Back to Saratoga

Being done for the day, we drove back to the Evans' house to catch up some more with what they've been up to. We took Mr. Evans to pick up dinner, which of course ended up being a lot of food. Fortunately, Melody and I split a dinner, so we ended up not overeating, which was a good thing.

There's always something to discuss with Mr. and Mrs. Evans, but we eventually called it a night and got back to the hotel.